Zambia: Caritas wins a ward for best seed exhibition
The Zambian Seed and Food Festival is a concept that aims to bring back seeds that are in danger of extinction due to the hybrid seeds of multinationals that have taken centre stage. The festival also aims to encourage the preservation of seeds that can still withstand the current adverse weather conditions in order to address food and nutrition insecurity. It is a platform for small-scale farmers to share their ideas on why and how to save the local Zambian seeds that have fed generations.
Among the many stalls at the festival were farmers from Caritas Zambia's food security projects in Kumena and Zambia under the livelihoods programme. They presented a fascinating seed exhibition, which showed the importance of traditional seeds as major contributions to the food system, in terms of nutrition, economic empowerment, social and cultural heritage as well as political power in relation to traditional seeds and foods.
Farmers from all diocesan Caritas presented a diversity of seeds while highlighting the story of increased production, household income, value addition, better marketing, reduced suffering of women and improved food security of their communities. As a result, they won the award for the best presentation of seed diversity at the 4th Zambian Traditional Food and Seed Festival 2021.
On receiving the award, the farmers expressed their joy, but also their concern that the lack of diversity in seed and food production is affecting the diet of many communities, leading to hunger and malnutrition. "Therefore, our exhibition is a strong call to improve diversity in both food production and consumption by promoting local seed diversity.
Farmers from Caritas Zambia, Food Security Projects and Kumena, reiterated the call for seed sovereignty, which includes the rights of farmers to save, reproduce and exchange seeds, to have access to diverse seeds This is the case for traditional open-pollinated seeds that can be saved, replanted and are not genetically modified. "Seed sovereignty recognises the importance of farmersaved seed systems, which are essential for food security at the household level.
Caritas Zambia says that in addition to displacing and destroying diversity, commercialised seed varieties also undermine seed sovereignty and farmers' rights. That's why small-scale farmers should be encouraged to grow their own traditional seeds.
The award received by Caritas Zambia comes with a call and recommendation to invest in research and development and seed system services.
Seeds are undoubtedly the most important agricultural input, as without seeds there is no harvest. They are a fundamental pillar of agricultural and food production
and the need for integrated seed system laws rather than prohibiting the use and sale of traditional varieties and breeds cannot be overstated.
Caritas Africa Info is a Quarterly Newsletter of Caritas in Africa
Download the entire Quarterly Newsletter of Caritas in Africa for October-December 2021 here https://www.caritaszambia.org/phocadownload/quarterly_bulletins/Caritas-Africa-Info-Quarterly-Newsletter-October-December-2021.pdf