COSPE Seed Bank Launch at KaLanga

Fig 1.1: A Small Scale farmer from Rural Women Assembly, explaining the seeds during the seed bank launch.

PELUM Eswatini had an opportunity for Member and Partner Organizations, to visit COSPE Seedbank Launch at Kalanga. The seed bank is a strategic way or place where farmers keep their indigenous seed varieties for storage and multiplication that they get in small quantities for household use.

Kalanga is an area located in the Lubombo region in the Lowveld, where one of our member organizations, COSPE, is operating. In this dry area, which is drought-stricken, COSPE works with farmers at the household level and conducts trials and experiments aimed at determining which crop and seed varieties can do better under the little rainfall the community receives. The trials are conducted on crops such as; maize, sorghum, beans, and cowpeas. In each of the above-mentioned crops, there is more than one variety where the tests were done. The gene bank, under the Department of Agricultural Research Specialist Services, played a major role in providing the different seeds to the farmers to test and multiply.

Fig 1.2: Mr. Nelson Mavuso (Director under the Ministry of Agriculture) listened to farmers during the launch, inside the community seed bank at Kalanga.

This area being in the Lowveld, where rainfall is scarce, most farmers had reached a point whereby they were giving up on planting any crops due to the high failure rate. However, through the inter but after this intervention with COSPE, they have since changed their minds. This event was honored by the presence of the Director at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Nelson Mavuso. COSPE works with several communities; Tikhuba, Mambane, Lukhetseni, and other communities in the outskirts of the Lubombo region.

After trying out the different seeds, the farmers have been able to determine which varieties are suitable for their local community’s climatic conditions. PELUM also facilitated the transportation of some farmers from Member Organizations to witness the launch of the first Seed Bank at Kalanga RDA. The aim of the launch is for other communities is to practice farmer-managed seed systems. Indeed, members were inspired and acknowledged such an opportunity to learn and improve food security at the household level for Small Scale farmers.

The Director of Agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Nelson Mavuso, assured farmers that as a Ministry they are willing to support them in whatever way they can.

Fig1.1: The Director of Agriculture visiting stalls of local varieties, displayed by farmers from Eswatini Rural Women’s Assembly (ERWA) during the RDA Seedbank Launch.

This initiative will assist that every household has enough food to feed their families and stop relying on food aid from other countries. This event was a marvel to watch as numerous small-holder farmers from nearby communities came to attend the event. Small Holder Farmers from Member Organizations also indicated a strong desire to establish their own seed banks upon returning to their respective communities. It showed positive feedback because the main aim of such activities is to see more farmers storing and multiplying seed varieties at the household level. This is a great way to improve food security in the Kingdom of Eswatini. This goal can be only achieved through access to the right seed varieties that are adapted to local climatic conditions.