The Indian Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights (PPV&FR) Authority has recently notified registration of new crop – species for registration under the PPV&FR Act, 2001.Central Government issued Gazette notification S. O. 2883(E) dated 2nd December 2010, notifying registration of 11 crops for registration “not being extant varieties and farmers’ varieties”. The crop species notified for registration includes potato, garlic onion, tomato, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, lady’s finger, mango, rose and chrysanthemum.
The notification clearly states that the Authority will not accept applications filed as Extant variety or Farmers’ variety. This leaves many questions on part of the applicants. Why has the Authority acted discriminately against the farmers and public sector? We all are aware that most of the extant varieties developed for all crop species belong to the public sector. Is the Authority encouraging applicants to file the existing varieties under New Variety category? My answer would be yes. To explain my views I would like the readers to first get acquainted with Rule 22 (4) under the PPV&FR Act, which states that “the Authority shall compile and maintain a database on all varieties of common knowledge including all registered extant and farmers’ varieties and such varieties being cultivated outside India for each crop species prior to grant for registration for new varieties belonging to such species”. On one hand the Authority is adopting a sluggish approach in data compilation and maintenance; and on another it has taken a step contrary to Rule 22 (4) and opened registration of “New Varieties” prior to registering all existing varieties.
During designing the Act equal importance was given to New and existing varieties (including the varieties developed by Farmers’) maintaining balance of rights and the Act was also named as “Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act”, but during the enactment, Authority has forgotten this balance of rights and is now working contrary to the statute. How will our Plant Variety Protection Act of India shape up in future is now a big question mark? A lot of thinking and deliberation is required to be taken by the Authority before making such decisions. Let’s hope that the Authority realizes its mistakes and makes suitable amendments in its working.