As RWA : “We say No to the drive by seed companies to take over our local seeds”!

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Hybrid seeds are seeds that are controlled by multi-national corporations (MNCs). In recent years these seeds have been pushed onto us in Africa. We are daily bombarded by a narrative that says our local seeds, traditional seeds and farmer-managed seeds are inferior.  These multi-national corporations are attempting to undermine the life-giving aspects of seeds. They mess with the biology of seeds. This is how they want to take over our seeds.

The Rural Women’s Association (RWA) says the following: “ At the Feminist school today, here in Maseru where we were discussing the theme ‘Women, Nature and Alternatives’ as women we are clear that this is a strategy to commercialise nature”.

Flaida from RWA Mozambique said, “ MNC and companies are wise, they realise that they can destroy peasant and small holder production, especially that of rural women by controlling seeds.”

Denia from RWA South Africa says “ if we buy their seeds, we have to buy the whole package of inputs. They want us to become buyers of their produce.”

Cecilia from Angola made the point- “there is hunger in Africa, not because we cannot produce, but because there is no distribution of wealth and resources”.

Women were saying that the “Africa is poor narrative” is almost deliberate – it is often a fund-raising strategy of our governments. Our governments are allowing African knowledge and resources to be exploited and extracted.  Extractivism of our agriculture and indigenous knowledge has become a “trading tool”. Women’s knowledge systems and years of practice as producers of food is completely undermined.

These companies want to use us as a market for their seeds and inputs. As RWA we reject the idea that seeds, like nature, can be owed by companies. We have used local seeds for centuries.

The control of seeds is also about controlling our food systems.  These “improved seeds” are profit-driven and their interest is not in the health and well-being of society, rather it’s about profit.  The drive to control seeds are also about re-colonialisation of the food system.

Connie, a farmer from Limpopo in South Africa says: “we have to fight the commercialisation of seeds because it will open the gates to further privatisation of nature”.

Esnati, an agro-ecologist and farmer from Zimbabwe says: “The privatisation of the commons is driven by companies in the North that is mostly owned by capitalists who use policy and regulations to make us who use ‘indigenous seeds’ illegal – criminalising local farmers and peasant communities.”

Wednesday 4th July, 2018  Maseru, Lesotho.

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