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Dear Friends and Colleagues

Farmer-Managed Seed Systems Play Crucial Role in Africa

A six-country case study report on the role of small-scale farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity has been co-published by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and GRAIN. The report outlines the battle over seed, agricultural resources, environmental degradation and their impact on local seed and food systems. It shines a light on farmer managed seed systems and their place in Africa, and reveals that small-scale farmers are the real custodians of seed on the continent.

The key findings are:

• Farmers’ seeds are reliable, available and affordable. Women are Africa’s seed guardians. Farmer-managed seed systems are diverse and knowledge-rich.and underpin small-scale agroecological production and food sovereignty.

• Farmer-managed seed systems are the principal source of seeds of food crops in Africa, yet national and regional seed policies undermine them. Farmers are being pushed to abandon their seed systems. African governments are joining regional agreements on intellectual property, trade and seed, which benefit corporations and the industrial seed system.

This report is expected to spur debate on the kind of food system that Africa really needs: one based on diversity, on its own resources and its knowledge rather than one based on uniformity, plantations and foreign corporate control.

With best wishes

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
Malaysia
Email: twn@twnetwork.org
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Item 1

MEDIA RELEASE

29 Oct 2018
https://afsafrica.org/new-report-shines-light-on-the-role-of-farmers-in-saving-africas-seed-diversity/

New report shines light on the role of farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity 

An analysis on the role of small-scale farmers in saving Africa’s seed diversity has been compiled and co-published today by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and GRAIN together with research partners from Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

The report titled, “The real seed producers: small-scale farmers save, use, share and enhance the seed diversity of the crops that feed Africa,” outlines the battle over seed, agricultural resources, environmental degradation and their impact on local seed and food systems.  It shines a light on farmer managed seed systems (FMSS) and their place on the continent and reveals that small-scale farmers are the real custodians of seed on the African continent and that

“…protecting and preserving farmer managed seed systems should be the core business of any government in Africa because any attack on our seed sovereignty is a clear attack to food sovereignty of any nation," states Andrew Adem (ESAFF Uganda)

FMSS are not one-size-fits-all; they vary from community to community, are culturally appropriate, practical, customary and inclusive and they produce biodiverse and ecologically resilient seeds. Most importantly, they are centered around community values of selecting, exchanging and sharing seed, and sharing knowledge about planting, cultivating, harvesting and processing.

There are many initiatives promoting the diversity of farmer-managed seed, but the report also notes worrisome developments. Policy makers in many African countries, are often seduced by the grand narrative and propaganda purveyed by these interests. The result is that governments are joining regional agreements on intellectual property, trade and seed which only benefit corporations and the industrial seed system.

Further, small farmers are becoming vulnerable to different environmental hazards, but the corporate lobby for industrial seeds and commodity plantations is relentless, as one Ethiopian farmer aptly stated,  

“I can observe that my friends are becoming dependent on government [industrial] seed supply. They are also losing their seed diversities and they are vulnerable to different environmental hazards, due to weak ability of ‘improved’ seeds to cope with the changing environment.”

For millions of African small-scale producers, diverse farmers’ seed varieties are crucial to food sovereignty, nutrition, enhancing biodiversity and agroecology, and sustaining livelihoods in rural and peri-urban areas. If these seeds are so “backward,” what moves farmers to keep preserving and planting them? This report provides answers to this and other questions. 

The report is available to download here.

Also available at http://www.grain.org/e/6035

Note: Research was carried out by the following country partner organisations:

·         Centre d’études et de formation pour le développement en Afrique (CEFRORD) – Mali;

·         Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) and Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity Conservation (ZAAB) – Zambia;

·         Association Sénégalaise des producteurs de semences paysannes (ASPSP) – Senegal;

·         Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF Uganda) – Uganda;

·         Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers’ Forum (ZIMSOFF) – Zimbabwe,

·         and Fassil Gebeyehu Yelemtu (PhD) – Ethiopia.


Item 2

THE REAL SEED PRODUCERS

Small-scale farmers save, use, share and enhance the seed diversity of the crops that feed Africa

AFSA and Grain
Oct 2018
https://afsafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/EN_The_real_seed_producers-ilovepdf-compressed.pdf
https://www.grain.org/article/entries/6035-the-real-seeds-producers-small-scale-farmers-save-use-share-and-enhance-the-seed-diversity-of-the-crops-that-feed-africa

Summary of Key Messages

• Farmers’ seeds feed Africa. Farmer-managed seed systems are the principal source of seeds of food crops in Africa, yet national and regional seed policies undermine them.

• Farmers’ seeds are reliable, available and affordable. Small farmers prefer farm-saved seeds, which are stored locally, require no cash outlay, and can be relied on to produce nutritious crops and seeds.

• Farmers’ seed practices are diverse and knowledge-rich. They are highly diverse, sophisticated and based on the rich cultural heritage and traditional knowledge of local communities, which have been handed down over generations.

• Women are Africa’s seed guardians. Although acknowledged as the principal seed keepers within their communities, their contribution seldom receives official recognition and support.

• Farmer-managed seed systems underpin small-scale agroecological production and food sovereignty. Farmer’s diverse, ecologically resilient seeds are appropriate for biodiverse, agroecological food production.

• Farmers are being pushed to abandon their seed systems. Well-funded promotion, subsidies, coercion and advertising are being deployed in an attempt to roll out industrial seeds designed for monocultures and chemicals, and to displace heterogeneous farmers’ varieties suited to biodiverse agroecological contexts.

• African governments are giving in to corporate pressure and undermining local seed systems. Governments are being pressured to join regional agreements on intellectual property, trade and seed, such as OAPI, ARIPO, UEMOA, COMESA and SADC, which benefit corporations and the industrial seed system, and in many cases the governments are giving in.

 


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