International Community Approves Joint Capacity Building Programme on Farmers’ Rights

Recognizing and respecting the fact that implementation of Farmers’ Rights under the International Treaty rests with national governments, the Secretariat of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) offers its support to governments to help improve their capacity and, thus, enable them to fulfill their obligations under the Treaty.
Last month, GFAR presented a Joint Capacity Building Programme between the International Treaty, GFAR and other organizations to delegates from 136 countries gathered in Rome for the Sixth meeting of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GB6).

The Joint Capacity Building Programme between the International Treaty, GFAR and other organizations on the Implementation of Farmers’ Rights has been developed in response to the limited capacity of governments to implement them, frequently identified by the Treaty’s Contracting Parties as one of the reasons for the limited realization of Farmers’ Rights at the national level. “GFAR aims to serve the needs of poor small-holder farmers, and to place these at the very core of agricultural research and innovation systems,” said Dr Mark Holderness, GFAR’s Executive Secretary in introducing the Joint Programme.

Photo credit: IISD
“We believe in the power of collective action for change, and are pleased about the joint roadmap of activities we have developed with the International Treaty on matters of mutual interest, “ said Juanita Chaves Posada, GFAR’s representative.

As recognized by the Governing Body in Bali in 2011, support given by GFAR’s Secretariat in regard to the implementation of Farmers’ Rights under the International Treaty has been focused on supporting relevant stakeholders coming together – including farmers’ and civil society organizations, national institutions and funding mechanisms – to improve grassroots capacity, awareness on Farmers’ Rights, and supporting decision-makers at the national level to improve national legal and policy frameworks promoting the co-existence and optimal benefits from formal and informal seed systems.

The Joint Programme will facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue and networking to support the role of smallholder farmers as custodians of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) and innovators of food crops relevant for food security in addition to increasing awareness, and supporting the development of policies and legal measures implementing Farmers’ Rights.

This Programme will not duplicate or replace existing efforts being undertaken by different organizations supporting Farmers’ Rights, but aims to (a) promote the establishment and strengthening of networks of stakeholders supporting the implementation of Farmers’ Rights; (b) promote dialogue between and among actors; (c) become a channel for mobilizing resources supporting Farmers’ Rights implementation; and (d) act as an efficient and transparent tool to upscale lessons learned and share success stories among Contracting Parties and other stakeholders, as the exchange of experiences has been recognized by Contracting Parties as contributing significantly to the national implementation of Farmers’ Rights.

Representatives from a number of countries expressed their appreciation of this initiative and welcomed the Joint Capacity Building Programme. Indigenous farmers from the Potato Park in Cusco, Peru, welcomed this as an important initiative supporting the implementation of Farmers’ Rights at local and national levels, and as a mechanism supporting benefit-sharing with smallholder farmers resulted from the use of PGRFA; protecting traditional knowledge, innovations and practices; promoting the co-existence and mutual support of Farmers’ Rights and Breeders’ Rights; and promoting smallholder farmers to participate in decision making processes; among others.

Decisions made by the international community at GB6 will guide the work on sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), Farmers’ Rights and other relevant issues for the coming two years. The challenge ahead is to strengthen partnerships and bring together relevant stakeholders to secure financial and technical resources to implement the Joint Capacity Building Programme, upon request, and report back on its implementation and impacts in 2017 at the next meeting of the Governing Body of the International Treaty.

For more information on the Joint Capacity Building Programme between the International Treaty, GFAR and other organizations on the Implementation of Farmers’ Rights, please contact: Juanita.chaves@fao.org

Photo credit: IISD


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