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Conservation of plant genetic resources is the shared responsibility of humanity, India’s Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar said while addressing the eighth session of the Governing Body of International Treaty of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), in Rome, Italy. Tomar added that he represented one among those countries where farming is the backbone of the socio-economy; where crop biodiversity is part and parcel of life and whose indigenous people, peasants have shaped the crop genetic resources that form the basis for breeding elsewhere in the world.
The Governing Body sessions are biennial and this year it is being held from 11-16 November with participation of delegates from 146 countries, international organisations, civil societies, farmers’ organisations, FAO officials and UN organisations. The Opening Ceremony was also attended by Teresa Bellanova, Agriculture Minister, Italy and Dr. Qu Dongyu, Director General, FAO. Christine Dawson from United States of America is the current Chair of the Treaty.
Tomar, while informing the delegates about the uniqueness of Indian legislation “Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act” to protect Farmers’ Rights and breeder’s rights, said that in Indian legislation, a farmer is entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under the PPV&FR Act, 2001 except brand name, and our legislation is fully compliant to article 9 of the Treaty. Under the provisions of this Act, 138 farmers/farming communities have been awarded with Plant Genome Saviour Awards. India has received about 16,620 applications for Plant Variety Protection out of which 10,920 (66%) have been received from farmers alone. Also, the PPV&FR Authority has registered about 3,631 plant varieties out of which 1,597 (44%) belong to the farmers.
ITPGRFA also known as Seed Treaty, is a comprehensive international agreement for ensuring food security through the conservation, exchange and sustainable use of the world's plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), as well as the fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from its use. It also recognises farmers' rights, subject to national laws.