The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) in collaboration with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) are facilitating the passage of a new draft law known as the Plant Variety Protection Act in Nigeria, to provide farmers and plant breeders with the intellectual property rights when they develop new and improved seeds for increased crop production. The bill is currently at the National Assembly awaiting passage into law.
Through the Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA), together with AGRA, the Rockefeller Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID, the NESG has been collaborating with the Nigeria Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) to support the enaction of legislation that will provide a plant variety protection system that will incentivize national and multinational agribusiness investments and aid the development of Nigeria’s Agriculture value chain. Additionally, at the global level both AGRA and USAID are collaborating with the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) in Geneva, Switzerland to secure new seed systems and varieties of high-performance seeds for Nigeria’s agricultural transformation.
Presently, Nigeria faces a huge gap in the agriculture sector that hinders the growth and development of the Agriculture value chain. Some of the gaps include low productivity levels, limited access to finance, sub-optimal sector coordination and a lack of market linkages causing failures to leverage a huge domestic demand for food and opportunities to export to neighboring countries.
The passage and implementation of the Plant Variety Protection bill will give breeders intellectual property over a new plant variety, with exclusive rights to commercialize seed and/or propagation material of the variety. The PVP also promotes marketing of new varieties and allow breeders to earn back the considerable costs involved in the long process of variety development. Furthermore, a well-functioning Plant Variety Protection (PVP) system will encourage in-country breeding activities; this will also attract foreign companies to introduce high quality improved varieties, knowing that others cannot easily copy their effort or take advantage of it. Once the PVP Law is passed and implemented in Nigeria, the country will move from generating $0 from seeds export to generating well over $2.0 billion from seeds export within the first 5 years.
With a population of almost 200 million people estimated to nearly double to 400 million by 2050, there is urgency in putting together the steps to enhance strategic investments in the agriculture sector by availing crop varieties to farmers with the potential feed an ever-growing population and ensure national food security. The PVP law will give breeders and investors in the seed sector the assurance and confidence to invest in Nigeria and thereby address the current issues of unacceptably low yield per hectare produced by farmers. As a country that envisages creating and sustaining economic growth through agricultural value chains, enhancing productivity per unit area is of strategic importance and the passage and implementation of the PVP bill is a step towards this.