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Agric seed group calls for crop breeders’ protection law

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National Agricultural Seeds Advocacy Group (NASAG) has called for the passing of the Plant Breeders’ Protection bill into law (PBP).

Lead Partner, Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative, (SEEDI), Celestine Okeke, said: “Nigeria is no doubt ripe for a Plant Breeders Protection Law.”

He argued that if writers have laws protecting their written texts, artists have laws protecting their intellectual properties and authors have laws protecting their publications, plant breeders, who spend upwards of 12 months researching on plant varieties, should be protected by law too.

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“The poverty levels in the country, coupled with growing food insecurity and rising food prices, call for immediate action to remedy the dearth of research and development in the seed sector.

“The seed sector is the bedrock of the agricultural sector; without seeds, there cannot be an agricultural sector and without continuous research and development in the seed sector, there will continue to be an agricultural sector incapable of supporting our food security aspirations.”
 
The bill would enable farmers access wide varieties of improved plant varieties that would result from the breeding programmes that would be protected under the law and grant plant breeders ‘Intellectual Property Right’ over their planting materials, he said. “This would spur them to invest more in plant breeding and this would greatly develop the seed sector,” he added.

It was argued that such a law would provide a wider pool of genetic resources for breeders to draw from in the course of variety development and promotion of the breeding of new varieties.

“There is no restriction on who can be considered to be a breeder under the PVP Act. A breeder might be an individual, a farmer, a researcher, a public or private institute or you and me,” he said.

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