Posted on Wed, 11 Aug 2021, 16:37
© FAO/Alessandra Benedetti
Rome, 10 August 2021. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Regional Workshop for the Near East and North Africa (NENA) convened virtually on 3, 5 and 10 August 2021 to discuss key priority issues in the region related to plant health and environmental protection. Organized by the IPPC Secretariat in cooperation with the FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa (RNE), the Near East Plant Protection Organization, and the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture, the three-day meeting was chaired by Mr Hassan Moominlilo, Director General at the Republic of Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture, and attended by over forty participants from the nineteen NENA countries.
Focusing on the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) key legacies, the workshop served as an exceptional annual forum for plant health experts to review draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) and recommendations, propose regional options to improve phytosanitary capacity in NENA countries, and share experiences and best practices on plant health. The prevention and mitigation of the impact of transboundary pests and diseases that threaten plant health and food security in Near East and North Africa was a crucial topic of discussion.
Participants highlighted the need for strengthened early detection and management practices to tackle the threat of transboundary diseases and pests in the region. According to FAO RNE, the recent outbreak of Fall Armyworm has caused an estimated USD 4.6 billion in losses in Africa alone, putting NENA countries at high risk. Thus, the Near East Plant Protection Organization (NENA) and the IPPC Secretariat are working on the development of globally harmonized guidelines to limit the spread of Fall Armyworm to new areas under the framework of the FAO Global Action for Fall Armyworm control.
The opening session of the workshop was co-chaired by Mr Arop Deng, Integration and Support Team lead at FAO’s IPPC Secretariat, and Mr Thaer Yaseen, Regional Plant Protection Officer at FAO/RNE, and opened with a welcoming remark by Mr Avetik Nersisyan, the IPPC Officer in Charge for daily matters. “Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and changed our lives but it didn’t and will not prevent us from protecting plant health and the green planet we live in. By protecting plant health, we guarantee the right to food for everyone, especially those who are suffering the most due to the current global crisis”, said Mr Nersisyan.
His Excellency Iraqi Minister of Agriculture, Muhammad Karim Jassim Saleh Al-Khafaji, emphasized the importance of cooperation between NENA countries, the FAO regional and sub-regional offices, and the IPPC Community to address plant health issues in a harmonized and collaborative way. Mr Mekki Chouibani, NEPPO Executive Director equally stressed that the implementation of international standards and the continuous dialogue between regional and international stakeholders will contribute to protect plant resources and food security in and outside the NENA region.
Panelists highlighted the major activities undertaken by the IPPC community over the year, including the successful implementation of the first ever virtual Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, the IYPH closure and the need for the IPPC community to support the implementation of the IYPH legacy, specially the proclamation of the International Day of Plant Health championed by the government of Zambia. Regional and national phytosanitary priorities and challenges, as well as ideas for concrete actions to protect plant health in the region were discussed over the last days of workshop.
2021 IPPC Regional Workshop report [available soon]