Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

Haiti - Neither hybrids, nor GMO’s, but farm saved seeds

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-10-19-Haiti-floods.pngFirst published by inf'OGM (14/10/16) 

Interview with Jean-Baptise Chavannes, spokesperson of Mouvement Paysan de Papaye, Haïti (Farmer Papaya Movement), by Frédéric Guérin and Claire Chauvet, Inf’OGM administrators, about Haiti’s situation in general after the devastating hurricane Matthew, and about agriculture, farmers and international aid.

Inf’OGM – What is the farmers’ situation after cyclone Matthew ripped through Haiti ? The western media mention the risk of famine.

JBC - Before cyclone Matthew, the situation of peasants families was difficult because last years’ draught destroyed 80 % of the crops. The farmers were thus in a severe food insecurity even before cyclone Matthew. The NFSC (National Food Security Council), a state institution which usually underestimates the reality, said four million people were in a state of heavy food insecurity in July 2015. We do estimate that eight million people – the majority of which paradoxically lives in a rural area – suffered from hunger last year. The cyclone has thus worsened an already critical situation. 

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"Our rights, our needs, our identities have been defined on behalf of us, but not by us", Tanmay Joshi, a young farmer from India

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-10-06_Tanmay.JPGAt the recently concluded Global Consultation on Farmers' Rights in Bali, organsied by the Ministry of Indonesia with the support of the Ministry of Norway and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), Tanmay Joshi, a young farmer from the state of Maharshtra in India spoke passionately. Here is the full text of this speech. 

I am Tanmay from India. I'm here as a representative of La Via Campesina and the Indian Farmers' Movements.

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ITPGRFA: At Consultation on Farmers’ Rights, La Via Campesina demands a working group in the Treaty comprising peasants' organisations, to help implement peasants’ rights

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-10-03_FAO_Bali.JPGAt the global consultation on Farmers’ Rights organized by Government of Indonesia and supported by the Ministry of Norway and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), held in Bali from September 27-30, a delegation representing the global peasant movement La Via Campesina joined the civil society in demanding participation of indigenous people and peasant organisations in all decision-making processes concerning them. It called upon the Treaty to set up a working group on Farmers’ Rights, with adequate representation of peasant organisations and indigenous peoples organisations.

Expressing disappointment at the fact that despite its 15 yearlong existence the treaty has done little to implement farmers’ rights, the delegation of peasants comprising women, men, youth and indigenous people demanded that their recommendations from the Bali Consultation be taken to the next meeting of the Governing Body of ITPGRFA. The recommendations will include a demand to create a permanent process to implement Farmers’ Rights, to work on a process to create national laws and legislations to implement Farmers’ Rights and also ways to support the peasant seeds systems in each country, depending on their local cultural, social, political and economic context. 

Read more: ITPGRFA: At Consultation on Farmers’ Rights, La...

“Nothing about us without us”, say peasants as the Farmers’ Rights Consultation begins in Bali

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-09-27_Bali_Seeds_Meeting_1.jpgAt Farmers’ Rights Global Consultation in Bali, global peasants’ movement La Via Campesina to defend peasant-seed systems and insist peasant participation in decision making.

Bali, 27 September 2016:

A delegation comprising peasants, women and men, indigenous people and youth from various regions of the world will represent La Via Campesina at the Farmers’ Rights Global Consultation, to be held between 27-30 of September in Bali, organized by the Government of Indonesia with support from The Government of Norway and The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).  

Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI), the Indonesian Peasants’ Union and a member of La Via Campesina is hosting the movement’s delegation coming from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.  

The Treaty, which is housed inside the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and despite its decade long existence, has done little to advance ‘farmers’ rights’, which is one of its key provisions.

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Opinion: Traditional crops keep our culture alive

2016-03-28-Eliz Mpofu.pngFirst published: Farming Matters | 32.2 | June 2016

Demand for foods based on traditional crops, with a clear link to local culture, is increasing in Zimbabwe. With this, Elizabeth Mpofu’s message is clear: policy needs to protect traditional crops and varieties, rather than introduce costly new ones, which require agrochemicals that damage nature and our health.

In the whole of Africa and especially in my country, Zimbabwe, our elders cultivated crops not just for the sake of growing food but also for many other purposes, including for health, their relationship with nature, and their cultural and spiritual practices that are important to identity and belonging. Moreover, after many decades of unsuccessful experience with the green revolution, we have seen that traditional crops are easier to grow. Thus, where l come from, many smallholder farmers are now abandoning hybrid crops grown with a lot of fertilizers and other chemicals, and are replacing them with a wide variety of traditional ones.

Read more: Opinion: Traditional crops keep our culture alive

ZIMSOFF and Ucama farmers join hands to fight for farmer saved seeds

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-05-26-Zimsoff_seeds2.jpg(Harare, May 10, 2016) Over the years, Zimbabwe Small Holder Organic Farmers' Forum (ZIMSOFF) has been campaigning against proposed seed laws that are designed to criminalise farmer-saved seed production and exchange. These laws are pushed through economic and political blocs. Blocs initially designed with good intent but are being used to push through unbeneficial schemes by a few but powerful member countries to as many countries as possible, bypassing individual nation legal processes.

Recently such is the case with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in relation to seeds. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) seek to ease the distribution of commercial registered seeds among member countries, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to enforce the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) under conditions of UPOV1 1991.

Such measures adversely affect the “informal seed systems” – a traditional system where farmers are the keepers and savers of seeds. Over 80% of all seeds in Africa is still produced and exchanged through these “informal” traditional systems.

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Seed Caravan through France, Switzerland, Germany | 3rd - 12th June

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_2016-05-25_Seed_Caravan_Route.pngUpdate from Junge AbL’s

At a time where seed markets are dominated by large corporations, it is essential to focus on local peasant seed production. In the seeds sector hybrids are becoming the norm and we face an increased effort to declare genetically modified plants as safe, or to give the impression, with the help of “new breeding techniques”, that we are not talking about genetic engineering at all. Against these developments it is necessary to find possibilities to maintain and increase a peasant seed supply that is locally adapted. Extreme weather due to climate change, such as long lasting droughts, increase the need for locally adapted seeds that can react flexibly in uncertain conditions. Every farmer should have the possibility of a self-determined use of such seeds. Frequently though, the required varieties for the certain location of a farm are not bred, or are not permitted for sale. This is also due to the seeds legislation that contributes to a restriction of available seeds on the market.

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