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As threats from plant pests and diseases in the Pacific increase due to growing populations and increased trade and movement of people and goods, the Pacific Community (SPC) introduced this week a newly upgraded Pacific Islands Pest List Database (PLD) at a regional workshop that took place in Nadi, Fiji from 29 May to 2 June.
The PLD stores records of pests and hosts that affect agriculture, forestry and the environment. Over 19 biosecurity representatives from across eight countries in the Melanesian and Polynesian sub-regions attended the database training, including Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
The training was funded by the European Union via the Safe Agricultural Trade Facilitation through Economic Integration in the Pacific (SAFE Pacific) project and supported by the Australia Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
SPC SAFE Pacific Team Leader Tevita Dawai said the PLD is critical to guiding biosecurity efforts, protecting agriculture and facilitating trade as it is able to perform a range of tasks such as providing information on agricultural pest occurrences, generating a pest list for specified crops intended for export and informing of pest incursions detected on imported goods.
“In the past, each Pacific Island country kept their own pest list and updated it only when requested. Now, this information is readily accessible through the PLD web-based portal, thus, increasing efficiency and effectiveness in decision-making for trade purposes and border protection from destructive pests and diseases,” said Tevita Dawai, SPC SAFE Pacific Team Leader.
Trading partners need to know the risks involved when planning trade in a particular commodity. Governments are required to provide a list of pests and diseases for the traded plant or plant product.
“This allows trading partners to better understand plant pest and disease risks that threaten the region. The database also provides them with information on existing pests or diseases in Pacific Islands Countries. This is fundamental for ensuring food safety and security for our region through safe trade,” said Mr Dawai.
The PLD has a record of more than 26,000 pest occurrences, comprising more than 10,000 pests on over 2,200 host species. SPC is the custodian of the database web portal.
“I believe, after this workshop, the participants will become familiar and well-versed with the upgraded Pest List Database, and they will be able to know how to input country data into the PLD. In addition, I believe the same knowledge would be shared back home among the colleagues to know about the PLD, and especially how to retrieve pest data for day-to-day biosecurity work,” said Biosecurity Authority of Fiji Entomologist Jainesh Ram during the opening event.
"This tool will enable our organisations to create a lot of efficiencies, helping us work together and will also make it easier to keep track of information within our agencies,” said Australia Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry representative Emily Lamberton.
“This project is an excellent example of when people come together, we can get good things done. So, this is a great theme for us in this workshop as well.”
Similar training on the PLD will be carried out in the Micronesian region soon.
For more information about SAFE PACIFIC, click here.