Towards a flexible plant breeders’ rights system in Kenya
This PhD dissertation (PDF) of Peter G. Munyi from Wageningen University and Research is a study of the relationship between plant breeders’ rights on the one hand and access to seed and planting material for smallholder farmers in Kenya on the other hand. Access to seeds invariably affects food availability and security and ultimately, the right to food. The aim of this research is to ultimately enquire whether the legal spaces that exist within plant breeder’ rights legislation can enable smallholder farmers to positively contribute towards Kenya overcoming food security problems. This thesis finds that a diversity of seed systems exists in Kenya. However, the legal and policy framework in place is designed to make provision for only some, not all of them. The manner in which the country has implemented the plant breeder’s rights framework is in conflict with the farming practices on the ground and other international obligations relating to conservation, sustainable use and access and benefit sharing of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. This thesis demonstrates that plant breeders’ rights have the potential to be utilized in a manner that could enable smallholder farmers to positively contribute towards Kenya overcoming its food security problems. However, this will only occur if policy makers carefully assessed internationally harmonized plant breeders’ rights systems before subscribing to them in order to ensure that national implementation of such systems fully concurs with the conditions and needs of its farmers and the national agricultural development and food security policy objectives.