Tag Archives: maize

Calls for proposals: Sustainable Crop Production Research to Improve Food Security

Spotted this announcement yesterday on eurekalert.org that will surely be of interest to readers of this blog. “International research initiative launched to improve food security for developing countries

“Researchers are being invited to submit proposals for the Sustainable Crop Production Research for International Development Initiative. The closing date for applications is 31 March 2011. For more information please see www.bbsrc.ac.uk/scprid

A new $32/M joint research initiative is to fund teams from the UK, India and developing countries to work on projects to “improve the sustainability of vital food crops”.

From the press release:

“The new initiative will place particular emphasis on improving the sustainable production of staple food crops across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These include cassava, maize, rice, sorghum and wheat. By placing significant emphasis on these crops the initiative partners expect to be able to improve food security and quality of life for the largest possible number of people. “

Full details of parameters for the outline proposal applications can be read by visiting the BBSRC (bioscience for the future) website. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/scprid/ Deadline for applications is 31st March 2011.

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.

Does a declaration of “cultural heritage” constitute protection?

SciDevNet ran a story today outlining how “the Peruvian government has declared the knowhow associated with growing a variety of large-eared white maize to be ‘cultural heritage’”.  The item included some discussion about whether there was any legal effect to this move, and that of the earlier ‘designation of origin’ granted to the crop in 2005.

There are no specific details on the item – but its important to remember this is not an end in itself.  What we can say is that it doesn’t matter that it might not hold water in a legal sense, if that’s not the purpose.  Protection can be expansive as well as restrictive.  Such a move could for example serve to ensure the knowledge is officially documented and hence in the public domain.  Once in the public domain misappropriation is more difficult.

However, further probing might lead to questions such as: What would the community be expecting to get from this?  How has this been explained to them?  Then one would need to consider the legalities further to determine whether or not cultural heritage declaration or designation of origin are appropriate tools to meet the expectations.