It is in Pala that the CROPS4HD team in Chad demonstrated the project as an initiative to show case the importance of peasant seeds in food security and biodiversity preservation. This was done through a two-day fair, on the 20 and 21 December 2022, with the theme “Seed systems, biodiversity and resilience of rural households in Chad to the multiple socio-climatic crises”. The fair was a success because it highlighted the importance and the possibility of public debate in favour of farmers’ seeds, which are still fairly muted in Chad.
The fair brought together more than 300 people representing a wide range of actors: many were obviously farmers as well as representatives of farmers’ organisations and women’s and youth groups. But among the participants were also research institutions, development NGOs, state services, local administrative and traditional authorities as well as representatives from the local media. All these people benefited from the information, communication, awareness-raising and exchange framework during these two days. More than 600 varieties of seeds collected were exhibited and allowed the participants to exchange on the richness of these farmers’ seeds as well as their attachment to the values of these seeds. In addition, some of the farmers offered their visitors the possibility to taste traditional dishes based on local products and NUS (Neglected and Underutilised Species).
The opportunity was seized through several speeches by CROPS4HD project managers but also by the governor of Mayo Kebbi West province to raise awareness on three themes in particular: (1) the place of farmer seeds in the seed system in Chad, (2) an analysis of the seed law in Chad in the light of supranational treaties and conventions, and (3) finally on the stakes and challenges of the seed systems themselves. The enthusiasm and determination were shown by producers-led authorities, state technicians and agents of other structures long held by the government’s political position in favour of the conventional seed system, who now recognize and publicly affirm the importance of the peasant seed system in the food system. Most importantly, they are committed to advocate for the cohabitation of the two systems.
The participants also took this opportunity to draft and make a declaration publicly called “Pala Declaration”, in which they first urged the Government to:
- Respect the commitments of stakeholders according to the paper and conventions related to the rights of farmers and rural workers;
- Initiate a process of participatory review of policies and a harmonised framework of seed laws in Chad to put an end to the devaluation and criminalisation of Peasant Seed Systems;
- Support training and research in the field of agroecology in general and particularly in the establishment of local mechanisms that value and protect the national seed heritage;
Secondly, they are committed to:
- Work collectively and individually to preserve the PSS (Peasant Seed System) and contribute to the development of food biodiversity;
- Preserve cultural values as well as knowledge and skills in seed selection, storage and conservation;
- Participate actively in advocacy for the promotion of the peasant seed system.
These decisions, the interest and involvement of the authorities in the farmer seed system is very encouraging for the future. Indeed, following this first edition, the coordination of SWISSAID Chad has received many positive and encouraging feedbacks. The preparation of a second edition is already underway and will take place in 2023.
Watch a short video (in french) featuring Moirengue Djimadjibaye who attended the fair and shares his impressions on the importance of NUS: