President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed into law the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act 2021 which will confer seed developers or breeders protection on their intellectual efforts.
Reacting to the signing, the Director-General of the Nigerian Agricultural Seed Council, Dr Phillip Olusegun Ojo, said the law would also open the floodgates of investments into the seed space.
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“This law will bring out clearly going forward, the contributions of plant breeding to the Nigerian agricultural sector.
“We will begin to see our farmers’ superior yielding, stress-tolerant, disease-resistant, climate-smart and input-efficient varieties, which will be introduced by innovative breeders both from the public and private sectors in a few years to come.
“In addition to the above, we will begin to witness efficient land use and reduced food cost as a result of the increased productivity from cultivated hectares across the country,” he said at a news conference on Monday.
Already, the sector players have estimated the economic benefits to be around $2bn investment coming into agriculture, particularly the seed space with the law in place.
Key elements of the PVP Act 2021
The PVP law is about the protection of intellectual properties. It means that investors will come into the country to bring in superior genetics which we don’t have now.
Most of the genetics we have in the country do not have the yield potentials obtained in other countries like Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and others that have the PVP law. Those who invest in their development shy away from Nigeria because of the absence of the law needed to protect them.
Those superior genetics need a lot of capital and laboratories, screen houses and technical expertise to develop them. But with this law, individual breeders are protected. Seed companies can now invest more in the development or breeding of seeds knowing fully that their research results would be protected and farmers would have access to the best seeds.
“For example, today, Nigeria imports a lot of tomatoes, cucumber and carrot seeds. We import them because the seeds are copyrighted materials of some individuals which they cannot just bring and start producing in Nigeria as someone can start multiplying them, which means he has copied their work,” a seed expert, Mr Folarin, said.
But with this law, Nigeria can tell seed importers to, within the next five years, come and set up production plants in the country now that the law does not allow anyone to duplicate their works for financial gains.
“It will mean the recruitment of a lot of expertise that are Nigerians; it means farmers in Nigerian will also gain capacity knowledge in those areas,” Folarin said.