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World Bank's New Agriculture Project Threatens Food Security, Warn Experts

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A World Bank pilot project designed to measure and improve agricultural productivity will jeopardise food security in developing countries and create a "one-size-fits-all model of development where corporations reign supremely", according to a coalition of thinktanks and NGOs.

An international campaign - Our Land; Our Business - is urging the Bank to abandon its Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (BBA) programme, claiming it will serve only to encourage corporate land grabs and undermine the smallholder farmers who produce 80% of the food consumed in the developing world.

The campaign, whose signatories include the US-based Oakland Institute thinktank and the Pan-African Institute for Consumer Citizenship and Development, argues that the Bank's attempts to adapt its ease-of-doing-business rankings to the agricultural sector will sow poverty "by putting the interests of foreign investors before those of locals".

The BBA was devised after the G8 asked the Bank to explore a doing business in agriculture index two years ago under the G8's controversial New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition programme.

BBA pilot schemes, which receive funding from the US development agency, USAid, the UK's Department for International Development (DfID), the Dutch and Danish governments and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are being trialled in 10 countries: Ethiopia, the Philippines, Guatemala, Rwanda, Morocco, Spain, Mozambique, Uganda, Nepal and Ukraine. Among the issues under investigation are access to seeds, fertiliser, mechanisation, finance, markets, transport and technology.   

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