In the wake of the 2008 global food crisis, African capitals have been buzzing with renewed talk of the need for food self-sufficiency, and rice is often at the top of government agendas. Although everyone agrees on the need to increase production, the solutions coming out of the corridors of power boil down to the old formula of getting more fertilizers and “high-yielding” seeds to farmers. In the eyes of the decision-makers, this inevitably means either Chinese hybrid rice seeds or the Nerica rice seeds developed by the African Rice Centre, and backed by the most powerful donors and research institutes operating on the continent. The traditional knowledge and seeds of African farmers, which feed and provide livelihoods for the majority of people on the continent, are completely ignored.This report gives an example from Mali, which like several other countries in West Africa, recently went from being a net rice exporter to being a major importer. The government embarked on a multimillion dollar national rice initiative that was supposed to restore self-sufficiency by helping the country’s farmers to produce more. Unfortunately, this was done by handing over an enormous tract of prime rice land to an external investment fund and companies. The report concludes that while most African governments are proclaiming their commitments to food self-sufficiency, they are signing an alarming number of deals with foreign investors behind the backs of their people that give these investors control over their countries’ most important agricultural lands, including areas allocated for rice. These forces are threatening to take away the seeds and lands of small-scale food producers – the very basis of their capacity to feed people and to assure their livelihoods.
Auteurs et éditeurs
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and international levels, and fostering new forms of cooperation and alliance-building. Most of our work is oriented towards, and carried out in, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
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