Control of Africa’s Seed

In an article titled “Is Africa about to Lose the Right to Her Seed?” Glenn Ashton discusses how the international seed industry is threatening Africa’s food security, agricultural integrity and traditional methods of seed saving. As Ashton explains, the World Bank, The American Seed Association, government agencies, philanthropists and biotech companies all aim “to create a harmonised system of control around the presently fragmented African seed trade regime and create a system based on what is projected as modern best practice.” However, this “system of harmonized control” includes Africa’s obligation to strictly adhere to the 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV). “Because of the stringency of UPOV, the real impact of this will be the loss of control of the seed supply by indigenous small farmers. The consequences for food production and social cohesion across the continent will be dire,” Ashton explains.

Although, organizations such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) suggest that new seeds being developed will be freely shared to benefit smallholder farmers, AGRAWatch contends that the reality of imposing restrictive, neo-colonial regulations on the heart of Africa’s agriculture will only perpetuate insecurity and conflict for peasant farmers.

For more information on Glenn Ashton’s piece, please visit The South African Civil Society Information Service.


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