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Community seed banks and farmers’ rights


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Bioversity International policy scientist Ronnie Vernooy gave this presentation at the the Global Consultation on Farmers’ Rights, Indonesia, 27-30 September 2016, organized by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty).

The importance of farmers’ rights is recognized in Article 9 of the Plant Treaty.

In this presentation Vernooy shows how a community-based approach to the management of agricultural biodiversity, including supporting community seedbanks, can empower and benefit smallholder farmers and farming communities economically, environmentally and socially. This approach makes implementing farmers’ rights at national level both practical and effective contributing to food and seed security, sustainable livelihoods and resilience.

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Community seed banks and farmers’ rights

  1. 1. Community seed banks and farmers’ rights Ronnie Vernooy, Bioversity International, Farmers’ Rights Consultation, Bali, Indonesia, 27-30 September 2016.
  2. 2. Multiple functions Conservation: short and long term • Local/rare/heirloom varieties • Restoration of “lost” varieties • Climate resilient varieties
  3. 3. Multiple functions contd. Documentation and protection of indigenous/local knowledge • Access and availability • Exchanges of quality seeds • Introducing new diversity • Seed production and distribution/marketing • Participatory crop improvement Seed and food sovereignty • Community biodiversity management
  4. 4. Community seed banks and farmers’ rights (1) Recognition: Importance of traditional varieties and related knowledge in smallholder farmers’ livelihoods Community seed banks as part of: national conservation strategy (South Africa)/agrobiodiversity policy (Nepal)/PGRFA policy (Uganda) Access and benefit sharing: financial and technical support, access to ‘new’ seeds and knowledge, connections to the national genebank, crop improvement, improved extension service
  5. 5. Community seed banks and farmers’ rights (2) Participation in decision making: emerging • Through national network of community seed banks (Nepal) • Cooperation with national genebank (Bhutan, Zimbabwe) • Cooperation with international genebank (Peru) • Cooperation with plant breeding institutions (Bangladesh) Key roles of women recognized and valued
  6. 6. Community seed banks and farmers’ rights (3) Save/sell/exchange seeds: At the heart, but could be expanded to the right to agrobiodiversity Note that: United Nations’ draft declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas (UN 2015) includes the right to seeds (Article 22) and to biological diversity (Article 23) Read our brief!
  7. 7. Sustainability (1) • Farmers’ interest and leadership • Availability of local facilitator and interlocutor with other organizations • Responsiveness to crop diversity decline/loss • Possibility to respond to climate change stresses
  8. 8. Sustainability (2) • Potential to develop into a broader community organization • Availability of sound technical support; technical capabilities of farmers • Possibility to link with crop improvement activities and to national genebank • Supportive policy and legal environment
  9. 9. Challenges
  10. 10. Recognition and rewarding of custodians
  11. 11. Towards a national gene/seed banking system
  12. 12. Adding value
  13. 13. Strengthening the capacity to adapt to climate change
  14. 14. Community seed banks as platform for local rural development
  15. 15. Stronger policy and legal support
  16. 16. Photo credits Carlos Alberto Dayrell, Brazil EOSA, Ethiopia E.D. Israel Oliver King, MSSRF, India Prem Mathur, Bioversity International Pitambar Shrestha, LI-BIRD Stefano Padulosi, Bioversity International The Spanish Seed Network UBINIG, Bangladesh Ronnie Vernooy, Bioversity International
  17. 17. Thank you @BioversityInt Ronnie Vernooy