By Gertrude Pswarayi-Jabson and Sabrina Masinjila*
A landmark decision on the establishment of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group to realize farmers’ rights was recently taken by the seventh session of the Governing Body (GB7) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA; also known as the ‘Seed Treaty’). There was stiff opposition from countries from the global North and the seed industry, who argued against that there was already a working group, under the Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture that was addressing farmers’ rights. However, this group has never seriously considered farmers’ rights since the Seed Treaty was adopted in 2004 more than 13 years ago.
At its meeting in Rwanda from 30 October to 4 November 2017, delegates from many of ITPGRFA’s 144 contracting member states and over 40 observers – including farmers’ organisations and civil society organisations – came together to discuss the theme: ‘The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Role of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture’. Included on the agenda were: Enhancement of the Functioning of the Multilateral System for Access and Benefit Sharing, Farmers’ Rights, Enhancement of the Funding