The Hunger Games: How DFID Support for Agribusiness is Fuelling Poverty in Africa

The Hunger Games: How DFID Support for Agribusiness is Fuelling Poverty in Africa

Report for War on Want (December 2012)

This report shows that hundreds of millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money is being used to promote projects designed to benefit some of the world’s richest agribusiness corporations and to extend their control over the global food system. DFID is at the centre of an intricate nexus of corporations and donor-sponsored institutions seeking to maximise private profit from agriculture. Personal connections play a vital role, and there is a significant ‘revolving door’ of staff between DFID and agribusiness corporations, with the personal links going beyond DFID to the heart of the UK government and its economic policy. In addition, this report reveals DFID’s involvement in a network of private enterprises and investment fund managers incorporated in the secrecy jurisdiction of Mauritius.

Read full publication >

Agricultural Research in Africa: Why CAADP Should Follow IAASTD

Agricultural Research in Africa: Why CAADP Should Follow IAASTD

Briefing for APRODEV European NGO Network (May 2012)

This briefing analyses the agricultural research policies of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the extent to which they address the needs of smallholder farmers. CAADP has a huge opportunity to promote good agricultural research by following the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). However, CAADP is largely not following the IAASTD roadmap. African governments are ignoring their CAADP commitment, set in 2003, to double their annual spending on agricultural research within 10 years. Despite the fact that women constitute most farmers in Africa, they are paid lip service in CAADP programmes. CAADP is also promoting a farming model, associated with the Green Revolution, that encourages heavy reliance on expensive external inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and improved and/or hybrid seeds bought from agribusiness companies; this comes at the expense of promoting sustainable agriculture approaches which are likely to benefit poor farmers much more.

Read full publication >

Ghana’s Pesticide Crisis: The Need for Further Government Action

Ghana’s Pesticide Crisis: The Need for Further Government Action

Report for Northern Presbyterian Agricultural Services (Ghana) (April 2012)

This is a study of the use of chemical pesticides by farmers in northern Ghana, asking: how safe is the current use of pesticides and is the government adequately regulating it? The report finds that health problems associated with pesticides use are widespread: NPAS’ survey of 183 farmers in 14 villages in Upper East region found that more than a quarter had recently suffered from directly inhaling chemicals and one fifth from spillage of chemicals on the body. In late 2010, 15 farmers died from suspected pesticide poisoning in Upper East region, most resulting from poor storage of pesticides, which seeped into food stocks. These deaths may well be the tip of the iceberg: Senior health officials believe that some ‘natural’ deaths among Ghanaian farmers might be related to pesticide use, partly since poisonings are hard to diagnose. Around seven banned or restricted chemical pesticides appear to be still being used by some Ghanaian farmers, as are other dangerous chemical pesticides that the government has cleared for use and failed to ban. Food consumers are also affected: Residues from six banned or restricted chemical pesticides have been found in food samples in recent academic studies. The pesticide problem is compounded by unscrupulous private companies illegally importing pesticides into Ghana and by an industry behind pesticides that is driving increased use in Ghana. The government is aware of the dangers of pesticides and is taking a number of measures to ensure the safer use of pesticides, but legislation is not being implemented adequately, largely due to insufficient allocation of resources. The capacity for regulation has not kept pace with the liberalization of the pesticides market that the government has been so keen to encourage.

Read full publication >

Asia at the Crossroads: Prioritising Conventional Farming or Sustainable Agriculture?

Asia at the Crossroads: Prioritising Conventional Farming or Sustainable Agriculture?

Report for ActionAid (February 2012)

This report argues that Asian countries are at a crossroads in their agriculture strategies. Before them are two farming models: ‘conventional’, industrial farming, promoted by the Green Revolution; and sustainable, or ecological, agriculture – involving methods of farming that are gaining increasing acceptance around the world as the most viable way to promote food security and address climate change. Based on secondary research and fieldwork among farmers in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Guangxi Autonomous Region of China, the report highlights the deep problems associated with conventional farming and argues that Asian countries must promote sustainable agriculture with much greater urgency than they are currently doing.

Read full publication >

Country Successes in Reducing Hunger: How They Did It and Why Other Donors and Governments Should Change Policy

Country Successes in Reducing Hunger: How They Did It and Why Other Donors and Governments Should Change Policy

Paper for ActionAid (November 2011)

From 1970 to 1995 the world made progress in reducing the number of hungry people but the figure always remained above 750 million. Since then, the number has progressively risen, increasing to over a billion in 2009, and remaining above 900 million in 2010. But in this rather dismal global context, several countries have bucked the trend and successfully managed to drastically reduce the number of hungry people. This short analysis investigates how they did it and offers lessons for donors and Southern governments. Indeed, this experience challenges many current agricultural policies. As well as reviewing the literature on how countries have reduced hunger, the paper looks closely at four countries – Vietnam, China, Ghana and Bangladesh – which all show varying degrees of success in combating hunger.

Read full publication >

World Disasters Report 2011: United Against Hunger

World Disasters Report 2011: United Against Hunger

Chapter Six of the World Disasters Report 2011 (September 2011)

This paper outlines what policies and partnerships are needed from governments, donors and global institutions to strengthen the world food system and eradicate hunger and malnutrition. It argues that policy-making at all levels is too top down, and that governments are spending too little on agriculture and social protection, and insufficiently on key areas such as extension services, agricultural research and, crucially, women farmers. Agricultural aid from donors is little better and needs fundamental reform while global institutions have yet to deliver on fine rhetoric.

Read full publication >

Cocoa Commodity Briefing

Cocoa Commodity Briefing

Briefing for the Fairtrade Foundation (August 2011)

Around 50 million people globally depend on cocoa for their livelihoods. This briefing offers an overview of the industry, including the main country producers, companies and the prices paid to small-scale growers. It shows that world cocoa processing and chocolate production and sales are dominated by ten companies. Cocoa growers receive only around 6 per cent of the price of chocolate paid by consumers in rich countries, compared with around 16 per cent in the late 1980s.

Read full publication >

Success in Reducing Hunger: Lessons from India, Malawi and Brazil

Success in Reducing Hunger: Lessons from India, Malawi and Brazil

Report for International Food Security Network (February 2011)

This report shows that some governments around the world are taking decisive action against hunger. Malawi’s Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme, India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee programme and Brazil’s Zero Hunger programme are all proving significant successes in reducing hunger. This study highlights the reasons for success of these programmes and points to lessons learned that should be considered by other governments that are failing to prioritise the eradication of hunger. The case studies show that the combination of civil society pressure and government commitment to the Right to Food is key to reducing the scourge of global hunger.

Read full publication >

Uganda: Six Areas for Improvement in Agricultural Financing

Uganda: Six Areas for Improvement in Agricultural Financing

Report for ActionAid-Uganda (May 2010)

This report is an analysis of the Ugandan government’s agriculture budget. It looks at spending levels, the efficiency of spending and the extent to which the budget focuses on providing key services to small farmers – extension services, access to inputs, agricultural research and credit. It argues that there are six urgent budgetary changes the government – and donors – need to make if hunger and farm productivity are to be seriously addressed.

Read full publication >

Fertile Ground: How Governments and Donors can Halve Hunger by Supporting Small Farmers

Fertile Ground: How Governments and Donors can Halve Hunger by Supporting Small Farmers

Report for ActionAid (April 2010)

This report – based on extensive work in Uganda, Malawi and Kenya and a comprehensive global literature review – analyzes the level and quality of agriculture spending on key areas likely to benefit women and men smallholder farmers the most. These include extension services, rural credit, the provision of farming inputs and agricultural research and development. It has a particular focus on the failure of governments and donors to prioritise spending on the people that do most farming in developing countries – women.

Read full publication >