Newsletter 15 – Editorial

Smallholder agri-investments

Illustration: Encouragement, Erika Hastings

200,000 hectares of land given to multinational Louis Dreyfus in Côte d’Ivoire for rice export. 70 million pounds of UK taxpayer money to develop genetically modified crops. Privatization of seeds across continents. These are just a few
projects in the last years under the banner of ‘investing in agriculture’.

This is why social movements are gearing up for one of the biggest emerging battles over the future of food sovereignty – the corporatization of investment. The private sector portrays itself as the saviour of farming but as this newsletter shows it is small holders who are really investing in feeding people and building rural livelihoods. Being taken in by the story of the overriding importance of corporate investment means, for example, that ‘codes of conduct’ to continue land grabbing are being developed instead of regulations to stop it.

A closer look at Africa shows that corporate private investment is a strategy:
i) to sell more chemicals and seeds to African farmers, and

ii) to secure low cost access to land and resources for global supply chains that feed the rich – through controlling small holders. This will destroy the environment, kill genetic diversity and push thousands more into hunger.

In October the World Committee on Food Security (CFS) will meet to discuss principles for ‘Responsible investments in agriculture’. We must shout out the message that not all investment is the same. And ask important questions: Investment in what type of agriculture? By whom? For whose benefit? Colombian farmers have just succeeded in rolling back seed privatization by asking this. And as the Voices from the field show, small holders everywhere
are rising to the task.

Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth International