5th Session of the International Treaty Governing Body Concludes On An Upbeat Note

The Fifth Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GB5) officially concluded on an upbeat note in Muscat, Oman.

Delegates at Fifth Session of the Governing Body unanimously agreed to explore the option of further enhancing the International Treaty’s multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing, which currently include 64 key crops accounting for 80 percent of the world’s nutrition. This includes efforts to come up with new and innovative ways to create long-term flows of financial resources for the Treaty Benefit-Sharing Fund, which is currently funding 19 projects in 31 developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Near East and Central and South America.

The rights and interests of small farmers, who are the traditional custodians of the plant genetic resources that underpin modern agriculture, were also discussed at length. Contracting Parties agreed to pay particular attention to increasing awareness, building capacity and promoting the access of farmers and local and indigenous communities to the genetic resources they need in order to continue production of much-needed food crops.

They resolved to promote the conservation and sustainable use of local and locally adapted crop varieties, as also underutilized crops, and to strengthen the in situ and on-farm conservation of their genetic resources. They discussed a number of specific initiatives in this regard, including technology transfer, and a public-private partnership for pre-breeding.

“The Sultanate of Oman confirms its full support for all the resolutions that have been agreed upon at the Fifth Session of the Governing Body,” Dr Fuad bin Jafaar Al-Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Oman, said in his closing remarks to the Governing Body. “We will work together to transform the outcomes of this meeting into measures that will preserve our plant genetic resources and contribute to the enhancement of food security under climate change.”

“This has been a particularly challenging Governing Body session, with a heavier agenda than ever, but I think we have succeeded in taking some crucial decisions, which will determine the Treaty’s future” said Prof. Javad Mozafari, the Chair of GB5.

“This week, you have succeeded in reaching a major milestone in the history of your Treaty. The historic compromise you have reached on the Treaty’s Multilateral System is among one of the major breakthroughs in the 10 years since the Treaty came into effect,” said Dr Shakeel Bhatti in his closing statement to the Governing Body. “You have set our agenda for the next biennium and put given the Treaty the chance to grow and evolve in a healthy way and put us on the road from Oman to GB6.”

Over 450 delegates from almost 100 countries attended the opening of the Fifth Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GB5), which concluded this weekend in Muscat after a week of intense discussions. Also present at the closing session of GB5 were the Agriculture Ministers of Ethiopia, H.E. Sileshi Getahun, and of the newest member of the International Treaty, Sir Lanka, H.E. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.


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