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BEST PRACTICES:

Common features

The cases presented in the Best practices section show that success stories can be found with regard to all measures proposed in the International Treaty for the realization of Farmers' Rights. It is indeed possible to uphold or create legal space for farmers to save, use, exchange and sell seeds.

We have seen that it is possible to take steps to ensure Farmers' Rights while still complying with international obligations. Becoming a UPOV member, and thereby having to adhere to the 1991 Act of UPOV, is not the only way to implement the TRIPS Agreement, and it should therefore be possible for WTO member countries to look for more FR-friendly means of fulfilling their TRIPS obligations. For initiatives operating in countries with very strict laws on seed exchange, circumventing the law while lobbying for change or reaching an understanding with the authorities that the law will not be enforced can be other ways of ensuring seed sharing. We have highlighted examples of incentive structures which may serve as models for other projects, but it is clear that more creativity is needed to ensure beneficial funding mechanisms. Several cases show how such incentive structures can be introduced from the ground; it is not necessary to wait for the authorities to provide them. There are many examples of reward and support projects and programmes, serving as a basis for considering how to scale up such programmes. Although we find few examples of recognition, some appear promising in terms of bridging conflicts and rewarding farmers' innovations. The creation of an annual award can be one way of rewarding farmers, and spreading knowledge about their contribution in conserving and utilizing genetic resources. And we have found good examples of how awareness-building and capacity-building among farmers, and advocacy of farmers' rights, can serve as a basis for improving farmers' participation.

Some of the factors contributing to success in the different success stories presented in this report have proven important for more than one success. One such factor is the collaboration between farmers and scientists. In many of the cases presented, the contributions of scientists and their cooperation with farmers have proved rewarding. NGOs have often had a central role as facilitators and/or initiators in these projects, and in general NGOs have been important contributors to the realization of Farmers' Rights. In addition to functioning as initiators of projects and facilitators of collaboration between other actors, various NGOs have also played a vital role by doing advocacy work, raising awareness, disseminating information and building capacity. Another important contributing factor has been the creation of broad stakeholder networks, particularly including farmers and their organizations. Networking and the creation of broad-based networks have been emphasized by the representatives of more than one success case as being central to the realization of Farmers' Rights. Another factor important in many of the success stories is the community-based nature of the projects. Local communities may take the lead themselves, or NGOs can ensure that the initiatives have a community-based profile. Placing responsibility with farmers and farming communities can increase the sense of project ownership, and make success more likely, as well as ensuring participation - a goal in itself. In many cases, participatory approaches, like participatory plant breeding or participatory seed selection, have been key components and part of the reason for the success.

When looking at these success stories from the realization of Farmers' Rights with a view to applying these experiences in other contexts, it is also important to bear in mind the link between the conservation and use of genetic diversity and development, especially with regard to food security. The erosion of genetic diversity has been shown to have a detrimental effect on food security, while the conservation of these resources can ensure the adaptability of poor communities to changing environmental conditions. Many farmers contributing to the maintenance and development of genetic resources live in economically poor communities in the South, and development therefore becomes an important issue. Both when setting up incentive structures and creating reward and support systems, this connection to development is important to remember. As has been demonstrated, adding value to traditional crops can be one way of ensuring the continued use of these varieties while also promoting development and food security.

All in all, the success stories presented here illustrate the many prospects for realizing Farmers' Rights, and the positive effects this can have on the livelihoods of farmers around the world. It is hoped that these stories will contribute to the work of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on how to implement Farmers' Rights, as well as inspire further national- and local-level efforts to promote and realize these rights.
Top top
 In this section:
  BEST PRACTICES
  What is a 'success story' of FR?
  Success stories from the realization of the right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed
  Success stories on traditional knowledge related to agro-biodiversity
  Success stories on benefit-sharing measures
  Success stories on participation in decision making
  Common features

Photo: Pratap Shrestha, Nepal