We stand united in our commitment to addressing the pervasive push for the adoption of plant variety protection (PVP) laws in Africa, aligned with the Eurocentric International Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) 1991 model. We continue to declare our unwavering dedication to championing a just and sustainable agricultural future for the continent.
Recognising the current trajectory’s implications on the agricultural landscape, we declare our unequivocal opposition to the adoption of UPOV 1991-based PVP laws. This trajectory, under the guise of progress, is contributing to the reinforcement of industrial agriculture at the expense of farmer managed seed systems, which form the backbone of 90% of seed production and food consumption on the continent.
There are detrimental effects of this approach, as it promotes corporate capture, exploitation and agrarian extractivism. This not only neglects the inherent rights of farmers, as emphasised in international agreements like Article 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, but actively undermines them. As such, it obstructs any real transformation of food systems, including agroecological transitions embedded in African food and seed culture and traditions.
We take note of the current status of UPOV 1991 legislation in Africa, with concern for the widespread adoption at national and regional levels. At the moment, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia and Tanzania are UPOV 1991 members, with South Africa being the only country with UPOV 1978 membership.1 We express our dismay at the influence of bilateral agreements, such as the US-Morocco free trade agreement (FTA) and the Europe-Egypt FTA, which have coerced nations like Egypt and Morocco to align with UPOV 1991.
Furthermore, we continue to denounce the impact of regional harmonisation processes, particularly under the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Regional Intellectual Property Rights Organisation (ARIPO). These processes, reflected in protocols like the Arusha PVP Protocol and the SADC PVP Protocol – both based on UPOV 1991 – continue to infringe upon farmers’ rights and stifle innovation.

In the face of these challenges, we express our concerns regarding the African Union (AU) continental guidelines for the harmonisation of seed policies and frameworks aligned with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which promotes UPOV 1991 and the potential entrenchment of UPOV through the AfCFTA’s intellectual property (IP) protocol. We call for transparency and inclusivity during the development of the protocol’s Annex on PVP. This demand extends to active involvement from diverse stakeholders, including African civil society and farmer organisations, to ensure comprehensive consideration of concerns and prevent unintended consequences like the adoption of UPOV 1991.
We reiterate our commitment to continued push-back for a just transition in food and agricultural systems in Africa. Despite the influence of the seed industry and the imposition of UPOV 1991 in Africa, civil society and farmer organisations will persistently continue to advocate for the recognition, protection and support of farmer seed systems and farmers’ rights.
To find out more about why many organisations are coming together from around the world to call for the disbanding of UPOV, please visit the STOP UPOV Facebook page.


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  1. See https://www.upov.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/upov_pub_423.pdf ↩︎