This article was drawn from an interview with Anabela Lemos, and conducted, edited, and condensed by Simone Adler.
Mariam is the founder and director of the African Centre for Biodiversity in South Africa.
This is the first in a two-part article with Mariam Mayet. Please check back later in this series for further discussion on how the African Centre for Biodiversity is fighting back effectively to keep seeds in the hands of farmers and out of the multinational corporations’.
Our farmer-managed seed systems in Africa are being criminalized and displaced by a very aggressive green revolution project of corporate occupation by big multinational companies. This violent agrarian transformation is facing profound objection. African farmer organizations are outraged because decisions have been made and imposed on us in a very patronizing, patriarchal way, as if the agrarian vision and solution has been designed for us.
Global coalition of NGOs says murder, intimidation and the devastation of community livelihoods tied to rampant palm oil plantation expansion must be stopped.
Spurred by the recent murder of Guatemalan environmental and human rights defender Rigoberto Lima Choc, a coalition of global human rights and environmental organizations today alerted the world’s biggest palm oil traders of the gross violations of human rights occurring in the palm oil sector in Mesoamerica.
Recent conflicts between companies and communities in Guatemala and other Latin American countries have triggered global efforts to expose bad actors and seek intervention by governments and buyers of palm oil from the region to avoid ongoing human rights violations and environmental destruction.
Mariama Sonko is a farmer and organizer in Casamance, Senegal. She is the National Coordinator of We Are the Solution, a campaign for food sovereignty led by rural women in West Africa.
Traditional, small-holder peasant agriculture is done by women. Women are the ones who save the seeds – the soul of the peasant population. This is to honor what women have inherited from their ancestors: the conservation of seeds as part of their knowledge to care for the whole family and nourish their communities.
The green revolution introduced GMOs in Africa. Technicians and researchers come to tell our producers about agriculture from the outside. They tell us that these modern varieties of [GMO] seeds are going to increase our yield. So we will produce a lot, fill up our stores – but soon we will be sick and in the cemeteries. Isn’t it better to grow less, eat well, have good health, live a long life, and pay attention to the generations to come? We reject agriculture that pollutes with chemicals, pesticides, GMOs.