Munyi, P. (2022). Current Developments in Seed Laws Harmonisation in Africa. Report to the European Commission. DeSIRA-LIFT. (PDF, 2MB)

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This report reviews the current status of seed laws internationally, at the continental level in Africa, in the EU, in the US as well as international programmes of relevance to seed laws in Africa. The review of EU laws is based on the fact that the EU is a key trading partner with African countries and regional economic blocs and that policy developments in the EU such as the European Green Deal (EGD) are likely to have an impact on seed laws in the EU and beyond. The brief review of US seed laws and US seed programmes in Africa are highlighted with a view to demonstrate other external parties’ actions in influencing seed laws in Africa. This report also reviews the debates informing the status of these laws. These debates revolve around the rights of farmers to save, reuse, and exchange or sell farm-saved seed. Saving, re-using, exchanging or selling farm-saved seed is not only a practice that farmers especially in Africa have been engaging for a long time as a strategy to overcome the challenge of accessing seed, but is also recognized as a farmer right internationally. This practice has contributed immensely towards the conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Further, the report examines the extent to which African farmers participate in the processes for the formulation of seed policies, noting that participation is necessary if seed laws, policies and programmes are to be relevant, effective and sustainable. Promotion of agroecological, healthy and affordable food systems in Africa cannot be achieved without farmers participating in seed policy making processes. These policies include those concerning maintaining the rights of farmers to save, use and exchange farms-saved seeds and harvests of protected as well as indigenous varieties. There is a wide range of treaties, instruments and policies that regulate seed laws at the international level, continental level, regionally in Africa as well as at the national level. The report examines international, continental and regional-level treaties, instruments and policies and attempts to identify activities that DG INTPA F3 could support to maintain and promote farmers’ rights. Indeed, some of the treaties already in existence recognize farmers’ rights or are crafted in a manner that allow for these rights, while others do not at all.