Protection of Farmers’ Seed Rights – Webinar on October 30th 2020

4:46 pm in News by Kavitha

Webinar on Protection of Farmers’ Seed Rights in India on 30th Oct, 2020 (Friday) at 3.30 pm (India Time: UST +5.30)

Abstract :

Since the beginning of  agriculture,  farmers — mainly women — domesticated, developed and nurtured the seeds for agriculture to satisfy various needs of humans. Modern plant variety development technologies including manipulation at DNA level have created unprecedented commercial interest in ownership even at gene level. To respect the robust tradition of Indian farming systems, intellectual property (IP) regime in India rightfully does not permit patents on plants and animals. On the other side, there is a belief that innovators need IP protection as an incentive. India’s Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act 2001, was legislated to embed farmers’ seed freedoms into a framework of IP rights for breeders.

The infamous case, where PepsiCo Holdings India Ltd sued several Gujarat potato farmers in Indian courts an year ago for INR 2 million to 10.5 million each worried many. The question is whether the Act is really fulfilling its mandate when it comes to farmers seed rights.

The organizer, ASHA Kisan Swaraj , is a nation-wide network promoting agroecology, farmers’ rights, their income security and safe, diverse, nutritious food for all. The presentations will be in English followed by brief translations in Hindi.


1. Intent and Genesis of PPV&FR Act : Dr. Suman Sahai
2. Farmers’ Rights under PPV&FR Act: Dr. R.C. Agrawal
3. Farmers as Custodians of Crop-Diversity: Dr. K.S. Varaprasad
4. PPV&FR Act: Is it the farmers’ right law? : Shalini Bhutani
5. Lessons from PepsiCo’s Potato Case: Kapil Shah



Introduction of Speakers

Dr. R.C. Agrawal

Dr. R.C. Agrawal is an Agricultural Research Services (ARS) Scientist and is an alumnus of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi. He spent 30 years working in the field of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) at National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources and as the Registrar General of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority. He developed strategies for identification of farmers/ communities maintaining traditional varieties, landraces for their recognition, award and protection. While at PPV&FRA, he could mobilise receiving about 10000 varieties from farmers from various agro-biodiversity rich areas and could issue IPR certificates to 1500 farmers varieties. He is presently leading a group for implementation of Farmers’ Rights of ITPGRFA of the United Nations, which has 146 countries. Dr. Agrawal is the recipient of first prestigious Dr. B.R. Barwale National Award for the Excellence in Plant Genetic Resources. He has visited more than 20 countries as part of the Indian delegation. Presently he is the Deputy Director General (Education) and National Director, National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) in ICAR.

Shalini Bhutani

Ms Shalini Bhutani is a legal researcher and policy analyst based in Delhi, India working in the Asia region. Her expertise is on intellectual property in agriculture. She has been tracking global and regional trade negotiations, agreements and rules, including those of the World Trade Organization (WTO) particularly its IP Agreement – TRIPS, and the implications of plant variety protection for agro biodiversity, seed sovereignty and farmers’ rights.

Dr. Suman Sahai

Dr Suman Sahai is an Indian biochemist, activist, biologist, academician and agriculturist. She obtained a Ph.D. from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in 1975. Dr Suman Sahai is the recipient of different awards like the Order of the Golden Ark (2001), the Borlaug Award (2004), Padma Shri (2011) and Outstanding Woman Achiever award. She was associated with the University of Alberta, University of Chicago, and the University of Heidelberg. Dr Sahai has published over 40 articles, mostly on policy issues relating to genetically modified organisms. She is the Founder – Director of the NGO, Gene Campaign. She has been one of the ‘architects’ of the Indian legislation on plant varietal protection and farmers’ rights called the Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights Act 2001.

Dr Kodeboyina Sivannarayana Varaprasad

Dr KS Varaprasad, former Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research is currently engaged as UNDP-India Consultant and Chair, Working Group on Seed Systems of Revitalising Rainfed Areas Network and Odisha Millet Mission. He worked as International Consultant with Iowa State University on a Mega Seed Project. He worked as Head, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources Regional Station, Hyderabad for over two and half decades. He has over 126 research and review publications to his credit and received several awards for his leadership and contributions that include UNDP-India Biodiversity Award, 2016 and Dr. G.I.D’ Souza Memorial Award – 2017.

Kapil Shah

Kapil Shah is a Founding Director of Jatan, which is one of the pioneering organizations in India that enabled a shift towards organic farming from the 1980s. This was done through creating awareness about sustainability of natural resources, quality of food and socio- economic justice to farmers. The pathway chosen was avoidance of market dependent synthetic agri-inputs and by offering due price to farmers for their chemical-free produce. Jatan is involved in policy advocacy around farmers’ seed rights, resisting GM crops, creating markets for organic produce as well as technology transfer through facilitating peer group communication, trainings and publications. He holds an M.Sc. in plant breeding and Genetics. He wrote/edited more than 20 books and about 50 articles related to the fields JATAN is working. He remained a Member of several Govt. committees and a founding member of two largest organizations active in Organic and anti-GM movement in India, namely, Alliance of Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) and Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI). He is based in Vadodara, Gujarat.