Three quarters of all seeds planted in Tanzania are farm-saved seeds, while only a third are bought from the commercial seed companies. Small farmers prefer the so-called “informal” seed system because the seeds are affordable, available and reliable. Commercial seeds are expensive, only available for mainstream crops like maize and vegetables, and often found to be fake, failing to germinate when planted.
Yet the smallholder farmers are encouraged by extension staff to drop their seed saving practices and buy ‘improved’ seeds from the stockists. Government policy is focused on facilitating the seed companies to take over seed supply to the nation, with new laws and policies that support and protect the seed companies, while marginalizing small farmers’ seed-saving practice.
Tabio is working to support farmers and make their voices heard by the policy makers and donors who drive the commercial seed agenda. The farmers are calling for government to:
- Educate farmers to improve the productivity of local seeds
- Improve the QDS quality declared seed system for seed security
- Recognise that local seeds are a forgotten treasure
- Abolish the distribution of fake seeds
The farmers are calling on their local politicians and decision makers to:
- Use crop cess (local tax) to improve QDS provision
- Stop fake seeds, and compensate farmers
- Improve the farmer-managed seed system to enhance farmers' seed rights and security
- Involve farmers and recognize farmers’ views in the seed law making process
Tabio’s current work includes a comprehensive study of the farmer managed seed sector in Tanzania, organizing meetings to bring together seed savers with government officials, supporting farmers to lobby their local politicians and decision makers, and a documentary film to bring farmers' seed rights to a national audience.
The African Centre for Biodiversity have developed a collection of informative posters on seeds:
Rights of Farmers (Swahili) -Haki za Wakulima: Download here
|Farmers' rights and the seed treaty : Download here||Haki za Wakulima na mkataba wa mbegu: Pakua hapa|
|Farmer-Managed Seed Systems in Africa: Download here||Mifumo ya Mbegu Inayosimamiwa na Wakulima Barani Afrika: Pakua hapa|
|What is Plant Variety Protection (PVP) and Protected Varieties?: Download here||Ulinzi wa Aini za Mmea/ Mbegu na Aina Zinazolindwa ni Nini?: Pakua hapa|
In 2015, the Bureau for Agriculture Consultancy and Advisory Service (BACAS) of the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) were commissioned by TOAM to study Farmer Managed Seed Systems (FMSS) in Tanzania. The Study can be found here: Download here