Posted: 17-03-2017 | by: Gachie Gituanja
The onus of food insecurity has generally been on increasing production of certain crops varieties such as maize, wheat and potatoes. The diversity within these varieties has been lost as research turns towards more uniform and stable seeds. This approach to food insecurity is a perfect breeding ground to corporate controlled agriculture, Monocultures, farming of commodities and the NPK mentality.
Agri-chemicals and seeds companies have continually brain washed farmers and the society alike that hybrids and genetically modified (mutilated) seeds as the lasting and only solution to our food security situation. The view that soils are an empty container that needs Nitrogen Potassium and Phosphorous - NPK mentality.
Governments have stepped aside and invited seeds corporations as advisers and key players in the fight against hunger, malnutrition, food related illnesses and poverty.
Instead of overturning the very structures that generate hunger and malnutrition governments are working in cahoots with the seeds corporations to reinforce institutions and policies that are the present world root cause of the agrarian crisis being experienced.
In Kenya for example recent legislations are purely meant to persecute SHF and deny them the right to produce food in a sustainable manner and in line with culture and Indigenous Knowledge.
1. Crops varieties Act
2. Seeds Act
3. Agriculture Fisheries and Food Act (AFFA)
4. Anti-counterfeit Law
The above laws are tailored to make a conducive environment for agribusiness- to exploit profits from the bottom of the pyramid through sale of seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals. Put differently these are laws by and for a minority (Du point, Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto) to oppress, exploit and enslave a majority- Small Holder Farmers.
Since 2006, more than 100 new, drought tolerant maize varieties and hybrids have been developed and released across 13 countries by Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Initiative (DTMA), funded by Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation, The Howard Buffett Foundation, USAID and the UK Department for International Development(DFID). Each of these new varieties is adapted to local requirements, including cooking and milling, pest and diseases resistance. The seed developers claim that field trials yielded 35% more grain than those previously grown by farmers.
The best hybrid is claimed to have out-yielded even the most popular commercial variety by 26%. Field visits and farmers experiences in Kenya showed an antithesis of performance these seeds varieties are advertised - hybrids performed dismally in the wake of drought.
The recent drought experienced due to failure of short rains of October –November –December of 2016 has seen massive crop failure whereby the much advertised and expensive hybrids failed to meet farmers expectations putting to shame years of plant breeders research, earning huge profits to seed companies and this is a repetition of crop failures in 2008/2009 droughts.
The seeds companies are using the media to deceive farmers that their seeds will actually help Kenya fight hunger and malnutrition. In a news segment on citizen TV 9pm news on February 8th https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJhVp5b7DaE clearly showed how biased the media can be when big money is involved.
Farmers who have succeeded under the current drought conditions in other parts of the country without necessary using commercial seeds and rely on simple technologies such as mulching should also get a chance to tell the world that alternatives also work.
A case in point is this farmer in Githunguri who despite the erratic rains in the area was able to produce a good crop of maize by building soil organic matter mulching to conserve the little water in the soil.
We are not opposed to science but we want science that works with us not science that is based on corruption, deceit and dictatorship!!!