“Life begins with the seed germinating…we depend on seed and most of the seed is the seed we will produce, have it, save and use in the next planting season. That’s what most of the farmers in Tanzania still do… It was inherited for generations and generations.” –Janet Maro
The seed exchange system that Maro speaks about is currently under threat in Tanzania. Assistance organizations in that country that are seeking to help small farms also supported regulations that banned seed-sharing – a generations-old practice among small-scale farmers. Tanzania passed legislation that made it illegal to share seeds as a condition for receiving development assistance through the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN). You can read more about the legislation in this article.
In this episode of The Secret Ingredient, we wanted to find out more about this new law, so Raj Patel, Tom Philpott, and Rebecca McInroy called up Janet Maro, head of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT).
Since this show was recorded in December of last year, Maro said that SAT had a seed stakeholders platform, in which farmers met with Tanzanian officials to discuss the ramifications of the law. Although the small-scale farmers gained more clarity about the overall effects of seed-sharing, she says, they still want exemption from penalties as a result of seed-sharing.