Plant breedersí rights: SADC calls for farmersí rights too





 After a heavily contested protocol and a meeting of stakeholders, SADC has called for interested parties to initiate a process to put in place  a SADC smallholder farmers' rights protocol.


The call was made by the SADC FANR Directorate during a stakeholder meeting on the SADC Regional Agriculture policy in Johanesburg, South Africa.


Ms. Margareth Nyirenda  said the meeting to deliberate the protocol  on plant breeders rights is the one that brought in the idea to initiate the farmers’ right protocol.


At the meeting that went on deadlock thrice, putting the meeting on the balance was the demand by CSOs and farmer organisations that the Plant Breeders Right Protocol proposed was not in the interest of smallholder farmers who are the majority in the SADC region. Another reason was that SADC Secretariat was used by the external forces to pass legislation that was not in line with the SADC treaty. 


Ms. Mariam Mayet a lawyer from the African Centre for Biosafety, an NGO based in South Africa said the protocol was not participatory and was infringing the rights of small scale farmers to save, share, plant, exchange or sell. She said the draft protocol was as draconian than the other developed countries like Germany or India that could allow farmers to plant protected seeds up to 5 hectares.


 She said that the protocol was against the other frameworks signed by SADC like the international Treat on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and completely ignore the interests of smallholders farmer and care for plant breeders rights.

After interventions from FAO representatives Mr. Dr. Remi Nono-WOMDIM and the Angola Representative, the almost 12 hours deadlock was broken on the important article 28 on Exception to the Breeder's Rights of which the sub section (d) that “allow smallholder farmers to save, use, sow, re sow, exchange for non-commercial purposes  in his/her farm produce including seed of protected variety within reasonable limits subject to the safeguarding the interests of the breeders right”.


Talking after the meeting Mr. Remi Nono of FAO said  the problem with African experts is that are taking the international legal frameworks lo local context without aligning them to suit the reality in their countries.  In other word the draft should have safeguarded the interests of the majority smallholder farmers.


For more information about the SADC Plant Breeders Right Contact

Mr. Kalipochi Kawonga

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