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RWA Namibia: NRWA representation in seeds workshop in Botswana and Namibia

by Agnes Tjindjo

Namibia rural women assbly was reresented in the CCARDESA – Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa Women and youth in Agriculture knowledge sharing and exchange symposium that took place on 28th – 30th May 2024, Kasane Botswana.

One of the main  topics was: Preserving and utilizing indigenous seeds

Like NRWA farmers , other SADC countries are pushing their governments to recognize the informal seed system. E.g. Malawi wants recognition not only for indigenous crop seeds but also for indigenous vegetables.

Indigenous vegetables grow naturally during the rain seasons. They are harvested and confused fresh and some can be dried and sold or eaten later on during the year.

Why indigenous vegetables:

1. Ability to improve nutrition and sustain smallholder farmers’ livelihoods

2. Better climate adaptation crops – adapted to diverse conditions

3. Important in improving food security

4. Have potential as an income source for farmers.

If we harvest indigenous vegetable seeds e.g. spider plant (ombidi), om’tete, and amaranthus to mention a few, anyone who wants to access the seeds can get them any time of the year and not just during the rain seasons.

Following the seeds work that NRWA has worked on and inclusion of ministry officials NRWA was invited to the National Stakeholders Consultative Workshop on the proposed Regulations for Implementing the Seed and Seed Varieties Act (Act No. 23 of 2018) The workshop took place on Wednesday, 12 June 2024 at  Movenpick Hotel, Windhoek

The Namibian Seed and Seed Varieties Act (Act No. 23 of 2018) is only intended to regular the formal seeds system. There are two types of seed systems: the formal seeds system which consists of certified seeds and the informal seed system which consists of the indigenous, non-certified seeds.

According to the proposed regulations, page 5 of the regulations, the act will also apply to recognized varieties of plants listed in the Fourth Schedule and /or any variety for which the stock seed has been approved by the registrar.

Exclusion 1. Sweetcorn (Zea mays) is considered a vegetable crop and is excluded

Exclusion 2. Seeds that are traded informally, unpacked, unlabeled and uncertified are excluded from the provisions of this act.

Application for Seed Dealer’s Certificate:

Anyone who wants to be a seed dealer of certified seeds should apply for a seed dealer’s certificate.

Informal traders of indigenous (uncertified) seeds are not allowed to sell certified seeds along side their uncertified seeds. If they want to sell certified seeds they should apply to become seed dealers.

Way forward for Indigenous seeds:

Farmer’s Rights Bill (Farm Breeders Rights Law and Plant Breeders Rights Law) – is an act which will be implemented by the Ministry in the near future which will allow/ give farmers the right to continue breeding and cultivation using their traditional methods and indigenous seeds without being interrupted.

Indigenous seeds are not considered as seeds, because they are natural and they do not have varieties. According to the act and regulations, “variety” means a single botanical taxon of the lowest known rank, which can be defined by the expression of specific characteristics resulting from a given genotype of that plant grouping distinguished from any other plant grouping by expression of at least one of the said characteristics and such characteristics remain unchanged in respect of individual plants propagated from propagating material of the variety in question. 

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