In advance of an Expert Meeting to review Draft Regulations for the Implementation of the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, the Secretariat of the African Regional Intellectual Property Office (ARIPO) released a draft adverse to the interests of small farmers. The Expert Meeting met in Harare from 14 to 16 June 2016.
In its statement released prior to the Expert Meeting, AFSA condemned the Draft Regulations, calling for the Regulations to be “scrapped in their entirety” highlighting that the Draft Regulations included provisions “designed to intimidate and force seed processors, seed suppliers, government certification officers and even farmers’ organizations to police and spy on farmers who use farm-saved protected seed.” The Draft Regulations also fail to expressly recognize the right of small-scale farmers to freely continue to save, re-use, exchange and sell seeds/propagating material of the protected variety.
In fact, the Draft Regulations require small-scale commercial farmers to remunerate the right holder for saving seeds of the protected varieties, although in the European Union (EU), such farmers are exempt from payment of remuneration. The EU is a strong proponent of the Arusha Protocol.
Obviously, the Draft Regulations are contrary to the vast literature and evidence that recommend that seed laws and policies, including plant variety protection systems, should safeguard the interests of smallholder farmers. These farmers often work on plots less than 10 hectares, are the main food producers in Africa, and the future of sustainable food systems.
Third World Network (TWN) and the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) released detailed comments on the Draft Regulations highlighting in particular the implications for small farmers and proposing recommendations for the consideration of ARIPO Members.
For more information see:
AFSA press release on ARIPO Regulations: http://afsafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/AFSA-Press-Release-on-ARIPO-Regulations.pdf (link is external)
"ARIPO Draft Regulations on Plant Variety Penalizes Small Farmers" at http://www.twn.my/title2/intellectual_property/info.service/2016/ip16061... (link is external)
"Proposed Plant Variety Regulations inconsistent with ARIPO’s Protocol, violates sovereign rights" at http://www.twn.my/title2/intellectual_property/info.service/2016/ip16061... (link is external)