Posted on Tue, 03 Nov 2020, 14:42
© FAO/ Giuseppe Bizzarri
Castries, 22 October 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent Saint Lucia from reviewing its national phytosanitary system and implementing an IPPC Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE). In spite of the restrictions associated with the public health emergency, the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia became one of the pioneers in applying the PCE virtually.
Initiated in 2019 by the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) under the FAO project “Conducting Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluations in four Caribbean countries”, the PCE process in Saint Lucia was smoothly guided by Mr Fitzroy White, accredited PCE facilitator, until the first quarter of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and many activities in the country were shutdown. Under the coordination of Ms Hannah Dupal–Romain, Senior Research Officer at the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of Saint Lucia, national plans were then quickly revisited to commence the implementation of the PCE in a virtual setting.
As time progressed, this new approach became customary and the CAHFSA staff involved in the PCE’s implementation began to adapt to the virtual solution. A small group of around eight participants attended regular meetings on PCE, including external stakeholders from the CAHFSA Divisions of Extension, Propagation, and Environmental Health, as well as the fruit and vegetables importing community.
After six online sessions and several long-distance communications, four PCE modules were successfully completed. These modules targeted the NPPO structure and process, pest surveillance and pest reporting capacity, pest diagnostic capacity, and the phytosanitary import regulatory system. The second set of virtual PCE sessions began in October 2020 and focused on the development of a National Phytosanitary Capacity Development Strategy.
Saint Lucia’s pilot case inaugurates a new virtual method of conducting phytosanitary capacity evaluations that will be implemented in other three Caribbean countries, such as Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Dominica, and might be applied to conduct PCEs in other regions of the world.
More on the IPPC PCE at the following link: https://www.ippc.int/en/core-activities/capacity-development/phytosanitary-capacity-evaluation/
NPPO staff of Saint Lucia attending a PCE virtual session © NPPO of Saint Lucia