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Letters: Ensuring Africa’s food security through availability of quality seeds

Opinion & Analysis
The loss of biodiversity, particularly plant genetic variety, has decreased dramatically posing a risk to farmers and threatening food security.

Ensuring Africa’s food security through availability of quality seeds ACCORDING to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, about 75% of plant genetic variety has been lost since the 1900s.

The loss of biodiversity, particularly plant genetic variety, has decreased dramatically posing a risk to farmers and threatening food security.

As a result of this loss, humans have less variety in the foods they can eat today and if nothing is done to stop the decline, we can only expect worse in the years to come.

If anything goes wrong in food security say for Kenya, which is East Africa’s investment hub, it can be a snowball.

Worsened by the situation between Russia and Ukraine, Kenya is feeling the heat as staples are becoming a luxury for many.

There is not enough maize or wheat in the country and cooking oil is becoming rare. It is not only Kenya, but many other countries, Zimbabwe included.

This is just a tip of the iceberg since this challenge could be avoided with policies that empower farmers.

Many countries are digging themselves into a hole with policies that deny farmers the opportunity to grow food freely.

In Kenya, one of these policies is a seed law stating that unregistered and uncertified seeds cannot be shared, traded, or sold. In breach of this, a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine are possible penalties.

Smallholder farmers produce more than 80% of food, while some sections of the legislation are a threat to this, which means some countries face incessant hunger occasioned by law that are nothing, but oppressive.

Such laws confer power to regulate transactions in seeds, including provision for the testing and certification of seeds; for the establishment of an index of names of plant varieties; to empower the imposition of restriction on the introduction of new varieties; to control the importation of seeds; to authorise measures to prevent injurious cross-pollination; to provide for the grant of proprietary rights to persons breeding or discovering new varieties; to establish a tribunal to hear appeals and other proceedings; and for connected purposes.

Only a few people are aware of the entire extent of such laws’ punitive nature, which have remained hidden from the public.

Some government have failed to do what it was supposed to do, which was to make laws to protect the ownership of native seeds, knowledge about these seeds and the intellectual property rights.

The current laws on seeds support neo-colonialism and could make it easy for multinationals, big businesses, and other profit-driven organisations to steal local resources.

Constitutions should make it clear that indigenous seeds, which are also called “informal seeds”, exist and need to be protected.

This is done by requiring Parliament to pass laws that protect the ownership of indigenous seeds.-Exchange

Capital influences government decisions IN response to the article How AirZim can ride out crisis published yesterday, when the coronavirus pandemic took hold here in Canada, I believe that big business was the most influential voice to have the ear of government, when it should have been the independent health-sciences community.

Huge airline companies are powerful, with politically potent lobbyists in Ottawa to ensure their industry can behave the way that is most profitable to them.

The result was resistance against an immediate halt in non-essential travel, including international flights — weeks of delay that may have translated into many additional and needless COVID-19 deaths.

I’ve heard many people ask why there are/were travel restrictions on car trips in Canada while international flights are/were basically unhindered?

I say, perhaps that’s because car travellers, unlike the airlines, don’t have very potent lobbyists in the nation’s capital, also known as Parliament Hill.

Canadian governments (and likely American as well) typically maintain thinly veiled yet strong ties to large corporations, as though elected heads are meant to represent big money interests over those of the working citizenry and poor.

Accordingly, major political decisions will normally foremost reflect what is in big businesses’ best interests, including the airlines, but don’t expect to hear this fact readily reported by the mainstream media, which is concentratedly corporate-owned.

While authoritarian governances like China’s hold much sway over the corporations within their borders (and even without, to some degree), Western governances like those of Canada and the US are essentially steered by corporate interests, sometimes through economic intimidation.

Anyone who doubts the potent persuasion of huge business interests here needs to consider how high-level elected officials can become crippled by implicit/explicit threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability, if corporate “requests” aren’t met.-Frank Sterle Jr

ED must comment on order to terrorise opposition supporters IN a video that seems to have now been pulled down from YouTube, a Zanu PF official is seen addressing a group of people, telling them that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has given them instructions to force people to vote for Zanu PF countrywide.

Those who do not vote for Zanu PF would be dealt with.

This is nothing new. We saw several videos of that nature circulating during the run-up to the 2018 elections.

One would excuse Mnangagwa in the past to think that overzealous Zanu PF officials were taking the law into their own hands, but in the video, the official is very specific that these were instructions from the President, even giving the date when the order was sent. This is certainly not on, Mr President.

The official goes on to say that all headmen suspected to be sympathetic to the opposition would be stripped of their power, a practice that has been witnessed before in Zimbabwe, with Zanu PF allegedly instigating the move.

Now it is all in the public that Mnangagwa’s high office is behind the violence in the country.

In the same video, the official makes it clear that it was Mnangagwa who subverted the people’s will when the MDC-T won the elections in 2008.

It was also him, according to the official, who forced a re-run of the elections so Zanu PF could retain power.

A couple of months ago, Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavima reportedly addressed chiefs in Chirumanzu and pleaded with them to ensure that all headmen campaigned for Zanu PF.

A chief who attended that meeting did not say whether Mavima had been sent by Mnanggagwa to give those instructions, but it is good to know that those things are happening, with or without the President’s knowledge.

Mnangagwa must speak against this, in the same way he alleged opposition “antics” at a national gathering when Citizens Coalition for Change activist Moreblessing Ali was abducted and murdered by a suspected Zanu PF official recently.

This Zanu PF official, who was clearly campaigning for Mnangagwa and his party ahead of the 2023 elections, must face his time in court to show that the law is for everyone and no political party is bigger than the supreme law of the land.

The world patiently awaits Mnangagwa’s response to this.-Kennedy Kaitano

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