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Strengthening the Plant Variety Protection System in Central and West Africa

Posted on: December 14, 2020


The OAPI is the African Intellectual Property Organization, which provide support to 17 country members in Central and West Africa.

Its function is to provide Intellectual Property uniform legislation with centralized procedure. A certificate issued by the OAPI is valid directly in the 17 Member States.

The project financed by the EU through the TradeCom II Programme is about the establishment of the plant variety protection system. Its implementation started in June 2019 for a total period of 24 months.

For plant variety it is intended for a more precisely defined group of plants selected from a species and having a common set of characteristics. A new plant variety can therefore be protected by a plant variety certificate.

In 2006 OAPI established the Plant Variety Protection Regime and in 2014, OAPI became a member of international Union for Plant Variety Protection.

The project is going to strengthen the system for plant protection, in practice to market a variety with improved behaviours is important that such variety is subject to a mechanism or a production process intended to enter in the market in a specific way. The protection provided by this system will stimulate agricultural development in OAPI Member States, local and international investment in the creation of new varieties and will enable farmers to choose among protected varieties those that are best adapted to the environment and meet their needs.

The project will make possible:

  • To upgrade the plant variety examination structure at OAPI;
  • Assist in the establishment of centres for the examination of new varieties in member States;
  • Train national actors in the production, development and marketing of plant varieties;
  • Promote and raise awareness of the OAPI plant variety protection system among the actors of the sector in the Member States.

To strengthen the plant variety protection system, the activities carried out within the project will be aimed to:

  • Encourage varietal research in the Member States;
  • Increase the protection of new plant varieties;
  • Improve the system for exploiting new varieties in the Member States;
  • Train accredited research centres in the technical examination of new varieties (DHS);
  • Put in place national seed policies for OAPI member countries by encouraging public-private partnership;
  • Raise awareness and popularize the plant variety protection system.

The activities implemented have improved the administrative processing of plant variety certificate’s requests. The structure for processing applications and managing certificates is evolving administratively with the improvement of application forms, legally with the revision of the administrative instructions and in terms of IT with the online validation of deposits and the implementation of an IT management tool, in cooperation with the Union Internationale pour la Protection des Obtentions Végétales and the Office Communautaire des Variétés Végétales, technical partners of the action.

The activities carried out together with the two OAPI accredited technical examination centers (IRAD and ISRA) during the first phase of the action, as well as with the two research centres of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso (CNRA and INERA), identified points for structural, organisational and training-related improvements. Specific support in collaboration with technical partners (GEVES, UPOV, OCVV, NAKTUIMBOW) will enable these centres to carry out DUS examinations more efficiently.

Awareness and training activities carried out as part of the initial phase of the action reached and trained 150 people in the States during the national seminars. Due to the COVID-19 disruptions a number of planned national and regional seminars were rescheduled. Some online training activities, in collaboration with UPOV and the agricultural research centres of the OAPI Member States, have been carried out and have allowed the participation of some 40 staff from OAPI and Member States.

There is a 13% increase in the number of plant variety certificate’s submission at OAPI. In order to allow effective protection of breeders, it would be important to shortly organise new national trainings and awareness-raising seminars and, for OAPI, to participate more actively in international meetings in order to raise awareness on its protection system.

Programme funded by European Union at the request of the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States - Implemented by AESA CONSORTIUM