President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the First Global Symposium on Farmers’ Rights in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that the farming fraternity of the world is its foremost conserver and they are the true guardians of crop diversity.
The four-day symposium from September 12-15 is being organised by the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Rome.
What is ITPGRFA?
ITPGRFA is a comprehensive international agreement for ensuring food security through the conservation, exchange and sustainable use of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), as well as the fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from its use. It also recognises farmers’ rights, subject to national laws.
Also known as the Seed Treaty, ITPGRFA was adopted by the 31st session of the Conference of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in November 2001. The treaty, which came in force on June 29, 2004 has been ratified by 149 countries including India.
The Treaty aims at:
• Recognising the enormous contribution of farmers to the diversity of crops that feed the world.
• Establishing a global system to provide farmers, plant breeders and scientists with access to plant genetic materials.
• Ensuring that recipients share benefits they derive from the use of these genetic materials with the countries where they have originated.
Main provisions of the Treaty:
i) Multilateral System: The Treaty’s truly innovative solution to access and benefit sharing — the Multilateral System — puts 64 of our most important crops, that together account for 80 per cent of the food we derive from plants, into an easily accessible global pool of genetic resources that is freely available to potential users in the Treaty’s ratifying nations for some uses.
ii) Access and Benefit Sharing: The Treaty facilitates access to the genetic materials of the 64 crops in the Multilateral System for research, breeding and training for food and agriculture. Those who access the materials must be from the Treaty’s ratifying nations and they must agree to use the materials totally for research, breeding and training for food and agriculture. The Treaty prevents the recipients of genetic resources from claiming intellectual property rights over those resources in the form in which they received them, and ensures that access to genetic resources already protected by international property rights is consistent with international and national laws. Those who access genetic materials through the Multilateral System agree to share any benefits from their use through four benefit-sharing mechanisms established by the Treaty.
iii) Farmers’ Rights: The Treaty recognises the enormous contribution farmers have made to the ongoing development of the world’s wealth of plant genetic resources. It calls for protecting the traditional knowledge of these farmers, increasing their participation in national decision-making processes and ensuring that they share in the benefits from the use of these resources
iv) Sustainable Use: Most of the world’s food comes from four main crops – rice, wheat, maize and potatoes. However, local crops, not among the main four, are a major food source for hundreds of millions of people and have potential to provide nutrition to countless others. The Treaty helps maximise the use and breeding of all crops and promotes development and maintenance of diverse farming systems.