RWA Zimbabwe: Commemoration of International Day of Peasant Struggles

On the 17th of April, RWA Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world to celebrate International Day of Peasant struggles. This is the day when small-scale farmers and all indigenous people around the world are honoured. The RWA Zimbabwe chapter acknowledges the dedication of peasant farmers to growing most of the food that we eat despite all the struggles and the violence they suffer from.

A total of 45 RWA members joined the regional webinar to celebrate the day, some joined as groups and some as individuals. Those who gathered in groups had an opportunity to discuss the meaning of the day, share their problems and experiences. Feedback from the discussion revealed that peasants across the whole country are experiencing the same struggles. In addition, the webinar was also an eye opener to them as it made them realise that even struggles faced across the region are almost similar. 

During the discussions members alluded that as peasant farmers they struggle every day for their survival. One major struggle that they highlighted is that they are squeezed out by big multinational corporations who took control of the agricultural market and captured the food chain, using different technologies and approaches (synthetic pesticides, genetically modified crops, factory farming) to expand their power. One group in Shurugwi district in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe expressed their worries over extensive extractivism that is done by big Chinese companies in their communities. Many households have been displaced and have lost their precious land without any compensation. Our government has not taken any serious actions despite all the efforts that have been made to reach out to the leaders and the responsible authorities. This is happening not only in one district but across the whole country. However, RWA Zimbabwe has empowered communities to know their rights so that they become bold enough to resist extensive resource extraction in their communities, and they continue to defend their commons.

Although Zimbabwe is one of the countries that signed the UNDROP declaration, the government has not been fully implementing it. The vital contribution of peasant farmers to the society remains inadequately recognised and supported. Farmers are not enjoying their right to grow traditional seeds and as well as to sell them freely. Access to traditional seeds has been affected but the introduction of hybrids which have since dominated the markets. In addition, the government has not been fully supporting the growing of traditional seeds as they concentrate on hybrid seeds for making profits.  The big companies who use agriculture for profits continue to advocate for commercialisation and corporate farming and peasant farmers continue to be side-lined. Furthermore, use of Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) is being eroded slowly and being replaced by technological approaches. However, RWA Zimbabwe empowers peasant farmers to continue to use IKS on their farming as this promotes food sovereignty.

The right to land has been a major struggle highlighted by the peasants’ farmers during the discussions. Women are the most tillers of the land, yet the majority still have limited access to land. However, RWA Zimbabwe has been making efforts to influence and take part in land policy formulation processes, making sure the demands of women farmers are captured and considered. 

The celebrations ended well, and most members felt honoured as they became aware of this day set aside to appreciate their great work. In conclusion RWA Zimbabwe continues to stand in Solidarity with peasants’ farmers in the country and across the globe and call on leaders, government to protect and defend the rights as defined by the UNDROP.  RWA Zim notes that their crucial contribution to the local and global food security cannot be overlooked hence their rights must be protected.

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