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New Report Offers Credible Alternatives to Failed Hunger Policies

By       Message Alana Mann     Permalink
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Human rights experts warn that involving those most affected in policy-making is the only way to tackle global hunger, questioning the benefits of "investor-driven" Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

The annual international monitoring report Right to Food and Nutrition Watch , launched worldwide on October 8, identifies conflicts of interest in schemes such as AGRA that benefit "implementation partners" including the global fertilizer industry and biotechnology companies over local communities.

According to the African Centre for Biosafety, cited in the report, AGRA's "highly prescriptive, top-down approach will further marginalize Africa" where many of the small-scale farmers who produce 80 per cent of the food eaten on the continent are suffering from chronic malnutrition.

AGRA's approach damages the prospects of small farmers by promoting "hybrid imposter seeds, poor yields, loans, debts and chemical based agriculture" says Gathuru Mburu, of the African Biodiversity Network.

The prominent investment initiative the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched in 2012 in response to the global food crisis, is also critiqued in the Watch for its lack of transparency and failure to engage local communities in decision-making.

The German Working Group Food and Agriculture of the Forum on Environment and Development, whose members include Bread for the World, Misereor and FIAN Germany, is among the civil society platforms that have formally declared their opposition to the New Alliance.

The German government has been urged by the Group to withdraw from the New Alliance on the grounds that its strategies for combatting poverty and hunger are "oriented towards the political interests of corporations" and risk the "concentration of power in the seed market, loss of agro-biodiversity, marginalization of rural communities and ... land grabbing".

In focusing on resistance to policies that generate hunger the 2013 edition of Right to Food and Nutrition Watch contrasts top-down, investor-driven programs such as AGRA and the New Alliance with participatory models that engage family farmers and small-scale food producers in building and sustaining their own food security and the kind of development they want.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, says that the Watch presents "credible alternatives" to policies responsible for the lack of progress in addressing the chronically undernourishment of 870 million people worldwide .

These alternatives are emerging "not from the laboratories of food scientists or from governmental agencies - but bottom up, from the initiatives of people who seek to regain control over the food systems on which they depend" de Schutter says.

Family farming and advocacy programs that counter the economic and social insecurity that disproportionately affects women, and peasant initiatives to preserve seeds and small-scale fisheries, are examples of "inclusive governance" highlighted in the report.

Contributors to the Watch argue that emerging peoples' movements offer viable and culturally acceptable alternative approaches such as food sovereignty that, supported by the effective implementation of human rights instruments and accountability systems, can succeed where the international community has thus far failed.

Misdirected food aid programs in Nepal and food banks in Germany are presented as examples of the insufficient and ill-conceived, charity approach to poverty eradication that characterizes outdated and ineffective international food policy.

Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2013: Alternatives and Resistance to Policies that Generate Hunger addresses the questions at the core of a reassessment of the MDG goals and offers alternative, human rights based approaches drawn from the lived experience and inspirational collective action of those suffering the most from hunger and malnutrition.



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Dr Alana Mann teaches in the Media and Communications Department within the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney. The focus of her research is political communication, specifically the engagement of non-state actors in international politics. (more...)

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New Report Offers Credible Alternatives to Failed Hunger Policies