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Barriers to incentives, rewards and recognition

Creating mechanisms for incentives, rewards and recognition is an international as well as a national challenge. At the international level, the FAO International Fund for Farmers' Rights was approved but never really materialized. Through the Multilateral System of the International Treaty, benefits are to be shared with farmers who maintain and develop plant genetic resources. Also the Funding Strategy has provisions in this regard. We do not know currently how much funds will be generated in these systems and flow to farmers. Most probably, additional funding will be required. The continued lack of funds from foreseen sources to ensure benefit sharing and rewards to farmers, and to support developing countries in their efforts towards the realization of Farmers' Rights, constitutes a serious barrier.

At the national level, the main challenge is incentive structures. In most countries, agricultural incentive structures are geared towards the highest possible yields, by use of commercial varieties that are normally genetically homogeneous. In general, there are few (if any) incentive structures to promote the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic diversity in agriculture and farmers' customary practices in this regard. The reasons are understandable: a rapidly growing population needs food, so achieving the highest possible production is vital. However, such incentive structures cannot help those farmers who cannot afford to buy the commercial varieties and required input factors, or who choose to stick to their traditional varieties in order to spread risks, whether of crop failure or for other reasons. Instead, the incentive structures might prove a hindrance, as - for example - when extension services do not provide the necessary advice on traditional varieties, or local mills are designed to receive only commercial varieties.

Current legal systems make it difficult to adequately recognize the contributions of farmers and farming communities. Their varieties can often not be registered through the official seed registry system, as they normally do not meet the criteria for such registration. In some areas, farmers fear that their varieties could be misappropriated by seed firms for the development of new varieties, for which the seed firm might be granted intellectual property rights. These mechanisms can be seen as barriers to the recognition of farmers' contributions in many countries.

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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