Everything you need to know about farmer’s rights !
Q.1. What are Farmers’ Rights?
Ans. Farmers, rights refer to the rights arising from the past, present and future contributions of farmers in conserving, improving and making available plant or animal genetic resources, particularly those in the centres of origin/diversity.
In other words, the legal rights provided to farmers to save, use, sow, replant, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under Plant Variety Protection Act refer to Farmers Rights. The purpose of these rights is to ensure full benefits to farmers and support the continuation of their contributions.
The FAO Conference held in Rome from 11-29 November, 1989 endorsed the concept of Farmers Rights with a view to:
(i) Ensuring global recognition of the need for conservation and the availability of sufficient funds for these purposes;
(ii) Assisting farmers and farming communities throughout the world, especially those in areas of original diversity of plant genetic resources, in the protection and conservation of their PGR and of the natural biosphere; and
(iii) Allowing the full participation of farmers, their communities and countries in the benefits derived, at present and in the future, from the improved use of PGR.
Q.2. Is Registration required for a farmers’ Variety?
Ans. A farmer who has bred or developed a new variety shall be entitled for registration and protection of his variety like a breeder.
Q.3. What is the procedure of registration of farmers’ variety?
Ans. The registration process consists of the following steps:
(i) Filing of Application:
The application is to be filed in the prescribed form and submitted in the office of the registrar of Plant Variety Protection and farmers’ Rights Act. The application should contain all the desired documents and information.
(ii) Examination of the Application:
The application is examined by experts in the registrar office. If it found correct, it is advertised for opposition. Three months’ time is given for filing opposition.
If there is no opposition, and the registrar and Authority are satisfied, the variety is registered and the registration certificate is issued to the breeder, farmer or other owner of the variety.
Q.4. What are the Requirements for registration of farmers’ variety?
Ans. The farmers; variety shall be entitled for registration if it meets the following requirements:
(i) It should have a denomination (name) assigned by the applicant
(ii) An affidavit that the variety does not contain terminator gene.
(iii) A complete passport data of parental lines from which the variety has been derived.
(iv) The contribution of any farmer, village community, institution or organization in the development of the variety.
(v) The source of genetic material used in developing the variety and the parental material used in developing new variety was lawfully acquired.
(vi) A brief description of the variety about its novelty, distinctiveness, uniformity and stability.
(vii) A proof of the right to make the application.
Q.5. How much fee is charged from farmers for registration of a variety?
Ans. In India, a farmer or group of farmers or village community shall not be liable to pay any fee in any proceeding before the Authority or Registrar or the Tribunal or the High Court under Plant Variety Protection and Farmers’ Rights Act or the rules made there under.
Q.6. What are the Rights granted to farmers?
Ans. The Farmers’ Rights Act provide following rights to the farmers in India even for the variety protected under PVP and FR Act:
(i) Rights to save, use, sow or replant seeds of his farm produce,
(ii) Rights to exchange or share his farm produce, and
(iii) Rights to sell seeds of his farm produce.
However, the farmer cannot sell the seeds or planting material under a brand name.
Q.7. What are Rights of Communities in India?
Ans. In India, any of the following can file application for registration on behalf of any village or community:
(i) Any person or group of persons (whether actively engaged in farming or not), and
(ii) Any governmental or non-governmental organization.
After completing all formalities, if the Authority is satisfied, the variety can be registered. It due credit has not been given to the farmers or communities who have helped in the development of the variety; the breeder has to pay compensation to the concerned party. Or part of compensation will be deposited in the gene fund.
Q. 8. Is Authorization of Farmers’ Variety possible?
Ans. The authorization for an essentially derived variety from farmers’ variety cannot be given by the breeder of such farmers; variety except with the consent of the farmers or group of farmers or community of farmers who have made contribution in the preservation or development of such variety.
Q.9. What are the Materials Covered by Farmers’ Rights?
Ans. Farmers’ Rights include new varieties of all self pollinated, cross pollinated and asexually propagated varieties.
Q.10. What is the Duration for Farmers’ variety?
Ans. The protection is provided for a definite period.
The duration of protection for different plant species is as follows:
(i) For Trees and Vines: Initially for nine years and maximum for 18 years.
(ii) For extant varieties: Initially six years and maximum for 15 years from the date registration of the variety.
(iii) In other cases: Initially six years and maximum for 15 years from the date registration of the variety.
Q.11. What is the Validity of protection of Farmers’ Rights?
Ans. The protection is valid only in the country where the variety has been registered.
Q.12. What is Benefit Sharing?
Ans. If the variety has been developed by a particular farmer, he can get benefits of his variety, In case of community rights, the sharing of benefits becomes difficult and the money is deposited in the gene fund.
Q.13. What is Gene Fund?
Ans. The central government may constitute a Fund to be called National Gene Fund.
The money earned from following will be deposited in this fund:
(i) The benefit sharing received from the breeder of a variety.
(ii) The annual payable to the Authority in the form of royalty.
(iii) The amount of compensation received by the Authority.
(iv) Contribution received from any National or International Organization and other sources.
The gene fund may be utilized for benefit sharing, rewards and other expenditure related to Plant Variety Protection and Farmers’ Rights Act.
Q.14. Who will be entitled for Rewards?
Ans. A farmer who is engaged in the conservation of genetic resources of land races and wild relatives of economic plants and their improvement through selection shall be entitled for recognition and reward. The expenses toward rewards will be met out from the National Gene Fund.
Q.15. What do you mean by Acknowledgement by Breeders?
Ans. It is compulsory for the breeder of a variety to reveal the origin of the parental lines plant genetic resources used in the development of a variety. It will help in deciding the share of different persons, viz., farmers and other communities in benefits earned by breeder of such variety.
Q.16. Is Infringement is exempt for Indian farmers?
Ans. If a farmer was not aware of the PVP and FR Act at the time of using any protected variety, he will be exempt from the infringement and will be asked not to do such act in future. This right has been provided to Indian farmers by PVP and FR Act 2001.
Q.17. What the purpose of farmers’ rights?
Ans. Farmers’ Rights, as endorsed by FAO in 1989, recognize that farmers and rural communities have contributed and continue to contribute to creation, conservation, exchange and enhancement of genetic resources and they should be recognized and strengthened in their work.
Q.18. What the significance of farmers’ rights?
Ans. The important points about nature and scope of Farmers’ Rights are briefly presented as follows:
(i) Ancient Rights:
Farmers’ Rights have a deep historic character. They existed since humans created agriculture to serve their needs, and played vital role in conservation of biodiversity. Farmers are the guardians of these genetic resources, which support the evolution of species. Farmers are the inheritors of the skills and knowledge of the generations that have created this biological wealth. For these contributions, it is necessary to recognize Farmers’ Rights.
(ii) Rights Covered:
Farmers’ Rights include the right over resources and associated knowledge, united indivisibly, and means the acceptance of traditional knowledge, respect for cultures and recognition that these are the basis of the creation of knowledge.
(iii) Property Rights:
The farmers deserve right to control, the right to decide the future of genetic resources, the rights to define the legal framework of property rights of these resources.
(iv) Collective Nature:
Farmers’ Rights are of an eminently collective nature and therefore are protected by sui generic rights.
These rights should have a national application, respecting the sovereignty of each country, to establish local laws based on these principles.
(vi) Rights to Means:
It includes territorial rights, right to land, right to water and air and rights to conserve biodiversity and achieve food security.
(vii) Active Participation:
The farmers deserve right to participation in the definition, elaboration and execution of policies and programmes linked to genetic resources.
(viii) Rights to Technology:
The farmers deserve right to appropriate technology as well as participation in the design and management of research programmes.
(ix) Rights to Benefit Sharing:
The farmers deserve right to define the control and handling of benefits derived from the use, conservation and management of these resources.
(x) Rights on Genetic Resources:
The farmers deserve right to use, choose, store and freely exchange of genetic resources.
(xi) Rights for Sustainable Agriculture:
The farmers deserve right to develop models of sustainable agriculture that protects the biodiversity and to influence the policies that support it.
Q.19. What is the Role of Farmers Related to PGR?
Ans. Farmers are both men and women who have domesticated, developed, conserved and made available plant genetic and other natural resources (land; water; vegetation; animal, bird and fish life) to which they have access in order to obtain a livelihood and ensure the well-being of their family through the provision of basic requirements such as food, fuel and water and income from the land.
Farmers have played key role in conservation of Plant Genetic Resource for thousands of years.
The role of farmers in relation to PGR is briefly presented below:
(i) Farmers both men and women have conserved plant genetic resources’ over the past thousands of years.
(ii) Farmers are rightly called as on site managers of plant genetic resources.
(iii) Farmers have in depth knowledge of the land races and wild relatives of cultivated plant species.
(iv) All modern plant varieties contain only those genes that have originated from farmers’ traditional varieties (landraces) or wild crop relatives.
(v) The women and men have historically provided the germplasm upon which scientific plant breeding is based.
(vi) Generally, germplasm is provided by small-scale subsistence farmers to plant breeders whose varieties are then adapted/developed for medium to large scale commercial farmers.
Q.20. What is the role of women related to PGR?
Ans. The role of women related to PGR are as follows:
(i) Women’s special knowledge of the value and diverse uses of plants for nutritional, health and income has important implications for the conservation of plant genetic resources,
(ii) The women have played significant role not only in terms of labour and skills, SI but also their decision-making about how natural resources are used to satisfy the multiple needs of rural households.
(iii) In much of the developing world, the on-farm and in-situ conservation and use of plant genetic resources begins with women. As farmers, they are responsible for growing crop plants and collecting seed for next year sowing.
(iv) It is estimated that 90 % of the planting materials used in developing countries is produced by the farmers themselves, i.e. from saved seed. The selection of wild genetic resources for home planting, of seeds for conserving for next year’s planting and of asexually propagated material is usually carried out by women. This selection is a sophisticated process that takes into account many different criteria such as taste, color, palatability and texture; resistance to pests and diseases; adaptation to soil and agro-climatic conditions and so on. The selection criteria are built up over years of experience.
Q.21. What are the similarities between Plant Breeders’ rights and farmers’ Rights?
Ans. Plant Breeders’ Rights and Farmers’ Rights have some similarities which are presented in Table 40.1.
Q.22. What are the differences between Plant Breeders’ rights and farmers’ Rights?
Ans. Plant Breeders’ Rights and Farmers’ Rights have some differences which are presented in Table 40.2.
Q.23. Discuss the Future Outlook Related to PGR.
Ans. Plant Genetic Resources are the base materials for modern plant breeding programmes. Hence their proper conservation and sustainable use are essential.
In future, the following points should be given due importance for proper conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources:
(i) Assistance to Farmers:
Farmers in all regions of the world should be assisted in their conservation of natural resources and more specifically the selection, conservation, improvement and sustainable use of PGR. Non-Governmental Organizations should assist in the entire process as they are close to the communities and have the capacities to provide long-term support. The establishment of strong village level institutions with adequate representation of both women and men farmers can be the key in promoting successful programmes.
Appropriate incentives should be developed, with the active participation of those concerned, to convince communities, industry and governments of the benefits of conservation and men and women at all levels should participate in the design and development efforts and to provide financial resources, legal support, and technical capability to develop agricultural systems that are suitable for local agro ecological conditions and, where possible, based on locally available resources.
Incentives should be used to enable farmers to divert land, labour and capital towards conserving biological resources and to facilitate the participation of certain groups in activities that promote the sustainable use of those resources.
(iii) Participation of Women Farmers:
The participation of women farmers and the recognition of their contributions in the design and elaboration of such policies and programmes at all levels is essential. Women farmers should be included in decision making processes at community and regional levels. Farmers, communities and countries, and men and women at levels should participate in the design and implementation of programmes policies and agreements related to PGR.
Those farmers who develop breeding materials should be empowered to decide, at their discretion, if the materials will be made available to other (i.e. external) users.
(v) Equal Rights to Women:
There should be equal rights for conservation and participation in PGR related programmes and policies, which is often lacking in developing countries. There should not be discrimination of gender. In the past, women farmers could get little benefit from support in terms of information and technology, inputs and credit, extension and research.
(vi) Participatory Plant Breeding:
Participatory research and plant breeding should be promoted with different socio-economic groups in rural communities in order to improve the productivity of local varieties and to promote marketing of special products derived from these materials.
(vii) Use of Land Races:
Modern plant breeding has concentrated on developing a small number of varieties that are widely adapted to many environments. Land races should also be used for developing varieties suitable for diverse ecological conditions.
(viii) International Funds:
There is need for the creation of an Intentional Fund- to support in-situ conservation and to benefit rural men and women who produce and conserve PGR. In general farmers are interested in conserving resources but lack of financial support acts as a barrier in their way.
(ix) Integrated Programs:
PGR conservation should be integrated into other community development programmes. It will promote and employment in activities related to PGR building up of local institutions, capacity building and collecting and dissemination information on the status and trends of PGR.
(x) Benefit Sharing:
There should be equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of PGR, knowledge, innovations and practices.
Q.24. What are the advantages of Farmers’ Rights?
Ans. There are several advantages of farmers’ rights which are listed below:
i. Provide recognition to farmers, communities or village for their role in conserving Plant Genetic Resources.
ii. Provide respect to farmers.
iii. Provide opportunities to farmers to participate in the policies, projects and programmes related to plant Genetic Resources (PGR).
iv. Lead to benefit sharing when farmers’ material is used in developing new variety by breeders.
v. Farmers permission is required to use their plant material.
vi. Provide rewards to those farmers who are actively engaged in conserving Plant Genetic Resources.
Q.25. What are the Limitations of Farmers’ Rights?
Ans. There are some limitations of farmers’ rights which are listed below:
i. Mostly farmers’ rights are of collective nature.
ii. The benefit sharing is difficult.
iii. Farmers do not get any financial support from government for the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources.
iv. Farmers’ Rights are of territorial nature.