The director-general of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Philip Ojo, has identified the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) law as the panacea for sustainable progress in agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
He gave this verdict at a virtual media dialogue in Abuja with the theme ‘Why Nigeria Needs the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Law’ convened by NASC in partnership with Wandieville.
Recall the PVP bill was passed into law by the National Assembly on March 3, 2021, to establish a legal framework to protect the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants or plant groupings and promote the breeding of new varieties of plants, and currently awaits presidential assent and printing of law and regulations for implementing the law.
He said the PVP law would act as an incentive for the plant breeders to develop new varieties to contribute to sustainable progress in agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
“The role of PVP in responding to changing world is to provide a legal framework and a system that encourage plant breeding, leading to development of superior plant varieties with high yield potentials capable of withstanding conditions resulting from climate change, global population and growth, etc.
“Nigeria is one of the few countries in Africa with no legal framework for the protection of plant breeders,” he said.
The NASC boss listed a few advantages of the PVP law as increased investment in plant breeding and development of new plant varieties capable of increasing yield and productivity for our small-scale farmers; increase in the number of breeders and breeding entities; increase in the availability of more improved crop varieties with better yielding potentials; and generation of employment opportunities.
In his remarks, the president of Nigeria Plant Breeders Association (NPBA), Prof. Chiedozie Egesi, averred that the food deficit being experienced in Nigeria’s food system could be traced to the kind of varieties the nation grows, pointing out the PVP would enable the NASC to implement the seed law to regulate the kind of seed Nigeria is growing.
He said that the development would have a longer-term effect on how the farmers could benefit by growing the right kind of varieties, pointing out that apart from the socio-economic benefit of the law, it also serves as a motivation for plant breeders to continue to develop improved varieties for our farmers as it promotes accessibility of diverse kind of improved varieties for farmers and improves the agricultural sector generally.
Earlier, the national coordinator, National Agricultural Seeds Advocacy Group (NASAG), Mr. Celestine Okeke, had said the private sector was not willing to invest in the new plant varieties due to the lack of the PVP law, even as he stressed the need for private sector investment in PVP.
In her remarks, the business development manager, East West Seed International, Mrs. Hadiza Yaro, said the lack of improved seeds in developing countries made agriculture unattractive and unsustainable, pointing out that the PVP law would turn the tide and revolutionalise agriculture, especially in Nigeria.
She encouraged NASC and other stakeholders to increase public and private investments in the sector, noting that plant breeding is a long term and expensive mission for both breeders and companies. “This is why we need the PVP law to encourage breeders and companies to invest. It will also allow Nigeria to compete in the international market,” she added.
Another panelist who is also the chief executive officer of Tecniseeds Limited, Mrs. Stella Thomas, explained that developing improved seeds take time and a lot of research work and it would be unfair that a breeder’s hard work could be easily copied without the PVP law.
Thomas represented by Tecniseeds head of research and development, Mr Friday Alabi, said signing the PVP law would help to eradicate the fear of investment by private companies and encourage breeders in their research.
She added that the law would change the scenario and landscape of plant breeding, the seed sector and Nigeria as a whole.
The chief executive officer, AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited, Mr Ayodeji Balogun, stressed that the PVP law is not a GMO law and it should not be mixed up, as they are two separate bodies, adding it is important in agriculture to hold rights over research work, developments and innovations.
In his intervention, the NASC DG’s technical adviser, Mr Folarin Okelola, described PVP as value addition, saying it would give the intellectuals in Nigeria fit and viable space to improve varieties.