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Sowing Resilience: Esnathy Mutembedza’s Journey with Traditional Seeds

In the rolling landscapes of Chikwaka, nestled within the embrace of Chief Chikwaka’s domain in Goromonzi District, Esnathy Mutembedza tends to her fields with the wisdom of generations past. A single mother aged 52, Esnathy’s life has been woven with the threads of communal farming, a legacy she inherited from her parents and now passes on to her daughter and grandchildren.

For over three decades, Esnathy has nurtured traditional seeds with a reverence born of deep-rooted connection to the land. Inherited from her mother and passed down through generations, these seeds are more than just agricultural commodities – they are sacred vessels of resilience and sustenance, embodying the spirit of her ancestors.

With a heart steeped in love for nature, Esnathy cherishes the diverse array of traditional seeds that grace her fields. From rapoko and sorghum to finger millet and groundnuts, each seed carries with it a story of survival and abundance, thriving in the face of harsh climatic conditions and pest pressures.

Yet, the importance of traditional seeds extends far beyond mere agricultural practice – they are a cornerstone of cultural identity and dignity. As Esnathy reflects, “When my daughter was married, the first thing that I packed for her was various traditional seeds because that defines a dignified woman in our culture.” With each seed, she imparts not just sustenance, but a legacy of resilience and self-sufficiency.

In a world where hybrid seeds dominate the agricultural landscape, Esnathy stands as a staunch advocate for the preservation of traditional varieties. Unlike their hybrid counterparts, traditional seeds boast superior germination rates, resilience to pests and diseases, and the ability to withstand the rigors of climate change.

Through the Rural Women’s Assembly, Esnathy champions the importance of seed exchange as a means of safeguarding traditional varieties from extinction. By sharing seeds at every meeting, she ensures that rare varieties find new homes, resuscitating diversity and resilience in communities across the region. As Esnathy closes the interview, her words resonate with conviction and clarity: “We must avoid traditional seed extinction at all costs.” With each seed sown, she plants not just a crop, but a future rooted in resilience, dignity, and the enduring legacy of traditional farming wisdom.

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