Plant Breeder’s Rights Under Nigeria’s Plant Variety Protection Act 2021

Plant Breeder’s Rights Under Nigeria’s Plant Variety Protection Act 2021

Modern plant breeding and improved agricultural techniques have enabled impactful yields in the agricultural sector, which were previously not recorded. Conversations have been had on how developing countries can key into opportunities associated with plant variety breeding, of which establishing regulatory and institutional frameworks that support plant breeding and protection of new varieties of plants have been at the fore.

Since the adoption of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), plant variety protection has become a reverberating aspect of intellectual property rights in Africa,  The TRIPS Agreement mandates Member States to provide a patent, sui generis or, combination of both system for the protection of plant varieties, but it also gives Member States the liberty to exclude from patentability, biological processes for the production of plants or animals other than non-biological and microbiological processes.[1] Nigeria’s Patents and Designs Act shares similar provisions of excluding plant and animal varieties from patent protection.[2] However, this exclusion does not extend to a variety developed through a microbiological process, such as plants modified through genetic engineering.[3]


In May 2021, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act 2021,  which grants exclusive intellectual property rights to plant breeders over new plant varieties (“Plant Breeders Rights”). This article analyses the pace of agricultural development in Nigeria before the enactment of the PVP Act in comparison with other African countries. This article also highlights key provisions of the Act and its prospects for enhancing innovation in the agricultural sector, attracting foreign direct investments, and contributing to Nigeria’s economic growth.

Before the Enactment of the Act

The agriculture sector contributes immensely to economic growth in Nigeria and its resilient nature has transcended infrastructural neglect and inadequate regulation. One of the ways through which the agricultural sector contributes to economic growth is through plant breeding.

Although the concept of deriving new plant varieties through plant breeding process is not entirely new in Nigeria, there was no effective regulatory or institutional framework for the protection, regulation and enforcement of plant breeders’ rights, as Nigeria is not a signatory to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Convention [4]. This, to a large extent, impeded the exploitation of such rights; it even deprived plant breeders in Nigeria access to high-quality new varieties from foreign countries, as such relations may be discouraging to foreign plant breeders where their new plant variety cannot be protected.


* Ifeanyi E Okonkwo (LL. B; BL; BSc. Phil; LLM), Blessing Udo (LL. B; BL); Kayode Ikumelo (LL. B; BL) all from Nigeria’s leading intellectual property firm – Jackson, Etti & Edu [JEE].

[1] Article 27 of the TRIPS Agreement

[2] Section 1 (4) (a) of the Patents and Designs Act

[3] Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification or genetic manipulation, is the direct manipulation of an organism’s genes using biotechnology, that is, the use of biology to solve problems and make useful products. Such a process, carried out with human intervention, is not considered to be an essentially biological process, so its product could be the subject of patent or both under certain legislation.