By Gift Briton

To increase food security in Africa, the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) in Africa is working with the Inter-African Phytosanitary Council of the African Union (AU-IAPSC) to roll out a strategy for robust plant health systems in the continent.

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), CABI will provide technical expertise to help AU-IAPSC implement the Plant Health Strategy in the continent. The robust plant health systems strategy is set to bring about reduced risks from devastating crop pests and diseases, increased trade and the protection of biodiversity.

The strategy will be presented to the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) which will review and approve it. Thereafter, an implementation plan will be designed that will guide the adoption of the Plant Health Strategy.

“There is currently a lack of clear national and regional coordination frameworks of National Plant Protection Organizations which are underfunded and unequipped to implement international standards including insufficient scientific and research capacity to address and apply sanitary and phytosanitary measures. Indeed, these are essential for effective food value chains and greater national food security but also more profitable export markets for fresh fruit and vegetable produce,” Dr. MaryLucy Oronje, Project Manager and Scientists– Sanitary and Phytosanitary(SPS), said.

The project will help in the implementation of the African Union Plant Health Strategy and its associated activities including supporting the AU-IAPSC to expand Member States’ understanding of existing phytosanitary best practices such as risk-based official controls in operations (inspections and certification), derived from Pest Risk Analysis (PRA), surveillance and other measures for market access.

The work will also see the finalization of the AU-IAPSC pesticide and biopesticide regulatory guidelines and the development and validation of protocols for the field testing and registration of safer-to-use and more environmentally-friendly biological control agents.