Seeding the Future
Photographs by Damian Prestidge
For rural and indigenous communities, seed is an integral part of the fabric of their culture and traditions. Communities across Africa and beyond, have interwoven seed into their customs and rituals for thousands of years. It is often the focal point of rites of passage, of celebration, of birth, marriage and death. The fertile, rejuvenating qualities of seed are seen as symbolic of life itself and of the feminine, life giving qualities of the Earth.
It is because of the inextricable link between seed and cultural practices that for many rural communities, the loss of indigenous seed is followed swiftly by a loss of cultural traditions. The push for genetically modified seed therefore not only threatens bio-diversity, but also cultural diversity. When indigenous seed is lost or made illegal - when corporations introduce genetically modified seed, patented seed - life for rural communities permanently shifts. In place of their naturally fertile, re-producing seed they are sold something altogether different. The genetically modified version of a 'seed' dies after just one yield: this man-made seed may resemble the real thing but is in fact anything but.
Seed is a cycle of life. Once a seed is planted it will burst. This bursting means multiplicity - from one it becomes many. This reflects the continuity of life, so if you cut this cycle, there is no continuity of life. If we will lose the seed - the real, original seed - then we have lost the symbol of life.Mpatheleni Makaulule, Director of the Mupo Foundation
The Gaia Foundation has been working with partners across Africa to revive their understanding of the importance of indigenous seed. Through this process we encourage communities to stand up for their rights to retain their seed by holding seed sharing events and creating community seed banks in order to protect their seeds. Find out more about how Gaia's partners across the African Biodiversity Network are reviving and protecting their indigenous seeds click on the following stories of change Saving Seed in Zimbabwe and Biowatch - Working with small farmers in South Africa.
It was an erosion, now it's an extinction.Gaia associate Dr Vandana Shiva on the threat of the GM industry to the world's indigenous seed populations.