News story | Date: 05/07/2021
In September 2021, the UN Secretary-General will convene a Food Systems Summit and a Pre-Summit is planned for the last week in July. In this connection, Norway has proposed the game-changing idea Putting farmers’ and indigenous peoples´ access to crop diversity first, in seed policy and practice for seed security. The proposal is a collaborative effort by Norwegian government agencies, research institutions and civil society organisations.
The proposal is listed as a solution cluster on the UN Food Systems Summit website.
The Norwegian partners invited interested stakeholders and nations to a digital meeting June 25th to learn more about this game-changing idea and the development of a strong seed security coalition towards and beyond the Summit.
The video recordings of the presentations made at the meeting are available here:
Ola Westengen, Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Regine Andersen , Research Director, Fridtjof Nansen Institute
Feliciano Perez Tomas, farmer from Aldea El Suj, Huehuetenango, Guatemala
Egil Hoen, First deputy, Norwegian Farmers' Union, Norway
Dr. K.V. Prabhu, Chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority, India
Briefly stated, the starting point of the idea is that smallholders are key to food security in the Global South by producing most of the domestically consumed food. The diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture is crucial for farmers’ ability to adapt their food production to the effects of climate change and ensure access to safe and nutritious food. As custodians of the bulk of this diversity, the millions of smallholders in the Global South are key players in the seed and food systems and principal managers of the genetic resources that will be critical for the development of climate adaptive agriculture. At the same time many of them face seed insecurity – they do not have access to varieties adapted to their agroecological, cultural and socio-economic context.
However, relevant policies, funding and institutions at national and international levels of today are unable to meet the needs of the majority of the farmers in the Global South with regard to supporting and enhancing the potentials of their local seed systems. The legal structures and policies have been developed to accommodate and promote the formal seed sector, thereby largely neglecting the fundamental importance of farmers’ seed systems for food security and the maintenance of genetic diversity that is the foundation of all food production. This proposal calls for a fundamental re-think of how seed system development is supported globally and is aimed at establishing the structures and support required for farmers’ seed systems to develop their potentials to meet food security. A long overdue system change is at the core of this proposal, as this is fundamental to changing the game.
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