By Ruth Tene Natsa, Uganda
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) Wednesday, began an interactive meeting between members of the media and member organizations in Entebbe Uganda, aimed at promoting food sovereignty.
The Meeting which is to run from December 13-15th has participants drawn from 10 African Countries including Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa among others.
Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP at the event, AFSA Programmes Coordinator, Bridget Mugambe said the meeting was inspired because “AFSA is an intercontinental network and want to see how to strengthen, relate and open spaces for the media, while engaging them on issues of food sovereignty”
Reacting on the position of Africa on attaining food sovereignty, she said “We can’t say Africa has achieved food sovereignty, rather we are worried because we are moving from a point where we have our food and can grow it in our ways to a point now where it is being influenced to change and adapt to industrial formats, that is just concerned about producing with little or no regard to the kinds of food we produce or the methods we use”
She stated “The new ways do not take into consideration the food producers, including the smallholder farmers, fisherfolks, hunters, gatherers, hunters, so Africa has reached a point where it looks like it is rather moving back from where we should be going”
Speaking on some of the specific challenges she said “it is quite broad and it is manifesting in the policies now being introduced in Africa. Such policies are in favour of industrial agriculture and doing away with small holder farmers”.
“So we look at policies and frameworks like the G8, now the G7, New Alliance for Food Security, that is looking at getting more lands to produce crops and do commercial agriculture and these are big farmers, we are looking at harmonization of seed trade to ensure uniformity to ensure same production and output, we are looking at land grabs and things that have to do with pastoralist, forest among others, because communities are really being affected” she said.
Stating her reaction to the increasing population and high food demands, considering focus is on the protection of small holder farmers, she said “Already the small holder farmers are already feeding the population, noting that 70 per cent of food consumed by Africans are produced by small holder farmers”
She however noted that”It is not about the quantity of food but rather other issues in agriculture, such as distribution, promoting local food and issues of pest and diseases, which government research does not support, but rather comes with research promoting new and hybrid seeds”.
The Programme Coordinator in her recommendations called on African governments to look at Africa as a continent that is rich, with good soil, diversity of culture and ensure that government puts in resources develop local seed, enhance soil fertility with a view to proffering solutions”
AFSA which has 34 members networks active in 50 African countries is an alliance of Civil Society actors who are part of the struggle for food sovereignty and agroecology in Africa. The core purpose of AFSA is to influence policies and promote African solutions for food sovereignty