Following multiple efforts to prevent infringement of plant breeders’ rights in Egypt, the country is now introducing grape DNA fingerprinting in time for the new campaign

Beginning with the upcoming 2024 grape season, Egypt’s Central Administration for Plant Quarantine (CAPQ) is set to use DNA testing to identify and stop suspected illegal shipments at source.

In previous seasons, breeders and rights holders were forced to rely on Customs Authorities in European ports to seize illegal shipments. 

Duncan Macintyre, president of The Breeders Alliance, which represents all the major table grape breeders, recently met with undersecretary Prof Saad Moussa, supervisor of Foreign Agricultural Relations and the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine and Elsayed Ahmed Abbas, technical director of Egyptian Plant Quarantine. 

Duncan McIntyre

(l-r) Duncan McIntyre, Prof Saad Moussa and Elsayed Ahmed Abbas

The Breeders Alliance have been assisting CAPQ to equip a new DNA Laboratory, and to organise staff training on the specifics of grape DNA fingerprinting.

The Breeders Alliance is also organising the supply of the official DNA samples from all its members’ protected varieties so that CAPQ can set up its own reference database, which allows it to rapidly verify the authenticity of export consignments. This is set to apply to all varieties protected and registered at the Plant Protection Office at the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation. 

Duncan Macintyre commented: “Egypt has proved that it is serious about stamping out IP infringements and preventing the export of unlicensed fruit. It now has both the legal framework and the technical resources to check export consignments and the penalty for infringing our members’ IP rights will be an export ban.”

Since acceding to the UPOV 91 treaty in 2019, Egypt has been implementing strong measures to fight Plant Breeders’ Rights infringements. In 2021, Egypt’s Minister of Agriculture issued the Ministerial Decree No. 387, obliging farms and packhouses to be approved by the authorities and receive a code to be eligible to export grapes. 

Egypt’s Central Administration for Plant Quarantine (CAPQ) then issued a decree, regulating the export process of table grapes. Under the decree, farmers or packhouses that dealt with protected varieties without a license would risk losing the validity of their code and receive an export ban. 

“We congratulate Prof Moussa and his team at CAPQ for taking these steps,” said Macintyre. “Our members can now continue to invest with confidence in new high-performance table grape varieties for the benefit of the Egyptian grape industry.”