Progress of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority During 2006-07 to 2010-11

Authors: Shiv Kumar 1, Shiv Datt2 and Vikram Singh3
1 Principal Scientist, 2 Senior Scientist and 3Scientist IPTM Unit, ICAR, New Delhi


Government of India enacted the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act, in 2001 (No. 53 of 2001) to provide for the establishment of an effective system for protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants of economic importance. The Act follows sui-generis system and is unique in substance that it recognizes the concurrent rights of breeders, farmers and researchers. The PPV&FR Authority was established on 11 November 2005 to make this Act effective and functional.

- During the review period 2006-07 to 2010-11(Chand et.al.2012), specific distinctiveness, uniformity and stability (DUS) guidelines for 52 crop species including cereals, vegetables, spices, oilseeds, floriculture, horticulture and forestry were developed and notified in the gazette to make them eligible for plant variety registration. Specific DUS test guidelines for these crop species were also published.

- A total of 2476 applications representing 41 crops were received by the Authority for seeking plant variety protection. Of these, 973 applications were filed under new category, 1421 in extant category, 81 as farmers' variety and 1 application in essentially derived variety category.

- Certificates of Registration were issued for 274 extant plant varieties. Maximum numbers of certificates were issued for wheat, cotton, Maize, and rice. The PVP Authority has achieved effectiveness and efficiency in registration of plant varieties in the review period.

- Passport data of 2394 new and extant (varieties about which there is common knowledge) varieties were accepted for DUS test and 274 extant varieties notified under Seeds Act, 1966. The details of the varieties accepted for registration were published in the Plant Variety Journal of India for the information of general public and for inviting objections, if any. Details of these varieties were also published in the Journal for the purpose of inviting claims for benefit sharing. Details of all categories of varieties registered in the review period have been documented in the National Register of Plant Varieties maintained at the head office of the Registry at New Delhi. This reveals that the authority has strived to enhance transparency and accountability in the area of PVP&FR. Two hundred and seventy varieties of notified crops are at various stages of testing for granting of registration.

- The Authority has established National Gene Bank for conservation of seeds of the protected varieties and also supported 54 DUS test centres across the country (at ICAR institutes, State Agricultural Universities and other research organizations). During the review period, funds to the tune of Rs. 9.5 crores were released to carry out DUS tests, maintenance breeding, development of DUS centres and database management. Three field gene banks have been established at Dr. Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli, Birsa Agricultural University, Ranchi and Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan for asexually/ vegetatively reproduced crops.

- The Authority has developed Indian Information System as per DUS Guidelines (IINDUS) and Notified and Released Varieties of India (NORV) databases for documentation of varietal details of extant varieties notified under Seeds Act, 1966.

- Plant variety registration confers an exclusive right on the farmer / breeder(s) to produce, sell, market, distribute, import or export the registered variety. The Authority has implemented the farmers' rights, registered farmers' varieties, framed rules and procedures for Plant Genome Savior Community Award. The Authority has awarded nine farming communities in the review period, conducted 51 training-cum-awareness programs in different ICAR institutes, KVKs, SAUs, NGOs and research organizations, using the string of DUS test centres to generate awareness among stakeholders about PPV&FR Act, 2001.

The legal cell of the Authority was involved in drafting of rules, notifications and guidelines of modification of provisions of legislations, providing opinion on international regulatory matters and in the interpretation and implementation of PPV&FR Act, 2001 and Rules, 2003 with the intent of avoiding practical difficulties encountered in real field situations and also to prevent repugnancy as per the prevailing rule of law in the country.

- The Authority has developed a strong base of organizational assets to deliver sustainable public service output to its stakeholders in transparent and accountable manner. Moreover, the responses of the Authority to the demands for accountability and relevance and more effective interaction with an increasingly diverse range of stakeholders were appreciable in the review period.

In areas of capacity building of stakeholders in IPR, the Authority organized 28 training-cum-awareness and workshop-cum-awareness in different parts of the country to make stakeholders aware of the concept of PVP and features of the Act. The financial support provided by the Authority for human resource development of stakeholders has gone up from Rs.0.75 lakh in 2007-08 to Rs. 6.3 lakh in 2010-11 showing annual increase of 74% (in nominal terms). The growth rate in cost per training was 3.7% in real terms but cost per participant declined significantly due to shift in the strategy of training of stakeholders at different regional places. The authority released Rs. 630.7 lakhs for developing and strengthening DUS test centres making an average of Rs. 157.52 lakh per year. The Authority has reaped the benefits of scale economies.

- The Authority has committed around Rs. 30 crore for developing paraphernalia (knowledge, judgment, skill and experiences of PVP and related issues) for running itself with its own momentum. It had utilized the allocated funds to the extent of 96 per cent in the review period. Allocations for human resources were almost 10 times compared to allocations to infrastructure and both showed a consistently upward trend. The Authority had focused research priorities for generation of more knowledge on protection of plant varieties especially knowledge about DUS test guidelines and related activities for new crops. This is evident from the financial support to DUS centres which was 6.5 per cent per annum in real terms. The financial support provided by the Authority to DUS centres has gone up from Rs. 1.66 crores in 2007-08 to is Rs. 2.7 crores in 2010-11 showing an increase of 62.65 per cent (in nominal terms) in three years. The National Gene Fund has made a moderate beginning in the generation of resources - an amount of Rs. 5.5 lakh on annual registration fee and interest accrued from deposits thereon.

The Authority has contributed to influencing public policy on a number of PVP and related issues in the country and abroad. Clearing title of varieties (exclusive rights to the genuine owner) to avoid overlapping and duplication of interests of parties involved in seed business in the market had brought transparency and accountability amongst stakeholders as per mandated activities of the Act.

References:

1. Chand, Ramesh; Shiv Kumar & Pratap S Birthal (2012). Evaluation of the Scheme for "Protection of Plant Varieties & Framers' Rights Authority (PPV&FRA): 2006-07 to 2010-11, PPVFR Authority, NASC Complex, DPS Marg, Opposite Todapur Village, New Delhi-110012.

About Author / Additional Info:
The authors are working on IPR issues on agriculture and agriculture policy