Building on the results of a recent peasant led baseline survey to assess local knowledge gaps on peasant rights, popular feminism and leadership and governance, ZIMSOFF held a two-day national workshop in May (from the 29th to 30th) on Peasant Rights as provided for under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in the Rural Areas (UNDROP). The main purpose of the workshop was to deepen understanding of UNDROP. Scope of the workshop was to raise awareness on UNDROP among young and female farmers drawn from the 4 ZIMSOFF cluster dotted across Zimbabwe. An ancillary objective was for the peasants to have an appreciation of Government policies and laws that impact on the enjoyment of Peasant Rights by ZIMSOFF farmers.
A total of 32 women farmers and young farmers drawn from the 4 ZIMSOFF clusters participated in the 2-day workshop. Facilitators included Dr. Kozanayi (main facilitator) who has previously worked with ZIMSOFF in a number of farmers led research, Mr. Nyoni, LVC – IOS Support Staff, Mr O. Chipfunde the head of the National Gene bank, Zimbabwe, and Ms Patience Shumba, the ZIMSOFF Program Officer. The involvement of facilitators from different backgrounds helped to bring a rich diversity of knowledge and perspectives to the discussions. For example, Mr. Nyoni brought insights from a global perspective while Mr. Chipfunde provided nuance on the government’s position with regards to Peasant Rights.
The workshop provided a deep understanding and critical reflection on peasant rights and the legislative challenges the peasants must surmount before it is uhuru for them! But all the same, this is winnable war. As the proverbial southern journey starts with one step, the 2-day workshop was just the first step in the long journey towards the realisation of peasant rights.
Participants at the workshop are expected to cascade training on UNDROP to their respective constituents-SFOs and ultimately, clusters. Documentation of the decentralized training will be done, and more snippets will be shared on the ZIMSOFF website. As a long-term goal, once critical mass has been built and peasants are confident to engage policy makers, platforms will be created for dialogue between peasants and policy makers. Mr. Nyoni summed it up well, “It is not enough to know the provisions of UNDROP, as peasants, you have to demand and practise these rights”. The peasants themselves are aware that they are their own liberators. They derive hope from the history of how LVC fought and won the protracted battle on UNDROP, how black female in America invented many innovations despite discrimination and racism. Even in the face of adversity and resistance, perseverance can change the world, and in this case, see the realisation of UNDROP.
With determination and group solidarity among peasants, the realisation of UNDROP is possible. Already, the Gene bank expressed keenness to participate in ZIMSOFF proceedings and learn more about its pioneering work on PR. Further, the Head promised to invite ZIMSOFF to national level workshops or platforms where PR issues are discussed. The participants also felt empowered to engage with the state but need to time to build critical mass of actors advocating for peasant rights.