The Plants Varieties Protection Act 2021 – Opinion – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
Today, breeders, whether they are passionate individuals, farmers, research institutes or multinational companies, are working on the development of new plant varieties.
Improved varieties are a necessary and cost-effective way to improve productivity, quality and marketing for farmers and producers. However, breeding new varieties of plants requires a substantial investment of skills, manpower, material resources, money and time – it can take more than 15 years to bring a new variety to market.
Intellectual property (IP) protection is therefore granted to breeders as an incentive for the development of new varieties to contribute to the sustainable progress of agriculture.
Therefore, it is important for Nigerians to understand why the 2021 Plant Variety Protection Law, as passed by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 21, 2021, is a game-changer in a timely fashion that Nigerian breeders have wanted for ages. .
Recall that the plant variety protection bill was adopted by the House of Representatives on December 17, 2020 and the Nigerian Senate on March 3, 2021, after several months of deliberation.
The law came after so many years of struggle by a coalition led by the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) involving both business and academic groups. , including the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER), the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA), The Nigerian Plant Breeders Association (NPBA), Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) , Association of Seed Scientist of Nigeria (ASSN)), Genetic Society of Nigeria (GSN), Association of All Farmers of Nigeria (AFAN), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the media, among others.
With the enactment of the PVP law, a step has been opened for the creation of a plant variety protection system that will incentivize breeders, while also giving national and multinational agro-industrial investors the opportunity to make the most of our current agricultural situation by bringing on added values for the development of Nigeria’s agricultural value chain.
PVP is a model for promoting the commercialization of new varieties so as to enable breeders to recover the considerable costs involved in the long process of variety development.
The law is a well-crafted document which contains very important segments which highlight the active participation of private sectors, multinationals and intergovernmental agencies in the Nigerian seed industry. It also has a detailed process for obtaining plant breeders’ rights in a transparent manner.
The law contains 11 separate articles which cover administration, varieties to be protected, the process of requesting enforcement of rights, disposition of rights, exemptions from rights, nullity and cancellation of rights, offenses and rights. sanctions, among others.
Main elements of the law
Specifically, the law has a set of objectives, which include the promotion of increased productivity of staple crops for small farmers in Nigeria and encourage investment in plant breeding and development of plant varieties, promotion of ‘increased mutual accountability in the seed sector and the protection of new plant varieties.
As stipulated by law, the Plant Variety Protection Office is domiciled at the National Agricultural Seed Council and is administered by a registrar appointed by the NASC Council on the recommendation of a competent officer in the Council by the NASC.
The Office “shall” as a responsibility, grant plant breeders’ rights, maintain a register and provide information on plant breeders’ rights granted in Nigeria, facilitate the transfer and licensing of plant breeders’ rights, collaborate with local and international bodies whose functions relate to breeders’ rights issues and perform other functions necessary for the achievement of the objects of this Act.
In terms of varieties to be protected, the Law applies to all plant genera and species, for which the following rights “must” be protected; The breeder’s right “must” be granted in respect of a new, distinct, uniform and stable variety. The granting of the plant breeder’s right “is” not subject to additional or different conditions, provided that the. (a. The variety is designated by a denomination in accordance with the provisions of the law. b). The applicant must comply with the provisions of the laws and pay the prescribed fees.
Application for Plant Variety Protection Rights
A breeder of a new variety may apply for the grant of a breeder’s right for the variety, in which case the applicant must provide his name and address.
Where the applicant is the successor in title of the person who created or discovered and developed the variety, proof of title or authority in form and content satisfactory to the Registrar or may be specified by regulations establishing the existence and validity of the assignment or inheritance would be required.
In addition, the name and address of the person who selected or discovered and developed the variety, the proposed denomination and description of the characteristics of the variety that the Registrar may require, samples of the propagating material in the quantities as the registrar may require; and any additional information, documents and documents which may be required in connection with the request and which may be prescribed in the Act must be provided.
However, the Registrar has the power to declare void a plant breeder’s right which he has granted when it is established that the grant of the breeder’s right was essentially based on information and documents provided by the applicant or when the breeder’s right has been granted to a person who is not entitled to it, unless it is transferred to the person who is entitled to it.
In other words, the works of Breeders will be protected from counterfeiting, plagiarism and other forms of copying that are currently prevalent in the country. A breeder can now fall asleep as soon as his variety is accepted and registered.
The Registrar may also cancel a plant breeder’s right which he has granted, within the prescribed period when the holder of the breeder’s right does not provide him with the information, documents or material considered necessary to verify the maintenance of the variety; fails to pay any fees that may be due to maintain its right in force, or fails to propose a suitable alternative denomination when the denomination of the variety is canceled after the right has been granted.
However, upon notification, the person concerned may send a written objection to the Registrar within 30 days of the date of receipt of the notification, in which case the Registrar may hold, within a reasonable time after receipt of an objection, a hearing or may decide the matter on the basis of the written submissions of the interested parties.
When the Registrar cancels and revokes any plant breeder’s right under the relevant section, he publishes the revocation or revocation by notice in the Federal Government Gazette or in two national wide-circulation dailies, after the expiration. a period of 30 days from the date of the decision. or following a decision taken. Accordingly, the holder of the plant breeder’s right must deliver to the Registrar any certificate of grant of a plant breeder’s right which has been canceled or revoked.
Benefits for Nigerian breeders
In the past, local breeders rarely went the extra mile to do more research to develop new varieties of plants. They would prefer to align themselves with international institutions, in which the profits would go to the foreign institution. Although the local researcher and factory saw their capacities enhanced, the benefits are limited, as there was a legislative framework to secure everything they do in the country.
This development has long delayed plant breeding activities in the country. Today you hear about Ife Brown, SAMPEA, and other crop varieties that have been launched over the past twenty years without any follow-up. Where are our breeders today, most of the breeding activities carried out in the country are in association with IITA or other foreign bodies which introduce our breeders to participate to enable the liberation in Nigeria.
The operationalization of the Plant Variety Protection Law in the country will put an end to this worthless exploitation of our breeders and our resources. PVP provides legal intellectual property rights to breeders who develop new and improved seeds for increased agricultural production.
For a long time, Nigerians have doubted the emergence of new varieties of crops, especially food crops because they believe that they are the product of certain researchers attached to foreign companies abroad who want to exploit them as guinea pigs. This explains the resistance to the adoption of genetically modified food crops.
PVP offers economic benefits, such as varieties with improved yields which lead to reductions in the price of finished products for consumers, or improved quality leading to higher market value products; health benefits, for example through varieties with improved nutritional content, environmental benefits, such as varieties with improved disease resistance or stress tolerance; and fun.
According to the UPOV Secretariat, an effective plant variety protection system can provide significant benefits in an international context by removing barriers to trade in varieties, thereby increasing the reach of national and international markets. Breeders are unlikely to release valuable varieties in a country without effective protection. With access to valuable varieties bred abroad, domestic growers and producers have more leeway to improve their production and export their products.
Dr Ojo is Director General of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Abuja, Nigeria.