Ayo Akinfe took to his Facebook to look into a thought-provoking situation when it comes to Agriculture and farming. Using other countries who have specialised the production of staple food. Nigeria needs a dedicated Agricultural Patent office.
(1) In this picture is a unique type of maize only grown in Argentina called Abatimento, which Kellogg’s uses for its corn flakes
(2) Grown under special conditions in the Santa Fe and Córdoba regions of Argentina, this maize is said to produce the crispiest kind of corn flakes possible
(3) With the growth of the global cereal market, Argentina cannot obviously supply all the maize needed so other producers are main suppliers. However, Argentine maize commands a premium because of its unique qualities
(4) This same principle is applicable to Basmati, that unique slender-grained aromatic rice grown on the Indian sub-continent. As of 2014, India accounted for 65% of the global Basmati rice market and Pakistan 35%
(5) In India, Basmati can only be produced in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states, while in Pakistan, 95% of the Basmati rice cultivation takes place in the Punjab province
(6) To qualify as Basmati, this rice has to be certified by the laboratory of Basmati Export Development Foundation. Once it is cleared as such, it can then attract the premium which is about 65% higher than the price of normal rice
(7) Do you know that you cannot grow Basmati outside the Ganges region? Since 1999 when India’s Geographic Indications of Goods Act was introduced and an American company’s patent withdrawn, legally there can be no competitors from outside the restricted area. Basically, the south Asians have a monopoly, just as the Argentines do with their unique maize
(8) Now, Nigerian people, look at the crops in which you are leading producers like cocoa, palm oil, kolanuts, plantain, yam, shea nuts, cashews, papaya, cassava, gum arabic, neem, etc and ask yourselves why we have not cornered a premium niche with any of them. I am certain some varieties of our produce is unique and cannot be grown anywhere else on earth but alas, do we have any patents?
(9) Those of you who are Igbo know the type of unique yams that are displayed at the New Yam Festival. Is our “water yam” for instance patented? Who else can grow such large tubers of this unique crop? Just imagine the premium it would fetch if patented
(10) Now, is any state agriculture commissioner even considering gathering all the farmers on his state to debate this matter? Surely a kolanut, yam, cashew, cassava, papaya, cocoa, etc seminar would throw up some ideas. It is time to think outside the box my people. How much activity actually takes place at the Nigerian Patent Office? I actually think we need a dedicated Nigerian Agricultural Patent Office to look into this market.
Written by: Ayo Akinfe