Under the motto "Feeding life, in Freedom and Sovereignty", From Sunday July 26 to August 1 took place the"Continental Week of Native and Creole Seeds”. In various regions of our continent, this date marks the beginning of sowing, and on August 1, the day of Pachamama is celebrated, considered the owner of crops and life.
According to the announcement of the call for the initiative, the Continental Week of Native and Creole Seeds is a “recognition of peasant and indigenous communities, who have known how to conserve and multiply the ancient wisdom that each seed contains, producing healthy food, in harmony with nature”.
The event is mainly promoted by the Agroecological Movement of Latin America and the Caribbean (MAELA) and has been held since 2015. According to Enso Ortt, a member of the Organic Agriculture Network of Misiones (RAOM) and of MAELA Argentina, “That year, the continental week took place in response to the corporate power of the multinationals that tried, once again, to influence the National Congress to approve a modification of the Seed Law.”.
He added: "In this critical context, several organizations were getting together and thinking about what strategies we can give ourselves to cope. Although grassroots work had already been carried out in the organizations that have to do with the protection, the exchange through fairs, we were lacking articulation, which would allow us from the communicational point of view to transmit to the rest of society the importance they have native and creole seeds”.
This year the challenge was presented to make the week crossed by the coronavirus pandemic that, according to the statement “reveals the serious consequences to world health that occur when the natural balance is broken, when limits are crossed, when ties and respectful relationships between human beings and the environment are broken”.
Given the difficulty of being able to carry out many of the territorial activities that are usually carried out, this time the program includes webinars (seminars carried out via the web), dissemination videos where it is revealed what are the problems that seeds are going through today in our country, and also some local seed fairs, in those places where it is possible to carry them out with the corresponding sanitary measures.
One of the webinars that took place on Wednesday, July 29, was called “Defense and protection of native and creole seeds for food sovereignty”. It was coordinated by Patricia Lizárraga from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and Javier Souza Casadinho from RAAPAL, and participated by Alicia Alem from MAELA, Santiago Sarandón from the Argentine Society of Agroecology (SAAE), Silvia Ferreira (ISEPSI) and Alberto Chiavarino from the Rural Family Agriculture Secretariat. Indigenous (SAFCI), who raised the challenges that are being considered by the State to advance in the improvement, protection, multiplication and exchange of native and creole seeds. Likewise, the federal video “moving seeds”.
Misiones is the epicenter of activities. There has long existed a space for articulation in which various social organizations of producers participate; and state called "Movement for peasant seeds”, From where this week is being organized in a local key and has two initiatives. On the one hand, the holding of some local seed exchange fairs in those places where there are free trade fairs, local markets where producers come every Saturday to offer their products to the cities.
On the other hand, the traveling basket called "Traveling seeds pollinating sovereignty”. A novel proposal that consists of seeds that are transferred in a kind of post between towns and farms of farmers so that exchanges can take place there. He or the one who receives the basket can provide seeds, while looking for the ones he or she needs.
For Enso, “This gave us a lot of joy because we were traveling from the Iguazú area to the center of the province, showing how important exchanges are since producers need to stock up on seeds. Missionary seeds want to move and are moving”. As a complement to this, for Silvia Gonzalez, farmer, guardian of seeds, and member of the Agroecological Network of Missionary Women (RAMMi), it is highly valuable that the seeds have reached the hands of farmers who had never participated in fairs before. seeds, nor did they have the practice of saving them.
Importance of native and creole seeds
Since the birth of agriculture, male and female farmers have produced and reproduced their own seeds. The selection and improvement process was in their hands, who repeatedly saved and exchanged different seeds for the following seasons with other producers. They are the basis of food production, and therefore, they are central both for agricultural producers, and for those who inhabit urban and peri-urban spaces. They are also the basis of agrobiodiversity, and this has become a strategic wealth to be exploited and controlled.
FAO recognizes in its 1996 report on Plant Genetic Resources that in just sixty years we have lost 75% of the agricultural seeds that humanity generated during 10,000 years. For Carlos Vicente, from the GRAIN organization, this is an Ecocide that is responsible for industrial agriculture that advances in the privatization of seeds, deepens its corporate control through intellectual property rights, destroys territories, dispossesses communities and prevents native and creole seeds from multiplying.
This week it is proposed to value seeds and the need to create mechanisms so that they continue to be developed and shared. For Silvia, “when we talk about caring for native and creole seeds, we are talking about caring for the entire natural, social and political environment, our community, food, we are caring for life ”. And in this process, the role of women will be central “and we want to strengthen it, raise awareness, be united. That is why we created the network”.
For Vicente, “it is very important this week because we need to put the issue of seeds at the center of the debate, basically for two reasons. First, we have to consider them a common good as much as water, air, land. Agricultural seeds are the only opportunity we have to feed ourselves, and taking care of them is a responsibility that we have as a society, putting those who have historically taken care of it at the center: native peoples, peasant communities, peasant farmers. Second, we must protect these seeds from the predation that corporations are producing on them.”.
Once the pandemic is over, "We are challenged to make the seed fairs come back with more force, and we will once again have living examples of biodiversity that the peoples have maintained for thousands of years. The climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis will not be able to be faced if we do not have varied seeds and producers who take care of them, multiply them, exchange them and produce them”.
Source: Popular Journalism Notes