Plant health experts from West Africa are meeting in Accra to adopt strategies to minimise the rate of crop losses resulting from pest attacks. The four-day meeting will also focus on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).
According to the experts, approximately 30 to 40 per cent of crops are lost to pests globally and, therefore, new strategies and tools are required to address the problem.
They said the problem of plant pest introduction and spread had become dynamic, hence farmers needed appropriate support to sustainably manage plant health problems.
These were made known at the opening ceremony of the four–day international capacity building workshop on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in Accra last Tuesday.
The workshop is being organised by the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI) in collaboration with the secretariat of IPPC, and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
It has brought together senior crop protection officials from across the sub-region.
The IPPC is a major international framework aimed at securing a common and effective action to prevent the introduction and spread of pests that affect plants and plant products.
The convention has proposed some legislative, technical and administrative measures that member countries, including Ghana, must adhere to.
Member countries must have a National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) with specific responsibilities relating to reporting and sharing information related to pests and pest management, known as the “national reporting obligations” under the convention.
As part of the efforts to manage plant health globally, an international programme titled Plantwise has been introduced under the CABI to foster diverse partnerships to sustain global efforts to remove constraints to agricultural productivity.
The programme supports national extension systems in developing countries by building the capacity of smallholder farmers on how to increase food security and improve their livelihoods.
In her opening address, the Deputy Regional Representative of the FAO‘s Africa Regional Office, Dr Lamourdia Thiombiano, called on all member countries to take their membership seriously.
It is estimated that more than 230 new insects, mites and pathogen pests were introduced to Africa in the 20th century.
Dr Thiombiano said the pests that farmers had contended with and the tools available to fight them were constantly changing.
“Up to now, the first choice in protecting crops against pests remains the use of chemical pesticides, thus contributing to pests’ resistance and additional damage to the crop ecosystem by destroying the population of natural enemies.”
Dr Thiombiano said in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than US$1.2 billion is annually spent on pesticides, mainly for use in migratory pest control and on commodity, including cotton, coffee, cocoa and horticulture crops.
Source: Daily Graphic
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