The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is in the process of defining contents of Farmers’ Rights.
A categorization of measures and practices has been endorsed, an inventory of national measures, best practices and lessons learned has been launched and a set of options for encouraging, guiding and promoting the realization of Farmers’ Rights will soon be published by the Secretariat.
One reason why the negotiators of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture were not able to agree on a definition on Farmers' Rights was that the situation of farmers differs so greatly from country to country, as do the perceptions of Farmers' Rights. With no official definition of Farmers' Rights, there was uncertainty as to what the concept involves, and thus also to how these rights could be realized.
In seeking to bridge these uncertainties and to define the contents of Farmers’ Rights, the Governing Body of the International Treaty has endorsed a set of eleven categories of measures and practices for the realization of Farmers’ Rights, based on submissions from Contracting Parties and stakeholders. The categories are:
- Recognition of local and indigenous communities’, farmers’ contributions to conservation and sustainable use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA), such as awards and recognition of custodian/guardian farmers.
- Financial contributions to support farmers conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA such as contributions to benefit-sharing funds.
- Approaches to encourage income-generating activities to support farmers’ conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA.
- Catalogues, registries and other forms of documentation of PGRFA and protection of traditional knowledge.
- In-situ/on farm conservation and management of PGRFA, such as social and cultural measures, community biodiversity management and conservation sites.
- Facilitation of farmers’ access to a diversity of PGRFA through community seed banks, seed networks and other measures improving farmers’ choices of a wider diversity of PGRFA.
- Participatory approaches to research on PGRFA, including characterization and evaluation, participatory plant breeding and variety selection.
- Farmers’ participation in decision-making at local, national and sub-regional, regional and international levels.
- Training, capacity development and public awareness creation.
- Legal measures for the implementation of Farmers’ Rights, such as legislative measures related to PGRFA.
- Other measures / practices.
An Inventory of national measures, best practices and lessons learned from the realization of Farmers’ Rights was developed by an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Farmers’ Rights that was established by the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 2017. The Inventory contains submission from Contracting Parties and stakeholders from all parts of the world according to the categories above and provides a rich account of the contents and state of realization of Farmers’ Rights. The Inventory is continuously being updated and can be accessed here.
Based on the Inventory, the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Farmers’ Rights has developed a set of options for encouraging, guiding and promoting the realization of Farmers' Rights, that was taken note of by the Governing Body of the Treaty at its Ninth Session in 2022. The Governing Body requested the Secretariat to publish the options. A link to the publication will provided here as soon as the options have been published. Until then the text of the options to be published can be found here.
Text: Regine Andersen