Agroecology and seed sovereignty interface

Agroecology and seed sovereignty interface

Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association Zimbabwe is today holding an interface with media practitioners in Zimbabwe. The media workshop is taking place at Fambidzanai Training Centre in Harare. The aim of the workshop is to enhance the understanding of the media on Agroecology and seed sovereignty. The workshop is being facilitated by Anna Brazier, a Sustainable Development Consultant and is being attended by 23 media personnel from various media houses in Zimbabwe.

Business Wave Africa is participating in the workshop and shall give you updates of the proceedings.

Session 01

0902hrs: The workshop has started with acquainting media on key terms.

What is permaculture?
Permaculture is a combination of traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge in agriculture known as permanent culture. It focuses on designing a farm using available resources. Permaculture is a concept under agroecology.

What is Agroecology?
Agroecology is the maximizing of yields by using agricultural methods that don’t harm the environment. It prepares farmers for emergencies. It focuses much on food sovereignty. It prepares farmers to be resilient, that they can be able to survive in case of emergencies. The goals is not to increase profits as compared to commercial agriculture but to increase biodiversity.

What is Organic farming?
Organic farming focuses on the zero use of artificial or chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

What is Regenerative agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture focuses on the soil, i.e. healing the land using crops and livestock.

What is monoculture?
Monoculture is where a farmer cultivates only one crop, especially maize. The weakness of monoculture is that it promotes pest growth, so farmers might be indirectly forced to control the many pests using artificial pesticides. When crops are inter-cropped in poly culture, the crops can repel pests on their own.

Why agroecology is important
– 75% decline in biodiversity in farming areas over the past century (FAO).
– Human health concerns – allergies, intolerance autoimmune diseases and cancers.
– Cheaper sources of meat, carbohydrates, sugars and fats has led to people eat less fruits.
– Economic concerns – farmers depend much on hybrid seed and fertilizers.

1100hrs: Participants are now on a tour of Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre to have an insight of the concept of agroecology.

1210hrs: The tour of Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre ends.

Session 02

1215hrs: The workshop discussion resumes. The topic focuses now on seed sovereignty

What is a seed?
– The product of a sexual reproduction and contain the full genetic instructions to grow into an adult plant.
– The seed is dormant until stimulated to germinate (by temperature or water, oxygen and light or fire, frost microbes, etc).
– Some seeds last for only days before needing to germinate while others can remain viable for decades, centuries, even millennia.

Why is seed important?
– They are rich, nutritious endosperm; many seeds provide important foods for humans.
– Most food crops and edible wild plants begin as seeds.
– Seeds are the foundation of food systems and of huge biological, social and economic importance.

Open Pollinated Varieties
– Are produced when a plant self-pollinates or is pollinated by another of the same variety.
– Farmers can easily share this seed with other farmers to spread adapted varieties throughout communities.

Hybrid seeds
– Hybrid seeds are produced by breeding two-parent plants different varieties, species or genera through deliberate cross-pollination of plants with desirable features (early ripening, high yields or drought tolerance).
– Farmers might not get favourable results from hybrid seed since the seed will not be adaptive to the region where it is being cultivated.
– Gives seed companies control over farmers and makes the growers depend on the seed companies.
– Seed is big business – the global seed industry is worthy USD55 billion per year.

Hybrid seed impact on the farmer
Most of the seed companies that produce seed also produce fertilisers and pesticides, so it is their interest to produce crops that require more inputs. This leads to farmers being indebted and impoverished. Farmers are also vulnerable and are no longer empowered to develop varieties that are suited to their climate and environment.

Genetically Modified Crops
They are produced in laboratories through genetic engineering methods which changes the plants. It’s a much faster way of breeding new crops than hybrid development. Genetic modified crop promotion threatens farmers’ right to save and grow their own varieties and will push farmers deeper into dependency and debt.

New approaches in Zimbabwe
– Support small-scale farming, traditional crops and systems since the year 2000.
– Non-Governmental Organisations encouraging local seed systems through farmer training in improved seed saving, setting up community seed banks and seed fairs.
– Farmer-driven seed system produces good quality, fungal-free seed that is of a comparable standard to certified seed.
– Promotion of formal seed. Seed aid undermines local seed systems.

1340hrs: The 2nd sessions ends.

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