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Seed libraries: The iZindaba Zokudla Farmers’ Lab 13 August 2021

In 2017 iZindaba Zokudla had the opportunity to workshop seed libraries. As I was organizing this Lab, I scouted far and wide, and also developed a single sheet with all the information needed to start a seed library. I am posting this document in a separate blog on this site. This contained all the essential information on starting a seed library and please do take a look! : https://www.izindabazokudla.com/post/the-basics-of-a-seed-library

A seed library has much to do with the administration of the seeds, cataloguing them and storing them. The “lending” of seeds is also tricky, as the lender must come back with sufficient stock after harvest to keep the library going, and we workshopped all of this in the Lab. I will touch on these basics again in my introduction o the lab on Friday.

In this Virtual Lab we will be hosting Mr Peter Silinda, who emerged as a leading figure in establishing seed libraries in his immediate community and in South Africa. In 2017, a few days before the actual Lab was to take place, I received a call from Ronnie Vernooy from Bioversity International (please see: https://www.bioversityinternational.org/). They aim at assisting others to set up “community seed banks” and please see: https://www.bioversityinternational.org/e-library/publications/detail/how-to-develop-and-manage-your-own-community-seed-bank-farmers-handbook-establishing-a-commu/

Ronie Vernooy agreed to participate in the Lab on short notice and this was very valuable. He brought along many others, and we hosted him, officials from the then Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries and others. Consequently, on the 13th of May 2017 we had activists from the African Centre for Biodiversity, the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries and Bioversity International and others, notably Tracy Ledger, in the lab and we discussed the establishment of seed libraries.

The momentum that this created led to many others taking action. On the 5th of August, we hosted a few leading activists in the Lab who alerted us to the opportunity to participate in a public information session in Bronkhorstspruit organised by Parliament on new seed Bills. From this meeting, quite a few farmers active in the Lab were able to travel to Bronkhorstspruit to make a submission in a Parliamentary public information session on the Bills, and we thank the African Centre for Biodiversity and the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign for this. Claire Rousell published on this and please see her https://www.acbio.org.za/sites/default/files/2017/08/Seed_Capture_in_South_Africa_A_Threat_to_Seed__Freedom_but_the_Seed_Movement_is_Fighting_Back-.pdf

It is important to note how those involved in these seed libraries moved forward in this regard. iZindaba Zokudla will host Mr Peter Silinda, a seed saver and activist who has collected more than 30 different kinds of indigenous bean seeds. Please stay in touch for more information on this lab. Please Click the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1186569691824715/

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