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International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Farmers' Rights

Farmers' Rights

Farmers' Rights are critical to ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and consequently for food security – today and in the future. In its Article 9, the International Treaty recognizes the enormous contribution that the local and indigenous communities and farmers of all regions of the world, particularly those in the centers 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. It gives governments the responsibility for implementing Farmers' Rights, and lists measures that could be taken to protect, promote and realize these rights:

  • The protection of traditional knowledge relevant to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture;
  • The right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture;
  • 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; and
  • The right that farmers have to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed/propagating material, subject to national law and as appropriate.

GFAR capacity building materials:

Progress on the implementation of Article 9

There has been an increasing awareness and appreciation on the importance of farmers’ organization and their participation in decision making at the national level as well as in the Governing Body. The growing awareness and importance of the implementation of Farmers’ Rights is reflected on the various actions contained in Resolution 5/2015. This includes invitations by the Governing Body to:

  • Contracting Parties and relevant organizations to take initiatives to convene regional workshops and other consultations including with farmers’ organizations, for the exchange of knowledge, views and experiences to promote the realization of Farmers’ Rights as set out in Article 9 of the International Treaty
  • Contracting Parties to consider developing national action plans for the implementation of Article 9, as appropriate, and subject to national legislation, in line with the implementation of Articles 5 and 6
  • Contracting Parties to engage farmers’ organizations and relevant stakeholders in matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and consider their contributions to awareness raising and capacity building
  • Contracting Parties and development cooperation organizations to consider providing financial and technical support for the implementation of Farmers’ Rights as set out in Article 9 of the Treaty in developing countries, and to enable farmers and representatives of farmers’ organizations to attend meetings under the International Treaty

Resolution 5/2015 also requests the Secretariat of the International Treaty to undertake several activities. These include:

  • facilitate support to contracting parties in building capacity for the implementation of Farmers Rights, upon their request and depending on available resources; prepare and consolidate the best practices and lessons learned from the implementation of Farmers’ Rights;
  • finalize the educational module on Farmers’ Rights;
  • launch the Joint Capacity Development Programme with Global International Forum on Agricultural Research and
  • continue engaging, in a mutually supportive manner with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plan (UPOV) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to jointly, and including through a participatory and inclusive process, as appropriate and subject to availability of resources, finalize the process for identification of possible areas of interrelations between their respective instruments. 

The Secretary is to report to the next session of the Governing Body on the implementation of the Resolution. 

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