Impressions from the Seedbeds Conference

Participants at day 3 of the Seedbeds of Transformation Conference in South Africa. Photo: Mark West/Future Earth.
May 2018
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Conference participants share their experiences and reflect on discussions

By Felix Kwabena Donkor & Prof Kevin Mearns, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa (UNISA)

The Seedbeds of Transformation: The Role of Science with Society and the SDGs in Africa conference left a lasting impression on attendees that created momentum to translate the discussions into tangible impacts to transform communities and feed into realizing the SDGs. Some attendees who could not hide their excitement gave voice to their impressions, animated their perspectives whilst capturing the moments of the conference:

“Food insecurity and poverty disproportionately affect women and children therefore policies must be gender sensitive. Policy agendas on ending hunger should focus on vulnerable population groups. More needs to be done to encourage young people to be more involved in agriculture in order to build more sustainable food-security systems in Africa. Introducing innovative methods of farming may attract youth into farming and agriculture. The Seedbeds of Transformation conference has provided the youth a unique platform to cross-pollinate ideas on an urgent topic such as food security.”
Sibusisiwe Mavuso, from the University of the Witwatersrand, speaking on the perspective of policy making and programmes aimed at ensuring food security for all

“I was impressed that indigenous knowledge was given a key focus at the Seedbeds of Transformation conference. It has become evident that we need to harness such knowledge systems in tandem with scientific knowledge to better address the challenges of sustainable development as per the Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover the intergenerational dialogue afforded by the fair mixture of emerging and established researchers, the youth and the matured was commendable.”
Felix Kwabena Donkor, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa (UNISA)

“The Seedbeds of Transformation conference gave me a great experience to have a better understanding of the SDGs in Africa. African population is growing. Will we all have enough to eat in future? This is a likely to be a question that will be seriously faced by most African countries. There is no doubt that Transforming African food systems to achieve sustainable food and nutrition security is required in Africa. Through the interaction with the participants, I personally feel that food security and nutrition is a highly complex matter where many factors have a role to play.”
Philip Mbewe, Malaiti Distributors Limited, Zambia

“It has been wonderful to see a strong African presence, I appreciate and see there is a lot of work to be done in socio-ecological systems and this helped catch up.”
Dr. Bianca Currie, Director of the Board (research portfolio), UNESCO Garden Route Biosphere Reserve

“The Seedbeds Conference was remarkably insightful, it offered transformative learning pathways to sustainability. Thus, in a way, the conference played the role of a canary in the coal mine. Let’s take heed and live sustainably. None but ourselves as Africans have the power to chart an inclusive and sustainable path. The onus is on us, for if we doubt our power we give power to our doubts.”
Christopher Mabeza, Open University, Zimbabwe

One of the key narratives in the colourful tapestry of the SDGs is the need for knowledge generation and strong partnerships to drive the goals. The Seedbeds of Transformation Conference provided a platform for these important themes among others.

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