Since 2014, Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) has been educating Ghanaians about the dangers of agro-colonialism, a new form of colonization by foreign multinationals and agents of non-African countries who are taking over Africa’s agriculture sector. For Ghana, this simply means a sinister takeover of Ghana’s food production system in order to ensure that Ghanaians remain food dependent. (To read the full report with analysis click here or to read the summarized version with activity pictures click here)

Ghana’s authorities recognized the country’s urgent need for food self-sufficiency and passed the National Biosafety Act in 2011 to enable the introduction of Genetically Modified Crops in Ghana’s agriculture food system. This law seeks to regulate the safe transfer, handling and use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) with the exception of those that are for pharmaceutical use. Obviously, the introduction of GMO crops is intertwined with foreign land grabbing (Agro-colonialism) and unfortunately it is believed by Ghanaian authorities to be an answer to food insecurity.

The quiet spread across Africa of genetically modified crops such as corn is worrisome, requiring serious consideration and a strategic response. Kenya, for example, banned the importation and cultivation of genetically modified crops in 2012 to protect small farm holders and for safety reasons. The lifting of the ban this October 2022 by the newly elected President William Ruto is facing legal challenge in the high court filed by Mr. Paul Mwangi. The ongoing plan to genetically modify most of the local staple food crops threatens Africa’s future. The plan aims at replacing organic, indigenous, and publicly owned seeds and plants with genetically modified, privately owned crop seeds. Each planting season, every farmer will have to purchase seeds. This plan facilitates the transfer of wealth from poor small farm holders to rich foreign agribusiness giants.

In its 2017 report Down on the Seed: The World Bank Enables Corporate Takeover of Seeds, the Oakland Institute contrasts “farmer-managed seed systems” with the adoption of “chemical inputs and industrial seeds” that is favored by the World Bank. The report asserts that up to 90% of seeds for agriculture in developing countries still come from farmer-managed systems, and these crops are crucial to worldwide agricultural production. The traditional systems help preserve “agrobiodiversity, food security, and resilience against climate and economic shocks.” The diverse seeds provided by the farmer-based systems include varieties appropriate to certain environments.

The World Bank and many of its donors underestimate such advantages. They see chemical inputs and genetically modified seeds (“improved seeds”) as essential to feed the world. The agricultural inputs market, however, is controlled by an exclusive cartel of Western companies that will benefit most from the use of chemical fertilizers and GMO seeds. More than two-thirds of all commercial seed sales currently involve just six multinational companies. Farmers using GMO seeds are not free to use seed from their own crops, but must continue to buy the GMO seeds.

by Jacques Bahati, Policy Analyst and Thoughts Leader , Edited by Br. David P. Mahoney, CFX