ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Issues in the Indian Law

Farmers' Rights to Seeds

While the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act 2001 is a progressive piece of legislation that recognises farmers' rights to seed, it demands payment of an annual maintenance fee by the farmers to protect the varieties which they have been cultivating and conserving for years, only because these varieties have been brought under legal protection through national legislation.

Seed Care is a farmer-led association of traditional crop conservators established in Wayanad District of Kerala with the support of M S Swaminathan Research Foundation. It represents the rural farmers of Wayanad, including the Kurichya and Kuruma Adivasi communities. The association is actively involved in advocating farmers’ rights and protection of plant varieties and also leads various agro-biodiversity conservation programmes.

Until now Seed Care has forwarded 27 applications for farmers’ varieties of rice to the Government of India (GoI) of which six were registered in 2013, namely, Veliyan, Thondi, Chennellu, Chomala, Gandhakasala and Jeerakasala (Registered numbers: 56 to 61 of 2013). As per the registration, given under the provisions of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act of India 2001, Wayanad farmers have the exclusive right to produce, sell, market, distribute, import or export the registered farmers’ varieties for a specified period. After one year of the registration, in April 2014, Seed Care has been asked to pay an annual fee of Rs 2,000 for each six varieties to maintain the registration.1

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