As the UNFSS fizzled as a rubber stamp to expand corporateinterests over our food system, AFSA offered seeds of hope bycollecting stories of Seed Activism from the ground.
Farmers’ seed varieties are still common yet disappearing fast inAfrica. Corporations are gradually robbing farmers of their rights topreserve and exchange seeds and governments are increasinglyyielding to the pressure to prioritize corporatized GMO and hybridseeds above indigenous African seeds.
This destruction of farmerseeds is an assault on culture and African food systems.Despite increasing pressure to adopt industrialized seed andfarming techniques, food producers throughout Africa are fightingthe trend and restoring indigenous seed varieties.
“Our seeds are our stories,” stated Dr. Million Belay, AFSA GeneralCoordinator. “In the heart of each seed is an extraordinary story ofrepeated experimentation, frustrations, success and innovations ofour ancestors.
It is mind-blowing to think about what has happenedin the domestication of one single seed variety. Seeds are deeplytied to our spirituality. They are used as food, feed and medicine. Allof nature revolves around them.
We have songs, poems, ballads,plays, bedtime stories and proverbs celebrating our seeds. Wehave the language to express their behavior. Our women arecustodians of our seed.
They have an incredible amount of knowledge on how to care and process each seed.”AFSA collaborated with journalists and writers from 14 Africancountries to showcase the struggle, the challenge, the hope andaspirations of seed savers and seed activism in Africa from theperspectives of farmers’ rights, food security and resilience.
Their efforts have resulted in this book. They recorded fascinating storiesabout the enormous agricultural biodiversity that supports humanityin the face of a constantly changing need to adapt to climatechange, which is the product of the innovation and effort of farmersover countless generations Mariam Mayet, Executive Director of the African Centre forBiodiversity (ACB), said,
“In order for us to reclaim our rights, wemust explore a renewed understanding of the primacy of farmers’rights over private property rights, as integral and inseparable froma bundle of human rights.”
We hope the book inspires a lesson and serves as a constantreminder that supporting smallholder food producers and protectingtheir rights to seeds and natural resources is the surest route tofood security. They are the bedrock of African food systems and aprosperous future.