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ARIPO is undertaking an expert review meeting on the Draft Regulations for the Implementation of the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants from 14 to 17 June 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The four-day meeting, which is being chaired by the Republic of Zambia was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Eng. Ringson Chitsiko, who applauded ARIPO for having developed the Arusha Protocol and acknowledged the extensive work that was put into it by experts from the member states. Engineer Chitsiko urged delegates to appreciate that the development of new varieties of plants was important to African food security as it was meant to improve agricultural productivity as well as provide farmers with high yielding pest and disease free seeds.

After the adoption of the Arusha protocol for the protection of new varieties of plants in July 2015, the ARIPO secretariat was tasked to formulate draft implementing regulations for the protocol, which will guide the operations of the protocol. Thus, experts from ministries of agriculture in the member states and national IP Offices, plant breeders and civil society organizations are taking part in the review meeting. Among the civil society organizations in attendance are African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). Other plant breeders rights organizations participating in the meeting are the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) of the European Union, Groupement National Interprofessionnel des Semences et Plants (GNIS) and International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

While deliberations on the opening day were mainly centred on the key provisions of the Arusha Protocol vis–a – vis provisions of other existing global plant variety protection systems and also on the benefits of plant varieties protection, the meeting will in the subsequent days comprehensively review the draft regulations to make them amenable to the situation and demands of the African farmer. The Arusha Protocol relates to food security, which is an issue of great concern for African and developing countries. The protection that would be given to plant breeders will incentivise them to propagate new plant varieties, which will ultimately enhance food security.

The meeting is expected to produce the final draft ARIPO regulations, which will be presented to the Administrative Council of ARIPO for adoption.