Coase, Pigou and the potato: Whither farmers' rights?
This paper explores the realization of farmers' rights in order to reward farming communities for their contribution in conserving and developing crop genetic resources. Current proposals to realize farmers' rights follow both Coasean and Pigouvian approaches, which try to solve the public good dilemma generated by traditional farmers in supplying agrobiodiversity. However, both the solutions not only may be difficult to realize but also provide just incomplete incentives to traditional farmers in enhancing in situ genetic diversity. In analogy with emerging open source models in the digital information economy, I contend that traditional farming systems, with the customary practices of seed saving and exchange, must be regarded as a common based peer organization for germplasm production and distribution. For this reason, new options for implementing farmers' rights should be devised in order to strengthen farmers' practices to use and exchange seeds within the traditional seed systems.
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