The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-Ghana) has organised a national advocacy and awareness creation training workshop to promote plant variety protection system to improve food security and genetic diversity.
The training follows the passage of Ghana’s Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Bill into law in 2020 to harness the intellectual abilities of citizens and serve as an incentive towards enhancing the development of new varieties for sustainable agriculture.
Speaking during the two-day workshop to promote the PVP system in Ghana, Professor Paul P. Bosu, Deputy Director-General of CSIR, expressed the Council’s unflinching support to create the needed public awareness to promote the PVP system.
The training was expected to establish a better understanding of the importance of the system, create awareness and build the capacity of stakeholders for licensing agreements between research and seed companies.
He highlighted CSIR’s numerous research exploits that included the development of crop varieties with higher yields per hectare, early maturing, pest and disease resistance as well as varieties with enhanced nutritional values for economic growth and development.
“Unfortunately, most of these improved crop varieties released are not protected by any adequate regulation or intellectual property,” Professor Bosu said.
The workshop was supported by the West and Central African Council for Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) and the USAID which provided the funding.
Prof Bosu was enthused CORAF found it prudent to support Ghana and five other countries – Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Benin and Niger, to organise the national consultative and information workshop under the CORAF-partnership for agricultural research, education and development (PAIRED) project.
He said the Council was inspired to play a lead role in the implementation of collaborative programmes such as the PAIRED project and stressed how important the project was to farmers, saying, six out of the 13 research institutes within CSIR are agriculture-related.
“We are excited with the prospects of the training workshop and promise to rally our full support behind the promotion of the Plant Variety Protection system in Ghana,” he added.
Mr Patrick Ankobea, Chief Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said it was gratifying many African countries have started considering the introduction of a system for the protection of newly developed varieties of plants based on international convention to provide an effective and globally recognised system.
In West Africa and other parts of Africa, he noted most seed companies were not engaged in plant breeding, stating: “Almost all the varieties in the commercial portfolio of seed companies are public bred by agricultural research institutions and the universities.”
He described the protection of the rights of plant breeders as an important stimulus for the development of quality plant varieties and that the intellectual property rights of breeders gave an exclusive right to release unique innovations most appropriately.
“If well applied, the plant variety protection system can be an important tool to encourage the creation and release of new varieties of plants, ensuring and improving access to innovation, technology transfer, food security and genetic diversity.”
He said the implementation of the PVP system meant sound establishment of application procedure, examination and registration of new varieties of plants as well as conduction of enforcement of plant breeders’ rights and preparation of related guidelines in Ghana.
Mrs Cynthia Asare-Bediako, Chief Director, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), also said protecting the rights of plant breeders could stimulate the development of better plant varieties.
“The intellectual property rights on a variety gives a breeder the exclusive rights to decide how to exploit and release the innovation in the most appropriate way for our collective interest,” she said.
She said MESTI was excited about the initiative and that the gesture underpinned the fact that many African countries had started considering the system for the protection newly developed varieties of plants.