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The Southern African Faith Communities’ Institute (SAFCEI) held a press conference to publish the Faith Leaders in Africa’s open letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The letter calls on the Bill and Melinda Gates to reconsider its support for Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa’s chemical-intensive industrial-scale agriculture, which is destructive to the environment and disregard age-old methods of regenerative farming. SAFCEI highlighted the push, to the periphery of the smallholder farmers through the introduction of highbred and genetically modified seed and the outlawing of OPV.  The inconsideration for the environment exhibited by the AGRA initiated and supported farming is an affront to people of faith in Africa who have a high regard of regenerative agriculture.

Further to these issues it was also noted that morally AGRA stands on slippery ground as it made promises that it has failed to live up to and has breached the value of proper accountability in the process. In the civil society sector monitoring and evaluation is regarded as the compass to continuing programming. The results of monitoring and evaluation must be shared with the stakeholders, the beneficiaries and the funders alike; however, that for the AGRA programmes in Africa have been kept a tight secret.  When the laws of the land had to be invoked in the United states to get the data, it falls short of the touted results that gobbled up around a billion United States dollars.

  • No evidence of 100% increase in productivity
  • No evidence of incomes doubling; poverty still high
  • No evidence of improved food security
    • 31% increase in number of undernourished people in AGRA countries
    • Only 4 AGRA countries showed a decline; in 9 it increased
  • Resulted in erosion of local varieties
  • Moreover, AGRA lobbies governments on behalf of agricultural corporations to pass legislation that will benefit fertilizer producers and seed companies instead of strengthening small-scale food production and alternative structures. Indeed, it is being courted by governments worldwide for precisely this service.

The above objectives that the press Conference noted were not achieved or there is no data to validate their achievements pushes in the core considerations of the constructive African moral values. AGRA through failure to release its monitoring and evaluation data to the public in the countries where its programmes are situated, may be found on the wrong side of the African moral principles. That they seem not to care to be accountable in Africa is at variance with the African moral values. There are African proverbs that warn against such behaviours as espoused by AGRA and by extension its sponsors.  Moral values are the behavioural practices, goals, and habits which are validated by the society we’re part of. This set of values typically becomes embedded in our behaviour through a long process of observation, education, conditioning, and social guidelines. Usually, these are universal in nature and may not vary, much, in different parts of the world. For instance, no matter which community, religion, or region you belong to, moral values such as truthfulness, loyalty, courage, faith, and honesty will be equally respected almost everywhere.[1] One wonders therefore what moral principles AGRA is following since good practices in development projects and programmes require that the stakeholders and beneficiaries informed  of the outcomes of monitoring and evaluations. Noting that AGRA is trying to convince Africa that its methods are progressive and good, it surely must be imperative that they share their evaluations widely. Where questions are asked, they should be able to produce the data to validate their conclusions.

Moral values concern themselves with what is socially acceptable, good or evil. Moral values are ideas that society considers important. They are at play when a person interacts with the wider world or has to make a decision that will have a consequence on others.[2] SAFCEI teamed up with other organisations for a second press conference that targeted the Alliance for the Green Revolution Forum summit. The gloves came off as the speakers laid bare the concerns for the small holder farmers, fisher folk and the pastoralists based on science, faith and the moral values.

With the situation that is playing out now, where AGRA decides to invite Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa’s coordinator to its summit at the eleventh hour, how genuine AGRA and its Alliance for the Green Revolution Forum are? Are they trying to sanitize their Summit by bringing in the coordinator to the meeting? And what time is there for him to sufficiently consult with the 35 member networks? And what time is there for the networks to consult with their members in all the countries? This idea should be noted a s a smokescreen for inclusivity and damage control in the aftermath of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and SAFCEI calls for genuine engagement and departure from industrial agriculture.

It must be noted that “Moral values are comparatively rigid”.  It is often seen that society resists any change to the moral values that it holds dear to itself.[3] In this regard Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and SAFCEI are holding true this position in view of their call to an environmentally considerate agricultural practice and support for the smallholder farmers. When the Alliance and the Faith Communities call AGRA to account and those that fund it to reconsider, they are only representing the African moral perspective noting that a larger population of Africa is left behind by the AGRA’s call industrial agriculture.

Many African proverbs embrace the view that whatever action people take must be agreed upon with those to be affected and those that carry out the action. The Shona people have a proverb that says “kukanya hurangana” meaning for you to mix different foods you have to agree first. [One of the people partaking in the meal may be allergic to other food].

Morals reflect our intentions[4] hence the African morals intent to have a society that is not wasteful, that cares for the environment and would not want to leave anyone behind. Wild fruits were not supposed to be destroyed or gathered in excess as it was regarded as food for the traveller and the wild animals. Even in the Old Testament God instructed the people of Israel to gather enough for their needs and those that gathered in excess found their manna with maggots and moulds the next morning. Our faiths guide to be mindful of all creation. Christian, Jewish and Islamic texts note that when there was a flood men built the ark but God called the animals to take refuge from the impending flood. Whose interests is AGRA and its backers serving when they leave smallholder farmers indebted and the without seed [because of the AGRA sponsored seed laws that outlaws the keeping of seeds by farmers].

SAFCEI stands firm in its support for ecological organic agriculture and the ending industrial agriculture be it for crops, animals or poultry. Values here are to be understood as beliefs that are held about what is right and wrong and what is important in life.[5] It is important for humanity to core exist with other creation.


By Gabriel Manyangadze, SAFCEI Climate Justice Coordinator.



[1] 18/08/2021

[2] 18/08/2021

 [3] 18/08/2021

[4] 18/08/2021

[5] 18/08/2021

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