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Peasant Farmer shocked at Tanzania’s anti-seed sharing laws

By Oluoch Madiang' | Published Sat, February 18th 2017 at 00:00, Updated February 17th 2017 at 22:46 GMT +3

Let me tell you something: If you think Tanzanians know how to speak Kiswahili, you have not listened to the Peasant Farmer yet! The Peasant Farmer is adept in the Swahili language, so much so that he is an authentic guiji wa lugha. In fact, if the KBC programme ‘Kiswahili Tukitukuze’ was still on, the Peasant Farmer would have been one of the mabingwa wa lugha hosted on the show.

I tell you, the Peasant Farmer is so eloquent and knowledgeable in Kiswahili that, for free, he will tell you that the watermelon fruit is ‘tikitimaji’ in Kiswahili sanifu, and that pumpkin is ‘boga’, apple, ‘tofaa’ and avocado ‘parachichi. In fact, the Peasant Farmer will teach you without fees that ‘komamanga and ‘kungumanga’ are two different fruits: one the pomegranate and the other the nutmeg. But all this uguiji is beside the point, because, what matters is that in the course of his mastering Kiswahili, the Peasant Farmer came across a proverb that advises, ukiona mwenzio ananyolewa, wewe tia yako maji!

The Peasant Farmer has recently witnessed the Tanzanian peasant farmers being nyolewad! Apparently, if the good farmers of Tanzania buy the amazing seeds produced and sold by Syngenta or Monsanto, henceforth, they will only be able to use them only on their own piece of land for non-commercial purposes. They are no longer allowed to share them with majirani or with their shemeji in a different village or even sell them.

They cannot gift their mama mzazi with those seeds because it will be against the sheria ya nchi!

But what if they become vichwa ngumu and ignore the law and proceed to share the seeds hapa na pale? Baaas, that is when watakiona cha mtema kuni: under the new law, Tanzanian farmers risk a prison sentence of at least 12 years or a fine of over €205,300, or both, if they sell seeds that are not certified! This means that if they buy the GMO seeds and make a good harvest, they can’t proceed to share the harvested seeds or sell it, otherwise they will have to cough Sh22,583,000 only! Can you imagine? That is Tsh474,243,000 only. Now, which Peasant Farmer can afford that? How illogical!

Because I tell you the Peasant Shamba is a mix of crops and livestock sourced from gifts and sale by relatives, friends and wakulima wadogo wadogo via local arrangement.

The giant bamboo is from Mzee Pande, the red banana from shemeji Naliaka, the apple mangoes from Waithera wa Maembe and the kuku kienyeji were a gift from Elisabeti Moraa of Nyamira. Did not Grandma Paulina gift the Peasant Farmer with jogoo wa kijijini anayewika Kisum City? And did not Andrew Mwangi, prominent Gilgil beef farmer sell to the Peasant Farmer a fine Boran calf at bei ya jioni? Imagine the fine and jail sentence that the Tanzanian authorities would have slapped on the Peasant Farmer for these ‘criminal’ acts! Haki ya mama, tutapigana dhidi ya sharia hizi zikiletwa hapa Kenya!