Swift billing for UPOV

The Union government is sparing no effort to ensure the finalisation of its proposed Plant Varieties Bill. Senior bureaucrats of the agriculture ministry point out that India will have to announce the legislation of this bill before 1996 in order to be eligible for the 1978 UPOV Convention, which provides for patent protection to plant breeder firms and seed companies. Countries which miss the deadline will be eligible to join only the much more stringent regime of harsher intellectual property provisions under UPOV, 1991.

An internal memo circulated in Krishi Bhawan in the first week of February has urged concerned officials to work towards the speedy enactment of the proposed legislation. Senior officials reveal that they have asked to ensure that the draft bill is ready for clearance by the Union cabinet by October.

In order to avoid delays, officials are getting the draft proposals simultaneously examined and reworked by the law ministry. Conventionally, the latter exercise is undertaken only after the cabinet clearance. They also anticipate that the Union government will formally apply for the membership to UPOV in November. A massively funded audiovisual campaign to convince the Indian farmers of the advantages of this move is also being planned around that time.