RELEASE FROM ALLIANCE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IN AFRICA
Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)  stronglycondemns
the move by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation
(ARIPO) to join UPOV 1991, which will effectively outlaw the centuries-old
African farmers’ practice of freely using, exchanging and selling
seeds/propagating material. These practices underpin 90% of the agricultural
system within the ARIPO region.
has made several submissions to ARIPO detailing its many concerns
with the content of the Draft Protocol, which is based onUPOV 1991,
and the bias and lack of transparency in the accompanying processes.
These concerns have fallen on deaf ears. In this regard, AFSA has
warned ARIPO and its member states that UPOV 1991 is a wholly inappropriate,
inflexible and restrictive regime designed for developed countries
(particularly European nations) and the development of large-scale
commercial farming and breeding focused on producing uniform plant
varieties. Such a “one-size-fits-all” regime is unsuitable for African
conditions, particularly for the “Least Developed Countries”, which
make up the majority of ARIPO members.
The informal seed system prevailing in ARIPO member states is the primary source of subsistence, employment and income for the majority of the population in the ARIPO region, which consists mainly of the rural poor. About 80-90% of all seed used in the ARIPO region originates from the informal seed system (i.e. from farm-savedseed, exchanges, barter and local markets) independent of whether farmers cultivate local or modern varieties. According to Dr Belay, “The proposed draft protocol dismisses the millions of smallholders in ARIPO member states who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, with the vast majority using farm-saved seed to ensure their food security. ARIPO appears to be intent on handing over our food and seedsovereignty to foreign corporations, reducing the availability of local plant varieties, weakening our rich biodiversity, and denying millions of farmers the right to breed, share and sell farm saved seed needed to feed their families and sustain livelihoods.”
AFSA demands that UPOV member states not allow ARIPO to join UPOV 1991 and that the Draft Protocol be sent back to the drawing board; that ARIPO consult with smallholders; and, especially, that it discuss appropriate seed laws for Africa, with the obligation of protecting biodiversity, farmers’ rights and overall ecological productivity entrenched as a primary objective.
Notes to Editors:
Dr Millon Belay, Coordinator AFSA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Duke Tagoe, Food Sovereignty Ghana Email: email@example.com Tel: +233 277776686/ +233 265743484
Ms Mariam Mayet, Email Mariam@acbio.org.za
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is a pan-African platform
that represents small-scale farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers,
indigenous peoples, citizens and environmentalists from Africa. It
comprises networks and farmer organisations working in Africa including
the African Biodiversity network (ABN), Coalition for the Protection
of African GeneticHeritage (COPAGEN), Comparing and Supporting Endogenous
Development (COMPAS) Africa, Friends of the Earth-Africa, Indigenous
Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), Participatory Ecological
Land Use Management (PELUM) Association, Eastern and Southern African
Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF), La Via Campesina Africa, FAHAMU,
World Neighbours, Network of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers'
Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA), Community Knowledge Systems
(CKS) and Plate forme Sous R้gionale des Organisations Paysannes
d'Afrique Centrale (PROPAC).