Food sovereignty in Africa: The people’s alternative

Published on Pambazuka, by Mamadou Goita, July 131, 2010.

The different explanations given for Africa’s current food crisis seem to miss the real causes of the problem. Mamadou Goita does not believe that the crisis is of an economic nature. Rather, it is the endpoint of the dismantling of Africa’s agricultural sector and its linking to the international market and brutal liberalism. Based on an analysis of the political choices that have contributed to the current situation, notably the structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s, Goita proposes solutions and decisions that need to be taken to achieve food sovereignty in Africa … //


The valorisation of local produce is inextricably linked to the broader question of food sovereignty. The solutions we propose go beyond adding value to products. We are proposing mid- to long-term solutions:

  • Bolstering family farming so that it performs better and becomes more sustainable. It is important to note that in Africa, family farming feeds the continent
  • Strengthening food security, with special emphasis on local produce
  • Putting in place mechanisms to support African agriculture (in the from of subsidies for both production and consumption) through investments, water management and other means. It is imperative that we develop agroecological alternatives to the industrial model. African social movements must fight this from of agriculture driven by multinationals and certain rich countries. This form of agriculture is destructive and detrimental to Africa’s predominant mode of production, family farming
  • Better organising and managing domestic, local, sub-regional and regional markets for cereals by means of a cereals exchange that works to link producers and consumers and excludes speculation[9]
  • Ensuring reasonable producer prices in order to promote investment in farming and enable producers to access basic social services
  • Promoting social security for producers and availing disaster relief
  • Establishing a fund for the processing and marketing of local produce
  • Establishing systems for locally based participatory research and integrating this into the national knowledge repository
  • Resolving land tenure and agrarian issues, taking into account the realities of each particular country. It would be important to avoid the system of individual title, which has a tendency to lead to privatisation. It is also necessary to declare a moratorium on the sale of land, which has taken on a worrying dimension in some countries.
  • Re-nationalising agrofood industries that are strategic to agricultural development. Industrialisation will be a key determinant for the development of agriculture in Africa.
  • Setting in place agricultural policies that are based on food sovereignty and that make all issues related to food human rights issues.

These proposals will contribute to mid- and long-term solutions to sustainable agricultural development in West and Central Africa. We must learn from the past and act fast in order to avoid the inappropriate ‘fast-food policy’ steps that have been taken by certain countries and their partners. (full long text and Notes 1 to 9).

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