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Sunday, June 22, 2008

International NGOs blame IMF, World Bank and WTO for bad policies in Africa as a result of Malawi's food successes



food crisis being experienced
in Africa is due to the failure
of three decades of market deregulation
by the World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund and the World Trade
Organisation’s agricultural sector
development model, a group of
international NGOs have stated.

group said that the policies of
the Washington Consensus
had weakened the smallholder agricultural
systems, resulting in the food
crisis now being witnessed in
many African countries, including
Kenya, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Cote
d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso,
Cameroon and Mauritania, some
of which have witnessed violent

share of global exports declined
from 50 per cent in the 1960s
to 20 per cent in the 1980s. On
the other hand, African governments
spent an average of $18.7 billion
to import foods nearly eight years
ago, while food aid dependent
states received $3.8 million as
food aid.

to the NGOs, the continent’s spending
on cereal imports is expected
to rise by more than half this

Wauye, ActionAid Kenya’s food
rights co-ordinator, said African
governments, advised by international
financial institutions and donors,
have dismantled public support
to agriculture and neglected small
farmers, particularly women farmers,
who feed their people. The current
food crisis in Africa, she added
is a signal that most African
countries cannot continue to rely
on importation of food, mostly
grains, to meet national food

NGOs, including ActionAid, the
Global Call to Action against
Poverty, Oxfam and the Kenya Food
Security Policy Advocacy Network
were at the 25th Food and Agricultural
Organisation (FAO) regional conference
for Africa in Nairobi, last week.

NGOs called for an urgent, immediate
and innovative long term strategy
that is largely informed by local
experience and policy direction,
which should be embedded in draft
policies aimed at alleviating
the situation, which the group
predicts will continue for the
next two years.

effectively address the current
crisis, food security mandates
ought to be the responsibility
of all various ministries or institutions.
Similarly, policy measures should
be mainstreamed in all government
ministries and departments with
a view to enhancing a cohesive
approach to dealing with the problem.

group also proposed the transformation
and subsidisation of smallholder
agriculture by removing nuisance
taxes and cess on all agricultural
products produced locally. Malawi
is a living testimony — it has
moved from being over-dependent
on food aid to a net-food
producing and exporting country.

governments should trash the IMF’s
structural adjustment programmes
and subsidise farm inputs needed
by small-scale farmers such as
fertilisers, seeds, animal vaccines,
artificial insemination and other
animal clinical services.

governments should support investments
in initiatives that ensure availability
of cereals and seeds for both
consumption and as planting materials
at local level. Blanket and unchecked
liberalisation of seed and other
inputs market has not improved
timely access to quality seeds
or fertilisers by small-scale

addition, 15 African civil society
organisations (CSOs) attending
the meeting have demanded that
trade must serve the development
of agriculture and livelihoods
of poor people rather than the
interests of multinationals. African
governments, they noted, must
prioritise inter and intra-Africa
trade in agriculture rather than
negotiate unfair bilateral trade
agreements such as the Economic
Partnership Agreements.

CSOs recommended that an effective
agricultural special safeguard
mechanism for African countries
to overcome the current food crisis
be applied and that countries
fulfil the commitment of allocating
a minimum of 10 per cent of their
national budget to agriculture
development, while the WTO must
be excluded from agriculture and
left to deal with other issues.

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