The floods, arising from excessive rains and from the cyclones Eline and Gloria during the 1999/2000 season inflicted some of the countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region destroying the agricultural base of farming communities, including crop losses. This disaster is leaving the affected communities with almost no hope of any harvest and eroding the traditional local seed supply system. This situation has led to responses from International Aid Agencies in many ways including emergency food supplies.
Crucial after the floods in Southern Africa is to rebuilt the agriculture in order to restore food security in the affected regions. Thus, the aid activities are expected to go beyond emergency operations to those aimed at addressing the restoration of livelihood systems, in particular agriculture. The most obvious intervention for agricultural restoration is the supply of appropriate and locally adapted quality seed and planting material to enable farmers plant in the next cropping season.
In view of the above, the SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC) in Zambia and Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), a local NGO based in Zimbabwe together with the Germany based Stiftung Umverteilen (Foundation Redistribution), in March 2000 launched an initiative, calling for a short, medium, and long term approach in order to restore a sustainable agriculture.
As part of this "Seed Initiative" an open letter was issued and mailed out widely in order to draw the attention of regional and international bodies in disaster relief and developmental assistance to the impact of the importation of inappropriate seeds and to co-ordinated efforts imperative to reconstitute the various agricultural systems (see open letter at: http://www.snafu.de/~usp/seed-ini.htm). Moreover, as a first response to the disaster, an immediate review study on local seed stocks in the region was initiated with the aim of making this information available for i.e. organisations in the relief sector.
This survey was meant to help avoid the introduction of inappropriate crop varieties, including genetically modified varieties, which may be a threat to local production systems, biodiversity and ecology.
It is hoped that the information herewith provided on seed stock availability will be utilised by the Aid Agencies that are involved in the procurement and supply of seeds to the affected areas.
We are most grateful to all people who have contributed information and helped to compile the data for this report.
The information in this study can be used freely as long as it is for non-profit purposes.
As for any quotation please refer to this paper and its initiators.