The authoritarian face of the “Green Revolution”: Rwanda capitulates to agribusiness

By Manuel Milz

, by Grain

The idea that Africa could benefit from a so-called “Green Revolution” of the kind that failed to deliver on its promises in the 1960s has made unfortunate headway since 2004 when Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared himself in favour of a “uniquely African green revolution.” Indeed, many African governments now find themselves committing to the same flawed productivist dogmas [1].

The process was set in motion in 2003 with the African Union’s approval (within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)) of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), whose laudable goal is to “eliminate hunger and reduce poverty” by increasing public investment in agriculture by a minimum of 10% of national budgets and raising agricultural productivity by at least 6%.

The CAADP was reinforced in 2006 by the Abuja Declaration emerging from the Africa Fertilizer Summit. The member states of the African Union committed to multiplying the per-hectare consumption of fertilizer in Africa by a factor of six by 2015. Meanwhile, the private sector launched its offensive for so-called “improved” or “selected” (i.e., commercial, non-farm-saved) seed via the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an entity created in 2006 by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and chaired since 2007 by Annan. The idea of this program “is to fund public breeders to develop new varieties … to fund private companies to sell these to farmers, and to provide credit to farmers for the purchase of these seeds…,” [2] with commercial pesticides and fertilizers to match.

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