AU-IAPSC welcomes new chief, raises hopes for stronger collaborations, digital technology approaches
African Union Inter-African Phytosanitary Council (AU-IAPSC) has welcomed its new Coordinator, Dr Saliou Niassy, an accomplished plant health scientist and an ardent entomologist.
Before joining AU-IAPSC, Dr Niassy was a Senior Scientist and head of the Technology Transfer Unit of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), an international scientific research institute headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.
He holds a PhD in Zoology (Entomology) from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). He also has a Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in Natural Sciences and a Postgraduate Degree in Zoology from the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (Senegal).
A Senegalese national, Dr Niassy was the first Coordinator of AfroMont (2011 and 2013) and the Coordinator of the Land Matrix Initiative (2015 and 2017) at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He has also worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow on Thrips Bioecology at icipe under an AU-funded Grain Legume project between 2013-2015.
He is a member of the African Association of Insect Scientists (AAIS), of which he served as Secretary between 2013-2017 and then as President between 2017-2022. He is also the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Tropical Insect Science. He has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters on plant health issues.
His notable accomplishments, among many others, include biopesticide development, the discovery of thrips aggregation behaviour and aggregation pheromones, continent-wide inventory of edible insects, scaling of push-pull technology in 20 Sub-Saharan African countries, fall armyworm, fruit fly research, as well as validation of indigenous pest management in African cropping systems.
Dr Niassy takes over from Dr Jean Gerard Mezui M’ella, who led AU-IAPSC for 12 years.
Sharing his vision and plans for his new role, Dr Niassy says among many goals, he looks forward to leading AU-IAPSC in building new and strengthening existing partnerships with all key stakeholders in the plant health sector beyond the continent.
Specifically, Dr Niassy is excited to work with all National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) and relevant technical entities such as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), WorldVeg, donor communities and other Specialized Technical Offices of the African Union, to drive the implementation of the Plant Health Strategy for Africa (PHSA) to enhance food and nutrition security, improved livelihoods and trade.
Given AU-IAPSC’s multiple roles as a Specialized Technical Office (STO) for the African Union and also IPPC’s Regional Plant Protection Organization responsible (RPPO) for Africa, Dr Niassy hopes to lead with new and advanced approaches, all the work in coordinating plant health activities across the African continent.
Using his scientific and technological background, he also anticipates leading AU-IAPSC in harnessing and embracing advanced data science and modelling approaches for evidence-based policymaking whilst helping member states and RECs maximize in both the promotion and protection of plant health resources.
“Technological advancements are moving so fast for every sector that we can no longer rest on our laurels, we must take maximum advantage of the technological trends to seek sustainable solutions to everyday challenges in agriculture and to collaborate with our partners and harmonize our resources to enhance agricultural productivity for income and trade,” he said.
Dr Niassy will be based at the AU-IAPSC host country, Yaoundé – Cameroon.
We wish Dr Niassy the very best as he sets the new course in leading AU-IAPSC towards its goal of promoting and coordinating sustainable plant health systems among continental, regional and national actors for increased agricultural production and market access.