Objective: Balanced protection between breeders and farmers will require exploring the flexibilities available in international law (UPOV and TRIPs) to adopt a system of plant variety protection (PVP) best suited to Myanmar.
Background: The main factor shaping the content of the PVP laws is the duty to comply with Art 27(3)(b) TRIPS Agreement and the relevant provisions of the UPOV Convention, CBD and ITPGRFA.
Review: A strong monopoly right on plant varieties is not consistent with public interest in developing countries. It breeds conflict between the breeders’ exclusive rights and farmers’ rights of traditional knowledge. The new plant varieties regime with an effective sui generis system would take into account the traditional farmers’ rights as well as R&D investment in plant breeding, through partnership with the seed industry and farmers who grow to very high yield standards.
Ongoing: The farmers can easily reproduce farm-saved seeds and find productive non-hybrid conventional seeds, but not hybrid agricultural crops. The private investment companies focus on the cultivar development of corn and vegetable hybrids but their research decisively depends on the protection of IP to generate income from licensing their research. Thus it is impossible for farmers to get these varieties at an affordable price. Among vegetable crops, e.g. tomatoes (self-pollinating varieties), are landraces that are maintained by the indigenous farmers but have significantly lower yields than modern varieties. But, in developing countries private industries focus mostly on a small number of hybrid crops whereas seed production depends on most of the public institutions and farmers. Many public sector corporations are relied upon for the production of non-hybrid seeds of major crops such as wheat, rice and pluses. Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) can make the private-public plant breeding partnership more attractive and protect self-pollinating and hybrid varieties. Moreover, with the introduction of the improved varieties (High Yielding Varieties (HYV s) and hybrids), it is necessary to improve the controlled use of agriculture inputs (water, wind, fertilizer etc.) as the majority of farmers (millions of smallholder famers in developing countries) hardly use improved seeds, fertilizers, or agro-chemicals. In doing so, should public-private joint venture be considered a good example of how small-scale farmers could benefit from crop production in seed sectors?
The study will analyse the PBR system with particular focus on agricultural productivity growth in rice, corn, wheat (the major crops) that should meet a national demand for food security as well as vegetables from certified seeds with respect to diet and nutrition challenges to be solved by different actors. It will further examine the objective and impact of Myanmar’s national seed policy, 2013, in connection with the effect of hybridization on the annual rice, corn, wheat and vegetables yields in Myanmar.