International farmers exchange for mutual learning: Privatisation of knowledge and seeds

03 February 2009

In February 2007, ahead of the Nyéléni Forum for Food Sovereignty, IIED and its partners from India, Indonesia, Iran and Peru facilitated a preparatory workshop for farmers from Mali and neighbouring countries. Held at the Bamako University Campus located on a hill overlooking the capital city, the workshop was attended by over 60 representatives of 17 countries, mainly from West Africa but also from Europe.

Farmers from Mali and neighbouring countries.

Organised jointly with the Biodiversité: Échange et Diffusion d'Expériences (BEDE) and the Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysannes du Mali (CNOP), this workshop was set up following a request from the CNOP and other farmers’ organisations to learn about the privatisation of seeds and knowledge, including local initiatives to document indigenous knowledge and articulate and protect rights over seeds and knowledge.

West African farmers were keen to learn more about these issues and about ongoing work of farmer communities in other parts of the world so that they could better claim and realise their rights to food sovereignty at the Nyéléni event that followed.

Over the course of the 5-day workshop, West African participants heard the experiences of their counterparts from India, Peru, Indonesia and Iran on issues of biopiracy, community biodiversity registers, participatory video and participatory plant breeding, agroecology and approaches to seeds and knowledge as an expression of food sovereignty.

A summary of the points expressed by the press conference panel on behalf of the 60 workshop participants were:

  • Support the use of traditional seeds and animal breeds for food sovereignty
  • Stop in the privatization of seeds and biopiracy
  • Ban GMOs on the lands of Africa
  • Support farmer exchanges and farmer-led innovations

The final outcome of the four day process, the Bamako declaration, is available to download below.

Read the Bamako Declaration
Lire la Déclaration de Bamako

Biodiversité: Échange et Diffusion d'Expériences

Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysannes

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