A major evaluation commissioned for donors to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international donors, has confirmed what many of us in Africa have claimed for years: The billion-dollar AGRA “did not meet its headline goal of increased incomes and food security for 9 million smallholders.”
Women farmers, who were supposed to be among the main beneficiaries, are in fact losing out. As the evaluators state, the few who benefited “were typically younger, male, and relatively wealthier…productivity and income gains were also concentrated among these relatively high-resource farmers.”
I was not surprised to read the evaluators’ conclusions that AGRA’s well-funded effort to promote commercial seeds and fertilizers was failing to consistently increase yields and often left farmers and their land worse off. At my organization, the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, we have seen farmers suffer with these top-down development schemes for years.