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This paper was commissioned by the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty) as a background document for the Global Symposium on Farmers’ Rights in New Delhi, September 2023. It provides a synthesis of the research on farmer-managed seed systems, community seed banks and Farmers’ Rights.
Farmer-managed seed systems are essential for present and future food security, especially given the implications of climate change for agriculture, as small-scale farmers in many countries of the Global South rely on them for their seed and propagating material and thus for their seed and food security. Nevertheless, farmer-managed seed systems are largely neglected in policies and legislation, and thus their potential contributions to food and nutrition security and management of crop genetic diversity are under-developed. Community seed banks, when well-managed, represent platforms for the development of farmer-managed seed systems and are important contributions to food security. However, policies and legislation are often not supportive of community seed banks, making it difficult for them to reach out, become financially sustainable and to scale up. Supporting farmer-managed seed systems and community seed banks through policies, laws, effective implementation and adequate financial and technical support are ways to unfold the potentials of these systems and initiatives and implement Article 9 of the Plant Treaty on Farmers’ Rights. The paper ends by proposing and agenda for future work.