At Issue: More Ominous than Climate Change? Global Policy Threats to Africa Food Production

by Andrew Mushita and Carol Thompson


In international fora, climate change discussions center on how farmers can “mitigate” and “adapt” to weather variability to increase food production. Instead, African smallholder food producers are employing ways to “resist” and “sustain,” for international policies in the name of climate change threaten their farming systems, biodiverse genetic wealth, and their indigenous knowledge. These policy storms could be more devastating than any weather variability, for they could destroy the very resources that farmers use to produce biodiverse foods: their seeds, land, soil, water, and markets. This article first focuses on analysis of the policy changes that mirror the climate hazards: drought, floods, rising temperatures, and weather variability. Second, we discuss African alternatives, the ways in which smallholder farmers are resisting outside agendas to transform their farming systems and sustaining their resilient food production.

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Andrew Mushita is an agronomist and Director of the Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) in Zimbabwe. He founded CTDT to support networks of smallholder farmers across Southern Africa.

Carol Thompson is a political economist and Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Northern Arizona University who works in the field of international environmental policies and African food production.