African Centre for Biodiversity
PO Box 29170, Melville 2109 South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 486 1156
friends and colleagues
African centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has today published a new report
titled “Mapping farmer
seed varieties in Manica, Mozambique: Report on initial investigations
into agricultural biodiversity”. The report is the product of
a research partnership between ACB, the national farmers’ union União
Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC) and its provincial union União Provincial
de Camponeses de Manica (UCAMA); Kaleidoscopio; and Acção Académica
para o Desenvolvimento das Comunidades Rurais (ADECRU).
Field research was conducted in 4 sites in Manica, Sussundenga and
Gondola districts of Manica province and focused on mapping farmer
seed varieties. Sixty seven varieties of the 7 most popular crops
- maize, millet and beans, followed by sesame, peanut, sorghum and
tubers - were grown in the research sites, and farmers also recorded
36 different vegetable/fruit crops.
Maize was the only crop in which certified varieties outnumbered local
varieties; however, local maize varieties were most popular in all
sites. Key maize traits for farmers are short cycle, grain/cob size,
consumption/use qualities, and drought tolerance.
For millet, only 1 out of 9 varieties was certified seed, but there
is a definite decline in millet use and varieties available. This
is of concern from an agricultural biodiversity and local nutrition
diversity point of view.
Farmers are keen to work on in situ improvements of their own varieties,
especially maize. District agriculture, economic development and extension
services recognise the important role played by farmers, and of farmer
varieties. At provincial and local levels government departments and
public sector institutions are open to participating in partnerships
with farmers and civil society organisations to look in greater detail
at farmer seed systems with a view to identifying areas of support
and further work.
However, national agricultural and seed policies in Mozambique, as
in the rest of the region, promote and support Green Revolution technologies
such as hybrid and improved, certified seed and synthetic fertiliser
use as the only path to achieving increased productivity. This exclusive
approach conflicts with other long-term policy goals such as sustainability,
diversity, food and nutrition security, water and soil conservation
and farmer participation.
This is especially pertinent in regard to farmer activities in the
maintenance and diversity of seed varieties - which play an essential
role in local food and nutrition security and the conservation of
agricultural biodiversity – are marginalised and even criminalised
by Green Revolution seed and plant variety protection laws and policies.
Revision of these laws and policies is required to create space for
systematic work on farmer varieties without requiring their varieties
to be incorporated into the narrowly defined formal system. Such revisions
could include securing farmers’ rights to re use all farm saved seed
and free seed exchanges of all seed in their possession; developing
flexible quality controls that give farmers (as breeders, producers
and users of seed) greater power in shaping standards to suit farmer
conditions and a policy emphasis, backed up by funded programmes,
on supporting farmer activities in maintaining and developing diverse
crops and varieties congruent with local demand.
Mozambique Field Report