CIESIN Reproduced, with permission, from: Lamola, L. M. 1992. Linking the formal and informal sectors in plant genetic resources conservation and utilization. White Paper 92-1. Des Moines, Iowa: Drake University Law School, Agricultural Law Center.


Leanna M. Lamola

JULY 1992

The author is a third year law student at Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa USA, where she is a research assistant to Prof. Neil D. Hamilton, Director of the Agricultural Law Center. She has a BA in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and work experience in plant molecular biology research. Her interests are the conservation and use of genetic resources and technology transfer.

Acknowledgements: The author would like to thank Prof. Neil D. Hamilton and Dr. Donald N. Duvick for their advice and support. The author would also like to thank Dr. Kristin M. Cashman and Mr. Gerard McKiernan for providing invaluable information

White Papers are the product of research by Agricultural Law Center students and staff, deemed to make a valuable contribution to agricultural law. White Papers are distributed by the Agricultural Law Center to the legal and agricultural communities for the purpose of increasing understanding and stimulating debate on important legal issues shaping the future of agriculture.

The Agricultural Law Center was created by Drake University Law School in 1983 to serve as a center for scholarly study of the role law plays in shaping the future of agriculture. The Center sponsors a series of academic courses, professional seminars and publications on agricultural law topics. For more information about the Center, write: Drake University, Agricultural Law Center, Des Moines, Iowa 50311, U.S.A., or call 515/271-2947

Prof. Neil D. Hamilton is the Director of the Agricultural Law Center and the Editor of the White Paper series.


There are a number of legal and policy constraints to linking the "informal sector" (non-profit, nongovernmental organizations, community groups and individuals) and the "formal sector" (government agencies, multilateral institutions, and for-profit businesses) in plant genetic resources (PGR) conservation and utilization. This paper describes a cooperative research support program (CRSP) for on-farm research directed at PGR conservation and use to increase the sustainable productivity of small-scale, resource-poor farmers. The basic model for this CRSP is the proposed Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources Management (SANREM) CRSP of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The CRSP proposed here would link farmers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to national agricultural research systems (NARSs) through cooperative research and development agreements. It would also encourage the involvement of the public and private seed infrastructure in technology diffusion. Initial funding would come from a multinational "PGR Trust Fund."

I. Plant Genetic Resources and Sustainable Agriculture

All nations realize that in order to meet future global food and fiber needs, PGR must be conserved and utilized in crop improvement programs (Plucknett et al. 1987, 3; NRC 1991a, 3). All nations are interdependent in this effort, because each can contribute germplasm, information and technology (NRC 1991a, 3). Therefore, in order to maximize the efficiency of plant breeding for sustainable agriculture, there must be a well-linked global network of those who conserve and those who use PGR (Plucknett et al. 1990, 1; IBPGR 1989). Furthermore, all nations realize that successful national plant breeding programs require strong institutional capacity for training and for the use of new technologies, particularly biotechnology (Plucknett et al. 1987, 97; Cohen 1990a, 57).

II. Development of the Formal Sector in PGR Conservation and Utilization

A. The IBPGR Network of PGR Centers

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initiated work on a global PGR network more than twenty years ago (McCusker 1991, 36; Plucknett 1989, 69). In 1974, the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) was established by the FAO and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 2). The IBPGR operates under the aegis of the CGIAR, which is a consortium of donor countries, foundations and development banks, cosponsored by the World Bank, United Nations Development Program and FAO (van Sloten 1990, 36). IBPGR's original mandate was to promote and coordinate an international network of genetic resources centers, which would collect, conserve, document, evaluate and use PGR (Hawkes 1985, 83).

The IBPGR's efforts have resulted in a global network of PGR centers consisting of the International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs), regional centers, and national centers. Many centers maintain active ex-situ PGR collections that directly support breeding programs. Some centers have developed a full world base collection for their mandated crops, including wild relatives (Plucknett et al. 1990, 12; Hawkes 1985). Some centers focus on improving multiple crops and production systems in specific agrogeographical regions (NRC 1991b, 49). Many varieties that are in wide use today derive in part from PGR that was stored in genebanks (Juma 1989, 91; Plucknett et al. 1990).

B. Integration of PGR Conservation and Utilization Through Crop Networks Based on National PGR Systems

The IBPGR recently adjusted its policy with respect to the process by which to achieve a global PGR network (McCusker 1991, 36). IBPGR's focus has shifted from a global network of PGR centers to crop genetic resources networks (crop networks) based on national plant genetic resources systems (NPGSs) (IBPGR 1989). This policy change reflects two economic and political realities of plant genetic resources: (1) conservation must be directly linked to use; and (2) crop networks are the best means of ensuring equal participation by all nations in the conservation and use of all important PGR.

Because IBPGR's original focus had been to establish a network of long-term PGR conservation centers, its initial efforts did not often emphasize the integration of conservation and use of PGR in national plant breeding programs (McCusker 1991, 36). Moreover, because IBPGR's initial efforts often required centralized decision-making, it eventually drew criticism from developing countries who believed that their interests had been discounted (Bordwin 1985; Keystone Dialogue 1991, 9).

Crop networks based on national plant genetic resources systems should ensure more extensive use of PGR collections and provide better support to crop improvement programs because they will directly link those who conserve PGR with those who use them collectors, curators, researchers, breeders, and others (IBPGR 1989). Crop networks therefore should better facilitate the flow of materials and information and promote the integration of biotechnology into conventional plant breeding programs (IBPGR 1991b; Cohen et al. 1989, 471). Crop networks based on NPGSs also involve all nations in planning and implementing policy, which may help lessen concerns over the ownership of, accessibility to, and benefits from PGR (McCusker 1991, 36; IBPGR, 1989; Cohen et al. 1989, 475).

Because NPGSs are the basis for the global PGR system, the strength of crop networks will depend on the strength of NPGSs. Therefore, it is critical to improve the technological and institutional capacity of each NPGS (Cohen et al. 1989, 469).

III. The Informal Sector in PGR Conservation and Utilization

Non-profit, non-governmental organizations, community groups and individuals comprise the "informal sector" in PGR conservation and use (Hardon, 5). The informal sector works primarily at the grassroots, community level. The "formal sector" is made up of the IBPGR-organized network described above, as well as other government agencies, multilateral institutions and for-profit businesses. The formal sector operates primarily at the institutional level and, less frequently, at the grassroots level. (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 6; Hardon et al. 1992, 5).

A. Farmers

Small-scale, resource-poor farmers in developing countries breed local crop varieties for improved production using informal innovation systems based on indigenous knowledge (Nabhan 1989; Brush 1989; Altieri et al. 1987; IBPGR 1991c) They often employ their own taxonomy, encourage introgression, select, hybridize, field test, record data and name their varieties (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 7) Through utilization in existing production systems, they conserve and improve PGR (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 7; Altieri et al. 1987, 50-51; Hardon et al. 1992, 5). Farmers' knowledge about the conservation and use of PGR in agricultural systems can increase the understanding of genebank collections and hence the utility of PGR in institutionalized plant breeding programs (IBPGR 1991b, Juma 1989, 219). Farmers' knowledge and perspectives are also useful for monitoring genetic erosion and for PGR collecting missions (Brush 1989, 27; IBPGR 1991b).

B. Non-Governmental Organizations

Many NGOs are active in the conservation of biodiversity and in research on sustainable agriculture and indigenous farming systems (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 26; Hardon et al. 1992, 5; Dahl et al. 1991). Their research often involves on-farm conservation and use of PGR: collection, storage and regeneration, documentation and information systems, evaluation, monitoring, research, training, and advocacy (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 20). Many NGOs maintain that the diversity of cultural communities is a critical component in the conservation of biodiversity (Dahl et al. 1991, 2, 18; Warren 1991). A number of NGOs and other organizations are also involved in recording and using indigenous knowledge in development projects (Warren 1991). Sometimes, NGOs and other grassroots organizations identify and address important PGR issues in advance of the formal sector (Dahl et al. 1991, 19).

NGOs that work directly with local communities are often organized into regional networks (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 26). NGOs such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Nature Conservatory, Conservation International, and the Center for Plant Conservation, increasingly emphasize collaborative, multiagency conservation and development projects Falk 1990, 38).

NGOs working within sustainable agriculture make an estimated annual dollar commitment that exceeds $7 million, which nearly equals the annual budget of the IBPGR. The total value of all activities of the informal sector at the community level significantly exceeds this amount (Keystone Dialogue 1991,25).

NGOs and farmer organizations are in great need of the resources and skills of the formal sector (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 20; Dahl et al. 1991; Hardon et al. 1992, 9). NGOs often lack facilities, information and methodologies for small scale conservation activities, such as breeding, maintenance, rejuvenation and seed production (Hardon et al. 1992, 9; J.T. Williams 1991, 39; Dahl et al. 1991, 14). There is also a need for information systems, such as databases, catalogues, and communication systems (J.T. Williams 1991, 39; Hardon et al. 1992, 7). Many NGOs lack management and networking skills for effective administration of their activities (Dahl et al. 1991, 18).

The informal sector is now recognized as a necessary complement to the formal sector in PGR conservation and use (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 6; Juma 1989, 220; IBGPR 1991b). Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the links between the informal and formal sectors, so that the informal sector can become an integral part of the global PGR network (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 25; Hardon et al. 1992, 10; J.T. Williams 1991, 39).

IV. On-Farm Research and the Informal Sector

In developing countries, much of the increased production required to meet rising food and fiber demands must come from improved productivity and stability of small-scale, resource-poor farmers (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 344; NRC 1991b, 50). The IARCs and many national agricultural research systems (NARSs) now conduct on-farm research (OFR) to develop sustainable agricultural technologies and to increase the production efficiency of small-scale, resource-poor farmers (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 346; Gerhart 1986, 61; NRC 1991b, 51).

On-farm research requires strong links between researchers and farmers. Both researchers and farmers are involved in: (1) diagnostic surveys of existing farming systems to identify constraints; (2) design of experimental innovations to overcome these constraints; (3) testing of innovations in farmers' fields; and (4) introduction of innovations, with infrastructural support, such as training, demonstration, and marketing (Gerhart 1986, 62).

On-farm research can serve all farmers but traditionally has focused on resource-poor farmers with complex farming systems (Gerhart 1986, 65). In developing countries, particularly in the centers of diversity of crop plants, these farmers tend to be the primary conservers and users of landraces and wild crop relatives (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 14; Brush 1989, 26; Altieri et al. 1987, 50). Thus, OFR is targeted at a major component of the informal sector in PGR conservation and utilization. It follows that OFR may be an important means to link the formal and informal sectors in PGR conservation and utilization (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 21, 26).

V. Plant Breeding for Resource-poor Farmers

Sustainable and increased production in resource-poor areas may be dependent on the use of locally-developed crop varieties that use fewer inputs (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 17). Breeders have reported that the increased use of landraces and wild relatives in crop improvement can be valuable in marginal areas (Ceccarelli et al. 1992, 92).

Ceccarelli et al. describe a breeding strategy for resource-poor farmers involving the following elements:

(1) Collaboration between plant breeders and PGR specialists;

(2) Evaluation and testing of breeding material under agronomic and management conditions resembling those used by target farmers;

(3) Evaluation and testing of breeding material under climactic conditions representing those in the target area;

(4) Recognition that despite lower yields, specific adaptation to unfavorable conditions can better serve small farmers and preserve genetic diversity;

(5) Re-examination of the role of diversity in achieving production stability at the farm level;

(6) Understanding that increased economic output of the farm as a whole may be more important than increased yield of a single crop. (Ceccarelli et al. 1992, 96).

Plant breeding for small-scale, resource-poor farmers therefore encompasses both PGR conservation and utilization.

VI. Linking the Formal and Informal Sectors Through On-Farm Research

Sustainable agricultural research often requires the integration of separately-funded efforts for either conservation or utilization of PGR. This "interactive model" for conserving and using PGR links disciplines and takes both an economic and ecological perspective of agricultural production (Cohen et al. 1990b, 19).

Plant breeding for resource-poor farmers through OFR can be based on this "interactive model," because it involves both the conservation and use of PGR. Moreover, plant breeding through OFR can link the formal and informal sectors in PGR conservation and use.

The Global Initiative for the Security and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources of the Keystone International Dialogue Series on Plant Genetic Resources (hereinafter referred to as the Global PGR Initiative) defines an NPGS as consisting of both a formal genebank and community level activities. (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 22). OFR integrating PGR conservation and use would therefore strengthen NPGSs and the global PGR network.

However, there are many legal and policy constraints to initiating OFR to link the formal and informal sectors in PGR conservation and use. First of all, most developing countries simply have limited resources to spend on OFR and NPGSs (Plucknett et al. 1987, 187). Second, national agricultural research policy has generally discouraged NPGSs and OFR from becoming effective components of national agricultural research systems (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 346; Keystone Dialogue 1991, 17). Third, agriculture and trade policy in many developing countries disfavors small-scale, resource-poor farmers (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 17). Additionally, NGOs conducting OFR for resource-poor farmers usually work separately from NARSs, sometimes as a result of fundamental philosophical differences (Dahl et al. 1991).

VII. Policy Constraints to Strong On-Farm Research Programs

The International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) did a major study on OFR sponsored by nine NARSs. The study showed that research, institutional, and management policy have had major effects on the quality of OFR and the development of OFR programs within NARSs (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 346-7).

A. Research Policy

The ISNAR study found that long-term national research and development policy targeted at resource-poor farmers is critical to the development of OFR programs within NARSs. OFR leaders must continuously document achievements to convince policy makers, senior research managers and external donors that they should support OFR (Merrill-Sands et al 1991, 348). OFR leaders must also ensure the quality and relevance of OFR, by focusing on well-defined research problems in a geographic target area with broad potential applications.

B. Institutional and Management Policy

By its nature, OFR involves links between: (1) scientists and farmers; (2) research and technology transfer; (3) on-farm and experimental station researchers; and (4) technical and social scientists. The study found that poor management of these links, combined with lack of financial support, can weaken the efficacy of OFR projects (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 354-363).

Farmers played relatively passive roles in the projects studied by ISNAR (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 357). Similarly, despite their critical role in OFR, social scientists comprised, on average, only 20% of the researchers involved in the projects studied (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 359). Furthermore, scientists working on-farm and at experimental stations did not always share common objectives or receive appropriate incentives and rewards so that they all felt that it was in their best interests to work together (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 356). Finally, the potentially powerful role of OFR in linking research and technology was not fully exploited due to weak links between OFR and technology transfer agencies (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 361).

VIII. Policy Constraints to Strong National Plant Germplasm Systems

Most countries have developed a national plant germplasm system as part of their national agricultural research systems (McCusker 1991, 36). However, because the conservation and evaluation of PGR requires long-term investment, it is often difficult to demonstrate the immediate and direct economic benefits of an NPGS (Cohen et al. 1991a, 867). Furthermore, government policy tends to emphasize rapid development of new varieties, so that most of the support for plant sciences is given to traditional crop improvement programs that focus on variety release (Cohen et al. 1989, 461). As a result, many national genebanks are severely underfunded, placing collections at risk (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 7).

Utilization of PGR in national NPGSs has also been hampered by a number of factors such as poorly characterized genebank accessions (Cohen et al. 1991a, 860; Plucknett et al. 1987, 187). As a result, national breeders rarely utilize exotic germplasm, which takes time to adapt to local conditions. They often prefer materials obtained from the IARCs or pre-breeding programs (Cohen et al. 1989, 461).

IX. Legal and Policy Constraints to the Use of Informal Innovation in National Agricultural Research

In the past, informal innovation systems based on indigenous knowledge have been undervalued or unrecognized. Today, a growing body of evidence shows that indigenous knowledge is vital for sustainable agricultural development (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 6; Warren 1991; Titilola 1990). New efforts have been launched to develop the means to record, preserve and use indigenous knowledge in development projects. (Warren 1991; IBPGR 1991a). However, there exists no formal legal or economic mechanism to value indigenous knowledge and the products of informal innovation in order to promote the use of indigenous knowledge in PGR conservation and use (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 17; Posey 1991).

The natural rights and incentive theories of intellectual property provide the rationale for the valuation of indigenous knowledge and the products of informal innovation (Posey 1991, 34; Shand 1991, 135). In 1989, the FAO used this rationale to establish "Farmers' Rights" in parallel with "Plant Breeders' Rights", through an "Agreed Interpretation" of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 9; Shand 1991, 134).

The 1983 International Undertaking defined all PGR as an international public good--a "heritage of mankind"--that should be "available without restriction" (Bordwin 1985, 1063) The term "undertaking" is not a legal term in international law and was purposefully selected so as not to convey legal significance, and its terms are binding only on those nations that choose to adhere to it (Bordwin 1985, 1068). As of 1990, 102 member states of the United Nations have adhered, some with reservations (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 9).

The Agreed Interpretation defines Farmers' Rights as "rights arising from the past, present and future contributions of farmers in conserving, improving and making available PGR, particularly those in the centers of origin/diversity..." It also acknowledges state sovereignty rights over PGR within the national territory of those countries adhering to the Undertaking (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 9).

There have been numerous attempts to develop Farmers' Rights into a substantive legal right to account for farmers' past contributions to existing ex-situ plant germplasm collections. For instance, a theory of Farmers' Rights mirroring Plant Breeders' Rights was proposed (RAFI 1989). Other "diversity compensation systems" were also offered (Barton et al. 1988). However, it was generally concluded that these theories would be very difficult or impossible to implement (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 18; Duvick 1991, 496). Instead, Farmers' Rights must be viewed from an equitable perspective, as directed by the Agreed Interpretation of the International Undertaking: "(Farmers' Rights) are vested in the International Community, as trustee for present and future generations of farmers, and supporting the continuation of their contributions..." (Keystone 1991, 9). A appropriate definition of Farmers' Rights based in equity may then be: "an international responsibility to ensure that people in developing countries are appropriately assisted as they conserve and utilize PGR" (Duvick 1992b, 19).

As the role of the informal sector in sustainable agriculture gains in importance, so does the need for policy to give incentives to the work of informal innovators (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 17). The Global PGR Initiative strongly encourages governments to consider policy mechanisms that would encourage or reward farmers for their efforts to maintain crop diversity, and to develop new varieties with improved yield, stress and disease resistance, efficient utilization of inputs and quality (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 18). Such an incentive policy would: (1) give appropriate value and special protection to indigenous knowledge; (2) provide information on indigenous knowledge systems; (3) design and implement research programs aimed at promoting the application of indigenous knowledge to modern resource management; and (4) design projects to specifically benefit indigenous people (McNeely 1989).

X Cooperative Research Support Program to Link the Formal and Informal Sectors in PGR Conservation and Utilization

An externally-funded cooperative research support program (CRSP) based on cooperative research and development agreements between NGOs and NARSs may be able to overcome constraints to effective OFR for PGR conservation and utilization in developing countries.

A. The SANREM CRSP Provides a Basic Model

Cooperative research support programs (CRSPs) are one of the primary vehicles for U.S. involvement in international agricultural research (NRC 1991b, 19). Financial support is provided through competitive grants by the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). CRSPs match the research interest of U.S. universities with similar research in developing countries. Funding is authorized under Title XII of the Foreign Assistance Act (Plucknett et al. 1990, 10). A U.S. university and host country institution enter a cooperative research and development initiative in which they jointly identify research needs, design experiments, and analyze results. In addition, CRSPs use networks to involve organizations that are not parties to the cooperative initiative (NRC 1991b, 19).

1. SANREM CRSP Rationale

The U.S. Congress recently recommended that AID develop a new CRSP for cooperative research on sustainable agriculture and natural resource management (SANREM CRSP) (NRC 1991b, 8). The goal of the proposed SANREM CRSP is to support and promote innovative, integrated farming systems research that will lead to the identification and development of sustainable agricultural production systems both in developing countries and in the U.S. (NRC 1991b, 22).

Research conducted under the SANREM CRSP would be multidisciplinary, involving agricultural and social scientists (NRC 1991b, 4). Special attention would be given to integrated soil nutrient and pest management, including biodiversity conservation.

2. Terms of Cooperative Initiatives Under the SANREM CRSP

AID would support cooperative research under the SANREM CRSP though a competitive, peer-review grant process (NRC 1991b, 5). AID would award three types of competitive grants to U.S. universities: (1) research planning grants; (2) research core grants; and (3) research support grants. The research planning grant would allow parties that wish to collaborate to make on-site visits to negotiate and develop a research core grant proposal. Core grants would fund long-term collaborative research. Research support grants are awarded to collaborating institutions that already receive AID support (NRC 1991b).

In order to promote the multidisciplinary research of the SANREM CRSP, organizations and institutions not currently Title XII program participants would need to become involved through subcontracts. This includes NGOs, private voluntary and private sector organizations, and host country organizations (NRC 1991b, 7).

Research proposals would present a systems-based approach to research, including farmers, host-country scientists, and NGOs (NRC 1991b, 7). Proposals would address strategies for technology transfer to and from the farmers' fields. They would specify procedures for soliciting and ensuring farmer participation in all phases of research. In addition, proposals would indicate how collaborators would share the intellectual property rights to inventions resulting from research (NRC 1991b, 36).

B. Elements of the Proposed CRSP

A CRSP for cooperative initiatives to link the formal and informal sectors in PGR conservation and utilization would be similar to the SANREM CRSP in many respects, but would be different in that: (1) a multinational "PGR Trust Fund," as described in the Global PGR Initiative, would award grants to NGOs and NARSs, and (2) research would focus on the conservation and utilization of PGR in the context of on-farm research.

1. PGR Trust Fund

The "PGR Trust Fund" is one of the four instruments of the Global PGR Initiative. It would support PGR conservation and utilization programs. Several intergovernmental organizations are candidates to serve as the fiduciary agent for the PGR Trust Fund. Mandatory contributions would be required from all nations (Keystone Dialogue 1991).

2. Research Focus of Cooperative Initiatives

The PGR Trust Fund would support cooperative research though a competitive, peer-review grant process. The Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, another of the four instruments of the Global PGR Initiative, could review proposals and make awards (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 30). Cooperative research between NARSs and NGOs would be organized through cooperative research and development agreements. NGOs with working relationships to farmer organizations would be a party to cooperative agreements. NGOs are legal entities with administrative capabilities and are fully accountable to their national governments (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 26).

The PGR Trust Fund would award the three types of competitive grants that would be awarded under the SANREM CRSP. Research planning grants would allow personnel of NARSs and NGOs to make on-site visits to negotiate and develop a research core grant proposal. The core grant would fund long-term cooperative research. Research support grants could be awarded to NARSs and NGOs that already collaborate.

Through negotiation of a cooperative research and development agreement, NARSs and NGOs can attain mutual benefits. The potential benefits to NGOs from a cooperative initiative under the proposed CRSP would be: (1) NGOs and farmers would receive skills, technology, and facilities of formal sector; (2) NGOs would have access to the information systems of the formal sector; and (3) NGOs would receive high level government support.

The potential benefits to NARSs from cooperative initiatives under the proposed CRSP would be: (1) new links to farmers and NGOs through existing NGO networks; (2) increased access to PGR and indigenous knowledge of farmers, which would strengthen PGR monitoring and collecting efforts; (3) increased access to and opportunities to record and use indigenous knowledge; (4) increased in-situ conservation and regeneration of ex-situ collections; (5) increased use of farmers' land for conservation efforts; (6) increased use of farmers' and NGOs' labor and skills in projects.

Moreover, cooperative initiatives, if treated as "pilot projects," may set the stage for long-term collaborative research networks (James 1989, 286). Cooperative initiatives that identify the utility of PGR to solve specific problems may generate new jobs and markets and therefore offer strong incentives for longterm financial support (Duvick 1992b, 13,22).

3. Subcontracts with Farmer Organizations

Subcontracts with farmer organizations selected for participation in OFR projects would formally document the work farmers would carry out and the compensation they would receive. Because farmers' participation in OFR projects would detract from their production activities, some form of compensation would be required (Duvick 1992b, 13; Keystone Dialogue 1991, 18). One form of compensation that would most encourage the active involvement of farmers in OFR and technology development would be the elimination of discriminatory national agricultural policies, such as credit tied to only certain varieties or restrictive seed certification laws (Brush 1989, 163; Keystone Dialogue 1991, 16; Hardon et al. 1992, 10). Improved market opportunities for local and traditional crops would likewise serve as direct reward to farmers for varietal conservation and improvement. This would include removing legal restrictions on local markets and promoting improved transport systems, information campaigns, advertising, and market research. In addition, assistance could be provided to help farmers organize into formal cooperatives (Keystone Dialogue 1991, 18).

4. Subcontracts with Seed Companies

On-farm research projects may produce many different new seed varieties tailored to the needs of diverse client groups and production systems (Merrill-Sands et al. 1991, 345). It simply may not be possible or profitable for a national, private domestic or international seed company to develop formal production and distribution systems for seed of a new variety that will be used in limited amounts over a fairly small market area (Cromwell 1991, 12). Moreover, national and private domestic seed companies in developing countries generally have lacked the resources required to reach these farmers through their own channels (Cromwell 1991, 13).

Evidence has shown that farmer-managed, community-based seed production and distribution systems are complex, well-used, and sustainable. These systems can provide adequate supplies of high quality seed of both traditional and modern varieties to farmers in a timely, affordable manner (Cromwell 1991, 13). In order to promote the use of new varieties resulting from projects under the proposed CRSP, and to compensate farmers for their labor and intellectual contributions, national and private domestic seed companies in developing countries could provide assistance to strengthen farmer-managed, community-based seed production and distribution networks. Domestic seed companies may find that these networks are also useful for the marketing of their own brand of seed.

International private seed companies have strong capabilities in seed testing, production and distribution (Duvick 1989, 22; James 1989, 281). They could lend their skills to projects under the proposed CRSP to help strengthen existing farmer-managed seed networks, while assessing and/or establishing market access for future sales of their own varieties. Winrock International, a private voluntary organization, has recently funded a program to promote improved methods of selecting, producing, processing, storing and distributing seeds among small farmers (IBPGR 1991c). This program may provide a model for future international seed company involvement in the proposed CRSP.

5. Subcontracts with the IARCs

The CGIAR has recently emphasized the importance of partnerships between the IARCs and NPGSs to strengthen NGPSs (J.T. Williams, 1991). The IBPGR is helping developing countries build the institutional capacity of their NPGSs, so that NPGSs become integral parts of NARSs. (van Sloten 1990, 38). In particular, the IBPGR has made development of active national genebanks an institutional priority (Cohen et al. 1989, 469). Because PGR conservation and use through OFR may be viewed as a component of an active national genebanks, IARCs should take part in projects supported under the proposed CRSP. IARCs and NARSs can form subcontracts to achieve such cooperation.

12. Example of a Project Amenable to the Proposed CRSP

Two programs designed by the Plant Genetic Resources Centre/Ethiopia that have involved the informal sector in PGR regeneration activities are good examples of the type of project amenable to the CRSP proposed here.

The first program was designed to help Ethiopian farmers maintain crop diversity while improving their local production systems. Materials collected or rescued from one region of the country were supplied to a number of farming families in that region. Farmers multiplied the seeds and, with scientists from the center, did simple mass selection, using both indigenous knowledge and techniques they learned from center scientists. Breeders and other scientists had access to the farmers' fields for selection and study. The farmers were selected and organized through their respective farming cooperatives. Financial support was provided by the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, an NGO (Worede 1991).

A second program involved on-farm grow-out and maintenance of elite indigenous material selected and developed by the Ethiopian NPGS. The farmers multiplied and used elite seed stock provided by breeders, while NPGS personnel took samples for longterm storage at the national genebank. Through this program, the farmer could compare the source of current planting material with that supplied by the NPGS. The NPGS guided activities pertaining to conservation, use and distribution of PGR, while the Unitarian Services Committee agent provided material support and technical guidance on seed production and multiplication (Worede 1991).

It was noted that these projects could be broadened into production programmes using some of the better varieties selected from indigenous landraces, with the possibility of making hybrids on a continual basis among the various selections. Varieties developed from locally adapted landraces could also serve as "control entries" into national yield trials to compare their performance with varieties developed by the Ethiopian NARS (Worede 1991,17).

XII. Plant Intellectual Property Rights

Research efforts under this proposed CRSP may result in products with immediate or potential widescale commercial use at the domestic or international level. For example, a resistance trait for a major crop disease may be identified and characterized. In order to take full economic advantage of such products, a country must be able to protect them using plant intellectual property rights (IPR). However, many developing countries do not offer plant IPR.

In 1991, through the World Intellectual Property Organization's "Basic Proposal" of a draft treaty to harmonize world patent laws, representatives of a number of developing countries asserted the right of every nation to chose whether or not to enact plant IPR legislation (Fiorito 1991, 90). However, the present research and investment climate in international agriculture may soon promote the enactment of some form of plant IPR in many developing countries (S.B. Williams 1991, 148; Primo Braga 1991, 72). For example, Mexico recently amended its patent laws to specifically allow patenting of new plant varieties (Biotech Monitor 1991).

Plant IPR may eventually be a prerequisite for cooperative initiatives between NARSs in developing countries and the formal sector in industrialized countries (Duvick 1989b, 26). For example, the SANREM CRSP would require collaborating institutions to consider IPR when forming cooperative initiatives (NRC 1991b, 36). Moreover, some IARCs may soon use IPR, so that in the future they may require plant IPR for the inventions of cooperative research and licenses for the use of proprietary materials (Biotech Monitor 1990).

If developing countries enact plant IPR laws, then they will be able to (1) protect the inventions of their NARS and domestic private seed and biotechnology companies, as well as (2) demand joint ownership rights for the inventions of cooperative research ventures between NARSs and IARCs or private seed companies. Cooperative research agreements that grant plant IPR, such as the one recently entered into by Merck & Company and Costa Rica's Instituto National de Biodiversidad, may provide novel means for valuing PGR and indigenous knowledge (Merck & Co. 1991).

XIII. Conclusion

The goal of the CRSP proposed in this paper is to strengthen NPGSs and NARS-sponsored OFR while providing small-scale, resource-poor farmers with new opportunities to improve their operations and markets. The focus of this CRSP is on conservation in the context of development, not the maintenance of small-scale agriculture in a "quasi-museum" state (van Loesch 1991, 42). Critical to the proposed CRSP is to provide all parties with appropriate incentives to participate. Incentives will be especially important for farmers and should be in the form of equitable compensation for labor and intellectual skills they contribute.

One of the most effective ways to value the inventions of projects under the proposed CRSP would be through Plant Breeders' Rights or utility patent protection. Ultimately, a new crop variety jointly developed by farmers and breeders and protected by national plant IPR laws would embody the true spirit of both the FAO Undertaking and the Global PGR Initiative.


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