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Experts Meet In Accra To Deal With Plant Pest
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Sub-Saharan Africa spends more than US $1.2 billion annually on pesticides, mainly for use in migratory pest control, and on commodities like cotton, coffee, cocoa and horticultural crops.

Dr Lamourdia Thiombiano, Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, FAO, who announced this at a workshop, called for alternatives and promotion of new pest control technologies to deal with the frequent misuse and accidents, inadequate pesticide handling, storage, and management, stockpiles of obsolete pesticides, as well as the call for more rigorous quality standards for export horticulture crops.

The Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI) with the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), is hosting the workshop that would build strategies for timely and sustainable pest management in Africa.

The four-day workshop, in Accra, also is bringing together participants from Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Zambia to discuss how to control plants pests to ensure food security.

The participants, who are involved in plant health and plant protection, include those working for the National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs), Agricultural Extension and Research institutions, the universities, and pesticide regulators,

Dubbed, the IPPC National Reporting Obligations and Pesticide Risk Reduction workshop, it would afford stakeholders the platform to explore and identify opportunities for complementary activities between Plantwise, the IPPC and national bodies such as NPPOs and pesticide regulatory agencies.

It is estimated that more than 230 new insect, mite and pathogen pests were introduced to Africa in the 20th century.

Dr Thiombiano noted that while the battle against pests is an enduring one, “the enemy and the weapons at disposal are constantly changing, and thus the need to update knowledge on pests, their control and the side effects of pest control methods.

He said that the globalised world of travel and trade was also giving plant protectionists more and greater challenges.

“Rising mobility of people, trade, food aid shipments, changes in climate and of farming systems, and the weakening of the national plant protection and quarantine services, sudden outbreaks of novel or incursion of invasive alien plant pests generate unexpected challenges,” he explained.

“These plant pests can rapidly move across entire regions, making existing endemic problems worse, thus posing an additional burden to national economies and endanger the livelihoods of people specifically in the rural areas”.

Mrs Milly Kyofa-Boamah, Director in charge of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorates, Ministry of Food and Agriculture said the workshop’ which is designed to support national programmes of participating countries would foster new partnerships that would engender new practices in pest control.

She said so far, 25 plant clinics have been established in various districts in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Northern and Eastern Regions of Ghana for farmers, who are assisted by extension officers, to identify pests and other diseases that affect crops, thereby providing farmers with the requisite information to reduce pest infestation.

“Information from plant clinics, enable us to assess whether our extension systems are really promoting integrated pest management (IPM), whether there are specific areas in which extensionists need further training, and how, at a very practical level, plant clinics can be a way of putting national and international policies and frameworks into practice,” she said.

Plant clinics give information about what pests are and where they are, and this is directly related to the purpose of the IPPC.

The workshop would also clarify the role of NPPOs and other stakeholders in meeting national obligations and identify activities and working practices through which Plantwise can reduce the risks from pest introductions and chemical pesticides.

Plantwise is a global programme led by CABI that supports national extension systems in developing countries, including 12 African countries. It provides smallholder farmers with better access to the advice and information needed to help them to increase food security and to improve their livelihoods by losing less of what they grow to plant health problems.

Dr Washington Otieno, Plantwise Regional Coordinator for Africa, said the workshop follows a first one held recently in Kenya, all aimed at securing common and effective action to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests, and to promote appropriate measures for their control.
Source: GNA

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