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Day 55 – Q 4.IPR protection in agriculture is a sensitive topic in India. Do you agree? Substantiate your views.

4. IPR protection in agriculture is a sensitive topic in India. Do you agree? Substantiate your views. 

भारत में कृषि में आईपीआर संरक्षण एक संवेदनशील विषय है। क्या आप सहमत हैं? अपने विचारों की पुष्टि करें।


Intellectual property rights (IPRs) can be broadly defined as legal rights established over creative or inventive ideas. Such legal rights generally allow right holders to exclude the unauthorized commercial use of their creations/inventions by third persons. 


IPR protection in agriculture is a sensitive topic in India 

Agriculture is becoming unsustainable enterprise

  • 76% of the farmers would like to quit farming if given a chance (‘State of Indian Farmers’ report)
  • 86% of the land holding is small and marginal (Agriculture census 2015-16)
  • 10 farmers suicide daily (2016, NCRB)
  • Non-remunerative price – recently farmers in Shahganj, MP were forced to throw their tomatoes.

Concerns of Extension of IPR to Agriculture

  • The traditional rights of the farmers to save, share, exchange and sell the farm produce as well as the seeds might be taken away due to the monopoly extended to the plant breeders by granting IPR on plant varieties.
  • Monopoly extended to plant breeders could also raise the price of such commodities.
  • The contribution of the farmers in the conservation and preservation of varieties is considered important for further plant breeding. But, due to extension of IPR to agriculture, this invaluable contribution of farmers might not recognise.

Need of more technological intervention 

  • ‘Farming 3.0’ and evergreen revolution 
  • E-NAM – National Electronic Platform and other electronic interventions. 
  • GM crops and food security
  • Organic farming

Balancing Corporate Breeder’s and Farmer’s Right

Balancing these two is a challenging task. For instance recently PepsiCo’s sued nine Gujarat farmers for alleged infringement of its intellectual property rights (IPR) over a proprietary potato variety makes for bad optics, bordering on a public relations disaster.

Unlike other realms of IP, the biological realm is self-propagating. The technology of propagation is not external but internal to the plant system. Therefore, it is never rational for a farmer to pay a second time for something he has already bought and still possesses in the form of his seed crop. This creates a barrier for full commodification and monopoly profits. So, in order to prevent free replication of seeds, IP law creates enclaves of prohibition and protection, making the farmer’s natural right to save, re-use and sell seeds illegal in many countries.

Recognizing the bias in international law, the Indian Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) entitles not just the breeder but also the farmer. has provision of Farmers’ privilege – 

  • A farmer can produce using any seed protected under the PPV&FR Act, 2001 (section 39)
  • Not entitled to sell branded seeds. 
  • Compensation to the farmers for non-performance of variety.
  • Protection to farmer if he is ignorant of legal provision.


While the private sector is growing, farmers are also being promoted to maintain their rights to conserve, use and further develop their plant genetic resources. In this way, India is providing the world, emerging economies and developing countries in particular, with a viable alternative that balances the private sector’s and farmers’ rights.

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