CGIAR Integrates TK and Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Communities into Research

CGIAR15 January 2015: The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has highlighted its efforts to link traditional knowledge (TK) of farmers to laboratory and experimental field based research, as well as steps members of the Group are taking to secure the TK rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

The CGIAR news blog documents both how TK is often threatened, and how it contributes to addressing the current challenges facing agricultural communities. With respect to threats to TK, CGIAR underscores the loss of crop diversity and the centralization of genetic patents. The International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru is facilitating the development of a "potato park" where local farmers document and conserve their native potato varieties, and where CIP assists in controlling potato viruses. CIP is also involved in documenting oral traditional knowledge of the characteristics of potato varieties for future generations.

The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) has been engaged in participatory plant breeding (PPB), particularly as it relates to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR). This approach helps to ensure that farmers are able to benefit from their contribution to global crop knowledge by adding value to their crops through information exchange with professional breeders. This work is complemented by community seed bank approaches promoted by Bioversity International, which recognize the central role of communities in conservation and the sustainable use of agricultural resources.

In the context of obligations under the Nagoya Protocol, regarding prior informed consent for access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge, CGIAR members are taking steps to ensure that the implications of collecting and using TK are understood by both researchers and farmers, since genetic resources are now subject to sovereign rights and rights of indigenous peoples. In particular, the CGIAR Consortium is currently producing guidelines for implementation of the CGIAR Principles on the Management of Intellectual Assets, which reflect the CGIAR's engagement in protecting and promoting farmers rights. [CGIAR Blog]