It’s Time to Stop the Corporate Takeover of Africa’s Food

Guest post by Christine Haigh, campaigner at the World Development Movement

This week a group of smartly dressed executives from major companies including Unileveráand Diageo (brewers of Guinness) delivered a cake to the UK government’s Department foráInternational Development. The cake, made in the shape of Africa, was a gift to say thank-youáto development secretary Justine Greening for her department’s support for their businessáinterests there.

Sound unlikely? Yes and no. The ‘executives’ were actually global justice campaigners fromáthe World Development Movement. But we were there to highlight how the UK’s aid moneyágenuinely is being used to enable multinational companies to take over African markets andáresources. Our gift was inspired by the words of King Leopold II of Belgium who played aámajor role in African colonisation, writing to his ambassador in 1877: “I do not want to miss aágood chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.”

"I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake."

The stunt took place to expose how hundreds of millions of pounds from the UK aid budgetáare being channelled through a scheme called the New Alliance for Food Security andáNutrition. Dreamed up by the US government and supported by the UK at last year’s G8ásummit, the scheme sounds laudable. Unfortunately, despite its name, it is likely to makeáhunger and inequality worse for the African countries involved.

The New Alliance is essentially a deal between big companies, developed countries andáAfrican governments. In return for continued aid money from rich country governments andáinvestment by companies in their own businesses, African governments are being told toáreform their land, seed and trade laws to benefit big business. These changes are bad newsáfor the small-scale farmers who feed most of the African population.

For example, African governments are being asked to make it easier for foreign companies toábuy up tracts of land, fuelling land-grabbing which sees families pushed off their land, losingátheir homes and livelihoods. Africa has already seen an area bigger than Spain sold or leasedásince 2001.

The changes will also see the privatisation of seeds, with restrictions on farmers’ ability toásave and exchange seeds for varieties suited to their local environment and instead forcingáthem to purchase seed from big seed companies like Monsanto. In addition, some of theáAfrican countries involved in the scheme are having to change their trade rules to make itáeasier for food to be exported, even if it is needed by their own population.

African farmers groups and campaigners have condemned the scheme as part of “a newáwave of colonialism,” and we’re standing in solidarity with them. We want the UK governmentáto withdraw from this damaging scheme, and instead use aid money to support the localáfarmers who feed the majority of Africa’s population. You can support us by signing ourápetition and spreading the word. Join the campaign today!

The World Development Movement is a UK based, anti-poverty campaigningáorganisation. We lobby decision-makers, organise public campaigning and produceárobust research to win change for the worlds poorest people.

52 comments

Mark Donners
Mark Donner3 years ago

Monsanto is a domestic terrorist organization. Anyone who works for this criminal organization cannot claim ignorance. They are as guilty as the criminal executives of this monstrous company.

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Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Stopping Big Business is like trying to stand in front of a locomotive going 50 MPH.

If we stand together, we may have a chance!

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Holly Lewis
Past Member 3 years ago

I'd like to see what the other side has to say. It looks like a sneaky deal, but maybe someone somewhere had good intentions when they thought this up. Corruption breeds and falls through the cracks, sadly.

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Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Awful. :0(

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Beverly C.
Beverly C3 years ago

I am ashamed of both the U.K. and the U.S. for doing this to the African people and nations. This must be EXPOSED & STOPPED!!!

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Laurence Wuillemin
Past Member 3 years ago

Signed and shared

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Lisa D.
Lisa D3 years ago

Ray H. I agree with you up to a certain extent..

Yes they need to stand up for themselves! However, how can ordinary individual people stand up to tough men with big guns??

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Janet B.
Janet B3 years ago

Damn!

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Val M.
Val M3 years ago

Sadly and angrily noted.

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Ray Howe
Ray Howe3 years ago

Africa a beautiful country being raped from one end to the other and not just by monsanto , the population must stand up for themselves !

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