Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar addressed the opening ceremony of 8th session of the Governing Body of International Treaty of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), in Rome, Italy, reminding the gathering that the conservation of plant genetic resources is the shared responsibility of humanity.
Tomar added that he represents India, a country where farming is the backbone of the socio-economy; where crop biodiversity is part and parcel of life and whose indigenous people and farmers have shaped the crop genetic resources that form the basis for breeding elsewhere in the world.
The Governing Body sessions are biennial and this year it is being held from 11 to 16 November with the participation of delegates from 146 countries, international organizations, civil societies, farmers’ organizations, FAO officials and UN organizations. The Opening Ceremony was also attended by Teresa Bellanova, Agriculture Minister of Italy, and Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Christine Dawson from the United States of America is the current Chair of the Treaty.
Tomar, while informing the delegates about the uniqueness of the 2001 Indian legislation ‘Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act’ to protect Farmers’ Rights and breeder’s rights, said that a farmer is entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under the Act. He added that the Indian legislation is fully compliant with Article 9 of the Treaty.
Under the provisions of the PPV&FR Act, 138 farmers/farming communities have been awarded ‘Plant Genome Saviour Awards’. India has received about 16,620 applications for Plant Variety Protection out of which 10,920 (66%) have been received from farmers alone. Moreover the PPV&FR Authority has registered about 3,631 plant varieties out of which 1,597 (44%) belong to the farmers.
The ITPGRFA, also known as the Seed Treaty, is a comprehensive international agreement for ensuring food security through the conservation, exchange and sustainable use of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), as well as the fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from its use. It also recognises farmers’ rights, subject to national laws.
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