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RESOURCES:

Agrobiodiversity and Farmers' Rights

Swaminathan, M. S. (ed.) (1996):
Agrobiodiversity and Farmers' Rights
Proceedings of a Technical Consultation on an Implementation Framework for Farmers' Rights (Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd)

Summary

The technical consultation on which this book is based addressed the issue of how the equity provisions of the CBD and the concept of farmers' rights could be developed in FAO. Facts and viewpoints were contributed by experts and stakeholders from many countries, involving representatives from the plant breeding industry, public sector breeding institutions, farmers, various international organizations (e.g. FAO, WTO and UPOV), research institutions and NGOs.

The book starts out with a comprehensive background paper prepared by José Esquinas-Alcázar titled 'The Realization of Farmers' Rights', outlining the rationale for farmers' rights, a list of suggested components and the state of negotiations. One of the conclusions is that present inequities will increase and current forces driving genetic erosion most likely be magnified if farmers' rights are not implemented at the international level (p.15).

The volume proceeds with a section on the national and international context of farmers' rights as seen from highly different perspectives, before it focuses on the relationship between plant variety protection and the CBD. In the latter context the current status of plant variety protection in several countries in the South and the North is highlighted. On this basis, viewpoints from private and public plant breeding institutions are presented, and then the views of tribal and rural farmer-conservers are highlighted. A need for resource centres on farmers' rights is identified.

In conclusion, detailed recommendations are presented. It is recommended that farmers' rights should involve the free choice of, and access to, germplasm; the freedom to sell harvested produce and to improve cultivars; the ability to influence future breeding efforts; access to technologies and training; the ability of farming communities to control access to agrobiodiversity under their custodianship; economic incentives to continue to conserve agrobiodiversity; and recognition of past and present achievements (pp. 193-195). Concrete steps are suggested, inter alia in terms of the development of national legislation and with regard to negotiations at the international level.
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Nepal. Photo: Regine Andersen, FNI