Southern Africa: SADC Seeks to Restore Lost Indigenous Seed Varieties


SADC Seeks to Restore Lost Indigenous Seed Varieties., IT is undeniable that seeds play a fundamental role of sustaining food security and nutrition across the world. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN), describes seeds as the primary basis for human sustenance.

SADC Seeks to Restore Lost Indigenous Seed Varieties, As a key agricultural input, seeds support the livelihoods of farmers and rural communities. They contribute to sustainable resource use and climate change adaptation. Without seeds, farmers cannot grow crops to feed different countries, a situation which would result in food insecurity. However, indigenous seeds and crops face a threat of extinction because various factors such as climate change, modernisation and extensive land clearance, among others. Crop diversity has disappeared from farmers’ fields due to the spread of new, deadly pests and diseases, extreme weather conditions, wars and change in food preference where people neglect native crop species. Gladly, not all hope is lost particularly in the 16-member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). This is because the regional block is currently preserving seeds varieties that may no longer be available in member states. Indigenous species are important not only for consumption but also for traditional uses, such as medicine. In 1989, the SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC) was established to conserve all genetic resources in the region for the benefit of member countries.

SADC Seeks to Restore Lost Indigenous Seed Varieties, Located in Zambia’s Chongwe District, the SPGRC coordinates collection, conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic diversity for the benefit of present and future generations in Southern Africa. SPGRC works with National Plant Genetic Resources Centres (NPGRCs) in each of the SADC states to contribute to food security and improved livelihoods and coordination of all activities. The SPGRC, also known as the ‘seed bank’, works by improving plant genetic resources information management and makes information easily available through a web-based documentation and information system accessible to all SADC countries and other stakeholders across the world. Currently, the national centres collectively hold more than 62 accessories of plant genetic material collected from local farms and in the wild. Preservation of plant stocks is achieved through collection, documentation and long term storage of seed samples and other plant parts, known as accessions. More specifically, an accession is a unique entry in a gene bank collection. It represents a distinct genotype or plant variety as collected at a specific location and time. When an accession is collected, basic information about it is gathered and such information may include its local name, allocation of unique collection number, date of collection and village name, among others.

SADC Seeks to Restore Lost Indigenous Seed Varieties, Such information about the collection sample is important for the unique identification of the samples in its subsequent use by various stakeholders and possibly linking it with its original source. The work of the SPGRC is in line with the SADC Protocol on Agriculture. The protocol promotes sustainable agriculture development in the region and enhances food security even in the wake of climate change.So far, the centre has managed to restore Kadononga variety in Lukwipa Village of Southern Province in Zambia. It also restored the Bambara nut variety in Rufunsa District in Zambia in addition to hosting students and farmers. The Zambian gene bank has further embarked on a programme to duplicate vegetatively- propagated species that do not produce seeds, like sweet potatoes and cassava. The SPGRC has already planted 260 different varieties of sweet potatoes from the 10 provinces of Zambia. According to SPGRC Head Justify Shava, the centre has 63,000 accession or unique varieties of seeds in its storage from different SADC member states. Dr Shava thanked the Government of Zambia for providing 86 hectares of land for the facility in Chongwe. He said all staff, equipment and other facilities at the centre are being funded by SADC countries. Dr Shava said in Chongwe recently when SPGRC hosted this year’s SADC Day commemoration in Zambia under the theme; “Safeguarding Plant Diversity for Sustainable Livelihoods.”

Source: This news is originally published by allafrica



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