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Developing strategies to struggle for Food Sovereignty in Africa

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), the Pan African coalition of peasant organizations, NGOs and networks that support family farming in Africa, held from August 12 to 16 in Addis Ababa, a workshop on the theme The development of a strategy for food sovereignty in Africa and its challenges.
The objective was to provide the members of the Alliance with a forum to analyze, discuss issues and  policies which undermine the African family farming and to set up a strategy able to address the challenges that food security and food sovereignty in Africa have to face.
In his introductory speech, Million Belay Coordinator of AFSA underlined that: "Several global initiatives on agriculture have been identified, that are part of a global corporatist agenda that takes advantage of agricultural production in Africa, rather than to meet the real needs of the regione and the farmers.”
It is, therefore, a matter of finding the ways to organize the fight against such agri-business initiatives that are increasingly growing through the practice of land grabbing and the use of GMOs. African biodiversity  and local knowledge systems are threatened by the seeds produced by large industrial corporations, by GMOs, agrochemicals, and a set of laws that prevent small farmers to freely use, share or sell their seeds. According to the AFSA,  these threats can be identified, among others, in the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition" developed within the G8 which strongly support the interests of multinational producers of seeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals to the detriment of the rights of small farmers.
Currently, 80% of  the African seeds is produced by small farmers. They freely share their seeds, preserve  the biodiversity and provide a net for safety and food sovereignty through the region. In this regard, Elizabeth Mpofu from La Via Campesina Africa stated: " We are outraged by how African governments are heavily armed by adopting draconian laws on seeds that ensure the dominance of industrial seeds and give monopoly rights and exclusive marketing to private breeders.”
G8 New Alliance strongly put the accent on nutrition which focuses almost exclusively on bio- fortification of major food crops. According to Bernard Guri Africa COMPAS, Bio- fortification is a dangerous distraction from real solutions for nutrition as well as the crops diversification, which allows to ignore socio-economic and cultural causes of .malnutrition.
Many Pan-African networks within AFSA have underlined with great concern the increasing acquisition of large areas of land in Africa by mining conglomerates, bio-fuels and export agribusiness industries. But those small farmers displaced by the land grab phenomena feed 70% of the planet thanks to their model of agro-ecological family farming. “We must support them rather than undermine their practices and knowledge”- remarked Million Belay.
According to Ben Guri, President of the AFSA, never before we had seen such a coordination of funded initiatives able to transform the small African agriculture in a large commercial enterprise. These initiatives are implemented without consultation of small African farmers... and seeds and food sovereignty in the region are placed into the hands of foreign corporations that deplete the continent's biodiversity.
At end of the session, the Alliance members have expressed their commitment to intensify the campaign for African Food Sovereignty through several activities aimed to increase advocacy and capacity building of small scale producers’ and of others civil society organizations concerned with Food Sovereignty in the region.  

By Jacques Yves Atangana
More and Better Afrique