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30 January, 2017

Tanzanian farmers are facing heavy prison sentences if they continue their traditional seed exchange!

In order to receive development assistance, Tanzania has to give Western agribusiness full freedom and give enclosed protection for patented seeds. “Eighty percent of the seeds are being shared and sold in an informal system between neighbors, friends and family. The new law criminalizes the practice in Tanzania,” says Michael Farrelly of TOAM, an organic farming movement in Tanzania.

Brutal corporate onslaught against third world - Part 4 - Removal of trade barriers

An additional problem is that the seeds of foreign companies are not always adapted to the local climate. “What works in Utrecht doesn’t necessarily work in Zanzibar,” says Michael Farrelly. Tanzania alone has five different climate zones. “Even the region of Morogoro has different climate zones,” says Janet Maro.

Yet soon it will be easier for seeds from different regions to enter the country, and other African countries are on the way to follow Tanzania’s example. In 2015, eighteen African countries signed the Arusha Protocol for the protection of new plant varieties.

The purpose is that all countries would try to work on eliminating the trade barriers and incorporate intellectual property rights on seeds in their legislation, in order to achieve a harmonized regional system. Among others, the Community Plant Variety Office, an EU agency for the protection of plant varieties as intellectual property, invariably takes part in all meetings related to the Protocol.

Syngenta believes that these measures will help advance Africa: “We are pleased that it is finally going in the right direction after years of negotiations,” says Kinyua M’Mbijjewe. “The EU has a harmonized policy regarding the seeds that are allowed to be brought into another country. In Africa this doesn’t exist. You could not bring seeds from Kenya over the border to Tanzania, an area with the same climate zone. Africa’s trade barriers have not pushed forward the farmers and the economy.

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Big corporations are grabbing huge cultivable areas especially in the developing countries in order to control food production.

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