Pacific countries review international standards to deter introduction of plant pests


Plant PestQuarantine executives and trading partners from 13 Pacific Island countries are in Fiji this week to investigate ways to better prevent and control the introduction and spread of plant pests and diseases across country borders.

To address such global issues, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has drafted International Standard Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) which have been reviewed by countries, including the Pacific countries attending the three-day Regional International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Workshop which concluded yesterday.

The event is supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through its Pacific Regional Agricultural Market Access Initiative and partnership with SPC.

“There are four major points; IPPC Annual Theme, IPPC Networking, IPPC Communication and IPPC Priorities,” said IPPC Secretary, Dr Jingyuan Xia.

New pest incursions and outbreaks can cause harm to local flora and fauna, and prove costly to governments, farmers and consumers as evidenced in Samoa, where the taro leaf blight (TLB) not only threatened the food security of local communities but also accumulated costs amounting to millions of dollars through loss of exports to New Zealand and funding for research programmes.

Those attending the IPPC workshop acknowledged the need to enhance and improve member countries capabilities and capacity to adopt the draft ISPM standards as guidelines for national plant protection and quarantine.

They also noted the vital need for standard guidelines to facilitate effective and efficient treatment of commodities and products to eliminate potential threats of pests and diseases without hindering trade and export pathways between member countries.

SPC Land Resources Division Deputy-Director, Dr. Ken Cokanasiga said with today’s age of rising sea level and global warming, coupled with record increases in international travel and trade, consistent improvement of border controls are vital to intercept organisms that present risks to the Pacific’s unique local flora and fauna.

“Once pest species are established their eradication is often impossible, and controlling them takes up a significant percentage of the cost of food production,” said Dr. Cokanasiga.

The increase in global movement of goods and people leaves the region vulnerable to the spreading of pests which is detrimental to our source of livelihood, requiring vigilant harmonized standards as guidelines for Pacific member countries.

The meeting is held annually to enable the 24 participating Pacific Island countries to draft or propose regional and international standards, which through the IPPC process will be collectively consolidated and harmonized to result in agreed guidelines for interested member countries.

“Pacific Island members are working collectively to protect sustainable agriculture and enhance global food security through the prevention of pest spread, and to protect the environment, forests and biodiversity from plant pests. By achieving these goals, we also contribute directly to the improved facilitation of economic and trade development and the promotion of harmonized scientifically based phytosanitary measures,” Dr Cokanasiga said.

Following the conclusion of the workshop, the Executive Committee of the Pacific Plant Protection Organisation (PPPO) is meeting (15-16 September) to discuss the work plan and sustainability of the organisation.

Media contacts:
Lesio Saurara, SPC Market Access Specialist, [email protected]or +679 337 9223
Salome Tukuafu, SPC Information Communications Management Officer, [email protected] or +679 337 9287