Mphatheleni Makaulule, Coordinator of the Mupo Foundation, located in the VhaVenda area of Northeastern, South Africa is reviving local seeds including finger millet, maize, beans, sesame, and other indigenous vegetables. Revitalizing indigenous crops can help preserve biodiversity and ensure food security, which is more important than ever. In fact, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 75 percent of global crop diversity was lost between 1900 and 2000.
To commemorate her efforts Makaulule received a Global Leadership Award from the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI). The award honors the impact of indigenous women leaders and helps encourage future generations to take on leadership roles. FIMI’s Programme Coordinator, Mariana Lopez, states, “we are celebrating indigenous women who have implemented creative ways to address pressing social issues, demonstrating courage, creativity and vision”.
In order to preserve and revive cultural diversity and food sovereignty in South Africa, Makaulule’s founded The Mupo Foundation in 2007. Today, she works with women and communities across the VhaVenda area of South Africa recuperating local seed varieties, which also safeguards indigenous land, culture and livelihood. The foundation hosts and facilitates workshops on seed recapturing and saving within local communities, involving both theoretical and practical participation. The workshops also help raise awareness about the health benefits of wild greens and fruits, as well as encourage community members to plant their own nurseries of indigenous trees to rebuild their forests.
By reviving indigenous seeds, The Mupo Foundation is building a more ecological food system and strengthening local communities throughout South Africa.