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Saving Guinea-Bissau’s crops and trade from pests: Plant health technicians trained in the use of modern pest prevention tools

Posted on خميس, 07 مارس 2024, 08:55

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©Anita Tibasaaga

Participants of the training workshop pose with Fatumata Djau Baldé, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Guinea-Bissau (second row, third from left). On her left is Osama El-Lissy, IPPC Secretary and next to him, Mario Reis, FAO Assistant Representative in Guinea-Bissau. Maria Rosa de Sa Evora Ferreira, Director of Plant Protection Services (second row, second from left).

6 March 2024, Bissau - Thirty-eight national-level plant health practitioners, including phytosanitary officers and field technicians in Guinea-Bissau, received training to empower them with field-applied or practical scientific approaches and state-of-the-art digital tools designed for timely pest detection, surveillance, diagnostics, and prevention. Reducing the impact of pests on crops helps to foster food security and safe trade.

The training, held from 4-6 March 2024 in the capital Bissau, focused on empowering field technicians to manage two enemies to crop production in Guinea-Bissau, namely Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) and Fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis). Fall Armyworm affects crops such as maize and results in low cereal production, inadequate to meet the country's demand. Fruit fly, on the other hand, affects fruits such as mango, citrus, guava and berries, all of which are important food and income crops in Guinea-Bissau.

The training was organized by the Directorate of Plant Protection Services at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Guinea-Bissau and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representation in Guinea-Bissau, under the aegis of the Africa Phytosanitary Programme (APP).

APP is an IPPC initiative designed to transform the technical capacity of Africa’s phytosanitary personnel in all 54 countries. Enhancing the continent’s phytosanitary capacity is envisaged to help African countries implement international phytosanitary standards, eliminate hunger and reduce poverty by raising economic growth through agricultural production, productivity and trade. APP, therefore, aims at equipping national plant protection organizations (NPPOs) with science-based approaches, advanced technology, and tools to monitor, prevent, detect, and ultimately manage significant plant pests and diseases that threaten food security, the environment, and economic growth. APP is coordinated by the IPPC Secretariat, with support from the African Union’s Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Guinea-Bissau is one of 11 African countries involved in the pilot phase of APP.

Strengthening capacity development for plant health

“Low capacity in phytosanitary diagnostic and reporting infrastructure remains a key weakness in Africa’s plant health system, as highlighted in the Plant Health Strategy for Africa 2022-2036,” said Osama El-Lissy, IPPC Secretary. “I therefore congratulate the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Directorate of Plant Protection Services, which is the NPPO of Guinea-Bissau, upon successfully conducting this important training and showing commitment to improving national capacity for rapid detection and response to plant pests,” he added.

As part of the capacity development therefore, each training participant will receive a tablet computer, with the customized APP mobile app to improve efficiency in monitoring, detecting, collecting, recording and using data on plant pests. The app can be used even in remote areas with no internet connection. Once the device is back online, data is automatically updated, allowing personnel to take the necessary steps to prevent or respond to a pest threat.

Africa loses billions of dollars in crop damage each year from pests, and this impacts food security and economic growth. Guinea-Bissau is one of the countries that enjoys favorable agro-ecological conditions for agricultural development. Therefore, minimizing the impact of plant pests offers a unique opportunity to significantly increase agriculture production as well as regional and international trade.

“Plant health is very important for Guinea-Bissau and deserves special attention” said Fatumata Djau Baldé, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Guinea-Bissau. “APP is a commendable initiative by the IPPC, and I advise the participants of this training to put the lessons into practice. My ministry supports this programme entirely,” she added.

Timely intervention

Julio Malam Injai, Director General in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Guinea-Bissau commended the timeliness of APP saying, “Fall Armyworm and Fruit Fly are currently the most concerning pests affecting agriculture, due to the damage they cause, and the regulations imposed on the exports by countries that are free of these pests. The mastery of the tools proposed in this training will provide our country with qualified agents in monitoring and data collection for the two pests, thereby offering reliable data for their correct management," he added.

“In 2006, Guinea-Bissau faced a significant Fruit fly invasion in mango trees (Manguifera indica), and in 2017, a destructive infestation of the Fall Armyworm in maize (Zea mays), causing a strong and persisting parasitic pressure on mango and maize and jeopardizing food security”, said Maria Rosa de Sa Evora Ferreira, Director of Plant Protection Services at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. “It was critical to outline correct strategies for sustainable management of these two pests. The training will therefore promote the use of diverse and integrated methods for pest control. By the end of the three-day training, participants- all phytosanitary agents, will have gained more knowledge about timely and accurate data collection, presentation, and use of surveillance data. and present with modern methods for data collection and pest management, she added”.

The training is a follow-on of the APP Train-the-Trainer workshop held last year in Cairo, Egypt. During this training, six phytosanitary experts from Guinea-Bissau were among about 100 plant health personnel from the 11 APP pilot countries trained to use the customized APP mobile app to improve efficiency in monitoring, detecting, collecting, recording and using data on plant pests. These six experts have now trained phytosanitary field staff in the country, in a bid to strengthen the national capacity to prevent pests.

“National plant protection organizations are at the center of implementation at the level of their respective countries, and therefore the Directorate or Plant Protection and its technicians will be responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the programme in,” said Mário Augusto Dos Reis, Assistant FAO Representative in Guinea-Bissau.

“Each participant will have access to a set of technical resources, including pest survey protocols and state-of-the-art tablets. We stand together with the IPPC and other partners to transform agri-food systems, promote sustainable production and consumption, through plant protection, in order to ensure global food security in Guinea-Bissau,” he added.

About IPPC The IPPC is an international treaty ratified by 185 contracting parties- 184 countries and the European Union, aiming to protect the world's plant resources from the introduction and spread of pests, while promoting safe trade. International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), developed under the auspices of the IPPC, assist countries in implementing national phytosanitary standards and import requirements. The IPPC, deposited at FAO, is the sole global standard-setting entity for plant health.

About FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. FAO’s objective is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. FAO works to transform agri-food systems by promoting sustainable production and consumption, including protecting the world’s plants, to achieve global food security. FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide and has 195 members - 194 countries and the European Union.

For media enquiries please contact:

Fatima Camara
Communication Specialist
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Representation in Guinea-Bissau
Email: [email protected]
Mutya Frio
Communication Specialist
IPPC Secretariat
Email: [email protected]
Anita Tibasaaga
Writer and Communication Specialist
IPPC Secretariat
Email: [email protected]

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