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Stakeholder perceptions on barriers to the realization of Farmers' Rights

Lack of awareness among farmers was the most frequently cited barrier to the realization of Farmers' Rights in an international stakeholder survey carried out by Regine Andersen in 2005, with lack of awareness among authorities closely behind. The problem is rooted in the difficulties related to defining Farmers' Rights and the varying interpretations - and lack of understanding - of the concept. Thus, more information and capacity building on Farmers' Rights among farmers and decision-makers is seen as crucial for the realization of Farmers' Rights, in addition to the search for a common ground of understanding of the contents of these rights. This website is a direct result of feedback from survey respondents on this point.

Many respondents highlighted political and economic barriers, emphasizing that the current agricultural paradigm is contradictory to sustainable management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and thereby to the realization of Farmers' Rights. Paradigms are not easily changed, but respondents had several suggestions. Especially important is that farmers engaged in such management should be represented in relevant decision processes, but respondents also mentioned creating space for sustainable management from below - with incentive structures, participatory plant breeding and the marketing of the resultant products.

Poor, weak or contradictory legislation was perceived as a central barrier in many countries. Several respondents highlighted the importance of developing adequate legislation and/or mainstreaming Farmers' Rights in existing legislation. However, the lack of implementation capacity in many countries represents an additional barrier. Capacity building is needed to approach this problem, and a funding structure to support such activities was highlighted as a necessary instrument for this purpose. Several respondents felt that external pressures made it difficult for politicians to choose politics in accordance with the needs of farmers, and that also seed companies would have substantial influence over politics. The ITPGRFA could be used to counterbalance external influence, it was suggested, and seed companies should be invited to support and promote the realization of Farmers' Rights.

Civil society organizations are often crucial actors in initiating efforts for the realization of Farmers' Rights. However, several respondents felt that organizations in their countries were not sufficiently attentive to Farmers' Rights, or not creative or active enough, and wanted more advocacy and information work. Capacity building among NGOs was suggested as a way of approaching this problem: also here funds were needed.

On the basis of these findings, we can identify three core challenges to realizing Farmers' Rights that are shared among most stakeholders:
  upholding and developing legal space for farmers' customary practices related to agro-biodiversity (related to Paragraph 9.3 of the International Treaty)
  creating support mechanisms in terms of recognition, reward and incentives for farmers' contributions to the global pool of genetic resources (related to Paragraphs 9.2.a and 9.2.b of the International Treaty)
  enabling farmers' participation in relevant decision-making processes (related to Paragraph 9.2.c of the International Treaty).

Different stakeholders and countries may want add challenges to this list, and certainly there are many possibilities. The point here is that these are the challenges that are most frequently mentioned and widely shared among stakeholders, so they probably represent a good starting point. In the following, the barriers with regard to these challenges will be highlighted.

Pages in this sub-section:
   Stakeholder perceptions on barriers to the realization of Farmers' Rights
   Barriers to upholding and developing legal space for Farmers' Rights
   Barriers to incentives, rewards and recognition
   Barriers to farmers' participation in decision-making
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 In this section:
  State of Farmers' Rights per topic
  State of Farmers' Rights per country
  Key barriers to Farmers' Rights
  Options for realizing Farmers' Rights

Photo: Development Fund