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“The Role of Indian Agricultural Farmers

in Creating Ecological Balance in the Nature”

Ms. Bheemabai S. Mulage*

ABSTRACT: Agriculture may be def ined as an integrated system of techniques to control the grow th and harvesting of animal and vegetables. It is an uncomplicated endeavor comprising of technical and practical processes that helps in the maintenance of the ecological balanc e and protects human resources; and most importantly it is a viable f ood production system. This paper provides a brief overview about how the agricultural f armers’ rights are intrinsically based on the link betw een innovation and rights over know ledge, biodiversity conservation, and the sustainable use of agro-biodiversity. How ever, India has f ramed a unique legislation called Indian Biodiversity, Act 2002, but still f aces the problems in imple mentation and saf eguarding the rights of the f armers and communities f or their invaluable contribution and eff orts in bringing ecological balance. It also argues that their diff erent contributions should be recognized and respected by the International Undertaking, particularly in terms of Farmers' Rights. It is concluded that an international mechanism is urgently required to promote some level of consensus on def ining and imple menting thes e vital rights f or their priceless contribution in maintaining balanced ecology.

KEY WORDS: Ecology, Ecological balance, Biodiversity Conservation, Sustainable use, Farmer, Farmers’ rights, Bio-saf ety and Agriculture.

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‚The gr eatest service which can be r ender ed to any country is to add a useful plant to its cultur e especially a br ead grain‛.

Thomas Jefferson 1


NDIA is an Agrar ian country w ith ar ound 60% of its people dir ectly or indir ectly depends upon Agr icultur e. In ancient times the pr actice of agricultur e is consider ed to be a
I gr eatest service to the society and this pr actice is intertw ined in their tradition and cultur e.
For feeding the society w e need seed because, seed is vital to life. It is a pr iceless gift of natur e, evolved, br ed and used by farmer s over thousands of year s to pr oduce food for the people. Far mers select, save and exchange the best seeds fr om a good cr op to plant them again at the next sow ing. Cor poratization of seed and agr icultur e is destr oying the independence of the farmer .2 As farmer s' know ledge, skills and practices contr ibute to the conser vation, development, impr ovement, and management of Plant Genetic Resour ces (PGR), their differ ent contributions should be r ecognized and r espected by the International Undertaking, par ticularly in terms of Far mers' Rights.
An analysis and understanding of farmer s’ differ ent r oles and r esponsibilities in PGR conservation and management, as w ell as the intr insic value of their know ledge, is cr ucial to sustainable, effective, and socio- economically appr opr iate PGR conser vation initiatives, and
to the pr ovision of appr opr iate and tar geted support. Effor ts ar e r equir ed at all levels to develop and implement gender -r esponsive policies, pr ogr ammes and actions for the conser vation and sustainable use of plant genetic r esour ces.3
2. Need for the Conservation of Biodiversity: The earth’s b iological r esources ar e vital to humanity’s economic and social development. As a r esult, ther e is a grow ing r ecognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tr emendous value to pr esent and futur e gener ations. At the same time, the thr eat to species and ecosystems has never been as gr eat as it is today. Species extinction cause by human activities continues at an alar ming rate,4 r eduction of the earth’s b iodiversity as a r esult of human activities is a matter of gr eat concer n to pr ominent scientist.5 W e ar e in the midst of the sixth er a of extinction. This pr oblem can be solved only by pr oper guidance, awar eness, education, transfer of advance technology, r esear ch, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity thr ough the w eapon of globalization only.

3. Meaning and Definition:

3.1 ‘Biological Diversity’

The ter m ‘b iological diver sity’ is commonly used to
descr ibe the number and var iety of living or ganisms on the planet. ‘Biological diversity’ means the var iab ility among living or ganisms fr om all sources including, inter alia, terr estrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the
ecological complexes of which they ar e part ; this includes the diversity w ithin species, betw een species and of

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ecosystem (Article 2 of the Convention on Biological
Diversity, 1992).
The Earth is made up of ecosystems and ecological featur es which ar e supported by biodiversity; yet many people do not understand the meaning of biodiversity or what the impact of its loss w ould mean. In or der to highlight the importance of biodiver sity, 2010 has been selected as the International Year of Biodiversity in an attempt to educate people on biodiversity and how biodiversity supports everyday life.6
‘Biological Diversity’ means the variability among living or ganism fr om all sources and ecological complexes of which they ar e par t and includes diversity within species or
betw een species and eco-systems.7

3.2 'Sustainable Development':

The importance of maintaining the ecological balance and conser vation of the r esour ces has been incr easingly becoming clear in the last two decades. It has now become necessary for all countr ies in the w orld to r ecognize this fact and plan what is known as 'sustainable development'. The United Nations W or ld Commission of Envir onment and Development in 1987 has defined sustainable development as "a pr ocess of change in w hich the exploitation of r esour ces, the dir ection of investments, the or ientation of technological development and the institutional change ar e in harmony and enhance both curr ent and futur e generations to meet their needs."

3.3 Ecology:

The envir onment in which the man and other or ganisms live is called the biospher e. The biospher e is made up of differ ent r egions that have differ ent types of flora (plants) and fauna (animals). The types of or ganisms in an ar ea ar e determined by var ious factors such as the climate, temperatur e, rainfall, etc.8

3.4 Agriculture:

Agr icultur e may be defined as an integr ated system of
techniques to contr ol the gr owth and harvesting of animal and vegetables. It is an uncomplicated endeavor compr ising of technical and pr actical pr ocesses that helps in the maintenance of the ecological balance and pr otects human r esour ces; and most importantly it is a viable food pr oduction system.

3.5 Farmer:

Far mer means any person who cultivates cr op either by cultivating the land himself or cultivates cr ops by dir ectly
supervising the cultivation of land thr ough any person; or conser ves and pr eserves, severally or j ointly, with any person any w ild species or tr aditional var ieties, or adds value to such w ild species or traditional varieties thr ough selection and identification of their useful pr operties.9

4. What are Farmer's rights?

The new law r ecognizes the farmer not j ust as a cultivator but also as a conserver of the agricultural gene pool and a br eeder who has br ed several successful varieties.10
How ever , what ar e Farmer s' Rights means "rights ar ising fr om the past, pr esent and futur e contribution of farmers in conserving, impr oving and making available plant genetic r esour ces, particular ly those in the centr es of or igin/diver sity." The pur pose of these rights is stated to be "ensur ing full benefits to farmer s and supporting the continuation of their contr ibutions."11
The far mer's r ights ar e intr insically based on the
link betw een innovation and r ights over knowledge,
biodiver sity conser vation, and the sustainable use of agr o- biodiver sity. The curr ent patent r egime r ecognizes the concern of developing countries on extending IPR pr otection to an ar ea like agr icultur e. The Agr eement on Trade Related Intellectual Pr operty Rights (TRIPS) pr ovides
for a sui gener is system to pr otect plant var ieties, the r esult of a compr omise betw een developed countries in favour of intr oducing intellectual pr operty r ights in agr icultur e and developing countries, which believe that agr icultur e cannot be equated to other fields of technology. In India, the Pr otection of Plant Var ieties and Farmer 's Rights Act r ecognizes that farmers, besides being innovators, play an impor tant r ole in conser ving biodiver sity. The pr ovisions in the Protection of Plant Var ieties and Far mer's Rights Act,
2001 r elating to farmer 's r ights ar e not so effective, because
farmers ar e finding difficulty in r egistering their var ieties
even when they ar e entitled to it.12
The Agr eement on Trade Related Intellectual Pr operty Rights (TRIPS) pr ovides for a sui gener is system to pr otect plant var ieties, t he r esult of a compr omise betw een developed countr ies in favour of intr oducing intellectual pr operty r ights in agr icultur e and developing countries, which believe that agr icultur e, cannot be equated to other fields of technology.
In India, the Pr otection of Plant Var ieties and Far mer's Rights Act r ecognizes that farmers, besides being innovators, play an important r ole in conserving biodiver sity.13

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5. The Role of Farmers in Conservation and Preservation of Bio - diversity:

The knowledge of the indigenous people and the traditional farmers has made a significant contribution in the development of new cr op types and biodiversity conser vation.14
Agr icultur al biodiversity is the biodiversity associated with agr icultur al ecosystems and is known as the multitude of plants, animals and micr o-or ganisms indispensable in sustaining key functions for food pr oduction. It is the outcome of the interactions among the envir onment, genetic r esources and the agricultural practices. It yields dir ect and indir ect use values: higher levels of agr icultural biodiversity may generate r educed pest incidence, impr oved soil nutritional levels, cr op pollination, and hydr ological functions. Agricultural biodiver sity also gener ates significant option values in conser ving genetic r esour ces that can be the basis for the development of new cr op var ieties and animal br eeds. This includes biodiver sity above and below the gr ound. Soil management pr actices as applied under conservation agr icultur e can significantly enhance soil life and below gr ound bio-diver sity.15
Ear lier farmers used to enj oy the practice of agr icultur e to feed the society w ithout thinking it to the burden on their shoulder . But now the whole situation has been changed because of follow ing r easons, Agr icultur e is often attr ibuted as gambling w ith Monsoon because of its almost exclusive dependency on Monsoons. The failur e of these monsoons leading to series of dr oughts, lack of better prices, exploitation by Middlemen have been leading to ser ies of suicides committed by farmer s acr oss India.16
Agr o-industr ies sells their seeds which never spr out and
fertilizers which barr en the fertile lands. Farming
community is facing a difficulty to over come fr om these
pr oblems. How ever , even with all difficulties farmers began adopting impr oved methods and technologies in dairying, fisher ies and livestock, and meeting the diversified food needs of India's gr owing population sustainably without harming the Biodiver sity of the Country.17

6. Biodiversity and Farmers’ Rights

Another dimension to the IPR issue is the differ ences
among countr ies in their national wealth on biodiversity, particular ly the agr o-biodiver sity. Many countr ies of the South, including India ar e hotspots of biodiversity. This has lar gely influenced the history and system of agr icultur e in
these countries, particular ly the histor ic r ole of far mers in pr otecting, pr eserving and impr oving cr op plants. It should not be for gotten that befor e the entry of or ganized and institutionalized scientific plant br eeding, it was the farmer br eeders w ho w er e r esponsible for cr eating the h uge w ealth of genetic var iability in all cr op plants and their w ild r elatives. They selected several var ieties to addr ess specific goals, differ ent grow ing situations, and r esistance to several pests and diseases.
In r ecognition of this fact, the FAO concluded that
an international undertaking on farmers’ r ights ar ising fr om the past, pr esent and futur e contributions of farmers in conserving, impr oving and making available plant
genetic r esour ces, particular ly those at the centers of or igin or diver sity. These r ights ar e vested with the inter national community, as the tr ustees for the pr esent and futur e generations of far mers, for the pur pose of ensur ing full benefits to the farmers and supporting continuation of their contr ibutions. One of the under takings r elevant to the pr esent context is ‚to assist the farmers and farming communities in all r egions of the w or ld, but especially in the ar eas of or igin/diver sity of plant genetic r esour ces, to participate fully in the benefits der ived at pr esent and in futur e, fr om the impr oved use of plant genetic r esour ces through plant br eeding and other scientific methods.18

7. Efforts for Conservation:

Maintaining bio-diver sity means undoubtedly habitat conser vation and r estor ation. In a wider this indicates pr otection against defragmentation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate change and it has made a huge impact on bio-diversity.19 Conservation and sustainable use of biological r esour ces based on local knowledge system and pr actices ar e ingr ained in Indian eth os and ways of life. Initiation of policies and pr ogr ams for conservation and
sustainable utilization of biological r esources dates back to several decades. As a r esult, India has a str ong netw or k of institutions of mapping bio-diversity and undertaking taxonomic studies.20
The fundamental condition for r estoring bio- diversity ar e obvious, however the r ealization is mor e complex for example, as it mentioned above dir ectly or indir ectly globalization has an impact on the loss of bio- diversity, but you can neither cancel not stop globalization in general ther e ar e lots of efforts on differ ent sector to develop mechanism for conservation. Governmental Sector , Private economic sector and civil society plays a key r ole in
conser ving bio-diver sity mainly thr ough initiate standar ds, pr ograms and confer ences. It was the first time that bio- diversity was compr ehensively addr ess in a binding global tr eaty, the first time that genetic diver sity was specifically

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cover ed and the fir st time that the conser vation was r ecognized as the common concern of mankind.21

8. The Privatization of Biodiversity and Biodiversity

Related Knowledge:

The thrust of the w estern IPR r egimes in the ar ea of biodiver sity is diametr ically opposed to indigenous know ledge systems. Knowledge is consider ed to be the pr oduct of individual cr eativity, based on western scientific thought and systems of knowledge cr eation and gather ing wher eby the r esource base is mer ely viewed as 'raw material'. In this par adigm IPRs r epr esent the pr operty r ights to the pr oducts of mind, ther eby r esulting in know ledge and cr eativity being so narr owly defined that the cr eativity of natur e and non-w estern knowledge systems have been ignor ed.
The tw o categor ies of IPRs that have a dir ect impact on the erosion of pr ior r ights of communities ar e patents and plant br eeders' r ights. Plant br eeders' rights negate the contr ibution of Thir d Wor ld farmer s as br eeders and hence undermine farmers' rights. Patents allow the usurpation of indigenous knowledge as a western invention thr ough minor tinker ing or trivial translation.
The development of patents on life forms is the r esult of legal developments in the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. Supr eme Court decision in Diamond v. Chakr abarty opened the door of patenting micr oor ganisms an d was subsequently extended to genes, pr oteins, and thr ough r ecombinant technology, to multi-cellular animals and plants. This blurring of distinction betw een inventions and discoveries by pr oviding for the patenting of biological material is r elevant to India wher e pr ovisions r elating to patenting of micr oor ganisms in the Patent Act, 2005 have been r eferr ed to a Technical Expert Committee on Patent Issues. Though the tr aditional knowledge has not been perceived to fit into the western paradigm of science, it has contr ibuted heavily to innovation in the intellectual pr operty r ights fr amewor k. The developing countr ies have begun to pr otect traditional know ledge against bio- pir acy. It was the intervention of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that led to the r evoking of the patent on the healing pr operties of tur meric gr anted in
the U.S. on the gr ound that the alleged invention was part of public domain knowledge in India.

8.1 Bio -safety

The patent system does not pr ovide for any means of r edr ess if a genetically modified or ganism r eleased in the
envir onment causes damage, the Canadian
Supr eme Court has r ecently held that the mer e
pr esence of a genetically modified seed on the land of a farmer , even if he has not pur chased the seed, c onstitutes an infr ingement of the patent on the seed.

9. Suggestions:

The bio- safety includes assessing health and socio- economic impacts of biotechnology, and that IPR need to be linked to sustainable development.
Ther e ar e aspects to the intellectual pr operty rights
(IPR) r egime that have not been debated ser iously and extensively enough. It is difficult to envisage a situation in
which the IPR r egime can be done away w ith, developing countries should use the existing framew or k of IPR to ensur e that the r ights and livelihood of farmer s, tr ibal peoples and mar ginalized communities
In countries like India, the government should enact laws to pr omote appropr iate biotechnologies — genetic engineer ing that is envir onmentally safe and socially, economically and cultur ally acceptable.

10. Conclusion:

Pr eservation of the global envir onment is one mor e burning
issue that a lot of people ar e concer ned about. The thing is that this pr oblem touches upon every single per son. That is why this pr oblem is an international one and almost all the countries ar e trying to take some measur es to solve it.
The Legal Recognition of Farmers’ Varieties and its Potential Role in Sustainable Agricultural Development and Conservation Str ategies Impr oved r eturns to investments fr om conservation, which can be locally captur ed, ar e a necessary condition for envir onmental pr otection and the efficient coor dination of national and inter national biodiver sity conservation efforts. The extent
to which existing legislations on plant variety pr otection can contr ibute to the conser vation of agricultural biodiver sity is an issue, which is being discussed in many countries facing the challenges of implementing Ar ticle 27.3 (b) of the TRIPs Agr eement.

End Notes :

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* Research Scholar, KSLU’s Law School, Hubli, Karnataka, Ind ia.

1 Elizabeth Verkey, ‘Law of Plant Varieties Protection’, (Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 2007.)



4 S.R.Myneni, Law of Intellectual Property’,5thEdn,(Asia Law House, Hyderabad,2009,.)P.N.536

5 abstract -id=355141

6 of -diversity-a214198

7 N.K.Acharya, ‘Text book on Intellectual Property Rights’,4th Edn,(Asia law House,Hyderabad,.)P.N.212


9 S.R.Myneni, ‘Law of Intellectual Property’, 5th Edn, (Asia Law House, Hyderabad,2009.,)

10 A Usha, ‘Plant Varieties and Farmer’ Rights Policies and Legal Perspectives’, (The Icfai University Press, Hyderabad, 2007.,)



13 Ibid.





18 pdf


20 M.P.Prashant & B.B.Hosetti, ‘Elements of Environmental Science’,(Prateeksha Publications,Jaipur,2010.)P.N.124

21 Supra Note No.9

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