From 12 to 15 September 2023, in New Delhi (India), it took place the Global Symposium on Farmers’ Rights.

The Symposium, hosted by the Government of India, aimed to share knowledge and experiences on innovative approaches, effective policies, best practices, and lessons learned on implementing Farmers’ Rights, as set out in Article 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The objective was to better understand the challenges and opportunities for the effective implementation of Farmers’ Rights and gather insights and ideas for future work.

A delegation of representatives of the World Farmers’ Organisation, including WFO Board Member for the Asian Constituency, Mr Sok Sotha, together with Dr Nandini Azad and Mr Ravi Kumar, joined the three-day Symposium to contribute to debate.

Farmers play a pivotal role in addressing the global challenges outlined in the 2030 Agenda. However, their ability to contribute effectively hinges on the recognition and respect of their rights.

It is a farmer’s right to have the freedom and the possibility to choose between traditional seeds and seeding knowledge and new methods, varieties, and technologies. To empower farmers and ensure their resilience, it is imperative that they have the freedom and opportunity to select from a spectrum of options, including improved crop varieties and seeds. Farmers need to have access to quality, sustainable seeds at affordable prices to produce food and ensure food security while preserving biodiversity. The empowerment of farmers, especially family farmers, youth, and women, guided by human rights principles, is a fundamental building block in the journey toward a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable future for our planet and our people.

In the framework of the Symposium, WFO Board Member Mr Sok Sotha has been invited to contribute as a panellist to the session “International Processes and Other Issues of Relevance to Farmers’ Rights”.

This session focused on international processes and their significance in the context of Farmers’ Rights. The discussion centred on identifying opportunities emerging from synergies and showcasing practical examples and experiences.

Mr Sok highlighted the importance of placing farmers at the heart of policymaking, aiming to develop and implement enabling national policies and legal frameworks, providing farmers with the freedom to choose between traditional knowledge and technology.

He also emphasized the critical role of Farmers’ Organizations and Cooperatives in bridging the gap between farmers and the scientific and private sectors, as they can facilitate innovation adoption through services, training, and information sharing.

By the end, human rights take precedence and should be guaranteed to everyone, forming the basis for recognizing the rights of farmers. Farmers are, above all, people. So, human rights are farmers’ rights and one of the most crucial human rights is freedom: freedom of speech, but also freedom of choice.