EARWG Rice Seeds Trade Campaign Statement
the world are developing, cultivating and breeding rice varieties
for thousands of years. Traditional varieties of rice products of
improvements made mainly by women farmers through careful selection,
saving and exchanging of rice seeds. This nurtures the rice diversity
of rice as food and agricultural farming systems and creates a colourful
way of life for ALL ASIAN PEOPLE.
The East Asia Rice Working
Group (EARWG) advocates so that farmers are able to freely save,
exchange and develop new rice varieties to help ensure that rice
remains a viable source of food for all and a sustainable livelihood
for women and men farmers.
Farmers through their
local and international networks are actively sharing knowledge
and experience in sustainable agriculture and rice seed production.
Sustainable agriculture practices by women and men farmers such
as organic farming, ecological pest management, permaculture, System
for Rice Intensification (SRI) and bio-dynamic farming offer better
alternatives to improve farmers’ livelihood than the introduction
of high-yielding varieties, hybrid rice seeds and genetically engineered
seeds developed by transnational corporations, the International
Rice Research Institute (IRRI), academic and research institutes,
which are often supported by governments and international financial
Giant agribusiness transnational
corporations who, armed with trade rules and technology, are taking
over the food and agriculture systems at unprecedented scale and
pace. New plant varieties and technologies, protected by intellectual
property rights prevent farmers from saving and exchanging seeds.
Apart from this disruptive and alienating effect on women farmers’
role in the food production system, this makes rice cultivation
vulnerable to monopolistic control by giant agri-business transnational
corporations. Patents to rice varieties, genes and gene constructs
are held by only a handful of transnational corporations such as
Syngenta and Monsanto. Today, new plant varieties are “owned”
by corporations and even universities. This means that the rights
of farming communities who actively improve rice varieties are not
recognized under the current rules.
not providing support, which resulted to farmers’ dependence
on extension agents. More often, the suppliers, traders, and service
providers are the one and the same person or company. Even government
agencies and personnel act as agents for transnational corporations.
This inevitably caught women and men farmers in a vicious cycle
of dependence, indebtedness and abject poverty.
Hence this Rice Seed Campaign: SEED IS LIFE, STOP MONOPOLIZING!
Governments should be
reminded of their responsibilities towards the people. They should
not allow rules and technologies that restrict farmers’ ability
to freely exchange and develop rice seeds.
call on governments to:
promote and channel resources to support the development and practice
of sustainable agriculture led by farmers’ organizations and
civil society groups;
using public resources to promote the interests of transnational
that TNCs do not gain control over national research on rice seeds
development and production, particularly those that has technology
barriers to farmers;
conducive policy environment by allowing and supporting on-farm
seeds saving and free exchange of seeds among farmers;
control of rice seeds distribution while promoting and supporting
local seeds production by upgrading extension services, farm facilities,
and support infrastructure; and
or experiment on alternative agricultural technologies or models.
on the international community to:
patents on rice and rice seeds as well as on any life forms;
promote and support sustainable agriculture;
proactive choices as consumers in favour of a sustainably produced
and fair traded food and other agriculture products;
gender equality by recognizing the contribution of women in food
production, removing barriers to their participation in the social,
economic and political arena; and
the farmers’ movements globally by supporting their activities,
and lobby policy and decision makers in favour of Farmers’
Rights to seed.
Statement on Women & Rice