News / Africa

In Southern Africa, Small Farmers Fight for Recognition

Farmers selling maize after harvest in Malawi's northern district of Karonga. (VOA / T. Kumwenda) Farmers selling maize after harvest in Malawi's northern district of Karonga. (VOA / T. Kumwenda)
Farmers selling maize after harvest in Malawi's northern district of Karonga. (VOA / T. Kumwenda)
Farmers selling maize after harvest in Malawi's northern district of Karonga. (VOA / T. Kumwenda)
Lameck Masina
Groups representing small-scale farmers, rural women and social activists from the countries of the Southern African Development Community, SADC, are asking the regional bloc to consider stop giving what they say is “red carpet” treatment to multilateral corporations at the expense of the poor.

The call is included in a joint statement issued by the Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmer’s Forum and People’s Dialogue which says the region is facing ongoing challenges and a deepening crisis due to neo-liberal economic policies. 

 “Elite and transnational corporate capture and control of people’s basic means of production like land, water and seed is escalating. Natural resources are increasingly being privatized due to the myriad of investment agreements our governments have entered into with corporations, western governments and the "new comers" -- emerging  economies from the South, like the BRICS,” reads the statement.

They say land has been massively grabbed in almost all SADC countries and the agribusiness model is destroying peasant-family agriculture, the only proven sustainable and ecologically friendly model and that can produce the most of food for SADC countries. 

The social movements of the region also say the decisions made during the SADC summits that would benefit the people are not being implemented.
They give an example of the 2008 Maputo Declaration, in which African governments committed to spend 10 percent of their annual budgets to support small-scale farmers to develop their agriculture, saying it is far from being a reality in most or all of SADC countries.

“Instead, we  see SADC been influenced by South African’s commercial agricultural  model based on cash crops for export, undermining local market  development in South Africa and the rest of the region,” says the statement.

A board member of the Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmer’s Forum Grace Tepula from Zambia told VOA that  the problem with SADC governments is that they take more care of the people from developed countries who come into the country ‘to deplete our resources’ in terms of investments.

“You would find that here is our ancestral land where we are farming, we have staying in those land for many years.  Here comes the multinational company and we are told to move away because they want to mine -- forgetting that we are the people that are contributing to the food basket in the region for our families and for our neighbors,” she says.

Tepula, who is also a member of Rural Women Assembly, says rural farmers need to continue using traditional seeds and not those supplied by extension services which she says do not last long.

“So our concern from our experience as a rural farmers are the challenges we [face] like land grabbing, lack of water, the indigenous seeds that are being moved away replaced  by other seeds that are being introduced on the market  in our countries and in the region as a whole,” she says.

But the SADC new chairperson President Joyce Banda of Malawi says she will capitalize on her chosen theme of the summit –   which focuses on agriculture – to boost small scale farming in the region.

Agriculturalists say new improved seeds are a solution to the lack of water and vulnerability to insects and other diseases.  They say modern seeds are also higher yielding.

Listen to Masina interview with Grace Tepula of Zambia
Listen to Masina interview with Grace Tepula of Zambiai
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs