PROTECTION OF PLANT VARIETIES AND FARMERS’ RIGHTS ACT, 2001
The Govt. of India enacted “The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001”. The legislation evaluates the contributions of both commercial plant breeders and farmers in plant breeding activity and additionally provides to implement TRIPs in a way that caters to the particular socio-economic interests of all the stakeholders.
In order to establish an effective system for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and also to encourage the development of new varieties of plants it has been considered necessary to recognize and to protect the rights of the farmers with respect to their contributions made at any time in conserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources for the development of new plant varieties.
OBJECTIVES OF THE ACT
- To build an effective system for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders
- To acknowledge and defend the rights of farmers in respect of their contributions made at any time in preserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources
- To accelerate agricultural development within the country,
- To protect plant breeders’ rights; stimulate investment for research and
- Facilitate the expansion of the seed industry within the country which will ensure the availability of high-quality seeds and planting material to the farmers.
RIGHTS UNDER THE ACT
1. BREEDERS’ RIGHTS:
Breeders can have exclusive rights to produce, supply, distribute, import, or export the protected variety. Breeders can appoint an agent to exercise for civil remedies in case of infringement of rights.
2. RESEARCHERS’ RIGHTS:
Researchers can use any of the registered variety under the Act for conducting experiments or analyses.
3. FARMERS’ RIGHTS:
There are exhaustive rights of farmers which include:
- A farmer who has developed a new variety is entitled to registration and protection in like manner as a breeder of a variety;
- A farmer can save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce
- Farmers are eligible for recognition and rewards for the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources
- There is as well a provision for compensation to the farmers for non-performance of variety under Section 39 (2) of the Act, 2001
- Farmer is not liable to pay any fee in any proceeding before the Authority or Registrar or the Tribunal or the High Court under the Act.
Implementation of the Act
To implement the provisions of the Act the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture, and Farmers Welfare established the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority on 11″ November 2005. The Chairperson is the Chief Executive of the Authority. Besides the Chairperson, the Authority has 15 members, as notified by the Government.
Eight of them are ex-officio members representing varied Ministries, three from SAUs, and also the State Governments. There is one representative each for the following: farmers, tribal organization, seed industry and women organization associated with agricultural activities are nominated by the Central Government. The Registrar General is the ex-officio Member Secretary of the Authority.
REGISTRATION OF VARIETIES
Under the Act, a variety is eligible for registration if it essentially fulfills the criteria of Distinctiveness, Uniformity, and Stability (DUS). The Central Government issues a notification in official Gazettes specifying the genera and species for the purpose of registration of varieties. So far, the Central Government has notified 157 crop species for the purpose of registration.
The PPV & FR Authority has developed “Guidelines for the Conduct of Species-Specific Distinctiveness, Uniformity, and Stability” tests or “Specific Guidelines” for individual crop species to know the time limit for registration of extant varieties and to know the registration process.
CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION
The certificate of registration issued will be valid for nine years in case of trees and vines and six years in case of other crops.
It may be reviewed and renewed for the remaining period on payment of renewal fees subject to the condition that total period of validity shall not exceed:
- Eighteen years in case of trees and vines from the date of registration of the variety,
- Fifteen years from the date of notification of variety under the Seeds Act, 1966, and in other cases fifteen years from the date of registration.
Benefit-sharing is one of the most vital ingredients of the farmers’ rights. Section 26 provides benefits sharing and the claims are also submitted by the citizens of India or firms or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) formed or established in India. Depending upon the extent and nature of the use of genetic material of the claimant in the development of the variety along with commercial utility and demand in the market of the variety breeder will deposit the amount in the Gene Fund.
RIGHTS OF COMMUNITY
- It is compensation to the village or native communities for their significant contribution to the evolution of variety which has been registered under the Act.
- Any person/group of persons/governmental or non- governmental organizations, on behalf of any village/local community in India, can file in any notified center, claim for contribution in the evolution of any variety.
PLANT VARIETIES PROTECTION APPELLATE TRIBUNAL
There is a transitory provision by which it is provided that until the PVPAT is established the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) will exercise the jurisdiction of PVPAT. Consequently, the Plant Varieties Protection Appellate Tribunal (PVPAT) has been established by appointing Technical Member. All orders or decisions of the Registrar of Authority relating to registration of variety and orders or decisions of the Registrar relating to registration as agent or licensee can be appealed in the Tribunal. Further, all orders or decisions of Authority relating to benefit sharing, revocation of compulsory license, and payment of compensation can also be appealed in the Tribunal. The decisions of the PVPAT can be challenged in the High Court. The Tribunal shall dispose of the appeal within one year.
Author: Akanksha Anand,
Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, 4th year/ Student