How We Work

ZAAB is a network organisation, coordinated by a national secretariat based in Lusaka. There are three membership categories: core organisational members, associate partners and individuals.

ZAAB organisational members reach a wide constituency through their own membership base and programme activities that are undertaken across the country. Much of the direct member work with farmers aims at facilitating training on agroecology and Farmer Managed Seed Systems (FMSS), supporting farmer dialogues and broad information sharing and exchange. Other members work in public research and policy advocacy and have a long history of contribution to ecological and social justice in Zambia. ZAAB fills a niche gap with its focus on agroecology and food sovereignty. We work in collaboration to uphold good governance, facilitate information exchange across sectors, support networking and collective advocacy, research and training. ZAAB aims to build public awareness and advocacy from the ground up, enabling citizens to participate in governance processes and contribute to building a viable future for Zambia.

Who ZAAB is

The Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity Conservation is a united network of concerned citizens, civil society groups and farmer based organisations, working together to strengthen the growing movement for agroecology and food sovereignty in Zambia

ZAAB was initiated in 2010 when a number of civil society and farmer focused organisations came together to defend Zambia’s threatened ‘NO GMO’ presidential declaration of 2002. The civil society alliance continued to operate as a united advocacy network and grew in membership and scope of interest. In 2017, the network organisation was formalised and shortened its name to ZAAB (Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity) in acknowledgment of our holistic existence and biodiversity as a living system, integral to all human life.

Today, ZAAB advocates for citizens’ rights to food sovereignty, embedded within an ecological and socially just Zambia. We support the adoption of agroecology as a holistic, citizenry solution to sustainably build Zambia’s food and farming systems and strengthen resilience against climate change.  

ZAAB is concerned that our future is being threatened as economic benefits for a minority are consistently prioritised over and above basic human rights of the majority population and environmental sustainability. Zambia’s agro-food systems are increasingly industrialised, underpinned by the symbolic, so called ‘Green Revolution'. We witness the progressive privatization and control of land, seeds, forests, water, labour – as well as markets – and thus whole production and consumption systems.

Around the world, corporate agribusiness and food retail industries hold increasing market share, that strengthens their power to further control the functioning of the global agro-food system. Many African countries including Zambia, are being compelled to amend national legislation to facilitate increased export oriented trade and the market benefits of multinational corporations. In the process, agrobiodiversity and locally contextual, culturally appropriate nutritious food systems are devalued and destroyed, while inequality rises and communities are dislocated.

Agroecology has developed as a global alternative to industrial agriculture. The science of agroecology applies ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of production systems.

“Today agroecology has been taken up by rural social movements and progressive NGOs and academics, and is seen as a transformative science, practice and movement that is explicitly committed to a more just and sustainable future by reshaping power relations from farm to table” (Declaration: The role of agroecology on the future of agriculture and the food system. The Call from Brasilia, September 2017)

Position on GMOs and the Revised Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2003

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Zambia must continue to uphold the highest biosafety standards

Zambia’s approach to biosafety since the development of the Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2003 has been cautious and aimed at ensuring high standards of human, environmental and socio-economic well-being. We are alarmed that the biotech industry is eroding this approach in favour of promoting and protecting the interests of that industry. We reject this shift. Read more....

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Position on GMOs and the Revised Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2003 March 2018

Position on GMOs and the Revised Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2003
March 2018

Zambia must continue to uphold the highest biosafety standards

Zambia’s approach to biosafety since the development of the Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2003 has been cautious and aimed at ensuring high standards of human, environmental and socio-economic well-being. We are alarmed that the biotech industry is eroding this approach in favour of promoting and protecting the interests of that industry. We reject this shift.

Key concerns in the revised policy include:

• Abandoning the precautionary principle in favour of creating incentives for innovation for industry. This shift means moving from the aim of protecting against harm to promoting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by reducing safety procedures;
• Shifting focus from “GMOs” to “biotechnology” thereby wrongly implying that GMOs are as safe as other forms of biotechnology such as conventional breeding or tissue culture;
• Removing provisions on liability and redress. These made producers of GMOs responsible for paying for and cleaning up damages arising from GMOs;
• Increasing the focus on intellectual property rights that are skewed in favour of corporations and away from communities;
• Broadly promoting the benefits of GMOs as described by the producers of GMOs, without interrogating the many problems associated with the technology, such as increased indebtedness of farmers, quality issues in Bt cotton, development of insect and weed resistance, loss of markets due to consumer rejection and many more;
• Falsely asserting that GMOs will benefit smallholders; and
• Dismantling current institutional arrangements with no clear replacement structure that clearly outlines new responsibilities, hierarchies and procedural pathways.

Potential risks of GMOs must be recognised:

Governments around the world retain a precautionary stance to GMOs. There is an extensive body of literature that highlights many risks associated with GMOs, these include that:
• GMOs and related pesticides and herbicides pose health risks
• GMOs pose environmental risks
• GMOs are not appropriate for smallholders
• GMOs contribute to corporate control of the food system
• GMOs restrict access to markets thereby threatening livelihoods

Real solutions to hunger, poverty and degraded environment must be sought

The fact remains that Zambia is facing a series of crisis level challenges currently – socially, economically and ecologically. Poverty and inequality has risen exponentially. We are now ranked as one of the most malnourished countries in Africa. Women are affected the worst across the board. These are long term developmental crises.

The majority of the our population rely on agriculture and local food system related livelihood activities – from production through to formal and informal retailing in both urban and rural areas. Very well-known problems farmers face in Zambia are lack of market, late delivery of and cost of inputs, lack of accessible land, soil infertility, erratic rainfall and lack of irrigation, lack of infrastructure, lack of extension services, lack of social and infrastructural support to retailers and traders (exemplified by the recent chlorella and trader dislocations). None of these problems that keep our population poor - and our youth malnourished and restless - are going to be solved by GMO proposed solutions.

Therefore we state:

If we are to face climate change and deal effectively with environmental degradation, poverty, hunger and the extensive malnutrition due to lack of diverse diets in Zambia, it is vital to invest in farming systems that are designed to create resilience and social equity.

We fully agree with the findings of the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) that GMOs have primarily benefited transnational corporations and the wealthy, rather than the poor and hungry of the world. The IAASTD found little solid evidence to support claims that GMOs have contributed to equitable or sustainable development or will do so in the future, but instead raised substantial questions about their social, health and environmental impacts. This is same stand that Late President Mwanawansa stood for years before, and the same principled stand that all subsequent Presidents have remained steadfast in upholding.

We have been assured by the New Minister of Agriculture that Government position on GMOs has not changed. Zambia as a nation remains opposed to GMOs – and citizens have a right to say no to GMOs if they so wish. Therefore - as people of Faith, in agriculture training institutions, civil society, farmers and consumers alike, we raise our voice of concern and distress about the attempts to amend the exemplary National Biosafety and Biotechnology Policy. We support our leaders in their efforts to prioritise the rights of small holder farmers in Zambia, over and above foreign neo-colonial agriculture systems that extract wealth from the poor and from the country, and undermine the health of our families, our farming systems and our environment.
We ask Zambia’s leaders to remain strong; to resist and reject the unjust and unethical efforts of foreign pressure to weaken national laws for the benefit of corporate profits.

Signed: Emmanuel Mutamba, ZAAB Chairperson,
7 March 2018

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Position on GMOs and the Revised Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2003 March 2018

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