Regenerating Seed and Food Culture in Africa
Production of culturally appropriate food, that is healthy, nutritious and abundant is slowly but surely making its sound known across the African continent. This is mainly due a wonderful collective of country, regional and pan African movement building towards influencing systems and policy.
For the longest time, the narrative of food and agriculture in Africa has been degraded, with African seeds being labeled as tired, ways of farming as backwards, and a chain of narratives that include Africa being poor and needing “new technologies”. However, farmers are putting their best foot forward in changing the trajectory by using natural, local and biologically regenerative practices to grow food and nourish their families. Most industrial agriculture approaches that are mostly linked with the green revolution in Africa are proving to lead to more hunger and crop failures in the face of unreliable weather patterns due to the climate crises.
Small holder farmer organisations are focusing on building soil health, as a way of creating resiliency, and sustenance for the communities. I am sharing some photos of a seed fair we recently had here in the communities of Hwange National park in Zimbabwe. These farmers live in one of the most difficult landscapes, with about 350-400 ml of rainfall on a good year, a long dry and hostile season which makes it hard for them to grow crops for longer periods. The Seed fair was a celebration of seed, food, culture and indigenous wisdom on seed preservation. It was attended by representatives from 6 villages, the Chief and different leaders.
The theme of this work is founded on generosity and abundance thinking, communities go through a lot of challenges and over time mindsets shift towards scarcity and less connections with the environment around them. Working with farmers to celebrate seeds and food creates a space for just reciprocal relationships between people and between people and their environment.
Farmers are continuously transitioning to growing small local grains that are resilient to the harsh weather and soil conditions.
We use mobile animal enclosures to enrich and build soil, plant mixed crops for resiliency and improved harvest. Farmers harvest 2 times more than they normally would in each plot that has been impacted. This is a win-win-win solution, it is locally cheap, builds soil and nourishes families. Our hope is that eventually farmers will be able to mobilise themselves into bigger groups and continue to impact the broader landscape.
There are a lot of opportunities for communities to connect at country level for cross learning. As we build up momentum to the People’s Food Summit on October 16th, 2022- we are excited that the voices of small holder farmers from across the world will be represented. Regeneration is creating all the connection of the pieces in the puzzle of life, culture, ecology and economies.