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Calling on the USAID, DFID, DANIDA, The Netherlands, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Stop Financing the World Bank-Managed Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) Project

Stop Financing the World Bank-Managed Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) Project; OLOB logos.

January 18, 2017

Dear Mr. Gates, Ms. Smith, Mr. Jensen, Ms. Patel and Ms. Ploumen,

We are writing today to urge you to stop financing the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project, which jeopardizes farmers’ right to seeds, food security, and the future of our planet.

In 2012, the World Bank was tasked by the G8 to create a “Doing Business in Agriculture Index.”1 With your support, the Bank launched the EBA project, which will benchmark the agricultural policies of over 60 countries in 2017.

The EBA’s top-down approach dictates the so-called “good practices” to regulate agriculture and scores countries on how well they apply and implement its prescriptions. Based on the EBA scores, the World Bank leverages policy changes in agriculture.2 This is a dangerously misguided effort, as national policymaking should prioritize locally adapted solutions based on the experiences and demands of farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, and rural communities.

Among several categories of indicators (Finance, Transport, Fertilizer, etc.), the EBA includes a sub- indicator which evaluates seed regulations.

In developing countries, farmers source 80 to 90 percent of their seeds within farmer-managed seed systems. These systems are maintained by farmers’ own work to recycle and save seeds from their crops, and by farmer-to-farmer gifts, exchanges, and trade. Farmer-managed seed systems provide a rich diversity of seed, including varieties that are affordable and adapted to local environmental conditions. They are vital to support agro-biodiversity, food security, and resilience against climate and economic shocks.

Yet the EBA’s narrow set of “good practices” to regulate seeds systems restricts policymaking to facilitating private development and marketing of industrial seeds. The EBA uses misleading language by calling industrial seeds “quality seeds”3 and conveys the perception that farmers’ seeds are unworthy of policy support. The project pushes governments to adopt intellectual property rights framework, which curtails farmers’ rights to save, exchange, and sell seeds. It advocates for reforms to accelerate and minimize the costs of releasing industrial seeds; and places corporations at the center of every aspect of seed systems.

While the EBA reforms will not benefit the majority of farmers, they will increase the profits of a handful of private companies. Only six multinationals currently control over two-thirds of the industrial seed market, and pending agroindustry mergers stand to further consolidate this oligopoly.4 The concentration of the global seed market has a significant impact on seed prices5 as well as seed diversity. Replacing farmers’ seeds with a few uniform industrial varieties contributes to the rapid erosion of global agro-biodiversity, which is crucial to address the climate crisis.

In order to protect farmers, food security, and our planet, we urge you to stop financing the EBA project. We call on you to rather fight poverty and food insecurity by promoting vibrant local seed systems, and supporting true participation of farmers in the design of regulations and policies in the agricultural sector.

We appreciate you addressing this critical issue and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


  1. Abibiman Foundation Ghana

  2. Acción Ecológica Ecuador

  3. Action Ceinture Verte pour l'environnement (ACVE) Burundi

  4. Action for Solidarity Environment Equality and Diversity (ASEED) Netherlands

  5. African Center for Biodiversity South Africa

  6. Agrarian Trust USA

  7. Alianza Hondureña frente al Cambio Climático (AHCC) Honduras

  8. Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) India

  9. Amis de l'Afrique Francophone (AMAF - Benin) Benin

  10. Anywaa Survival Organisation UK/Ethiopia

  11. Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD) Asia

  12. Asociación Nacional de Fomento a la Agricultura Ecológica (ANAFAE) Honduras

  13. Asociacion Red de Coordinación en Biodiversidad Costa Rica

  14. Association des Jeunes Agriculteurs de Casamance (AJAC LUKAAL) Senegal

  15. Association des Organisations Professionnelles Paysannes de Kayes (AOPP) Mali

  16. Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES) International

  17. Association pour la Défense des Droits de l'Eau et de l'Assainissement (ADDEA) Senegal

  18. Association Recherche Action pour la Nature (ARAN) Togo

  19. Banana Link UK

  20. Bangladesh Fish Workers Alliance Bangladesh

  21. Biofuelwatch USA/UK

  22. Bioscience Resource Project USA

  23. Biowatch South Africa South Africa

  24. Both ENDS Netherlands

  25. Bread for All Switzerland

  26. Bretton Woods Project UK

  27. Broadley Garden Centre UK

  28. Broederlijk Delen Belgium

  29. Cadre de Concertation des Producteur d’Arachide (CCPA) Senegal

  30. CARITAS Kaolack Senegal

  31. CCFD-Terre Solidaire France

  32. Center for Sustainable Development (CENESTA) Iran

  33. Centre de Recherche sur l'Environnement, la Démocratie et les Droits de l'Homme DRC

  34. Centro de Iniciativas en Políticas Ambientales Nicaragua

  35. Centro de los Derechos del Campesino Nicaragua

  36. CEPA-SL Sierra Leone

  37. Cercle pour la Défense de l'Environnement (CEDEN) RDC

  38. Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) India

  39. CNCD-11.11.11 Belgium

  40. Coalición Nacional de Redes y Organizaciones Ambientales (CONROA) Honduras

  41. Coalition pour la Protection du Patrimoine Génétique Africain (COPAGEN) Senegal

  42. Collectif Citoyen pour l'Agro-Ecologie (CCAE) Burkina Faso

  43. Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch USA

  44. Construisons Ensemble le Monde (CEM) DRC

  45. Coordinador Civil de Masaya Nicaragua

  46. Coordinadora Civil Nicaragua

  47. Earthlife Africa South Africa

  48. EarthLore Foundation South Africa

  49. Eastern Africa Smallholder Farmers Association (EASFA) East Africa

  50. EcoNexus UK

  51. Education For Better Living Organization (EBLI) Tanzania

  52. Enda Pronat Senegal

  53. Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti USA

  54. ETC Group Canada

  55. Fahamu Africa Senegal

  56. Farmworker Association of Florida USA

  57. Fastenopfer (Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund) Switzerland

  58. Fondama Haiti

  59. Food Sovereignty Ghana Ghana

  60. Foro Ambiental Santiagueño Argentina

  61. Foundation Karibu Tanzania

  62. Friends of the Siberian Forests Russia

  63. Gaia Foundation UK

  64. Gender Action International

  65. Global Justice UK

  66. GMB UK

  67. GRAIN International

  68. Greenhorns USA

  69. Groundswell International International

  70. HATOF Foundation Ghana

  71. ICCA Consortium International

  72. Indigenous Peoples Forum India

  73. Indigenous Perspectives India

  74. Initiatives d'Echanges pour un Développement Durable (IEDD) Burkina Faso

  75. CICODEV Afrique Senegal

  76. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) USA

  77. International Accountability Project International

  78. Inyanda Land Rights Movement South Africa

  79. Iowa CCI USA

  80. JINUKUN Benin

  81. JM&Co UK

  82. Kalpavriksh India

  83. Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre Zambia

  84. La Route du Sel et de l’Espoir France

  85. Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre (LHAHRDEV) Nigeria

  86. Land Workers’ Allliance UK

  87. Local Futures International

  88. Mangrove Action Project International

  89. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns USA

  90. Movement Rights USA

  91. Namati USA

  92. National Family Farm Coalition USA

  93. Nesara Farmers' Market India

  94. Network for Vital Agriculture and Nutrition Netherlands

  95. Nicaragua Center for Community Action (NICCA) USA

  96. Nothing But Tea UK


  98. Nyambya Tea Co Uganda

  99. Oakland Institute USA

  100. Open Food Network International

  101. OT Watch Mongolia

  102. Other Worlds USA

  103. Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) Fiji

  104. Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (PLANT) USA

  105. People's Dialogue Swaziland

  106. Platform Aarde Boer Consument Netherlands

  107. Popular Resistance USA

  108. Prosalus Spain

  109. Puvidham Rural Development Trust India

  110. Quinoa Belgium

  111. Rashtriya Raithu Seva Samithi India

  112. Red de Organizaciones Sociales de Managua Nicaragua

  113. Red por una América Latina Libre de Transgénicos (RALLT) Latin America

  114. Réseau de Lutte contre la Faim (RELUFA) Cameroon

  115. Ritongo Africa Kenya

  116. Rivers without Boundaries Mongolia

  117. Rythu Swarajya Vedika India

  118. SAUTI YA WANAWAKE Tanzania

  119. Seed Savers Network Kenya

  120. Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNoRF) Sierra Leone

  121. Slow Food International

  122. Social Justice Connection Canada

  123. Society for International Development (SID) International

  124. SOS Faim Belgique

  125. Southern African Rural Women’s Assembly South Africa

  126. SWISSAID Switzerland

  127. Tamilnadu Organic Farmers Federation India

  128. Teacraft UK

  129. Thanal India

  130. The Corner House UK

  131. The Land magazine UK

  132. The Rules International

  133. Third World Network International

  134. Timberwatch Coalition South Africa

  135. Traidcraft UK

  136. Tropical Agriculture Association UK

  137. Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) South Africa

  138. Union Paysanne Canada

  139. United Nations Association, UK Branch (UNA-UK) UK

  140. United Small and Medium scale Farmers' Associations of Nigeria (USMEFAN) Nigeria

  141. Urgewald Germany

  142. Walking on the South (WotS) Italy

  143. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Netherlands

  144. World Family UK

  145. Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity Conservation (ZAABC) Zambia

  146. Zestful Development Services (ZDES) Benin

  147. Dr. Norman Uphoff – Professor Emeritus of Government and International Agriculture and Core Faculty Member, Cornell Institute for Public Affair, Cornell University, USA

  148. Dr. Michel Pimbert – Professor and Executive Director of the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, UK

  149. Dr. David J. Midmore – Emeritus Professor, Central Queensland University, Australia

  150. Dr. Peter Dart – Honorary Associate Professor, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University of Queensland, Australia

  151. Dr. Amir Kassam – OBE, FRSB, Visiting Professor, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, UK

  152. Dr. Peter Greaves – Former Senior Adviser at UNICEF’s Programme Division (micronutrients) and Former Secretary of the British Nutrition Foundation

  153. Dr. Michael Spann – School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland, Australia

  154. Dr. Molly D. Anderson – William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Food Studies, Middlebury College, USA

  155. Dr. Tushar Chakraborty – Head, Gene Regulation Laboratory, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, India

  156. Dr. Willem A. Stoop – Agronomist, Former Researcher at CIMMYT, ICRISAT, ISNAR and WARDA and Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, Netherlands

  157. Dr. Anne Woodfine – Tropical Natural Resources and Sustainable Land Management Specialist

  158. Devon Jenkins – Program Specialist, International Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, USA

Sent via email:

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Gayle Smith, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development

Kristian Jensen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark

Priti Patel, Secretary of State for International Development, United Kingdom

Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands


Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group

Federica Saliola, Program Manager in the WBG Development Economics Vice-Presidency