House Passes Plant Variety Protection Bill, 2020 into Law after Adoption of Committee Report


The Plant Variety Protection Bill, 2020 which seeks to establish a legal framework to protect the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants or plant groupings and to promote the breeding of new varieties of plants in Ghana has been passed into law Parliament after the Third Reading.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Hon. Gloria Afua Akuffo on Wednesday November 04 moved the motion for the adoption of the resolution which was ably supported by the Minority Leader and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale South Hon. Haruna Iddrisu.

The Bill was laid in the House on Friday 9th October 2020 by the Attorney-General in accordance with Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution and referred by the Rt. Hon. Speaker Prof. Michael Oquaye to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report pursuant to Order 179 of the Standing Orders of the House.

A brief background information on the Bill as presented to the House indicated Ghana as a party to the World Trade (WTO) Agreement on Trade and Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

This international agreement which resulted from the Uruguay Rounds and became effective on 1st January 1995 set out the minimum standards for regulation by state parties to protect different forms of intellectual property.
The country in her quest to harness the intellectual capacities of the citizenry in compliance with her international obligations has enacted a number of intellectual property laws in the past decades including the Patents Act 2003 (Act 657), the Geographical Indications Act 2003 (Act 659), the Industrial Designs Act 2003 (Act 660), the Trademarks Act 2004 (Act 664), the Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits Act 2004 (Act 667) and the Copyright Act 2005 (Act 690).

Despite all these frantic efforts aimed at establishing an effective legal framework regime to protect intellectual works of creators, there remains a gap in the law regarding a major aspect of intellectual property which is the protection of rights of plant breeders.

The first attempt to fill this gap was made in 2003 by presenting in the Sixth Parliament of the Plant Breeders Bill 2013 which was later withdrawn to allow and seek further consultations though a considerable work was done on it by the House, and after nationwide consultations the Bill has now been reintroduced by the Hon. Attorney-General as the Plant Variety Protection Bill 2020.

Chairman of the Committee who is also the MP for Offinso South Hon. Ben Abdallah Banda presenting the Committee’s report said the Committee acknowledged the urgent need for the passage of the Bill to fill the existing gap in Ghana’s intellectual property laws and to protect the legitimate rights of plant breeders and incentivise them to deliver quality seeds to boost ongoing agricultural initiatives including the planting for food and jobs programme.

He said the Committee in its observation noted the necessity to establish a system to protect the rights of plant breeders and provide incentives for plant breeding, establishment of a Plant Variety Development Fund, promotion of plant breeding to serve as a boost to agriculture production in the country and administrative provision for the implementation of the Bill.

The Committee further acknowledged the need for the country to comply with international obligations under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.

The House acknowledging the fact that the Bill was not new to the House but was introduced earlier in the Sixth Parliament but withdrawn to seek further consultations unanimously adopted the Committee’s report and passed the Bill into law awaiting Presidential assent.