Critical Moment For Africa’s Small Farmers As ARIPO Decides On Plant Variety Protection

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The Africa Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) this week was expected to consider a proposal to move toward a biotechnology-friendly future, but small farmers said the current proposal will damage their ability to exist in the those countries.

A draft ARIPO plant variety protection law under consideration this week in Uganda is based on the 1991 version of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). The ARIPO Administrative Council met from 25-26 November and the Ministerial Conference is meeting on 27-28 November.

The documents for the ARIPO meeting are here:

ARIPO-CM-XIV-8-ANNEX I-ARIPO_experts _meeting_matrix_July 25_2013_update _3_

ARIPO-CM-XIV-8-ANNEX III-LIST OF AGRICULTURAL CROPS 10_9

ARIPO-CM-XIV-8-ANNEX-II-Draft ARIPO Legal Framework for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants-09 09

ARIPO-CM-XIV-8-REVISED DRAFT ARIPO LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION

The draft law as written would “criminalise farmers’ rights and undermine the seed systems in Africa,” says a coalition of small farmers.

Civil society provided detailed comments on flaws it sees in the current draft law.

Civil society groups held a press conference yesterday in Uganda and released this statement [pdf].

The groups have been urging ARIPO governments to consider their concerns for weeks (IPW, Developing Country Policy, 30 October 2013), but apparently to little avail.

There appears to be no public information about the meeting on the ARIPO website. The group has a close relationship with the World Intellectual Property Organization.

According to its website, he 12 members of ARIPO are: Botswana, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. There are 12 potential members, including Egypt and South Africa.

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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