Civil society groups in Nairobi Kenya are taking on the policies of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which promotes the use of genetically modified (GM) crops and Green Revolution technologies.
They argue that GM and Green Revolution practices – those aimed at increasing developing countries’ crop yields through specific innovations – will, in the long run, be detrimental to ecosystems across
the continent. Earlier this month, a coalition of almost 60 civil society groups across Africa came out to protest AGRA ahead of the G8 Summit in London.
“Green Revolution technologies benefit relatively few farmers, often at the expense of the majority. These technologies produce concentration of land ownership, increasing economies of scale (production has to be at a large scale to get into and stay in markets), and a declining number of food-producing households in a context of limited other livelihood options,” they said in a letter sent to AGRA’s president, Jane Karuku.
They also believe that the intellectual property of many plant types may be transferred to large multinational corporations as part of Green Revolution practices.
“Private ownership of knowledge and material resources (for example, seed and genetic materials) means the flow of royalties out of Africa into the hands of multinational corporations,” they said.
Technology for the needy
AGRA was founded in 2006 through a partnership between the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It works with smallholder farmers across the continent by giving them
microfinance loans, hybrid seeds and fertilizers to increase their crop yields. In this way, AGRA hopes to alleviate hunger and poverty across the continent.
The Green Revolution
A period from the 1940s until the 1970s when, through the use of new technologies such as irrigation, improved seed, fertilizers and pesticides, as well as an economic environment that supported industrial
agriculture, a massive increase in agriculture output in developing countries (particularly in Asia) occurred. Norman Borlaug, who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for improving agricultural technologies, is widely considered as the “Father of the Green Revolution”, and is often
credited with saving a billion lives through his innovations.