The Plant Varieties and Farmers' Right Act,2001
has been passed to protect plant varieties, recognise contribution of farmers and plant breeders in conserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants. Such protection would not only lead to the agricultural development in the country, but would also facilitate the growth of the seed industry which will ensure the availability of high quality seeds and planting material to the farmers. Under the Act, a farmer is absolutely entitled to save, use, exchange, share or sell his farm produce even if that produce relates to variety protected under the Act subject to certain conditions.
For the purpose of the act,the Central Government has established the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority in Ministry of agriculture to administer the various provisions of the Act and take measures to promote the development of new varieties of plants and to protect the rights of the farmers and breeders. The central government has also established the 'Plant Varieties Registry' which shall be located in the head office of the Authority. The Authority is empowered to appoint a Registrar-General of plant varieties and other Registrars for the purpose of registration of plant varieties.
Any new plant variety that conforms to the criteria of novelty, distinctiveness, uniformity and stability (DUS) can be registered on the condition that it does not contain a product or sequence of terminator technology. A variety would be deemed novel if it has been sold or otherwise disposed off in India by consent of breeder earlier than one year of filing of the application. It would be distinct if it is clearly distinguishable by atleast one essential feature from any other variety whose existence is a matter of common knowledge in the country.
The application for registration of a plant variety may be filed by a breeder or his assignee in the prescribed form with the prescribed fee to the Authority including particulars such as the name of variety, source of parental line, or name of variety used to develop the variety in question, essential characteristics conferring distinctiveness, denomination and geographical location of the variety and claims. After the application is filed, it will be examined by the Registrar who would be entitled to conduct novelty and DUS tests besides special tests on each variety. The DUS testing may be field and multi-location based for atleast two crop seasons and at two locations. The special tests are laboratory based and are to be conducted only when the variety fails distinctiveness.
Any interested person may oppose registration of the plant variety, within three months from the date of its advertisement in Official Gazette. If opposition is dismissed or not filed,the Registrar will issue a certificate of registration which will be valid initially for nine years in case of trees and vines and six years in case of crops. This may be renewed from time to time on payment of prescribed fees subject to the condition that it should not exceed maximum period of:- (a)18 years for trees and vines from the date of registration and (b)15 years for extant varieties and other varsities from the date of registration. The registered variety may be used for research and creation of other varieties. But in case of its repeated use for commercial production, breeder's permission is required.