Agritech in Africa promoted in Davos

by Catherine Morand | 14 Feb 2018


Bill Gates, at the World Economic Forum (WEF), which opens today in Davos, Switzerland, alongside agrobusiness multinationals in corpore, pursues a strategy of predation and transformation in continental African agriculture. In the name of world hunger and climate change.

The promoting of high tech agriculture on the African continent is one of the themes that appears on the agenda of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, which began on January 23.  The basis for this very aggressive strategy is, in fact, the « New Vision for Agriculture” concocted by the WEF, which has partnered with the G8 and G20 to promote agrobusiness in the countries of the South. Among the partners of this “New Vision” are:  Monsanto, Nestlé, Bayer CropScience, Cargill, Coca-Cola, Wal-mart, Yara International, Syngenta, Unilever, Mosaic, whose representatives are all present in Davos this week.

In a document recently put on line by the WEF, entitled “And if salvation came from ‘afro-agro-start-ups?’”, one discovers that “Africa is an idyllic playground for agritech and agro-start-ups”. The leading technologies are presented as the panacea for feeding Africa and the world, in a context of climate disruption and exploding population growth. This would involve nothing less than a revolution “as amazing as it is vital” for Africa, according to its promoters, who wonderfully manipulate Newspeak ad hoc, praising to the skies “these young innovative shoots that are growing in the field of agricultural value chains” in the many think tanks that are discussing the issue.

But is it reasonable to make the African continent into a new playground to test all kinds of new agro-technological experiments in the name of the fight against hunger, poverty and global warming? Africa, referred to as « the ultimate border », is perceived as a “promised land” by globalized agrobusiness which can’t wait to get its hands on the land and natural resources, flooding it with crop protection products and hybrid engineered seeds, at the expense of local farmers and their know-how.

Bill Gates, another regular at Davos, is very committed to this offensive.  Last month in Paris, at the One Planet Summit organized by French president Emmanuel Macron, he promised to release 300 million dollars to finance innovations aimed at helping poor African farmers to adapt to climate change. “We have to give better seeds, more productive seeds, that can resist heat and drought”, he declared at that time.  For the NGOs present, that involves nothing less than surfing the climate crisis to emphasize the pressures on African countries in order to allow the introduction of GMO (genetically modified organisms) into their agriculture.

The NGO GRAIN, based in Barcelona, has confirmed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is in the process of organizing, for billions of dollars, a radical change in continental African agriculture. Of the 3 billion dollars already ear-marked by the Foundation for agricultural development in Africa, only 5% has gone directly to the continent. A large part of the research budget has been allocated to American laboratories, who deal with engineered varieties of tropical plants.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also financed a number of public-private partnerships with multinationals (DuPont, Cargill, Unilever, Nestlé, Coca-Cola, etc.) for projects aimed at radically transforming African agriculture – all in the name of the fight against hunger and global warming, despite the concerns expressed by NGOs. 

Are these concerns being heard in the cozy rooms of the WEF in Davos? It’s doubtful. The States would, in any case, do well to be concerned with those private companies and foundations that will get their hands on African agriculture and that are not accountable to anyone except their investors and board members in order to prevent the social and environmental catastrophes that loom on the horizon.

Translation: Harold Slamovitz


Author: Catherine Morand
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