7 June 2014


The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: a coup for corporate capital? by N. McKeon

On the eve of the G7 meeting in Brussels and two months before President Obama welcomes African leaders to a summit aimed at boosting trade and investment relations, a new report by Terra Nuova and the Transnational Institute - “The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: a coup for corporate capital?” -  was launched that unmasks the corporate push to conquer a continent - Africa - that the World Bank had termed “the last frontier in global food and agriculture markets” in 2013.

We have already presented the New Alliance and highlighted some of the main characteristics of its activities in three African countries. It was launched by the G8 in 2012 and now covers 10 African countries and involves more than 100 companies as ‘‘donors’’, in addition to the G8 governments and the European Union. Its declared aim is to accelerate responsible investment in African agriculture and lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022 and it rests on the diagnosis that failure to solve the hunger issue is largely attributed to governments and to their alleged inability to assist efficiently and effectively those who suffer from hunger, and that the logical consequence of this view is that one has to turn to the private sector with the hope that it will solve the problem.

Since its inception, the Alliance has been heavily criticised by Civil Society and initial analysis of how the Alliance operates have proven these criticisms to be, unfortunately, justified.

Starting from an outspoken analysis of the current situation of our food system and of the consequences of the 2007-08 food and financial crises on the renewed interest for agriculture by global finance and investors, the report analyses how ‘‘the “New Alliance narrative” that has stepped into the breach opened up by the crisis has repackaged a number of old favorites of modernization discourse’’, in order to open up avenues for large private corporations to increase their domination on the food system and expand their activities in the South, particularly in Africa by ‘‘hijack[ing] discussions of agricultural development in Africa’’.

Their legitimacy based on their sole financial and economic power, large private philanthropist organisations and multinational corporations are seeking to impose their views - and interests - in the debate on how Africa should move forward, outside of any form of accountability. The report provides good examples of ways in which these actors are trying to dominate and orient the debate and action on the ground. The diagram below is an example of some of the inter-relations existing between three of these players.

Click here to enlarge diagram: Diag Gates AGRA Monsanto.png

McKeon proceeds to analyse the concepts and components of the New Alliance narrative, highlighting how it has been shaped to repackage old recipes of productivism (carefully - but superficially - adjusted to look more ‘sustainable’), how it is based on instruments like value chains, growth corridors, public-private partnerships and patient capital.

The report also reviews some of the critiques of the Alliance, including those by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and Oxfam, and puts forward a ‘‘model of production to invest in’’.

In conclusion, the report stresses the important role the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has to play, in which all stakeholders participate in the discussion on an equal footing with governments. It ends by quoting African peasant leader Mamadou Cissokho saying: “We don’t want ‘responsible investors’. We want a legislative framework that protects us effectively and investors who are obliged to respect the law.’’

The report’s endnote provides a wealth of references for those who wish to read on this issue in more details. Congratulations to author for this timely, rich and useful report!

Read the full report here: Nora McKeon, The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: a coup for corporate capital?, Terra Nuova, TNI, 2014


Last update:    June 2014

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