In an open letter to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Southern Africa Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said Gates is fueling hunger and poverty by funding farming methods that fail to protect small-scale farmers and the environment.
An African faiths environmental institute is calling on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to stop funding green revolution technologies and genetically modified seeds for the continent, but instead support natural methods to help Africa achieve food sufficiency and protect its environments.
In an open online letter that is also asking for signatures, the Southern Africa Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) said the foundation is fueling hunger and poverty by funding farming methods that fail to protect small-scale farmers and the environment.
The Gates Foundation said it is working to ensure that small-scale African farmers can lift themselves out of poverty.
SAFCEI concerns come as humanitarian agencies continue to warn that millions of people in Africa increasingly face hunger and poverty, partly due to climate change, conflict and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a bold and strong call that is in line with Catholic social teaching principles of solidarity, preferential option for the poor and care for our common home,” Allen Ottaro, founder and executive director of the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa, told Catholic News Service in a reaction to the petition. “It is in solidarity with the African smallholder farmers who are at risk of losing sovereignty over their food production in the long term, as well as the loss of a variety of food crops that are rich in nutrition.”
The faith communities’ institute said the Gates Foundation has been funding projects that promote growing of one specific type of crop in large fields at the expense of mixed cropping, a practice used by small-scale farmers in Africa for many years.
Also, the institute said, in the growing of the single crop, the projects use heavy machinery, large amounts of fossil fuels, commercial fertilizers and pesticides in the approaches deemed to destroy the environment. At the same time, large tracts of land are acquired for the crop,