When I think about farming in Africa, one of our major goals is to see local farmers being able to grow safe and healthy food in balance with nature.

Greenpeace calls it ecological farming, and it would not only feed Africa’s people but also maintain livelihoods, alleviate poverty, and prevent the corporate takeover of agriculture currently happening across the continent.

27 August 2013

Self-help project to support Rusinga Island with help from ICIPE field station Mbita Point, Kenya.

Ecological farming is about nurturing our soils, cultivating diversity, and supplying families with safe and nutritious food. It is the only way to effectively address the serious triple crises of food insecurity, water scarcity, and climate change.

Today Africa is increasingly being targeted as the new market for industrial agriculture: an agriculture driven by corporate interests and supported by governments in the North and South.

Industrial agriculture relies on farmers using inputs for their crops. These inputs include synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, and genetically engineered (GE) seeds – and they are very expensive. Using them often results in debt and economic insecurity for farmers. This debt-driven agriculture is also a big contributor to global climate change, and it destroys biodiversity, degrades soils, and pollutes land, freshwater, and coastlines. From field to fork, chemically intensive industrial agriculture is bad for Africa.

That’s why we were thrilled to attend an AFSA meeting recently. It was an opportunity to talk about how African farmers and consumers can maintain control of the farming process: what to plant, how to farm, and what we eat.

The invasion of agribusiness in Africa’s agriculture is threatening this control and the ability of small-scale farmers, who are mostly women, to continue feeding the majority of Africa’s people.

Increasingly industrial agriculture here is being bank-rolled by northern governments. One example of this is the G8 NAFSN (the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition). From the title you’d think that they are here to help -- and they are, but instead of helping farmers, they’re helping agribusiness make more money. They insist on low or no import duties being imposed on their products, liability for environmental or other negative impacts is abolished, and even want saving and sharing seeds to be criminalised.

Greenpeace Africa wants to ensure that investors and donors who are contributing to agricultural development in Africa support ecological farming and the millions of farmers who grow Africa’s food and feed Africa directly. Using ecological farming, local farmers can nurture the soil that feeds the crops and which ultimately feeds this continent.

This stands in stark contrast to initiatives like the G8 NAFSN who, for example, stand for monocultures of commodity crops that will supposedly, at some point in the future, provide African people with money to import their food.

Our participation in the recent AFSA meeting - as a friend of the alliance - enabled us to meet with a wide range of farming networks, smallholder farmers, and civil society. Working together, we can ensure that the voices of African farmers are heard above those of foreign corporations in discussions about the development of our continent’s agriculture.

For more information, see AFSA Press Release

[1] The ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA (AFSA) is a Pan African platform comprising networks and farmer organisations working in Africa including the African Biodiversity network (ABN), Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, Friends of the Earth- Africa, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association, Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers‟ Forum (ESSAFF), La Via Campesina Africa , FAHAMU, World Neighbours, Network of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers' Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA), Community Knowledge Systems (CKS), Plate forme Sous Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d'Afrique Centrale (PROPAC) and African Centre for Biosafety (ACB).