Rebranding of AGRA Is A Confession Of Failure – African CSOs. -By Misheck Nyirongo

October 31, 2022

  1. Rebranding of AGRA Is A Confession Of Failure – African CSOs. By Misheck Nyirongo


Farmers, civil society and faith leaders of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa recognise the double rebranding of the Green Revolution as an admission of failure, a cynical distraction, and reject the new strategy offered by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).


The double rebrand sees the name of the African Green Revolution Forum changing to “Africa’s Food Systems Forum”. At the same time, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa now insists that it will be known only by its acronym AGRA, without the words “green revolution” in its name. Both organs of the Green Revolution are attempting to distance themselves from the failed industrial agriculture project while essentially continuing with business as usual.


Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)’s Communications Officer, Kirubel Teshome said in a press statement made available dated 26th October, 2022, that the civil society organisations and faith leaders were quick to denounce the cosmetic change.


“AGRA is just putting new labels on the failed policies of the past,” said Anne Maina of the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, “After 16 years and one billion dollars, we say AGRA’s time is up! Donors should pull the plug on AGRA.”


“We demand not a rebranding of AGRA, and an end to funding harmful green revolution programs,” said Gabriel Manyangadze of Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute. “What we need now is a Green Restoration.”


The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa soundly rejects AGRA’s new strategy, announced last month, which promises a continuation of many of the same failing approaches.


“AGRA propagates this idea that African farmers don’t produce enough food because they don’t use enough chemical fertilisers,” said AFSA coordinator Million Belay. “This might be true for some farmers till they transition to agroecology but the implication is that if we pump soils and plants with agrochemicals, we will grow more food. But we know what that means in terms of polluting the soil, making farmers dependent on external inputs, compromising the health of farmers and consumers, robbing farmers their right to food, and vulnerability to climate change.”


An analysis of AGRA’s new five-year strategy for 2023-27, with its $550 million budget, shows that the organisation is doubling down on its efforts to promote commercial seeds and fossil-fuel-based fertilisers and pesticides and to enact policy reforms that threaten peasant seed systems and the right to food. The strategy makes no commitment to improved yields, incomes, or food security for small-scale farming households.


The food and climate crises compel Africa to turn away from Green Revolution practices that undermine small-scale farmers’ ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. As Africa hosts the COP27 climate talks in November, we see that AGRA has sorely disappointed Africans suffering the effects of the climate crisis. Africa must shift away from dependency on imported food and fossil fuel technologies and reduce vulnerability to historical and current crises generated outside Africa’s shores, including climate change, conflicts, pandemics and neo-colonialism.


Kenyan farmer Ferdinand Wafula was emphatic in his plea, “We urge policymakers, governments, and donors to provide more funding to agroecology, which offers clear solutions to nutrition challenges, the climate crisis and escalating prices.”


A year ago, 200 organisations signed on to an AFSA letter demanding that donors withdraw support from AGRA. Some of AGRA’s donors are reducing their contributions, leaving the lame-duck AGRA project as a de facto wholly owned subsidiary of its primary funder, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which quickly pledged $200 million for AGRA’s five-year plan.


And the Zambian agroecology advocate and Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB) National Coordinator, Mutinta Nketani said recently during the media engagement, “AGRA reinforces very expensive way of producing food which has potential to make our traditional seeds and foods disappear forever from our diets (due to its mono-cultural nature. These foods contribute greatly to Household food and nutrition security.”

Ms. Mutinta Nketani further said, “AGRA contributes greatly to environmental degradation and risks human health (depletes soils, contributes to biodiversity loss due to intensive use of chemicals both selective and non-selective, pollution of water bodies and other natural resources.”


A study conducted by Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) – Zambia in 2019/20 established that, “The mono-cultural nature of the Green Revolution model (supported maize and soya beans mainly) has led to loss of bio-diversity, leaving farmers vulnerable to the effects of climate change.”


And the Independent expert evaluations released by AGRA, after considerable pressure, comprehensively substantiate the findings of the study ‘False Promises’ confirm that, the Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA)’s approach has failed and underscore the fact that there is no basis for the further cooperation of African governments and those from elsewhere, with AGRA either financially or politically. The Independent expert evaluations also reveal the lack of accountability in this billion-dollar project.


Founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundations; and registered in the US, launched in 2006, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was unsuccessful in achieving its goals of doubling agricultural yields and the incomes of 30 million small-scale food producer households thereby halving both hunger and poverty in 20 African countries by 2020.


In a study ‘False Promises: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)’, published in July 2020, five organisations from Germany, as well as five others from Mali, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, conclude that, based on investigations by researcher Timothy Wise and his team from Tufts University in the US, AGRA not only failed to achieve its goals but has fallen far short of them.


Further, AGRA’s claimed expertise in fighting hunger and its leadership role, such as currently at the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), is not warranted. AGRA neither represents the interests of small-scale food producers, nor has its approach with the Green Revolution’s technology package reduced hunger or poverty in its focus countries.


In this context, AFSA continues to call on donors and African governments to shift funding away from a Green Revolution strategy and toward proven agroecological alternatives. Agroecology is a people-centred system of sustainable agriculture and a social justice movement driven by local farmers and other food producers to maintain power over their local food systems, protect their livelihoods and communities, and defend every African’s right to nutritious and diverse food.


Uniting generations of indigenous knowledge, farmer-driven and science-based innovation, and an ecosystem’s natural processes, agroecological food systems can adapt to and help solve the climate crisis. Farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples and local communities use agroecology to steward their land sustainably, produce nourishing food that celebrates cultural heritage, and strengthen local markets and economies.



From tackling hunger, poverty and inequality to responding to climate change to safeguarding biodiversity and expanding nutritional choice, agroecology echoes the goals of the 2030 Agenda. – Picture by Misheck Nyirongo








  1. Fish for Food Security in Zambia Project: In a Case of Radio Program in Eastern Province By Misheck Nyirongo

SMALL-SCALE fisheries are an important livelihood and primary protein source for villages surrounding the 11 dams of the rural communities in Eastern province of Zambia, yet many are overfished and thus require effective and scalable sustainable fisheries management solutions.


Fish for Food Security in Zambia Project, being implemented by GIZ under the “One World – No Hunger” Initiative (SEWOH) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), uses radio to educate and create awareness on the nutritional value of fish and sustainable fisheries management in small water bodies in Eastern province by engaging the duty bearers in debate, under a component of Radio Program in Eastern Province.


Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) project aims at improving the access to sustainable fish products of the people facing food insecurity through the development of the aquaculture sector in selected districts in Luapula Province and to sustainably rehabilitate dam-based fisheries, including the strengthening of dam committees for a responsible management of fisheries in selected districts in Eastern Province.


The Senior Advisor – Sustainable Fisheries Management, Mazuba Mwanachingwala of GIZ Chipata Office says, “Under the Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) project, radio has become a dominant platform for communication across Eastern Province, with selected rural based radio stations that support the extension education efforts, especially using the local languages to communicate effectively and directly with small-scale rural farmers.”


The experience with rural radio has shown the potential for sustainable fisheries management extension to benefit from both the reach and the relevance that local broadcasting can achieve by using participatory communication approaches. This contributes in assisting artisanal fishers and fish farmers in operating sustainably and efficiently, while curbing illegal fishing and climate change; and enables the local communities to benefit from improved and sustainable livelihoods in fishing and fish processing, as well as gaining access to a broader range of fish products.


“Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) Project views radio as a key platform through which many rural and marginalised fishing communities can express themselves and engage with different stakeholders to resolve the fishery community’s development challenges, and propel themselves out of poverty and improve nutritional status at their households,” the Senior Advisor – Sustainable Fisheries Management, Mazuba Mwanachingwala, affirmed.

“Therefore, the aim of the Radio Program in Eastern Province is to compliment a series of trainings which have been planned throughout the Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) Project period. Communities around the selected dams are being sensitized on sustainable dam fisheries management and other fisheries related topics. The Radio Program in Eastern Province also has a nutrition component on the importance of diverse diets with a focus on fish,” The Senior Advisor said.


The Senior Advisor added that, Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) Project is also focusing on women in the fish value chain, and helps to combat hunger, climate change, malnutrition and poverty, creating linkages between food and income security, environmental and natural resource conservation, education and women’s empowerment.”




In Eastern province the project’s focus is on sustainable fisheries management of small water bodies and targets to work with 11 dam management committees, and each one oversees a dam fishery. To achieve this, Fish for Food Security in Zambia (F4F) Project under the Radio Program in Eastern Province component contracted KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services, to provide media consultancy services.


Ruth Phiri – the Business Manager of KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services said that the main objective of the media consultancy assignment was to develop and air radio episodes with selected radio stations in Eastern Province: Radio Breeze FM in Chipata, Radio Chikaya in Lundazi, and Valley Radio Station in Nyimba.


“The radio episodes included 6 radio drama episodes, 6 live radio shows, 6 field based recordings; radio jingles; and editing and airing of 6 pre-recorded radio programs focusing on topics like: fisheries resource, co-management, community involvement, fish value chain, financial literacy and Environmental problems; and Cultural practices/myths/traditions that affect DMCs,” Ruth Phiri – the Business Manager of KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services further explained in Lundazi district.

Ruth Phiri added that the Community Radio Listening Groups (CRLGs) approach that KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services facilitated, created an interface between the radio stations, duty bearers (especially the experts featuring on the live radio shows) and the marginalised fishery communities to identify and implement solutions to their development challenges, such as environment degradation and biodiversity loss, due to climate change in small water bodies.


The Community Radio Listening Groups are a group of people /participants who meet regularly over a given time to listen to audio programming and discuss issues and challenges; and then review awareness and content of programmes aired on a radio station.

Ruth Phiri said, “So far KHUMBILO has established and trained 136 Community Radio Listening Groups around the villages surrounding the 11 dams reaching out to 467 participants on how to handle and operate the solar radios; of which 171 are female and 296 are male and distributed some solar powered radio sets in 6 selected districts thus: Lundazi, Chipangali, Katete, Kasenengwa, Petauke and Nyimba in Eastern province of Zambia.”


The Community Radio Listening Groups approach has proven to be one of the best models for genuine village level engagement, creating platforms where fishery communities engage with their duty-bearers featuring on the live radio episodes to demand accountability and support in the sustainable management of fishery resources through information sharing as a quick effective feedback mechanism and is highly appreciated by local community members.

“The benefits of the Community Radio Listening Groups in the local communities are that, confidence in self and local leadership, especially for the rural women farmers is enhanced. Speaking in public enables rural women farmers to increase their confidence and power. The other aspect is the solidarity and dialogue, as the differences are resolved through dialogue and exchanging views, sometimes between rural women who never speak in public or are involved in community dispute resolutions,” Ruth Phiri said.

While both Lundazi and Petauke District Fisheries Officers, Catherine Kamanga and Oriet Nawa  Mundia acknowledges that radio provides the needed reach, frequency, and access to rural areas, making it a promising, appropriate and powerful tool for extension agriculture services for the fishery communities. Besides, ownership and patronage are relatively high compared to other media forms, particularly in rural household’s settings.


“The fish production has increased in the dams. Before the project, it was difficult to buy fish from the dam because everything was been sold to people who prepaid the fishermen.” Elizabeth Ndhlovu testified, “Thanks to GIZ through these radio programs. We are able to eat fresh fish straight from our dam,” Elizabeth Ndhlovu gave a round of applause with a smile of gratification across her face.

And in Kasenengwa district Makungwa Dam Management Committee (DMC) Chairperson, Whatson Nyangu consents, “The communities are appreciating the value of these radio programs, serving as an extension education tool, that widely lies in its ability to reach illiterate local communities and provide us with information relating to all aspects of sustainable fisheries management and agriculture production in a language that we understand.”


“A lot of the local people are now coming together and listen to these educative radio programs and the group membership is increasing fast from 15 members to 30 or so. The most interesting topics are centered on the environmental and nutritional benefits of fish, proved to be of great interest,” Makungwa Dam Management Committee (DMC) Chairperson added.


Each Community Radio Listening Groups are estimated to attract 30 Active Radio Listeners, per session/episode. It’s therefore, no doubt that 4,080 direct listeners’ are able to access the information on sustainable fish resources management from the 136 established and trained Community Radio Listening Groups.


Ms. Ruth Phiri, the Business Manager of KHUMBILO AgroEcology Media Services also shared, “The lessons learnt are that, the local language programming has made the community members to feel a great sense of ownership when the radio programs were aired in their local languages, than when broadcasted in English or any other language. The broadcasting in the local languages also enables community members to develop a sense of identify and expressed themselves freely.”


Meanwhile, the notable challenge is that, some traditional leaders such as the headmen, are holding onto the radios, as personal property. This makes it difficult for the Community Radio Listening Groups to access the facility when they want to use them for the intended purpose. This is affecting the listenership of the groups, as most of the radio episodes are not properly followed, because the Community Radio Listening Groups are not meeting as planned.

Without raising some eye brows, Fish for Food Security in Zambia Project makes a distinction that, radio is a very powerful tool and truly a farmer’s friend; because it reaches a wider audience quickly and it allows the rural people especially women farmers to interact with one another more easily than television viewers or newspaper readers.


The Community Radio Listener’s Group approach provides an opportunity for the rural women farmers to express themselves effectively, as the key change agents in their respective villages and local farming communities of Eastern province.

Featuring on a Live Radio Episode on Radio Breeze FM in Chipata is a FISH for Food Security in Zambia Project’s Advisor –Sustainable Fisheries Management, Doubt Chibeya, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) James Mbewe – Field Officer and Aquaculture Technician Zacharias Nkunika – Department of Fisheries.

Fish for Food Security in Zambia Project’s Intern (then), Duncan Mwanza explaining to the Community Radio Listening Group participants, on how to handle and operate the solar radios, at Mapala Dam in Chipangali district, Eastern province.

  1. KENYAN Government Dragged to Court for Lifting A Ban on GMO  By MISHECK Nyirongo

A KENYAN Lawyer Paul Mwangi has filed a petition in High Court against the Kenyan government for lifting its 10 years ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), saying the move by President William Ruto is unconstitutional and threatens the rights and freedom of Kenyans, while the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), expressed their disappointment and urged on the government to respect and protect Kenya’s food system.


Paul Mwangi demands that the High Court should set aside a two weeks ago cabinet order allowing the open cultivation and importation of GM crops to Kenya, which is currently in the grip of its worst drought in four decades.


The genetically modified crops have generally raised concerns about their potentially harmful effects on smallholder farms, existing crops, the environment and people’s long-term health. “The hasty removal of all regulatory protocols… is neither rational nor reasonable,” Mwangi said in court documents dated October 13. “It derogates the rights of peasants and people working in rural areas of access to adequate food that is produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods,” the lawyer said.


Paul Mwangi added, “It goes against the right to food of acceptable quality, consumer rights guaranteed by Article 43, right to fair administrative action in article 47 and freedom of conscience, religion thought belief and opinion.


“The move to remove regulatory protocols on GMOs was unreasonable. The hasty removal of all regulatory protocols in the cultivation and trade in genetically modified foods in Kenya is neither rational nor reasonable. The government has a duty to protect the rights of farmers to participate directly or indirectly in formulation of policies and regulation of laws that affect Kenyans,” The lawyer said.


The government of newly elected President William Ruto recently “effectively” lifted the 2012 ban saying it was in response to dwindling food security; following the recommendations of the Task Force formed to Review Matters Relating to Genetically Modified Foods and Food Safety.


In his lawsuit, Paul Mwangi argues that the move was unconstitutional as there were concerns over the safety of GM crops and that it also risked driving small-scale farmers out of business. However, the government has defended its decision, saying it would enable Kenya to have disease-resistant crops and improve yields.


Kenya, like many other African nations, banned GM crops over health and safety concerns and to protect smallholder farms, which account for the vast majority of rural agricultural producers in the country. Kenya had faced criticism over the ban including from the United States which is a major producer of GM crops.


Activists and agriculture lobby groups last week protested over the lifting of the ban, saying it opened the market to US farmers using sophisticated technologies and highly subsidised farming and threatened the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.


Ruto, a former chicken seller turned millionaire businessman, was elected in August on a promise to turn around Kenya’s stuttering economy and tackle a cost of living crisis. Within weeks of taking office in September, he halved the price of fertilisers to improve crop yields in the midst of the drought that has affected 23 of 47 counties.


Earlier, the representatives of smallholder farmer groups, civil society groups, Community-based organizations (CBOs), Faith-based Organizations (FBO), Consumer networks including; BIBA Kenya, PELUM Kenya, African Biodiversity Network (ABN), SEED Savers Network, Route to Food Initiative, Greenpeace Africa, Consumer Grassroots Association and Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) expressed their displeasure in a press statement dated 6th October, 2022 made available, “We are greatly disappointed by the cabinet’s decision to lift the ban on the cultivation and importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into Kenya, which was put in place 10 years ago.”


The ban was put in place through a cabinet memo on 8 November 2012, following growing concerns over the safety of genetically modified food. For the last 10 years, there has been no need to import or allow open cultivation of genetically modified organisms/food as the country has been able to make it without GMOs.


And according to a press statement added, “Our farmers have continued to produce the bulk of Kenya’s maize supply and the deficit (an average of about 10-15 million bags per year) has been supplemented through trade with our neighboring countries – mainly Tanzania and Uganda that are GMO-Free.”


The representatives of smallholder farmer groups, civil society groups, Community-based organizations (CBOs), Faith-based Organizations (FBO), Consumer networks cited the lack of public participation in the decision that the Kenyan government hastily took.


“The rushed decision to lift the ban on importation of GMOs into the country lacked public participation. No public consultations were done and views of the public were not considered in the decision to lift the ban, which essentially curtails the freedom of Kenyans to choose what they want to eat, or not,” The representatives said in a Press Statement.


The representatives added that, Kenyans are not aware of or sensitized on the purported research or report of the Taskforce used to arrive at this decision, which stands in violation of the provisions of the Right to access Information.


“We want to remind the President (Ruto) and his new government that beyond their promises to run a transparent government, public participation is enshrined in our Constitution and decisions of this magnitude must be subjected to public participation,” the Press Statement reads.


The Representative said in a press statement, “Article 11 of the Kenyan Constitution stipulates and recognises culture as the foundation of the nation and as the cumulative civilization of the Kenyan people and nation. Article 11 (3b) calls upon the parliament to enact legislations that recognise and protect the ownership of indigenous seeds and plant varieties, their genetic and diverse characteristics and their use by the communities of Kenya.”


“We are disturbed that the lift of the GMO ban does not take in consideration of the constitutional requirement. GMOs will put at risk our indigenous seed and plant varieties. The use of GM crop seeds, that cannot be replanted, will increase the dependence of farmers on profit-oriented multinational corporations that is not only expensive but also makes them vulnerable to market and global supply shocks,” they added.


They noted, “The National Biosafety Authority (NBA), which is the body vested with the responsibility to regulate genetically modified organisms in the country lacks requisite facilities and personnel to adequately undertake its mandate including enforcing legal requirements on production, testing, declaration, monitoring and marketing of GMOs. Curiously, the NBA Board does not have representation from farmers, consumers, and civil society organizations (CSOS). It is not rocket science to deduce on whose behalf the NBA operates.”


In regard to Safety Concerns and Consumer preference, the existing GMO regulatory framework in Kenya fails to provide mechanisms for redress in the event of possible harmful effects arising from consumption and use of GMOs. “What was the rush to lift the ban on GMOs even before such basic safeguards are in place? They asked, “Food security is not just the amount of food but the quality and safety of food. Our cultural and indigenous food has proved to be safer, with diverse nutrients and with less harmful chemical inputs.”


“We demand that the ban be immediately reinstated and an inclusive participatory process be instituted to look into long-term and sustainable solutions to issues affecting food security and agricultural productivity in the country. The solutions will include putting in place safeguards to protect millions of producers and consumers who do not embrace the technology,” The representatives of smallholder farmer groups, civil society groups, Community-based organizations (CBOs), Faith-based Organizations (FBO), Consumer networks plea.


Meanwhie, Narok Senator Ledama Olekina has urged President William Ruto to reconsider his decision on lifting the ban on GMO food production. The legislator said genetically modified organisms pose various health risks to humans.


“We must say a big no to GMO otherwise we will end up having newborns with 15 fingers who will develop allergies and resistance to antibiotics,” Ledama said, “GMO foods will introduce toxins in the soil.  “Toxins in our soil? No, no, no. William Ruto think again!”


“The lifting of the ban on GMO food imports and the intention to commercialize genetically engineered crops will lead to corporate capture of our seed and food systems. The multinational corporations are keen to capture our seed and food systems for profit,” the National Coordinator of the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association (BIBA) of Kenya, Anne Maina noted in an online special interview.

Anne Maina observed, “GMOs will lead to biodiversity loss as they are modified to be grown in monocultures. The impact of nutrition and livelihoods due increased cost of seeds will be devastating. The government needs to invest in agroecological practices and support production for Biofertilizers and Biopesticides which will help farmers deal with increasing costs of fertilizers and the climate change challenges.”

Vacating the decade-long ban is equal to the last nail in the coffin on the anti-GMO crusade which has frenetically clamoured for a GMO-free Kenya.



4.  AFRICAN CLIMATE Emergency: A Call for Adaptation and Resilience through AgroEcology to COP27 and Beyond

By MISHECK Nyirongo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

“Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life.” Chinua Achebe justifies in this African proverb that, the 32 African countries cannot convene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for nothing; something strange is happening in Africa – climate is now an emergency.


Africa is the driest continent and warming at twice the global rate. The impact of climate crisis is intense and is felt primarily on farming, food production, and food systems in Africa. Mostly, women food producers are the first to suffer from these impacts. The current African policy solutions places further pressure on small-scale food producers to participate in industrial agricultural programs such as climate-smart agriculture, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) seeds, and chemical inputs derived from fossil fuels.


In this context, the 32 African countries issued the call to action to COP27 and beyond, because climate change is now an emergency, “We demand that COP27 put agroecology at the centre of Africa’s climate adaptation, creating resilience for Africa’s small-scale farmers, fishers, pastoralists, indigenous communities and their food systems.”


The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), the biggest continental voice for food sovereignty and agroecology in Africa in partnership with Consortium on Climate Change Ethiopia in this context, organised the three days ‘Clarifying Africa’s Roadmap to Adaption and Mitigation through Agroecology’ Convening (from 19th to 21st September, 2022).


The overall objective was a roadmap for the transition to climate adaptation, community resilience, and land justice through agroecology with concrete lobby activities agreed upon among climate actors.


“We are part of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), the continent’s largest civil society movement representing 200 million small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists, consumers, religious groups and indigenous peoples, demand that COP27 puts agroecology at the centre of Africa’s climate adaptation,” the participants requested.


Africa has great potential, rich cultural diversity, natural resources and creative young people. Yet African agriculture is plagued by under-investment and policy gaps that prevent access to productive capital and land. We need a radical and just transition away from industrial agriculture, corporate monopolies, and false climate solutions – toward food sovereignty and agroecology.

“Uniting generations of indigenous knowledge, farmer-driven and science-based innovation, and an ecosystem’s natural processes, agroecological food systems can adapt to the climate crisis and even help solve it,” the participants added.

The participants justified, “Farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples and local communities use agroecology to steward their land sustainably, produce nourishing food that celebrates cultural heritage, and strengthen local markets and economies.”

The Participants called on COP 27 to first recognize agroecology for adaptation and prioritize agroecology to transform the agri-food system, build resilience, and enable small-scale farmers, pastoralists and fishers to adapt to climate change. Include agroecology in the UNFCCC climate negotiations.


Secondly, the participants urged the COP 27 to put small-scale farmers at the centre of adaptation. Meaningfully engage small-scale food producers and indigenous communities, including women and youth, in the COP 27 negotiations and beyond – they manage landscapes across Africa. Reject false solutions that threaten land, seeds and breeds and increase reliance on global agrochemical corporations.


Thirdly, “The COP 27 to focus climate financing on sustainable food systems. The COP 27 should direct climate finance to agroecology. The time is now for an appropriate and deliberate increase in financing for small-scale farmers, fishers, pastoralists, and indigenous communities to deliver sustainable food systems through agroecology,” the participants implored.


And in affirmativeness, the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land 2019 recognizes agroecology’s key role: “In summary, increasing the resilience of the food system through agroecology and diversification is an effective way to achieve climate change adaptation (robust evidence, high agreement).”


Besides, according to ‘FAO’s Work on Agroecology: A pathway to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’ 2018 Publication – the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) nods, “Agroecology simultaneously addresses climate change adaptation and mitigation, making it a promising option to implement the Paris Agreement.”




“Africa can feed herself, many times over. And agroecology can, and it must not be overlooked by decision-makers, but as the most effective means to build resilience and enable small-scale farmers, pastoralists and fishers to adapt to climate change,” Dr. Million Belay, AFSA General Coordinator.


AFSA General Coordinator, Dr. Million Belay said, “The consensus was not only aimed at COP 27, but on the way and beyond that. “What shall we do before COP 27, What shall we do at COP 27 and what shall we do post COP 27, so it is to define an agenda at COP 27. To collaborate, and unite our agenda for Africa by bringing all these actors together, we are creating a broad base for advocacy to issues related to the subject matter to discuss, deliberate and advocate.”

AFSA General Coordinator, Dr. Million Belay maintained, “There was so much confusion about what kind of agriculture Africa should have, towards adapting to the climate crises. Some of us advocate for agroecology, some say it is climate smart agriculture while others say it is nature based solution, so there is a lot of confusion, lots of agendas which emanate from outsiders.”

And in an exclusive interview, the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Zambia – National Coordinator, Muketoi Wamunyima responds to the call while in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, “PELUM Zambia will continue to play a role in bringing together a wide range of actors to learn from experiences, to share policy lessons, and to collaborate in supporting and agroecology, beyond COP 27.”

PELUM Zambia – National Coordinator, Muketoi Wamunyima assured, “To our farmers back home in Zambia, the strong relationships and collaboration has been established among climate, food, and land actors to promote agroecology in national climate policy spaces; and investing in knowledge and innovation is essential.”


“Farmers therefore, need to be placed in the centre of co-innovation systems, allowing a process that combines both scientific and traditional knowledge that complement and reinforce each other,” PELUM Zambia – National Coordinator, Muketoi Wamunyima observed.

“Africa offers the “late comer advantage”, the ability to change its food transformation without damage to nature (excessive use of synthetic nitrogen, pesticides, etc.) There is an urgent, holistic food systems approach, which is offered by Agroecology, is immediately needed,” Dr. Susan Chomba, the World Resources Institute (WRI)’s Director for Vital Landscapes, advocated.

“Take your heads out of the sand and stop fiddling with false solutions, they’re meaningless.” This was a crystal clear message echoed for COP27 and beyond, abridges on agroecology that offers a unique approach, as a people-centred option to climate adaptation, while meeting the needs of future generations.

The 32 countries across Africa and abroad, during the convening to develop Africa’s Roadmap to Adaptation through Agroecology, at Skylight Hotel in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia

Dr. Million Belay, AFSA General Coordinator speaking during the three days convening, to develop Africa’s Roadmap to Adaptation in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia

Three days of work was devoted to develop a clear African roadmap to adopt agroecology as a viable and sustainable climate adaptation response (picture and story: @ Misheck Nyirongo


  • MISHECK Nyirongo is an AgroEcology Journalist/Writer for Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty. Email:; WhatsApp/Mobile Contact: +260976652400.


  1. Poor Territorial Market Access, Affect Organic Small-scale Farmers in Rural Zambia

By Misheck Nyirongo

Today, markets have become mainstream instruments for poverty reduction, small-small farmers’ inclusion and increased food & nutrition security. However, market dynamics, failures and short comings often diminish the desired impacts and/or long term effects.


Poor access to territorial markets and climate change information asymmetries has left small-scale farmers exploited by other players in the agroecological value chain. Rural small-scale farmers often don’t know the prices of their produces at distant markets. And due to poor road infrastructure and financial constraints, they often cannot transport their produce to distant territorial markets.

And climate uncertainty often influences small-scale farmers’ decisions. It may deter them from adopting sustainable farming practices such as organic farming and explore new territorial market opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the weaknesses of local food systems and markets but small-scale farmers, agroecological enterprises, and territorial markets stepped up to meet African consumers’ food and nutrition needs.

In this context, a small-scale farmer, Mumba Mwanza, in Ndake Chiefdom, Nyimba district, Eastern Province was caught up in this poor territorial market access comb web, intertwined with other challenges such as climate change and COVID 19 pandemic. “I’m trying hard to work in my garden and produce a lot of fresh organic vegetables, but market access is a major challenge,” he complained in an exclusive interview.

In most cases, rural small-scale farmers negotiate based on the prices proposed by the traders or middlemen.  “At the market in Nyimba, they offer very low prices. And when you compare what you have invested, it is a loose,” He added.


“But I continue to work in the garden because, I’m not used to stay idol. I fear to steal,” Mumba Mwanza, who is also headman Siyaki, said with a beam of a smile across his face.


Although the small-scale farmers are facing some challenges, in a case of Mumba Mwanza, they work as team. “We are nine in my village working in gardens. Everyone is busy and we share ideas and information. We are like a football team. If anyone has an injury – a problem, we help each other,” he explained.


“Through the garden, I’m able to support my children to school; clothing, food and other expenses at home,” he said, “There are a lot of benefits in organic gardening.”


“Even though there is hunger in the community, my garden has helped me a lot. It is profitable to grow vegetables than maize, because in my case I exchange tomatoes with maize,” he added.


“As I’m speaking now, I have 65 x 50kgs bags of maize, managed to buy a radio set and solar panel – no more load shedding,” he cracked a joke,  “So far, am now able to feed my family with nutrious and safe food; and then sell the surplus; in short am food and nutrition secure.”


This small-scale farmer seems to understand his gardening economics. “If someone prepares 20x 50kgs bags of fertilizer in order to grow maize, when selling the commodity, it is cheaper than vegetables. So gardening is lucrative business, because from these few crops- you are able to make a lot of money,” he justified.


Indigenous knowledge helps to meet the broader objectives of society, for instance conserving the environment, developing sustainable agriculture and ensuring food security, while its protection encourages the maintenance of traditional practices and lifestyles.


When asked how he maintains the constant levels of water in the well dug in the garden, he said. “The secret of preserving water resources at the well is simple. We neither use a pot when drawing water nor wash a cooking stick right at the well; this keeps the water resources flowing.”


He added, “In my tribe, we call this ‘Kunjingula’ – meaning to stop doing certain things in order to prevent something bad to happen – in this context to stop washing kitchen utensils right at the well in order to prevent water from drying up. If you immediately use the pot to draw water at the well, it will also dry up just like the pot.”


Investing in agroecology for expanding agroecological enterprises and supporting territorial markets is the most reliable option for achieving a fundamental food system transformation that supports healthy and thriving local food economies and ecologically resilient smallholder farming systems.


The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) General Coordinator Dr. Million Belay said, “Agroecology assures that food producers and communities, particularly rural communities and women farmers, have the ability and resources to continue feeding and nourishing their family in tough times.”


It is time for African governments and the donor and investor communities to place more attention in developing territorial markets and supporting agroecological businesses to make sure that communities will construct a resilient future despite the many crises that they are experiencing.




Most recently, 130 participants from 40 Countries made some commitments after a three-day continental convening on African Agroecological Entrepreneurship and Territorial Markets at Speke Resort in Munyonyo – Kampala, Uganda, organised by Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) in collaboration with other partners:

  • Increasing the recognition of African Agroecological Entrepreneurs and Territorial Markets by informing and supporting agroecology movements, donors/investors, service providers, and governments in Africa.
  • Building momentum for formulating policy recommendations and initiating new programs.
  • Creating and sustaining a community of support for an enabling business environment for African agroecological entrepreneurs and increase demand, i.e., through fostering territorial markets.


The organic farming system needs to change to a more market oriented system. “….For too long, donors have invested in industrial agriculture with poor results for livelihoods, health, ecosystems and human rights. A radical shift is underway. Donors are joining agroecology movements and entrepreneurs in subscribing to agroecological principles and investing in truly equitable and sustainable food systems,” AgroEcology Fund Co-Director, Daniel Moss observes.


A small-scale farmer – practising organic gardening, Mumba Mwanza, in Ndake Chiefdom, Nyimba district, Eastern Province of Zambia. – Story and Pictures (2022) by Misheck Nyirongo

Promoting organic gardening is key to strengthening resilient livelihoods and securing climate justice. – Story and Pictures (2022) by Misheck Nyirongo

Poor access to territorial markets and climate change information asymmetries has left small-scale farmers exploited by other players in the agroecological value chain. – Picture by Misheck Nyirongo




  1. Farmer Input Support Programme, Puts Agriculture Sector at Cross Roads in Zambia

By Misheck Nyirongo in Lundazi

Climate change is increasingly recognized as one of the major economic, environmental and social challenges of our time. With increasing evidence that climate change impacts food security and other aspects of human life, there is need for clarity on how to address these critical issues.

While the urgency of dealing with climate change has been acknowledged, the proposed solutions have largely been to pressure small scale food producers to take up new initiatives such as Climate Smart Agriculture, using hybrid and GMO seeds, and increasing the use of chemical inputs.

Africa suffers the injustice of being the continent hardest hit by climate change, while contributing the least to its cause –accounting for less than 4% of the world’s annual Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Meanwhile, big companies especially from developed countries are given a pass to pollute by offsetting their contribution to climate change through carbon credits earned from REDD+ projects.

The IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (August 2018) confirms that to become fit for purpose in an era of climate change, agriculture must move away from intensive and industrialised approaches towards food systems based on agroecology.

Although the agricultural sector contributes around 13% to Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with a distinct downward trend over the past 15 years, typical of an urbanising economy, the agriculture sector is at the cross roads. This is so because there has been a push for the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.


These input subsidies through the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), has destroyed the soil and in many cases changed the soil composition, and soil biota killed as the soil organic content completely diminished. Across the food system there is already deep systemic injustice, with policies that favour the powerful while exploiting the poor and marginalised, especially women and youths farmers.

Further putting matters in context with objective lens, the proposed solutions are largely to the disadvantage of food sovereignty not to mention the harmful effects on the much needed environmental conservation. The measures being encouraged may ultimately worsen the impact of climate change by further degrading the soil through use of chemical fertilizers, increase destruction of biodiversity and lead to generation of more Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Even if industrialized agriculture has been successful in producing large quantities of food, the future of food production is in jeopardy due to problems in agriculture such as the loss and decrease in the varieties of traditional crops produced. The Zambia National Agriculture Policy 2016 recognises the importance of the informal seed sector, stating that maintaining agricultural biodiversity and promoting conservation are among the strategies adopted to achieve the policy objective of food security, nevertheless the opposite is obtaining.


In Zambia food and farming systems have changed rapidly, and for the worse. Increasingly, farmers use chemicals and poisonous inputs, which they need to purchase. The nation’s agriculture budget subsidises fertiliser and seed through the Farm Input Support Programme (FISP), enriches big companies while soils are impoverished and a few crops take over the diverse local traditional crops.


The decisions related to food production and consumption increasingly lie outside the control of those responsible and accountable for food and nutrition security at both household and national level.


The farmer support is almost entirely directed at subsidising smallholder uptake of Green Revolution (GR) technologies, which is based on the flawed claim that if farmers can access finance and commercial inputs they have an opportunity to break the cycle of rural poverty. Thus, they are supported to produce monoculture commodity crops to sell for cash, in order to be able to purchase food from the commercial retail sector.

The result is reduced, rather than increased, local farmer and consumer agency, and their collective power and sovereignty over food and farming choices. Farmer support needs to be reconceptualised to encompass systematic long term enabling of smallholder farming systems in their entirety – aimed at building local resilience rather than undermining it. This is a foundational principle of farmer and peasant organisations around the world in their calls for systematic support to agroecology and the fulfillment of people’s demands for food sovereignty.

Seed is life, as the Zambian farmers have been planting, saving and exchanging seeds for countless generations; but the farmers now are being pushed to abandon their seed systems and bullied into buying hybrid seeds every year from the seed companies.

Diversity is being replaced by uniformity, as commodity mono-crops push out indigenous varieties, and farmers’ resilience to climate change is undermined. The biodiversity in farmers’ fields is eroding at alarming rates, while the corporate seed sector is reaching unprecedented levels of control through the push for hybrids.

The Zambian government is busy like a “bee” promoting or allowing restrictive seed and intellectual property laws that grant exclusive power to the corporate sector while limiting the possibilities of small farmers to save, exchange and further develop their own varieties.

According to African Centre for Biodiversity (October, 2015), “It may be difficult for the government to change course. The Government recognises it’s failing in its promotion of only hybrid maize and fertiliser. They know the politicisation of maize is a problem, but it’s a matter of votes and they don’t know how to get out of it. Everyone knows that subsidising maize and fertiliser, and the purchase of maize, needs to end, but they are too afraid to do it. Go to any farmer now, all they say is ‘we need hybrid seed and fertiliser’. They don’t know anything about carbon in the soil, and simple local sustainable practices.”


Powerful multinational forces are moving aggressively to implement a system in which farmers are no longer the principal providers of healthy local foods, but rather primary producers or workers delivering raw products to commercial “value chains.”


These chains do not add value for the food producers themselves; instead, they are designed to extract commercial profit from the food system. The policy situation in Zambia tends to favour commercial farmers and scientists who are promoting new seeds and biotechnology.

Policies on seeds are strongly geared to the interests of corporations and traders, who want a market for their seeds and chemicals.


Farmers, in this development model, are persuaded or forced to buy and use industrial seeds each season, and to purchase the expensive pesticides and fertilizers needed to grow these varieties.


It is established that, this commercialisation hymn has not only de-prioritised local food security, it has also greatly destabilised farmers’ management of their seeds by negating the role of women and children, thereby contributing to intergenerational inequalities and further deepening their vulnerability and marginalisation.


Through agricultural extension, advertising and other media, society is being influenced to accept the narrative that farmers’ seed and localised food systems are an outdated, “informal” way of doing things. The gossipmongers of these messages seek to normalise and popularise industrial seed, “value chains” and monoculture at the expense of farmers’ diverse seeds of a wide range of food crops grown on their biodiverse farms for local consumption.

Small-scale farmers are being brainwashed by some companies that their local seeds are inferior, hence the need to run for the new seeds. This is killing the farmer-managed seed system. The intention is to shift and ultimately change public perceptions, so that people come to believe that the problem of feeding the growing population can only be solved by using genetically uniform industrial seeds of relatively few crops pushed by private seed companies, development organisations and the government.

This approach is shown to be in line with the Green Revolution model of intensification which promotes the uptake of chemical-intensive agriculture, especially monocultures of commodity crops, using so-called “improved” seeds and the agrichemicals they require. When promoting industrial seeds, state and private sector actors at local levels are complicity in spreading negative messages about local seeds.

In spite of its promises, the industrialised food system is still failing to feed the world properly. For example, the Zambia National Agriculture Policy aim at improving food and nutrition security, but the Zambia’s food and agriculture system is providing neither food security nor adequate nutrition for all.


While the legal concept of right to food overlaps with and reshapes the concept of food security, it is also not linked to the concept of “food sovereignty.” And the available documents such as the vision 2030 and the National Agriculture Policy (NAP) do not give attention to Agroecology, but mentions sustainable agriculture.


The problem is what sustainable agriculture is and how sustainable is it? As a national document it cannot specifically state Agroecology, and it does not also mention any regenerative form of farming. This shows that the current policies do not recognize Agroecology as a major form of farming which can help regenerate the land and improve the environment as well sustained livelihoods for the farmers, especially the small scale farmers.


The Government support is mainly in the form of the inflexible and most often inappropriate Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), which focuses on synthetic fertilizers and hybrid seeds, and only a few crops, unsuitable for the growing conditions.

The FISPs have not only created farmer dependency on multinational corporations and government subsidies, but also takes up a big portion of the national agricultural budget, but with little benefit for farmers after many years.


There is inadequate participation in crop diversification by small-scale farmers, following the introduction of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), which exacerbates food insecurity. The rate of small-scale farmer participation in crop diversification, in Zambia, currently stands at 0.01% (ZNFU, 2016).


The small-scale farmers who do not diversify in crop production seem to face many challenges ranging from threatening food insecurity to compromised economic growth, stability and resilience. These factors have led to Zambia’s failure to transform its agricultural sector mainly due to lack of an enabling policy environment as well as low capacities among the small scale farmers to implement Agroecology forms of farming.


Unless the government bridges the identified policy gaps by re-focusing on transitioning small scale farmers and vulnerable farming communities from Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), to agroecology-based farming practices for sustainable agriculture and food systems, the attainment of the Vision 2030 of becoming a “prosperous middle-income country by 2030” will be like speech-making.


There is need to unpack most of the foreign coined concepts which sound sweet, but are practically bitter to walk with. Does it click??

Misheck Nyirongo in Zambia    Mobile/ WhatsApp Contact: +260-976652400    Email:

SEED sovereignty is the basis of food sovereignty, yet farmers are being pushed to abandon their seed systems and bullied into buying hybrid seeds every year from the seed companies.

Women are often responsible for seed management including selection, storage and exchange.

Picture by MISHECK Nyirongo in Chasefu District, Eastern Province of Zambia





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