Foreign Policy Watch: United Nations

What is the Plant Treaty?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Plant treaty

Mains level: Not Much


The ninth session of the governing body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) has recently begun in New Delhi.

Theme of this years event

  • The theme of the meeting is ‘Celebrating the Guardians of Crop Diversity: Towards an Inclusive Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’.

What is the Plant Treaty?

  • The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) was adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations November 3, 2001.
  • It was signed in 2001 in Madrid, and entered into force on 29 June 2004.
  • It is the first legally-binding international instrument to formally acknowledge the enormous contribution of indigenous people and small-holder farmers as traditional custodians of the world’s food crops.
  • It also calls on nations to protect and promote their rights to save and use the seeds they have taken care of for millennia.
  • The parties to this treaty have come together after nearly three years to discuss governance of agricultural biodiversity and global food security.

Objectives of the treaty

The treaty aims at:

  1. Guaranteeing food security through the conservation
  2. Exchange and sustainable use of the world’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA)
  3. Fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from its use, as well as
  4. Recognition of farmers’ rights.

Key feature: Annex 1 Crops

  • The treaty has implemented a Multilateral System (MLS) of access and benefit sharing, among those countries that ratify the treaty, for a list of 64 of some of the most important food and forage crops essential for food security and interdependence.
  • The genera and species are listed in Annex 1 to the treaty. The treaty facilitates the continued open exchange of food crops and their genetic materials.
  • The list of plant genetic material included in the Multilateral System of the Treaty is made of major food crops and forages.
  • The Forages are also divided in legume forages and grass forages.
  • They were selected taking into account the criteria of food security and country interdependence


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