By Duke Tagoe
23rd May 2015, Ghana
Small scale farmers and other farmer based groups have held a spirited march against the United States GM seed producing company Monsanto today
The march at Akrobinya, a suburb of Asutuare, was held concurrently with several others peaceful and colourful marches that took place in more than 68 other countries across the world.
They call for the eradication of all barriers that threaten their livelihood and confiscate their inherent right to produce healthy and culturally appropriate food for their families and consumer.
This year’s march was held under the theme: “The Seed Belongs To us Not Monsanto” with protestors insisting that seed is a natural resource that must not be privatized to benefit of biotech companies such as Monsanto that seek to squeeze undeserved profits from the toils and labours of small holders.
The event provided an opportunity to share the benefits of agroecology in ensuring increased yield and to maintain the integrity of the soil.
Philip Anumah of the Osudoku Agriculture Society is appalled at the complicity of local agents in this harsh exploitation. “Too many crimes have been committed by the Ghanaian politician and policy makers for which they have gone unpunished. We have been deceived! No one cares any longer about the plight of the ordinary farmer in our country,”
“We stood under the heat of the sun and elected everyone of the two-hundred and seventy five parliamentarians in the hope that they would protect our collective interest but our expectations have become bitter experiences.
“Why must any decent minded Ghanaian or an African alive to his or her responsibility as a citizen and with knowledge of the history of slavery support a few white men to grab the seed market that forms the bedrock of our very existence,” he questioned.
Victoria Adongo, Programmes Cordinator of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana is convinced that the invasion of the country and Africa with programmes of the G8 New Alliance and the World Bank that promises to lift a million farmers out of poverty is only a cover up for what is a well organized scheme to subject African peoples to a new form of dependency and the deepening of the poverty of the people.
The Food Sovereignty Platform stated in a release after the march that “farmers are comfortable with their own grown seeds and have exhibited potentials to produce for the domestic market and for export if bottlenecks such as the absence of feeder road, storage facilities, lack of irrigation systems and post harvest lost management practices are addressed.
47 year old Samuel Hoya of the Rice Farmers Association of Atrobinya does not believe in the miracle of the genetically engineered Golden Rice. According to him as populations are forced to move away from diversity to the consumption of single crops, malnutrition is most likely to occur.
He says the thinking that goes into fusing vitamin A into rice to provide nourishment for children ignores the fact that green leafy vegetables are the riches sources of Vitamin A but seed companies are not promoting that because it will not fetch them money.
Hundreds March Against Monsanto in ACCRA and GOASO
Food Sovereignty Ghana, 24 May 2015
Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) joined millions of people worldwide across 6 continents, 56 countries and 452 cities including 5 countries from Africa in the annual march against Monsanto. This year’s march was organized in collaboration with the Kanyan Akuafuo Kuo Society from the Brong Ahafo region in north central Ghana, Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the Vegetarian Association of Ghana.
Observing an annual ban on drumming and noise making imposed by the Ga Traditional Council, the March in Accra was silent with hundreds of participants wielding placards and marching through some of the principal streets of Accra. The second and more animated march took place at Goaso in the Brong Ahafo Region about 400 km north of Accra where different farming groups and organisations as well as opinion leaders joined members of Food Sovereignty Ghana to send a clear message to leadership and policy makers that the imposition of genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops on Ghanaians was absolutely unacceptable and not in the interest of Ghana’s sustainable future.
— FoodSovereigntyGhana (@FoodSovereignGH) May 23, 2015
At around 7.30 am a group of early birds peacefully picketed with placards outside the show room of Dizengoff, a local supplier of Monsanto’s products located opposite The Ghanaian Times. This early photo opportunity has now made it all over the world. By 8.30 am a large gathering of anti GMO campaigners had converged at the premises of TV3 in Accra and by 9.30 am the March began in the company of a police escort. The marchers proceeded down the road to the car park of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) where the leadership were engaged in several interviews before continuing on the Ring road turning left at Nima Police station. After a brief stop at the Nima roundabout finally ending up at the Nima market where they interacted with the market women on the whole issue of GMO. Clearly the level of ignorance about GMO in the country is quite alarming given that Ghana being a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol is obliged to carry out mass education and public engagement for the general public on GMO
In Goaso in the Brong Ahafo Region 400 Km north of Accra, the march commenced from the premises of Nananom FM, through Goaso’s Municipal Streets to Kukuomu Mmem T-Junction finally ending up at Goaso Market. The turnout mainly made up of farmers was very encouraging, reflective of the fact that a large section of Ghanaians are already worried about the imposition of GMO in our agriculture.
Joining the March in Accra among other celebrities and local musicians was the Chairperson of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), Madam Samia Nkrumah and a strong delegation of Party stalwarts which included Prof Akosah, Party Secretary Ivor Greenstreet, Deputy Spokesperson Ernesto Yeboah, Kojo Afari, Mrs. Dede Amanor-Wilks (CPP Parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma South Constituency) as well Party veterans, Aunty Lucy Annin a former MP in the Nkrumah government and Madam Borkor. Samia Nkrumah expressed delight at the manner in which the march was able to reach the grass roots and educate the masses. She cited the need for more education to counter the negative propaganda being advanced by the agribusiness lobby to impose GMO on the Ghanaian society and reminded the gathering of the CPP’s unshakable allegiance to the interest and welfare of the Ghanaian people.
Research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects. Different placards communicated several messages including the following: “Vote with your cedis by buying organic” and “GMO means God Move Over”. “The WHO says Glyphosate may be carcinogenic”.
Prof Akosah a CPP senior member called on policy makers in Ghana to recognize these developments as clear red flags which should signal the need to reconsider Ghana’s need to begin growing GMO in the first place. He pointed out the fact that Ghana grows enough food to feed itself however lack of roads and storage facilities contribute to the unacceptable high post-harvest loss.
The March was very well attended and received coverage from a cross section of local as well as international media. Food Sovereignty Ghana maintains that the proposed UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders’ Bill should be abandoned and Parliament must adopt the African Union model which also meets the WTO requirements, guarantees the rights of small farmers, and does not put the entire nation at the mercy of foreign multinational corporations.
We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison.
For Life, the Environment and Social Justice!
Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
Contact: Tel: +233 503 895 751
GBCGhana, 24 May 2015
The Ecologist, 22 May 2015