Rete Semi Rurali – the Italian Farmers’ Seeds Network – was established in 2007 and in 2014 consists of 30 associations. The commitment of RSR consists in supporting farmers, politically and scientifically, in the creation and dissemination of self- and truly sustainable organic farming processes. The Commitment is based on these issues:
- Each seed needs its own soil: alternative agricultural models – such as organic or biodynamic farming – are based on a strong diversification and require the availability of seeds, which should be well adapted to the multiplicity of specific growing environments. All this can hardly be provided by seed conventional systems. RSR aims at supporting the recovery of seed systems based on the active role of farmers in the production, breeding and exchange of seeds;
- Organic farming does not just mean replacing inputs but requires the reconstruction of the agricultural system balance based on the exploitation of natural and agricultural biodiversity
Cultivated plants and animals with organic agriculture should be managed according to the principles of: diversity – ensuring more resources in the face of environmental variability, thus providing the production system stability; adaptation – integrating plants and animals in the environment in which they are grown and bred in order to have a better and more stable productivity.
The objective of RSR is to rebuild sustainable agricultural systems starting from: agriculture re-localization, territorial re-contextualization of agricultural research and technical, political and cultural centrality of farmers and rural areas. Restoring and protecting the seed biodiversity means giving back to farmers the centrality of the decisions that affect them, starting from the future of their seeds, as defined in the Article 9 on Farmers’ Rights of the FAO Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. RSR acts:
- on a technical level – re-designing the current agricultural techniques – which are based on uniformity – and designing specific working methods for organic farming;
- on a scientific level – emphasizing the centrality of farmers and their knowledge in agricultural research;
- on a political and legal level – promoting the establishment of regulatory regimes and agricultural policies, which are functional to a farmers’ re-appropriation of seed development.
- Information trough a monthly informative newsletter and a periodical magazine, websites (www.semirurali.net; www.semiedintorni.it), meetings and publishing of technical and awareness material;
- Training activities based on knowledge exchange programs among farmers, technicians, researchers at regional, national and international, educational pathways with schools and specific vocational training courses;
- Advocacy in order to change the current framework of the seed law at national level (together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Regions) and at European level;
- Support for the implementation of ITPGRFA-FAO at national level and on the promotion of agricultural goods practices and sustainable use of agro-biodiversity at national and international level.