April 20, 2021
General

PARLIAMENT PASSES PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION BILL 2020 INTO LA …

The Plant Variety Protection Bill, 2020, which seeks to establish a legal framework to protect the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants or plant groupings and to promote the breeding of new varieties of plants in Ghana, has been passed into law.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice Gloria Akuffo, on Wednesday, 4 November 2020, moved the motion for the adoption of the resolution, which was supported by Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu.

The Bill was laid in the House on Friday, 9 October 2020 by the AG, in accordance with Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution and referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report pursuant to Order 179 of the Standing Orders of the House by the Speaker, Prof Michael Oquaye.

Ghana is party to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

This international agreement, which resulted from the Uruguay Rounds and became effective on 1 January 1995, set out the minimum standards for regulation by state parties to protect different forms of intellectual property.

The country, in her quest to harness the intellectual capacities of the citizenry, in compliance with her international obligations, has enacted a number of intellectual property laws in the past decades, including the Patents Act 2003 (Act 657), the Geographical Indications Act 2003 (Act 659), the Industrial Designs Act 2003 (Act 660), the Trademarks Act 2004 (Act 664), the Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits Act 2004 (Act 667) and the Copyright Act 2005 (Act 690).

Despite all these frantic efforts aimed at establishing an effective legal framework to protect intellectual works, there remains a gap in the law regarding a major aspect of intellectual property, which is the protection of rights of plant breeders.

The first attempt to fill this gap was made in 2003 when the Plant Breeders Bill 2013 was presented to the Sixth Parliament but later withdrawn to allow further consultation.

After nationwide consultations, the Bill has now been reintroduced by the AG as the Plant Variety Protection Bill 2020.

The Chairman of the Committee, who is also the MP for Offinso South, Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, while presenting the report, said the Committee acknowledged the urgent need for the passage of the Bill to fill the existing gap in Ghana’s intellectual property laws and to protect the legitimate rights of plant breeders and incentivise them to deliver quality seeds to boost ongoing agricultural initiatives, including the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme.

He said the Committee, in its observation, noted the necessity to establish a system to protect the rights of plant breeders and provide incentives for plant breeding; establish a Plant Variety Development Fund, promote plant breeding to serve as a boost to agriculture production in the country and set up administrative provisions for the implementation of the Bill.

The Committee further acknowledged the need for the country to comply with international obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.

The House, unanimously adopted the Committee’s report and passed the Bill into law awaiting presidential assent.      

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