ZAMBIA: The Benefit of Seed Fairs

Seed Fairs are a great way for farmers to learn about the various environment friendly, climate adaptive and resilient farming methods as well as connect and learn from other farmers who are practicing similar methods. The National Indigenous Seed and Food Fair in Zambia is such a platform and affords small-scale farmers an opportunity to showcase their produce. It is organised by over 19 organisations involved in agroecology and organic farming every year.

The consortium of civil society organisations who organise the annual seed and food festival believe that safe and healthy food for all can only be achieved when citizens and farmers in particular own their food system and not when the food system is owned by profit driven multi-national corporations that dictate what food is.  In countries like Zambia, with diverse local seeds and foods, this is possible. This year, the Rural Women\’s Assembly in Zambia (RWA Zambia) participated in the National Indigenous Seed and Food Fair which ran from 14 to 15 October 2022 at Munda Wanga, in the Chilanga district of Lusaka Province. At the fair, RWA Zambia supported five rural women members who showcased a variety of seeds that they had grown during the farming season earlier in the year and which also are well-suited to the Zambian climate.

On the first day a farmers’ dialogue was organised. The rural women farmers were given an opportunity, among other invited farmers, to raise their demands for the changes they expect to see implemented by the government especially in line with the World Food Day 2022 theme, “Leave No One Behind”. The farmers were drawn from the ten provinces of Zambia, which including RWA farmers, and who had expressed interest in transforming the current unsustainable food and agriculture systems. Discussions focussed on seeds as well as seed laws and policies in Zambia, resource governance and agricultural development and why agroecology is the way forward for agriculture. The demands were presented to the Office of the Vice President of Zambia, W.K. Mutale Nalumango.

On Day Two, RWA Zambia exhibited at the National Seed Fair at their stand during the show. This provided an opportunity to showcase the significant role rural women play in agroecology and also exhibited the different crops which can be grown in Zambia, including those affected by climate change. Among the crops exhibited were kadononga (groundnuts), cowpeas, popcorn, gankanta (local maize), sunflower, millet, sorghum and other local varieties of seed. Overall, the National Indigenous Seed and Food Fair was a great opportunity for RWA Zambia to reach out to farmers and promote its programs.

The Good Food

RWA women also had opportunity to cook and sell traditional food. The RWA table is well known over the years for cooking and preparing good traditional dishes.  This year, from the from sale of their products and food, the group of women managed to raise about $1000 USD.

The final day of the festival focussed on knowledge exchange, appropriate technology for small-scale farmers such as solar dryers and grinding mills, giving farmers the chance to explore new and ecologically sound ways of adding value to their produce. RWA women were excited to be part of this event and they had opportunity to learn, share and exchange knowledge about traditional seed and food.

Leave a Reply