Is Aid Money Benefiting Small Farmers in Africa

For a food system to work in the long-term and benefit all the people involved in the food chain – from the farmers to the consumers – as well as the environment, it needs to be democratically controlled and based on sustainable and equitable principles.

Posted on 03/11/15
By Ian Fitzpatrick | Via Left Foot Forward
A farmer is harvesting sorghum plants from seeds donated by the FAO in Sudan. (Photo Africa Renewal, Creative Commons License)
A farmer is harvesting sorghum plants from seeds donated by the FAO in Sudan. (Photo Africa Renewal, CC License)

It’s a good thing that the aid budget should be enshrined in law, but that aid money seems to have become increasingly about facilitating western multinationals in accessing and restructuring markets in countries in Africa, rather than aiding vulnerable communities. This is becoming especially apparent in the context of food production and agriculture.


Africa is seeing a new wave of colonialism as multinational corporations, aided by rich governments and financial institutions, vie to increase their control of land, seeds, water and other resources. The continent has been described as the ‘last frontier in global food and agricultural markets’ by the World Bank, and private sector and corporate investment is seen as both a good investment opportunity as well as the only way of boosting agricultural production and helping to lift people out of poverty.


The reality is that sustainable small-scale farmers produce over 70 per cent of the food consumed in Africa, on less than 15 per cent of the agricultural land available on the continent. Despite this, donors, development agencies and multilateral financial initiatives, like the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (New Alliance) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, continue to push a one-size-fits-all industrial model of agriculture and make exorbitant claims about their aims.


The New Alliance initiative, launched in 2012, aims to achieve ‘sustained and inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years’.


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Ian Fitzpatrick is a researcher with Global Justice Now. Find out more about their food campaign.


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