|B U S I N E S S||
|Monday November 6, 2006
Agriculture minister wants introduction of new varities of plants
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia sees the introduction of new varieties of plants as an important component in commercial agriculture.
This is not only in terms of maintaining productivity and competitiveness but also in meeting the ever changing demand of fickle minded consumers, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
“Breeding of new varieties of plants requires substantial investment in terms of time, skills, labour, material resources and capital.
“To encourage such investment, it is pertinent to provide exclusive rights to plant breeders to enable them to recover their investment and also to reap the benefits of their innovative skill and creativity.
“This approach is in consonance with the National Agriculture Policy (1998 – 2010) as good quality planting materials are recognised as pre-requisites for the sustenance of productivity and competitiveness of the agriculture sector.”
Muhyiddin said this in a speech read out by his deputy, Datuk Mah Siew Keong, at the opening of the 7th Asian Regional Technical Meeting for Plant Variety Protection here on Monday.
The minister said that Malaysia, being a signatory to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, is obliged to provide intellectual property rights protection for new varieties of plants – either by a patent or by an effective sui generis (class of its own) or a combination of both.
Towards this end, said Muhyiddin, Malaysia has fulfilled its international obligation by enacting the Protection of New Plant Varieties Act 2004.
The Act will be enforced from next year.
He said the rights of breeders of new plan varieties will be protected when the Act is implemented, adding that the Act will play an important role in the transformation of Malaysian agriculture.
“It is envisaged that plant breeders in the country will be encouraged to produce more superior varieties, while local farming communities can also have greater access to more superior varieties from abroad,” he said.
“The Act will also provide the recognition and protection of contribution made by farmers, local communities and indigenous people towards the creation of new plant varieties.
“It will encourage investment in the development of the breeding of new plant varieties in both public and private sectors,” said Muhyiddin.
He said the main provisions of the Act were based largely on the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV) model, with reference to the Convention of Biological Diversity and existing intellectual property rights systems in Japan, Australia, India and Thailand.
Muhyiddin said Malaysia has embarked on an ambitious “Balance of Trade Plan” for food crops, in aspiring to become a major food producer and exporter by 2010.
He said such a move is needed as Malaysia is currently experiencing a deficit of RM5bil in agriculture international trade.
“We aim to turn this around into a surplus through the Act,” he added.