In this biennium a multitude of initiatives were taken in different parts of the world to compile and analyze views and experiences related to the realization of Farmers’ Rights, most importantly an international on-line consultation and a series of reports on the state of Farmers’ Rights.
As the Governing Body in its first resolution on Farmers Rights (Resolution 2/2007) encouraged Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations to submit views and experiences on the implementation of Farmers' Rights as set out in Article 9 of the International Treaty, involving, as appropriate, farmers' organizations and other stakeholders, several countries and stakeholders submitted their views and experiences to the Secretariat of the Plant Treaty. These views and experiences were compiled in several reports available here.
Two particularly comprehensive contributions were submitted, which are highlighted here, the input papers from the Centre for Genetic Resources (Netherlands) and Community Technology Development Trust (Zambia) and from the Farmers’ Rights Project (Norway).
An on-line conference on farmers’ rights
From November 2008 until April 2009, the Centre for Genetic Resources, The Netherlands (CGN) and the Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT, Zimbabwe) organized an on-line conference platform to discuss legal options to facilitate the contribution of farmers to on-farm maintenance and development of plant genetic resources (titled Options for Farmers’ Rights). The initiative was taken in a search for agreed principles shared widely between major stakeholder groups, and with the ambition to present to the Governing Body alternative options for the implementation of Farmers’ Rights with their advantages and disadvantages.
The output of the on-line consultation process, as well as the results of a number of farmers’ workshops held in parallel to the internet-based discussion in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe were summarized in an input paper to the Governing Body.
The input paper presented five recommendations to the Governing Body:
- A request to the Secretary to study, in collaboration with FAO, the options for provisions in national seed legislation of Contracting Parties, with a view to provide recommendations and/or guidelines for the introduction of legislation that would allow for the unrestricted or less restricted sales of farmer varieties.
- A request to the Secretary of the Treaty to study, in collaboration with UPOV, the possible means and mechanisms to streamline Article 9.3 into UPOV 78 and UPOV 91 regarding protected varieties, in particular regarding the options for provisions in national legislation based on UPOV 78 or 91 that would allow small-scale farmers in developing countries to save, use, sell and exchange protected varieties within their communities.
- A request to the Secretary of the Treaty to study, in collaboration with UPOV, the possible means and mechanisms to develop means and mechanisms to further define ‘small-scale farmers’ in the legal context of UPOV 78, UPOV 91 and the Treaty, for the benefit of implementing legislation as suggested above in paragraphs (1) and (2).
- An encouragement to donors to provide financial assistance to continue with the online conference group as a forum for further discussion and exchange of experiences on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights at the national level, or to continue helping discussions on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights through any other means and approaches.
- An encouragement to donors to provide financial assistance to help developing countries to organize farmers´ workshops to gather inputs for policy decisions on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights, seed legislation, and intellectual property rights legislation.
Summary of findings from the Farmers’ Rights Project
The Farmers’ Rights Project presented a summary of findings in another input paper (PDF) to the Governing Body. This input paper summarized the research-based knowledge to date on views and experiences with the implementation of Farmers’ Rights globally, noting existing gaps and needs. After a brief introduction to the research and other activities of the Farmers’ Rights Project, the paper proceeded to views on the contents of Farmers’ Rights and experiences with their realization to date. It further outlined various avenues towards systemic implementation of Farmers’ Rights according to needs and priorities at the national level. Finally, remaining gaps and needs were identified and recommendations for the Governing Body presented.
The input paper was based on a range of research reports and articles, among them the ‘History of Farmers’ Rights (PDF)’ and a multi-stakeholder survey (PDF)compiling views and experiences on farmers’ rights, three in-depth country case studies on Farmers’ Rights in Peru (PDF), Ethiopia (PDF), and India (PDF) respectively, the book ‘Governing Agrobiodiversity - Plant Genetics and Developing Countries’, a report on success stories (PDF) from the realization of Farmers’ Rights and various other contributions.
The following recommendations were provided based on the findings from the Farmers’ Rights Project:
- The Governing Body should establish an ad hoc working group to propose voluntary guidelines for the implementation of Article 9 (and related provisions of the Plant Treaty) to the Governing Body, taking the gaps and needs highlighted above into consideration.
- The Governing Body should encourage the Contracting Parties to develop national plans for the implementation of Farmers’ Rights.
- The Governing Body should encourage the Contracting Parties to submit reports on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights at a regular basis.
- The Governing Body should facilitate guidance and assistance to Contracting Parties seeking such guidance and assistance with regard to the implementation of Farmers’ Rights.
- The Governing Body should encourage documentation of, and research on, the implementation of Farmers’ Rights at the national level in developing as well as developed countries to facilitate the sharing of experiences.
- The Governing Body should strengthen its efforts to attract funding required for the implementation of Farmers’ Rights. Particularly measures to strengthen the Funding Strategy and to mobilize development cooperation with reference to articles 7 and 8 of the Treaty should be considered in this regard.
The input papers addressed here, along with all other submissions to the Treaty Secretariat formed a rich basis for negotiations at the Third Session of the Treaty’s Governing Body.