Tag Archive: seed

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 for more

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,

Harmonised corporate seed laws in Africa: Where does this leave smallholder farmers?

By Linzi Lewis and Sabrina Masinjila*
December 2017

The expansion of the corporate seed market, embedded in the green revolution agenda in sub-Saharan Africa is progressing very fast. This expansion is going hand in hand with regional policies and regulations – in a process also known as seed harmonisation – that will enable facilitate trade across national borders. This has been the case in Southern and Eastern Africa in the last two and a half decades within three overlapping regions-SADC, COMESA and the EAC. These harmonised seed regulations focus solely on the formal seed sector, both neglecting and prohibiting the historical and current role played by farmer-managed seed systems, which indisputably provide the majority of seed used in food production across the continent. The harmonisation efforts attempt to shortcircuit lengthy and costly variety testing and release processes that take place at the national level. Proponents of the seed regulations argue that this will facilitate greater availability of seed and will increase smallholder farmers’ access to improved seed.

It is questionable though,  whether the formal seed systems which favour large-scale seed corporations will be able to meet African farmers’ requirement on access to good quality seed in sufficient time.

Call to public meeting on corporate seed Bills ahead of public hearing

The Plant Breeders’ Rights and Plant Improvement Bills restrict the saving, trading, exchanging, and sale of seed. This can have massive ramifications on seed and food sovereignty, agricultural biodiversity, access to diverse seed, and increasing the disparities and inequalities in South African agriculture, food and nutrition.

We urgently need to protect and preserve our food and seed sovereignty. It is in our best interests that we make our voices heard and retain what really is ours, which is the right to our food, the quality and control of our seed.

In preparation for the final public hearing on these bills, that is to take place in Bronkhorstpruit on the 12th August, ACB and Izindaba Zokudla will be holding a workshop to discuss the seed bills.

This is an opportunity to get your voices heard, and to participate meaningfully in the decision-making processes of our country! Spread the word!

Download .pdf

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.

Download the Scoping Report

Open letter to UPOV and FAO on the new intellectual property and seed laws in Africa, Asia and Latin America

The African Centre for Biodiversity, the Network for a GE Free Latin America and JINUKUN – COPAGEN, on behalf of the organizers of a South – South dialogue on intellectual property (IP) and seed laws, want to bring to your attention the declaration that resulted from the Dialogue. This Dialogue was attended by several organizations and networks of farmers working on rural development, environment and agro-ecology issues from Latin America, Asia and Africa met in Durban – South Africa between 27 and 29 November 2015.

English Letter
French  Letter
Spanish Letter

Declaration on Plant Variety Protection and Seed Laws from the South-South Dialogue

We, participants at the South-South Dialogue, are members of peasant and civil society organisations and concerned individuals from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe working on issues of food and seed sovereignty, peasants’ control of seed production and exchange, and biodiversity. We gathered in Durban, South Africa 27-29 November 2015 to share information and knowledge, and to come to a common understanding on seed and plant variety protection (PVP) policy and laws and strategies for resistance and alternatives in the global South.

English Report
Portuguese Report
Spanish Report
French Report

We are working in our countries and regions to advance the ongoing global struggle for socially just and ecologically sustainable societies, in which farming households and communities have control and decision-making power over the production and distribution of food and seed.

Human societies and the seeds we use to produce the food that sustains us have grown symbiotically over millennia. Seeds emerged from nature and have been diversified, conserved, nurtured and enhanced through processes of human experimentation, discovery and innovation throughout this time. Seeds have been improved by means of traditional and cultural knowledge transmitted from generation to generation. Seeds are therefore the collective

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.

Download English Report
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Version Française
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Which way forward for Zambia’s smallholder farmers: Green Revolution input subsidies or agro-ecology?

Which way forward for Zambia’s smallholder farmers: Green Revolution input subsidies or agro-ecology?
In this report, we provide a critique of the Green Revolution Farmer Input Subsidy project in Zambia, looking at its impacts particularly for small holder farmers and their seed systems.
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Investments in the Beira Corridor in Mozambique: threats to farmers’ seed and food systems

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) in partnership with the União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC, National Peasants Union), and Kaleidoscopio has today released preliminary findings in a research project: ‘Agricultural investment activities in the Beira Corridor, Mozambique: Threats and opportunities for small-scale farmers.’ Joining Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique, the Beira Corridor plays a central role in the expansion of the Green Revolution project in Southern Africa.

The multi-donor Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) initiative has been established as   Mozambique’s entry point for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The report explores small-scale farmers’ agro-ecological dynamics related to seed and soil fertility in Mozambique and the expansion of the Green Revolution project. The report considers the changing seed system in Mozambique, and the possible effects of regional seed agreements and laws on farmer-managed seed systems. The report also discusses private agro-dealers as key delivery mechanisms for Green Revolution technologies, especially improved seed, fertilizers and agrochemicals.

In Mozambique, most seed is still reproduced by farmers themselves, with some public sector and commercial activity. Mozambique’s plant variety protection (PVP) law prohibits farmers from reproducing and reusing protected seed varieties, even if these varieties are