Contesting Africa’s New Green Revolution

Biotechnology and Philanthrocapitalist Development in Ghana

Jacqueline Ignatova


An in-depth exploration of the impact of GM crops in Ghana, and what the ‘new Green Revolution’ means for development in Africa and beyond.

Genetically modified crops have become a key element of development strategies across the global South, despite remaining deeply controversial. Proponents hail them as an example of ‘pro-poor’ innovation, while critics regard them as a threat to food sovereignty and the environment. The promotion of biotechnology is an integral part of ‘new Green Revolution for Africa’ interventions and is also intimately linked to the rise of ‘philanthrocapitalism,’ which advances business solutions to address the problem of poverty.

Through interviews with farmers, policymakers and agricultural scientists, Jacqueline Ignatova shows how efforts to transform the seed sector in northern Ghana—one of the key laboratories of this ‘new Green Revolution’—may serve to exacerbate the inequality it was notionally intended to address. But she also argues that its effects in Ghana have been far more complex than either side of the debate has acknowledged, with local farmers proving adept at blending traditional and modern agricultural methods that subvert the interests of global agribusiness.

Author Bio

Jacqueline A. Ignatova is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. She is a board member of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and a co-founder of the Watauga Seed Library in Boone, North Carolina.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. What’s New About the ‘New Green Revolution in Africa’?
  • 2. Technological Savior or Terminator Gene? Biotechnology, Food Security, and the Political Economy of Hype 
  • Interlude: Profiles of ‘Mixers’
  • 3. The ‘Philanthropic’ Gene: Biocapital and the New Green Revolution in Africa
  • 4. From Farming as a Way of Life to Farming as a Business: Experts, Entrepreneurs, and ‘Mixers’ in the New Green Revolution in Ghana
  • 5. Food Sovereignty, Neocolonialism, and Ghana’s Contested Politics of Agrarian Development
  • Conclusion


Publication Date: 17 June 2021
216 pages

Product ISBNs: Hardback: 9781786996558
eBook ePub: 9781786996589
eBook Kindle: 9781786996596

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