Moves led by Western agri MNCS heavily supported by Bill Gates and by the UK and USA are setting out to dominate Africa’s seed market, forcing farmers to by imported seeds, including GM. This is totally unnecessary because African subsistence farmers – which is the vast majority of them – have always had a system of generating their own free seed, and this move will literally drive many of them out of business.
Another example is the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (or CAP) which takes up half the EU budget and lavishes subsidies onto the EU’s biggest landowners at the expense of millions of the poorest farmers in Africa.
The huge subsidies they get allow the EU to dump thousands of tons of heavily-subsidised food into Africa every year. This effectively blocks African producers from exporting their own products because they compete with the lower prices made possible by the CAP. For instance EU farmers are guaranteed a price for their sugar which is three times higher than the world price.
Mozambique loses more than £100 million a year because of restrictions on importing into EU coupled with the dumping of cheap exports at its door, while many thousands of workers in Swaziland have lost their jobs because the local industry cannot compete.
Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal have been hit by cheap, subsidised imports from Europe.
Thousands of tonnes of powdered milk from the EU are dumped in West African countries such as Mali at a cheaper price than local cattle owners can sell at, devastating the economy and driving them out of business.
Unwanted EU chicken thighs and wings are often frozen and exported to Africa where they are sold for rock-bottom prices. Chicken farmers in Senegal and Ghana used to supply most of the country’s demand – now their market share has virtually disappeared because subsidised imports are 50 per cent cheaper.
As Claire Godfrey of Oxfam, says: “Not only does the Common Agricultural Policy hit European shoppers in their pockets but strikes a blow against the heart of development in places like Africa”.
As a result, it is now estimated that Africa imports well over 80 per cent of its food when, not so long ago, Africa was totally self-sufficient in food production.
Not content with this, the EU, the UN, the World Bank and the IMF have been trying for a long while to impose free trade deals on African nations which African trade unionists have described as the latest ‘colonialist scramble’ for the continent.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has said that the proposed Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) would allow the continued exploitation of the continent by European big business.
Its general secretary for Africa, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, has said that the colonial economic structure set-up to export raw materials and import manufactures remained and called on Africa to reject “the latest scramble” by European powers.
“Structural Adjustment foisted on Africa with the active involvement of the European Union has killed off the little industrial capabilities countries mastered immediately after independence,” he said.
He said that the alleged market access offered under this and previous trade agreements were “contrived”.
“As the tariffs came down on African raw materials, they went up for manufacturers.
“It is highly disingenuous to conceive of a free trade between the poorest continent on earth and the world’s most powerful trading bloc as the solution,” he said.
Therefore it is clear that these EPA’s are designed to open up of all Africa for EU exports, exposing African producers to overwhelming competition from the world’s most powerful and rapacious transnationals.
The starkest example of this imperialist domination is coffee. In 2014 Africa, the home of coffee, earned just £1.5 billion from the crop. Yet Germany, a leading processor, earned nearly double that from coffee re-exports.
The reason for this is that Africa is punished by the EU with a 7.5 per cent tariff charge on roasted coffee but non-decaffeinated green coffee is exempt. As a result, the bulk of Africa’s export to the EU is unroasted green coffee and German manufacturers reap the rewards.
The charge on cocoa is even more debilitating as the EU tariff charge is a massive 30 per cent for processed cocoa products like chocolate bars or cocoa powder, and 60 per cent for some other refined products containing cocoa.
This of course effectively stifles technological innovation and industrial development in Africa, yet another reason for Africa’s continuing poverty, with 91% of the population earning less than US$5 a day, and 43% under $ 1.90 a day.
Indeed, the battle against poverty is in retreat. Even the AU admits that progress is not keeping pace with the developed world. In fact – a fact little publicised but confirmed by the World Bank – is that there are 300% MORE Africans in extreme poverty now than there were in 1981. And the income gap between Africans and Westerners has also risen by 300% since 1960.Post published in: Featured