CSO African Consultation on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights

CSOs African Consultation on the implementation of farmers’ rights to Plant Genetic Resources for Food & Agriculture

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CSO African Consultation on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights 1


CSO African Consultation on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights

CIFAN Nyéléni Village – Selingue, Mali

From 17 to 20 July 2018



Forty participants, from 17 African countries, representing peasants, pastoralists, small-scale farmers, women organizations, NGOs and organizations active in food sovereignty, met from 17 to 20 July 2018 in Nyéléni, Selingue, Mali, to defend their rights on seeds for food sovereignty. The meeting has been organized by International Planning Committee (IPC) for Food Sovereignty and hosted by Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysanne (CNOP), and it has been supported by Brazilian, Malian and Norwegian Government, and financed by the Cooperation South-South of FAO.

Fundamental principles

  1. The preamble of the Treaty recognizes the contribution of farmers in conserving, improving and making available Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA). The participants of the African Consultation consider peasants, as defined in the draft of Declaration of Peasants’ Rights and other Persons Working in the Field and in Rural Areas of the Human Rights Council: “a peasant is any person who engages or who seeks to engage alone, or in association with others or as a community, in small-scale agricultural production for subsistence and/or for the market, and who relies significantly, though not necessarily exclusively, on family or household labour and other non-monetized ways of organizing labour, and who has a special dependency on and attachment to the lands.”
  2. Peasants’ seed systems supply the majority of seeds and plant varieties cultivated and not cultivated in Africa. These systems are at the origin of agricultural biodiversity and food systems. Peasants’ seeds are adapted to cultural identities of communities and territories.
    Peasants’ seed systems are based on peasants’ knowledge, practices and collective rights, defined by peasants’ communities according to their customs and traditions. They develop different peasants’ varieties managing agricultural and non-agricultural biodiversity in a dynamic way.
    Peasants’ seeds are characterized by diversity, resilience and dynamism. They are the only ones able to adapt to different territories and climate change.
    Peasants select and multiply seeds with their knowledge, know-how and activities under the conditions of their utilization: the field of agricultural and food production.
    Peasants’ seeds guarantee autonomy and permanent security of seed stock at local level.
    They allow sustainable and agroecological production. They are fundamental to ensure a diverse, rich and nutritious food, as well as food security and sovereignty.



Countries, which ratified the Treaty, must provide the necessary measures to protect and promote farmers’ rights. The Governing Body of the Treaty must facilitate, in a participatory process, the drafting of guidelines on the implementation of farmers’ rights, taking into account the following recommendations:

1. Protection of traditional knowledge related to conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture

This right must be applied to all peasants without exceptions. Their knowledge regarding peasants’ seeds is the cultural basis for their livelihoods, land, plants and souls. Countries must include in their legislation, with the effective participation of peasants, the obligation to respect, protect and preserve knowledge, innovation and practices of peasants’ communities.

During the collection of seeds that feed the multilateral system, Countries must submit to peasants a contract of material transfer or other kind of contract in compliance with the principle of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). This contract or agreement must oblige the beneficiary to avoid any intellectual property or any other right that limits farmers’ rights to conserve, save, use or sell seeds that have been exchanged. It must be written in local languages and must indicate the place where the seeds are conserved and the number of accessions.

Countries must prohibit the development of modern biotechnologies, which cause contamination or distraction of peasants’ seed and social systems related to them.

When seeds are marketed, countries must share:

  • Information regarding all kinds of intellectual property rights or any other rights regarding the access of PGRFA and farmers’ rights to freely use these resources.
  • Information on all breeding and reproduction processes utilized.

The Treaty must set up a traceability mechanism of all genetic resources that allow the identification of the origin of PGRFA utilized for the development of new seeds or propagating material.

The Treaty must co-operate with other international organizations, especially Union for the Protection of Plant Variety Protection (UPOV) and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in order to adjust their agreement to respect farmers’ rights.

2. The right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the use of PGRFA

Countries must monitor the use of PGRFA accessed from their national patrimony of genetic resources.

Countries should support the Treaty in the collection of payments for the Benefit Sharing Fund, in order to benefit peasants and developing Countries. Therefore, governments can set up a taxation system off the benefits of industries that arise from the commercialization of non-freely- replicable seeds and their protection rights, in order to share the benefits according to the modalities defined by the participation of peasants.

The commercialization of freely replicable seeds is a contribution to the equitable sharing of benefits.

The Treaty must ensure the participation of peasants in the management of the Benefit Sharing Fund. Peasants’ seed systems that ensure the conservation of PGRFA must be prioritized in the utilization of Benefit-Sharing Funds.

The mechanism for presentation of projects to the Benefit Sharing Funds must be simplified in order to be accessible to peasants’ communities and organizations that ensure the conservation of PGRFA within the peasants’ seeds system.

The Treaty must guarantee peasants’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell seeds included in the MultiLateral System (MLS), financed by the Benefit Sharing Fund.

3. The right to participate in making decisions, at the national level

Any national decisions or other international engagements regarding genetic resources cannot be taken without the effective participation of peasants, as well as those regarding intellectual property rights, the registration of seeds, biosecurity and the management of national genetic resources.

Countries must ensure the functionality of Focal Points of Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and its protocols, in transparency and with effective consultation with peasants.

In order to guarantee the effective participation, countries must:

  • Make available necessary information, in local languages, to peasants within at least 90 days before the start of the meeting, which allows them a collective appropriation of the issues.
  • Facilitate and support the capacity building of representatives of peasants’ communities, with a special attention for the participation of women and the youth, who are fundamental actors in rural communities.

The Treaty must ensure the effective participation of peasants in all decision-making and working spaces.

4. Right to save, use, exchange and sell seeds and the propagating material conserved on farm

Countries must recognize peasants’ seed systems, which are conceived and used by peasants’ communities in accordance with their customs and traditions. Measures regulating the industrial and commercial seeds’ system shall not apply to peasants’ seed systems, in particular on the issues of marketing, phytosanitary quality and intellectual property.

Countries must recognize specific rules to the collective rights of peasants’ seed systems that guarantee the phytosanitary and nutrition quality of peasants’ seeds. These rules must ensure the protection of peasants’ knowledge through voluntary initiatives, such as a code of conduct or a participatory system of guarantee.

5. Rights to redress

National legislation and international agreements must provide a mechanism that allows peasants and the organizations that support them, to claim for redress in case of violation of their rights, as defined in the article 9 of the Treaty.