The British government is spending millions of pounds promoting the interests of multinationals in Africa instead of fighting poverty, charity War on Want claimed today.
Global food and drink firms that produce many household brands have benefited at the expense of small-scale farmers in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi, the charity alleges.
According to War on Want those companies include Monsanto, Unilever, Diageo and SABMiller.
It also accuses the Department for International Development (DFID) of undermining efforts to combat poverty by increasing corporate power over local agriculture and supporting land grabs in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.
It further argues that the government's policy will increase hunger levels in Africa, already up from 175 million to 239 million in two decades, citing UN figures.
In a new report published today the charity also criticised close personal connections between the British government and multinational companies.
Unilever is one example, where its CEO Paul Polman sits with David Cameron on the UN High Level Panel on global poverty.
DFID's director of policy Nick Dyer started his career with Unilever, while the firm's external affairs director for Africa Douglas Brew was previously Africa regional manager for DFID.
The report also exposed DFID's support for a complex network of companies and investment funds registered in Mauritius, one of Africa's foremost tax havens.
The revelation comes at a time when senior government officials are pledging to crack down on corporate taxin response to the public outcry over avoidance by firms such as Starbucks Amazon and Google.
War on Want executive director John Hilary said: "DFID is channelling more and more UK aid to multinational food companies seeking to take over land and agriculture in Africa.
"Yet the expansion of corporate control over farming will increase vulnerability among the world's poorest communities, deepening poverty and hunger for years to come.
"DFID should be using the aid budget to support small-scale farming in Africa, not boosting the profits of big business."
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