July 3, 2016 — Last month, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) undertook an expert review of the draft regulations for implementation of the Arusha Protocol for the protection of new varieties of plants.
The initial review took place in Harare, Zimbabwe from June 14 to 17 with an additional meeting by a subcommittee created to finalize the new draft regulation, between June 18 and 19.
While speaking at the meeting, which was chaired by the Republic of Zambia, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Eng. Ringson Chitsiko applauded ARIPO for developing the Arusha Protocol, which was adopted in July 2015. He acknowledged the extensive work that was put into it by member states and urged delegates to appreciate that the development of new varieties of plants was important to African food security. He stated that one of the aims is to improve agricultural productivity as well as to provide farmers with high yielding pest and disease free seeds.
The purpose of the review was for the ARIPO Secretariat to formulate draft implementing regulations for the Protocol, which will guide the operation of the Protocol.
In attendance were experts from Ministries of Agriculture in member states and National IP Offices, Plant Breeders, and Civil Society Organizations including the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). Other plant breeders rights organizations in attendance included the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) of the European Union, Groupement National Interprofessionnel des Semences et Plants (GNIS) and International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).
Following the experts review meeting, the draft subcommittee comprising of experts from Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, finalized the regulations. The Final text of the draft regulations is expected to be adopted at the 40th session of the Administrative Council.