The demand for extending intellectual property protection to agriculture has met with counterclaims for granting farmers’ rights. This paper argues that the status of farmers as breeders and conservers of traditional knowledge will enhance only if the intellectual property rights of farmers are recognized. Further, this is also premised on the assumption that no amount of institutional framework shall be efficacious unless the community ownership rights are also recognized along with individual rights within the intellectual property rights regime. It further argues that the idea of farmers’ rights protection is not just a simple question of recognizing the rights of the farming community. It is a mixed question of economics, ethics, culture, technology and law.
Significant contributions have been made by the knowledge of indigenous people and traditional farmers in the development of new crops and biodiversity conservation. These groups have been an important agency in the conservation and supply of plant genetic resources to seed companies, plant breeders, and research institutions. The paper further discusses the issue of biopiracy; knowledge of indigenous people is used by others for profit, without permission from and with little or no compensation or recognition to the rights of indigenous people. Further, the issue relating the right to access and benefit-sharing to the indigenous people. The concept of benefit sharing creates opportunities for compensation in the case of the use of genetic resources.
Paper further discusses, International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, 1961 (UPOV Convention). The UPOV Convention is a sui generis regime of intellectual property protection specially adapted to protect the plant breeding industries of the developed world. The UPOV Convention limits the scope of protection for new plant varieties to propagating material of the variety and exempts certain uses of propagating material from infringement.