IPPC’s historical visit to Africa – announces a US$37.8 million phytosanitary programme for Africa
By Chipiliro Kansilanga in Douala – Cameroon
The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has announced a US$37.8 million Global Phytosanitary Programme focused on Africa, (Africa Phytosanitary Programme – APP), to promote effective management of plant pests and diseases on the continent and help foster social and economic growth.
The IPPC Secretary Mr. Osama El-Lissy announced the APP modalities on Tuesday in Douala, Cameroon at the Preparatory meeting for the 17th Session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (Pre-CPM-17) organized by African Union Inter-African Phytosanitary Council (AU-IAPSC).
His announcement and visit is historical for plant health sector in Africa, being the first ever for any IPPC Secretary to engage National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPO’s) in person on matters of mutual plant health interest, to both the IPPC and Contracting parties.
The Secretary had earlier made mention of the APP initiative during the (IPPC) Regional Workshop for Africa in September 2022, but during the Pre-CPM 17 meeting, he took time to share modalities, delivery model and strategies to ensure its implementation becomes a success.
The APP initiative targeting all 55 African member states will provide capacity building in early detection of pests, proactive surveillance of pests, timely and adequate pest identification and diagnostics, effective pest data collection, storage and analytics among many other areas.
“The outcome of this programme is very rewarding and crucial in our efforts towards effective management of plant health because invasive pests aren’t going away, in fact they have increased by 40% over the past years. In some countries, the level of damage exceeds 40% causing massive economic impact which in turn affects many other countries and economies. A strong Africa is not only good for Africa but for the world,” said Mr El-Lissy.
Taking into consideration the rolling out of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, the programme also commits to aiding NPPOs to facilitate the safe import and export of agricultural products, and expansion of regional and international markets among others.
El-Lissy said in all stages of its implementation, Africa will maintain the liberty to decide on some modalities owing to country-specific needs, including the decision on the pilot countries for the programme.
“Decisions must be made by Africa for Africa. Our aspiration is not to reinvent the wheel in terms of tools and methodologies that are currently in use. Our role as IPPC is to support you (Africa) in whatever direction you want to go, our commitment is to provide support in technical coordination, resource mobilization, policy and get the answers where needed and in all that, being consistent,” he said.
The Secretary stated that IPPC was looking forward to Member States substantive growth through phytosanitary systems.
With implementation scheduled over a five-year period, the phytosanitary programme has been received with gratitude and high expectations from NPPOs and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) present at the Pre-CPM 17 meeting, owing to its potential to manage numerous pest challenges that have ravaged the continent for decades.
In his remarks, the Head of Agriculture and Food Security Division, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of the African Union Dr Simplice Nouala commended IPPC for the Africa Phytosanitary Programme, calling it a great opportunity for the continent to make huge strides in plant health particularly as Africa is working on implementing the Plant Health Strategy for Africa, embedded within the AU Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Policy framework.
“Our approach is to work with RECs and to benchmark best practices in the region so that based on those doing excellently, we can build the capacity of other countries and help them catch up. We will therefore work on strengthening harmonization in the interest of this initiative,” he said.
The Pre-CPM17 was attended by both NPPOs (Contracting Parties to the IPPC) and RECs from Africa namely, Botswana Burundi, host Cameroon, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), DR Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions.
Participants expressed gratitude at the IPPC Secretary’s visit, noting that it signifies the importance that IPPC places on plant health issues in Africa.
CPM-17 is scheduled for 27-31 March 2023 in Rome, Italy.