Celebrating smallholder farmers and seed diversity in South Africa: Report from the national seed dialogue and celebration
On 8 and 9 December 2017 the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) hosted a national seed dialogue and celebration at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. Farmer representatives from eight provinces, along with civil society organisations, academics, and officials from the Agricultural Research Council and Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) participated in cultural events and dialogues on current and emerging issues on smallholder farmers and seed diversity in South Africa.
A discussion on the political context highlighted the instability of the globalised corporate food system, and the possibilities and challenges for alternatives based on different systems of production and distribution to take root in material reality. A dialogue on current revisions to South Africa’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act and Plant Improvement Act raised concerns about the exclusive commercial focus of the Acts and the marginalising impact they have on farmer seed systems and on agricultural biodiversity. In 2017 civil society and farmer associations raised their voices in public hearings and submissions. DAFF acknowledged the importance of popular participation and of agricultural biodiversity yet appears to be locked in an approach shaped by the interests of multinational corporations. Civil society has more work to do in 2018 to advocate