What is Reinforcing Damaging Industrial Models in Africa?

This report, co-developed by Biovision, IPES-Food and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), zooms in on the all-important financial flows in food system research to sub-Saharan Africa, with a view to understanding more about how the industrial model is perpetuated and where the opportunities lie for sparking agroecological transition.

New data shows that only a fraction of agricultural research funding in Africa is being used to transform food and farming systems. For example, as many as 85% of projects funded by the Gates Foundation, the world’s biggest philanthropic investor in agri-development, are limited to developing industrial agriculture, or increasing its efficiency. Only 3% of their projects in Africa support sustainable, regenerative approaches – or ‘agroecology’.

Approximately 30% of farms around the world are estimated to have redesigned their production systems around agroecological principles. The report finds that support for agroecology is now growing across the agri-development community, particularly in light of climate change, but this hasn’t yet translated into a meaningful shift in funding flows. The authors argue that change can’t come soon enough. 

With the compound challenges of climate change, pressure on land and water, food-induced health problems and pandemics such as COVID, we need change now. And this starts with money flowing into agroecology.

Hans Herren
President of Biovision and Board Member of IFOAM - Organics International 

To accelerate this shift, the report calls on donors to: shift towards long-term, pooled funding models; require projects to be co-designed with farmers and communities; increase the share of funding going to African organisations; and increase transparency in how their projects are funded, monitored and measured for impact.

Olivia Yambi, co-chair of IPES-Food, said: “We need to change funding flows and unequal power relations. It’s clear that in Africa as elsewhere, vested interests are propping up agricultural practices based on an obsession with technological fixes that is damaging soils and livelihoods, and creating a dependency on the world’s biggest agri-businesses. Agroecology offers a way out of that vicious cycle.”

The Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development is a not-for-profit organisation involved in ecological and sustainable development projects in Africa, and advocating for sustainable development worldwide.

The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) is an independent, expert panel that works towards the transition to sustainable food systems worldwide.

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is a global research and learning organisation for equitable and sustainable change.

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