GFAR blog, Partnerships for impact

GFAR Webinar- Farmers’ Rights: Achieving Complementarity Between the Informal and Formal Seed Systems


GFAR is pleased to invite you to the webinar:

Farmers’ Rights: Achieving Complementarity Between the Informal and Formal Seed Systems

Date: 30 May 2017

Time: 15:00 Rome time (GMT+2)

Duration: 2 hours max

Registration open

As one of the series of GFAR webinars, GFAR Secretariat is bringing together several presenters to engage the agri-food research and innovation community around the topic of Farmers’ Rights, and especially how to achieve the complementarity between the informal and formal seed systems.

Smallholder farmers are at the heart of the informal seed system as custodians and innovators of important crop genetic diversity. In most developing countries, the informal seed system provides up to 80% of the seed supply. It also plays a very important role in maintaining the countries’ cultural heritage (local traditions, languages, culinary heritage, etc.)

Local and indigenous farmers communities’ past, present and future contributions in conserving, improving and making available these resources for further breeding, adaptation to unpredictable environmental changes and human needs were globally recognized and considered the basis of Farmers’ Rights.

The recognition of Farmers’ Rights was a counterbalance to the recognition of rights of commercial breeders under the formal seed system. The aim was for the formal and informal seed systems not to be antagonistic, but mutually reinforcing; not one against the other, but both working together to ensure food security, adapt crops to unpredictable environmental changes and respond to human needs. However, there are still some challenges to achieve this goal at national level.

Joint efforts by different stakeholders and strong partnerships are needed in order to strengthen the complementary between the informal and formal seed systems. No one organization can do this on its own. Communication, participation and trust are needed between farmers, policy and decision makers, researchers, civil society and the private sector.

Complementarity between the informal and formal seed systems will be approached in a holistic way through this webinar. Not only do the conservation and innovation systems need to integrate the formal and informal seed systems to benefit from one another’s capacity and value added, but new policies and legal measures need to be formulated to ensure the recognition and implementation of the rights of farmers.

To learn more about how to achieve complementarity between the informal and formal seed systems, register today for GFAR webinar: Farmers’ Rights: Achieving Complementarity Between the Informal and Formal Seed Systems. Presenters will share how this complementarity is been achieved and identify some obstacles that still need to be addressed; and an expert will share how holistic policy and legal measures are also needed, identifying their relevant elements and sharing national examples. Desired outcomes of the webinar include to i) distill information and best practices that can be applied to strengthen the complementarity between the informal and formal seed systems at national level and ii) motivate participants to work together by strengthening partnerships and collective actions, according to their own unique roles.

Moderator: Peter Casier


JuanitaJuanita is a lawyer, with more than 10 years experience on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing. She worked for the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture for 5 years and currently is a Senior Advisor for GFAR Secretariat on genetic resources, intellectual property rights and Farmers’ Rights. She coordinates the Joint Capacity Building Programme with the Treaty and other organizations on the Implementation of Farmers’ Rights.


IMG-20151110-WA0015Mr. Mario Marino, Technical Officer, Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Since May 2008, he has been coordinating the work on Sustainable Use on PGRFA and Farmers’ Rights in the Treaty Secretariat. He is also a focal point with international agricultural research centres for training programs on conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA. He holds a master’s degree in Agricultural Sciences and Ph.D. in Agrobiology and Agro-biochemistry.

Glo passport picDr. Gloria Otieno, Associate Expert, Genetic Resources and Food Security Policy; Bioversity International Regional Office in Uganda. Gloria is a Genetic Resources and Food Security Policy Specialist at Bioversity International with specialization on genetic resources policy (access and benefit sharing, farmers’ rights and treaty implementation); climate resilient seed systems; adaptation planning and food security policy development. She has extensive experience in East, West and Southern Africa.


20160119-1941-veldemanphotoMs. Szonja Csörgõ, Director of Intellectual Property and Legal Affairs of the European Seed Association. Szonja is Hungarian and holds a degree in Law from ELTE Budapest University, an MA in French and European Law from Panthéon-Assas University (Paris) and an L.LM. in IP and Competition Law from the University of Liège. She has been working with ESA, the European Seed Association since 2009 as Intellectual Property and Legal Affairs Director. Before that she worked in the European Commission. Within ESA Szonja is primarily responsible for issues related to intellectual property protection and plant genetic resources. Besides that, she also handles all seed legislation related legal questions. She represents ESA towards relevant international organizations and European Institutions.

Bram de JongeMr. Bram de Jonge, Seed Policy Advisor at Oxfam Novib, the Netherlands. He is involved in the Sowing Diversity = Harvesting Security program. He is also a researcher at the Law & Governance Group of Wageningen University, specialising in the fields of Intellectual Property Rights, Access and Benefit-Sharing and Seed Laws, and involved in the Integrated Seed Sector Development Africa (ISSD Africa) program.

After each set of presentations, the moderator will invite participants to ask questions or share related experiences.

Register now!!!

You can register for this webinar by sending a simple email to

Please mention the title of the webinar you want to participate in, your name, affiliation (organisation/institute) and function.

We will send you a confirmation email. You will get a reminder with the technical details to join the webinar, one day before.

Register fast! Our webinars are limited to 100 participants and the available “seats” are often taken in a matter of days. We encourage participants to actively engage in our webinars with feedback, questions, and sharing of their own experiences.

GFAR and Farmers Rights

GFAR has long been concerned with Farmers’ Rights and played a pivotal role in the adoption of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

In 2012, GFAR began concerted activities supporting Farmers’ Rights implementation into practice, responding directly to national governments and smallholder farmer requests and needs. The main objective was to find ways by which Farmers’ Rights can be better addressed in national policies and in practice.

This has been done through increasing awareness, providing capacity building and providing legal and technical assistance to decision-makers, smallholder farmers’ organizations and relevant stakeholders. Support has already been given to Guatemala, Honduras, Malawi, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

To learn more about the national collective actions that have taken place to increase awareness, develop capacity and improve the implementation of Farmers’ Rights in developing countries, as well as the capacity building materials, draft policies and reports that have resulted from these activities, see the dedicated page on the GFAR website here.

Click here for more information on the Capacity Building Programme on the Implementation of Farmers’ Rights.

Further relevant information on Farmers’ Rights, provided by our webinar presenters, can be found at the following links:

About the GFAR webinars

GFAR strongly believes in the power of communications to bring – with our partners – our common messages to the public, and to network within our own communities. That’s why we continuously support trainings, workshops and webinars on communications.

Our webinars are open to Partners in GFAR as well as other nonprofit organisations or individuals working in the area of agriculture, ecosystems and sustainable development. They are often attended by scientists, students, communications staff as well as agricultural practitioners.

We do not ask for a participation fee, but we ask that as much as possible, the webinars present the work of Partners in GFAR and show how your organizations are working together towards shared GFAR goals. If your organisation is not a GFAR partner yet, join now!

The webinars are moderated via BlueJeans, an online tool running within any internet browser. It only requires participants to have a good and reliable Internet connection and a computer running any browser.

Topics of our past GFAR webinars include:

Agents of Change in Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation: The Value of Facilitators
Building a bridge between scientists and communicators

Participatory Video
Basic Search Engine Optimization
The Art of Website Revamps
The Crystal Ball: Predicting the future of online media

Photo credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT) 

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