Custodians of seed, food and traditional knowledge for climate change resilience

We need to recognise the central role that rural women play in most traditions, maintaining and enhancing both crop diversity and wild biodiversity across the African continent, together with their associated knowledge systems.

A vast wealth of knowledge about crops, nutrition, medicines, biodiversity, ecosystems, climate change and more, is on the verge of being lost to Africa forever, just when it is most needed. Over millennia, women in most African traditions have played a central role in selecting, storing, and enhancing the diversity of their seeds. To produce food for their families in varying conditions, they developed a sophisticated capacity to understand their ecosystem and the climate, making very accurate calculations as to what to plant in the coming season. The complexity of this knowledge system, the intimate relationship that rural women tend to have with land and seed, and their understanding of the range of needs of the family and the community cannot be underestimated. It has been evolved over generations. This knowledge lies at the heart of women’s continuing role in building resilience and in their status in the community.

“This report is dedicated to the women farmers of Africa, feeding more than families, feeding more than a continent- and who still work tirelessly to protect their traditional seed and knowledge.” -Theo Sowa, CEO, African Women Development Fund (AWDF)