‘New plant variety law ‘ll halt exodus of Nigeria breeders

Stakeholders at the ongoing expert review meeting on plant variety protection legislation (Plant Breeders Right- PBR) have stated that the law will halt the exodus of Nigerian plant breeders from the country.

It states that the law will protect Nigeria breeders intellectual properties and encourage them develop the sector.

Speaking during the meeting, the Director General, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Philip Olusegun Ojo, said that there need to pass a law that would protect the property right of breeders.

Presently, Nigeria does not have a law that protects the intellectual property of breeders.

Ojo who was represented by the director, Finance and Accounting, Dr. Ogeni Olasoji, said the draft law does not mean that the National Agricultural Seed Council Act is weak, but that the New Plant Variety Law is part of efforts to further strengthen the existing seeds law and to make seed business in Nigeria profitable to both international and local investors.

“The absence of the law is making foreigners exploit the Nigeria seed market, so to prevent that this law must be put in place,” he said.

He explained that the current legislators may not be the ones to pass the law, but it is good to start the process so that it could be passed by next a assembly.

The Acting Director, Partnership and Linkages Programme, of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria, Mr.

Yarama Ndirpaya, said the law is an important tool in the sector as it gives ownership of varieties to those that create them saying that it is done so that scientist that spent their time allover to bring up something good will earn royalty for it.

“It is a subset of the Intellectual Property Rights that is practice in agriculture.

Because without those, anybody can just come into the country and mine our genetic resources and go with them.

But when our genetic resources are documented and protected, who ever takes them will pay patent right.

Also the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Principal Programme Officer, Agriculture, Mr Ernest Aubee, commending Nigeria for the initiative said the law is very important for countries like Nigeria and the ECOWAS region because it is meant to protect intellectual property of West Africa, and to protect the rich genetic materials the region is blessed with.

“As you know, we have slots of plant varieties, some of them have left the continent to Europe and America, additional research work has been done on this varieties, patented and commercialised, so if we can protect the intellectual property of our plant breeders in the continent, it will go along way on our food security, health, trade and economic,” he said.

He revealed further that the Commission has worked very hard on having a Biosafety law, which will regulate the movement of genetic materials into the region.

“So we have a law that would he passed very soon by the political authority of ECOWAS, so we are addressing that, it is a very important issue.” On whether the law will have over riding influence on nationals law of member states, Aubee said that though it is a legal question but that once the Heads of state, approve regulations and is published in the ECOWAS, gazette, it will be adopted by all the member states.

He explained that when the law comes into effect protect the genetic resources and add to the economic value of genetic materials because whenever we sell our genetic materials without economic values added, it means we are exporting jobs, exporting opportunities

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