Guatemala Says YES to Farmers’ Rights: Capacity Development at Work

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The mountains of La Sierra de los Cuchumatanes cover 14% of Guatemala and are home to numerous family farming communities. The area is rich in genetic diversity of crops such as maize, and is among the most biologically diverse regions in Central America. However, a few years ago, smallholder farmers in the region were unaware of their valuable contribution to crop diversity, or of their rights as farmers.

As early as 2001, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, recognizing the unique contribution to agricultural biodiversity and the valuable traditional knowledge carried by smallholder farmers – such as those of La Sierra de los Cuchumatanes – called upon member governments to adopt measures to protect and promote Farmers’ Rights. In 2013, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) started working with NGOs and other partners to promote Farmers’ Rights in Guatemala.

As part of this endeavor, GFAR and its partners, including the Development Fund of Norway, Asociación de Organizaciones de los Cuchumatanes (ASOCUCH) and Fundación para la Innovación Tecnológica Agropecuaria y Forestal (FUNDIT), jointly with smallholder farmers, developed a set of six informational booklets in Spanish to teach smallholder farmers and relevant stakeholders about Farmers’ Rights in Guatemala. In 2014, this set of booklets was distributed at workshops and meetings with smallholder farmers and other stakeholders, including researchers and decision-makers from the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture, and has been used to raise awareness about Farmers’ Rights.

The booklets include general information about what Farmers’ Rights are, the international recognition of the rights of indigenous and local farming communities over their natural resources and traditional knowledge, innovations and practices, and the importance of community seed banks in La Sierra de los Cuchumatanes,” said Juanita Chaves Posada of the GFAR Secretariat, who oversaw the development and distribution of the capacity development material. “The material also explains how Farmer’s Rights can be implemented in practice.

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by Afshaan Shafi, Communication and Liaison Consultant working with the Global Forum on Agricultural Research.

Photo credit: Juanita Chaves

Infographic by Afshaan Shafi


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