Breeding Apples for Oranges: Africa's Misplaced Priority Over Plant Breeders' Rights

Journal of World Intellectual Property 8 AUG 2015 DOI: 10.1111/jwip.12039

31 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015 Last revised: 30 Oct 2015

See all articles by Chidi Oguamanam

Chidi Oguamanam

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: January 1, 2015


In 2000, African countries expressed reservation over the adoption of UPOV Act of 1991 as a model of plant breeders’ rights (PBRs) for TRIPS- compliance. For the continent, an acceptable system of PBRs protection would include the protection of the “rights of communities and their indigenous knowledge, as well as the rights of farmers and fishermen, and their innovations, technologies and practices”. One and half decades after, Africa has virtually reversed itself and embraced the UPOV-PBRs system notwithstanding the latter’s narrow focus on breeders and marginal reference to farmers. This Article critically explores the concerted sites of pressures, especially free trade and economic partnership agreements, and related policies through which Africa appears to have capitulated and upturned its policy position on PBRs. The continent’s present priority over the implementation of PBRs through various regional and national legal initiatives currently at the instance of African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the Southern African Economic Community (SADC) and specific country initiatives are explored. The article highlights the basis for the incongruity of Africa’s newfound interest in the UPOV-PBRs system – a regime not designed for the farmer-centered tenor of African agriculture. It calls attention to the continued relevance of Africa’s 2000 Model Law, especially as it applies to PBRs and recommends reality assessment as an important step toward the formulation of IPRs system suited for stakeholders in African agriculture for the continent’s food security and food sovereignty.

Keywords: Africa, Plant Breeders' Rights, Farmers' Rights, AU, ARIPO, OAPI, SADC, AGOA, EU-EPA, UPOV, TRIPS, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya

Suggested Citation

Oguamanam, Chidi, Breeding Apples for Oranges: Africa's Misplaced Priority Over Plant Breeders' Rights (January 1, 2015). Journal of World Intellectual Property 8 AUG 2015 DOI: 10.1111/jwip.12039, Available at SSRN: or

Chidi Oguamanam (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5

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