International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Online Educational Module on Farmers´Rights

This module is designed to strengthen stakeholders’ capacities for implementing Farmers’ Rights as reflected in Article 9 of the International Treaty and to enhance understanding and raise awareness on the importance of Farmers’ Rights and what it means in practice. The printed version of the module can be used for self-learning purposes, as reference material on the International Treaty, and as an information resource for the development of awareness-raising material. In addition to this module, an interactive course is also available at the InforMEA Portal where learners can obtain a certificate once passed the test!

The overview of the module


Introduction to Farmers’ Rights

This first learning step describes the foundation of Farmers’ Rights, and the critical role played by farmers and indigenous communities in the conservation and sustainable management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). It discusses how farmers, local and indigenous communities conserve and use PGRFA in a sustainable way, as well as the importance of protecting traditional knowledge, the sharing of benefits derived from use of PGRFA, and participation in decision-making related to these valuable resources. The lesson presents a summary of the major milestones in the development of Farmers’ Rights, to give learners an understanding of how the concept emerged at international level, and was consolidated in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which was adopted in 2001, and came into force in 2004.


Farmers’ Rights in the context of the International Treaty

This lesson explains the main components of Farmers’ Rights as reflected in Article 9 of the International Treaty. Article 9 provides the following list of measures for Contracting Parties to take at national level for the protection and promotion of Farmers’ Rights. It is important to note that these are proposals, rather than legally binding mandates, and are at the discretion of each Contracting Party:

  • protect traditional knowledge relevant to PGRFA;
  • ensure equitable participation in benefit sharing from use of PGRFA;
  • ensure the right to participate in decision-making related to PGRFA;
  • recognize the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed, propagating material, subject to national law.


Current development and practical activities leading to implementation of Farmers’ Rights

This lesson presents ideas and practical activities implemented by different stakeholders aimed at promoting understanding and realization of Farmers’ Rights. There are a number of ways to foster implementation of Farmers’ Rights’ provisions, through different policies, programmes and projects. Approaches that have produced promising results include participatory plant breeding programmes, community seed and gene banks, and seed fairs. Strategies for sharing benefits with farmers are also discussed, with examples highlighting the wide variety of options available, including both monetary and non-monetary benefits, such as technology transfer and facilitated access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

Documentations and Links




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