Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, February 6, 2017

Smallholder farmers and agricultural biodiversity in South Africa

Against the odds, smallholder farmers maintain agricultural biodiversity in South Africa.
©The African Centre for Biodiversity, January 2017. 49 pages

2 February 2017. This report investigates the state of farmer-managed seed systems in rural South Africa.

Through 3 case studies in Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, the report highlights both the fragility and perseverance of smallholder farmers, who continue to maintain agricultural biodiversity and traditional knowledge, in the face of increasing pressure from all sides. Smallholder farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to make end meet in an agricultural sector dominated by large-scale commercial production and corporate value chains.

Multinational corporations dominate seed provision in South Africa, further driving a commercial and industrial Green Revolution agenda. Farmer-managed seed systems, and the diversity of crops and diets that rely on them, are marginalised and neglected in the process.

The research is one step in highlighting the threats and opportunities facing smallholders and biodiversity in an increasingly harsh production environment. ACB will continue working with its partners and smallholder farmers to support and promote sustainable farming practices and farmer-managed seed systems as part of broader objectives to transform seed and food systems in South Africa.

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