ARIPO’s PVP law undermines Farmers’ Rights & Food Security in Africa PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail
Monday, 19 November 2012 12:32
(Dar es Salaam, Harare, Kampala, Johannesburg). The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has proposed a draft regional harmonized policy and legal framework on Plant Variety Protection (PVP), based on the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Convention of 1991. The draft legal framework, if adopted, will have significant adverse consequences for small-scale farmers that dominate the agricultural landscape of ARIPO member states,1 as well as for food security, agricultural biodiversity and national sovereignty in Africa. 

African civil society organizations (CSO) have submitted a detailed critique to ARIPO on the 6 November 2012, expressing their grave concerns with regard to the fundamentally flawed process involved in developing the draft PVP policy and legal framework, as well as with the legal framework itself. According to Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety “The legal framework will not only facilitate the theft of African germplasm and privatization of seed breeding. It will ensure the unhindered creation of a commercial seed market, where the types of seeds on offer are restricted to commercially protected varieties within a context where farmers’ rights to freely use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed are seriously eroded.”

The African CSO submission is available at http://tinyurl.com/a4v5gte.

According to Michael Farrelly from the Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity, “the proposed ARIPO law does not take into account the 4.8 million smallholder farmers in Tanzania who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, with the vast majority using farm saved seed to ensure their food security. The proposed legal framework is intent on handing over Tanzania’s food and seed sovereignty to foreign corporations, reducing the availability of local plant varieties, weakening Tanzania’s rich biodiversity, and denying millions of farmers the right to breed and share crops needed to feed their families.”

“We are deeply disappointed with ARIPO for adopting the UPOV 1991-style PVP law and completely ignoring the African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders. The Model law is much more appropriate in meeting the needs of ARIPO member states in addressing poverty and the challenges of climate change” said Moses Mulumba from Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) in Uganda.

The legal framework has been developed by the ARIPO Secretariat in consultation with an elite club consisting of the UPOV Secretariat, multiple actors from the seed industry including CIOPORA, the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA), the French National Seed and Seedling Association (GNIS)) and foreign organizations such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO).

The participation of farmers, farmer movements and civil society organizations has been conspicuously absent.

“It is unimaginable that ARIPO could facilitate and encourage African governments to adopt a comprehensive UPOV 1991 law without first ensuring that all stakeholders are thoroughly consulted.  Before any further action or decision is taken, it is essential for ARIPO to undertake comprehensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders and desist from rushing governments into adopting the draft legislation.” said Andrew Mushita from the Community Technology Development Trust, Zimbabwe.

The ARIPO Administrative Council is expected to meet in Zanzibar on 26-30th November 2012 to discuss inter alia the legal framework and decide whether ARIPO should join UPOV 1991. Decisions will also be made with regard to ARIPO’s regional office granting and administering of PVP centrally. 

Civil Society groups in Africa, reiterate their calls on ARIPO member states to:

  • Reject the development of the ARIPO PVP legal framework on the basis of UPOV 1991 and for ARIPO states not to join UPOV;
  • Support the development of a legal framework that acknowledges the contribution of farmers as breeders and upholds and promotes the customary practices of small-scale farmers;
  • Reject the development of a legal framework based on a “one grant system” (whereby the ARIPO office has the power to grant and administer breeders’ rights on behalf of all the Contracting states);
  • Provide adequate opportunities for consultations with farmers, farmer movements and civil society organizations before any further work is undertaken; and
  • Make available publicly all information with regard to the process and timelines involved in developing the draft regional policy and legal framework.

1 ARIPO member states include the following countries: Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

 

For more information:

Mariam Mayet:    Tel: +27 83 269 4309    email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Andrew Mushita    Tel: + 263 - 4 – 576108    email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Farrelly    Tel:  +255 (0) 755 503 089    email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mulumba, Moses    Tel:+256 414 – 532283    email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

This press release is supported by:

 

African Biodiversity Network (ABN)

representing 36 organisations in Africa

La Via Campesina Afrique

representing small scale farmers from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Central Africa Republic

Movement for Ecological Learning and Community Action (MELCA)

Ethiopia

Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD)

Ethiopia

Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM)

Kenya

National coordination of peasant organisations of Mali (CNOP)

Mali

Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy

Malawi

Never Ending Food

Malawi

Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM)

Rwanda

Abalimi

South Africa

African Centre for Biosafety (ACB)

South Africa

Biowatch

South Africa

DIAKONIA Council of Churches

South Africa

Earthlife Africa eThekwini

South Africa

Farm & Garden Trust

South Africa

Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)

Tanzania

Envirocare

Tanzania

Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM)

Tanzania

Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity

Tanzania

Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement

Tanzania

Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE)

Uganda

Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD)

Uganda

Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF)

Uganda

Food Rights Alliance (FRA)

Uganda

National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU)

Uganda

Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM)

Uganda

Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI)

Uganda

Volunteer Efforts for Development Concerns (VEDCO)

Uganda

Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT)

Zimbabwe

 

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