Withdraw Plant Variety Protection bill from parliament and engage us – CSOs to gov’t


The Food Sovereignty Platform (FSP), a group of Civil Society Organisations, is calling for withdrawal of the Plant Variety Protection bill, 2020 -currently before parliament.

According to the group, the bill is the same as the Plant Breeders bill that sought to promote the production of genetically modified organisms – but was withdrawn after protests from smallholder farmers across the country.

The group is made up of the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), Food Sovereignty Ghana (FSG) and the Vegetarians Association of Ghana.

The rest are the Rastafarians Council of Ghana, Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisation Development, Ghana Muslim Mission and the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition.

The group’s main contention is that the bill is hostile to small farmers in particular – and does not allow farmers to sell and exchange seeds called “protected varieties”, tilting the law in favour of commercial breeders to undermine farmers’ rights.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra, the Executive Director of PFAG, Victoria Adongo, cautioned that the group will have no other option but to urge its members to vote against parliamentarians who support the bill in the 2020 elections.

“We would like to throw out a word of caution to MPs, that as we approach the 2020 elections we are keeping a close eye on any MP who votes in support of the bill; and we will not hesitate in advising the millions of smallholder farmers to vote against such members,” she stressed.

She stated that the bill was secretly sent to parliament without consultation with smallholder farmers, who will be most affected by the law if passed.

Referring to some checks made by the group, Ms. Adongo stated that it appears there is a concerted effort by some international commercial seed breeders to get the bill passed by any means before parliament is dissolved after the 2020 elections.

She pointed out that some enquiries made on the bill suggested that the views of CSOs have been captured, when indeed this is false.

“The platform had made it clear that we are fundamentally opposed to the rigid UPOV-91 Convention on which the bill is based, and strongly recommended a sui generis plant variety protection system which respects farmers rights as well as those of the plant breeders.”

Ms. Adongo argued that even though the group has formally written to the Office of the President, Speaker of Parliament, and Registrar General’s Department, it appears proponents of the bill want it passed without engagement with CSOs.

Addressing the media at the same meeting, General Secretary of GAWU Edward Kareweh described the bill as a sad development for peasant farmers.

He warned that the group will encourage its members to force government into abandoning the bill in its current form, since it is inimical to the sustainability of smallholder farmers.

He added that the various CSOs under the group will use all legitimate means to get government to stop implementation of the bill even if it is passed into law.

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