Aid for Diageo? UK's private-sector emphasis comes under scrutiny | Felicity Lawrence

From Aid | The Guardian Tue Dec 11 2012, 06:30:14

Critics say UK aid invested in public-private partnerships could tighten massive agriculture firms' control over the food chain

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in his autumn statement last week that the UK overseas aid budget would take a hit as the economy contracts. The prime minister, David Cameron, has pledged he will keep the promise made to raise UK aid to 0.7% of gross national income by 2013, to meet UN targets.

With growth forecasts cut, the amount of money going to overseas development will be less than planned but will still represent a substantial increase on previous years. How that extra money should be best spent to alleviate poverty is likely to be the subject of increasing debate, as NGOs work to keep the British public on side.

War on Want, one of the more radical agencies, is highly critical of funding by the Department for International Development for public-private partnerships that may increase the control of agribusiness over the food chain. It points to two projects that have received significant support from DfID. In Tanzania, a public-private partnership called the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) aims to bring 350,000 hectares (865,000 acres) of land under agricultural production and generate $2.1bn (£1.3bn) of private-sector investment. Partners include Unilever, drinks companies Diageo and SABMiller, agrochemical companies Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont, and fertiliser corporation Yara. DfID and other international donors are paying to upgrade the road infrastructure.

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