Ghimire, S., Barizah, N., Soeparna, I., and Van der Borght, K. (2021). Plant variety protection law and farmers’ rights to save, exchange and breed seeds: the case of Indonesia. Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice16(9), 1013–1025. 

While the laws based on the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention) have been questioned frequently for their negative impact on farmers, there have been suggestions that Indonesia should accede to the UPOV Convention 1991. Indonesia has already enacted a Plant Variety Protection (PVP) law closely aligned to the Convention.

A study was carried out in two villages in East Java, Indonesia exploring issues experienced by farmers in relation to PVP rights of seed companies. This qualitative study involved consultations of and discussions with individual farmers, representatives from farmers’ association and local experts. The study shows the prevalence of a strong mechanism protecting PVP rights, a constant surveillance by enforcement authorities, and threats of prosecution to farmers by seed companies, resulting in the imprisonment of some. This has intensified fear among farmers and has led to self-disciplining by auto-limiting their freedom to breed and exchange seeds, thus confirming the interpretation of breeders’ rights as rights of seed companies and not of farmers.

This article reviews the impact of the UPOV-based laws and presents the major findings of the study, discussing the current UPOV-based Indonesian PVP law which impedes the farmers’ ability to exchange and breed seeds. Building upon this analysis, the article urges Indonesia not to accede to the UPOV Convention; rather, it should amend its current laws to strengthen the position of farmers in the regime of PVP law.