|Last updated: 18/06/2013|
This document compiles the views and experiences on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights, as set up in Article 9 of the International Treaty, submitted by Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations, according to the request made by the Governing Body to the Secretary of the Treaty at its Fourth Session. The Secretary received all submissions contained in this document before 10 April 2013. The submissions of three Contracting Parties and eleven international organizations have been inserted in this compilation, in the form and language in which they were received. Minor editorial changes include the full rendering of acronyms and the correction of spelling. Some submissions received reflect the results of meetings held by Contracting Parties and stakeholders regarding the implementation of Farmers’ Rights with policy-makers, farmers, researchers and Non-Governmental Organizations.
This document compiles the submissions received from Contracting Parties, other governments and relevant institutions and organizations on how to improve sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, including on sectoral policies and best practices for sustainable agriculture. All submissions included in this document were received by the Secretary before 15 March 2013. Four submissions are reproduced in this compilation in the language in which they were received. Minor editorial changes include the full rendering of acronyms and the correction of spelling.
1. This document summarizes the contents of the submissions received by Contacting Parties and relevant organizations on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights as set out in Article 9 of the International Treaty. The compilation of complete submissions is available in document IT/GB-5/13/Inf.8 2. The document also refers to considerations made by the Ad Hoc Technical Committee on Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources; the Regional Workshops on Farmers’ Rights; other activities undertaken by the Secretariat of the Treaty related to Farmers’ Rights at the request of the Governing Body and the work done by FAO Programmes in relation to Farmers’ Rights in the Treaty. 3. The Governing Body is invited to take note of the information submitted and to provide guidance on the future implementation of Farmers’ Rights as set out in Article 9 of the International Treaty.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a general analysis of the comments made by the authors of the book chapters in the ongoing implementation of the Treaty. The reader will have noticed that, on the one hand, many authors remain fairly optimistic about the Treaty and note that considerable progress has been achieved in a very short period of time, even beyond their initial expectation. On the other hand, some authors, while recognizing that the Treaty is a useful and flexible instrument, point at the risk that the lack of appropriate and quick decisions and actions to speed up the implementation process may lead to a decreased level of confidence in the general framework set up by the Treaty. Most of them recognize that it is now the moment to advance on its implementation.
The provisions of the Treaty and its implications for smallholder farmers are yet to be substantially ‘processed’ by farmers and their communities. Civil society organizations (CSOs) with knowledge about the Treaty can only directly reach a very limited number of farmers. Although limited in number, these farmers have substantial understanding of the implications of the Treaty. However, while these farmers are informed and are often involved in the discussions of the Treaty, the issues covered by the Treaty have to compete with other more pressing issues like agrarian reform, access to markets, seed regulations, irrigation concerns and human rights violations.
Plant breeding started about 9000 to 11,000 years ago when man started with the domestication of wild plants. Farmers and growers tried to improve their crops with desired traits through trial and error. The evolutionary theories of Darwin and the genetic experiments of Mendel that were developed at the end of the 19th century gave a further impulse to plant breeding and made it more efficient. During the 20th century breeding science was further improved through knowledge of genetics, plant pathology and entomology (Bruins, 2009). The development of hybrids (starting around 1920) was the first technology in plant breeding to offer better plant varieties to growers and farmers.
The Pacific region faces numerous social and physical challenges in maintaining and improving the productivity of their agriculture sectors and protecting their biological diversity. The geographical isolation of the region and the small size of many of the islands have resulted in a narrow genetic and production base with limited opportunities for scaling up production. These constraints do little to support recovery from natural disasters which are an increasing occurrence. Movement of goods and people, through trade and tourism, have heightened the risk of introducing unwanted plant and animal pests, weeds, diseases and other alien invasive species, threatening the fragile ecosystems and resource base of the region.
Scientists and policy makers in North America share the view that genetic improvement of crop plants is a great benefit to humanity. It is one of the least costly and most effective ways to increase production of food, fibre and plantbased products, to resist pests and diseases, to meet new market opportunities, and to address the challenges of abiotic stresses such as drought, temperature and climate change. Three conditions appear necessary for these benefits to be realized: plant genetic diversity for food and agriculture must exist; the plant genetic resources must be available; and the capacity must be present to use them – that is, human, scientific and financial resources.
In the Near East region, which is considered the cradle of agricultural civilization, agricultural systems are seriously threatened with drastic instability in climatic conditions and consequently with the erosion of basic natural resources, supporting agricultural productivity, including soil, water and genetic resources. The Near East is a food insecure area. Member countries spend a significant part of their foreign trade earnings on importing food and feed materials. Productivity levels in the region, both for crops and animals are low. Therefore, the Near East region continues to be a net importer of wheat and other commodities with the exception of Turkey, Syria and Pakistan.