The question has been asked, “Why not just encourage seed saving of their native foods in the communities of Africa”.
I can only speak of the communities where we work in Zambia but I am sure that there are similar problems throughout all of the African countries and other impoverished people’s around the globe.
The people of Zambia do save their own seed, otherwise they would have nothing to eat. This is a seed drying table at a local chiefs mother in-laws home in Mongu. One of the issues is that there is often drought as in 2016 and the plants do not go to seed. I sent a batch of seeds in December but many of them died as the rains did not come until January, not the usual Oct. Nov. Luckily we sent another batch of seeds in January so they were able to successfully grow crops.
Another reason why we send seed from Canada is that the best way to ensure viable seed is to leave it on the plant as long as possible. The people are hungry and often cannot wait that long or animals will eat the harvest before the people have a chance to harvest it.
Governments some times subsidize farmers and provide maize but in 2015 Zambia could not afford to do so and many people suffered through the drought in 2016. http://allafrica.com/view/group/main/main/id/00024498.html
As per the Zambian government we are allowed to send any seed except large quantities of maize. Probably because the whole country is non-GMO.
Another problem is that they eat the same foods over and over again therefore are not getting all of the required nutrients for a long, healthy life. The average mortality age in Zambia is up from 43 to 45 years as of 2012 and in 2015 61.5 years of age. The nurses from UBCO can attest to this as we have met in Mongu where they have been sending nurses http://ubconursesinzambia.blogspot.ca/ for eight years to Lewanika General Hospital.
Staple Foods low in nutrients–
The main staple in Zambia is Nshima https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nshima which is white corn meal whipped to the consistency of a cross between mashed potatoes and dough. The people of Mongu will not make their Nshima from yellow corn which has a higher nutritional value. http://www.fatsecret.com/Diary.aspx?pa=fjrd&rid=4444520
White maize is mostly starch and has little or no carotenoid content. As with most cereal grains, maize is low in calcium content and also low in trace minerals. http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0395e/t0395e03.htm.
Another staple is Cassava, http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/cassava.html , Impwa http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/eggplant.html (African Eggplant, Rape ( Kale) and Tomatoes. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2009.00077.x/full.
The Cassava has to be soaked and rinsed many times otherwise it is toxic and does not have a high nutritional value.
Life Expectancy– The average life expectancy statistics rose in 2012 from 37-43 and in 2015 is 61.5years.http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/zambia-life-expectancy
How does saving seeds in Canada help the poorest communities?
Our goal at SEEDS is to increase the variety of vegetables and fruit in order to increase vitamin and mineral intake, reduce blindness due to lack of vitamin A. http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/vad/en/ and provide food and supplementary, or often, just plain income to families in need.
Our Resource Garden grows a variety of local trees and vegetables such as, Banana, Palm, Umbrella trees, Long leaf Pine, Paw Paw. Rape, Umpwa, tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, sweet & Irish potatoes, cucumbers, garlic, Peri Peri chilies, beans, pumpkins, and white corn.
Hans Rosling has proven that if you help people get out of extreme poverty they will spend excess money on items they cannot produce themselves and better their countries economy.
What we grow!
In Kalabo, which is more remote that Mongu this year we have grown 3225 tomatoe plants. Some were lost due to the drought but it was a decent crop. We have also sent many seeds to Kalabo including yellow corn and sun flower seeds. Mwaluka has now increased his chicken farm from 17 birds to 79 as he grinds the corn & sunflower seeds to feed them. http://sendseedstoafrica.org/tag/kalabo/
I do not have pictures yet due to inaccessibility but have given our manager Mwaluka a camera and hope to go to pick up the SD card in 2017.
Our newest location is Kaoma and here are some pictures.
We have grown Paw Paw ( papaya ) trees from pits from Mexico that produce fruit after one year and Avocado pits from Mexico as well.
We have successfully grown vegetables that the people do not normally grow in Zambia.
Honey Dew Melons, Cantaloupe, also a natural dewormer for goats, pigs and cattle.
Radish-they eat the leaves in their relish with Nshima.
Pommegranate trees-we have sold in the community.
Acorn, Spaghetti and Butternut, Kabocha squash-
Here’s an endearing story that will hopefully touch your heart and demonstrate the importance and positive impact of your donation. Earlier this year, Frederick our manager in Mongu communicated to Joanne via text – our usual form of communication as it had not been financially feasible previously to communicate via email until Conner a 10 year old boy from Germany was able to raise a donation of $700.00 in July 2015 which has allowed us to pay for one year of internet service! Frederick communicated with Joanne one day to let her know their pumpkins weren’t growing very big as he anticipated.
Joanne said they were heavy feeders, and advised him to give them some more compost. When she arrived in Mongu for a visit in April 2014 and he showed her the pumpkins, they were in fact acorn squash! You see, while pumpkins start out growing green and turn orange as they ripen, acorn squash start out orange and turn green – this demonstrates the importance of the catalogs. Fredrick had never seen an acorn squash before, which is why he was confused. Now, the catalog helps him to see what the ripe vegetable looks like.
South African Green Apples- we purchased apples at the local grocery store Shoprite shipped up from South Africa and we saved the seeds. My theory is we can grow any thing that they grow in South Africa, Mexico, Hawaii, Florida and Canada for that matter and we have been doing so since 2011.
Showing farmers that leaving the sweet peppers on the plant longer will allow them to turn red, yellow of orange, thereby increasing sweetness and vitamin content and ensuring a higher price at market. Red peppers are very expensive to buy at the Shoprite grocery store in Mongu town. Previously they would only eat the peppers when they were green as they are hungry and can’t wait.
By recycling seeds that would have otherwise been thrown out or composted, we are implementing a self-sufficient seed bank & tree nursery that provides relevant training for year round agriculture; improves the genetic diversity of local gardens, farms and kitchens and builds resilient healthy food systems and people. We believe that providing villagers with hardier varieties of vegetable seeds, helps them earn more income and reduce food scarcity in their villages, lessening the need to poach animals and decreases the number of human elephant interactions and conflict. Further, the trees we grow and plant help to reforest communities, provide shade, are a source of food, fuel, fertilizer, and assist with controlling the erosion of the soil.
These are just some of the examples of seeds we have sent from Canada and grown in Zambia.
Check out our web site to see more!
So…Why send non-GMO vegetable, fruit & herb seeds to Zambia?
I hope we have answered your question!
Thanks to the generous donations of our partners and volunteers, we have, so far collected, dried, packaged and sent over 4.2 million seeds.
Lets keep up the good work!