Posted on Mon, 08 Aug 2022, 15:30
Tunis, 08 August 2022. The annual regional workshop for the Near East and North Africa (NENA), organized by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), recently concluded where participants discussed key regional priority issues on plant health and environmental protection.
Under the theme “Plant health Innovation for Food Security”, the hybrid workshop, held on 1-4 August in Tunisia, served as a forum for regional plant health experts to discuss and review main phytosanitary topics. Participants reviewed the draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) and recommendations, raised awareness of the framework of FAO/regional plant protection organizations and moved together from ideas to action by sharing experiences and best practices.
Participants also proposed regional options to improve phytosanitary risk management by preventing and mitigating the impact of invasive and emerging pests that threaten plant health, food security and the environment in the region.
The workshop was organized by the IPPC Secretariat in cooperation with the FAO Regional and Sub-regional Offices for the Near East and North Africa (RNE and SNE), the Near East Plant Protection Organization (NEPPO) and the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries.
Twenty-nine participants from 17 IPPC contracting parties attended including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. The NENA regional workshop received more attention from national plant protection organizations (NPPOs) outside the region, with the workshop virtually hosting a representative from the US NPPO as an observer, particularly from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture.
Updates on IPPC activities were shared with participants, including from the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, the Standards Committee, and the Implementation and Capacity Development Committee. The IPPC Secretariat further shared the benefits of IPPC tools including the Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation, the ePhyto solution, National Reporting Obligations, and the Emerging Pest Outbreak and Alert Response System. Activities of the FAO regional and subregional phytosanitary capacity development and that of NEPPO were also presented.
“Innovative plant health methods have an essential role in guaranteeing the right to food for everyone,” said IPPC Secretary El-Lissy in his opening remarks. “Preventive international phytosanitary standards are key to avoiding costly eradication and control responses to emergency pest outbreaks in all regions of the globe,” he added.
Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries Mahmoud Elyes Hamza stated that “The extent of harmful consequences of pests and diseases on plants in the NENA region need to be underlined.” Tunisia had suffered unprecedented losses in the past due to the fire blight disease which decimated as much as 60 per cent of the country’s agricultural lands.
Mitigating pest risks not only helps curb crop losses and promote food security but also helps boost trade.
“The application and respect of international phytosanitary standards help countries in the region improve access of their agricultural exports to world markets and entry to the most competitive markets in Europe, Asia and America,” said Abdelhakim El Waer, FAO Assistant General Director and Regional Coordinator of the FAO Regional Office for the Near East (RNE).
Moving towards action
Arop Deng, IPPC Integration and Support Team Leader, highlighted the workshop's overarching goal, which was to develop the phytosanitary capacities of contracting parties to effectively enforce globally harmonized standards for phytosanitary measures.
Mekki Chouibani, NEPPO Executive Director, stressed that implementing international standards and the continuous dialogue between regional and international stakeholders will contribute to protecting plant resources and promote food security in and outside the NENA region.
Participants reviewed and provided comments on six draft ISPMs under consultation, including the Draft Annex to ISPM 37 Criteria for evaluation of available information for determining the host status of fruit-to-fruit flies (2018-011); the 2022 and 2021 Amendments to ISPM 5 Glossary on phytosanitary terms (1994-001); Revision of ISPM 18 Guidelines for the use of irradiation as a phytosanitary measure (2014-007); Revision of ISPM 4 Requirements for the establishment of pest-free areas (2009-002), and the Use of specific import authorizations (Annex to ISPM 20 Guidelines for a phytosanitary import regulatory system) (2008-006).
A half-day special session was organized on the main issues and topics including the regional Trust Fund of Invasive Pests in the NENA region, innovative technologies, digitalization for plant health systems, and resilient actions to mitigate climate change for sustainable management of emerging pests. FAO presented its actions towards the risk of red palm weevil, the case of pest surveillance (Xylella fastidiosa) in the region, and the emerging pests and the risk of Fusarium TR4 in the NENA region. Participants were briefed on the latest ePhyto developments in the NENA countries including Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan and Palestine.
Participants held a one-day visit to different nurseries used for producing certified plant materials as well as the virology lab in Tunisia, a new activity in this year’s workshop. The Tunisian experience in controlling citrus black spot disease and ePhyto implementation was also explored.
The four-day meeting was chaired by Mohamed Lahbib Ben Jamma, Director General of the Tunisia NPPO while the opening session was moderated by Thaer Yaseen, Regional Plant Protection Officer at FAO/RNE.
Regional workshop presentations are available at https://www.ippc.int/en/core-activities/capacity-development/regional-ippc-workshops/2022-ippc-regional-workshop/.