September 8, 2020

The World bank, in addition to it numerous failings continues to actively promote export oriented industrial agriculture rather than encouraging food security. 

Funding by the World bank is heavily biased to profit making  crops such as coffee & cut flowers. These crops though, have little  nutritional value or indeed any value towards increasing global food production.  The sheer amount of funding for non nutritional agriculture, has come at a dire cost to traditional agriculture – farming rice, wheat and other staples. 

 In 1969, the World bank financed the Terai Seed Corporation in India with $13 million to promote their agricultural policies.  What followed was the influx of imported fertiliser, chemicals & farming inputs. This initiative was then followed up by 2 separate National Seed Project loans totalling $41 million in the period between 1974 and 1978. Further loans exceeding $100 million were made available to not only privatise the seed industry but to monopolise it. 

The catastrophic consequences of this commercial corporate take over for India‚Äôs agriculture  continue to this day. The greatest benefactors of the World bank initiatives remain the multinational seed corporations with little to no benefit flowing down to grass roots agriculture.  

 A World Resource Institute funded study struggled to show even 6% increase in Indian food production as a consequence of this funding. The results instead have raised serious concerns of considerable environmental degradation. The ramifications are evidenced by the increase of up to 6% of farming land lost to water logging & salinity  even more than the increase of 7% in cultivated land, as a direct result of these initiatives. 


These negative effects are further amplified by the promotion of the most commercially viable crops at the expense of nutritional staples like millet & chickpeas. Similarly in Guatemala, in partnership with the US AID, the promotion of one or two main crops for the benefit of the international market were financed. The economic benefits of this largely benefited a few key players while being responsible for the considerable loss in forests, increase in chemicals such as pesticides and the consequential environmental contamination. 


Alarmingly, by the 1970s, Guatemala was  registering the highest global levels of the toxic DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) from the imported pesticides, in humans. 

The world bank continues to finance it policies on promoting proven toxic pesticides and agrochemicals by at least US$56.9 million worth of contracts.(1)

Some of the multinational companies which benefited the most from this World bank financing – as opposed to the local agricultural players, are BASF, Zeneca, Rhone Poulenc & Bayer.

The French company Rhone Poulenc was the largest recipient of these World Bank contracts which allowed it to make more than $8 million in agrochemical sales. The ties between the world bank and Rhone are dubious at best with the World bank sourcing senior staff from the company. These contracts supported the procurement of known toxic chemicals DDT & Paraquat. 


Paraquat is so highly toxic that it causes death in even moderate concentrations. For this reason it is commonly used as an agent of suicide in developing countries.  DDT for its part is toxic enough to be severely restricted in most countries. Several studies have evidenced the damaging disruption that DDT effects on the normal functioning of the endocrine system.


The dangers of the World bank financed initiatives while having a detrimental effect over the last few decades has not gone unnoticed. 

For a start, the agricultural authorities in India have moved to actively remove feral known chemicals for their use in agriculture.(2)

1 – http://www.whirledbank.org/environment/agriculture.html

2 – http://www.panna.org/blog/india-moves-ban-27-pesticides