In Rome ITPGRFA asserts farmers’ rights in quest for global food security

Moses Ziyambi


A meeting organized by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in Italy recently saw stakeholders emphasizing the need to uphold the rights of farmers in the quest for greater food security.

Held under the theme ‘Strengthening Seed Systems through Realizing Farmers’ Rights’, the meeting, was organised was held at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome during the Nineteenth Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA-19).

ITPGRFA secretary general, Kent Nnadozie, in his opening remarks, lauded farmers as the custodians of seeds over countless generations.

“Farmers have served as the guardians of the seeds that have nourished the world for countless generations,” Nnadozie said.

In recognizing the significance of farmers as the custodians of agricultural heritage, the governments of India and Norway partnered the ITPGRFA secretariat to organise a CGRFA-19 side event which set the stage for discussions on the realization of farmers’ rights in relation to global food security.

During the event, Nnadozie highlighted the unique significance of the ITPGRFA as the first legally-binding international instrument which acknowledges the historical role of smallholder farmers and indigenous communities in managing plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

This was echoed by Mario Marino, a member of the secretariat, who said there could not be genuine food sovereignty without cultural diversity.

Article 9 of the International Treaty calls upon all nations to safeguard and promote traditional knowledge and the rights of smallholder farmers and indigenous communities who are steadfast guardians of seeds and PGRFA.

The event, which was chaired by Svanhild-Isabelle Batta Torheim, of Norway’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food, showcased examples of measures and practices in promoting the realization of Farmers’ Rights, inspiring a supportive environment for agricultural communities.

“Agriculture is about people, more specifically, it is about farmers and their relationships with the agroecosystems, hence the focus of any agricultural development should be the farmers,” said Nori Ignacio, who is the executive director of the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE).

On his part, India’s Plant and Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority representative, Trilochan Mohapatra, highlighted India’s efforts to safeguard and promote farmers’ rights and their rich biodiversity heritage.


“In the valleys of Kashmir, an agricultural revival is taking place, as farmers embrace the cultivation of ‘MushkBudij,’ an aromatic rice variety that holds deep cultural and culinary significance,” said Mohapatra.

The event also emphasized the crucial linkages between the ongoing work on farmers’ rights within ITPGRFA community and the larger context of seed systems and access to seeds in the commission.

  1. The event also provided a forum for discussion about the first Global Symposium on Farmers’ Rights, scheduled to be held in New Delhi, India, in September this year.