From 2009 Norway is going to give an annual contribution to the International Treaty’s benefit-sharing fund for financing plant breeding in developing countries and challenge other OECD-members to contribute likewise. If all the challenged countries accept, the fund can get some 200 million dollars during a ten year period.
The Norwegian minister of agriculture and food presented this challenge in his speach to the opening conference prior the official opening of Svalbard Global Sead Vault at February 26th.
- We all know that the real work of selecting, conserving and improving crop diversity has taken place in farmer’s fields throughout millennia. The establishment of this vault does not curtail that effort at all. The Government of Norway is well aware of farmers’ contributions and, for us, it’s ”pay back time”, the Norwegian minister said.
The International Treaty’s benefit-sharing fund is established to support on-farm management and conservation of plant genetic resources.
- We believe it is the most direct way to increase the ability of developing country farmers to improve, conserve and utilize the crops in their fields - and, of course - to feed their families, Riis-Johansen underlined.
- Starting next year, in 2009, the contribution from the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food will be equal to 0,1 percent of the value of all seeds that are sold in Norway. In a ten-year period our contribution should come to a million dollars.
- New and better seed must be produced. Storing of seed here at Svalbard is necessary, but not enough. Therefore, an improved financing of plant breeding in developing countries is needed. The aim of our contribution is also to speed up the plant breeding activites in developing countries with a focus on the interest of poor farmers, Riis-Johansen said.
He also challenged other developed countries to join Norway in this matter.
- By our calculations, if all developed countries contribute a similar percentage from sales of seeds, the International Treaty’s benefit csharing fund would have some 200 million dollars during a ten year period, said the Norwegian minister of agriculture and food, Terje Riis-Johansen.