Black Affairs, Africa and Development
Anti-poverty group World Development Movement attacks Government for ploughing £600m into project warning of ‘corporate scramble for Africa’
Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash will be funnelled into a ‘scandalous’ scheme to help big businesses boost profits in Africa at the expense of local farmers, say campaigners.
Anti-poverty group the World Development Movement attacked the Government for ploughing £600m into a project it warns will fuel a ‘corporate scramble for Africa’.
The money, part of Britain’s £11bn-a-year foreign aid budget, will be used to back the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.
The scheme, under the auspices of the G8, claims it will lift 50m people out of poverty by 2022 in countries such as Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi.
But the World Development Movement said the true beneficiaries will be multinational companies such as food firm Unilever and controversial US genetically modified chemicals group Monsanto. This is because African countries that want to receive aid will have to change their laws, making it easier for corporations to buy up huge tracts of farmland, the WDM said.
Countries taking part in the scheme will also have to earmark crop harvests for export, instead of using them to feed starving local people, it said.
WDM campaigners said the scheme would lead to increased land-grabbing by big firms, soaring costs for small-scale farmers and much-needed food being shipped out of impoverished countries.
Nick Dearden, director of the WDM, said: ‘It’s scandalous that UK aid money is being used to carve up Africa in the interests of big business. This is the exact opposite of what is needed, which is support to small-scale farmers and fairer distribution of land and resources to give African countries more control over their food systems.
‘Africa can produce enough food to feed its people. The problem is that our food system is geared to the luxury tastes of the richest, not the needs of ordinary people. Here the British government is using aid money to make the problem even worse.’
But the Department for International Development said the scheme would actually help small-scale farmers. ‘The only sustainable way to help them escape poverty is to help them get their goods to national and global markets and create better paid jobs,’ said a spokesman.