NGOs say World Bank-supported 'Enabling the Business of Agriculture' project increases profits to companies but threatens food security for local communities

Civils society organisations have called on the World Bank to stop supporting the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project saying it "jeopardizes farmers’ right to seeds, food security, and the future of our planet."  They argue that it compromises food security while increasing profits to a small number of companies.

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Article
23 January 2017

Columnist say “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” threatens African agriculture and favours agribusinesses

Author: Matt Canfield, in Community Alliance for Global Justice (USA)

"Why do the World Bank’s new indicators, “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” pose a threat to African agriculture?"

AGRA Watch has long been concerned with the Gates Foundation’s funding for agri-business and pro-corporate agricultural policies in Africa. However, what was at first a simple model of philanthrocapitalism—the use of apparent philanthropy to expand globally-integrated capitalist markets—has now turned into a full-throated effort to coerce states into embracing pro-market reforms...

La Via Campesina, the international movement of peasant farmers, and other social movements and activists have been in a protracted battle over this approach, which often dispossesses small-scale producers, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition. Indeed, the EBAs primarily measure agricultural production in places where small-scale producers make up a majority of food producers. For these farmers, commercialization means creating markets along the supply chain to displace the current public support and non-market practices, such as farmer-managed seed systems and low-input or agroecological farming. Encouraging these reforms thus means vertically integrating smallholders into global food markets. The result, as  the Oakland Institute argues, “quickly generates a race to the bottom between the poorest countries that wish to appear more agribusiness-friendly in order to attract private investments.”  Small-scale producers and workers have therefore advocated for solutions that strengthen local markets and their own capacities. Rather than asking what role the private sector should play or how African food security can be supported, the EBAs evade these debates, concealing a vast terrain of struggle behind seemingly-impartial tools of measurement.

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Article
23 January 2017

NGOs say World Bank-supported Enabling the Business of Agriculture threatens food security for local communities

Author: African Center for Biodiversity & others, in Oakland Institute

"RE: Calling on the World Bank to End the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA)"

...We are writing today to urge you to put an end to the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project, which jeopardizes farmers’ right to seeds, food security, and the future of our planet. In 2012, the World Bank was tasked by the G8 to create a “Doing Business in Agriculture Index.”1 With the support of the US, UK, Danish, and Dutch governments as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Bank launched the EBA project, which will benchmark the agricultural policies of over 60 countries in 2017.

The EBA’s top-down approach dictates the so-called “good practices” to regulate agriculture and scores countries on how well they apply and implement its prescriptions. Based on the EBA scores, the World Bank leverages policy changes in agriculture.2 This is a dangerously misguided effort, as national policymaking should prioritize locally adapted solutions based on the experiences and demands of farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, and rural communities...

While the EBA reforms will not benefit the majority of farmers, they will increase the profits of a handful of private companies...In order to protect farmers, food security, and our planet, we urge you to put an immediate end to the EBA project. We call on the World Bank to rather fight poverty and food insecurity by promoting vibrant local seed systems, and supporting true participation of farmers in the design of regulations and policies in the agricultural sector.

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