Zanzibar’s draconian seed law in the offing

Bonyeza hapa kusoma kwa kiSwahili

Case study of unabated corporate expansion and control of Africa’s seed systems

This paper provides a critique of the Zanzibar draft Seed Bill that contains provisions set to undermine the rights of smallholder farmers, by marginalising and criminalising their seed systems, while aiding the corporate entry and control of seed and agriculture systems on the Isles. 

Adopting Western-style law making, the Seed Bill is immensely unfit for a developing state such as Zanzibar, being based on draconian rules and standards set by the North. Thus, the Bill is much fixated with providing a legislative environment for the sale and marketing of commercial seed, embedded in the whole industrialisation agenda for agriculture on the African continent, rather than adopting legislation that takes into account the needs and realities of the Zanzibaris.

For the past two decades, through extensive research, the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has and continues to caution African countries against the aiding of corporate capture of food and seed systems on the continent. This is because we are witnessing rampant agrarian extractivism, exploitation, deepened inequalities, and social exclusion and violation of human rights, based on a linear development model driven by corporate blueprints and philanthrocapitalist organisations, such as the Alliance for Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA). This does very little to enhance the livelihoods of smallholder farmers while creating input market-based problems such as ‘fake seed’, yet is used as a means to push for more stringent legislation that further criminalises farmers and farmer seed. 

©OlegD/Shutterstock.com

The paper argues that the development pathway the Zanzibari government is taking on agriculture, driven by its policies and now the draft Seed Bill, will be deleterious to the Isles people, culture, tradition and agricultural ecosystems. The Zanzibari government still has an opportunity to rethink this pathway. 

Rather than plunging the Isles into market and techno-centred development that fails to offer systemic solutions to their people, the focus should be on supporting and upscaling seed initiatives already existing on the Isles, which embrace farming systems such as agroecology, family and community farming; promote and protect the autonomy of seed and biodiversity; and embrace knowledge systems, cultures and traditions that exist for the benefit of the Zanzibaris and Africa at large.  

Read the briefing paper here.

SHERIA KANDAMIZI YA MBEGU ZANZIBAR TARAJIWA: UTAFITI JUU YA KUENEA KWA MAKAMPUNI NA UDHIBITI WA MIFUMO YA MBEGU YA AFRIKA.

Chapisho hili linakosoa rasimu ya mswada wa mbegu Zanzibar ambayo unajumuisha vifungu vilivyowekwa kudhoofisha haki za wakulima wadogo, kuwaweka pembeni na kuharamisha mifumo ya mbegu zao, wakati ukisaidia kuingia kwa makampuni makubwa na udhibiti wa mbegu na mifumo ya kilimo visiwani humo. Kwa kupitisha sheria inayofwata mtindo wa nchi za Magharibi, muswada huu wa sheria ya mbegu haufai kabisa kwa nchi inayoendelea kama Zanzibar. Hivyo, mswada huo umejikita kwa kiasi kikubwa na kuweka mazingira ya kisheria kwa ajili ya mauzo na masoko ya mbegu za kibiashara, uliojikita  katika ukuwaji mzima wa ajenda ya viwanda vya kilimo barani Afrika, badala ya kupitisha sheria inayo zingatia mahitaji na uhalisia wa waZanzibari. 

© Miaron Billy

Kwa miongo miwili iliyopita, kupitia utafiti wa kina, Kituo cha Bioanuwai cha Afrika (African Centre for Biodiversity) imekua na inaendelea kutahadharisha nchi za kiafrika dhidi ya usaidizi wa makampuni kuteka mifumo ya chakula na mbegu barani. Hii ni kwa sababu, tuna shuhudia kukithiri kwa unyomofu wa kilimo (agrarian extractivism), unyonyaji, kuongezeka matabaka, kutengwa kijamii na ukiukwaji wa haki za binadamu, uliojikita kwenye mfumo mnyoofu wa maendeleo unaoendeshwa na mipango ya makampuni makubwa na yale wahisani wa kibepari kama Muungano wa Mapinduzi ya Kijani (Alliance for Green Revolution for Africa). Haya hufanya machache sana kukwamua maisha ya wakulima wadogo huku ikileta matatizo ya pembejeo yaliyojikita kwenye soko kama vile “mbegu feki” kama namna ya kuhamasisha kutungwa kwa sheria kandamizi ambazo huharamisha mbegu za wakulima. 

© Abdelrahman Hassanein

Chapisho hili linakazia kuwa mrengo wa maendeleo Serikali ya Zanzibar inayoichukua kwenye kilimo, ikiendeshwa na sera zake na sasa na rasimu ya mswada wa sheria ya mbegu, itakuwa na madhara kwa watu wa visiwani, utamaduni, mila na mifumo ikolojia ya kilimo. Serikali ya Zanzibar bado ina fursa ya kufikiri tena juu ya mrengo huu. Kuliko kukiingiza kisiwa kwenye maendeleo ya soko na mfumo wa kiteknolojia ambao unashindwa kutoa ufumbuzi wa kimfumo kwa watu wake, ilenge kusaidia na kukuza mipango ya mbegu ambayo ipo tayari ipo visiwani, kuikumbatia mifumo ya kilimo kama kilimo ikolojia, kilimo cha familia na jamii; kukuza na kulinda uhuru wa mbegu na baioanuai; kukumbatia mifumo ya maarifa, mila na tamaduni zilizopo kwa manufaa ya wazanzibari na Afrika kwa ujumla.

Bofya hapa kusoma ripoti.