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PRESS RELEASE: Monday 6 July 2015

TANZANIAN CIVIL SOCIETY URGES GOVERNMENT TO HALT ADOPTION OF ARIPO PROTOCOL – THREATENING NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY AND FARMERS SEED RIGHTS

Twenty-two civil society organisations that make up the Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity call on Government to halt the adoption of the controversial ARIPO protocol planned for Ministerial signature in Arusha on Tuesday 7 July.

Nineteen African nations, members of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), are meeting in Arusha to agree an international seed protocol that will take away national powers to regulate seed breeders, and criminalise farmers rights to save, share and exchange farm-saved seeds.

The Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO) expresses serious concerns that this process overrides national sovereignty by placing ARIPO above national law. The protocol threatens national food security as 75% of Tanzanian farmers depend on farm-saved seed for their agricultural production. The commercial seed system focuses on just a few cash crops and weakens the rich and important agricultural biodiversity managed and maintained by Tanzanian small farmers. The Tanzanian farming community cannot accept a policy made behind closed doors with no representation of small farmers or their associations.

The increased focus on commercial seed supply fails to address core issues. Rather than criminalise small farmers from using farm-saved seed, government should focus on stamping out the criminal activity of sellers of fake commercial seeds, which are wasting farmers’ money and time, and reducing their ability to feed their families and the nation. Over 75% of seeds planted in Tanzania are farm-saved seed. The commercial seed industry exists alongside the farmer managed seed system, but cannot be allowed to simply switch it off by legislating farm-saved seed out of existence.

As a member of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, TABIO endorses the strong position taken by AFSA calling on African Governments to reject this protocol.

Therefore, TABIO calls upon Tanzanian Government to halt this hasty process of adoption of the ARIPO protocol. This crucial decision must be delayed until a transparent and participatory consultation is carried out with farmers, farmers associations and civil society. The sovereignty of Tanzanian law and the rights of millions of Tanzanian farmers cannot be abandoned merely to satisfy commercial interests.

Ends

Contact: Abdallah Ramadhani Mkindi, TABIO Coordinator.

Email: tabiosecretariat@gmail.com, Tel: +255 784 311 179

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

 The ARIPO Protocol aims to establish a centralised plant variety protection (PVP) regime modeled on the heavily criticised 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991). Such a PVP regime will vest enormous decision-making powers in the ARIPO PVP Office and totally undermine the sovereignty of member states to regulate plant breeder’s rights. Crucially, the Protocol will nullify the rights of farmers to freely save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material. This practice is the backbone of agricultural systems in Africa, providing food and nutrition for hundreds of millions of Africans on the continent.                                                               http://www.aripo.org

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is a continental voice for food sovereignty. AFSA is a broad based alliance of African regional farmers' networks and African NGO networks to bring greater continental cohesion to an already developing food sovereignty movement in Africa.   http://afsafrica.org

Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO) is an alliance of civil society and private sector organizations concerned with the conservation of agricultural biodiversity for livelihood security and food sovereignty. TABIO Members include: ACRACCS, ActionAid International Tanzania, African Biodiversity Network, African Centre for Biodiversity, Biolands, BioRe, BioSustain, Community Water & Environmental Association (COWEA), CVM/APA (Comunità Volontari per il Mondo / AIDS partnership with Africa), Envirocare, ESAFF, MVIWATA, PELUM Tanzania, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania, Swissaid Tanzania, TANCERT, Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement, Tushiriki, The Vijiji Foundation.                                                     http://envaya.org/TABIO

 

 

 

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