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Rwanda aims to protect unique plant varieties

A recent intellectual property workshop has prompted interest in protecting Rwanda’s unique plants

The event, organised by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) along with Rwanda Development Board (RDB), was hosted in Kigali and attended by researchers, breeders and government officials.

Plant varieties have become an increasingly important form of intellectual property due to the substantial investments involved in creating new breeds and the government is looking at building protection into its overall agriculture policy.

ARIPO director-general Fernandos de Santos said that the organisation’s 19-member states had developed a regional framework base on which in the near future they will be able to protect and promote the rights of the breeders who come up with new varieties of plants which are able to improve the yields, resist diseases, pests.

Blaise Ruhima Mbaraga, RDB’s division manager for intellectual property protection, added, “Rwanda’s intellectual property law doesn’t involve the plant variety protection. From this seminar, we will learn a lot about plant variety and ideas will be taken to the leaders which will lead to a change in the law on Intellectual Property. This will increase production and quality, increasing incomes of Rwandan farmers.”

Agriculture accounts for one-third of Rwanda’s GDP, constituting the main economic activity for rural households and generating more than 70 per cent of the country’s export revenues.