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Press Briefing

Caritas Zambia, PELUM Zambia hosted a meeting reflecting on national and regional seed law reforms. The meeting brought together different CSOs and farmers concerned on seed law reforms in the seed sector.

We acknowledge and appreciate Government's vision to promote diversification in the agriculture sector by promoting, among other measures, the use of improved crop varieties and certified seed. We also recognize and appreciate the existence of legislation to further support diversification such as the Plant Breeder's Right Act and Plant Variety and Seed Act No. 21 of 1995 which provides for regulation, control, production, sale and import of seed as well as testing and for minimum standards of germination and purity. Above all, we appreciate Government's recognition of the existence of the formal and informal seed sector.

However, we, Caritas and PELUM Zambia, together with the key stakeholders from the meeting are concerned about the limited focus on farmer rights and seed sovereignty. Seed sovereignty includes the farmer's rights to save, breed and exchange seeds, to have access to diverse traditional open-pollinated seeds which can be saved, replanted and which are not genetically modified, owned or controlled by emerging seed giants. Seed sovereignty recognises the importance of Farmer Saved Seed Systems (FSSS) which is essential for food security at the household level as the commercialised seed is mainly accessible to those farmers with some disposable income and is able to purchase them. This creates a gap in boosting food security for most rural households .

Besides displacing and destroying diversity, commercialised seed varieties are also undermining seed sovereignty and farmers rights. Furthermore, the multinational capture of local seed companies is a process that has long been underway in most parts of Africa and is marginalising the local seed companies which in most cases promote the open-pollinated seed varieties. Across Africa, new seed laws are being introduced which enforce compulsory registration of seeds with a bias towards Distinct Uniform Stable (DUS) which the traditional seed varieties do not conform to, thus making it impossible for small-scale farmers to grow their own diverse traditional seed as seed but rather grain , and forcing them into dependency on the giant seed corporations which mainly grow hybrid seed which cannot be recycled and depends heavily on synthetic chemical fertilisers and pesticides not friendly to the environment.

Therefore, in view of the above concern s and in the context of our quest for socio-economic and environmental justice, we the CSOs make the following resolutions:

Awareness rising: We appeal to relevant institutions such as Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) to exercise their mandate of providing information to the general public, farming community and those affected by the changes taking place within the seed sector in Zambia. We urge the government to dialogue with various stakeholders including farmers in all issues related to seed reforms and implementation. We stand in solidarity with the farmers by sharing information and capacity building and education to make them more informed, empower ed to make the right decisions on issues that affect them such as seed law reforms. We envisage a seed sector that emphases and respects the role played by women who have been custodians of seed and biodiversity conservationist in African traditional society .

National seed policy; with the introduction of a number of reforms and protocols at regional level. We appeal to the government to consider finalising the draft national policy of 1999 which would regulate the sector. We hope to see a decentralised consultative process to this process and the effective recognition of farmer’s rights and the support of farmer managed seed systems which are to be supported by policy to reduce restrictions during trade, as currently trade can’t go beyond achieving economic benefits. Further, there is a need for the development of regulations that protect our diverse genetic resource and traditional knowledge and ensure that the benefit-sharing System is inclusive and implemented .

Lobby for space in all consultative processes: There is a need for a formal platform to be created that will allow for effective CSO and farmer participation in policy formulation and decision making to ensure that farmer ' voices are heard. We request for space at all levels horizontally and vertically by a more diverse CSO that will allow for more and effective CSO representation and participation. Consultative engagements and representation of key stakeholders is key in achieving seed sovereignty, and this responsibility lies with national governments who should ensure that the rights of the farmers are recognised and protected in national policies and legislation for the sake of national building and social and economic development.

The entire Policy brief on the Seed Sector can be found and downloaded here http://caritaszambia.org/phocadownload/policy_briefs/CSOs-concerns-on-seed-sector-reforms.pdf

STATEMENT ON NATIONAL DIALOGUE

1. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this brief Press Release presentation and we wish you all compliments of the season.

2. Since we are still in the Christmas season, on behalf of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), we avail ourselves of this opportunity to wish you and through you the nation at large a grace-filled time and God’s abundant blessings in this new year and indeed always.

3. The theme and message of Christmas is presented to us by St. Luke the Evangelist when he quotes the angel who appeared to the shepherds: “I bring you news of great joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour is born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” St Luke continues, “With the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly hosts praising God in the words, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those of good will’” (Luke 2:10-14). Therefore, joy and peace are the themes of Christmas.

4. The source of the Christian joy, happiness and peace is the fact that we belong to God and participate in God’s life. Therefore, we must respect and reverence each human life and each other as members of God’s household. The greatest gift we Christians can give to the world is the joy and peace proclaimed by the angels. In fact, the birth of Christ marked a definitive reconciliation between humanity and God. Therefore, we are called to live as a reconciled people.

5. In the Bible, peace means love, forgiveness, reconciliation, good will and good relationships between people. This is the good news meant for people of all races, pigmentation, religions, tribes, political affiliation and ideologies. This is the peace we wish for our nation Zambia. However, there can be no peace without justice at personal as well as at all levels of society.

6. True dialogue means a change of heart, attitude and behavior. It is a project, an on-going process and effort. It is the way of life for us Christians which should be heard in our words, seen in our faces and actions because it is in our hearts. Lack of peace hurts everyone especially the weak, the elderly, the poor, women and children. It hurts us Christians because we are essentially brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ who identifies himself with the same poor and the suffering.

7. Despite the public pronouncements that Zambia is a peaceful country, the reality on the ground is different due to many acts of injustice, a growing culture of corruption, incidences of violence and utterances out of deep-seated hatred. We therefore earnestly appeal to all our political leaders to stop insulting each other or anyone who does not agree with their political opinion and start genuinely to respect fellow political players as legitimate opponents with their constitutional right to hold their political opinion and to propagate it among the general public. It demands that all political party leaders declare and enforce zero tolerance or political violence and to bring culprits to book by handing them over to law enforcement institutions. It means that all political leaders must give the planned for ‘national dialogue’ a chance to succeed by committing themselves to dialogue without preconditions with a view to level the playing field. These leaders of political parties must restrain themselves and their members from making inflammatory or irresponsible statements.

8. We also call upon media houses to refrain from sensationalism and polarization of people or political institutions; let them not join the irresponsible people who want to be spoilers of the process and the noble objective of a successful and fruitful national dialogue.

9. Peace cannot come to our country if successful administrations do not take drastic steps to stamp out the endemic corruption among public servants which has reached epidemic proportions against the backdrop of the highest poverty index since the dawn of our political independence in 1964. It is unacceptable that some public service personnel have amassed enormous wealth in dubious or highly questionable ways and within a short time in the service. It is a scandal that year in and year out, the Auditor General’sreport reveals hair raising miss-application and miss appropriation of huge sums of public funds by public officers but few, if any culprits, are punished. For how long shall public anger be restrained given the high unemployment levels particularly among young adults. Unless most of these young adults whose number increases each year can be quickly absorbed by the labor market, we might be sitting on a latent volcano! That is why national dialogue and reconciliation is critical so that politicians and other stakeholders can address the situation and assist the current administration to grow the economy to accommodate job seekers.

10. We believe in dialogue because it is essential for holistic national developmentas there cannot be any meaningful development where there is tension and lack of effective as well as peaceful engagement among various groups in the country. It is for this reason that we support and wish to contribute and make ourselves available for the restoration of peace in the country through dialogue.

11. We are saddened by the recent outbreak of cholera in Lusaka and other parts of the country and the loss of more than 50 persons from this epidemic. Our hearts go to the many families who have lost their loved ones from the disease. We pray for God’s peace, comfort and encouragement during this time of national crisis. We pray for the various teams working on the ground to fight the cholera outbreak so that this may be overcome quickly and life may be restored to normal. We support the efforts of other stakeholders in this battle against cholera and pledge ourselves to collaborate with government in addressing the epidemic.

May God bless our nation Zambia !!

Signed and issued on 8th January 2018

Bishop Alfred Kalembo - President of CCZ

Bishop Paul E. Mususu - Chairman of EFZ

Archbishop Telesphore G. Mpundu - President of ZCCB

Signed Copy here: http://caritaszambia.org/index.php/publications/general/file/123-church-statement-on-national-dialogue-8th-january-2017

Climate change has emerged as one of the most pressing issues in Zambia affecting socio economic development. The country is already experiencing climate induced hazards, which include droughts and dry spells, seasonal and flash floods and extreme temperatures. Some of these hazards, especially the droughts and floods have increased in frequency and intensity over the past few decades and have adversely impacted on the food and water security, water quality, energy and sustainable livelihoods of rural communities.

About CARITAS Zambia

CARITAS Zambia is a Catholic Organization that is an integral structure of the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC). The Episcopal Conference (or Bishops Conference) is a permanent grouping of Bishops of a given nation or territory that jointly exercises certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of their territory. This they do to promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind

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