The government has allowed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) to establish the national agriculture registry (NAR) that will play an important role in granting intellectual property rights (IPR) to any invention in the agriculture sector.
An official source said the decision of the Prime Minister’s Office has removed the last hurdle in the implementation of the Plant Breeders Rights Act (PBRA) in the agriculture sector. It is important to mention that despite PBRA legislation, approval and implementation has been withheld for the last 16 years.
The Intellectual Property Rights Organisation Pakistan (IPOP) had sought control over the national agriculture registry (NAR) which was vehemently opposed by the MNFSR on the grounds that they could deal with the matter more professionally.
IPOP which works under the Cabinet Division wanted to have NAR under its jurisdiction and it opposed the MNFSR’s argument. The Cabinet Division was of the opinion that it should be retained under the Ministry, but the matter had to be referred to the PM Office for resolution. The decision finally came down in MNFSR’s favour.
Except for a few countries, the agriculture registry is kept at the agricultural ministry. In India it is maintained at the agriculture ministry but in Singapore it is maintained by their IPO organisation. In major agriculture producing countries, the registry is maintained at the ministry level. However, the IPOP argued that it was better if the registry was maintained at a neutral organisation, the source added.
It is important to mention that the PBRA was drafted during the second Nawaz government in 1999. The bill was introduced in the parliament for approval but before the approval could be obtained, the House was dissolved. The exercise was then repeated in the Musharraf era. But before the bill could be passed, the tenure of the assembly ended.
The bill was once again presented to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in 2008. The government directed to get approval from all the provincial governments even though it had already been approved twice by the provinces. All the reservations of the provinces were address by 2015. Then the bill was reintroduced in the parliament.
The PBRA, source said, will help in attracting investment in the agriculture, mainly the seed sector. Implementation of new rules will allow entry of quality seeds for cash crops like cotton and sugarcane. It will allow entry of second and third generation BT cotton seeds in the country.
Source: Pakistan Today