Panel proposed:   African Alternatives to Industrial Agriculture – Advancing Theory and Praxis

Paper I
The Demise of Neoliberalism:  Giving Rise to Philanthrocapitalism

Carol B. Thompson
Northern Arizona University

Philanthrocapitalism renames ‘venture philanthropy’, as expressed by the foundations  to signal that it is a systemic change from neoliberalism.   This paper has the presumption to suggest and explain that neoliberalism is fading out as a policy, and philanthrocapitalism is becoming the dominant expression of policy relations.  It is a process, not an event and therefore, neoliberal policies are still paving the way for philanthrocapitalism.  Because any naming of alternatives to the dominant analysis is highly controversial, it is hoped that this exploration will provoke much debate.  It is time to switch from the endless 35-year critique of neoliberalism and intensely debate what new economic policies and relations are replacing it. 
The paper outlines the distinguishing characteristics of philanthrocapitalism as well as analyzes its organizing processes in trade, in public/private partnerships, and in the control of knowledge, as it gradually replaces neoliberalism.  To explore and situate such a grand theory, this analysis specifies philanthrocapitalist practices and policies in the area of African food production.  Finally, the paper discusses how smallholder farmers are resisting the penetration of philanthrocapitalism into their fields and crops, through participatory seed breeding,  field trial research, and  in situ conservation of community seed banks. Although always deficit in cash,  the farmers more than match the philanthrocapitalists by investing their own natural capital, social capital, and intellectual capital in sustaining biodiverse food production.

Paper II
Alternatives to Land Grabs:  Land and Resources for Women and Youth
Jeanne Koopman 
Boston University African Studies Center

The critique of land grabs for industrial agriculture is by now well developed, both from the perspective of people’s losses of rural livelihoods, farms, pastures, forests and from the perspective of the damage industrial agriculture does to soils, water, biodiversity.  It is time to evaluate and promote alternatives such as the agro-ecologic advantages of traditional production systems (see the February 27, 2015 Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology at Nyeleni) and also to study newer forms of community-based land use and farming.

This talk will discuss an innovative approach to small-scale commercial farming that targets women and youth as farmer owners of 100 acre farms with drip irrigation from tube wells drilled exclusively for the farm.  Farms are developed on land provided by villages, financed by the West African Development Bank, and run by a manager who is elected by the village council.  Finance is provided if the village power structure accepts to forego all legal rights to the land and assure gender parity in the nomination of about 120 women and young men as farm members. Working hours are set, and all produce is sold.  Indeed, nothing is grown without a contract with a buyer. The farm is incorporated as a limited liability corporation.   The talk will assess the advantages and challenges.

Please email your proposed abstract to [email protected] and [email protected] by March 14, 2015.

Very complex, very exciting — join the debates!