International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Norway Adds 1 million kroners to International Treaty Fund


02 July 2019, Rome, ItalyWhile Norway’s Minister of Agriculture and Food, Olaug Bollestad met the Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Kent Nnadozie, at FAO headquarters in Rome last week, the government of Norway made its annual financial contribution to the International Treaty’s Benefit-sharing Fund. This year’s contribution is 1 million kroner (approximately USD 116 470), which corresponds to 0.1% of the value of seeds and agricultural plant material sold last year (2018).

“Small farmers, especially women in Africa, are important managers of our genetic wealth,” said Minister Bollestad.

The Benefit-sharing Fund supports agricultural development projects in developing countries, aimed at the management and sustainable use of seeds and other plant genetic resources, and has already benefitted over 1 million people through 45 projects in 51 countries over three project cycles. The fourth cycle of projects is starting this year and includes another 20 projects in 29 developing countries.

“The small farmers need an assortment of varieties and species to have better crops when the weather becomes unpredictable and new plant diseases and other pests emerge,” said Minister Bollestad, adding, “This diversity also provides better nutrition for farmers and their families.”

Plant genetic resources are the basis of all food production, and are conserved both in genebanks and in the farmer's fields. Norway supports both forms of saving seeds, particularly through the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which offers safe storage of seeds from genebanks around the world; and by supporting the International Treaty’s Benefit-sharing Fund, which is used to support projects in the field.

“Norway continues to be among the stalwart supporters of global efforts to conserve and sustainably use world’s biodiversity of seeds and plants upon which we rely for our food,” said Secretary Nnadozie. “We welcome Norway’s contribution to the Benefit-sharing Fund and hope that the amounts coming into the Fund will increase exponentially so that we can support more and more projects for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources in developing countries, which are often rich in agricultural biodiversity, but not in the finances and infrastructure needed to conserve these precious natural resources.”

The International Plant Treaty, which this year celebrates its 15th year of sharing and caring for the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, has created a Multilateral System to provide shared access to the world’s wealth of crops. It is also the first legally-binding international instrument to recognize the contributions of indigenous communities and smallholder farmers to the variety of crops in the world, and calls for nations to promote and protect Farmers’ Rights.

The Eighth Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty will meet in Rome from 11 – 16 November 2019 to discuss future plans.

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