In News, Press Release, Seed

[Cotonou, Benin] – On June 1, 2023, a coalition of diverse organizations, including farmers’ organizations, women’s organizations, trade activists, and consumer groups, expressed their deep concern regarding Benin’s potential membership in the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). In a joint statement, the undersigned organizations highlight the potential threats to local seed systems, biodiversity, and food sovereignty if Benin were to join UPOV.

UPOV is an intergovernmental organization that promotes a global system of plant breeders’ rights, granting monopoly rights to breeders over their developed varieties. While UPOV claims that its members benefit from access to quality and productive seeds, the coalition argues that the negative consequences outweigh any potential advantages.

As part of the West African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI), Benin is already indirectly connected to UPOV through its membership. Therefore, the coalition emphasizes the redundancy and risks associated with Benin’s membership in UPOV. The direct membership would expose the country to direct pressure from global seed industry leaders, primarily controlled by four agrochemical giants: Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, and Corteva. The coalition warns that this move could prioritize the interests of these industry giants at the expense of African food sovereignty.

Furthermore, the undersigned organizations stress the adverse impact of UPOV on small farmers and local seed systems. UPOV favors industrial seeds over small farmers’ seeds, leading to a loss of biodiversity and undermining sustainable approaches to food production. The experience in other African countries, such as Kenya, has shown that UPOV incentivizes breeding for export crops while foreign companies benefit more than domestic breeders. Industrial seeds are associated with monoculture farming, requiring extensive irrigation, synthetic inputs, and technology packages that deplete soils and harm the environment.

In light of these concerns, the coalition calls upon all stakeholders in Africa to reevaluate the best strategies for seed systems that prioritize the needs of local communities. Specifically, they urge the government of Benin to withdraw its proposal to join UPOV and engage in a thorough review, in collaboration with peasant organizations and civil society, to determine the best path forward.

Instead, the organizations advocate for the promotion of agroecology and the use of local and indigenous seeds that are well-adapted to local conditions. These seeds contribute to the sustainability of agriculture in Benin and across Africa while safeguarding food sovereignty and peasants’ rights over seeds.


For more information, please contact:

Frances Davies, Policy Advocacy and Communications, ZAAB

Famara Diédhiou, Program officer, AFSA

Susan Nakacwa, GRAIN

Mr Patrice Sagbo, JINUKUN

The undersigned organizations include:

  1. Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)
  2. African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB)
  4. ADeD: Actions pour le Développement Durable
  5. Association Nodde Nooto (A2N) du Niger
  6.  African Technology Assessment Platform (AfriTAP)
  7. Agro Espoir Afrique SARL
  8. Agro-Care Consulting (Cameroun)
  9.  ANA-BIO Togo
  10. A Growing Culture
  11.  Acción Ecológica
  12.  Asociacion Nacional para el Fomento de la Agruclutra Ecologica ANAFAE
  13.  Association Sénégalaise des Producteurs de Semences Paysannes (ASPSP)
  14.  Association des agriculteurs sans frontières AASF
  15.  Association Tunisienne de Permaculture
  16.  ATODAD-Togo
  17.   Attac/Cadtm Maroc
  18.  AVRD Tchad
  20.  Batamar Bio BITÈYE Sénégal
  21.  BEELA Center for Indigenous Foods
  22.  Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA-K)
  23.  Botswana Council of NGOs (BOCONGO)
  24.  Centre d’études et d’expérimentations économiques et sociales de l’Afrique de l’Ouest – Association Internationale (CESAO-AI)
  25.  Centre de Formation et d’Insertion des Jeunes du Togo (CFIJ-TOGO)
  26. Centre International de Développement AP Agropastoral CIDAP.BAGA TOGO.
  27.  CEVAD
  28.  CEVASTE
  29.  Civil Society Agrarian Partnership (CSAP)
  30.  CNOP / LVC AOC
  31.  COASP
  32.  Commons for EcoJustice (EcoJustice)
  33.  Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch
  34.  Congo Basin Conservation Society CBCS RDC
  35.  Coordination Afrique du réseau CADTM
  36.  COPAGEN
  37. COPAGEN Mali
  39.  CREDI ONG
  40.  Eco-impact
  42.  Emmaus TOHOUE
  43.  ERA/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria ( ERA/FoEN)
  44.  FAEB
  45.  FAPD-Sénégal
  46.  Farmer Managed Seeds Systems -(EOAI)
  49. FENEV (Femmes Environnement Nature Entrepreunariat Vert/RD Congo)
  50. FIAN Burkina Faso
  51.  FIAN Suisse
  52.  FIAN Uganda
  53.  FIAN Zambia
  54.  Gabon Environnement
  56. GRAIN
  57. Grassroots International
  58.  Groupe d’Actions pour une Agriculture et un Environnement Durables (GAAED) HEKS/EPER, Entraide Protestante Suisse
  59. IFOAM-OI
  60. IRPAD/Afrique (Mali)
  61.  Jeunes volontaires pour l’environnement Côte d’Ivoire
  62.  JINUKUN
  63.  Justiça Ambiental – JA! (Mozambique)
  64.  LDCB :  Ligue pour la Défense des Consommateurs du Bénin
  65.  Les Jardins d’Hambe
  66.  Les Jardins de l’espoir
  67.  Malaysian Food Sovereignty Forum (FKMM)
  68.  Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania – MVIWATA
  69.  National Alliance for Agroecology, Climate change and Environmental Sustainability the Gambia
  70.  Nature Tropicale ONG (NTONG)
  71. Network Siyada
  72.  ONG Debora
  73.  ONG Muyissi Environnement pour la défense des droits des communautés locales (Gabon)
  74.  Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM ) Association
  75.  RADD
  77.  Réseau National des Acteurs de l’Agroécologie du Togo (RéNAAT)
  78.  Resources Oriented Development  Initiatives  KENYA (RODI Kenya)
  80.  Seed Savers Network Kenya
  81.  SeedChange
  82.  Société Civile environnementale et Agro Rurale du Congo SOCEARUCO RDC
  84.  Synergie Nationale des Paysans et Riverains du Cameroun (SYNAPARCAM)
  85.  Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity (TABIO)
  86.  Third World Network (TWN)
  87. Trax Program Support Ghana (Trax Ghana)
  88.  Une lumière dans la Rue (ULDLR)
  89.  Youth in Agroecology and Restoration Network
  90.  Youth Volunteers for the Environment Ghana
  91.  Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB)

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[…] of countries, the industrial system promoted by UPOV is coming under fire. This can be seen in Benin, where farmers’ organisations are taking a stand against the government’s proposal to join […]

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