Nigeria: 'PVB Bill to Boost R&D in Agric Sector'

31 May 2021

The National Agricultural Seeds Advocacy Group (NASAG) has said the effective implementation of the Plant Variety Bill (PVB) will enhance research and development in the agribusiness sector.

According to them, the law would enable farmers access wide varieties of improved plant varieties that would result from the breeding programmes that would be protected under the law.

The group stated this at a virtual meeting held recently in partnership with Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative.

Speaking during the meeting, the national coordinator, NASAG, said in the absence of a law protecting the rights of breeders in Nigeria, plant breeders both in the public and private sectors have remained non-committal towards investing in plant breeding as there is no guarantee that their rights will be recognized and respected.

The group in statement said the ability of Nigeria's agricultural systems to sustainably support innovations in the seed sector was not within acceptable bounds, adding that to avert looming food security, there was an urgent need to open up the research and development in the seed sector for improved agricultural productivity in the country.

Okeke maintained that plant breeders that have invested huge resources in developing plant varieties have often had the same varieties duplicated for commercial purposes without their consent, leaving the original breeders with little or no value for their research breakthroughs.

According to him, the seed sector is the bedrock of the agricultural sector, stressing that it there cannot be an agricultural sector and, "without continuous research and development in the seed sector, there will continue to be an agricultural sector incapable of supporting our food security aspirations."

"Nigeria has not met the investment target of one per cent of GDP set by the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) for the agricultural sector as a whole, let alone the seed sector.

"Nigeria presently has such low and declining levels of investment in Agricultural R&D that the effectiveness of our national agricul¬tural R&D in meeting our food security needs is questionable. This is particularly true for the seed sector," he said.

The group noted that there was growing concern about the ability of African agricultural research and development (R&D) systems to respond to current and emerging development challenges.

They stated the importance of assenting the bill by the federal government, saying, "Granting plant breeders Intellectual Property Right over their Planting materials will spur them to invest more in plant breeding and this will greatly develop the seed sector.

"It will provide a wider pool of genetic resources for our breeders to draw from in their course of variety development," the group added.

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