Friday, 22 February 2008

Uganda: Draft Plant Variety Bill before Parliament

The Ugandan parliament will soon have a hearing on the draft Plant Variety Protection Bill, approved by the cabinet early last year. If passed unmodified, the bill is likely to entrench the rights of breeders and companies while curtailing the rights of small farmers to exchange, save and breed new varieties using hybrid seeds accoring to this AllAfrica report.

"There is an inherent conflict between small farmers' and breeders' rights. Breeders are often the companies that pay research institutions to propagate new hybrid seed varieties. Hybrid seeds are bred artificially to improve the characteristics of plants, such as yield, appearance and disease resistance."

"If the bill is passed by the parliament, the protection of breeders' rights is likely to further increase the availability of hybrid seeds on the market. As this happens over time, certain forms of traditional seeds will become scarce, threatening the biodiversity of the country and the region as well as the financial viability of farming for the rural poor."

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