The Improved Maize for African Soils Project and their royalty-free varieties

SciDevNet’s Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 25 February–10 March 2010 posted a link to CIMMYT about the launch in Feb 2010 of the Improved Maize for African Soils Project (IMAS).

“IMAS is being led by CIMMYT and funded with USD 19.5 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID. The project’s other partners—the DuPont Business, Pioneer Hi-Bred; the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI); and the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC)—are also providing significant in-kind contributions including staff, infrastructure, seed, traits, technology, training, and know-how.”

The project is interesting for many reasons, but being the CAS-IP blog the following “IP-bit” was what caught my attention:

“The varieties developed will be made available royalty-free to seed companies that sell to the region’s smallholder farmers, meaning that the seed will become available to farmers at the same cost as other types of improved maize seed.”

The Executive Summary for the project provides some further details (see link on the bottom right of the page):

“The project will rely on local seed companies to produce and distribute seed of hybrids, and on NGOs supplying seed aid and government input subsidy programs, which often subcontract production to seed companies, to produce seed of OPVs. … Under commercial licensing arrangements in eastern and southern Africa, seed companies distributing IMAS varieties will only receive a license provided that they sell the seed at the same price as non-transgenic seed. CIMMYT will ensure that sufficient quantities of breeder seed would be produced to serve the needs of seed producers.”

Thanks to Carolina Roa for pointing me in the direction of the information I was looking for.

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One response to “The Improved Maize for African Soils Project and their royalty-free varieties

  1. Guat Hong Teh

    This is a really good opportunity to be creative with the contracts we enter into with companies distributing seeds to our stakeholder – the farmer. I am looking forward to reading them!

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