Promoting seed choice for smallholder farmers

November 15, 2019

Intellectual property

Oxfam, Plantum and Euroseeds just released a new publication that clarifies the scope of private and non-commercial use of seeds for smallholder farmers using new plant varieties under the UPOV Convention.

The 3 partners joined forces a few years ago and presented their findings at a side event during the Eighth Session of the Governing Body of the ITPGRFA this week in Rome.

The question that this project aimed to address was to what extent new varieties protected by a plant breeder’s right can be used in the practices of smallholder farmers who cannot – due to issues of accessibility of affordability – buy their seed from agro-dealers for each cropping season.

Euroseeds believes that private use of seeds by smallholder farmers for non-commercial activities does not significantly jeopardize intellectual property rights, thus does not substantially undermine incentives to innovate by breeder.

Concretely, the project developed a flowchart that serves as guideline for countries, companies, farmers and other stakeholders to distinguish which activities can be considered to fall within the scope of UPOV’s private and non-commercial use exception and which cannot.

As a reminder, the UPOV Convention provides effective IP protection for new plant varieties in order to obtain an appropriate return on investment (plant breeders’ rights system).