Daily Archives: August 24, 2022

Africa in the New Era of U.S.-China Great Power Competition

Aug 24, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping is widely expected to soon re-emerge on the global stage after a nearly three-year absence. Where is still unknown, but when it does happen it’s going to create a much tenser, more confrontational atmosphere at upcoming summits in Indonesia and Thailand where he’ll sit alongside U.S. President Joe Biden and other Western leaders.

Eurasia Group Senior Analyst Ali Wyne will be closely following Xi’s reemergence. Ali is one of Washington’s foremost observers of the burgeoning Sino-U.S. great power rivalry and the author of a new book on the subject “America’s Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition.”

Ali joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the new book and to share his forecast of what to expect in this new, far more contentious era.

SHOW NOTES: Amazon: purchase a copy of “America’s Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition”: https://amzn.to/3ClRCVq

Agribusiness, Family Farmers and the Future of Food | IATP


Climate change has highlighted the precarious nature of global food systems, and the 2020 pandemic has only pushed those systems closer to the edge. Leading U.N. agencies have recognized that “business as usual” in agriculture and food policies is no longer an option, opening new paths for progress toward agroecology and other climate-resilient sustainable food systems. Longtime IATP collaborator Timothy A. Wise has joined IATP as a senior advisor to explore these issues, based on his widely acclaimed 2019 book, Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food. As family farmers and consumers advocate for just, resilient and healthy farms and food, from Iowa to India, Mexico to Mozambique, they face the concentrated power of agribusiness firms defending their right to conduct business, as usual.

…(read more).

China to use geoengineering to combat historic drought | DW News

DW News Aug 24, 2022

China is suffering a severe water shortage after its hottest and driest summer since the government began recording rainfall 61 years ago. Authorities try to protect this year’s harvest from intense drought by using chemicals to generate rain and people are warned to save ‘every unit of water’ as a severe drought continues.

Dick Cheney brands Donald Trump ‘greatest ever threat to our Republic’

The Independent – Aug 4, 2022

Dick Cheney called Donald Trump the ‘greatest ever threat to our Republic’. The comments come as he endorsed his daughter, Liz Cheney, stating “I’ll be voting for her, I hope you will too”.

Green Revolution Forum faces crisis of its own making

Rising fertilizer prices and uncertain supplies are bringing promoters of Africa’s Green Revolution face-to-face with a food crisis very much of their own making. Inorganic fertilizers, the supposed catalyst for Africa’s productivity revolution, have been a bust, and now they are too expensive for governments to subsidize or farmers to buy. As I write in this piece for Kenya’s Daily Nation, “When you find yourself in a hole, the adage says, stop digging. Instead of responding to the fertiliser crisis by digging a hole so deep African farmers can’t get out, it is time for Green Revolution promoters to put down their shovels and admit that the climate-constrained future has overtaken them. The shovels could be very useful in the production of organic fertilizers made from local materials.” Join African faith, farmer, and civil society leaders on Sept. 1 as they deliver that message in a press conference on the eve of the Green Revolution Forum.

Green Revolution Forum Confronts
Food, Fertilizer Crises

Timothy A. Wise, Daily Nation (Kenya), August 24, 2022

As government officials, corporate leaders, and international donors prepare to travel to Kigali, Rwanda for the first in-person African Green Revolution Forum in three years, they will be face-to-face not only with one another but with a fundamental challenge to their core mission.

Inorganic fertilisers, the hoped-for catalyst of a productivity revolution, have had supplies disrupted by the Russia-Ukraine war, and prices have doubled, tripled, or even more. This has made fertilisers less affordable for governments, many of which heavily subsidize their purchase, and for farmers, many of whom have become heavily dependent on the imported input.

In the short run, the fertiliser crisis exacerbates a food crisis already advanced by Covid-19, conflict, and climate change. The United Nations estimates that 346 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are suffering from severe food insecurity. The U.N. World Food Program estimates that fertiliser shortages will cause a 14 per cent drop in cereal production and could push 7 million more into food insecurity.

In the long run, though, the crisis challenges the Green Revolution model itself, pushing farmers and governments to reduce their dependence on this expensive fossil-fuel-based input, which most countries import.

Commercial seeds

That is precisely what African civil society, farm, and faith leaders have been demanding for years, saying the Green Revolution approach is “doing more harm than good.” They raised that demand before last year’s Green Revolution Forum, delivering a letter signed by more than 200 organizations that called on AGRA’s donors to cease funding the initiative.

They had evidence on their side, and since then more has been produced. Earlier studies had shown that the Green Revolution package of commercial seeds and fertilizers was failing to significantly raise productivity, incomes, or food security for 30 million smallholder families, as promised by AGRA and its donors. Crop diversity had declined with the heavy promotion of maize and rice, and diet diversity worsened as a result. The number of chronically hungry people in AGRA’s 13 focus countries increased by 31 per cent rather than being cut in half. Overall, 50% more Africans are hungry now than in 2006 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation launched AGRA.

In February, a Gates Foundation-commissioned evaluation of AGRA’s last five years confirmed these poor farmer outcomes. Yields grew slowly, incomes barely rose, and food insecurity remained endemic in rural areas. In addition, the evaluation found that environmental impacts were negative and the main beneficiaries were not women smallholders but wealthier male farmers.

Donors have thus far ignored the findings of their own evaluation. The U.S. Agency for International Development, one of AGRA’s core funders, quickly dismissed the critical findings, stating, “We appreciate AGRA’s response to the report conclusions and concur with their proposed next steps to improve performance outcomes.” After a March 30 briefing for members of U.S. Congress by African civil society leaders, three representatives wrote a letter to their colleagues calling on them to reconsider funding for AGRA and to demand greater accountability for its poor performance.

That is what African civil society leaders will demand at a September 1 virtual press conference. Some of the same leaders, many affiliated with the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, will chastise AGRA donors for their inaction and “call for an end to the failing Green Revolution,” charging that it “has deepened the continent’s dependence on costly imported inputs and undermined the resilience of Africa’s food systems.”

Ignoring this imperative, African governments are mostly doubling down on fossil fuels and fertilizers. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, recently announced a $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility to help governments buy more high-priced fertilizer, promising it would drive “structural changes in agriculture.” According to Dr. Adesina, “If we don’t solve the fertiliser problem, we cannot solve the food problem,”

Fossil fuel

For the sovereignty alliance’s diverse continent-wide network, the fertilizer problem won’t be solved by deepening Africa’s dependence on unsustainable fossil fuel inputs. It has long called for a more profound structural change, demanding a shift in donor and government support away from import-dependent industrialized farming, which some refer to as “climate-stupid agriculture.”

Today’s food and fertilizer crises highlight the urgency of that shift. Grassroots organisations are not waiting for donors and governments to act. Some Alliance members are now producing organic fertilizers made from locally sourced materials in “bioinput centers” across Africa. Many would welcome government and donor support to scale up such initiatives.

When you find yourself in a hole, the adage says, stop digging. Instead of responding to the fertiliser crisis by digging a hole so deep African farmers can’t get out, it is time for Green Revolution promoters to put down their shovels and admit that the climate-constrained future has overtaken them. The shovels could be very useful in the production of organic fertilizers made from local materials.

Register here for the Sept. 1 press conference, 10am EDT. Keep up with our ongoing work on IATP’s AGRA campaign web page.


Historic drought is threatening Italy’s water supply | DW News

DW News – Aug 24, 2022

Scarce rain and successive heat waves across Europe have affected river discharges and water levels. In Northern Italy, there hasn’t been significant rainfall for months, and snowfall this year was down 70%, resulting in less meltwater. That’s led to a drying up of important rivers like the Po, which flows across the country’s agricultural and industrial heartland.

“War Poisons Everybody”: Remembering Legendary Historian Howard Zinn on His 100th Birthday

Aug 24, 2022

We remember the legendary historian, author, professor, playwright and activist Howard Zinn, who was born 100 years ago today. Zinn was a regular guest on Democracy Now! from the start of the program in 1996 up until his death in 2010 at age 87. After witnessing the horrors of World War II as a bombardier, Zinn became a peace and justice activist who picketed with his students at Spelman College during the civil rights movement and joined in actions such as opposing the Vietnam War. He later spoke out against the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “I believe neutrality is impossible, because the world is already moving in certain directions. Wars are going on. Children are starving,” Zinn said in a 2005 interview. “To be neutral … is to collaborate with whatever is going on, to allow it to happen.” His classic book, “A People’s History of the United States,” retells the country’s history from the perspective of everyday people who resisted oppression and exploitation by more powerful forces.

Biden cancels student debt for millions of Americans

Aug 24, 2022

President Biden on Wednesday announced his long-awaited plan on student debt. Borrowers making less than $125,000 a year will be eligible for $10,000 in federal loan forgiveness. That goes up to $20,000 for those with the greatest need. Biden also extended a pause on loan payments through the end of this year. Laura Barrón-López joins Amna Nawaz to discuss.

How lack of rain, persistent heatwave are worsening Europe’s drought, hurting shipping routes

Aug 23, 2022

On Monday, low water levels in Europe’s Danube River revealed the remains of dozens of WWII ships and pre-historic stones. In ThePrint #World360, Pia Krishnankutty explains the science behind Europe’s worst drought in years and how it risks hurting key shipping routes.

Disruption in water cycle threatens the Earth | DW News

Aug 23, 2022

According to the European Commission, the current drought could be the worst “for at least 500 years.” Large swaths of the continent are now in a state of drought alert or drought warning.

Rising temperatures and extreme heat have left countries around the world parched. From China to the United States and Mexico to Kenya, drought has taken hold.