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War on Farmers: World Bank Sowing Seed-Colonialism in Africa

Colin Todhunter

In Kenya, a law was passed in 2012 that prohibits farmers’ rights to save, share, exchange or sell unregistered seeds. Farmers could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 1 million Kenyan shillings (equivalent to nearly four years’ wages for a farmer).

However, in 2022, Kenyan smallholder farmers launched a legal case against the government calling for reform of the 2012 seed law to stop criminalising them for sharing seeds. There is a hearing scheduled for 24 July 2024.

Agroecologist and environmentalist Claire Nasike Akello says that, in legal terms, the sharing and selling of indigenous seeds is a criminal offence in Kenya. In effect, Kenya’s Seed and Plant Varieties Act demolishes self-sufficiency among smallholder farmers who use indigenous seeds to grow food.

Writing on her website, she says that the legislation seeks to create a dependency on multinational companies by smallholder farmers for seeds thus giving an upper hand to these firms that continue to steal biological resources from local communities with a profit-driven mindset.

It is, in effect:

“A move designed to impoverish smallholder farmers and lock them out of farming.”

Gates, Rockefeller and big agribusiness

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) initiative, funded by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, has been intervening directly in the formulation of African governments’ agricultural policies on issues like seeds and land, opening up African markets to US agribusiness.

Around 80% of Africa’s seed supply comes from millions of small-scale farmers recycling and exchanging seed from year to year. But AGRA is supporting the introduction of commercial (chemical-dependent) seed systems, enabling a few large companies to control seed research and development, production and distribution.

Since the 1990s, national seed law reviews have taken place, sponsored by USAID and the G8 along with Gates and others, opening the door to multinational corporations’ involvement in seed production.

Regulations and ‘seed certification’ laws are often brought in by governments on behalf of industry that are designed to eradicate traditional seeds by allowing only ‘stable’, ‘uniform’ and ‘novel’ seeds on the market (meaning corporate seeds). These are the only ‘regulated’ seeds allowed: registered and certified. It is a cynical way of eradicating indigenous farming practices at the behest of corporations.

Thousands of seed varieties have been lost and corporate seeds have increasingly dominated agriculture as peasant farmers have been prevented from freely improving, sharing or replanting their traditional seeds. It amounts to the privatisation of a common heritage.

The privatisation and appropriation of inter-generational farmer knowledge embodied by seeds whose germplasm is ‘tweaked’ and stolen by corporations who then claim ownership.

Seed has been central to agriculture for 10,000 years. Seeds have been handed down from generation to generation. Peasant farmers have been the custodians of seeds, knowledge and land.

The corporate control over seeds is also an attack on the survival of communities and their traditions. Seeds are integral to identities because, in rural communities, people’s lives have been tied to planting, harvesting, seeds, soil and the seasons for thousands of years.

The privatisation of seeds is a global issue, of course. In Costa Rica, for example, the battle to overturn restrictions on seeds was lost with the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, although this flouted the country’s seed biodiversity laws.

Seed laws in Brazil created a corporate property regime for seeds which effectively marginalised all indigenous seeds that were locally adapted over generations. This regime attempted to stop farmers from using or breeding their own seeds.

What we are seeing is a drive towards the corporate commodification of knowledge and seeds, the erosion of farmers’ environmental learning, the undermining of traditional knowledge systems and an increase in farmers’ dependency on corporations.

Such dispossession and dependency are sold by Gates and the agribusiness sector as meeting the needs of modern agriculture. What it really means is a system adapted to meet the demands of global agri-capital, institutional investors like BlackRock and corporate-controlled international markets and supply chains.

Meanwhile these vested interests try to depict Africa as a basket case in need of ‘intervention’.

It’s a convenient smokescreen that diverts attention from the political economy of food and agriculture, not least how contrived debt traps and predatory lending practices led African nations into succumbing to ‘structural adjustment’ programmes, turning the continent from being a net food exporter into a net food importer, undermining indigenous crop diversity and, with it, food security and food sovereignty.

Prof Walden Bello and John Feffer argue that, in this respect, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are key to understanding the processes involved in destroying African agriculture. Neoliberal shock therapy left poor African farmers more food insecure and governments reliant on unpredictable aid flows.

Bello and Feffer argue that the social consequences of structural adjustment cum agricultural dumping were predictable:

…the number of Africans living on less than a dollar a day more than doubled to 313 million people between 1981 and 2001 – or 46% of the whole continent. The role of structural adjustment in creating poverty, as well as severely weakening the continent’s agricultural base and consolidating import dependency, was hard to deny.”

And now we have AGRA stepping in to apparently save the day. But what we have seen thus far with that initiative is more of the same: according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, AGRA is failing Africa’s farmers.

World Bank and the seeds of neocolonialism

The UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) estimates that globally just 20 cultivated plant species account for 90% of all the plant-based food consumed by humans.

In addition to this narrow genetic base putting global food security at serious risk, Graham Gordon, head of policy at the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), also says that small-scale agriculture is central in reducing extreme poverty, since 80 per cent of people living below the global poverty line are based in rural areas, and the vast majority of these depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Farmers have been growing crops and selecting seeds from the plants that grow best in their fields for thousands of years. Gordon notes that this ‘farmer seed system’ or the ‘informal’ seed sector has contributed to a nutritious and diverse household diet.

However, this farmer seed system exists alongside the commercial seed system. Hybrid seeds are usually developed by large agricultural companies for commercial purposes, are often dependent on artificial fertilisers and, as already noted, are protected through patents, backed by seed certification legislation.

Indeed, CAFOD’s 2023 report Sowing the Seeds of Poverty: How the World Bank Harms Poor Farmers describes how the farmer seed system is systematically being undermined by the concentration of power held by large-scale agribusiness and the promotion of the industrial agricultural model.

Gordon notes that seed markets are highly concentrated, with Bayer, Corteva, BASF and ChemChina/Syngenta controlling more than 50 per cent of the global commercial seed market. These same four companies also control more than 60 per cent of global agrochemical sales.

Gordon says:

Using their monopolies, these companies concentrate on producing seeds for crops with large markets – mainly staples such as maize, wheat, soy and rice. This is having devastating impacts on crop diversity. Of the more than 6,000 edible plant species that we have cultivated over centuries, just nine crops now account for more than 65 per cent of all crop production. This has led to increased prices, and has significantly reduced farmers’ choice, and the resilience of farmers to shocks such as climate change.”

CAFOD found that the World Bank promotes the interests of global agribusiness and intensified industrial agriculture by linking subsidies to farmers buying hybrid seeds and corresponding chemical fertilisers and requiring the implementation of seed certification laws that limit small farmers’ ability to grow, save, share and sell seeds.

The solution is to shift funding away from industrial agriculture and abandon notions of a Green Revolution for Africa in favour of prioritising small-scale farmers, agroecology, and public investment in farmers’ seed systems to improve nutrition, increase food diversity and strengthen rural communities and local economies.

Colin Todhunter specialises in food, agriculture and development and is a research associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal. You can read his two free books Food, Dependency and Dispossession: Resisting the New World Order and Sickening Profits: The Global Food System’s Poisoned Food and Toxic Wealth here.

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brian of nazareth
brian of nazareth
Jul 13, 2024 7:59 AM

Industrial society continues its relentless trajectory towards total control of the planet. Gosh, what fun!

Clutching at straws
Clutching at straws
Jul 12, 2024 10:30 AM

Inheritance tax relief on farms UK.

I posted the link below recently on here but it is worth repposting as it is relevant to this discussion.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/news/inheritance-tax-steve-barclay-labour-farms-starmer/

Edwige
Edwige
Jul 12, 2024 8:59 AM
Erik Nielsen
Erik Nielsen
Jul 12, 2024 10:30 AM
Reply to  Edwige

The workers love him. Labour loves him. Average Joe loves him. The Crown loves him.

“Psychologist Stanley Milgram, Found that 80% of the population do not have the psychological or moral resources to defy an authority’s order, no matter
how illegitimate the order is.”

80% of your neighbours are crybabies and shitholes. So what’s wrong?

nima
nima
Jul 12, 2024 5:13 PM
Reply to  Erik Nielsen

starts with schooling system the sickness of the parents.
YES sir sorry sir 3 bags fool sir.
religion and Sunday school another sicknes of obeying orders.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
Jul 12, 2024 7:35 AM

The Solution for Africa has to be an African Development Bank which has zero ties to the World Bank, the IMF, the WEF, any multinational companies etc. Africa needs its own banking institutions entirely focussed on the needs of the continent, entirely oblivious to the demands of the rapacious West in general and US corporations in particular. Africans need a very clear understanding of what represents political treason within each of their nations, which includes putting the disgusting needs of Bill Gates and the West before the interests of African citizens. Bill Gates should not be granted any rights whatsoever anywhere in Africa and he should, in fact, be declared ‘persona non grata’ all over the continent. Africa should take ever increasing responsibility to feed itself, using seeds of indigenous varieties made from plants grown in Africa (in fact, grown within relatively small subregions of what is a vast continent).… Read more »

NickM
NickM
Jul 12, 2024 6:20 AM

Another excellent article by Colin Todhunter. A man with his priorities right, putting Food First and Agribiz a very poor second. Also pointing a way for the People to regain rights that Big Business is trying to steal from them via bribery of Big Government:

“Kenyan smallholder farmers launched a legal case against the government calling for reform of the 2012 seed law to stop criminalising them for sharing seeds. There is a hearing scheduled for 24 July 2024.”

Sunface Jack
Sunface Jack
Jul 12, 2024 6:16 AM

The issue of GMO (Large Mega Commercial Farming) and Organic (Subsistence, small and medium farming) is a marketing war and a price war. The seed companies and chemical fertiliser and poison producers have taken sides against organic producers who are an irritation and are in the way of total domination of the industry.

Sunface Jack
Sunface Jack
Jul 12, 2024 5:54 AM

Don’t forget that the OECD is also part of the monopolisation (Cartelisation) of seed. It is as Colin Todhunter says the destruction of subsistence, small and medium farmers and all about mega farming corporates working hand in hand. If they could they would ban heirloom seeds (open pollinated varieties) and they would like to be able to privatise that too.
The purpose of GMO is that by this patent process the seed becomes the producers private property and allows them to control it from production, distribution through the value chain and unused seed must be returned to the seed seller. Of course the main driver is profit.
.

antonym
antonym
Jul 12, 2024 2:08 AM

July 11: Kenya’s Ruto dismisses almost entire cabinet after nationwide protestsThe president’s decision comes after weeks of protests forced him to abandon proposed tax hikes.
What do the IMF and foreign debt have to do with Kenya’s current crisis?

Big Al
Big Al
Jul 11, 2024 11:22 PM

“In Kenya, a law was passed”. The World Bank didn’t pass the law, the Kenyan government did. It’s the same everywhere, it’s not the World Bank, IMF, WTO, WHO, WEF, etc., making these laws, passing these mandates, etc., it’s our own governments. Of course, our governments are passing these laws “because” of the influence and power exerted from the World Bank and its controllers, multi-national and global corporations, etc., but in the end, it is people in our own countries, who are our representatives, that they “allow” us to vote for, who make these laws. Every damn one of them. So if we don’t like it, we have to change that. If we don’t change that, grin and bear it, man. If we can’t get control of our own governments, we’re up shit creek without a paddle. Maybe we could start small, like take over Liechtenstein or turn Wyoming into… Read more »

SaraB
SaraB
Jul 11, 2024 11:48 PM
Reply to  Big Al

Unless you have election fraud and can’t vote out the politicians which happens in the US. And maybe your population watches the controlled mainstream media which broadcasts propaganda 24/7.

Thom Crewz
Thom Crewz
Jul 12, 2024 12:16 AM
Reply to  SaraB

And maybe your population watches the controlled mainstream media which broadcasts propaganda 24/7.

And this is the main problem. Despite all that has happened since 2020 the masses have gone back to their comfort zones in front of the evil rectangle as if nothing ever happened.

Sunface Jack
Sunface Jack
Jul 12, 2024 5:58 AM
Reply to  Big Al

Governments are controlled by the UN and the tentacles being  World Bank, IMF, WTO, WHO, WEF, etc. Private institutions are created by Government in PPP’s to control and manage process like seed certification and certified seed sales.

NickM
NickM
Jul 12, 2024 6:26 AM
Reply to  Big Al

< Maybe we could start small, like turn Wyoming into a country >

Like the Roman Empire collapsed and turned into Italy, France, Spain, Britain etc: smaller but much nicer and more varied countries.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
Jul 12, 2024 7:38 AM
Reply to  NickM

There were quite a few wars in Europe over the centuries, you know. About 700 years of it where the British were concerned. Obviously, after 1945, that’s got rarer, but we still had the Balkans nightmare in the early 1990s.

mgeo
mgeo
Jul 12, 2024 8:48 AM
Reply to  Big Al

After these “democratic reps” attend the international confabs, they appear to become “globalist”, and hurry to implement laws pre-written for them. Fortunately, the monsters trying this in India and Kenya have hit a road block.

NixonScraypes
NixonScraypes
Jul 11, 2024 11:01 PM

For some inexplicable reason this AGRA bunch remind me of Ian Dury’s Plaistow Patricia with it’s unforgettable entrée – “arseholes, bastards, fucking cunts and pricks”

Pete S
Pete S
Jul 11, 2024 10:27 PM

This is fundamentally the same for the food system, as programable CBDC is to the money system, defacto slavery.

This would be the hill I would be prepared to die on.

underground poet
underground poet
Jul 11, 2024 9:27 PM

Its a policy that can lead to self destruction, how many years you say this has been occurring?

sandy
sandy
Jul 11, 2024 8:48 PM

I used to think a friend of mine who said the elites are Illuminati, was a little daft. But now i think he greatly understated the problem. These people are the atomic body of Satan. The French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd has accurately declared the US elite evolved into a nihilist engine of self-destruction. They will be the death of us all if WE the 99%, the collective owners and recipients of this benefactor planet, do not stand up and LOCKDOWN this evil 1% in a cage away from all wealth and authority. We, for some reason, allow them to roam free, with OUR MONEY and OUR AUTHORITY to-decide, like imperial rogue kings & queens, to render Humanity’s future a sucking, black hole of death. The long list of personal daily acts to stop this horror is right in all our faces but Satan’s “convenience” and FAKE “progress” have duped, pulled… Read more »

underground poet
underground poet
Jul 11, 2024 9:29 PM
Reply to  sandy

But the problem is so big, and we are so small.

Shipinthenight
Shipinthenight
Jul 12, 2024 8:06 AM

But..we are big, massive, billions massive. And there are so many more awakening all the time, there is momentum. I meet lots of people who know the truth.
Have faith.

Thom 9
Thom 9
Jul 11, 2024 6:42 PM

It’s been said to control food (and its production) is to control the World.
The Satanic Cabal and it’s oligarchies worldwide have been busy destroying food supplies, food supply chains and particularly food quality.
Imagine denying farmers the right to gather, preserve, reserve and exchange seed.
This is the essence of over 30,000 years of agrarian knowledge and technology.
It defies all logic but then again control is a sickness where logic is cast aside when necessary.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
Jul 12, 2024 7:40 AM
Reply to  Thom 9

This is going to be quite hard to police – it’s a bit like Prohibition in the 1920s in the USA.

October
October
Jul 11, 2024 5:30 PM

Thank you for coming back to farming issues.

Just watched this: https://canadianpatriot.org/2024/07/10/want-to-kill-some-sacred-cows-watch-energy-empire-part-2-ideological-war-on-sri-lanka-and-the-ugly-truth-of-vandana-shiva/

It looks like Ehret is shilling for big ag. Why would that be?

Rolling Rock
Rolling Rock
Jul 11, 2024 9:05 PM
Reply to  October

Very interesting and informative documentary. Ehret and his wife Cynthia Chung are first and foremost China shills. They peddle the Belt and Road Initiative of the BRICS/multipolar NWO narrative. However, as far as I am aware they are not Mathusian eugenicists, so his seeming support for BigAg, is based on organic farming being unable to support the current global population. In an ideal world organic farming is vastly preferable to BigAg’s use of pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and chemical fertilizers. Although, in the real world, unless we are all prepared to devote time and hard work in growing our own food on a small scale using gardens, allotments or any land available, then the option of eliminating all chemical inputs is not feasible. It would be a case of mass starvation, which in aggressively promoting only organic commercial farming, the globalist degrowth Malthusians are well aware would result. Most likely, at… Read more »

Pete S
Pete S
Jul 11, 2024 9:20 PM
Reply to  Rolling Rock

the option of eliminating all chemical inputs is not feasible. It would be a case of mass starvation, which in aggressively promoting only organic commercial farming, the globalist degrowth Malthusians are well aware would result.

Eliminating all chemical inputs is absouloutely feasible, and if done correctly, more profitable for the farmer, with higher yeilds, and more nutritionally dense crops.

Listen and learn:

October
October
Jul 11, 2024 9:42 PM
Reply to  Rolling Rock

Strangely enough, even Wikipedia and the Guardian (old article, though) agree about the significance of subsistence farming for “feeding the world”:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsistence_agriculture

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jan/28/can-we-ditch-intensive-farming-and-still-feed-the-world

Additionally, the Ehret-promoted film promotes GM crops (which is clearly yet another rent-seeking scam with potential side effects), and dishonestly conflates issues of sustainable human-scale farming with climate change/fossil fuels/eugenicism/Malthusianism, and even suggests Charles supports small-scale organic farming, among other things.

With this, Ehret has thoroughly outed himself.

Sunface Jack
Sunface Jack
Jul 12, 2024 6:03 AM
Reply to  October

Have you asked him or confronted him directly?

October
October
Jul 12, 2024 8:40 AM
Reply to  Sunface Jack

I don’t have any way of doing that, but I’m not looking for one either 😀

Rolling Rock
Rolling Rock
Jul 12, 2024 9:45 AM
Reply to  October

The question regarding if RegenAg can be scaled up to feed the world needs to be put to the test, and soon. Otherwise, the Malthusian eugenicists will use legislation and the SDGs to push forward their anti-human agenda using the cover of organic farming , which appears to me, is being set-up to fail. Sri Lanka was the first testbed, being a small albeit densely populated island, to monitor the public reaction to widescale food and petroleum shortages The link to that video you posted shows Vandana Shiva stating quite openly that she is coming from the “Gaia”/mother Earth perspective and that we must stop using chemicals by 2030 (that date again). It suggests to me that she and her ilk including KCIII have a goal of reducing the population drastically to save Gaia. Their solution does not offer any investment or planning for RegenAg and it will not have… Read more »

October
October
Jul 12, 2024 9:53 AM
Reply to  Rolling Rock

I’m not sure she is on the same page as KCIII, who seems to have got the memo and is now on board with corporate farming,

October
October
Jul 12, 2024 9:58 AM
Reply to  Rolling Rock

I’m not sure Shiva is on the same page as KCIII, who seems to have got the memo and is now on board with corporate farming, lab grown meat, bugs and all the other vile, expensive and wasteful plans that are being hatched and sold as ‘environmentalism’ to the useful idiots.

She is on record saying that she opposes the aim of corporate farming, namely to render most growers “surplus to requirements”.

(Sorry, unable to edit).

Pete S
Pete S
Jul 12, 2024 10:04 AM
Reply to  Rolling Rock

The question regarding if RegenAg can be scaled up to feed the world needs to be put to the test, and soon.

John Kempf started AEA in 2006, he is talking about his real world experience consulting on 4 million acreas across the USA alone, and that’s just one company.

That’s 4 million acres of improved profitability, with higher yeilds and nutrient dense crops, how big a test would you like?

Let's be Frank Joshua
Let's be Frank Joshua
Jul 11, 2024 10:38 PM
Reply to  Rolling Rock

There are now many reports and papers that show organic ag can feed the world. It is not some niche practice based on gardens and allotments. Indeed, these papers have been listed in articles that have appeared on OffGuardian. And many of these papers, reports and studies can be found with a relatively quick web search. ‘It would lead to mass starvation’ or famine is a well-worn industry scare tactic that does not stand up.

mgeo
mgeo
Jul 12, 2024 9:00 AM

The “Paris Agreement on Climate Change” agreed on small-scale, traditional and non-destructive. Yet, the official UN bodies concerned, especially those dealing with trade and finance, are evading this.

Let's be Frank Joshua
Let's be Frank Joshua
Jul 12, 2024 11:41 AM
Reply to  mgeo

Increasingly captured by big ag interests.

Thom 9
Thom 9
Jul 12, 2024 1:22 AM
Reply to  Rolling Rock

Ehret and his wife Cynthia Chung are first and foremost China shills. They peddle the Belt and Road Initiative of the BRICS/multipolar NWO narrative.

Yeppers shills for sure…

Years back on a flight out west I was sitting next to a gentleman who claimed to be an organic farmer who grew rapeseed (the original non-GMO version) of the GMO known to most as canola. He said that he was involved in a court challenge against big ag at the time on the as their GMO canola crops were cross polluting his organically grown rapeseed. I don’t know the outcome of that court matter however he claimed that he grew more rapeseed using his organic techniques per hectare than big ag ever could with their GMO pesticide infested canola,

October
October
Jul 12, 2024 6:51 AM
Reply to  Thom 9
Rolling Rock
Rolling Rock
Jul 12, 2024 9:52 AM
Reply to  Thom 9

I am definitely a fan of organic farming but it does worry me that the likes of the globalist controlled opposition or useful idiot types are the ones actively promoting it. The controllers always operate and control both sides of an issue. The ‘duality’.

In much the same way as Just Stop Oil and XR are globalist controlled oppositions groups funded by Big Oil. It feels like this is an experiment designed to fail in order to buy up land on the cheap and reduce the population in the process.

October
October
Jul 12, 2024 1:01 PM
Reply to  Rolling Rock

I’m not sure Just stop oil and XR are on the same side as organic farming. In fact, they might even be at odds.

The ‘climate’ and ‘biodiversity’ scammers are in fact anti-life – they like lab-grown meat, big data, and replacing trees with wind turbines and solar panels. They adhere to the rewiring-the-circuits-of-life BS peddled by the WEF and its charlatans.

The people at the top are fully aware of this agenda of the artificialisation of everything, and are using the green pretext to shove an anything-but-green agenda on the world.

Like you, I am a fan of farming practices that are healthy for producers and buyers alike. These are absolutely NOT being promoted by the globalists, who want to sell us lab-grown filth, utlra-processed vegan frankenfood and so on – which offer the double benefit of ‘high added value’ and centralisation.