GFAR partners CGIAR, GODAN (Global Open Data Initiative for Agriculture and Nutrition) and Asociación Andes, through a GFAR Collective Action supported by GFAR Secretariat, organized on 19 September 2017 a second webinar on the topic of Farmers’ Rights. The webinar was an opportunity to exchange information and best practices on how researchers and smallholder farmers work together in a complementary way, to achieve the conservation of genetic diversity, food security and improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations. The interest in this topic was remarkable, with more than 160 people registered and 65 participating on-line.
Participants are aware that the formal and informal seed systems alone cannot achieve the conservation of genetic diversity, food security and improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations. Joint efforts and collective actions between researchers and smallholder farmers are needed. Trust, better communication skills and partnerships should be promoted and strengthened.
Researchers of CGIAR Centers participating in the webinar recognized the importance of the informal seed system providing most of the seeds feeding developing countries.
The representative of the International Potato Center (CIP), Mr. Jorge Andrade, noted the need to improve seed quality for the use of smallholder farmers. He called for an integrated seed health system, integrated by resistant varieties through breeding, on-farm management and clean seed certification.
The integrated seed health system includes a clean seed replacement paradigm, which considers that formal breeding, and therefore certified seed, is not the only way to achieve clean seed. Farmers, through on-farm management are able to get clean seed, too, by going to the fields and selecting the best plot. Then, they select the best plants. From the best plants they select the best tubers and then they select the best seed.
The proposed integrated seed health system needs to be recognized by national legislation, which currently recognizes clean seed and certified seed to arise only from formal breeding activities. Researchers from CIP are working together with farmers to reach the integrated seed health system by supporting farmers’ capacity to have clean seed through on-farm management. This also involves participating in the discussions of new regulations for seed potato production in order to push for the seed law and regulations for potato seed production to be updated. Thus, two new categories of non-certified seed can be proposed: clean declared seed and traditional seed.
Bioversity International, represented by Mrs. Rose Nankya, shared an example of how researchers and smallholder farmers work together in Uganda promoting the conservation of local seed crops and the implementation of the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and propagating material, through community seed banks.
She explained that the process undertaken by the CGIAR Center towards building trust and partnerships with smallholder farmer includes the development of memorandums of understanding with smallholder farmers’ organizations; the use of participatory approaches to identify needs and solutions; the understanding of perspectives of different stakeholders; and the identification of win-win scenarios.
Mrs. Nankya outlined the functions of community seed banks and their importance for conserving genetic diversity, ensure food security and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
She also related the benefits of community seed banks for the formal research system, including ensuring the availability of seeds for formal and/or participatory plant breeding.
After the exchange of success stories from the formal research sector, Mr. Alejandro Argumedo from Asociación Andes shared the story of the partnership undertaken between the Potato Park, an indigenous farmer organization in Peru, and researchers improving the wellbeing and food security of smallholder farmers and promoting the implementation of Farmers’ Rights.
He focused his presentation on explaining the Potato Park-CIP Repatriation Agreement signed in 2004 and extended in 2010 and 2015. This agreement seeks collaborative research between smallholder farmers and CIP researchers on climate change, integrated pest management, participatory plant breeding, wild crop relatives, in situ management and seed policy. Mr. Argumedo identified lessons learned that arise from the joint and collaborative work between researchers and smallholder farmers, including access to new information by farmers and researchers; better understanding of problems and solutions; building of trust; co-creation of knowledge; interactive learning processes; collective knowledge; and capacity building as a two way process between farmers and researchers.
Mr. Jeremiah Baarbé from Open AIR, the Open African Innovation Research Network closed the session of presentations with relevant information on access to open data. He recalled that agricultural data is a very important resource for food security, as it is data that can be freely re-used and distributed by anyone for any purpose. Mr. Baarbé also highlighted that ownership rights are a major factor in access and use of open data and farmers who are most vulnerable, have least legal protection.
There are three categories of stakeholders participating in data production and use or so-called “data commons”: i) contributors, usually farmers providing the data and sometimes not controlling the registration of such data; ii) collectors, including private and public companies gathering data and making it available; and iii) consumers.
Mr. Baarbé noted the need for farmers to have access to data, be aware of the use of data they are providing to meet their needs; control access to their data; and participate in the benefits arising from the use of data.
Finally, as a closing remark, participants were motivated to share information on how joint work between researchers and farmers is taking place to achieve complementarity between the formal and informal seed systems and promote Farmers’ Rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds and propagating material, protect the traditional knowledge and promote the right of farmers to participate in the benefits arising from the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.
Others interested in this topic are invited to share collective actions and identify possible partnerships to enhance complementarity between the systems by contacting Juanita Chaves Posada (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The recording of this GFAR webinar can be found here.
The Power Point presentations made during the webinar can be accessed here.
Here you can find answers to the questions we were unable to tackle during our webinar: Questions from webinar chat channel_Farmers RIghts 2
Read the wrap-up of the first GFAR webinar on the topic of Farmers’ Rights here.
Photo at top: CGIAR-CIP