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Workshop on the Local Management of Agricultural Biodiversity
9 - 19 May, Rio Branco-Acre, Brazil



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Sunday - May 12, 2002

Today was the day for the Brazilians to talk about their experiences. These experiences have not yet been added to the Growing Diversity website, but check back in June when they should be uploaded. Eleven cases were presented of which a few are mentioned here.
One of the common themes amongst all these experiences was the passion held by the speaker in the work that they were doing. Indeed, for some of the experiences this was the first time that they were presenting their groups. Another common theme was the need to cut out the middle person when selling their produce or handicrafts.

Francisco de Assis Monteiro / Brazil Geraldo Mosimann da Silva / Brazil Carlos Durigan /Brazil Ismael / Brazil

Some of the experiences were very positive such as the indigenous people of Ashaninka who live near Rio Branco in the rainforest – they have been able to recover and restore 99% of the forest to its former glory. In other cases, there is still a long struggle ahead such as a case in Rondonia in the Southern Amazon. In this case, 90% of the original rainforest has been cut down. Large farms bought the smaller farms and the smaller farmers moved on cutting into the Brazilian rainforest.

Ashaninka illustration Benki Ashaninka and Jaqueline Vilareal / Brazil

Women were also shown, as in some of the West African experiences, to be a key to the success of a project. An NGO called ASSEMA is made up of women “Coco Babaçu” (a type of coconut) breakers. They now have a range of products including organic oil which is sold to the Body Shop. “Before we used to hide, but now we are proud of our work”.

A case from Rio Negro in the Parque Nacional de Jan (National Park of Jan) showed that this conservation area had completely ignored the presence of its human inhabitants. A case from Rio Grande do Sul used stands in markets to sell their vegetables, but with a slight difference. They would only sell one type of vegetable on one stand, but with lots of different varieties. They did this as a type of education for the wider public, to show the wealth of variety that does exist.

There were several questions after these presentations, many underlining the similarity of problems and solutions around the world.

Sylvia Rodriguez Henk Hobbelink / Holland

The subject of this afternoon was intellectual property rights. Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN, gave an overview of the international agreements which affect intellectual property rights. This was followed by Sylvia Rodriguez who focussed on 2 forms of intellectual property rights: patents from the World Trade Organisation TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) agreement, and plant breeders’ rights from UPOV. This was followed by animated discussion about what farmers and NGOs could do to fight the continuing restrictions on the use of seeds.

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