SEARICE Highlights Role of Smallholder Farmers in International Meeting

ROME, Italy, 09 November 2019 – “Yesterday’s utopia is the reality of today.” Jose Esquinas-Alcazar, one of the people who worked hard for the establishment of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA or simply Treaty), delivered a message of hope to the delegates of the 8th Governing Body (GB8) Meeting.

Esquinas-Alcazar provided a brief history of the ITPGRFA, now celebrating its 15th year, with his inspiring narratives sharing the extent of the efforts to overcome the hurdles to keep the negotiations on going.  With the Treaty held up by diverging positions on benefit-sharing, his message served as a reminder for every one of its purpose and the challenge to remain on the negotiating table, closing with Gandhi’s quote: “The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.”

Common heritage of mankind and the international common good is at the heart of the Treaty. Clive Stannard, a Senior Advisor of the ITPGRFA, who was also a part of the team behind the development of the Treaty, revisited its visions of commonality and interdependence. While the world is presented with huge questions on climate change, agriculture remains on the sideline and governments are not providing long term solutions and commitments. The future direction of the Treaty is spelled out by the capacity to strike a balance between the public and private sectors, to promote both scientific and traditional breeding emphasizing the incredible contribution of the latter in conservation and biodiversity, and to remain in harmony with other relevant treaties.

SEARICE shares this vision of a shared and common future and along with all the delegates of the GB8 Meeting, and remains steadfast in the conservation of plant genetic resources (PGR), emphasizing the contribution and the role of smallholder farmers. SEARICE brings to the negotiations the consolidated positions from decades of experience with its farmer partners in South East Asia, and the results of the consultations with farmers, the most recent of which was conducted in Davao City, Philippines on 24 October 2019. 

Normita Ignacio, SEARICE Executive Director, will sit as an advisor to the Philippine Delegation while Policy Advocacy Officer Cid Ryan Manalo will represent the organization. Sandy Jan Labarosa, a former SEARICE Program Officer and Dr. Huynh Quang Tin, our partner from the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute (MDI), are joining the SEARICE delegation. With its commitment on highlighting targeted and community-based approaches on the conservation and sustainable use of PGR, SEARICE will host a side event entitled “Securing Local Seed Systems: The Journey of Seed Clubs in Vietnam” on 12 November 2019.

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Photos are contributed by SEARICE staff and partner organizations and government agencies.