Small-scale farmers from East and Southern Africa will hold a symposium in Lusaka next week to meet policy makers to promote the use of traditional seeds.
The meeting will be held under the umbrella of the Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) association, a regional network of 258 civil society organisations in 12 countries reaching about eight million small-scale farmers.
PELUM secretary general Faustin Vuningoma said Zambia had been chosen to host the symposium because the Patriotic Front (PF) leadership was implementing a manifesto that recognised the importance of family farming and crop diversification that subsequently reduced rural poverty.
The symposium is also set to honour President Edgar Lungu with the regional pro-poor governance award in recognition of his willingness to listen to the small-scale farmers.
PELUM membership includes Ethiopia, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – all the countries that will be represented at the symposium set for August 27.
“Small-scale farmers have realised that policy makers, sponsors and other intervening stakeholders compel them to adopt and practise farming techniques, use of seeds and other agricultural inputs without appropriately consulting with us.
“This is retrogressive and largely responsible for poor agricultural performance in the region,” Ms Vuningoma said.
In this regard, the farmers wished to discuss their challenges and possible remedies in the presence of all stakeholders invited.
The farmers will engage policy makers to reconsider the African Region Intellectual Property Organisation Protocol of Arusha.
Ms Vuningoma said the protocol compromised local seed systems, foods, cultures, identities and dignity and took Africa back into a food colony where countries became dependent on very few multinational seed companies.
During the symposium, the small-scale farmers will exhibit various traditional seeds that are sufficient to feed Zambia and Africa.