Farmers Privilege and Farmers Rights
Generally, a PBR system allows farmers to use a part of the material produced on his farm, from a protected variety, for planting his own fields without any obligation to the PBR title holder, this is called farmers privilege. The UPOV Act (1978) had a provision for farmers privilege , which was withdrawn from UPOV Act ( 1991). But due to a strong opposition from various corners, it has now left to the member states of UPOV to make a provision for the farmers privilege.
Farmers privilege allows a farmers to use his own produce as seed (= propagules) , but does not allow him to exchange seeds with other farmers. Farmers privilege is a very important provision for countries like India where > 90 % of the land is planted with the seeds produced by the farmers themselves as the availability of new quality seeds is limited to < 10% of the total requirements. In addition, a majority of the farmers are poor, and forcing them to pay royality on their own produce would be adjust and even , cruel.
Agriculture began some 10,000 years ago. During this period, the genetic resources of crops have been selected, developed and conserved by farmers’ families and farming communities, particularly in the developing countries. These resources have been collected and used as the basic raw material to develop high yielding varieties by seed corporation of the developed countries. The seeds of these new varieties are earning huge profits to these corporations. It is only just those farmers/ farming communities who arise from past, present and further contribution of farmers in conserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources, particularly in the centres of origin / diversity.
The key questions relating to farmer’s rights remain as to whom to reward, to what extent and in what manner. It has been suggested that tribal people, rural communities and traditional farming families be rewarded. The quantum of suggested reward is around 5% of the profits. However, farmers rights are yet to be legalized in any country, it will be a happy day when they are actually implemented.