Mr Emmanuel Sackey, Intellectual Property Development Executive of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) has called on government to establish an Intellectual Property (IP) protection system for effective execution of the one-district-one factory initiative.
He said the agricultural sector which feeds the country must also have its IP protected, which requires that a plant variety protection system must be put in place.
“The plant variety protection system affords breeders the opportunity to create new varieties to increase the country’s agricultural productivity and build a sustainable agriculture for the future.”
He said this at national seminar organized by ARIPO in cooperation with government on the “Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants” in Accra.
According to him, Ghana was projected to have a population of 51.7 million people in 50 years’ time and would need to increase production by 60 per cent to feed its population and the way to address the situation was to encourage plant breeders and protect new plant varieties.
He said it had taken Ghana 16 years to pass the Plant Breeder’s Bill, adding that concerns about genetically modified organisms was addressed under the biosafety law, consumer law, among others.
Madam Gloria Akuffo, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice in a speech read on her behalf said the plant breeders bill had gone through extensive discussion and consultation with stakeholders over the years, it was not possible for the last Parliament to pass the bill before it recessed.
She said when the Bill got to the third consideration stage in Parliament, it was suspended because of petitions received by the Speaker of Parliament.
“I am aware of the misconceptions some people have on the protection of the new plant varieties (plant breeder’s rights). However, we should be mindful that we are in a global era and farmers compete with each other in selling their products” she added.
Mr Hans Adu-Dapaah, Professor at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research- Graduate School, said the plant breeders’ bill sought to grant plant breeders exclusive right to the varieties they develop.
He said Ghana must have a plant variety protection system because the adoption of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) required that contracting parties protected plant varieties either by patents or by an effective sui generis system of protection or by a hybrid of these two systems.
“Plant Breeders must satisfy certain criteria in the area of novelty, distinctiveness, uniformity and stability to be granted a breeder’s right when the bill is passed.”
Mr Adu-Dapaah said some of the benefits of plant breeder’s right to the farmer include; improve yields, increased profitability, pests and diseases resistance, stress tolerance, quality crop, input efficiency and new markets, among others.
He noted that agricultural production in Ghana is challenged with rapid declining soil fertility, increased complexity of pests and diseases of crops, postharvest losses and short shelf life of produce, loss of biodiversity and inherent low yields of crops.
He urged government to pass the Plant Breeder’s Bill to enable the breeders to come out with new resistance materials to curb crop diseases such as fall armyworm to achieve food and nutrition security.