The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports large-scale industrial farming under the guise of a “green revolution”. In classic neocolonialist style the Gates Foundation takes Africa away from Africans, and into the hands of big Western corps. We deep dive into the GRAIN’s recent research that unveils this.
In the last 17 years the B&M Gates foundation has spent nearly US$6 billion in their quest to “improve agriculture” in Africa. For an underfunded sector you can pretty much call them the royalty of African agriculture. They wine and dine politicians and set up HQ right by Monsanto in the USA.
The research was published by GRAIN— a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. They have uncovered all of the Gate’s Foundation’s real interests in Africa.
The main takeaway:
Their grants are heavily skewed towards USA & European research centers instead of to real African farmers. Some grants are even given to their own group (AGRA) that lobbies on behalf of industrial farming.
The Gates Foundation fights hunger in the South by giving money to the North
GRAIN has not been the only org to notice the Foundation’s discrepancies and hypocrisies:
- In 2020 a report from Tufts University concluded that the Foundation’s work in Africa completely failed to meet the objectives that it had set itself.
- The African Centre for Biodiversity published a string of reports denouncing the Gates Foundation for pushing GMOs and other harmful technologies onto Africa.
- The US Right to Know collective started a “Bill Gates Food Tracker” to monitor the multiple initiatives that Gates is involved in to reshape the global food system.
GRAIN created a database of the Foundation’s grants in the area of food and agriculture from 2003-2020
What the database reveals:
- A total of 1130 grants for food and agriculture, worth nearly $US6 billion of which almost US$5 billion is supposed to service Africa.
- There was no shift to try and reach groups in Africa directly, no refocusing away from the narrow technological approach, and no moves to embrace a more holistic and inclusive policy agenda
- The Foundation’s Trust Fund, which manages the Foundation’s endowment, has big investments in food and agribusiness companies, buys up farmland, and has equity investments in many financial companies around the world.
Almost half of the Foundation’s grants for agriculture went to four big groupings:
- The global agriculture research network of the Consortium Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
- The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA – set up in 2006 by the Gates Foundation itself together with the Rockefeller Foundation)
- The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF – another technology centre pushing Green Revolution technology and GMOs into Africa) and a number of international organisations (World Bank, UN agencies, etc.).
- The other half ended up with hundreds of research, development and policy organisations across the world.Conclusion:The Gates Foundation claims that 80% of their grants are meant to serve African farmers. But of the funding to these hundreds of organisations a staggering 82% was channelled to groups based in North America and Europe while less than 10% went to Africa-based groups.
basically… The Gates Foundation gives to scientists, not farmers.
What is the CGIAR?
The single biggest recipient of grants from the Gates Foundation is the CGIAR— a consortium of 15 international research centres launched in the 1960s to promote the Green Revolution with new seeds, fertilisers and chemical inputs. The Gates Foundation has given CGIAR centres US$1.4 billion since 2003. Another priority for the Gates Foundation in its funding is to support research at universities and national research centres in Europe and USA. Together, all this research gets almost half (47%) of the Gates Foundation’s funding.
What is AGRA?
The Gates Foundation heavily funds AGRA: a high-profile advocacy organisation called the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The Gates and Rockefeller Foundations launched AGRA in 2006 as a “farmer-centered” and “African-led” institution. The reality is far from. AGRA implements a top-down Green Revolution agenda with the main focus being to get new seeds and chemicals developed by Gates funded research centres and corporations into the hands of African farmers.
AGRA establishes, funds, coordinates and promotes networks of pesticide and seed companies and public agencies to sell and supply agriculture inputs to farmers across Africa. It also actively lobbies African governments to implement policies that favour seed and pesticide companies, such as patents on seeds or regulations that allow for GMOs.
The Gates Foundation has given AGRA a whopping US$638 million since 2006. But AGRA’s results are underwhelming to say the least. In the countries where AGRA is active, yields of staple crops increased only 18% over the past 12 years- far short of AGRA’s goal of doubling yields. Meanwhile, undernourishment (as measured by the FAO) increased by 30% in those countries.
Recently Bill & Melinda launched “Gates Ag One”. This initiative claims to speed up the development of new seeds and chemicals and get them to farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia more quickly. Where will the institute be based? Not in Ethiopia or Sri Lanka but in St. Louis, USA, home of Monsanto and other GMO and pesticide giants. Coincidence?
The Gates Foundation buys political influence
Of course, AGRA itself is also actively pushing the African policy agenda. AGRA is among the key conveners of the annual Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF). Partners include some of the main global agrochemical corporations, such as Bayer, Corteva and Yara, and of course the Gates Foundation itself.
Who is the Gates Foundation not supporting? African farmers.
What is African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF)?
The Gates Foundation grants are used to push policy makers to implement its top-down industrial farming agenda.On 29-30 April 2021 a “High-Level Dialogue on Feeding Africa” forum was held, funded by the Gates Foundation, and organised by a number of Gates Foundation grantees such as the African Development Bank, CGIAR and AGRA. The forum was meant to launch a policy and funding agenda to further push the Green Revolution into Africa. The event attracted 18 African heads of state and all of the international organisations with activities in Africa who are Gates grantees.
The Foundation provides zero funding to support farmer seed systems, which supply 80 to 90% of all the seeds used in Africa. Instead, it provides a lot of funds to initiatives that destroy them. Furthermore, the Gates Foundation props up biofortification as a solution to malnutrition, taking funds and attention away from much more practical and culturally appropriate efforts to improve nutrition by enhancing on-farm biodiversity and people’s access to it. Over the last decade or so, the Gates Foundation has given US$73 million to biofortification initiatives that essentially seek to artificially pack nutrients into single crop commodities.
Bill & Melinda’s Foundation’s involvement in Africa is a clear neo-colonialist endeavour. It maximizes profits in the West and destroys a local food system for an industrial food system that we know does not work. Don’t be fooled by their “saving the world” rhetoric, it is killing biodiversity, local culture, and sustainable food systems in pursuit of pure profit.