Solving Climate Change With Agriculture: Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa Launches at COP17

African farmer and civil society groups launched the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) on Sunday, saying that agro-ecology can provide a solution for global hunger and poverty, climate change, threats to biodiversity, and soil health.

"These are appropriate for our economies, and our small scale farmers, who don’t need the expensive chemical inputs that are being pushed on us,” said Agnes Yawe of Participatory Ecological Land Use  Management (PELUM), which represents 10 countries and is part of the 14-network alliance.

The Gates Foundation has been one of the biggest pushers of genetically modified foods—which tend to increase the use of chemical inputs—in Africa, creating dependency and pollution issues.

Instead, the alliance wants food sovereignty for the region, recognizing that climate change is more of a barrier to reliable food production than is "an ideal vision of the environment," as Bill Gates said in support of GMO technology.

Finding Sustainable, Locally-Appropriate Solutions
Members of the alliance emphasize the importance of indigenous knowledge; as a network, they'll also be able to pool their understandings of food production and ecosystems, to find solutions.

Mpatheleni Makaulule, indigenous community leader from South Africa's AFSA-member Mupo Foundation, said, “In our territories, the soil, water and indigenous forest is already in disorder, and that affects the ecosystem. The indigenous seeds from the indigenous knowledge are our hope to adapt with this climate change, and this is why we want food sovereignty."

What's needed are holistic solutions that recognize the connections between a healthy climate, intact ecosystems, and the earth's ability to produce food for people.

Makaulule added: “Our lands and community in Venda are now faced with being destroyed by a huge open cast coal mine. This will finish our last remaining water, and kill our last indigenous trees and sacred sites.  But these are the richest ecosystems, and they bring the rain. This mining is going to make climate change worse.  We cannot guarantee the future if this mining continues. The coming generation will realise that money cannot be breathed or chewed.”

Upon its launch, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa released a report, "Food Sovereignty Systems," focused on how proper agricultural and ecological practices can fight climate change, boost food production, and restore ecosystems all at the same time.

The network is using COP17 in Durban as an opportunity:

We will demonstrate that small farmers and indigenous peoples are still feeding the continent and can continue to do with the right support and will challenge the internal and external forces that undermine our communities and their territories. Through massive mobilisation, African civil society will amplify the message that tangible solutions to climate change are attainable.

More on Africa and agriculture:
While Bill Gates Wants Africa to Embrace Industrial GM Food, Italy Fines Franken-Maize Growing Farmer
What's Wrong With the Bill Gates & Bono Approach to Saving the World?
Food Policy Meeting in Africa: We Need Home-Grown Solutions
Conservation Farming, Not Witchcraft, Increases Zambian Farmer's Crop Yield

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