… Project also promotes agroecology backyard gardens
PELUM Swaziland has embarked on an exciting new project that seeks to build resilient seed systems across Eswatini through the promotion of locally adapted farmer saved seeds, their storage, and multiplication as well as through promotion of agroecology as a low cost and environmentally sustainable method of food production.
Through working with our member organisations that have operations in the rural communities, we observed that in recent years, agricultural productivity in Eswatini has remained low due to the degradation of our agricultural soils as well as a lack of knowledge on ecological farming practices and the unavailability of locally adapted seed varieties.
Furthermore, there is a definite gap in knowledge among smallholder farmers on the beneficial use and distribution of local OPV seed instead of the hybrid seed varieties that need to be purchased each year.
Seed is complex and has rich connections and linkages with food security, ecology, poverty, vulnerability, national sovereignty. Saving seed can create a base for food supply for smallholder farmers and the basis of their understanding of seasonal cycles for planting.
We are working with our member organisation to pilot a seed project with 300 farmers across several Tinkhundla by assisting them to multiply OPV seed, practice seed selection and storage as well as revive the practice of seed sharing and exchange among Eswatini farmers.
This project aims to help farmers also move away from the farming practices currently in use which largely fail to make efficient use of resources such as nutrients, water, and energy. This was noticed to directly increase farmers’ dependence on external inputs such as fertilizers.
Furthermore, GMO crops are being proposed as the magic bullet to address the problems of agriculture and food security. However, recent studies have shown that this approach to agriculture is not sustainable ecologically, socially or economically.
PELUM Swaziland has therefore taken the initiative and engaged member organizations to distribute start-up seed and a variety of start-up seedlings to 300 farmers across the country.
These are maize seeds and bean seeds as well as 100 seedlings per farmer. Through the seeds and seedlings distribution, which consisted beetroot, cabbage, spinach, onions, and lettuce, it is anticipated that each farmer will develop a household seed bank and improve their backyard gardens for household food security.
This project will go a long way in promoting the availability of indigenous seed varieties and crops in communities thus leading to more nutritious diets and increased resilience of households to drought and other effects of climate change.