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Market Failure As a Justification Against Intellectual Property Protection in Plant Varieties: An Empirical Study from India


Kochupillai,  Mrinalini
MPI for Innovation and Competition, Max Planck Society;

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Kochupillai, M. (2017). Market Failure As a Justification Against Intellectual Property Protection in Plant Varieties: An Empirical Study from India.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002E-30A9-C
The study compares in situ seed conservation trends in two crop categories, ‘pulses’ crops and ‘preferred’ crops, in two regions of central India. It finds that in situ agrobiodiversity (seed) conservation efforts suffer statistically significant decrease in crops for which varieties ‘improved’ by the private or government sector are made available to farmers. This trend calls to question the seed replacement policy adopted by several governments, notably in developing countries, as also the push to promote intellectual property protection for formally developed varieties across the globe, and its potential impact on in situ agrobiodiversity conservation. The overarching approach adopted by the study was multi-disciplinary and incorporated a mixed-methods research design where the qualitative and quantitative segments received equal status at the time of data interpretation. The quantitative data used for the study derives from extensive farmer surveys conducted in the two regions using the stratified random sampling method. The results provide evidence of significantly higher in situ seed conservation trends in the ‘pulses’ crop category than in the ‘preferred’ crop category. The qualitative data collected via concurrently and sequentially conducted interviews further enriches the findings from the quantitative study and suggests that in regions where improved crop varieties are introduced, farmers have a significantly lower inclination to engage in in situ seed conservation, even for ‘pulses’ crops. From a legal and policy perspective, these findings strongly suggest the need to involve regional agricultural extension officers (RAEOs) in the effort to promote in situ agrobiodiversity conservation. They also suggest that in the absence of such efforts, the provisions of the Indian Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 (the PPV&FR Act) and similar laws that permit farmer level seed saving and conservation, may eventually lose their significance.