Namibian Genetic Resources in the Spotlight

The ways and means of how to protect and promote innovations and developments from the use of Namibian genetic resources for food and agriculture to extract maximum benefit from them was placed under the spotlight last week when role players in the industry staged the first ever workshop on National and International Value of Holding Intellectual Property Rights in Windhoek.

The workshop also debated how the value of Namibian genetic resources and related products can be enhanced through the use of Intellectual Property options and what the Intellectual Property Rights options are.

Infant Protection (IP) also landed in the fray when the appropriate types of IP was discussed in great length and how Namibian should make strategic decisions on the need of IP in each case, as they recognize that “one size does not necessarily fit all.”

As key-note speaker at the workshop, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Joseph Iita called it an historic event and a very important workshop. “I call this workshop historic, because it is the first time in Namibia that major stakeholders have come together to brainstorm on the value of and options for holding Intellectual Property Rights with regard to our plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture,” he noted.

He said the workshop is a start of a process which will lead Namibia to consider ways to identify and assess the potential value of different Intellectual Property protection options for identified plants and livestock breeds and related products, to be able to make informed and appropriate decisions regarding opportunities offered by various Intellectual Property Rights options to protect, add value to and maximize the economic opportunities from local genetic resources for food and agriculture. “This will allow us to better determine how best the genetic resources and their Intellectual Property Rights options can be used to enhance the contribution of our genetic resources to Namibia’s economy. The workshop should also highlight the gaps hindering the implementation of Intellectual Property Rights options. For example there may be a lack of expertise to aice on Intellectual Property Rights in-country, or there may be a need for information or for clearer procedures, policies and legislation,” he stated.

He stressed that while there is no doubt in my mind that Namibia is rich in biodiversity, it is the identification of the potential value and protection and use of this biodiversity that is important. In doing so and in order to understand and extract the most value from these genetic resources, we need to explore certain questions.

“Therefore, this workshop should begin to address such questions and to formulate more as you move ahead during the day. This workshop is an opportunity for us to see where there is a need for some of our speciesbreeds and products to benefit from the value of intellectual property rights.

“At the same time, the workshop will enable us to discuss the implications of Intellectual Property Rights options with regard to specific species and products and to share information on the functions and responsibilities of the various national stakeholders.

Given the importance and relevance of this workshop, I am convinced that this is going to be a vibrant day with lively discussions and deliberations as you grapple with novelty and complexities of Intellectual Property Rights in relation to genetic resource use,” he concluded.

Source : New Era