Government reviews agricultural policies

Source: Government reviews agricultural policies | The Herald

Melody Mashaire : Business Reporter

Government is in the process of reviewing a number of agriculture-related policies to improve domestication and local farmers’ rights. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said Government has made efforts to domesticate farmers’ rights. “Zimbabwe has made efforts with regards to domestication and realisation of farmers rights at national level through enactment of various pieces of legislation which include the Plant Breeders Rights’ Act (chapter 18:16) and the Seed Act (Chapter 19:13).

“These pieces of legislation however, are being reviewed so that they reflect on the country’s interest through inclusion of provisions related to the realisation of farmers rights at national level and in particular the needs of our local small holder farmers,” Dr Made said in a speech read on his behalf at the Africa stakeholders’ consultative meeting on Farmers’ Rights

Speaking at the same occasion, an expert in the Ministry of Agriculture (Cameroon) Mr Francis Seku Agenaku said the variety of crops depends on the way by which farmers manage and conserve their seeds.

“As we all know is that more than 75 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and depend largely on traditional agriculture.

“In Africa, close to four hundred million depend on traditional agriculture and most of them depend on their own farm-saved seeds.

“These farmers do not have access to commercial varieties and inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. The diversity of crops is dependent on the way which farmers managed and conserved their seeds. The majority of farmers in Africa mainly get their seeds from the informal channels which include farm saved seeds, seed exchanges among farmers and/or local grain/seed market. These informal systems may even contribute to more than 80 percent of seed supply depending on the crop and the country.

“However, this informal management mechanism of obtaining seeds by farmers is becoming more and more limited, and is being challenged by rather recent regulations such as seed laws, Intellectual Property Rights, policies and regulatory frameworks that are less or not supportive to farmers’ customary management system,” said Mr Agenaku.

He said farmers’ rights are vital as they enable them to maintain their essential role to conserve diversity for local and global food security, nutrition and poverty eradication.

“As farmers are custodians and developers of crop genetic resources in the field, their rights are crucial for enabling them to maintain their vital role to conserve diversity for local and global food security, nutrition and poverty eradication,” he said.