Resisting Corporate Takeover of African Seed Systems and Building Farmer Managed Seed Systems  for Food Sovereignty in Africa

At the core of agricultural-related debates and discourses in Africa, a silent yet profound battle unfolds—a battle for seed sovereignty, the bedrock of food sovereignty.

For centuries, small-scale African farmers have been the custodians of an invaluable legacy, managing, enhancing, and sharing seeds through farmer-managed seed systems (FMSS).

These systems, nurturing 80-90% of all seeds used across sub-Saharan Africa, stand as the foundation of the continent’s food sovereignty, supporting over 80% of its population with diverse, nutritious, and resilient crops.

However, this bedrock of agricultural heritage faces unprecedented threats from the encroachment of industrial agriculture, driven by the legacy of colonization, commerce, and the expanding influence of multinational seed corporations.

Despite these pressures, African farmers persist in managing their seed systems, ensuring cultural and nutritional diversity. These systems vary by community, emphasizing the communal values of seed selection, exchange, and knowledge sharing.

They honor local ecosystems and gender roles within agricultural communities, recognizing the distinct contributions of women, men, and children. Acknowledging the importance of these farmer-led systems is crucial for challenging the negative perceptions promoted by the seed industry and for treating farmers as equal partners in agricultural development.

Farmers’ seed varieties are vital for food sovereignty, nutrition, biodiversity, and livelihoods across Africa. It is critical to ensure the availability of these seeds for agroecological production and to protect farmers’ rights to save, exchange, and sell their seeds against legal, policy, and commercial encroachments.

Yet, the encroachment of industrial seed systems and global corporate interests on African agriculture poses a significant threat to these rights, despite global agreements aimed at protecting agricultural biodiversity and food rights.

In this context, AFSA’s SEED IS LIFE campaign to promote FMSS and resist the corporate takeover of seeds is more than a matter of preserving traditional practices; it’s about securing the future of Africa’s food systems against the onslaught of industrial agriculture.

In the face of escalating threats to biodiversity and food sovereignty posed by industrial agriculture and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the “Seed is Life ” campaign emerges as a critical movement dedicated to reasserting the value and dominance of Farmer Managed Seed Systems (FMSS) across Africa.

With a vision of fostering culturally vibrant, peasant-based seed systems, this campaign is grounded in the principles of agroecology and social justice, aiming to shift the narrative and influence policy in favor of sustainable, farmer-led seed management practices.

Through systematic evidence gathering, policy analysis and campaigning, we seek to mobilize stakeholders across the continent towards seed sovereignty.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that FMSS are officially recognized and promoted in at least 50% of African countries, challenging the tide of corporate capture of African agriculture, GMOs and securing a future where African communities hold the reins to their seed systems, nutrition, and health.

This campaign, therefore, stands in solidarity with African small holder food producers, uniting voices across Africa to champion farmer-managed seeds as the foundation of the continent’s food system, and advocating for laws that empower farmers to share, exchange, and sell their seeds freely, thus preserving our rich agricultural heritage and safeguarding food sovereignty for generations to come.

Join us as we embark on this crucial journey to protect, empower, and share the legacy of Africa’s seeds. Together, we can ensure that FMSS remain a vibrant cornerstone of Africa’s food systems!

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