Seed Publications

Seed Publications

Art, Seed Sovereignty and Activism: Weaving New Stories

January 2018 
By Claire Rousell

Preparing for the National Seed Dialogue and Celebration, hosted by the African Centre for Biodiversity, smallholder farmers, activists and government officials are crowded into the atrium of the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill and a drum is beating. A performer, Simo Mpapa Majola, dressed in blankets, is praying and singing and imploring the audience. He is telling the story of the women who work on a farm, who have been marginalised over and over, and yet are relentless in their search for “She-sus”, the She-God, and unswerving in their connection to the soil.

Around the edges of the atrium are tables adorned with bowls and jars, hand-crafted wooden trays and woven baskets of seeds, resplendent in their diversity of colours, shapes and textures. Farmers and activists have brought the seeds from across the country to show the art of the soil – its wild excess that is still available to us – despite its depletion due to the demands of global capitalist supply chains that have destroyed agricultural biodiversity. The displays of seeds are arranged on beautiful shweshwe table cloths, interspersed with traditional tools for the preparation and serving of food: a woven beer filter,

Status report on the SADC, COMESA and EAC harmonised seed trade regulations: Where does this leave the regions’ smallholder farmers?

This paper, The Status Report on the SADC, COMESA and EAC harmonised seed trade regulations: Where does this leave the regions’ smallholder farmers?, researched and written by Linzi Lewis and Sabrina Masinjila of the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), provides a brief background and status update on efforts by regional economic communities to harmonise seed trade and marketing policy and legislation in East and Southern Africa. This paper focuses on the Technical Agreements on Harmonisation of Seed Regulations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC, 2008), the Seed Trade Harmonisation Regulations of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA, 2014), and the regional seed harmonisation programme of the East African Community (EAC).

The skewed nature of these harmonisation efforts, which focus solely on the formal seed sector, has continued to neglect and obstruct participation by African civil society groups in the development of such regulations. This has prevented meaningful involvement by civil society and smallholder farmers in decision-making processes on issues that directly affect their livelihoods, seed and food systems.

This paper offers a critique of these frameworks which firmly embed green revolution approaches in Africa, favoring large scale agribusiness as the solution to seed insecurity in

Against the odds, smallholder farmers maintain agricultural biodiversity in South Africa

This report is a result of research conducted in partnership with Tshintsha Amakhaya, Farmer Support Group, TCOE Zingisa and Surplus People Project. The report investigates the state of farmer-managed seed systems in rural South Africa.

Through 3 case studies in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, the report highlights both the fragility and perseverance of smallholder farmers, who continue to maintain agricultural biodiversity and traditional knowledge, in the face of increasing pressure from all sides. Smallholder farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to make end meet in an agricultural sector dominated by large-scale commercial production and corporate value chains.

Multinational corporations dominate seed provision in South Africa, further driving a commercial and industrial Green Revolution agenda. Farmer-managed seed systems, and the diversity of crops and diets that rely on them, are marginalised and neglected in the process.
The research is one step in highlighting the threats and opportunities facing smallholders and biodiversity in an increasingly harsh production environment. ACB will continue working with our partners and smallholder farmers to support and promote sustainable farming practices and farmer-managed seed systems as part of our broader objectives to transform seed and food systems in South Africa.

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Comments on the revised draft regulations (draft 3) for implementing the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants

Further comments on the revised regulations (draft 3) for the implementation of ARIPO’s Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, that will be submitted for adoption in December 2016. This paper focuses on some of the most problematic aspects that needs to be rectified by ARIPO Member States as these perpetuate impingement of national sovereignty; fail to safeguard Farmers’ Rights and farmer seed systems; and to prevent biopiracy. These comments have been produced without prejudice to our very strong opposition to the Arusha PVP Protocol and our consistent position that it represents an inappropriate regional legal framework for the ARIPO region, wherein 13 out of the 19 member states are least developed countries (LDCs) and under no legal obligation to implement plant variety protection (PVP) regimes.

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N2 Africa, the Gates Foundation and Legume commercialisation in Africa

This report considers the N2Africa programme, which aims to develop and distribute improved, certified legume varieties (soya, common bean, groundnut and cow pea); promote and distribute inoculants and synthetic fertiliser; and develop commercial legume markets for smallholder integration in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana (core countries); Kenya, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

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Integration of small-scale farmers into formal seed production in South Africa

The scoping report looks at key policies, legislation and programmes in SA with an emphasis on seed laws and considers the implications for small- scale farmer involvement in this sector and outlines a few projects on community seed production, indigenous crops and black- owned private sector seed production efforts.

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Changing Seed and Plant Variety Protection Laws in Tanzania – Implications for Farmer-Managed Seed Systems and Smallholder Farmers

Seed legislation is under review in Tanzania with a view to changing this in order to further expand the role of the private sector in the commercial seed sector. This law reform is mainly targeted at the seed marketing laws (Seed Act of 2003 and its regulations of 2007) and revision of its Plant Breeder’s Rights legislation. This research report discusses Tanzania’s recent reform of its Plant Breeders’ Rights Act 2012, the country joining of UPOV 1991 and the influence of various seed harmonization initiatives and its implications for the disregarded small- holder farmer managed seed system that dominates agriculture production in the country.


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The expansion of the commercial seed sector in sub-Saharan Africa: Major players, key issues and trends

Sub Saharan Africa’s seed systems are undergoing a profound transition, with the private sector leading the way. This report outlines some of the major trends and activities of the major players involved in this, from Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the broader donor community.

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GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets: The political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.

Cowpea seeds

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has today released a new report titled, GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets: The political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.  The report shows a strong interest by the seed industry in commercialising cowpea seed production and distribution in West Africa, where a very lucrative regional cowpea seed market is emerging. Cowpea, one of the most ancient crops known to humankind, with its centre of origin in Southern Africa, provides the earliest food for millions of Africans during the ‘hungry season’ before cereals mature.

The report argues that the GM cowpea push in Burkina Faso, nigeria and Ghana co-incides with this strong interest from multinational and local seed companies to produce foundation and certified seed in West Africa.

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Nuanced rhetoric and the path to poverty: AGRA, small-scale farmers, and seed and soil fertility in Tanzania

The report indicates a well-coordinated effort by selected states especially the US and in the EU, philanthropic institutions like AGRA, multilateral institutions like the World Bank, donors and multinational corporations (MNCs) including Yara, Monsanto and Pioneer to construct a Green Revolution that aims to produce a layer of commercial surplus producers. This is an explicit goal and they are not shy of saying it. However, the long-term social and ecological impacts of this agenda are questionable, with concerns about loss of land, biodiversity, and sovereignty.

English
Kiswahili