Sunday, April 17, 2011
SAGCOT: NEW GREEN (OR GREED) REVOLUTION FOR TANZANIA ?
MONSANTO, USAID and AGRA’s BLUEPRINT FOR A “GREEN REVOLUTION ” IN TANZANIA & SOUTHEASTERN AFRICA.
"SAGCOT is an initiative which I believe personally is the best model to fast track the green revolution in Tanzania.”Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the Republic of Tanzania
On January 2011, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania alongside Hugh Grant – Chairman and CEO of Monsanto - and Rajiv Shah - USAID administrator - officially presented and inaugurated the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) Investment Blueprint at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
In a foreword to the SAGGOT Investment Blueprint, President Kikwete said:
“Tanzania is, in essence, an agricultural country where agriculture means almost everything. Over 80 percent of the people live in the rural areas and agriculture is their main source of livelihood. Agriculture, therefore, holds a unique position with
respect to the socio-economic wellbeing of Tanzania and her people. It is a critical factor in efforts to reduce and, ultimately, eradicate poverty in the country. We cannot eradicate poverty, promote balanced socio-economic growth and achieve food
security without transforming our agriculture.
Since independence, transforming agriculture has been the focus of government policies and actions of all administrations. When we came into office in 2006, we completed the design of the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) and the Agriculture Sector Development Programme (ASDP). The former was the policy and the latter its action plan for a green revolution in Tanzania. The objective was to take bold actions to enable Tanzania to realize her aspirations of a modernized and highly productive agriculture.
In 2009, a new strategy called "Kilimo Kwanza‟, meaning „Agriculture First‟ was designed. The new strategy, properly anchored the involvement of the private sector in the development of agriculture. It underscored the critical importance of the private sector participating actively in agricultural production, provision of agricultural inputs, crop marketing and in the agricultural value chain.
It is in this context that, the Government welcomed the idea of the SAGCOT initiative. This is a public private partnership well-placed to achieve the objectives of Kilimo Kwanza…In the end, we will succeed to create a corridor of highly productive and competitive agriculture at the local, regional and global market place. Food security will be assured and wealth creation for the smallholder farmers would become a reality. We will also witness significant poverty reduction among the people who live in the corridor and its surroundings.
The southern agricultural corridor can be the breadbasket of Tanzania and beyond. We, in Government are convinced that the initiative supports our objectives for a
Tanzanian green revolution. "SAGCOT is an initiative which I believe personally is the best model to fast track the green revolution in Tanzania"1
Please also watch the following speech made by President Kikwete at a press conference during the inauguration of SAGCOT in January 2011 at the World Economic Forum in Davos:
What is the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT)…?
SAGCOT is a public-private agricultural “partnership” project between the Tanzanian government and a consortium of US and foreign biotechnology, chemical and other agribusiness multinational companies, local private stakeholders, banks, multilateral “donors” and the US and Norwegian government.
It is led by an Executive Committee co-chaired by the Minister of Agriculture of Tanzania, and the Executive Vice President (North and Central Africa) of Unilever. Both the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and USAID are members of its Executive Committee.
According to information published by the World Economic Forum:
“ The project is led by 17 global partner companies of the World Economic Forum who provide strategic leadership and championship of the initiative. These include: Archer Daniels Midland, BASF, Bunge Limited, Cargill, The Coca-Cola Company, DuPont, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Metro AG, Monsanto Company, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SABMiller, Syngenta, Unilever, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Yara International.
A diverse network of global and local stakeholders are engaged in initiative dialogues and partnerships. The World Economic Forum manages the initiative, engaging a wide array of stakeholders in its dialogues, partnerships, and thought leadership activities. The Forum‟s Global Agenda Council on Food Security, a high-level multi-stakeholder group, provides advisory and leadership support to the initiative.” 2
The SAGCOT fits into the framework of the New Vision for Agriculture, a commercial, market driven, export-oriented agricultural policy developed and led by a consortium of private foreign multinational companies from the World Economic Forum.
An official press statement published on Monsanto’s website states:
“ Speaking at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete announced the launch of a new initiative designed to alleviate hunger in his country and propel agriculture into a new era of productivity. The initiative, called A New Vision for Agriculture, is the result of joint efforts between 17 global partner companies and the governments of Tanzania, Vietnam and the United States.
Also participating in the press conference were Hugh Grant, Chairman and CEO of Monsanto, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In his opening address, President Kikwete described the challenges his country faces, including "ensuring food security, eradicating widespread rural poverty and promoting sustainable economic growth."
He also outlined the evolution of his thinking about cooperating with corporate partners. After realizing that most of Tanzania's existing agricultural interventions were solely government-led, Kikwete said he decided to seek assistance from business interests. "[I felt] we should find ways of involving the private sector in the development of agriculture in Tanzania. We came up with a new vision we called Kilimo Kwanza, which means „agriculture first.'"
According to Kikwete, the initiative promises to create more than 500,000 jobs and lift 2 million people out of poverty.
In his own remarks, Hugh Grant took the opportunity to put the world's agricultural challenges into perspective. "By the time we trudge home tonight through the ice and the snow, another 200,000 people will have arrived on our planet." To meet the needs of a growing population, A New Vision for Agriculture is designed to achieve what Grant called the "20-20-20" plan: increase crop production worldwide by 20%, reduce the emissions from agriculture by 20% and reduce rural poverty by 20%.
Wrapping up the press conference, Rajiv Shah announced that USAID was contributing $2 million to Tanzania's "catalytic fund," designed to help launch A New Vision for Agriculture.
"In the current environment of rising food prices, we believe it is smarter and more efficient to support agriculture in order to prevent the more costly and harmful famines, food riots and failed states that will result if we do not make these investments." 3 said Rajiv Shah.
“We are witnessing an unparalleled opportunity right now for innovative, large-scale private sector partnerships to achieve significant impact on global hunger and nutrition. USAID is committed to creating new public-private partnerships in Feed the Future focus countries to advance their national investment plans”
“ USAID will join multinational companies like Yara, General Mills, Monsanto, Syngenta and others in support of the investment blueprint for years to come, and hopes to expand the blueprint in the future to at least five additional African countries,” Rajiv Shah boastfully and confidently stated.4
Syngenta - the Swiss multinational biotechnology company – who is a corporate partner
in the SAGCOT stated:
“We are delighted to be a founding member of the SAGCOT initiative and are committed to making it a success,” said Robert Berendes, Head of Business Development at Syngenta. The development of farming in Africa, and especially for smallholder farmers is critical to ensuring food security in the region and globally. Syngenta aims to identify specific projects to invest in within the Tanzania corridor - a key focus will be on enabling access to inputs, sharing agronomic knowledge and developing appropriate technology.”
Syngenta will play a role in helping to provide opportunities for smallholder farmers to engage in profitable and sustainable agriculture. This will involve incentivizing stronger links between smallholders and commercial agribusiness, including „hub and outgrower‟ schemes that allow smallholders in the vicinity of large-scale farms to access inputs, extension services, value-adding facilities and markets.” 5
AGRA - who helped to fund the initial project study and sits on the Steering Committee of SAGCOT – was also present at the lauch of SAGCOT In Davos.
AGRA President Dr Namanga Ngongi stated that “Tanzania like so many African countries has enormous agricultural potential that is ready to be unlocked with the right investment. Agriculture in Tanzania and all of Africa can become a model of efficiency, high productivity, and sustainable development. This initiative is very much in line with AGRA‟s breadbasket approach and the CAADP compacts to catalyzing a Green Revolution.” 6
Official stated objectives of SAGOT
The SAGCOT Investment Blueprint states that its aims are to “convert smallholder farmers into commercial farmers” and “to establish a critical mass of profitable, modern commercial farming and agri-business, focusing on carefully selected areas and crops with high market potential.”
Building on existing operations and planned investments, the clusters will be centered on areas of particularly high agricultural potential and might include nucleus large-scale commercial farms and smallholder outgrower schemes; serviced farm blocks; processing and storage facilities available to commercial and smallholder farmers; and improved infrastructure to farms and local communities.” 7
The SAGCOT Concept Note further states:
“Southern Tanzania has significant “natural” potential for building a profitable agriculture sector. It has good soils, climate and water resources and a reasonable and improving “backbone” infrastructure providing access to local, regional and international markets
“ There is huge potential to develop a sustainable commercial farming sector in Tanzania serving regional and overseas markets, as recognised by the Kilimo Kwanza initiative.
Kilimo Kwanza calls for the private sector to mobilise new investment to promote a modern and profitable agriculture sector in Tanzania. It also calls for a transformation of smallholder farmers into commercial farmers.
SAGCOT will be the first major initiative to be launched under Kilimo Kwanza, and will establish a model for future agricultural growth partnerships that can be replicated throughout the country.” 8
The SAGCOT Investment Blueprint further explains:
“ Tanzania‟s southern corridor links the port of Dar es Salaam to Malawi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It benefits from good „backbone‟ infrastructure – including road, rail and power – and passes through some of the richest farmland in Africa. The area could become a globally important producer of crops and livestock.
Today, however, its agricultural potential is largely dormant and the majority of the rural population remains poor and food insecure.
Building on Tanzania‟s “Kilimo Kwanza” („Agriculture First‟ strategy), the SAGCOT Investment Blueprint describes how $2.1 billion of private investment will be catalysed over a twenty year period, alongside public sector grants and loans of $1.3 billion. The result will be a tripling of the area‟s agricultural output. Approximately 350,000 hectares will be brought into profitable production, much of it farmed by smallholder farmers, and with a significant area under irrigation.
Over the next 20 years, SAGCOT will facilitate the development of agriculture clusters in the southern corridor. They will be centered on areas of high agricultural potential with shared infrastructure where economies of scale can rapidly develop. Cluster development will be driven by the private sector based on the needs and opportunity of each area. Additional clusters will be added as SAGCOT moves forward.” 9
The SAGCOT Investment blueprint was officially presented and inaugurated by President Kikwete at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January 2011. The project is now in its implementation phase and fully operational.
TANZANIA and SOUTHEASTERN AFRICA: NEW BRAZIL and ARGENTINA…?
Some personal observations and reflections:
The SAGCOT does not “only” aim to industrialize and privatize agriculture in Tanzania and in Southeastern Africa, but – worse – it will transform Tanzania and the entire region into vast private agro-industrial monoculture plantations to grow local grain and other food crops as raw material to produce agrofuels, animal feed, and other industrial and pharmaceutical products for export and consumption in affluent countries, using patented GM seeds on over five million ha of prime fertile and irrigated land in the targeted “southern corridor” of Tanzania (as a starter), that stretches from Dar es Salaam across Tanzania all the way into Malawi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo ! (see detailed map in report)
In a nutshell, the real long-term objective of the SAGCOT is to reproduce the Brazilian and Argentinean agricultural “model” of privately-owned, export-oriented, industrial monoculture plantations of soya, maize, sugarcane, etc. using GM patented food seeds and crops.
Please watch this short 12 minutes documentary for an overview of the health and the socio-economic genocide and environmental ecocide resulting from this agricultural “model” in Paraguay/South America.
Killing Fields: The battle to feed factory farms
In fact, the SAGCOT Investment Blueprint clearly and unambiguously spells out this objective:
Excerpts from the SAGCOT Investment Blueprint 9:
"There are similarities between the southern corridor ( of Tanzania) and the Cerrado region of Brazil as it was in the early 1970s, before it became a major global agriculture producer. Climatic and soil conditions are broadly comparable and many of the same crops can be grown (e.g. maize, soya, rice, sugarcane). SAGCOT has an advantage over the Cerrado in having direct access to the Port of Dar es Salaam and relative proximity to Asian markets
In the Cerrado, soya bean production increased fivefold from 9.9 million tones in 1975 to 51.4 million tonnes in 2005. The success of the Cerrado is commonly attributed to a combination of:
• public sector support for research, infrastructure and low-cost finance for farmers, supported by minimum price guarantees, and
• significant private investment, which created economies of scale and scope for all players in the agriculture value chain.
The Cerrado experience shows that, where the natural conditions are suitable, investment in commercial agriculture can result in rapid growth of profitable production and farm incomes. Brazil‟s success shows what can be achieved in a relatively short period of time if there is properly coordinated public and private investment in commercial agriculture.
But it also poses a challenge for Tanzania and other countries yet to realise the potential of their agriculture sectors: competition in international markets is intense. To compete successfully in those markets Tanzania will have to catch up with the likes of Brazil and match their levels of efficiency and scale."
However, rapid development and agricultural growth of the sort achieved in Brazil is accompanied by risks. For example, in the Tanzanian context rapid modernization of the farming sector could disrupt traditional livelihoods, exclude smallholder farmers and have unintended environmental impacts.
Although the report recognizes the negative socio-economic consequences and “risks” and environmental hazards associated with this agricultural “model”, it claims to “ promote a form of agricultural development that directly benefits smallholder farmers and rural communities” and that “ it will undertake careful environmental impact assessments” to address these “risks”. 9
The SAGCOT Investment Blueprint further explains the economic rationale of its agricultural “model”:
“African agriculture is attracting increased interest from the private sector. With a rapidly rising global population, the world‟s grain output must rise by around 70 per cent and meat output will have to double by 2050. With the right type of investment and political support, Africa could switch from being a net importer to a major exporter of agricultural products, in particular to markets in the Middle East and Asia.
However, for this to happen countries like Tanzania will have to become more competitive. There are other land-rich parts of the world – such as Brazil and Eastern Europe – which are already attracting the majority of private capital flows.
To illustrate the market opportunity, the diagram below compares Tanzania‟s current competitiveness against imported soya beans from Brazil. Although production costs are higher than Brazil‟s, the international freight and other shipment costs to East Africa far outweigh this disadvantage (Figure 1.4). It should therefore be possible for Tanzania to compete effectively with foreign imports. A similar picture emerges for crops such as wheat and rice.”10
Figure 1.4 Import substitution in short-term (CIF and landing charges, cost at Dar es Salaam)
GM SOYA BEANS COST:
Tanzania $US 400/mt
Brazil: $US 600/mt
See graphs on pg 13 of the SAGCOT Investment Blueprint for detailed comparative analysis and further details. 11
The report carefully avoids to specifically mention the term “GMO’s”, although it does so subtly by using “new seed varieties” and “improved seeds” instead of “GMO’s”.
Excerpts from the SAGCOT Investment Blueprint:
“ The approval process for the commercial release of new seed varieties and plant material is cumbersome because of the many legislative requirements and the
numerous government departments involved. Improved seeds is often the easiest way to increase yields without incurring significant extra costs, but is an option unavailable to most Tanzanian farmers.
There are also policy areas that are important where SAGCOT will work with advocacy organisations such as the Agricultural Council of Tanzania: for example, streamlining processes for approval and release of new seed varieties; facilitating access to titled land; removing export bans where unnecessary or counterproductive; and improving incentives for commercial agricultural production through the taxation system.
Kilimo Kwanza already recognises the need for reforms in many of these areas. The challenge is to implement the reforms quickly and ensure that they lead to tangible changes on the ground, including at the Local Government Authority level where key decisions are made regarding approvals for commercial agriculture investments.”
The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania recognises the constraints on commercial agriculture and supports the Kilimo Kwanza initiative launched by the Tanzania National Business Council. The objectives of Kilimo Kwanza respond to many of the pressing needs for reform in the agricultural sector and the initiative acknowledges the pressing need to move from subsistence to commercial farming. A final requirement is to improve the business and policy environment such that it that supports, rather than hinders, the development of commercial agriculture.” 12
Furthermore, in a recent article published in Reuters, Jerry Steiner, Executive Vice President of “sustainability” at Monsanto (never mind the oxymoron) clearly states:
“The initiative's partners would first work with local governments to formulate policy and address infrastructure shortcomings, then assess the seed -- both conventional and genetically modified -- and other inputs appropriate for any given region.”13
"As a company we are positioned all the way along that supply chain for that integrated solution to get out there," 14 added Craig Binetti, who oversees DuPont's nutrition & health business.(never mind the oxymoron)
The presence of Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont and BASF as corporate “partners” in the project makes the intended introduction of GMO’s into the SAGCOT obvious and inevitable.
It thus becomes unambiguously clear from the above that the SAGCOT aims to produce local grain and food on vast privately-owned agro-industrial GMO monoculture plantations to be used as raw material to produce agrofuels, animal feed and other industrial and pharmaceutical products for export and consumption in affluent countries, NOT to feed hungry Tanzanians and Africans…
Furthermore, delocalizing and reproducing the Brazilian and Argentinean agricultural “model” in Tanzania and Southeastern Africa will result in environmental ecocide and in the health and socio-economic genocide of millions of Tanzanians, as testified by the empirical and scientific evidence resulting from imposing this agricultural “model” in South America.
It is also worthy and worrisome to note that the consortium of biotech, chemical and agribusiness multinational companies involved in the SAGCOT project are the exact same corporations involved in the production of GMO soya, maize, sugarcane and other GMO “food” crops produced in South America and exported as agrofuels, animal feed, etc. for consumption in affluent countries.
As Einstein rightly stated:
“ Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Converting millions of small holder subsistence farmers in Tanzania and in the region into so-called “commercial farmers” and transforming the smallholder-dominated agricultural sector in Tanzania and in the region into vast privately held, export-oriented, monoculture industrial plantations using expensive patented sterile GMO seeds and toxic chemicals is not a panacea for achieving President Kikwete’s stated objectives of “ achieving food security, eradicating widespread rural poverty and promoting balanced socio-economic development and sustainable economic growth.”
As Olivier de Schutter - UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food – clearly writes in his recent report:
“We won‟t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations” The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers‟ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development.” 15
AGROECOLOGY IS THE SOLUTION TO FEED TANZANIA, AFRICA AND THE ENTIRE WORLD.
As Olivier de Schutter writes in his recent report - Agro-ecology and the right to food 16 - presented on March 08, 2011 before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva:
“To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available. Today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live - especially in unfavorable environments.”
“To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116% for all African projects,” De Schutter says. “Recent projects conducted in 20 African countries demonstrated a doubling of crop yields over a period of 3-10 years.”
“Agroecology applies ecological science to the design of agricultural systems that can help put an end to food crises and address climate-change and poverty challenges. It enhances soils productivity and protects the crops against pests by relying on the natural environment such as beneficial trees, plants, animals and insects.”
“Conventional farming relies on expensive inputs, fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks. It simply is not the best choice anymore today,” De Schutter stresses. “A large segment of the scientific community now acknowledges the positive impacts of agroecology on food production, poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation -- and this this is what is needed in a world of limited resources.”
“ Malawi, a country that launched a massive chemical fertilizer subsidy program a few years ago, is now implementing agroecology, benefiting more than 1.3 million of the poorest people, with maize yields increasing from 1 ton/ha to 2-3 tons/ha.” “However, despite its impressive potential in realizing the right to food for all, agroecology is still insufficiently backed by ambitious public policies and consequently hardly goes beyond the experimental stage.”
The report identifies a dozen of measures that States should implement to scale up agroecological practices.
“Agroecology is a knowledge-intensive approach. It requires public policies supporting agricultural research and participative extension services,” De Schutter says. “States and donors have a key role to play here. Private companies will not invest time and money in practices that cannot be rewarded by patents and which don‟t open markets for chemical products or improved seeds.”
De Schutter also urges States to support small-scale farmer’s organizations which demonstrate a great ability to disseminate the best agroecological practices among their members. “Strengthening social organization proves to be as impactful as distributing fertilizers. Small-scale farmers and scientists can create innovative practices when they partner”, De Schutter explains.
“We won‟t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers‟ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development.”
“If key stakeholders support the measures identified in the report, we can see a doubling of food production within 5 to 10 years in some regions where the hungry live,” De Schutter says. “Whether or not we will succeed this transition will depend on our ability to learn faster from recent innovations. We need to go fast if we want to avoid repeated food and climate disasters in the 21st century.”
Olivier De Schutter was appointed Special Rapporteur on the right to food in May 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is independent from any government or organization.
The root economic and political causes of hunger & poverty in Africa
Poverty and hunger - the worst form of Violence - are a direct result of unfair global trading rules, exploitative economic practices and suicidal economic policies imposed on Africa by the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation, blindly followed by so-called African "leaders" and governments which result in abject human poverty and hunger. There is more than sufficient food to feed everyone in Africa and around the world. The problem lies in its inequitable distribution and in the lack of financial resources required to purchase it by the vast majority of the African population.
Thus, simply increasing food production without addressing the root economic, political and structural causes of poverty and without distributional justice will NOT resolve hunger and poverty in Africa.
As Mahatma Gandhi rightly stated: "There is enough food in the world to satisfy everyone's needs but not everyone's greed."
Notes & references:
1. Foreword by president Kikwete to the SAGCOT Investment Blueprint
3. Monsanto press statement published on Monsanto’s website : http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/tanzanian-president-announces-new-vision-for-agriculture.aspx
4. Press release published on USAID’s website http://www.usaid.gov/press/releases/2011/pr110128.html
5. Press release published on Syngeta’s website
6. Press release published on AGRA’s website:
7. SAGOT Investment Blueprint
8. SAGCOT Concept Note
9. SAGCOT Investment Blueprint
12 SAGCOT Investment Blueprint
15 Press release by Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food: http://www.unscn.org/layout/modules/news/documents/Agroecology_press_release.pdf
You can download a PDF copy of the following reports at the following links:
SAGCOT Investment Blueprint:
Entire report :
The SAGCOT Concept Note:
SAGCOT official website:
New Vision for Agriculture report from the World Economic Forum (WEF)
Agro-ecology and the right to food, report by Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food:
Libellés : bill gates GMO, SAGCOT southern agricultural growth corridor of tanzania World Economic Forum Davos Kikwete Monsanto Hugh Grant USAID Rajiv Shah AGRA namanga ngongi Syngenta