(GhanaWeb) Exposed: Plot to profit off Africa's seeds

From: Biniam Tekle <biniamt_at_dehai.org_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sun, 5 Apr 2015 10:34:17 -0400


General News of Sunday, 15 March 2015

Source: Public Agenda

Exposed: Plot to profit off Africa's seeds

A meeting is to be held in London on March 23 by predominantly whites
with a handful of Africans, some of whom represent private seed
companies, to discuss how to make a killing off Africa's seed systems.

Farmers and civil society organisations have not been invited to the
meeting, which will be attended only by private seed companies,
donors, representatives from Africa's regional economic communities,
research centres and multinational development organizations, the
African Centre for Biosafety(ACB) has disclosed.

The meeting, according to a statement issued by Mariam Mayet, ACB
Director, will discuss a study produced by Monitor-Deloitte,
commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and
USAID. BMGF is a big sponsor of the commercialisation of agriculture
in Africa, including through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in
Africa (AGRA). Working with USAID, this commercial agenda extends US
foreign policy into Africa and threatens the livelihoods of millions
of small-scale farmers who rely on recycling seed for their

The goal of the Monitor-Deloitte study is to develop models for
commercialisation of seed production in Africa, especially on early
generation seed (EGS), and to identify ways in which the African
public sector could facilitate private involvement in African seed
systems. The study was conducted in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania
and Zambia on maize, rice, sorghum, cowpea, common beans, cassava and
sweet potato, says the ACB release.

“The report exposes a typical approach of private sector 'cherry
picking,' where private companies identify any profitable activities
for their own involvement. While complaining incessantly about 'heavy
state involvement,' they still insist on selected heavy state
involvement to cover unprofitable activities so that the private
sector can take the profitable activities.

"These include establishing systems, developing institutions, and even
engaging in some productive activities where profits are unlikely but
which are needed to allow the profit-making scheme to function,” the
statement reveals.

The Monitor-Deloitte report uses cowpea production in Ghana as an
example of where the public sector should carry the extremely
expensive improved cowpea breeder seed costs to allow the private
sector to profit in seed multiplication and distribution.

Breeder seed is prohibitively costly because of low multiplication
rates and low demand. But the demand that exists is nonetheless
lucrative, so the private sector wants to be involved only in the
parts of the production process identified as profitable.

ACB statement discloses,” Where the whole chain is profitable, such as
hybrid maize or in closed value chains where there is strong but
limited demand and early production processes are also potentially
profitable, for example hybrid sorghum for brewing, Monitor-Deloitte
proposes the public sector be locked out of the production process.”

The release insists that the potential role for farmers in the
production or distribution of seed is not even considered. Indeed,
farmers are viewed only as passive consumers of seed produced

“The exclusive meeting in London and the focus of the report on how
private interests can profit from essential life processes in African
agriculture exposes the agendas of the BMGF and USAID. It is
disappointing that the African Union is willing to endorse such
blatantly neo-colonialist plans,” the statement laments.

ACB insists that an equitable and sustainable solution to seed
production and distribution can only come from direct engagement with
farmers and their organisations to ensure their active involvement in
these activities.

It maintains that public-farmer partnerships to improve seed that
integrates farmer and scientific knowledge will generate a more
accountable process, and produce longer-lasting and more meaningful
solutions for African agricultural production, than “these
profit-driven, exclusive and narrow processes.”

ACB is a non-profit organisation, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It provides authoritative, credible, relevant and current information,
research and policy analysis in issues pertaining to genetic

It campaigns against the genetic engineering, privatisation,
industrialisation and corporate control of Africa's food systems, and
the commodification of nature and knowledge. It supports efforts
towards food systems that are equitable and ecologically sustainable,
built upon the principles of food sovereignty/agro-ecology. It
provides research, policy analysis, advocacy and knowledge sharing.

The ACB is active in playing an effective role in protecting Africa's
biodiversity, traditional knowledge, food production systems, culture
and diversity, from the threats posed by genetic engineering and
Received on Sun Apr 05 2015 - 10:34:56 EDT

Dehai Admin
© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 1993-2013
All rights reserved