Who We Are

About the ACB

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) is research and advocacy organisation working towards food sovereignty and agroecology in Africa, with a focus on biosafety, seed systems and agricultural biodiversity. We are committed to dismantling inequalities and resisting corporate-industrial expansion in Africa’s food and agriculture systems.

Initially, our focus was exclusively on GM and biosafety, thus the organisation was established in 2003 as the African Centre for Biosafety. Over the years, this expanded into working on the interconnected issues affecting food sovereignty and biodiversity in Africa, including seed laws, farmer seed systems, agricultural biodiversity, agroecology and corporate expansion in agriculture. Our current geographical focus is mostly Southern, West and East Africa, with extensive continental and global networks.

Our Team

Mariam Mayet

Executive Director
Based in Johannesburg
Email: mariam@acbio.org.za

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Having earned a respected record of evidence-based work, under Mariam’s leadership the ACB plays a vital role in the food sovereignty struggles on the African continent, through championing new thinking on seed sovereignty policy and opposing unsustainable and socially unjust food systems, rooted in industrial agriculture, especially genetic engineering of seed and crops. She holds BA LLB and LLM degrees, which she obtained from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Sabrina Masinjila

Research and Advocacy Officer
Based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Email: sabrina@acbio.org.za

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Sabrina joined the ACB in 2014 and has a BA in Environmental Studies from Kenyatta University, Kenya. Sabrina supports the ACB’s work on research, campaigning, networking and advocacy around biosafety, seed systems and agricultural biodiversity. She is also a link to the East African work on the continent.
Linzi Lewis

Research and Advocacy Officer
Based in Swaziland
Email: linzi@acbio.org.za

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Linzi is an applied and political ecologist, artist and activist. She has worked at the ACB since June 2016.

“I am grateful to be part of this amazing team, and part of the social movements reminding the world of the intricate connection between diverse peoples, knowledges and biodiversity, and challenging the dominant discourse and policies that promote the expansion of industrial agriculture, at the expense of everything sacred and all that sustains life.”

Linzi has a BSc (Hons) Geography, Ecology and Environmental Science (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa); MSc Forests and Livelihoods (University of Copenhagen); MSc Agricultural Development (AgroParisTech, Montpellier).
Rutendo Zendah

Research and Advocacy Officer
Based in Johannesburg
Email: rutendo@acbio.org.za

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Rutendo joined the ACB in February, 2019 and has a background in Agronomy, with a BSc from Midlands State University, Zimbabwe, and an MAgric in Food Security from University of KwaZulu-Natal. She has worked in the NGO sector for seven years, with a focus on agriculture research aimed at creating sustainable pathways for achieving food security and eradicating hunger for all.
Rifqah Tifloen

Monitoring & Evaluation Officer
Monitoring & Evaluations
Based in: Johannesburg
Email: rifqah@acbio.org.za

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Rifqah Tifloen is a researcher and connector, with several years’ experience in challenging roles covering critical research and advocacy, project management, multi-media content development and curation, campaigning and social movement building. She has also engaged with various civil society organisations in permaculture design and environmental education, documented stories through film and been involved in grassroots capacity building projects and empowerment, specifically youth collaborations.      Qualifications include a BA in Media, Communications and Culture and BA Honours in Media Studies (Ecofeminism, African Media Contexts, Politics and Film) from Nelson Mandela University. She has completed a Permaculture Design Course and training from Hope Permaculture Farm and Asset Based Citizen-driven development training from Ikhala Trust. Currently Rifqah is a Master’s candidate at the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice, University of Western Cape and her research in Religion and Ecology is titled, “Constructing and Conserving the Urban Sacred: A decolonial-feminist exploration of Urban Sacred Natural Sites,” which focuses on the political ecology of the sacred. 
Deidre May

Communications Coordinator
Based in: Johannesburg
Email: deidre@acbio.org.za

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Prior to working in communications for international and local NGOs, my work experience spanned journalism and film making. This included seven years in Japan, where I was a contributing editor, book reviews editor and writer for the award-winning quarterly, Kyoto Journal: Insights from Asia, and the making of several documentary films. Experience in television culminated in directing and producing for a motion graphics design agency, Delapse. 
Tamara Reddy

Communications Officer
Based in Johannesburg
Email: tamara@acbio.org.za

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Tamara joined the ACB in 2020. Through her experience in digital communications, acquired in working for various NGOs, and her background in visual art, Tamara ably contributes her skills to drive the reach and impact of ACB’s work. Tamara has a BA in Psychology and Media Studies (University of Witwatersrand).
Fatima Karodia

Human Resources Officer
Human Resources
Based in: Johannesburg
Email: fatima@acbio.org.za

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Fatima joined as Human Resources Officer in 2021. With over 10 years of experience, ranging from research, project management and human resources (mainly within the NGO sphere); she has developed critical, people-centred skills, with a deep commitment to social and organisational development. Fatima has a BA degree in Corporate Communication (University of Johannesburg) and a Human Resources qualification from the University of South Africa.
Vinern Naidoo

Administration Officer
Admin and Financial
Based in Johannesburg
Email: office@acbio.org.za

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Vinern joined the ACB in 2013 as administration officer and is responsible for maintaining the financial records and operational functions. He has extensive experience in collection management, administration, finance, procurement and logistics, which he acquired while working for the Department of Arts and Culture.
Naeemullah Mohammad

Accounting Officer
Admin and Financial
Based in Johannesburg
Email: naeem@acbio.org.za

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Naeem joined the ACB in September 2020, bringing with him extensive experience in the non-governmental environment, having worked for the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE) and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) as accountant and senior finance officer. Naeem has a B.Com in Accounting. His responsibility focuses mainly on, inter alia, the management of accounts, budgeting, administration, audit preparation and drawing up reports for funders.

Our Board

John Wilson

Based in Zimbabwe

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John Wilson was born and raised in Zimbabwe and lives there today. He is an agroecology stalwart and works to strengthen local civil society at various levels in this field in eastern and southern Africa, and sometimes in West Africa.
Famara Diédhiou

Board Member
Based in Senegal

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Famara Diédhiou is the programme officer for the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). He is an engineer on regional planning and urban management with specialties in organic agriculture. He is also a member of the ethics committee in the National Organic Agriculture movement (FENAB) of Senegal. Famara has extensive experience working with rural women and their organisations. Before joining AFSA, at FAHAMU he built and supported the growth of “We Are the Solution”, a rural women’s movement in West Africa. He has experience working with small-scale farmers on agroecology, organic agriculture, and the promotion of traditional seed varieties and the domestic and export market. He holds an MBA from CESAG in Dakar.
Ray Patridge

Board Member
Based in South Africa

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Ray Patridge is a chartered certified accountant and finance professional with broad experience, ranging from European blue-chip companies to not-for-profit social enterprises in Africa. After developing his career in London, he moved to South Africa to work in a development project, which included taking the role of project director for four years. This followed nearly two decades of a blend of business and development experience, that took him from South Africa to Zimbabwe and northern Mozambique, and back again. Currently based in Cape Town, Ray has been working with a private equity investment group focused on food and food security, with investments in Mauritius.
Mariam Mayet

Non-Executive Board Member
Based in South Africa

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Having earned a respected record of evidence-based work, under Mariam’s leadership the ACB plays a vital role in the food sovereignty struggles on the African continent, through championing new thinking on seed sovereignty policy and opposing unsustainable and socially unjust food systems, rooted in industrial agriculture, especially genetic engineering of seed and crops. She holds BA LLB and LLM degrees, which she obtained from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mariann Bassey Orovwuje

Board Member
Based in Nigeria

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Mariann is a lawyer and environmental, human and food rights advocate, with a career based on supporting communities to resist and expose industrial corporate-led agriculture and promote food sovereignty and environmental justice. She is the chairperson of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty Africa (AFSA), as well as the programme manager at Environmental Rights Action (ERA) – the Nigerian chapter of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) – the coordinator of FOE’s Africa’s Food Sovereignty and she is on FoEI’s Steering Committee of the Food Sovereignty Programme. Prior to full time advocacy work she did a stint in the public sector, working at the Nigerian Law Reform Commission, an agency under the Nigerian Ministry of Justice. Her activism started when she was studying and advocated for student rights, eventually being elected as Attorney-General of the Students’ Union Government. During her Service Year, she served as chairperson of Litigation and Prison Decongestion, Legal Aid Community Development, and initiated a women and children detainee programme with Legal Aid Council.

Our Partners

We mainly partner with CSOs and farmer organisations, which has grounded the ACB and the issues within a legitimate constituency in the region, providing us with a good platform to reach also into multiple regional processes. We have a large number of partners in the South African Development Community (SADC) region, the rest of the continent, and internationally.

  • Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD)
  • Biowatch South Africa
  • Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC)
  • Dzomo la Mupo
  • Earthlore Foundation
  • Eastern Cape Agroecology Farmers Association (ECAFA)
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Greenhouse Project (The)
  • Gumbu Community Seed Bank
  • GroundWork
  • Ilimi Lamafama
  • Izindaba Zokudla
  • Masifundise
  • Rainbow Maize Farmers
  • Seed And Knowledge Initiative (SKI)
  • South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
  • Southern African Catholic Bishops Association (SACBC) Justice and Peace
  • Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
  • South African Food Sovereignty Campaign (SAFSC)
  • Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE)
  • Ukuvuna
  • Women on Farms Project
Burkina Faso
  • Fédération Nationale des Groupements de Naam (FNGN)
  • Fédération Nationale des Organisations Paysannes (FENOP)
  • Terre A Vie
  • Plateforme Sous Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC)
Côte d’Ivoire
  • Copagen
Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Common Front for the Protection of the Environment and Protected Spaces of the DRC (FCPEEP)
  • Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD)
  • Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG)
  • African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)
  • Biodiversity and Biosafety Association Kenya (BIBA)
  • Kenyan Peasants League (KPL)
  • Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum
  • Mazingira Institute
  • World Forum of Fisher Peoples/ The Elmolo Forum
  • Biodiversité Echange et diffusion d’expériences (BEDE-asso)
  • Coalition des Femmes pour la souveraineté alimentaire (COFERSA)
  • Comité Ouest Africaine des semences paysanne (COASP)
  • Acção Acadêmica para o Desenvolvimento das Comunidades Rurais (ADECRU)
  • Associação Rural de Ajuda Mútua (ORAM)
  • Justiça Ambiental (JA)
  • Kaleididoscopio
  • Livaningo
  • Uniao Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC)
  • Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)
  • Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (Pelum)
  • Environnement Développement Action pour la Protection Naturelle des Terroirs (ENDA PRONAT)
  • Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima (MVIWATA)
  • Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Mkoa wa Kilimanjaro (MVIWAKI)
  • Sustainable Agriculture (SAT)
  • Tanzanian Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO)
  • Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM)
  • Action Réelle sur l’Environnement l’Enfance et la Jeunesse (AREJ)
  • Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE)
  • Caritas
  • Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)
  • Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information (SEATINI)
  • Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre
  • Zambian Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB)
  • Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT)
  • Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Zimbabwe (PELUM)
  • Participatory Organic Research & Extension Training (PORET)
  • Towards Sustainable Use of Resources Organisation (TSURO Trust
  • Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Programme (ZSSP)
  • Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers’ Forum (Zimsoff)
  • International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food)
  • Centro de Tecnologias Alternativas da Zona da Mata CTA-ZM
  • Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) Group
  • Acción Ecológica
  • Testbiotech
  • Schola Campesina Aps
  • Both ENDS
  • Asociacion ANDES
  • Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES)
United Kingdom
  • AgroecologyNow! – Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience
  • Gaia Foundation
United States
  • AgroEcology Fund
  • Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ)
  • US Right to Know
  • African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance (ACBA)
  • Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) (Pan-Africa)
  • Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) – Southern African
  • Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE)
  • Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI)
  • Food First Information and Action (FIAN)
  • Friends of the Earth (FoE)
  • Groundswell International
  • International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC)
  • Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa (ROPPA)
  • Nia Terro
  • La Via Campesina Africa (LVC)
  • Pesticide Action Network (PANInt)
  • Third World Network (TWN)
  • World Rainforest Movement (WRM)
  • CBD Alliance
  • Navdanya international