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FARMERS' RIGHTS IN ITPGRFA:

The Fourth Session of the Governing Body: proceedings on Farmers' Rights

Statements in the Plenary by Contracting Parties

After the speech, Malawi suggested to make an exception from the normal procedures for this agenda item, and allow a farmer representative to present a statement before the contracting parties were invited to take the floor. After a brief discussion, the suggestion was rejected with the condition that considerations would be made with regard to the procedures for participation of farmers under the agenda item on Farmers' Rights at the next Governing Body Session.

Malaysia emphasized the importance of Farmers' Rights for the implementation of the Treaty and suggested that the proposed working group for the implementation of Article 6 on sustainable use be merged with the proposed ad hoc group on Farmers' Rights, with a focus on compiling best practices. Furthermore, Resolution 6/2009 was proposed as a basis for the new resolution, as the former resolution was not yet implemented.

Ecuador emphasized that benefit sharing was the weakest point in the Treaty and that this caused some countries to consider whether they should remain Parties to the Treaty. In this context Farmers' Rights were considered highly important, and should be given priority by the Governing Body.

Iran emphasized the importance of Farmers' Rights for the realization of the Treaty and supported the statement made by Malaysia.

Cyprus on behalf of the European Regional Group (ERG) stressed the enormous contribution that local and indigenous communities and farmers have made for the conservation and sustainable use of crop genetic resources and that the implementation of Farmers' Rights at the national level requires continued attention by the Governing Body. It suggested that the Secretariat be given the mandate to continue to collect and disseminate via the website of the Treaty, views and experiences related to the realization of Farmers' Rights. Furthermore, it welcomed the 2010 Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights. Based on the recommendations from these consultations, the ERG proposed that the Governing Body request the assistance of the FAO and other relevant international organizations in the provision of technical and financial support to national governments in the realization of Farmers' Rights. Also the Governing Body should consider the need for, and possible development of, voluntary guidelines and/or checklists and/or model clauses on Farmers' Rights, and the modalities for organizing a regionally balanced and inclusive process for this. Further recommendations from the Global Consultations, supported by the ERG was to improve the participation of stakeholder groups, using the FAO Committee on World Food Security as a template, and to study how the Multilateral System can assist farmers to increase and manage diversity on-farm, in particular in response to climate change.

Kenya, on behalf of Africa, thanked Ethiopia and the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway, for the 2010 Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights and supported the recommendation to develop voluntary guidelines. It also stressed the need for regional consultations as well as national workshops on the realization of Farmers' Rights.

Canada referred to previous resolutions on Farmers' Rights and presented the state of realization of Farmers' Rights in Canada. As the responsibility for realizing these rights rests with national governments, it was not an issue for the Governing Body, according to Canada. The country would not support the proposed development of voluntary guidelines. Also there should not be any requirement to report on the realization of Farmers' Rights, but contracting parties could be invited to submit information, which the Governing Body could take note of. Sharing of experiences could be useful and farmers' participation was welcomed, as long as it would not have financial implications for the Governing Body.

Norway supported the ERG statement, reiterated the great importance it attaches to the realization of Farmers' Rights, and provided support to the idea of establishing an ad hoc working group to develop voluntary guidelines/checklists/model clauses, subject to the Work Program and availability of funds. Furthermore, Norway supported Malawi and emphasized the importance of enhancing the participation of farmers at Governing Body meetings. Subsequently, Norway encouraged contracting parties and relevant organizations to provide support to farmer representatives in order to enable their participation at Governing Body meetings.

Nepal, participating as contracting party for the first time at this session, emphasized the importance of Farmers' Rights and supported the recommendation of developing voluntary guidelines through a broad and inclusive process. It further stressed the need for capacity building and national level workshops on Farmers' Rights. It also proposed that Contracting Parties submit national reports on the state of Farmers' Rights.

Cuba emphasized the links between Article 9 and 6 (Farmers' Rights and sustainable use) and welcomed the 2010 Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights. However, Cuba stressed the continued need for regional consultations in the regions and their own languages. The Global Consultations would provide an extremely relevant basis for such regional workshops. Furthermore, there is an urgent need for capacity building in each country on the realization of Farmers' Rights, and Cuba emphasized that this would be an important way that the Governing Body could support the implementation of Farmers' Rights at the national level.

Brazil emphasized the close relations between Articles 5, 6 among others and Article 9 on Farmers' Rights. It further welcomed the Global Consultations in Addis Ababa as rich and operational. It supported Cuba in the continued need for regional workshops, as set out in Resolution 6/2009, in their own languages and with proper participation of farmers.

Australia thanked for the documents provided by the Secretariat and welcomed the 2010 Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights. It supported Canada in stressing that Farmers' Rights is a national responsibility, and that the exchange of national level experiences would be an adequate measure. Australia would not support a new committee or the development of voluntary guidelines.

India acknowledged the 2010 Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights and the input paper provided by Ethiopia. The Indian experience with the 2001 Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act was presented. Furthermore, India supported Malaysia in suggesting to merge the proposed working groups on sustainable use and Farmers' Rights. Finally, India stressed the importance of capacity building and the funding of activities geared towards the realization of Farmers' Rights.

Sudan presented its legislation on PGRFA and Farmers' Rights from 2005 and stressed the need for capacity building. It further thanked for the Global Consultations in Addis Ababa.

Cameroon responded to some of the previous countries and in particular to Canada saying that what is implied by the sentence that the realization of Farmers' Rights rests with national governments has been the subject of a long standing debate. However, the Governing Body has an important role to play in supporting governments in their realization of Farmers' Rights. Cameroon claimed that the Secretariat is doing little in this regard, and that it had not developed a draft resolution text on Agenda Item 13, whereas this was done for most of the other agenda items. It further suggested to reiterate Resolution 6/2009 and supplement it with items considered necessary at the current session.

Madagascar supported Africa and praised the initiative of the Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights. It stressed the need for financial and technical support for the realization of Farmers' Rights, and in particular for capacity building. Furthermore, Madagascar stressed the crosscutting nature of the issue, in particular its relevance for ongoing processes in the Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Malaysia, taking the floor for the second time, supported Norway, and stated that the implementation of Article 9 is a precondition for the successful implementation of the whole Treaty. Article 9 is a cornerstone and closely related to other articles of the Treaty, such as Art. 5, 6 and the Multilateral System. A main criterion for the provision of funds from the benefit sharing mechanism should be that they would flow to farmers in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, who conserve and sustainably use crop genetic resources. Voluntary guidelines would be necessary for national implementation of Article 9 at the national level, and should be dealt with by a joint committee for Articles 6 and 9.


Read about the proceedings of the discussions on Farmers' Rights at the Fourth Session of the Governing Body:
   Introduction to the agenda item by the Secretary of the ITPGRFA
   Presentation of the 2010 Global Consultations by Dr. Kassahun Embaye, Ethiopia
   Statements in the plenary by Contracting Parties
   Statements in the plenary by organizations
   Informal and formal discussions leading to the final decisions

Read more about:
   Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights
   New Resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty (Res. 6/2009)

Relevant links and documents:
   Resolution 6/2011 on Farmers' Rights
   Resolution 7/2011 on sustainable use
   All documents for the Fourth Session of the Governing Body of the ITPGRFA
   IT/GB-4/11/16 - Implementation of Article 9, Farmers' Rights
   IT/GB-4/11/Inf.6 - Compilation of views and experiences on the Implementation of Farmer's Rights submitted by Contracting Parties and relevant organizations
   IT/GB-4/11/Circ.1 - Input paper from the Global Consultations (English)
   IT/GB-4/11/Circ.1 - Input Paper from the Global Consultations (Spanish)
   IT/GB-4/11/Circ.1 - Input Paper from the Global Consultations (French)
   Speech to the Governing Body by Dr. Kassahun Embaye, Ethiopia
   Report from the 2010 Global Consultations
   Report from phase one of the 2010 Global Consultations


Pages in this sub-section:
   FARMERS' RIGHTS IN ITPGRFA
   On the International Treaty
   Central provisions on Farmers' Rights
   Follow-up in the Governing Body of the Treaty
   The Benefit-Sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the Plant Treaty
   Little progress on sustainable use at the Third Session of the Plant Treaty
   Global Consultations on Farmers' Rights
   The Fourth Session of the Governing Body
Top top
 In this section:
  ABOUT FARMERS' RIGHTS
  Farmers' Rights in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  Why Farmers' Rights matter
  The contents of Farmers' Rights
  History of Farmers' Rights in the FAO
  Farmers' Rights in the literature
  Civil Society Organizations' approaches to Farmers' Rights

Photo: G. Ulutuncok

Page last updated 31 May 2011