CGIAR holds awareness week on phytosanitory safety for pest prevention

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CGIAR

As part of measures to address the spread of pests with germplasm distribution, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), on Tuesday, began a week-long awareness programme on phytosanitary safety for trans-boundary pest prevention.

Speaking at the webinar, an expert, Dr Jingyuan Xia, said plants and seeds were known to harbour various pests (bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects, nematodes and other harmful biotic agents), which could spread into new territories along with germplasm transportation.

Xia, who is the Director, Plant Production and Protection Division, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), also said that introduced pests could pose major threat to agricultural production, trade and native biodiversity.

He said in the last decade, several epidemics and pandemics were caused by introduced pests, including maize lethal necrosis, fall armyworm, banana bunchy top, potato purple top, Fusarium wilt TR4, wheat blast, potato cyst nematode and many others, thus causing severe losses.

According to him, pests spread through germplasm (seed and vegetative propagules) are important pathways for the trans-boundary spread of pests.

“This is a source of major concern for CGIAR centres that distribute large numbers of samples from their gene-banks and breeding programmes to international crop improvement and biodiversity conservation programmes.

“In recognising the hazards of pest risks, the centres had set up GHUs to avert the spread of quarantine pests with germplasm transfers, prevent pest outbreaks and safeguard biodiversity.

“The GHUs ensure the safe and efficient transfer of germplasm, as this is crucial for the centers’ international programmes and delivery of public goods under the FAO International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and national quarantine regulations, enforced by the National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs),” he said.

Also Speaking, Dr Charlotte Lusty, Coordinator of the CGIAR Genebank Platform, Global Crop Diversity Trust, Germany, said the CGIAR awareness week was organised in partnership with the United Nations (UN) and FAO.

She said it was also organised in partnership with IPPC, Regional Plant Protection Organisations (RPPOs), National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs) and Crop Trust.

The programme, according to Lusty, has as its theme: “Phytosanitary Safety for Prevention of Trans-boundary Spread of Pests and Pathogens.

“It comes at a time when the UN has declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) to raise awareness about plant health and the impact of healthy plants and forests on food security, poverty, economic development and sustainability.

“The week-long event features a series of webinars planned to discuss the state of global efforts to contain the spread of invasive trans-boundary pests.

“These webinars will also look at future scenarios and the need for protecting germplasm health and bio-risk mitigation during germplasm transfer events.

“The webinars will focus on the challenges and opportunities existing in the African, Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions,” she said.

Also, Dr Ade Freeman, the FAO Regional Officer for Africa, said that the GHU seminar series focused on three presentations on IYPH and FAO-CGIAR international collaboration in tackling trans-boundary spread of pests.

He said it also focused on the role of CGIAR germplasm health component of the gene-bank platform in preventing the trans-boundary spread of pests and pathogens as well as safe international transfers of germplasm for food and agricultural development initiatives worldwide.

“The Asian session on Nov. 10 focuses on phytosanitary implications of global exchange of crop germplasm as well as emerging crop pests and pathogens in the continent.

“The Latin American session on Nov. 11 will focus on phytosanitary issues, where climate change and new invasive pest introductions such as potato purple top disease, Fusarium oxysporum Tropical Race 4, and citrus Huanglongbing are changing pest dynamics,” he said.

He added that the African session, slated for Nov. 12, would focus on the emerging pest and pathogen threats to food staples, trees and forages in the continent.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has been grappling with several introduced exotic threats, such as maize lethal necrosis, banana bunchy top, fusarium oxysporum tropical race 4, fall armyworm, cassava brown streak and tuta abosluta,” Freeman said.

He said that the closing session on Nov. 13 would feature presentation of key findings and recommendations from each webinar session.

This, Freeman said, would be followed by an expert panel discussion on the need for enhancing phytosanitary safety to prevent the trans-boundary spread of pests and pathogens. (NAN)

– Nov. 10, 2020 @ 17:12 GMT |

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