Posted on Wed, 31 Jan 2024, 15:06
Rome, 31 January 2024. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat recorded significant milestones in advancing plant health in 2023. One notable achievement was through the effective implementation of Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE) Strategy 2020-2030.
Through this strategy, the IPPC supported 13 national plant protection organizations (NPPOs) in Africa and Asia to successfully conduct PCEs to evaluate their phytosanitary systems. This demonstrated that countries are increasingly realizing the importance of robust national phytosanitary systems for plant health, food safety and safe trade.
The PCE is an online-enabled, multiple-step framework that countries use to assess the suitability of their national phytosanitary systems and capacity, including laboratories, quarantine centers, and data storage systems, to meet global phytosanitary requirements. In the highly flexible PCE process, NPPOs lead the entire process, aligning the evaluation to specific country-level needs and aspirations. As a result, the outcomes and recommendations are unique and relatable to each country and its intentions to improve national-level phytosanitary capacity. In Africa, nine countries in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), namely Djibouti, Eswatini, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe conducted their PCEs. By December 2023, eight of these had reviewed and endorsed the results of the PCEs, while the ninth validation exercise is scheduled for February 2024. It is expected that benefiting countries will contribute to Africa's agricultural wealth and biodiversity, safe trade and food security. By supporting countries to conduct PCE’s, the IPPC promotes the African Union’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Policy Framework for Africa, which aims to establish harmonized, science-based SPS systems, strengthen collaboration and trade facilitation, and increase technical capacity.
“Many stakeholders now recognize the crucial role of healthy plants in direct support of food security and sustainable economic development. This awareness offers an opportunity to collaborate and adopt a comprehensive approach to improving plant health at regional and global levels. Evaluating phytosanitary capacity is a key step in achieving this goal,” said Osama El-Lissy, IPPC Secretary.
More countries conduct PCEs
In addition to the COMESA countries with successful PCEs, Senegal validated its PCE in August 2023 and underscored the importance of upgrading laboratory services for plant health and trade facilitation. Through this process, the country hopes to reduce the time and cost of exporting agri-food products while complying with international standards such as the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement on revised documentation requirements and the release of perishable goods.
In Asia, when Cambodia and Sri Lanka validated their PCE processes, they identified gaps in their national plant health systems and are currently drafting national phytosanitary capacity development strategies, including revising national phytosanitary legislation and securing external funding to implement improvements.
In April 2023, Uzbekistan validated its PCE, a crucial decision for the country in shaping phytosanitary reforms, adhering to global standards and showcasing the country's competence in managing phytosanitary risks.
By endorsing the outcomes of their national phytosanitary capacity evaluations, countries will be able to align their national laws with the IPPC and its International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), effectively implement Operating Procedures (SOPs), enhance diagnostic capabilities, upgrade laboratories, increase access to trainings, optimize the structure of NPPOs, and improve coordination among stakeholders.
The successes of 2023, therefore, underscore the significance of plant health and strong national phytosanitary systems. Collaboration between national and international entities played a vital role in achieving these milestones. In 2024, more countries, including Egypt, the Philippines, Uganda, and members of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), will evaluate their phytosanitary systems, making more strides for global plant health.
The IPPC supported countries to conduct and validate their PCEs through funding and technical support from the following: IPPC Global project on capacity development under the framework of the FAO-China South-South Cooperation (SSC) Programme, the project “IPPC ePhyto and Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation”, funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Asian World Bank, and an IPPC European Union (EU) funded project titled Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control. The project focuses on supporting countries to protect plant health by carrying out PCEs and to promote food safety through the WHO/FAO Food Control System Assessment Tool.
Top left: PCE validation mission in Djibouti ©FAO/Lucien Kouame. Top right: PCE validation mission in Malawi ©IPPC. Middle: PCE and WHO/FAO FCSA validation mission in Rwanda ©FAO/Jabo Nkurunziza. Bottom left: PCE validation mission in Kenya ©FAO/Fredrick Onyango. Bottom right: PCE validation mission in Mauritius ©FAO/Sachita Jawaheer