Farmers' rights in Ethiopia: a case study

Farmers' rights in Ethiopia: a case study

Are farmers reaping the benefits of agricultural diversity in Ethiopia?

Recent years have seen the integration of farmers' rights into the wider issue of plant genetic resources conservation. The 2001 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) legally binds the domestic and international communities to ensure the adequacy of conservation budgets and allow farmers to reap the benefits derived from the use of plant genetic resources.

This paper examines the case of Ethiopia: an agricultural country where over 85% of livelihoods are derived from small scale agriculture, and which possesses a great variety of agricultural crop genetic resources. Farmers are therefore the key to agricultural production and success. The study highlights perceptions of different stakeholders, the achievements made, and existing barriers and opportunities regarding the implementation of farmers' rights in Ethiopia.

Whilst various efforts have been made to formulate policies that recognise farmers' and community rights, the process of formulating legal instruments for the implementation of the policies has been very slow. Other interesting findings include:

  • in terms of the decision-making power of farmers, there is some lack of clarity regarding the process of prior informed consent, particularly regarding access to genetic resources
  • whilst some policies protect farmers' access certain crop varieties, there is little (if any) mention of how farmers are supported and recognised for the role they play in conserving and developing crop genetic diversity
  • perceptions of farmers' rights in Ethiopia are based on varying degrees of understanding of the issue itself - the majority of respondents involved in the case study are not aware of the concept of farmers' rights
  • although there is a conducive policy environment for implementing community and farmers' rights in Ethiopia, there is a need to study the nature of community structures as well as relevant policies thoroughly, in order to avoid unnecessary gaps and overlaps that may hamper the implementation of farmers' and community rights.

[adapted from author]

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.