The Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA ) and the Gambia Christian Council (GCC) joined the celebration of the global Churches’ Week of Action on Food and Nutrition. The global Churches’ Week of Action is a time for churches to raise awareness about food production and distribution systems, examine food consumption pattern, and call for policy changes that will ensure the right to adequate food for everyone.
This year’s week of action focuses on “Seeds for Life”. Seeds for Life are at the core of all discussions in the various churches worldwide during this week. Churches are of the conviction that if indigenous seed for farmers is not protected, and that farmers have access to their own seeds, their primary income is at risk. Which will eventually undermine local food production and increase extreme poverty and hunger worldwide? “One billion fellow human beings – male, female, old and young suffer from hunger daily and while some of us waste food on the table, a big number of people have not a single chunk of food on their plate “Prayers for the poor and hungry are good, but actions taken to expose the root causes of needless hunger, malnutrition and poverty coupled with concrete involvement to deal with the effects, will be pleasing in the sight of our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” says, the Archbishop, Dr. S. Tilewa Johnson, at the ecumenical worship service at Christ Church Parish, Serekunda, Banjul, The Gambia on Sunday, October 13, 2013.
Churches all over West Africa engage decision makers and Christians in prayers and public debates in order to plant seeds of change, advocating for just and sustainable food systems in West Africa, on the occasion of World Food Day, October 16th. Reverend Dr. Tolbert Jallah Jr., Secretary General of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA), explains the choice of this year’s theme “Seeds for Life – together for sustainable local food production”: «The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has chosen to dedicate World Food Day 2013 to the topic “sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition.” „West African Churches want to underline the need of establishing fair food production systems, accommodating both: the needs of small scale food producers, who constitute the bulk of West African rural populations as well as the protection of the natural environment and vulnerable biodiversity. It is a striking paradox, that farming communities – rural women, farmers and fishermen, produce 80% of consumed foods in West Africa, but remain the poorest, the first to suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
They are still lacking appropriate access to investment and farming facilities. Small food producers’ daily lives are marked by land grabbing carried out by investors who neglected needs of local populations. Foreign seeds, high amounts of pesticides and fertilizers may increase yields for a few years, but they deplete our soils. As we are lacking control mechanisms, costs for people and the environment are unavoidably rising. Consumers are at risks and we endanger the whole sensible balance of our food systems.” saying Reverend Dr. Jallah further. In this context churches advocate for prudent and sustainable investments.
They align to claims made by farmers and civil society actors – such as the Pan African Alliance for Climate Justice (PAJCA) and the African Network for the Right to Food (ANoRF), and call on governments: Invest into applied research, executed in collaboration with local farming communities, instead of importing false solutions from the outside. Facing commercial interests by multinational enterprises for obtaining property rights on local seeds, governments shall establish protective measures for farming community’s rights to freely use and reproduce local seeds. Churches equally recall governments to fulfill their promises given by signing the Maputo Declaration of 2003: Spend at least 10% of national budgets to agricultural development, especially by reinforcing small-scale producers, representing 80 % of our populations.