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A growing movement for Farmers Rights

The SKI farmer’s rights campaign and seminar was hosted by the Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB) and the University of Cape Town (UCT). CTDT participated in the campaign and the seminar that was attended by participants from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and South Africa with some other guests coming from Senegal, Kenya, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, and Norway.

During the campaign, visiting farmers from Malawi and Zimbabwe accompanied by other Zambian farmers from Shibuyunji, Monze and Chongwe visited CTDT farmers in Rufunsa on a learning visit to the Rufunsa Community Seed Bank. The farmers toured the Rufunsa community seed bank and farmers from Rufunsa shared their experiences on CSB management with their counterparts.

Rufunsa District Commissioner (DC), Richard Mabena dropped by to greet the visiting farmers. He expressed his happiness for the great work that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are doing in fostering the promotion of local seeds which he described as life giving seeds. “These other seeds, the hybrids which we are buying have no value; what I get from the gankata is good. We are forgetting our traditional seed and what will happen is that our children will not know the value that they have to offer,” he said.

The DC recognizes that farmers have the right to keep their own seeds. He encouraged farmers to be good ambassadors of local crops and not be cheated by seed companies. “I normally grow these seeds because they are tasty and nutritious; velvet beans for example is not only good for our fields but you are also able to process it and make milk and make coffee from it,” he said.

At the end of the campaign, the farmers came up with a number of demands which were addressed to their respective governments, Civil Society Organizations CSOs), Common Market for East and Southern Africa(COMESA), African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), Southern African Development Community (SADC), development partners, and the SADC GeneBank.

The demands made included; Local seeds to be recognized as seed through policies and laws; technical and financial support for community and district seed banks in each country must be given; support for more farmer-to-farmer connections and learning at local, national and regional level; training and extension services on agroecology; support for an open market to sell traditional seed and crops; agroecology to be incorporated in school and college/university curriculum; domestication and implementation of the International Treaty For Plant Genetic Resources For Food And Agriculture (ITPGRFA); farmers’ indigenous seed and knowledge are protected; farmers are included in decision making on any laws which affect them; government subsidy programs, like Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), are redirected to finance agroecology; government to reject UPOV-91 and say no to GMOs.

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