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They will feed us! A people’s route to African food sovereignty

By Mamadou Goïta, et. al. - La Via Campesina, October 2023

African agriculture and food systems are evolving in an increasingly volatile context, impacted by climate change, conflicts, fragile and iniquitous globalised food systems, successive food crises, and unaddressed structural causes. Africa is one of the first victims of existing global inequalities, with a generally subordinate economic position, a limited voice in political decisions affecting the continent and its nations, and an extremely unequal distribution of the costs and benefits stemming from the exploitation of natural resources. In this context, the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), widely denounced by people’s movements around the world as undemocratic and illegitimate, sought to kickstart a global process towards “food system transformation” and urged countries to develop their own “national pathways” for achieving this goal. The Dakar 2 – ‘Feed Africa Summit’ in January 2023, sponsored by the African Development Bank, also enjoined countries to present “national compacts” emphasising private sector investment.

African governments are calling for an end to dependence on food imports. However, instead of supporting peasant agroecology and territorial markets, they often favour a “modernisation” approach, focusing on investment in specialised crops and zones, privileging privatised seeds and so-called modern technologies, relying heavily on foreign private investment and promoting export-oriented value chains. The national pathways designed by African governments within the framework of the UNFSS, like the national compacts presented at the Dakar 2 Summit, could further reinforce this trend. This is why African peasant’s organisations (POs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) have decided to conduct their own autonomous assessment of these developments.

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