| BEST PRACTICES:
What are successes regarding participation in decision
A fourth measure to protect and promote Farmers'
Rights, as suggested in the International Treaty, concerns the right to
participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to
the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and
agriculture (Article 9.2 [c]). Also here, the Treaty fails to provide specific
details as to what this might mean in practice.
this measure, we need to specify the relevant matters in which farmers have the
right to participate. Also the forms of participation should be
First of all, the implementation of Farmers' Rights under the
International Treaty is a matter of where farmers' participation would
logically be required - at the national as well as international level.
Consultative processes of various kinds are relevant, and the better
represented farmers are, the greater legitimacy the results would have, and the
more likely it is that they will constitute effective measures for the
realization of Farmers' Rights. In particular, it would be important that
farmers involved in the management of plant genetic diversity participate in
such processes, since they constitute the main target group of the
International Treaty. So far there have been no known cases of comprehensive
consultative processes to mainstream and improve legislation and policies
towards the realization of Farmers' Rights. However, there are several examples
of processes related to single acts of legislation.
The development of
laws and regulations related to the management of plant genetic diversity in
agriculture is clearly relevant for farmers' participation. Central laws and
regulations are seed acts; seed certification regulations; other regulations
regarding seed distribution and trade; plant variety protection laws; patent
laws; bioprospecting laws or regulations; laws on the conservation and
sustainable use of bio-diversity in general or crop genetic resources in
particular (also regarding specific crops); and legislation on the rights of
indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge. But also legislation regulating
mainstream agriculture is relevant, as these may produce incentive structures
which are detrimental to Farmers' Rights, without any compensating measures.
Extensive use of hearings at various stages in the process is an important
measure to ensure participation. It is particularly important to ensure that
farmers engaged in the management of plant genetic diversity are aware of the
processes, and are explicitly invited to participate through their
The implementation of laws and regulations is also
relevant to farmers' participation. The ways in which these are interpreted and
implemented are often decisive to the effects on farmers' management of these
resources and thus also on their livelihoods. Normally, boards and institutions
are established through such acts and regulations, to oversee and/or administer
implementation. Farmers' representation and participation in such bodies is
thus central, and here the process by which farmer members are selected is of
crucial importance. If they are appointed by a cabinet minister, for example,
they can hardly be said to represent the farmers of that country. If appointed
by farmers through their own organizations, it is more likely that they can be
regarded as true representatives of farmers - depending on the share of farmers
they represent and the process by which they were appointed. Again it is vital
to ensure the representation of farmers actually engaged in agro-biodiversity
conservation. There are few typical success stories in this regard, if
Developing policies and programmes in agriculture, particularly as
related to the management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture,
requires farmer participation. Ideally, policies and programmes targeted at
farmers should take farmers' situations and perspectives as points of
departure, based on their participation. There are probably examples of such
participation, but no cases have been reported to us.
There are two
important preconditions for increased participation of farmers in
decision-making. First, decision-makers need to be aware of the important role
played by farmers in conserving and developing plant genetic resources for food
and agriculture, in order to understand why their participation is central.
Second, farmers are often not in a position to participate effectively in
complicated decision-making processes without prior capacity-building. Central
measures in this context are thus awareness-raising among decision-makers on
the role of farmers in agro-biodiversity management, and capacity-building in
farmers' organizations. Whereas there are few examples of the former, there are
probably more of the latter.
Pages in this
WHAT IS A 'SUCCESS STORY' OF FARMERS'
What are successes
regarding the right to save,use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed?
What are successes regarding
traditional knowledge related to agro-biodiversity?
What are successes regarding
are successes regarding participation in decision making?