(K)eine Chance für Reisprojekte?

Opportunity for sustainable rice projects

What do companies like BASF, Bayer, the seed manufacturer Europlant or the chemical company Syngenta have in common? They all belong to the German Food Partnership (GFP) – an organization founded in 2012 that promotes sustainable agricultural projects. Two main projects of the German Food Partnership are “Rice in Africa” and “Rice in Asia” - this is an opportunity for critical consideration:

A new vision for agriculture!

It all started in 2010, when the World Economic Forum made a decision to “fundamentally change agricultural production systems”. The goals included reducing climate-damaging emissions and reducing the number of people living in poverty. Small farmers should be supported, food waste should be combated and usable areas should be expanded responsibly. The German Food Partnership (GFP) was then founded with the aim of creating shared value and promoting innovative, sustainable approaches. But: Organic farming companies are still not represented in the German Food Partnership. The International Federation of Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) is not involved. There are no references to alternative, sustainable cultivation methods such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI). Also, no organizations that set standards and guidelines, such as the “East African Organic Products Standard,” are partners of the GFP.

A lot of money for world improvement and sustainability?

The Oxfam organization states that a total of 80 (!) million euros will be made available for the German Food Partnership projects. Approximately 36 million euros of this will go to the two affected rice projects - with the focus being on increasing productivity and training measures for farmers, among other things. For this purpose, television campaigns are even being carried out in Asian and African countries.

Who will tell this rice farmer?

The participation criteria for project partners are relatively weakly defined in view of the attractive funding. The partners are checked via internet research and self-disclosure (questionnaires) - the Sustainability Code is not mentioned. The CFP guide lists seven conditions for access to resources and investments - interestingly, there is no mention of seeds. Information on the independence of environmental assessment and project control is missing. The affected projects also contain rules and requirements regarding the use of pesticides. The participating companies will not be confronted with any of these demands in their conditions of participation to be signed. The conditions only list the general objectives and operational conditions as well as confidentiality rules. The project participants are not protected from dependencies by any clause. Although there is a “promise of freedom of choice” and independent training, there is no information about the design of the training (actors, institutions, rules, exclusion criteria, etc.). In addition to these contractual deficiencies, the lack of inclusion of small farmers and their organizations is particularly critical. To date, no accompanying studies have been carried out to determine the extent to which the supported approaches actually contribute to achieving the goals (right to food, promotion of small-scale agriculture...). As a consequence, organizations like Oxfarm are calling for the projects to be urgently examined for their social and environmental sustainability. Based on the data available to me, I can only agree with this demand - so that there is at least a chance that the positive basic idea of ​​the World Economic Forum will be implemented in the interests of all people and all their living spaces.
Further links: German Food Partnership http://www.germanfoodpartnership.de Council for Sustainable Development www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de Oxfam Germany www.oxfam.de

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