A Differentiated Approach to Plant Variety Protection in Africa

39 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2015

See all articles by Bram De Jonge

Bram De Jonge

Wageningen UR - Law and Governance Group

Peter Munyi

Wageningen UR - Law and Governance Group

Date Written: June 17, 2015

Abstract

Several African countries and regional organisations are investing in the establishment of a plant variety protection system modelled on the UPOV 1991 Convention, which currently provides the strongest, international standard for plant variety protection. Whereas proponents argue that strong protection of breeder’s rights will incentivize breeding and the introduction of new varieties for farmers, opponents fear that the proposed legal framework is unsuitable for African countries as it may hamper traditional farming practices of using and exchanging farm-saved seed. These informal or farmer-managed seed systems supply more than 80% of the total food crop seed used by farmers. The challenge for African countries is to strike a balance between protecting the interests of breeders through the incentive function of plant breeder’s rights for the commercial market, and the leeway that needs to be provided to smallholder farmers that depend on informal sources for their seed security and survival. And to do so in a practical and legally enforceable manner. This paper explores how African countries and regional organisations can establish such balance through a differentiated approach to plant variety protection, which sets different levels of protection for different crops in relation to different categories of farmers.

Keywords: farmers’ rights; food security; plant breeder’s rights; plant variety protection; seed systems; smallholder farmers

Suggested Citation

De Jonge, Bram and Munyi, Peter, A Differentiated Approach to Plant Variety Protection in Africa (June 17, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2619763 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2619763

Bram De Jonge (Contact Author)

Wageningen UR - Law and Governance Group ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

Peter Munyi

Wageningen UR - Law and Governance Group ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

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