The African Centre for Biodiversity
PO Box 29170, Melville 2109 South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 486 1156

African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) is pleased to release a new publication, Against the odds: Smallholder farmers and agricultural biodiversity in South Africa. The report is a result of research conducted in partnership with Tshintsha Amakhaya and its member organisations, 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 study finds that, despite their marginalised position, smallholders continue to maintain and reproduce a variety of plants, including indigenous crops. However this is fragile and available agricultural biodiversity is dwindling.

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 smallholder farming practices and farmer-managed seed systems as part of broader food sovereignty objectives to transform seed and food systems in South Africa.

For more information, please contact:

Linzi Lewis, ACB

Herschelle Milford for Tshintsha Amakhaya,

Download the full report in PDF format 3,3Mb