By Wallace Mawire
The Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Zimbabwe (PELUM-ZWE) will convene a one-day symposium that brings Zimbabwe’s seed custodians together to discuss ways in which the strengthening and revival of seed custodians’ duties and responsibilities can contribute to resolving Zimbabwe’s food insecurity, malnutrition, biodiversity loss and effects of climate change.
The seed custodians’ symposium, scheduled to take place on 12 March 2019 at in Harare, is a platform for seed custodians to talk about their practices, ways to build resilience, means to deal with hindrances and identifying strategies that will enable seed custodians to perform their duties and responsibilities as caretakers of seed, food and traditional knowledge.
“The role played by seed custodians has been largely neglected especially at a time when the country is battling to curb malnutrition, food insecurity, biodiversity loss and the adverse effects of climate change,” said Mrs. Gertrude Pswarayi-Jabson, the Country Coordinator for PELUM-ZWE.
A report titled Celebrating African Rural Women: Custodians of Seed, Food and Traditional Knowledge for Climate Change Resilience, written and produced by the African Biodiversity Network and the Gaia Foundation reveals that biological diversity and cultural knowledge are two sides of the same coin. The report points how colonialism, free trade policies and industrial agriculture have eroded the role of women as seed custodians while diminishing their social standing and leadership in agriculture and in the community.
“Traditional knowledge and practices, customary laws and governance systems can be revived and enhanced to allow the generation of social and ecological conditions for producing nutritious and heathy foods and building resilient inclusive communities, livelihoods and local economies,” the Repo They form the majority of cultivators of traditional seed diversity which has given rise to and sustained an abundant and vibrant cultural diversity despite years of colonialism, globalisation and the industrial growth economy. Seed in the hands of seed custodians is therefore central to the wellbeing of the community and revival of Zimbabwe as a whole,” said Pswarayi-Jabson.
The symposium is an initiative under the PELUM-ZWE coordinated multi-year programme called the Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Programme (ZSSP), a partnership of seven organisations working to strengthen Farmer Managed Seed Systems. The partners under ZSSP are PELUM-ZWE, Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers Organisation (ZIMSOFF), Practical Action, Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust (CELUCT), Towards Sustainable Use of Resources Organisation (TSURO) Trust, Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre, and Farmers Association of Community self-Help Investment Groups (FACHIG).
PELUM-ZWE is a focused network comprising of dynamic civil society organisations working in Zimbabwe and promoting agroecological practices that are socially acceptable, ecologically sound and economically viable.
“Zimbabwe’s cultural diversity still provides the bedrock for resilience to climate change as well as political and economic instability. The role played by seed custodians is so vital in reweaving the basket of life. It is no surprise that the majority of seed custodians are women. They form the majority of cultivators of traditional seed diversity which has given rise to and sustained an abundant and vibrant cultural diversity despite years of colonialism, globalisation and the industrial growth economy. Seed in the hands of seed custodians is therefore central to the wellbeing of the community and revival of Zimbabwe as a whole,” said Pswarayi-Jabson.