Former Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof Walter Sandow Alhassan, has called on parliament and the Attorney General to fast-track the passage of Plant Breeders Bill into law, to protect local scientists’ right to intellectual property.
According to him, the CSIR is cash-strapped and depends solely on foreign grants to execute its mandate due to the absence of a Plant Breeders Law to ensure payment of royalties.
In an interview with Class News, Prof. Alhassan said CSIR is unable to develop seed varieties needed for the agricultural sector due to lack of funds.
He said: “CSIR is cash-strapped by way of money for research, so the Plant Breeders Bill is critical in the sense that it confers on the scientist who develops the intellectual property to get reward for the technology he has put out.
“It is the seed and the seed is, perhaps, the most important component of Ghana’s agricultural system. Without quality seeds, there is no way we can increase agricultural productivity. Whoever takes the technology will pay some amount of royalty, but if the Plant Breeders Bill is not there, we’ll invest in technology which will be taken over by everybody.
“If it’s not passed into law, it’s not going to stimulate the seed varieties that we need. If this bill is not passed, there’s no incentive for the scientists to continuously develop the varieties because the reward will not come back to them. If we don’t have the law, it will not attract anybody in the seed sector and the farmers will keep using and recycling their own seeds which are not high-yielding enough.”