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Central provisions on Farmers' Rights

Farmers' Rights constitute a cornerstone in the International Treaty. In Article 9, the Contracting Parties recognize the enormous contribution that farmers of all regions of the world have made, and will continue to make, for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources as the basis of food and agriculture production throughout the world.

Governments are to protect and promote Farmers' Rights, but can choose the measures to do so according to their needs and priorities. Certain measures are suggested, covering the protection of traditional knowledge, benefit sharing and participation in decision-making. Also the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and propagating material are addressed, but without giving any particular direction for implementation. Two other provisions (Para. 13.3 and Para 18.5) state that funding priority will be given to farmers contributing to maintaining crop genetic diversity.

Other articles in the International Treaty are also important for the implementation of Farmers' Rights. For example, it provides that countries shall promote or support, as appropriate, farmers' and local communities' efforts to manage and conserve on-farm their plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (Para. 5.1 [c]) and take steps to minimize or, if possible, eliminate threats to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (Para. 5.2). Article 6 states that 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. A range of measures are listed for this purpose, among them 'reviewing, and as appropriate, adjusting breeding strategies and regulations concerning variety release and seed distribution' (Art. 6.2 [g]). In addition, the International Treaty supports the implementation of the Global Plan of Action (Art. 14), with its provisions on Farmers' Rights. Article 7 and Article 8 provide for international co-operation and technical assistance with a particular view to strengthening developing countries capabilities to implement the International Treaty. The Governing Body of the Treaty consists of all Contracting Parties and shall promote the full implementation of the Treaty, including the provision of policy direction and guidance, and monitoring of implementation (Art. 19). According to Article 21, the Governing Body is to ensure compliance with all provisions of the International Treaty, and the Preamble highlights the necessity of promoting Farmers' Rights at the national as well as the international levels.

The crucial questions are how the Governing Body can promote compliance with the provisions of the Treaty related to Farmers' Rights, how the Contracting Parties may implement Article 9, and how they best could cooperate in solving the tasks.

Pages in this sub-section:
   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
   New resolution on Farmers' Rights under the International 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
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 In this section:
  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 January 2011