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General News of Friday, 28 February 2020

Source: GNA

Registrar Generals, MoFA sensitise stakeholders on Plant Breeders Bill

Owusu Afriyie Akoto Owusu Afriyie Akoto

The Registrar Generals Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has held a sensitization workshop on Ghana’s Plant Breeders Bill as a way of garnering more understanding and support for the Bill.

The 20-year-old Bill, which still lingers on due to some objections raised against it by some stakeholders including Food Sovereignty Ghana, is an intellectual property component recognizing breeders and growers for their efforts by encouraging them to develop new varieties of plants.

Initiators of the Bill have explained that it was not about promoting Genetically Modified Organisms, (GMOs), but it is about offering a system where breeders could have protection for their innovations.

When it is finally passed into law, experts say, it would, also serve as a regulatory framework that would promote and provide incentives for researchers, scientists, breeders and farmers, who would come out with new varieties of seeds and crops that would be used by local farmers, investors and other users for commercial purposes.

“The Plant Breeders Bill is similar to the protection and rights we give to a person, who develops a new blender for grinding tomatoes under patents, the person who grinds the tomatoes and packages same in a special way by using a name under trademarks, and the musician who writes a song about how delicious using the blended tomatoes to prepare Jollof gets a copyright”, Mrs Jemima Oware, the Registrar General, Registrar Generals Department explained.

She was speaking at the opening of the two-day national workshop, held for various stakeholders including researchers, breeders, and NGOS in Accra.

She said the Breeders Bill was an indicator that Ghana recognised the progress made in breeding activities, which was key to meeting needs in the agricultural sector.

Mrs Oware said the Bill had so far been subjected to series of stakeholders’ consultation until 2015, where it reached the third Consideration stage in Parliament and subsequently referred by the Speaker to the Select Committees of Constitutional and Legal Committee and Agriculture.

Parliament could however not attend to it after the December 2016 polls.

She explained that in April 2019, there was another meeting held to discuss the bill with all participants agreeing to the provisions of the Bill, after which it was subsequently submitted to Cabinet.

She, however, urged all stakeholders to do well to make the necessary inputs as early as possible to enable Ghana to pass the bill into law so it could encourage breeders to come out with new varieties of plants that were crucial means of delivering new technologies to farmers and growers.

“It is in the light of the challenges facing our gallant breeders and farmers who feed the nation that we must develop and diffuse innovative and climate-proof solutions, such as seeds of improved varieties that are more tolerant to rainfall varying patterns, drought and floods to facilitate the growth of small and large commercial farming enterprises”, Mrs Oware said.

Mr Samuel Anum, Project Coordinator of the Intellectual Property Project, Ministry of Trade and Industry, said the sensitization workshop was being embarked upon following Cabinet’s advice, and that another one would be held for the northern sector to well educate stakeholders within that part of the country.

He explained that all the neighbouring countries surrounding Ghana were among 17 Francophone countries that have had their systems of Plant Breeders Acts in place as well as other countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa, with all having acceded to the International Union for the protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) model for protection.

Mr Samuel Nii Quarcoo, a Farmer who participated in the workshop emphasized the importance of a good seed plus a good agriculture practices as essential to farmers, and urged that the passage of the Bill should be quickened.

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