Ethiopia: To restore Ownership of Teff


Dutch Company Claims Teff as its Own

Ethiopia wants to restore its ownership of the teff patent which is currently owned by a Dutch company. This special program covers the story of teff ownership from the farmer all the way to government officials and experts.

We see a large teff harvest and a farmer overlooking grazing oxen. Lukube, a teff farmer from Sendafa in Oromia region, represents millions of other Ethiopian teff farmers. Teff is part of Ethiopian identity. It has been a staple crop in Ethiopia for over a thousand years. Lukube explains how the sowing and harvesting and teff came to be his life’s work. Generations before him have been passing the knowledge down to their children.

Solomon Tesgaye of EBC moves through a teff harvest. He explains that a Dutch company has claimed the rights to Ethiopia’s age-old staple crop. What is being done now?

The Minister of Science and Technology speaks on the topic. Getahun Meukira Kuma (Doctor of Engineering) takes the stage. He explains that legal actions are a last resort. In addition, the results of an assessment are mentioned. The results, released on the day of an interview are positive. There are many viable diplomatic options on the table, he explains.

Related: Article About Getahun Meukira Kuma 

The Netherland company took the teff for research purposes and later registered it as an owner.

Ethiopia has a Strong Case According to International Patent Law Expert

Next, a panel of high-level Ethiopian officials listens to a slideshow presentation. Anton Horn is an expert of  Patent Law, Anti-Counterfeiting, and Industrial Property Law. The doctor of law informs his audience through an elaborate presentation that Ethiopia has a very strong basis to win back its ownership of teff in court.

Related: Anton Horn’s  Credentials (Law firm Website)

Mandefro Eshete, the head of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office has bigger concerns. He fears that this sort of unfair patenting of Ethiopia’s teff varieties may reflect a wider trend.

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