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ITPGRFA: Relevant provisions for the realization of Farmers' Rights

In fact, all provisions of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture are relevant for the realization of Farmers' Rights - more or less, and directly or indirectly. In this overview, preambular formulations and treaty provisions are presented, which are particularly relevant for the realization of Farmers' Rights.





PREAMBLE

The Contracting Parties,

Convinced of the special nature of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, their distinctive features and problems needing distinctive solutions;

Alarmed by the continuing erosion of these resources;

Cognizant that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture are a common concern of all countries, in that all countries depend very largely on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture that originated elsewhere;

(…)

Affirming that the past, present and future contributions of farmers in all regions of the world, particularly those in centres of origin and diversity, in conserving, improving and making available these resources, is the basis of Farmers' Rights;

Affirming also that the rights recognized in this Treaty to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material, and to participate in decision-making regarding, and in the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from, the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, are fundamental to the realization of Farmers' Rights, as well as the promotion of Farmers' Rights at national and international levels;

(…)

Desiring to conclude an international agreement within the framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, hereinafter referred to as FAO, under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution;

Have agreed as follows:



PART I - INTRODUCTION


Article 1 - Objectives

1.1 The objectives of this Treaty are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security.

1.2 These objectives will be attained by closely linking this Treaty to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

(…)



PART II - GENERAL PROVISIONS


Article 4 - General Obligations

Each Contracting Party shall ensure the conformity of its laws, regulations and procedures with its obligations as provided in this Treaty.


Article 5 - Conservation, Exploration, Collection, Characterization, Evaluation and Documentation of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

5.1 Each Contracting Party shall, subject to national legislation, and in cooperation with other Contracting Parties where appropriate, promote an integrated approach to the exploration, conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and shall in particular, as appropriate:

(…)

(c) Promote or support, as appropriate, farmers and local communities' efforts to manage and conserve on-farm their plant genetic resources for food and agriculture;

(d) Promote in situ conservation of wild crop relatives and wild plants for food production, including in protected areas, by supporting, inter alia, the efforts of indigenous and local communities;

(…)

5.2 The Contracting Parties shall, as appropriate, take steps to minimize or, if possible, eliminate threats to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.


Article 6 - Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources

6.1 The Contracting Parties shall develop and maintain appropriate policy and legal measures that promote the sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

6.2 The sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture may include such measures as:

(a) pursuing fair agricultural policies that promote, as appropriate, the development and maintenance of diverse farming systems that enhance the sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity and other natural resources;

(b) strengthening research which enhances and conserves biological diversity by maximizing intra- and inter-specific variation for the benefit of farmers, especially those who generate and use their own varieties and apply ecological principles in maintaining soil fertility and in combating diseases, weeds and pests;

(c) promoting, as appropriate, plant breeding efforts which, with the participation of farmers, particularly in developing countries, strengthen the capacity to develop varieties particularly adapted to social, economic and ecological conditions, including in marginal areas;

(d) broadening the genetic base of crops and increasing the range of genetic diversity available to farmers;

(e) promoting, as appropriate, the expanded use of local and locally adapted crops, varieties and underutilized species;

(f) supporting, as appropriate, the wider use of diversity of varieties and species in on-farm management, conservation and sustainable use of crops and creating strong links to plant breeding and agricultural development in order to reduce crop vulnerability and genetic erosion, and promote increased world food production compatible with sustainable development; and

(g) reviewing, and, as appropriate, adjusting breeding strategies and regulations concerning variety release and seed distribution.'


Article 7 - National Commitments and International Cooperation

7.1 Each Contracting Party shall, as appropriate, integrate into its agriculture and rural development policies and programmes, activities referred to in Articles 5 and 6, and cooperate with other Contracting Parties, directly or through FAO and other relevant international organizations, in the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

7.2 International cooperation shall, in particular, be directed to:

(a) establishing or strengthening the capabilities of developing countries and countries with economies in transition with respect to conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture;

(b) enhancing international activities to promote conservation, evaluation, documentation, genetic enhancement, plant breeding, seed multiplication; and sharing, providing access to, and exchanging, in conformity with Part IV, plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and appropriate information and technology;

(c) maintaining and strengthening the institutional arrangements provided for in Part V; and

(d) implement the funding strategy of Article 18.


Article 8 - Technical Assistance

The Contracting Parties agree to promote the provision of technical assistance to Contracting Parties, especially those that are developing countries or countries with economies in transition, either bilaterally or through the appropriate international organizations, with the objective of facilitating the implementation of this Treaty.



PART III - FARMERS' RIGHTS


Article 9 - Farmers' Rights

9.1 The Contracting Parties recognize the enormous contribution that the local and indigenous communities and farmers of all regions of the world, particularly those in the centres of origin and crop diversity, have made and will continue to make for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources which constitute the basis of food and agriculture production throughout the world.

9.2 The Contracting Parties agree that the responsibility for realizing Farmers' Rights, as they relate to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, rests with national governments. In accordance with their needs and priorities, each Contracting Party should, as appropriate, and subject to its national legislation, take measures to protect and promote Farmers' Rights, including:

(a) protection of traditional knowledge relevant to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture;

(b) the right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; and

(c) the right to participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

9.3 Nothing in this Article shall be interpreted to limit any rights that farmers have to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed/propagating material, subject to national law and as appropriate.



PART IV - THE MULTILATERAL SYSTEM OF ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING

(…)


Article 13 - Benefit-sharing in the Multilateral System

13.1 The Contracting Parties recognize that facilitated access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture which are included in the Multilateral System constitutes itself a major benefit of the Multilateral System and agree that benefits accruing therefrom shall be shared fairly and equitably in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

13.2 The Contracting Parties agree that benefits arising from the use, including commercial, of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture under the Multilateral System shall be shared fairly and equitably through the following mechanisms: the exchange of information, access to and transfer of technology, capacity-building, and the sharing of the benefits arising from commercialization, taking into account the priority activity areas in the rolling Global Plan of Action, under the guidance of the Governing Body:

(…)

(c) Capacity-building

Taking into account the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition, as expressed through the priority they accord to building capacity in plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in their plans and programmes, when in place, in respect of those plant genetic resources for food and agriculture covered by the Multilateral System, the Contracting Parties agree to give priority to

(i) establishing and/or strengthening programmes for scientific and technical education and training in conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, (ii) developing and strengthening facilities for conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, in particular in developing countries, and countries with economies in transition, and (iii) carrying out scientific research preferably, and where possible, in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, in cooperation with institutions of such countries, and developing capacity for such research in fields where they are needed.

(d) Sharing of monetary and other benefits of commercialization

(…)

(ii) The Contracting Parties agree that the standard Material Transfer Agreement referred to in Article 12.4 shall include a requirement that a recipient who commercializes a product that is a plant genetic resource for food and agriculture and that incorporates material accessed from the Multilateral System, shall pay to the mechanism referred to in Article 19.3f, an equitable share of the benefits arising from the commercialization of that product, except whenever such a product is available without restriction to others for further research and breeding, in which case the recipient who commercializes shall be encouraged to make such payment. (…)

13.3 The Contracting Parties agree that benefits arising from the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture that are shared under the Multilateral System should flow primarily, directly and indirectly, to farmers in all countries, especially in developing countries, and countries with economies in transition, who conserve and sustainably utilize plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

13.4 The Governing Body shall, at its first meeting, consider relevant policy and criteria for specific assistance under the agreed funding strategy established under Article 18 for the conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in developing countries, and countries with economies in transition whose contribution to the diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in the Multilateral System is significant and/or which have special needs.

(…)



PART V - SUPPORTING COMPONENTS


Article 14 - Global Plan of Action

Recognizing that the rolling Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is important to this Treaty, Contracting Parties should promote its effective implementation, including through national actions and, as appropriate, international cooperation to provide a coherent framework, inter alia, for capacity-building, technology transfer and exchange of information, taking into account the provisions of Article 13.

(…)



PART VI - FINANCIAL PROVISIONS


Article 18 - Financial Resources

18.1 The Contracting Parties undertake to implement a funding strategy for the implementation of this Treaty in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

18.2 The objectives of the funding strategy shall be to enhance the availability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the provision of financial resources to implement activities under this Treaty.

(…)

18.5 The Contracting Parties agree that priority will be given to the implementation of agreed plans and programmes for farmers in developing countries, especially in least developed countries, and in countries with economies in transition, who conserve and sustainably utilize plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.



PART VII - INSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS


Article 19 - Governing Body

19.1 A Governing Body for this Treaty is hereby established, composed of all Contracting Parties.

(…)

19.3 The functions of the Governing Body shall be to promote the full implementation of this Treaty, keeping in view its objectives, and, in particular, to:

(a) provide policy direction and guidance to monitor, and adopt such recommendations as necessary for the implementation of this Treaty and, in particular, for the operation of the Multilateral System;

(b) adopt plans and programmes for the implementation of this Treaty;

(…)

(e) consider and establish subject to the availability of necessary funds such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary, and their respective mandates and composition;

(…)


Article 21 - Compliance

The Governing Body shall, at its first meeting, consider and approve cooperative and effective procedures and operational mechanisms to promote compliance with the provisions of this Treaty and to address issues of non-compliance. These procedures and mechanisms shall include monitoring, and offering advice or assistance, including legal advice or legal assistance, when needed, in particular to developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
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 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