Kumwenda reiterates need to strengthen Pacific Community’s biosecurity systems

MITIGATING biosecurity risks in Pacific Island countries – particularly with agricultural and horticultural industries – were reiterated at a recent regional workshop

But to do this, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) chief executive officer Hillary Kumwenda emphasised on the need to strengthen Pacific Community’s biosecurity systems through collaborative approach and partnerships.

Speaking at the opening of the International Plant Protection Commission (IPPC) Regional Workshop at Novotel in Nadi on August 20, the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) Chief Executive Officer Mr. Hillary Kumwenda acknowledged IPPC’s efforts in the Pacific and encouraged fellow National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) to continue collaborating on mutual biosecurity matters.

In his address to the forum, Mr Kumwenda identified globalisation of commerce, increasing movement of people and goods, new trade commodities and the effects of climate change as persistent challenges that can have great implications for the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) if regional NPPOs and policy makers fall short of engaging in dialogue to practically address emerging biosecurity risks.

The IPPC workshop and regional meeting also aimed to review draft International Standards on Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs). On this note, Mr Kumwenda stated that plant products were being traded into new and niche markets; while this is definitely welcome in terms of making commodities available, this also presented the risk of pest and disease incursions in the importing countries.

ISPMs provide the basis for nations to protect their agricultural and horticultural industries from harmful organisms while ensuring that these measures are scientifically justified and not used as trade barriers. They enable countries to work together and reach a consensus on many trade and biosecurity related issues.

Mr Kumwenda being highly appreciative of the annual regional workshop said it provided a platform for Pacific Island countries to analyse and prepare inputs for the draft ISPMs.

“This workshop will assist in building phytosanitary capacity and raise awareness on the various activities of the IPPC. It provides the Pacific Community a forum for exchanging experiences and ideas at the regional level while contributing to standard development at the international level,” he stated.

“These three days provide a common avenue to discuss phytosanitary measures and to identify opportunities to assist PICs which may be facing specific challenges taking into consideration the unique setting of our island nations.”

Mr Kumwenda expressed confidence that the meeting would further augment regional solidarity whilst promoting trade on a bio-safe platform.
The meeting concluded following discussions on the IPPC Strategic Framework 2020-2030.


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