The Seed and Knowledge Initiative has expanded its reach by establishing a research forum in Zimbabwe. Convened by Dr Isiah Mharapara, Chief Executive Officer of the Zimbabwean Agricultural Research Council, the forum provides an intellectual and support platform for postgraduate students, researchers and practitioners to deepen understanding about seed and knowledge issues in Zimbabwe. In so doing it aims to open avenues for gathering evidence to inform policy making and to support small-holder farming systems in appropriate ways.

The first meeting of the platform was held on 19 October 2016 in Harare at the Centre for Applied Social Sciences, University of Zimbabwe. It provided an opportunity for UCT PhD candidates Kudzai Kusena and Bulisani Ncube to present preliminary findings from their research projects.

Through work with small-scale farming communities in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe and Chimanimani Districts, Kudzai – who also manages the Zimbabwean national genebank – hopes to better understand the resilience of farmer-led seed systems. The objectives of his study are:

to broadly look at the resilience status of the farmer-led seed systems within his study sites,

to investigate the quality of seeds circulating,

to examine the governance arrangements,

to examine historical resilience experiences, and

to provide a synthesis of resilience in the study sites’ farmer-led seed systems.

Bulisani, on the other hand, is undertaking a critical analysis of the effect that seed systems have on the food security of smallholder households, probing the nexus between seed security and food security. Focusing on Chikukwa in the Chimanimani District, the output of this study will be synthesized to inform policy and seed intervention programming in a way which is hoped to enhance the seed and food security of smallholder farmers.

In 2017, the platform will continue to convene regular research fora, bringing together a wide pool of scientists, practitioners, development agents, policy makers, researchers and students interested in such dialogues. The intention is to stimulate research attention and SKI has an open door policy for postgraduate students or researchers in Zimbabwe wishing to participate. Anyone engaged in research relating to seed and knowledge in Zimbabwe, and interested in participating in these meetings, is encouraged to contact Dr Mharapara [] or Jaci van Niekerk []. Minutes of the meeting are available on request from Jaci van Niekerk.