India protects breeders’ and farmers’ rights

The first registrations are under way in India under the 2001 Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act. The Act is India’s sui generis system for the protection of plant varieties as required under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPs). As the name implies, however, the law also provides for the granting of Farmers’ Rights, following a vocal campaign by NGOs. There’s a good summary of the provisions here.

Protecting TK

There seems to have been a breakthrough – procedurally at any rate – at the WIPO discussions in Geneva on protecting traditional knowledge, folklore and expressions of culture (genetic resources are also on the table). Meanwhile, in Abuja, the Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo has launched a committee to boost research on traditional medicine.

Green Revolution did not bypass Africa; it failed

Grain, an international NGO that “promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity” has issued a somewhat jaundiced review of the recent anouncement by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation of a new Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Grain insists that the first Green Revolution did not bypass Africa: “It failed. It was unpopular and ineffective.”  The NGO goes on to say that on the evidence available, the new effort will fail for the same reasons, because the approach it adopts is unchanged.

What do you think? Do African farmers need new technology, such as improved varieties and fertilisers? Or are there other approaches that will help societies there to develop and feed themselves more effectively?

Rescuing food traditions around the world

Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) “is a coalition of seven of the most prominent non-profit food, agriculture, conservation, and educational organizations dedicated to rescuing America’s diverse foods and food traditions.” You can download here their great book explaining what these traditions are. There’s also a map of North America’s “totem foods.”

Same topic, different region: Dr Lois Englberger of the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (right, with some of her NGO’s information products) has made Pacific Magazine’s list of “293 Pacific Leaders You Need To Know” because of her efforts to promote local island foods, food crops and food traditions. Congratulations, Lois, and keep up the good work!