Ending Africa's Hunger Means Listening to Farmers

  •  nagoya, japan
  • Inter Press Service

Instead of new hybrid seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, family farmers in West Africa said they want to use local seeds, avoid spending precious cash on chemicals and most importantly to direct public agricultural research to meet their needs, according to a multi-media publication released on World Food Day (Oct. 16). 'There is a clear vision from these small farmers. They are rejecting the approach of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa,' said report co-author Michel Pimbert of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a non-profit research institute based in London.

'These were true farmer-led assessment where small farmers and other food producers listened and questioned agricultural and other experts and then came up with their own recommendations,' Pimbert told IPS. 'Food and agriculture policy and research tend to ignore the values, needs, knowledge and concerns of the very people who provide the food we all eat - and often serve instead powerful commercial interests such as multinational seed and food retailing companies,' he said.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, backs the need for a fundamental shift in food and agricultural research to make it more democratic and accountable to society. 'I applaud the efforts described here to organise citizen's juries and farmers' assessments of agricultural research in West Africa,' writes De Schutter in a forward to the IIED publication titled 'Democratising Agricultural Research for Food Sovereignty in West Africa'. The publication includes video clips and audio files that feature the voices and concerns of food producers from across the region.

© Inter Press Service (2010) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service