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Research Helps Put Farmers' Rights on the Agenda

On 1 November the Governing Body (GB) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) decided to collect views and experiences on Farmers' Rights implementation, with the view to promote their realization. Research conducted in the Farmers' Rights Project has been crucial in bringing about the decision.

This breakthrough in the promotion of Farmers' Rights to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture was the result of a process carried through by the Governments of Norway and Zambia together in cooperation with the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI). It included informal international consultations in Zambia in September, and a side event during the GB session in Rome. Research results from FNI's Farmers' Rights Project provided much of the basis for and input to the process.

The side event on the realization of Farmers' Rights and the role of the GB in Rome was attended by about 50 participants. Here, the organizers presented the report from the informal international consultations on Farmers' Rights that had been held in Zambia 18-20 September to prepare for the discussions in the GB. They also presented an input paper on Farmers' Rights from the Governments of Norway and Zambia, submitted to the GB for consideration during its discussions.

The Governing Body's resolution encourages countries to submit their views and experiences on the implementation of Farmers' Rights as set out in the Treaty, and requests the Secretariat to collect this as basis for an agenda item for consideration by the GB at the next session in 2009 to promote the realization of Farmers' Right. The resolution further confirms that the Governing Body will continue to include farmers' organizations in its work.

'Knowing where we came from, and the great uncertainty related to the role of the Governing Body in the implementation of Farmers' Rights, I see this resolution as a substantial step forwards. It establishes a role for the Governing Body and its Secretariat in the implementation of these rights, and provides a basis for steps to be taken at the national level,' says Project Leader of FNI's Farmers' Rights Project, Senior Research Fellow Regine Andersen.

'In addition, the explicit statement of inclusion of farmers' organizations in the work of the Governing Body marks an important step towards cooperation with important stakeholder groups for the realization of these rights,' Andersen says.

Claes Lykke Ragner | alfa
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