scientists and researchers from Commonwealth countries who met in Goa in the second half of September to discuss intellectual property rights (IPR) cited the example of the Kani tribe of Kerala's Western Ghats as an example of equitable sharing of IPRs with indigenous peoples. The Kani people are getting lakhs of rupees by way of royalty on a plant that they have conserved through the ages.
The plant, called arogyapacha in the local language Malayalam and Trichopus zeylanicus by scientists, has anti-fatigue properties that have a lot of potential for sports medicine and old age remedies, according to P Pushpangadan, director of the National Botanical Research Institute. The institute had patented compounds extracted from the plant and has recently begun to earn profits from the patent. It is sharing half the returns with the Kani people.
So far, Rs 7,00,000 have been invested in a trust set up to benefit the tribe's 12,000 members, and 60 per cent of the members of the managing committee of the trust are tribals. Pushpangadan points out that the interest earned from the royalty fees will be used for the welfare of the Kani people.
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