- Capacity building of members of parliament (Committee on agriculture, lands and natural resources)
We were able to hold a capacity building workshop jointly with CARITAS Zambia. At least 7 MPs attended the workshop.
Members of Parliament (MP) are drawn from the districts where the small scale farmers are situated around Zambia. We decided to engage the parliamentarians after realizing the need to build their capacity in understanding issues on agroecology, seed sector policy reforms and biosafety and bio technology policy reforms that are currently taking place in the country and the region. Through this we hope to have parliamentarians that are well informed and that are better able to discuss more comprehensively on the subjects stated above.
The Overall objective was- Draw out policy gaps and create awareness among policy makers on the challenges associated with the Agriculture sector and provide collective recommendations.
Specific objectives were:
- Highlight the fears and risks associated with the current changes taking place in the seed sector and the biotech and bio safety policy in Zambia.
- Outline the effects of climate change on the small holder production system and recommend possible solutions that use agroecology agriculture.
- Outline and highlight the bottlenecks associated with the E- Voucher system and how it has affected farmer’s production and realization of national production targets.
A number of presentations were done which were meant to help the MPs understand the issues from a more informed perspective. The following were the presentations;
- Seed Sector Policy Reforms – Presenter: Mr Muketoi Wamunyima
This presentation was mainly to bring out issues that are of concern with the seed sector policy related. The major highlights were:
• Need for more consultation when policies are being formulated.
• The policy reviews need to ensure that the local seed is protected which can only be done by protecting local seed and supporting farmer led seed systems.
• Need for respect and recognition of farmers rights when policies are being formulated.
• Need for a substantive standalone seed policy in Zambia
- Biosafety – Biotech Policy by Ms Frances Davis ZAAB
Her presentation was mainly indicating the impact and opportunity costs of shifting Zambia’s non-GMOs position. She highlighted the following concerns about GMOs in the food system:-
- GMOs undermine human health
- GMOs inhibit the Right to Food
- GMOs inhibit the ITPGRFA and Farmers’ Rights
- GMOs are environmental damaging
- GMOs are not appropriate for smallholders
- GMOs enable corporate control of the food system
- GMOs restrict access to markets
Major highlights were some of the outcomes of the industrial food system, and worst affected by women as follows:-
- Global chronic and acute hunger
- Health risks, widespread NCDs
- Climate change AND resilience breakdown
- Falling real incomes, rising inequality, debt and dependency
- Trade and export orientated – price shocks, ‘commodity induced poverty traps’
- Falling productivity post green revolution ‘boom’
- Ecological degradation and biodiversity loss – especially genetic diversity
- Pest resistance and disease vulnerability
- Alienation of indigenous communities and cultures
Dependency on corporate seed (and therefore agro-chemicals and fertilisers) was another issue as a result reduced genetic diversity, health implications, increased debt, and loss of autonomy.
In summing up the presentation, she shared the importance of the following:-
- Agroecology is much more than a set of technologies; it is a political and social system, a way of life, a form of resistance against corporate control of the food system, and quite simply the best means of achieving food sovereignty
- Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to access and control the resources they need to be able to make their own choices about the kind of food they eat, produce and buy.
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY