Joining forces and pooling resources
In most countries of the world institutions and people involved in Farmers' Rights are few and resources scarce. Thus, joining forces and pooling resources for the realization of Farmers' Rights are vital. This means that all stakeholders are invited to join forces and pool resources, including stakeholders that have traditionally not been thought of as allies in terms of Farmers' Rights.
Normally the seed industry and offices involved in intellectual property rights have not been thought of as potential partners in the work for Farmers' Rights. Particularly in civil society and among farmers' organizations there might be resistance against including them in a framework for the implementation of these rights.
Whether these actors are potential partners in each country remains open, and is up to the initiators of the implementation process in the respective countries and other involved parties to decide. However, there are good reasons to consider the inclusion of these stakeholders seriously:
- They would probably be affected by measures you propose for the realization of Farmers' Rights.
- Their collaboration is probably vital for ensuring that such decisions are made.
- Their collaboration may also be needed to ensure that these decisions are followed up in practice.
- In some initial experiences with the inclusion of such actors, they have shown great capability of understanding the importance of Farmers' Rights.
- This may have positive effects for the development of intellectual property rights that affect Farmers' Rights.
- Seed corporations might event want to support the implementation of Farmers' Rights as a form of voluntary benefit sharing, as part of their strategy for corporate social responsibility.
An argument against the inclusion of such actors in consultative processes might be that they are so much stronger in terms of advocacy than farmers in most countries. Thus, farmers might find it even more difficult to voice their needs and priorities, and to be heard. Such consequences can, however, be avoided, by ensuring that the farmers in the consultative processes have the possibilities to prepare through their organizations and groups, and that they are offered adequate space and attention during the process. Farmers' situations and needs should in any case be at the core of the process.
An argument against the involvement of seed corporations in the implementation of Farmers' Rights is that implementation should be the responsibility of the state authorities, and thus they should prioritize this with budgetary allocations. However, many developing countries have not been able to allocate the required resources so far, and there are few reasons to believe that they will in the near future. Thus, insisting on this principle might hamper the implementation of Farmers' Rights which is so urgent due to rapid negative developments.
A further argument against the involvement of seed corporations in the implementation of Farmers' Rights is that they might co-opt the processes to pursue own interests. In that case their involvement could conflict with the very intentions of implementing Farmers' Rights and thus hamper the process. It is crucial that no strings are attached, if seed corporations decide to support the implementation of Farmers' Rights or parts of this process. The conditions for such support should be clear and transparent for all involved parties and not by any means affect the contents of the implementation framework as agreed by the stakeholders of the consultative process. It is vital to avoid any reason for distrust in this regard, which could destroy the whole process. To avoid distrust, it is recommended to involve farmers' organizations and civil society organizations in any board or steering committee for projects funded by seed corporations on the implementation of Farmers' Rights.