International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Farmers' Rights

Preamble:

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

Since the dawn of agriculture, farmers around the world have been the custodians and innovators of agricultural biodiversity. Through careful selection of their best seeds and propagating material, and exchange with other farmers, it became possible to develop and diversify crop varieties. As new crops were found in the wild, some of these were domesticated and cultivated.

Farmers depend on the diversity of cultivated plants to maintain yields and quality, adapting their food production to different and often marginal environments and difficult conditions. Domesticated crops have been passed down through generations of farmers, a small range of initial crops and varieties evolved into an abundant wealth of plant genetic diversity for food and agriculture. Diversity between and within crops is a means of spreading the risk of crop failure due to pests and diseases or adverse environmental conditions, such as drought. And, it is probably fair to say that plant genetic diversity is more important for farming than any other environmental factor, because it enables adaptation to changing environmental conditions, such as those caused by climate change.

As farmers are the custodians and developers of crop diversity in the field, their rights in this regard are critical if they are to be able to maintain this vital role for food security and nutrition, particularly in an era of climate change. The International Treaty is the first legally binding international agreement to recognize the contribution of local and indigenous communities and farmers to the conservation and development of PGRFA. It is an important component of the International Treaty, and the promotion and realization of these rights would enable farmers and farming communities to continue performing their role as custodians and developers of the plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

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