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HOW TO REALIZE FARMERS' RIGHTS AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL:

Creating awareness across sectors

Creating awareness across sectors can be done by inviting representatives from the central organizations and institutions in each of the sectors pertaining to Farmers' Rights to cross sector workshops and/or seminars. This can be done at the national and/or regional level, depending on the size of the country and available resources.

This is a list of institutions from all sectors, which might be relevant:

Farmers:
   Farmers' organizations, associations, groups and/or networks

Authorities:
   Parliament, particularly parliamentary committees vested with agriculture and intellectual property rights
   Central relevant departments/units of the ministry of agriculture in the country
   Focal point for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
   Institutions involved in intellectual property rights (plant breeders' rights and patents)
   Institutions involved in seed certification
   Other relevant agencies, ministries and government bodies, as appropriate

Research, capacity building and extension services:
   Institutions involved in extension services to farmers
   Gene banks
   Relevant research institutions
   Relevant capacity building institutions, training centres, etc.

Civil society:
   Relevant NGOs (including also consumer groups)
   Peoples' organizations

Business:
   Seed industry and its associations

Seminars and/or workshops can be designed mainly with lectures, information sharing, in more interactive ways, or as a combination of these methods. Probably the effect is higher, the more the participants are involved in the seminars/workshops. Also, the effect is probably higher, if there are more than one seminar or workshop for each of the sectors, so that reflections on the topic can mature and the understanding be deepened.

As the topic of Farmers' Rights can create heated debates across sectors and thus to conflicts rather than progress in the implementation of these rights, it is vital that workshops and seminars are geared towards dialogues. After decades of conflicts and mounting barriers against the realization of Farmers' Rights, it is now vital to move beyond the earlier controversies, build bridges and join forces across sectors to make Farmers' Rights a reality. It is thus crucial that a framework of dialogue is created where the participants are encouraged to listen to each other. Rather than arguing against each other, the participants should be encouraged to present their own needs and priorities, as appropriate, and provide the other participants with the necessary information to understand these priorities. The participants should be encouraged to pose clarification questions, in order to deepen their understanding. If consensus on certain issues arises out of such a dialogue, it is fine, but it should not be forced at this stage of awareness rising.

It can be wise to start out by inviting the farmers present at the seminar/workshop to introduce about the situation of farmers with regard to crop genetic resources and Farmers' Rights - and particularly how this affects their food security and livelihoods. An organized field visit to a farming village, including a dialogue with farmers there on their situation in this regard, may also be a useful measure. Creating awareness on the situation of farmers with regard to crop genetic resources is recommended as a measure setting the stage for any seminar or workshop.

You can read more about the contents relevant for such workshops and/or seminars here and about inspiring success stories illustrating Farmers' Rights here. Where to put the emphasis depends on the level of knowledge and awareness among the participants. Central questions to rise in a workshop or seminar based on, and guided by, these contents can be:
    What contents of Farmers' Rights are important in our country?
   Why are Farmers' Rights important in our country?
   What can the different institutions and sectors do to protect and promote Farmers' Rights?
   How can they join forces and pool resources towards this end?

Advantages:
    This approach is useful to create awareness across the institutions and sectors and thus to enable understanding between actors who often do not have joint arenas for such dialogues.
    If applied according to description above, it might help bridging controversies in the country regarding Farmers' Rights and open up for new alliances for the realization of these rights.
    It enables a division of labour as well as joining forces and pooling resources towards the realization of Farmers' Rights.

Disadvantages:
    The number of participants from each institution will be lower than by an institution or sector wise approach. To counterbalance this situation to some extent, the participants can be encouraged to disseminate the contents of the seminar/workshop in their respective institutions.
    If there is no awareness rising among farmers' organizations and groups beforehand, their representatives might be in a weak position to frame their needs and priorities, as compared to other participants in the seminar/workshop. Thus, it is wise to ensure that activities for creating awareness among the farmer organizations and groups are carried out before cross sector seminar/workshops.



Pages in this sub-section:
    STEP 1: CREATING AND ENHANCING AWARENESS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FARMERS' RIGHTS
   Creating awareness in central organizations and institutions
   Creating awareness sector wise
   Creating awareness across sectors
   Creating awareness through the media
   Creating awareness through other means
Top top
 In this section:
  HOW TO REALIZE FARMERS' RIGHTS AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL
  Step 1: Creating awareness on the importance of Farmers' Rights
  Step 2: Ensuring farmers' participation in the implementation process
  Step 3: Developing a national consultative process, joining forces, pooling resources
  Step 4: Establishing an institutional framework for implementation
  Step 5: Protecting and enhancing legal space for farmers' customary practices
  Step 6: Protecting traditional knowledge relevant to crop genetic resources
  Step 7: Promoting the right to equitably participate in benefit sharing
  Step 8: Enabling participation in decision making on genetic resources

Photo: SAWTEE