Plant Variety Protection Is The New Backbone Of Agricultural Enhancement Program

The Office of Plant Variety Protection (PPVT) of the Department of Agriculture of Indonesia recently handed out certificates for 31 Plant Variety Protection (PVP) rights applications that has successfully passed the substantive examination stage during the year 2008, and has been granted the protection accordingly.

30 of the new varieties are applied for by a local-based seeds industry and vary in seven different species of agricultural plant, while another PVP right is granted to a new rice variety applied for by a foreign-investment based seeds industry. Simultaneously, the Department of Agriculture also handed out registration certificate for 12 local plant varieties as filed by eight different regions and the National Research Agency for Tobacco Plants.

The handing-out ceremony was part of the 3rd Annual National Seminar of Plant Variety Protection, a two-days-event held in early December 2009, under the main theme of “Utilization and Commercialization Local Superior Varieties towards Enhancing Competitiveness among National Seeds Industry”. The event also housed an exhibition displaying more than a hundred of superior local and national varieties, and business meeting in the last day in which breeders and inventors can meet with each other exchanging their respective interests.

Speakers at the seminar are Department of Agriculture’s experts and officials as well as one guest speaker from the Netherlands. The seminar itself was organized in cooperation with the Netherlands Inspection Service for Horticulture (Naktuinbouw) as a part of the collaborative efforts between the Department of Agriculture and the Netherlands-based independent agriculture organization in order to strengthen the plant variety protection system in Indonesia.

The plant variety protection system in Indonesia, which is regulated under the Law no.29 of 2000, has increasingly been seen as one of the most important mechanism for enhancing agricultural sector’s productivity as well as efficiency. Limited availability of land in contrast to the ever increasing demand for agricultural products from over 220 millions populations has posed critical problems to which innovations in seeds technology might provide some alternatives of solution.

Such an urging necessity is more evident when taking the instance of rice production. While Indonesia is still the third largest producer of rice in the world, the fact that the commodity accounts for the staple and inseparable food to more than 220 million of Indonesians means that the ever-increasing domestic consumption is rather hard to be met by the production rate. In 2008, however, the Indonesian government claimed that domestic rice production has successfully reached rice self-sufficiency for the first time in years, with total 60 million ton of rice crops harvested from more than twelve thousand hectares of paddy fields throughout the country’s 33 provinces.

In view of the recent success, the Department of Agriculture is looking forward to more increase in rice productivity as well as in other crops commodities. To achieve this, among other, is to encourage plant-breeding activities as to provide new and more desirable plant varieties, with the backing of a strong and effective plant variety protection system.

While still not becoming a member to the treaty, Indonesia modeled its plant variety protection system after the international standard as administered by UPOV. Any plant variety must pass the Novelty-Distinctive-Unique-Stability test before protection can be granted. The protection will last for 20 years for single-season plants and 25 years for years-long plants. Aside from providing protection for new plant varieties, the Indonesian government also regulates and administers separate systems for the registration of local varieties as well as the introduction of plant varieties for domestic use.