Institutional capacity and implementation issues in farmers' rights
Srinivasan, C. (2013) Institutional capacity and implementation issues in farmers' rights. In: Halewood, M. (ed.) Farmers' Crop Varieties and Farmers' Rights: Challenges in Taxonomy and Law. Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity. Routledge. ISBN 9781844078905 (In Press)
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Armed with the ‘equity’ and ‘conservation’ arguments that have a deep resonance with farming communities, developing countries are crafting a range of measures designed to protect farmers’ access to innovations, reward their contributions to the conservation and enhancement of plant genetic resources and provide incentives for sustained on-farm conservation. These measures range from the commericialization of farmers’ varieties to the conferment of a set of legally enforceable rights on farming communities – the exercise of which is expected to provide economic rewards to those responsible for on-farm conservation and innovation. The rights-based approach has been the cornerstone of legislative provision for implementing farmers’ rights in most developing countries. In drawing up these measures, developing countries do not appear to have systematically examined or provided for the substantial institutional capacity required for the effective implementation of farmers’ rights provisions. The lack of institutional capacity threatens to undermine any prospect of serious implementation of these provisions. More importantly, the expectation that significant incentives for on-farm conservation and innovation will flow from these ‘rights’ may be based on a flawed understanding of the economics of intellectual property rights. While farmers’ rights may provide only limited rewards for conservation, they may still have the effect of diluting the incentives for innovative institutional breeding programs – with the private sector increasingly relying on non-IPR instruments to profit from innovation. The focus on a rights-based approach may also draw attention away from alternative stewardship-based approaches to the realization of farmers’ rights objectives.
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