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Advancements in Plant Variety Protection in China: Insights from the CIOPORA Mission to China

Stephanie Mitzschke, China Consultant at CIOPORA

Representatives from member companies, led by the CIOPORA Secretary General, Dr. Edgar Krieger, and the President, Wendy Cashmore, embarked on a Mission to China in September, a unique opportunity to explore the inner workings of the evolving regulatory landscape of China and to strengthen the relationship with Chinese authorities.

During the Mission, the attendees held meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), visited their DUS Testing facilities and also had the opportunity to explore the Kunming International Flower Auction and the Kunming International Flower Expo.

The Mission officially began on September 11 with an initial meeting at the National Forestry and Grassland Administration. During this meeting, members gained insights into the NFGA’s structure, which comprises two distinct divisions. The first one focuses on varieties, encompassing tasks such as drafting, application processing, preliminary and substantive examinations, authorization of PVR publications, and the enforcement of relevant laws. The second one is dedicated to testing and is responsible for tasks like developing testing guidelines, overseeing commonly known varieties, and managing DUS testing.

It also came to attention that the NFGA has made several noteworthy advancements:

  1. Online Application System: Implementing an online application system to streamline the process.

  2. Improvements in Examination & DUS Testing: Ongoing enhancements to the examination and DUS testing systems.

  3. Website Upgrade: New website for improved accessibility and information dissemination.

  4. Special Enforcement Actions: Carrying out targeted administration law enforcement actions for enhanced protection.

On September 12, the journey continued with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. The authority informed about the following notable developments at MARA:

  1. Extended Scope: PVP now encompasses harvested material

  2. MARA supports PVP examination center in Hainan

  3. The judicial system now boasts dedicated branches that facilitate arbitration, ensuring smoother dispute resolution.

  4. 10 model cases have been published, showcasing the improvements in business development resulting from PVP.

Before commencing this Mission, CIOPORA collected questions from members and submitted them to the local authorities. To access the responses, please visit the download section within our Member Area.

As a developing nation with a vast population, China primarily focuses on ensuring food security. However, the government's agenda has a growing emphasis on intellectual property on plants, and the 25th anniversary of China as a member of UPOV (in 2024) opens up an opportunity to move further in the promotion of plant variety rights. Chinese authorities share similar concerns as CIOPORA, for example, enforcement, and yet the ongoing challenge is to discover effective solutions to face it.

Consequently, CIOPORA's future intentions involve collaborating with China on initiatives like training, workshops, and joint problem-solving efforts through working groups. These efforts will especially target topics such as essential derived varieties (EDV) and harvested material.

The Mission concluded in Kunming, where members dedicated two days to visiting NFGA’s and MARA's DUS testing stations, exploring the Kunming International Flower Auction, and attending the Kunming International Flower Expo.

The Kunming International Flower Auction is a remarkable and modern auction, comparable to the renowned Aalsmeer auction in the Netherlands. This auction handles approximately 5 million stems daily, with 40% of the total production of the Yunnan province being sold here. While there are 1000 seats available for buyers daily, the demand for these seats are even higher. As a result, the auction is planning to expand its capacity in the near future.

The Kunming International Flower Expo 2023 encompassed a vast exhibition space of 50,000 square meters, bringing together more than 400 exhibitors and attracting 30,000 visitors. We were pleasantly surprised that during the opening ceremony, most speakers mentioned the importance of IP protection for plants.

CIOPORA is satisfied with the outcome of the Mission to China, and looks forward to further engagement and cooperation with Chinese authorities and stakeholders in the future, and welcome you, our members, to join us.


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