March 26, 2015

For the last week, we’ve been asking our supporters to sign our petition calling on the US Administration to end its support to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

Why is that? You may ask.

Good question. Here are 5 reasons why:

     1.       It needs land. Lots of land.

In the Bagamoyo District in Tanzania, up to 1,300 farmers are facing eviction for a sugarcane plantation on an area of land bigger than Washington D.C. More than 20 other New Alliance projects are being planned in Tanzania alone – and the New Alliance includes nine other African countries.

     2.       People are getting evicted.

There’s a lot of land in Africa that is said to be ‘unused’, but in reality it’s often used by herders and people growing food to feed themselves and their families. These people sell any extra food they produce at the local markets, getting money to pay for the things they need, like medicines and sending their kids to school. If they’re forced off their land, they can’t grow food – and can lose their homes too. The jobs on offer at these plantations are often poorly paid. When you add up the cost of buying food and finding a new house, farmers risk ending up with less money in their pockets.

     3.       Investing in agribusiness is unlikely to reduce poverty.

We already know that up to 80% of Africa’s food is produced by smallholder farmers. These are the people that rely on land like the 20,000 hectares in Bagamoyo to feed their families. Big plantations tend to offer low paid jobs with most of the profits being sent back to the investors’ home country. A better way of reducing poverty would be to invest in smallholder farmers and provide them with the skills and equipment they need to increase productivity.

     4.       Many of these deals are done in secret.

Contracts are often not publically available and communities aren’t properly consulted. Take the case of Bagamoyo where despite many requests, the performance contract between the company, EcoEnergy, and the Tanzanian government still hasn’t been made available. This means people are often unaware of the threat to their land, and when they do find out, it’s too late.

And if that’s not enough to convince you…

     5.       It’s a waste of US taxpayers’ money.

Two billion dollars of taxpayers’ money has been committed to the New Alliance. It was supposed to provide a much-needed injection of money into rural communities in Africa. Instead, big agribusiness companies like Monsanto and SABMiller are benefiting, with the benefits to local communities questionable, at best…