Dear G8,

G8 leaders plan to launch a “New Alliance to increase Food and Nutrition Security” at the G8 Summit May 18-19 at Camp David in the United States. We are concerned that this initiative, as proposed, offers a silver bullet to divert attention from the G8’s failure to deliver on previous commitments, rather than a continued effort to fight hunger.

Three years ago, at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama rallied the leaders of the world’s richest countries to make a promise: if poor countries came up with good plans to help farmers living in poverty grow more and earn more, rich countries would help make it happen. The initiative included a $22 billion financial pledge over three years to be invested in country-owned plans.

We, women smallholder farmers, youth, landless agricultural workers and pastoralists who are the backbone of African agriculture are doing our part; G8 leaders need to do theirs at this year’s summit. Since L’Aquila, our countries have created long-term country investment plans for agriculture. Too many of these country plans are still awaiting the share from donors, nearly three years after the G8 promised to their share. The L’Aquila Food Security Initiative ends in December, but as of last year, the G8 had met only between a fifth and a half of their L’Aquila commitments.

We are concerned that the G8’s proposed New Alliance is neither new nor an alliance. Donors have been taking steps to enable private sector investment in agriculture for decades, yet there are still a billion hungry people in the world.  If the private sector is to play a productive role, there needs to be strong evidence that these kinds of partnerships can actually deliver for small-scale producers.

For the initiative to truly be an alliance, women small-scale producers, youth, and pastoralists should have been consulted in the drafting of the plan. Instead, G8 leaders are merely asking African governments for a rubber stamp. Donors increasingly claim to target the small-scale producers who make up the majority of the world’s poor, but they are rarely consulted, and these resources seldom actually reach them.

To demonstrate their commitment to the Rome Principles, G8 leaders need to stop launching new initiatives and focus on improving donor coordination for aid effectiveness through alignment and harmonization as agreed in Rome, Paris, Accra, and most recently Busan. The basis for any agriculture initiative in Africa must be the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the Framework and Guideline on Land Policy (F&G), and the African Union Pastoralist Initiative.

If G8 leaders are serious about fighting hunger and the promises they made in L’Aquila and Rome, they must commit to a modest scale-up of food and nutrition security investments from $7 to $10 billion a year in the final 3 years before the Millennium Development Goals expire. The G8 must:

  • prioritize support for investments in agriculture and food security that benefit women small-scale farmers;
  • support the adaptation of agriculture to climate change, utilize sustainable approaches;
  • integrate linkages to nutrition outcomes;
  • and address the special vulnerabilities of pastoralists.

This is only way to help 50 million people lift themselves out of poverty through sustainable smallholder agriculture, and help 15 million children get the nutrients they need to avoid stunting.  Anything short of this would signal that G8 leaders are turning their back on the legacy and promises of L’Aquila.