Seed Rights for Smallholder Farmers

The majority of smallholder farmers are depending on the use the seeds from informal seed systems. In Tanzania, 83% of smallholder farmers use seeds from the informal seed system while the formal seed system supplies only 17% of the seeds used by smallholder farmers (Agricultural Sample Census 2007/2008). Tanzanian smallholder farmers produce an average of 95% of the national food demand. Thus there is a need of recognizing the relatively large potential of the informal seed system in the country and the need for encouraging, supporting and improving this system for income, food and nutrition security.

Although the majority of the smallholder farmers use seed from the informal system, there is limited understanding and recognition of the importance of local knowledge in seed management, and limited understanding of the state of the agro-biodiversity from which seed is drawn, and the implications of this for future seed and food security. Moreover, stakeholders do not acknowledge the linkage and functioning of local seed systems and its importance in the formal seed system.

The program hypothesis is that if farmer owned seed system, and indigenous knowledge in seed management is promoted then seed sovereignty, income, food security will be ensured resulting into preservation and conservation of seed-biodiversity. In this program PELUM Tanzania intends to strengthen the capacity of its Member organizations in seed production and management. In turn member organizations will facilitate smallholder farmers to produce and use quality seeds in their respective localities. Moreover, PELUM Tanzania will advocate for the seed legal framework that recognizes smallholder farmers’ seed rights.

Farmer owned seed system ensures diversity of seeds; diversity of strategies to access seeds (own multiplication, seed exchanges, seed sharing, buying from local markets/neighbours); fair seed price from local markets; and timely availability of quality seeds to smallholder farmers. This contributes to income, food and nutrition security as well as the preservation and conservation of agro-biodiversity.

Our Seeds, Our Life