Plant health solutions under microscope at IPPC Regional Workshop for Africa
By Chipiliro Kansilanga in Nairobi, Kenya
Plant health experts from the African region are this week meeting in Nairobi, Kenya to analyze international draft standards for phytosanitary measures which are crucial in the implementation of plant health solutions across Africa.
The hybrid Regional Workshop being held under the theme, “plant health innovation for food security” is organized by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in partnership with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Union Inter-African Phytosanitary Council (AU-IAPSC) and other international partners in plant health.
Participants to the workshop, drawn from over 30 African countries are also expected to share knowledge and ideas, strengthen collaboration and together brainstorm new solutions on areas of common interest that affect plant health in the region.
In a video address, IPPC Secretary Osama El-Lissy said a physical gathering of all African Member states, the first since Covid-19 ravaged the world, provides a unique opportunity for Member States and partners to rethink their approach to plant health solutions and collaborate further in addressing common challenges.
He introduced a new initiative – Africa Phytosanitary Programme – shouldering on safeguarding and safe trade which is designed to help National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPO’s) in protecting agriculture and natural resources against introduction and spread of pests and diseases.
He said IPPC will continue working with Member States (NPPO’s), RPPO’s and all relevant stakeholders, to design and implement phytosanitary programs designed to address the issue of invasive pests.
“It will take all of us to work in a very coordinated function, it will work a lot of resources, a lot of hard work, a lot of time, but we believe the outcome would be very rewarding,” he said.
In her remarks, FAO representative to Kenya Ms Carla Mucavi said this year’s Regional Workshop theme aligns with FAO’s plant health initiative on sustainable food systems for better nutrition, better environment and better lives, leaving no-one behind.
“This is a great opportunity to build phytosanitary capacity and exchange experiences at a regional level, so it is an important platform for discussing proposals on topics that will be submitted for implementation,”.
On his part, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Aquaculture and Blue Economy Dr. Francis Owino observed that since the African continent produces food, it needs to know how to mitigate against the challenges of pests and diseases which have been identified to cause up to 40% reduction in yield.
He hoped the meeting would pave way for participants to exchange updated information on the matters of plant health, enhance cooperation within the region and also find ways for accessing new markets within Africa and internationally.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) Managing Director Theophilus Mutui stressed on the need for harmonized plant health regulatory systems within the African region.
The workshop is also providing Member States and partners, an opportunity to dissect, analyze and update IPPC Phystosanitary Standards whilst sharing best practices within the region.
Countries participating are Cameroon, Uganda, Malawi, Gabon, Eswatini, Zambia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Chad, Niger, Mauritius, South Africa, Mali, Ghana, Bukina Faso, Gambia and the host Kenya.