Realizing farmers' rights through community-based agricultural biodiversity management.
Article 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture addresses farmers' rights and recognizes the crucial role that smallholder farmers collectively play in maintaining the global pool of plant genetic resources. Strengthening and supporting women and men smallholder farmers and their communities to manage agricultural biodiversity effectively promotes food and seed security, sustainable livelihoods and resilience. This is best achieved through a community-based approach that is responsive to local conditions and builds on traditional knowledge and practices of farming communities. Such approach can be put into practice through research on: identifying and rewarding custodian farmers, encouraging farmer research groups (e.g. farmer biodiversity schools), establishing and supporting community seedbanks, promoting neglected and underutilized native crops and species, promoting nutritional value of crop diversity, using crop diversity for pest and disease management, supporting farmer seed producer- and marketing enterprises, organizing seed and food diversity fairs and festivals, and strengthening smallholder seed systems through the development and implementation of policy and legal measures. It is through these multiple actions that farmers' rights can be realized as a real means to empower smallholder farmers and their communities. Examples of Bioversity International's research portfolio provide evidence.