Farmers’ Seed Systems in Southern Africa: Alternatives to Philanthrocapitalism

Andrew Mushita, Carol Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Farmer seed systems survive by engaging changing conditions and by sharing seeds and indigenous knowledge. Although the systemic change attracting the most attention as a challenge to farmer seed systems is climate change, another systemic threat needs equally urgent analysis. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) of the Gates Foundation is trying to transform farmer seed systems through ‘business rule’ and ‘business practices’ of philanthrocapitalism. Outlining the trajectories of philanthrocapitalism, this analysis explores fundamental differences in how large foundations are interjecting their private goals into public spaces, while extracting public funds for private use. Although much has been written about philanthrocapitalism in the fields of education and health, this article focusses on its role in farmers’ seed systems. Grounded in Southern Africa, it explains how smallholder farmers are not just resisting the insertion of philanthrocapitalism into their seed systems, but are offering alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-413
Number of pages23
JournalAgrarian South
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Seeds
  • ecological economics
  • food
  • philanthrocapitalism
  • smallholder farmers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Ecology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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