The very same day we started to create this web site, the FAO in Roma (Organization of United Nations for Food and Agriculture) informed of a new international treaty on biodiversity for food and agriculture (signed by 48 countries) to enter into force on June 29th, 2004. A good omen.
The Treaty will ensure that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which are vital for human survival, are conserved and sustainably used and that benefits from their use are equitably and fairly distributed.
"This is a legally binding treaty that will be crucial for the sustainability of agriculture." said FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf.
Seed workshop in India
Most of the world's poor farmers depend on the use of genetic biodiversity for their income and living.
Experience and knowledge gained over many generations have made possible the development and conservation of thousands of agricultural crop varieties which otherwise would have been lost forever.
The Treaty recognizes and protects this legacy and develops the innovative principle of Farmers' Rights.
Despite the efforts of farmers, there has been a dramatic reduction of biodiversity. Since the beginning of agriculture, around 10,000 species have been used in food and fodder production. Today just 150 crops feed most human beings and just 12 crops provide 80% of food energy (wheat, rice, maize and potato alone provide 60%).
Some of the poorest countries are among the richest in terms of genetic diversity. Access to a wide range of genetic resources will make possible the development of a greater variety of food products, which will improve the lives and diets of consumers in both rural and urban areas.
We fully agree with all of these FAOs statements. Let us sincerely hope that some day this treaty will become operative.
A 3-days seed workshop in France
attended by 80 Kokopelli members
In the mean time, the Kokopelli team continues to give many free seed-workshops in Europe (France and Spain) and in Third World countries : Mexico, Guatemala, Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Tunisia, Maroco, India, Sri Lanka ... These intensive workshops last two or three days and sometimes more.
Some Kokopelli members (such as Monique and Daniel Schmidt) spend a few months every year in Africa to develop seed gardens in Mali, Niger, Mauritania.
Some members of our French organic seed growers network are going to Africa for seed missions (such as Didier and Maryse).
The purpose of all these seeds workshops and seed missions is of course to donate seeds but, more importantly, it is to help the farmers to regain control of their own seed autonomy: to conserve their own agricultural genetic diversity (when still available), to produce their own seeds in their gardens or small farms, to create networks of seed exchange, to create community seed banks at the level of the village or bio-region.