“Whoever controls seeds, controls the food system”

Africa’s seeds are under threat from corporate control.

For generations, small farmers have been able to save and swap seeds. This involves keeping seeds from current or past harvests and storing them away for the next planting season or swapping them with other farmers. This vital practice is based on knowledge passed through generations enabling farmers to keep a wide range of seeds, knowing which ones are best suited for different climate conditions and which are resilient to crop disease.

But this freedom to keep and save seed is under increasing threat by corporations who want to take more control over seeds. Around 90% of seed planted by farmers in the global South comes from farmer-saved seeds and so it no surprise that big seed companies see vast market potential in Africa.

Corporate-produced hybrid seeds often produce higher yields when first planted, but the second generation seeds will produce low yields and unpredictable crop traits, making them unsuitable for saving and storing. This means that instead of saving seeds from their own crops, farmers who use hybrid seeds become completely dependent on the seed companies that sell them and have to buy them year after year. Often the seeds are sold in packages with chemical fertiliser and pesticides which can lead to spiralling debt as well as damaging the environment and causing health problems.

Seed laws, like Ghana’s proposed ‘Monsanto law’ would restrict farmer’s freedom to save and swap seeds.   This legislation is part of Ghana’s commitment to the UK-backed New Alliance aid initiative which is accelerating seed law changes in the African New Alliance countries.

Philanthropic organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are also supporting the promotion of corporate seeds in Africa which also threaten to displace farmers’ seeds.

Stand in solidarity with small farmers everywhere who are fighting for their rights to seeds.