Strengthening farmer-led seed systems

17 June 2016

On June 15th, 2016, ILEIA, Boerengroep, Louis Bolk Instituut, Bioversity International and ASEED organised a panel discussion where experts shared their perspectives on the implementation of access and benefit sharing of genetic resources.

Farmers, especially women, have been the custodians of the world’s biodiversity through saving, using, exchanging and selling seed and propagating material. The rights of farmers to do this are a core component of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, as well as their right to participate in decision making and in the sharing of benefits arising from the use of plant genetic resources.

However, only a small number of governments have established effective farmer-centred measures for the implementation of access and benefit sharing of genetic resources. Yet, there are various examples of successful farmer-led initiatives, some of which happen through a collaboration between researchers and farmers. What are the lessons of effective access and benefit sharing for family farmers?

The panel discussion was organised on the occasion of Farming Matters’ special issue on this topic. During the event, the magazine was launched and made available to all participants. The magazine presents inspiring examples from Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador, Iran, India, the Netherlands, China and Zimbabwe, as well as expert perspectives on the challenges and possible solutions.

At the panel discussion, professor Edith Lammerts van Bueren talked about a unique collaborative model of potato breeding in the Netherlands. While there are other examples of collaborative relationships between farmers and breeders in Europe, the Dutch potato breeding model stands out in terms of its long track record, and the institutional integration of the relationship which up to today facilitates access to genetic materials and financial benefit sharing. Other speakers included: René Groenen (farmer breeder at De Groenen Hof), Ronnie Vernooy (Bioversity International) and Vanaja Ramprasad (Green Foundation, India), who spoke at the even via video message.

Watch the event