Environmental groups across Egypt have come together to launch a unique event that involves two things you wouldn’t normally put together: seeds and bombing. Campaigners from Nawaya, Nabta, Greenpeace Egypt and 350.org have been busy training activists in the art of seed-bomb production ahead of a guerilla-style gardening event due to take place next Saturday. As well as lots of fun (who doesn’t like moulding shapes with clay!), the event aims to highlight the the importance of local biodiversity and the increased disregard for native Egyptian seeds and crops amongst the agricultural sector. And following the news that Arab Spring countries are at increased of food price hikes in 2013, timing couldn’t be better.
“The food we grow has become increasingly harmful to our health and our local seeds are slowly disappearing while foreign genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s) owned by corporations are replacing them – a threat to our ability to sustain our local food production,” explains the campaign material for Bozoor Balady (translates as ‘local seeds’). “That is why we need you to join us on October 20 to show how fun and easy it can be to grow food-producing plants in our own streets . . !”
About a fortnight ago, a training and seed-bomb production session was held by the Egyptian campaign and another workshop is planned for this Saturday 13th at various locations – you can sign up here. Campaigners say that want to spread the idea of people growing their own food and also encourage people to reclaim their public spaces using native seeds and plants. You can also learn how to make seed bombs here on Instructables.
Seed bombing is form of green guerilla warfare that has been taking place in the West since the 1970s although it recently gained new popularity within often grey and dreary urban landscapes. The practice consists of using clay, native seeds and compost as well as a little water to mush the ingredients together. These seeds bombs are then dropped onto abandoned wastelands and anywhere plants can grow within cities to add a little colour and life.
A campaign leaflet that will be distributed during the event reveals that 10 corporations control and produce 50% of the world’s seeds. As such, Egyptian farmers have found themselves at the mercy of these agri-business companies who also control processing transportation and sale of their products. Bozoor Balady is therefore campaigning to promote local seed production and a return to sustainable agricultural practices.
The issue of seed patenting, which is also raised by the campaign, makes it illegal for farmers to save and exchange seeds as they are ‘owned’ by certain companies. This is a real threat to farmers’ ability to grow food sustainably and also undermines the natural resilience that comes with having a greater diversity of seeds. As Vandana Shiva, the world renowned campaigner on seed freedom explains:
“The last twenty years have seen a very rapid erosion of seed diversity and seed sovereignty, and the rapid concentration of control over seed by a very small number of giant corporations. Besides displacing and destroying diversity, patented GMO seeds are also undermining seed sovereignty, the rights of farmers to grow their own seeds and to save and exchange seed… Patents on seed are ethically and ecologically unjustified because patents are exclusive rights granted for an invention. Seed is not an invention. Life is not an invention.”
:For more on the campaign see the Bozoor Balady Facebook page.
For more on Egypt and climate change:
Arab Spring Countries Face Increased Risk of Food Price Shocks in 2013
Egypt’s Filthy Canals Are Breeding Disease and Discontent
Egyptian Campaigner: ‘Corruption not Climate Awareness is Holding Us Back’
Egypt Environment Activists Fighting Back Over Sinai Red Sea Bridge
::Thanks to Hoda Baraka from Greepeace for getting in touch about the campaign.