Benefits of maize variety protection in Kenya
Several African countries and regional organizations are investing in the establishment of a plant variety protection system modeled on the UPOV 1991 Convention, which currently provides the strongest, international standard for plant variety protection. Whereas proponents argue that strong protection of breeder’s rights will incentivize breeding and the introduction of new varieties for farmers, opponents fear that the proposed legal framework is unsuitable for African countries as it may hamper traditional farming practices of using and exchanging farm-saved seed. The challenge for African countries is to strike a balance between protecting the interests of breeders through the incentive function of plant breeder’s rights for the commercial market, and the leeway that needs to be provided to smallholder farmers that depend on informal sources for their seed security and survival. The intellectual property system for the protection of plant varieties designed by developing and least developed countries (LDCs) should strike the necessary balance between the interests of plant breeders and society so that the right to food can be better realized. One of the major international instruments whose implementation can have implications on the realization of the right to food in these countries is the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement). Kenya has enacted the Plant Breeders’ Rights for the protection of plant varieties. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to examine and explore varies ways in which maize variety in Kenya can be protected to enhance food security and economic advancement.