The passage of the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) bill into law will facilitate the protection of the right of ownership of seedlings and plant varieties and also enhance agribusiness in the country which in turn, will create an opportunity for Nigeria to generate revenue worth over $2billion within five years.
The Nigerian Economic Summit Group made the assertion in a recent statement signed by Yinka Iyinolakan,head,corporate communication, in response to the approval of the PVP bill in March 3,2021, by the Nigerian national assembly.
According to the group, the passage of the bill into law will give plant breeders intellectual property over a new plant variety, with exclusive rights to commercialise seed and propagate material of the variety while also promoting the marketing of new varieties, enabling breeders to earn back the considerable costs involved in the long process and duration of variety development. It added that the PVP will encourage in-country breeding activities as well as introduce the exportation of high quality improved varieties developed by Nigerian researchers to other countries with the knowledge that these countries are not authorised to copy or reproduce the crop varieties without consent.
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While commending the national assembly for its role in ensuring the passage of the PVP bill, NESG urged the executive arm of the government to urgently ensure that the legislation is signed into law to regain the confidence of plant breeders across the country.
“We believe that the measures set out in the PVP bill will create a more appropriate system that meets today’s realities, improve the business environment and general agricultural performance across the economy as a whole,” the statement read in part.
Prior to the passage of the bill by the legislative arm of the Nigerian government, the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) which is equally the apex regulatory body for the Nigerian Seed Industry, had been the driving force for the coordination and implementation of the national seed sector and the protection of plant breeders in the country.
The NASC in partnership with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Rockefeller Foundation under the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) initiated the Plant Variety Protection as an avenue where plant breeders are granted an intellectual property right over their planting materials to encourage further innovation and diversity of breeding and increase investment in plant breeding.
Making a case for the passage of the bill into law in Nigeria, Rose Gidado, Country director, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), noted that the PVP bill is a legal designation and document meant to protect plant breeders, help them exercise their rights and motivate them to do more because it give them intellectual property right and patent to whatever variety of crop being developed.
On his part, Charles Onwuka, Agriculture officer, National Agriculture Seed Council ,described PVP as an instrument that allows breeders to benefit from the work of their intellect and gives confidence to breeders.
Okolo Samson, zonal business development manager, Value Seeds Limited, stated that conducting researches in plant varieties costs a lot and when a plant researcher does a work and is not rewarded, or sees no future benefits, it discourages investments but when the protection is there and the assurance of generating revenue out of breeding comes up, breeders and researchers will be encouraged to work.
According to market reports, the Netherlands generate $2.6 billion from seeds export annually while Kenya generates $1.8 billion from flower exports annually as a result of the implementation of the PVP law adopted in the various countries.
Nigeria’s failure to pass the PVP into law over the years, has led to a loss in revenue opportunities worth millions of dollars and also, lowered the recognition of Nigerian plant breeders and researchers in the global agricultural community,NESG said.