The power to exercise choice: Implementing farmers’ rights to eradicate poverty and adapt to climate change
This report (PDF) by Oxfam Novib describes the main tools and achievements to realize farmers’ rights by empowering indigenous peoples and smallholder farmers to uphold their role in contributing to food security and strengthening their adaptive capacities. According to the program by Oxfam Novib, crop diversity is key to food security and climate adaptation. The key tool to realize farmers’ rights are farmer field schools (FFS). FFS facilitate farmers in accessing, adopting and creating a better-adapted portfolio of crops and varieties. FFS develop people’s power to exercise choice and their capacity to self-organise and learn, continuously innovate and update their practices, and engage in advocacy for policy changes. Other key tools to empower indigenous people and smallholder farmers are community seed banks and various participatory plant breeding approaches to maintain, enhance and create crop diversity. Cooperation between local and indigenous communities and public-sector institutions are of importance for the success and sustainability the up-scaling of these tools. To increase the number of FFS, necessary conditions are; 1) availability of well-established curricula of trainers; 2) well-developed engendered tools; 3) involvement of extension service staff; 4) availability of new and adapted germplasm and 5) an enabling policy environment. There are a number of policy implications to improve the enabling environment for farmers to contribute to crop diversity and to improve farmers’ rights. An example is the recognition and support for farmers’ seed systems. Furthermore, seed policies and laws should be established to promote farmer seed production and trade. Farmer’s rights should be balanced with breeder’s intellectual property rights. Moreover, fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture should be ensured. Farmers’ access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture should be facilitated. Lastly, farmer participation in policy and decision-making relevant to the use and conservation of PGRFA should be secured.