A differentiated Intellectual Property Rights system for Africa

The aim of the project is to undertake an inventory of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) legislation and regulations regarding starting material in selected countries in Sub-Sahara Africa, as well as to study the options of applying a differentiated IPR system, in particular through Plant Variety Protection (PVP), that recognizes and strengthens the different seed systems that exist and contribute to food security.

example by creating different protection standards for different crops. This exercise will be carried out in close collaboration with policymakers and stakeholders in the target countries. Most countries in Sub-Sahara Africa are now in the process of developing or updating their IPR legislation to comply with international obligations (e.g. TRIPs), including putting in place mechanisms for intellectual property protection of plant varieties. An effective PVP system is essential for (Dutch) breeding companies to invest in these countries. Whereas a UPOV 1991 system establishes positive conditions for commercial breeding it does not necessarily create seed security for smallholder farmers. This project will investigate the extent to which IPR instruments tailored to the different seed systems (formal / informal) can be established in order to develop an effective IPR system that suits both commercial, national food security and smallholder interests.

The following countries have been selected as target countries: Kenya, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The analysis will include the regional processes and regulations under the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) ), and its West African counterpart the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI), together with relevant links to the African Union. It will also reflect on the obligations (and flexibilities) under the Agreement on Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and the Conventions of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). The project will be implemented in collaboration with the project on Implementation of access and benefit sharing policies in sub-Sahara Africa; Inventory, analyses and proposal .

Main outputs

  • Workshops on Development and Implementation of ABS and IPR regulations in Sub-Sahara Africa - Nairobi, 1 – 4 October 2012
  • Report: Mahop, M.T. ; De Jonge, B. ; Munyi, P. (2013). Seed systems and intellectual property rights: an inventory from five sub Saharan African Countries. Report for the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.