The National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) on Thursday the 29th of July, 2021 unveiled the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act 2021 in an event held in Lagos, Nigeria with the theme “Unveiling the Plant Variety Protection Act 2021 and Plans for Implementation.”
The CEO of the NESG, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola while delivering the welcome remarks commended the Nigerian Government and the National Assembly for signing the Plant Variety Protection Act, 2021 into law following deliberations, advocacy visits, closed-door meetings, expert reviews, traditional and digital campaigns in the last few months with diverse stakeholders and the citizenry.
“According to the Pan African Farmer Organisation (PAFO), the agriculture sector in Nigeria needs six times more seeds than it currently utilizes in order to fulfill its yield and production potential. As we foster productivity and competitiveness in the agricultural sector through the protection of the intellectual property rights of Nigerian plant breeders, it is our hope that there will be an increase in seed production and better access to improved seed varieties by end-users,” Mr. Jaiyeola stated.
Mr. Jaiyeola reiterated that there was no doubt that the implementation of the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act 2021 will assist to better position Nigeria to feed her growing population, attract foreign investments into the Seed sub-sector as well as enjoy the gains of intra- and inter-border trade opportunities in seed trade and exports which will be crucial for creating opportunities for rural youths to live and thrive in their various communities; and that the NESG remains committed to further collaboration with Seed sector players in the implementation of the NASC Act, 2019 and the PVP Act, 2021.
While delivering goodwill messages, Professor Lateef Sanni, country coordinator of Building a sustainable Cassava System in Nigeria stated that early generation seeds companies are being stimulated for commercial seeds production in communities in Benue, Kogi, Oyo, and Delta states and that the PVP Act 2021 will not only protect breeders but also help sustain the agricultural system. President of the Nigerian Association of Plant Breeders, Professor Chiedozie Egesi who was represented by Dr. Dorcas Abidoye said that the association has been working together with the NASC since its inception and it is a great honour that the bill has finally become an Act. She stated that the implementation of the PVP Act 2021 was particularly important for smallholder farmers, plant breeders, and scientists.
Speaking in the same vein, the representative of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), Mr. Ben Rivoire said that being a member of the organization and implementing the PVP system is key to having an effective system that encourages the development of new varieties and high-quality seeds that will strengthen the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
The Director-General of NASC, Dr. Philip Olusegun Ojo said that the unveiling is an important milestone and that before now, Nigeria was one of the few countries in Africa without a Plant Variety Protection system. He expressed his appreciation to the President, the National assembly, Minister for Agriculture, Development Partners, Media organizations, and everyone involved in the successful development of the PVP.
“Nigeria’s agricultural sector transformation is a significant reason why the country should pay attention to plant variety protection (PVP). This would incentivize national and multinational agribusiness investments in the country. We will begin to see on our farmer’s field superior yielding, stress-tolerant, disease-resistant, climate-smart, and input efficient varieties which will be introduced by innovative breeders both from the public and the private sector in the 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.” Dr. Ojo stated.
Furthermore, the NASC Director-general revealed that there was one important remaining milestone left and that is the deposition of instrument of accession to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) which is the only requirement left to be met by the Country in her quest to become a full member of UPOV. Dr. Ojo also revealed that the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) operates a PVP system that covers the territory of its seventeen member states and that Nigeria needs to complete the process in the shortest possible time to become a strong player in the global trade of seeds in the near future and avoid becoming a dumping ground for all sought of junks through the importation of seeds.
Dr. Folarin Okelola while delivering a presentation on “Unveiling the Plant Variety Protection Act No 5 of 2021” said that the Act has 57 sections and 11 parts which speaks to all parts of seeds Intellectual Property protection and it serves to promote increased staple crop productivity for smallholder farmers in Nigeria and encourages investment in plant breeding and crop variety development. He further stated that the PVP Act 2021 promotes mutual accountability in the seeds sector and protects new varieties of plants based on novelty, distinctness, stability, and uniformity.