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August 18, 2022 

Vinod Pandit 

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Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures: Challenges and opportunities in Asia and the Pacific region

Global agricultural exports have more than tripled in value and doubled in volume since 1995, exceeding US $1.8 trillion in 2018. Plant and plant-based products contribute more than 50% to the total trade. International trade in fruits and vegetables stands at 24% followed by 15% cereals; and 10% comprising coffee, tea, cocoa & spices.

This progress was possible by smaller and bigger economies coming together under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade agreement umbrella. Membership was confirmed with the signing of agreements, including the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement.

SPS agreement

The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement is defined as, “including all relevant laws, decrees, regulations, requirements, and procedures regarding food safety”. It ensures that nations enact health and safety measures based on sound scientific methods. What is more, it sets the framework by which international, regional, and national agencies create and implement SPS standards. Obligations towards its implementation are a crucial step toward enhanced transparency in the trade of agriculture commodities between member countries.

However, the emergence of new and stricter standards for agricultural imports in developed economies has also led to a number of new challenges for developing countries trying to increase their trade as a means for economic growth.  Many of these challenges are related to compliance with these rigorous standards. In addition, weak institutional capacities of National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) in the least developed countries (LDCs) for compliance and trade agreement negotiations involving SPS are key factors in limiting the inclusivity of small-scale actors in value chains.

CABI and FAO study

To understand these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and CAB International (CABI) are leading a study in the Asia and Pacific region. Entitled “Regional webinar on Opportunities and Challenges in Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures – Modernizing SPS to facilitate agricultural trade in Asia”, it focuses on Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kiribati, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Solomon Islands, and Vietnam.

The study’s objective is to understand the status quo and specific challenges for each country. In addition, what SPS requirements would allow the individual countries to meet the requisite compliances and support improved and wider integration into global value chains?  The study is being conducted by CABI experts from India, China, Pakistan, the UK, and Kenya.

Understanding the realities

Mr. Gopi Ramasamy (Regional Director, CABI South Asia) stated that despite agriculture contributing significantly to country GDP in most Asia pacific countries, Asia’s share of global trade is still at 20-25%. Intra-regional trade is happening much easier than global trade. The ongoing study will help us to understand the ground realities in the Asia Pacific region in terms of trade and the way forward to augment global trade from Asia through technological and policy interventions.  

Dr. Yubak Dhoj GC (FAO RAP, Bangkok) said that FAO through its strategic narrative of supporting the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agri-food systems and respective programme priority area (PPA) BN5: Transparent markets and trade is committed to improved market transparency and equitable participation in markets, global value chains and international trade that can be achieved through policy coordination and human and institutional capacities for evidence-based decision-making. The commissioned study will identify such issues and opportunities to achieve the objective of PPP for improved transparency and trade.

SPS issue in Asia and Pacific countries

Dr. Vinod Pandit (CABI India), Project Manager for the study stated that “Such barriers or trade restrictions to market access must be understood, removed or complied with, in order for smallholder farmers in these countries to move beyond subsistence agriculture”. He further said that the study has a well-drafted plan to a) analyse & document the issues pertaining to SPS in Asia and Pacific countries, b) Develop a position statement on SPS issues in the region, c) Orientation and introduction of digital tools like PRA, HST, ePhyto, PCE, etc. Dr. Pandit reported that the country reports developed out of this work will serve as a ready reckoner to national and international organizations. The project team also envisages using the outcomes of this study for future implementation in the region.

Study team member Dr. Julie Flood (CABI UK), explained that though countries in the region are having almost uniform issues related to pests, pesticides, and procedural issues, they are at different stages of adoption of SPS agreements and systems (e.g., digital uptake). 

Stakeholder motivation

Ms. Kritika Khanna (CABI India), Team manager highlighted the interest and motivations of different in-country stakeholders in being part of this study. She mentioned that as a part of the project, a series of workshops and webinars have been conducted with active participation, meaningful debates, and discussions from a large number of stakeholders. An immediate need was felt to help countries in raising the bar on compliance with international standards and trading partner requirements.

Dr. Shama Praveen (CABI India) who has done an in-depth analysis of the country reports informed that though countries broadly face issues related to pests and MRLs, country trends show significant cases of MRL issues related to pesticides and aflatoxins.

Dr. Hongmei Li (CABI China) team member who worked extensively in South East Asia pointed out that the Asia and Pacific region is making major contributions to agricultural production and export globally. Timely and effective alignment with SPS will effectively reduce unnecessary losses among the international trades. This will improve the incomes of smallholder farmers.

Strengthening infrastructure

There is an urgent need to strengthen infrastructure and capacity building for pests identification and pesticide issues. Dr. Jayne Crozier (CABI UK) team member is of the view that this in-depth study will lead to a better understanding of issues countries in the region are facing. What’s more, critical analysis will help in developing a regional approach to minimizing the issues related to agri-trade.

Dr. Habat Ullah Asad (CABI Pakistan) team member is responsible for documenting and analyzing SPS issues in Pakistan stated that the Pakistani agro-food industry has a high potential for international exports. However, Pakistan is facing problems due to its wider resource and infrastructure constraints that limit not only its ability to comply with SPS requirements but also its ability to demonstrate compliance. However, the establishment of a national SPS authority for SPS stakeholder coordination; capacity building of relevant public, and private stakeholder personnel, and improvement in infrastructure, and storage facilities will help ensure proper SPS compliance from field to destination.

Digital tool implementation

A regional webinar series on digital tools highlighted that country stakeholders are looking forward to orientation, adoption, and implementation of the digital tools in these countries, and are seeking international support to facilitate their installation and usage. Stakeholders are of the view that these tools will largely facilitate agri trade in their country.

The study as a whole will attempt to understand the field level bottlenecks in different countries in Asia that are influenced by various socio-economic, technological and policy level factors. Documenting these challenges and addressing them through subsequent interventions is expected to augment cross-border trade from Asian countries resulting in increased global trade from these economies. 

AsiaPhytosanitarypacific

Agriculture and International Development

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Press release

Strict controls on pine and cedar tree imports into Great Britain implemented

Emergency regulation introduced to protect treescapes and strengthen biosecurity following the interception of Pine Processionary MothFrom:Department for Environment, Food & Rural AffairsPublished28 April 2022

A group of pine processionary moths on a pine tree.
Pine processionary moth (Credit – Max Blake, Forest Research).

Emergency legislation restricting the movement of pine and cedar trees into Great Britain to help protect against the imminent threat of the tree pest Pine Processionary Moth has been announced today (Thursday 28 April).

Pine Processionary Moth is present in North Africa and Southern Europe, in particular in Italy. It has also recently been spreading northwards through France. As a result of this legislation, it will no longer be possible to import pine and cedar trees grown in countries where Pine Processionary Moth is established, such as Italy and France. Exceptions apply in cases where Pest Free Areas are designated, or where the trees have been grown under complete physical protection for their lifetime.

The new regulation, in the form of a Statutory Instrument, will strengthen requirements for the import of pine and cedar trees into Great Britain from Friday 29 April. The bolstered measures will only permit imports of these species, both of which are host species of Pine Processionary Moth, from:

  • Countries officially confirmed by the National Plant Protection Organisation as free of Pine Processionary Moth;
  • Officially designated pest-free areas;
  • Nurseries where the trees have been grown under complete physical protection for their lifetime.

The controls apply to all businesses which import living plants and their constituent parts, including live plant foliage and plants for planting, into Great Britain. The restrictions do not apply to processed plant products, such as timber, wood chips and packaging materials.

This action comes following the confirmed interception of Pine Processionary Moth on a small number of pine trees at tree nurseries in England and Wales, imported from France in February this year. Pine Processionary Moth larvae and caterpillars can cause significant damage to pine and other conifer tree species, and pose a risk to human and animal health.

Professor Nicola Spence, UK Chief Plant Health Officer, said:

We have taken authoritative and immediate action to protect tree nurseries and the wider natural environment from the imminent threat of Pine Processionary Moth.

The increasingly globalised plant trade, along with climate change, continue to present new and emerging risks from pests and diseases. Strengthening our rigorous standards of biosecurity – already among the highest in Europe – will both minimise the net potential losses to our existing treescapes and serve to realise our long-term vision for the nation’s trees and woodlands.

Across Great Britain, rapid and robust plant health enforcement action has taken place to prevent the spread of Pine Processionary Moth into the wider environment. The infested trees at the affected nurseries were swiftly contained and destroyed, whilst tracing work to identify other consignments that may be affected is ongoing. Although there is no evidence of pest spread into the environment, increased surveillance and pheromone trapping will be carried out over the summer as a precautionary monitoring measure.

Healthy trees and plants benefit people, the environment, and the economy. Protecting the long-term welfare of our treescapes will underpin Government efforts to treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament and plant 30,000 hectares of trees across the UK per year by 2025, as well as form part of wider efforts to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

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Published 28 April 2022

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Learning from Plant Protection Regulatory Data and Fall Armyworm in Africa

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EEFS Project 

Esther Ngumbi

Jul 19, 2018

Photo by Fintrac Inc.

This post was co-authored with Esther Ngumbi.

Fueled by climate change and global trade, the threat from invasive pests to countries in which the pests were not present or previously reported will continue to increase, with many sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries expected to be the most vulnerable. Reliable pest management and robust pest control at country borders are critical and go hand in hand with strong agricultural and agribusiness sectors. Strong plant protection regulatory frameworks have an important role to play to facilitate safe trade and help safeguard agriculture. As countries build these regulatory frameworks, they need data and information to drive decision-making. This post explores findings from a technical note funded by USAID’s Office of Market and Partnership Innovations which examined plant protection data available through the World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture Index for Feed the Future focus countries and countries in SSA. We take a particular look at its relevance for the current Fall Armyworm outbreak in Africa and strengthening plant protection systems in the future.

Recap on Fall Armyworm in Africa

Africa continues to battle an outbreak of invasive, transboundary pests including the Fall Armyworm (FAW). This pest was first reported in mainland West Africa (Nigeria, Togo, Benin) and on the island of Sao Tome in early 2016 and is now confirmed in many African countries, including several Feed the Future countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. FAW in Africa has caused significant damage to maize crops in particular. According to a 2017 report by Day et al., annual economic losses in 12 maize-producing African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are estimated to be between $2.5 and $6.2 billion. Invasion by FAW will further impact international trade, since countries where the pest has not yet been detected are expected to place additional production or handling requirements on exports from FAW-affected countries. Affected countries in Africa are prioritizing immediate and long-term solutions to mitigate and contain the devastating impacts of FAW. To learn more about this issue, check out a recent article here.

World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture

The World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) 2017 data, collected across 62 countries, provides important and timely inputs for policymakers as well as private and public sector actors across agricultural and agribusiness value chains. Launched in 2013, the EBA datasets measure and score the strength of the legal and institutional environment for agribusinesses. In 2017, this included 62 economies scored across eight topic indicators including: seed, fertilizer, machinery, finance, markets, transport, water, and information and communications technology. [1] It can support the identification of barriers that impede agricultural sector regulation and growth and provide a way to benchmark, track, and monitor progress and reforms made by countries over time. A subset of the markets data included a Plant Protection Index. For more information, check out the EBA methodology and consult the technical note on Plant Protection Data in Action for a closer look at the EBA Plant Protection Index analysis for Feed the Future focus countries and SSA.

Plant Protection System Strengthening for Prevention and Response to Fall Armyworm in Africa

Many African countries, research institutions, aid organizations, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN have been on the frontlines addressing the FAW invasion. They have implemented many immediate solutions, including ramping up efforts to rapidly identify pests, assess its geographic extent, create awareness, and initiate control responses and measures to contain outbreaks. However, owing to their short-term nature, many of these actions will cease when the pest is no longer considered invasive. And many of these efforts are challenged by the fact that they can only go so far given the limitations of the enabling environment. The data provided through EBA offers important contextual information that could be used to direct multipronged response options and to tailor and prioritize optimal response options for the current enabling environment in a given country.

Moving forward, Feed the Future and SSA countries must strengthen their national plant protection regulatory frameworks to effectively deal with future invasive and transboundary pests and pathogens. By implementing recommended best practices such as rigorous pest surveillance, pest risk analysis and updated lists of quarantined pests, countries can strengthen their plant protection regulation frameworks and their ability to deal with future invasive and transboundary pests.

Illustrative Data-Driven Actions to Strengthen Plant Protection Systems 

The following actions were identified as ways African countries can utilize available data and best practices: 

  • Designate a national plant protection unit that will set national standards, guidelines and protocols to implement the phytosanitary systems; conduct pest and plant surveillance; enforce border inspections of plant consignments; create and maintain updated lists of regulated and quarantine pests; and make these lists available to the public and other stakeholders. 
  • Produce yearly reports of the progress African countries make toward improving the key weaknesses identified and increasing their plant protection index scores.
  • Hold annual or biannual regional technical training workshops. These workshops — facilitated by IPPC staffers together with experts from countries that have strong plant regulatory frameworks — could bring together national plant protection employees, border control staffers and research/university scientists. 
  • The World Bank, in partnership with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and stakeholders like USAID, to create regional online repositories to host resources, tools and other information, including pest identification manuals, lists of regulated quarantine pests, pest databases, border inspection manuals, and any other materials that is related to plant pests including regulated and quarantined pests. 
  • Create harmonized regional protocols and procedures and further establish regional pest diagnostic labs to help in the diagnostics of key regulated pests.
  • Build pest databases by major crop with accompanying pictures of the listed insects, their host information, life cycle, distribution, current status and available recommended control measures.
  • Allocate enough funding and resources to designated national agencies, so that they can rigorously and effectively carry out comprehensive pest surveillance. Furthermore, countries should develop coherent and coordinated dissemination of information about pests within and between countries.
  • Create lists of regulated quarantine pests and upload them both on a national plant protection agency website and the IPPC website. 
  • Countries and national plant protection agencies must obligate landowners to report pest and pest outbreaks, and there must be penalties for failing to comply.

Stay tuned for more from the World Bank EBA team and more useful resources utilizing EBA from the Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Food Security projects in posts to follow! 

[1] Countries are scored across topic indicators according to their performance against a global ideal or distance to the frontier (DTF) on a scale of 0-100, with a larger DTF score indicating better performance in that area. Topic indicator scores are an average of the DTF score for each of the topic’s 1-5 indicators. See also DTF Scoring Basics Technical Note. Gender, livestock, environmental sustainability and land indicator data were added this year but are available for a more limited set of countries and are not yet scored. Please consult the EBA website for information about the evolution of these indicators as part of EBA.FILED UNDER:MONITORING, EVALUATION, AND LEARNINGPOLICY AND GOVERNANCE

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Learning from Plant Protection Regulatory Data and Fall Armyworm in Africa

twitter sharing button
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profile image of EEFS Project
profile image of Esther Ngumbi

EEFS Project 

Esther Ngumbi

Jul 19, 2018

Photo by Fintrac Inc.

This post was co-authored with Esther Ngumbi.

Fueled by climate change and global trade, the threat from invasive pests to countries in which the pests were not present or previously reported will continue to increase, with many sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries expected to be the most vulnerable. Reliable pest management and robust pest control at country borders are critical and go hand in hand with strong agricultural and agribusiness sectors. Strong plant protection regulatory frameworks have an important role to play to facilitate safe trade and help safeguard agriculture. As countries build these regulatory frameworks, they need data and information to drive decision-making. This post explores findings from a technical note funded by USAID’s Office of Market and Partnership Innovations which examined plant protection data available through the World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture Index for Feed the Future focus countries and countries in SSA. We take a particular look at its relevance for the current Fall Armyworm outbreak in Africa and strengthening plant protection systems in the future.

Recap on Fall Armyworm in Africa

Africa continues to battle an outbreak of invasive, transboundary pests including the Fall Armyworm (FAW). This pest was first reported in mainland West Africa (Nigeria, Togo, Benin) and on the island of Sao Tome in early 2016 and is now confirmed in many African countries, including several Feed the Future countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal. FAW in Africa has caused significant damage to maize crops in particular. According to a 2017 report by Day et al., annual economic losses in 12 maize-producing African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are estimated to be between $2.5 and $6.2 billion. Invasion by FAW will further impact international trade, since countries where the pest has not yet been detected are expected to place additional production or handling requirements on exports from FAW-affected countries. Affected countries in Africa are prioritizing immediate and long-term solutions to mitigate and contain the devastating impacts of FAW. To learn more about this issue, check out a recent article here.

World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture

The World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) 2017 data, collected across 62 countries, provides important and timely inputs for policymakers as well as private and public sector actors across agricultural and agribusiness value chains. Launched in 2013, the EBA datasets measure and score the strength of the legal and institutional environment for agribusinesses. In 2017, this included 62 economies scored across eight topic indicators including: seed, fertilizer, machinery, finance, markets, transport, water, and information and communications technology. [1] It can support the identification of barriers that impede agricultural sector regulation and growth and provide a way to benchmark, track, and monitor progress and reforms made by countries over time. A subset of the markets data included a Plant Protection Index. For more information, check out the EBA methodology and consult the technical note on Plant Protection Data in Action for a closer look at the EBA Plant Protection Index analysis for Feed the Future focus countries and SSA.

Plant Protection System Strengthening for Prevention and Response to Fall Armyworm in Africa

Many African countries, research institutions, aid organizations, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN have been on the frontlines addressing the FAW invasion. They have implemented many immediate solutions, including ramping up efforts to rapidly identify pests, assess its geographic extent, create awareness, and initiate control responses and measures to contain outbreaks. However, owing to their short-term nature, many of these actions will cease when the pest is no longer considered invasive. And many of these efforts are challenged by the fact that they can only go so far given the limitations of the enabling environment. The data provided through EBA offers important contextual information that could be used to direct multipronged response options and to tailor and prioritize optimal response options for the current enabling environment in a given country.

Moving forward, Feed the Future and SSA countries must strengthen their national plant protection regulatory frameworks to effectively deal with future invasive and transboundary pests and pathogens. By implementing recommended best practices such as rigorous pest surveillance, pest risk analysis and updated lists of quarantined pests, countries can strengthen their plant protection regulation frameworks and their ability to deal with future invasive and transboundary pests.

Illustrative Data-Driven Actions to Strengthen Plant Protection Systems 

The following actions were identified as ways African countries can utilize available data and best practices: 

  • Designate a national plant protection unit that will set national standards, guidelines and protocols to implement the phytosanitary systems; conduct pest and plant surveillance; enforce border inspections of plant consignments; create and maintain updated lists of regulated and quarantine pests; and make these lists available to the public and other stakeholders. 
  • Produce yearly reports of the progress African countries make toward improving the key weaknesses identified and increasing their plant protection index scores.
  • Hold annual or biannual regional technical training workshops. These workshops — facilitated by IPPC staffers together with experts from countries that have strong plant regulatory frameworks — could bring together national plant protection employees, border control staffers and research/university scientists. 
  • The World Bank, in partnership with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and stakeholders like USAID, to create regional online repositories to host resources, tools and other information, including pest identification manuals, lists of regulated quarantine pests, pest databases, border inspection manuals, and any other materials that is related to plant pests including regulated and quarantined pests. 
  • Create harmonized regional protocols and procedures and further establish regional pest diagnostic labs to help in the diagnostics of key regulated pests.
  • Build pest databases by major crop with accompanying pictures of the listed insects, their host information, life cycle, distribution, current status and available recommended control measures.
  • Allocate enough funding and resources to designated national agencies, so that they can rigorously and effectively carry out comprehensive pest surveillance. Furthermore, countries should develop coherent and coordinated dissemination of information about pests within and between countries.
  • Create lists of regulated quarantine pests and upload them both on a national plant protection agency website and the IPPC website. 
  • Countries and national plant protection agencies must obligate landowners to report pest and pest outbreaks, and there must be penalties for failing to comply.

Stay tuned for more from the World Bank EBA team and more useful resources utilizing EBA from the Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Food Security projects in posts to follow! 

[1] Countries are scored across topic indicators according to their performance against a global ideal or distance to the frontier (DTF) on a scale of 0-100, with a larger DTF score indicating better performance in that area. Topic indicator scores are an average of the DTF score for each of the topic’s 1-5 indicators. See also DTF Scoring Basics Technical Note. Gender, livestock, environmental sustainability and land indicator data were added this year but are available for a more limited set of countries and are not yet scored. Please consult the EBA website for information about the evolution of these indicators as part of EBA.

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Nigeria grants approval for genetically modified maize

The approval allows for open cultivation in the country.

ByPress Release October 10, 2021 3 min read

The government of Nigeria has granted environmental approval for evaluation and open cultivation of TELA Maize, a new maize variety developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, that resists fall armyworm, stem borers, and tolerate moderate drought.

The government’s decision was contained in a certificate issued to IAR by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), the federal government agency mandated to regulate genetically modified products in the country.

The Certificate dated October 8, 2021, with permit code no. NBMA/CM/003, was issued to IAR for General\Commercial Release of TELA Maize Genetically Modified for Drought Tolerance, Resistance to Stem Borer and Fall Armyworm. It comes into effect from October 8, 2021, to October 5, 2024.

A decision document accompanying the certificate from NBMA said that in arriving at the decision to grant the permit, the agency took into consideration the advice of the National Biosafety Committee, the National Biosafety Technical Sub-Committee, and the risk management report provided by the applicant.

“The Agency was convinced that there are no known adverse impacts to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking into account risk to human health. The permit, pursuant to this decision, is without prejudice to other extant legal requirements.

“This permit authorises the permit holder and persons covered by the permit to commercialise the TELA Maize genetically modified for drought tolerance and insect resistance,” the decision document from the NBMA stated.

Reacting to the decision, Professor Ishiyaku Mohammed, Executive Director, IAR, said It is really inspiring for IAR to secure NBMA approval for the commercial release of the drought-tolerant and insect-resistant Maize (TELA MAIZE).

“This goes to further highlight IAR’s capacity and commitment to providing effective solutions to agricultural problems facing our farmers and optimizing food security for Nigerians. The approval will open the way to combating the devastating effects of both drought and insect pests through the deployment of this new variety of maize into our farming system.

“The next step is to further evaluate the performance of this new variety by farmers on their fields in all the major maize growing belts in Nigeria. Thereafter we shall seek another approval by the National variety release committee before making the seeds commercially available for farmers to plant in the 2023 cropping season.

Canisius Kanangire, AATF Executive Director, said the approval has shown that Nigeria is really the giant leading the way in Africa and ensuring that smallholder farmers benefit from life-changing technologies that have transformed farming in other parts of the globe.

“The approval by the government of Nigeria is a sign that we are making good progress especially in our quest to expand the options for smallholder farmers on the continent to profit from their labour by using affordable technologies that enhance productivity and reduce incidents of insect pests’ infestation.

“TELA Maize is coming at a time when farmers are spending so much to reduce insect and pest attacks as well as battling with the issue of drought. With TELA Maize, farmers in Nigeria will have relief from frequent constant chemical sprays which affect their health. The saving from chemical use can be converted to address other family needs,” Mr. Kanangire added.

Sylvester Oikeh, AATF TELA Maize Project Manager, said this is the beginning of a new era for maize farmers in Nigeria who have suffered greatly from the twin problem of drought and devastating insect pests occasioned by climate change. The resources and time spent in protecting maize against insect pests will be used for other operations. The maize produced will provide healthier grains for farmers and consumers alike.

Rabiu Adamu, the TELA Maize Principal Investigator, said with the deregulation, the institute is now permitted to conduct multilocation trials to evaluate the yield and adaptability of the TELA hybrids across the different agro-ecologies in Nigeria.

“The highest yielding hybrids exhibiting tolerance to drought and resistance to stem borer and fall armyworm will be released to farmers for cultivation. We hope to register some of the outstanding hybrids to commercialize through Nigerian seed companies for farmers to grow in the 2023 rainy season.

Prof. Adamu added that: “The deregulation will fast-track our work to achieve the mission of the project to avail farmers with transgenic maize to solve the challenges of drought, stem borer, and fall armyworm.

TELA Maize Project in Nigeria is part of an international Consortium coordinated by AATF, involving Bayer, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the National Agricultural Research Systems of seven countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda since 2018. The Project builds on gains from a decade of excellent breeding work to develop conventional climate-smart drought-tolerant maize known as DroughtTEGO varieties.

About AATF

Founded in 2003 to address Africa’s food security prospects through agricultural technology, AATF believes that the agricultural sector is a key foundational pillar as Africa consolidates its economic growth and carves out its new position as a major global economic powerhouse and the next growth market in the world. It was formed in response to the need for an effective mechanism that would facilitate and support negotiation for technology access and delivery and formation of appropriate partnerships to manage the development & deployment of innovative technologies for use by smallholder farmers in SSA:

About IAR

The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Samaru was established in 1922 as the research division of the Department of Agriculture for the defunct Northern region of Nigeria. IAR was formally transferred by law to the later established Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) on October 14,1962. It is the Institute in Nigeria with the mandate for genetic improvement of crops such as Maize, Sorghum Cowpea, Castor, Cotton, Jatropha, Sunflower, Artemisia and Groundnut and overall farming systems of all crops in Nigeria.

For more information and photos contact:

Alex Abutu,

Communications Officer, West and Central Africa,

AATF.

a.abutu@aatf-africa.org

+234 8068701960

Yakubu Dodo

Information Officer,

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New law vital weapon in war on destructive invasive species

The Royal Gazette

Sékou Hendrickson Updated: Oct 04, 2021 07:52 AM10

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Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs (File photograph)Related Stories

  • A law designed to safeguard Bermuda’s borders from the threat of destructive pests will help protect the environment for future generations, the home affairs minister has said.

But Walter Roban added that the Invasive Alien Species Act would not penalise citizens for accidentally having restricted species on their property.

Mr Roban said: “I just want to erase the belief that there’s going to be an effort to go around Bermuda, search people’s gardens and then fine them for what’s in their gardens. That is not what this law is about.”

“If by some chance someone, for some reason unbeknown to them, discovered a prohibited species in their possession, they have the opportunity to bring it to the attention of the department and have it dealt with without any penalty to them.

“But if you intentionally bring something here you will be subject to the law.”

Mr Roban added: “We human beings are the most invasive species on this island, so that means we have a responsibility to carry out the appropriate management and protection of this environment, which we’ve been shaping, changing and damaging over the last four centuries of settlement.

“It’s not just a ministerial objective – I, as a Bermudian resident, believe there is work that we can do to protect our environment and this Bill that I carried through is just a part of that package of protections that we need to have.”

Mr Roban was speaking after the House of Assembly passed the legislation.

People who import or trade in invasive species could face fines of up to $50,000 or two years in jail under the new law.

Mr Roban said the legislation was drawn up after months of consultation with environmental groups and the public.

He added the legislation was needed because invasive species could destroy ecosystems that Bermudian industries depended on.

Mr Roban highlighted lionfish, native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans but which has spread across the Caribbean and northern Atlantic.

The predator could eat most of the fish in Bermudian waters and destroy the fishing industry if left unchecked.

Mr Roban said that the cedar blight of the 1940s, when the scale bug killed off 99 per cent of the island’s cedar trees, was an example of the ecological destruction caused by pests imported by accident.

He added that restoration projects set up after the blight, some of which continue to the present, had cost the government millions of dollars.

Mr Roban added that casuarina trees, imported from Australia in the 1950s as windbreaks to replace wiped-out cedars, later caused coastal erosion through their roots – a problem that the government also had to combat with expensive management projects.

He said: “Some things that happened long before many of us were born – and, in some cases, before our parents were born – have had impacts that we still have to manage today.

“The chief challenge with invasive species is that they often push out the native species and when that happens it potentially creates an imbalance in our ecosystem.”

Andrew Pettit, the head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said that HM Customs helped keep unwanted plants and animals at bay.

But Mr Pettit added: “This legislation is critical – without it we don’t have the tools to manage things coming out from the horizon.”

He added that management of pests already on the island was a problem.

Mr Pettit said: “Plants are really hard to deal with and they’re going to be an ongoing battle, especially the ones that are proliferated through birds because they have a natural spreading mechanism.”

Mr Pettit added that the best way to help the fight against invasive species was for the public to be aware of the seriousness of the problem.

He said: “These species are dominating, so the more we can educate the public the more they can take on a role to actively help us manage this.”

• For more information on invasive species or to alert the authorities to suspicious or exotic plants and animals, phone the DENR at 236-4201.

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Singapore: New accreditation scheme underway for pesticide-free vegetables

Work is being done on a new accreditation program to certify farms in Singapore that meet the national guidelines of producing pesticide-free and sustainably grown vegetables. This new program – to be drawn up by the Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC), which ESG oversees, together with the Singapore Food Agency – will ensure that independent certification bodies can competently assess and recognize clean and green farms.

In March of this year, guidelines to ensure produce from local vegetable farms are grown sustainably & free from pesticides were launched. They are known as the Singapore Standard (SS) 661: Specification for Clean and Green Urban Farms and contain criteria that urban farms have to meet in terms of minimizing contaminants in the food production process, as well as sustainable practices on resource and waste management.

ESG’s director-general of quality and excellence, Choy Sauw Kook: “You will also know that local farmers have implemented management systems to optimize the use of resources, such as water and electricity, in the farming process. With this information in hand, consumers know that locally-produced vegetables are grown without chemical pesticides and responsibly.”

This is where the accreditation program comes in to provide ‘an additional layer of checks’. “The accreditation program that the SAC is developing will ensure that conformity assessment bodies are qualified to assess farms’ compliance with the clean and green standard. This is how quality and standards build trust among consumers,” Ms. Choy told channelnewsasia.com.

Publication date: Wed 29 Sep 2021

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OPINION EXCHANGE 600042914

Minnesota is poised to lead an environmental breakthrough

Minnesota StarTribune

Pending bills would give communities local control over pesticides, safeguard protected wildlife areas and more. By Karin Winegar APRIL 6, 2021 — 5:29PM

NICOLE NERI • NICOLE.NERI@STARTRIBUNE.COMBees are one of the many pollinators harmed by pesticides.TEXT SIZEEMAILPRINTMORE

When I was a child in a southern Minnesota farm town, summers were filled with bird music, bee hum, firefly light and frog song. Then the city sprayed with what I presume was DDT. A great silence followed that fogger.

In 1962, marine biologist Rachel Carson’s bestseller “Silent Spring,” an indictment of DDT, appeared and led to a ban on the pesticide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972.

As an adult, I watched a growing range of chemicals being linked to rises in cancer, nerve damage, obesity, endocrine disruption, death and deformities (frogs, alligators) and die-offs (birds, pollinators, fish) in the natural world. As a journalist, I sometimes wrote about the effects of man-made chemicals and, in particular, the consequences of pesticide and herbicide use.

Now Minnesota stands on the cusp of passing some of the most enlightened legislation in the nation to protect human and ecosystem health. With a handful of bills slated to be heard in the Legislature, we may have reached a critical mass of scientific documentation, legislative smarts and public understanding that could result in a state that is cleaner, safer and healthier for people, pets and vital pollinators.

The pending bills give communities local control over pesticides (HF 718), set rules for pesticide-coated corn and soy seed to avoid contamination (HF 766), prohibit neonicotinoid systemic pesticides (aka “neonics”) and chlorpyrifos (insecticide) in protected wildlife areas (HF 1210), impose a statewide ban on chlorpyrifos (HF 670) and increase pollinator-lethal insecticide fees with revenue allocated to pollinator research (HF 408).

Decades of study by institutions including Cornell University, Harvard University’s School of Public Health, Rutgers University and consumer protection groups show correlations between pesticides and the current insect apocalypse, rises in cancer and pet illness and deaths, and damage to child development.

DDT may have gone, but neonics are far more powerful. Results of a study by the University Koblenz and Landau in Germany, published in Science magazine on April 1, finds “that the toxicity of applied insecticides to aquatic invertebrates and pollinators has increased considerably.”

“These are extremely challenging and complex issues, and Minnesota is offering a number of innovative ways to respond to much-needed protections,” says Aimée Code, pesticide program director of the nonprofit Xerces Society based in Portland, Ore. “Across the country people are seeking answers, and states are looking at what is happening in Minnesota. Minnesota has been creative in seeking solutions through such actions as the Lawns to Legumes program and efforts to label pesticides, to ratchet down pesticide use, to create more bio-sensitive and sustainable agriculture and to give farmers incentives to not use treated seed.

“Currently, [people] think pest control and pesticide are synonymous, and that pesticides should be a first line of defense, ” Code explained. “The vast majority of our invertebrates are foundational species that offer ecological services — everything from pest management, to help filtering our water, to pollination. Chemical pesticides have become ingrained in our agriculture and homeowner practices. We have to think of smarter solutions.”

As farmers, consumers and legislative bodies continue to get smarter about solutions, neonics were banned for outdoor use in the European Union in 2018. Legislation pending in New York, California, Alaska and Massachusetts would do likewise.

Mac Ehrhardt is co-owner of the Albert Lea Seed House, a third generation family firm that put certified organic seed on its menu in 1998. The latter is a small but increasing percentage of Seed House business, he says. And while a majority of farmers purchase seed there based on costs, others recognize the concerns around chemicals.

What is also new on the issue, Ehrhardt says, is “we are getting legislators brave enough to stand up and do what is right even though they know a percentage of constituents will be angry with them.”

The Minnesota bills reflect an understanding that what affects insects, plants and animals affects humans as well.

“The evidence is very clear that neonics can be found throughout the environment now in places they are not expected to be,” says Jonathan Lundgren, an agroecologist, director of ECDYSIS Foundation, CEO of Blue Dasher Farm in Estilline, S.D., and former U.S. Department of Agriculture award-winning entomologist. Lundgren’s recent study of white tail deer spleens demonstrates that the world’s most widely used pesticide class today has negative effects on mammals.

“This has implications for our ecosystem that farmers and legislators alike can appreciate. The response from the ag chem industry is to say their products are safe and helping farmers, but the data really doesn’t support that. Neonics and other chemicals simply aren’t necessary. Farmers are developing systems that make the pesticide question kind of moot. Regenerative farming is proving to be more resilient and more profitable. The scientists got it, and farmers are getting it.”

Karin Winegar, of St. Paul, is a freelance journalist and former Star Tribune staff writer.

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Switzerland to vote on pesticide ban ‘in 3 years’

 Switz ban
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption: Farmers in Switzerland may have to end their use of synthetic pesticides

Swiss citizens will get the chance to vote on a complete ban on the use of synthetic pesticides after campaigners secured enough signatures to force a referendum.

More than 100,000 Swiss signed the call for a ban that would apply to all farmers, industries and imported foods.

If the vote is passed, Switzerland would become only the second country after Bhutan to implement a full ban.

But it could be at least three years before voters go to the poll.

Over the past 12 months, the future use of pesticides has been a hotly debated topic across Europe.

After months of deadlock, the EU re-approved the widely used weedkiller, glyphosate, for five years. France though says it aims to ban the chemical in the country within three years.

Just a few weeks ago, the EU agreed a near total ban on the use of neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides in the world.

The Swiss initiative would go much further than the handful of towns and regions around the world that have already banned all synthetic pesticides. It would also be of greater global significance than the ban imposed by Bhutan in 2013, as Switzerland is the home of the world’s biggest pesticide manufacturer, Syngenta.

The formal petition will be presented to the Federal Chancellery in Bern on 25 May.

Syn
Image copyright Courtesy of Syngenta
Image caption The world’s biggest pesticide manufacturer has its home in Switzerland

“At the beginning it started rather slowly, but then it gathered a lot of support especially from young people and then it gathered momentum and in the end we had plenty of signatures,” said Antoinette Gilson who’s with a group of Swiss citizens called future3 that are pushing for the ban.

The details of the signatures will be checked and transferred to the Federal Council, which is the Swiss federal cabinet. They have one year to give recommendations to parliament. The legislators then have two further years to accept the initiative and schedule a vote, or to come up with a counter initiative that could also feature on the ballot.

If passed, all synthetic pesticides would be phased out over a period of 10 years.

“To not use any pesticides will trigger a complete change in agricultural practices,” said Antoinette Gilson.

“It might be difficult to go through, but in Switzerland already around 13% of farmers are organic. I talk to a lot of them and I have not met one who has regretted giving up pesticides.”

The rules would also apply to imports which could have significant impacts on neighbouring countries as Switzerland imports almost 500kg of food per head of population, according to figures from the Federal Customs Administration.

Farmers and industry representatives are dismissive of the idea of the referendum, saying that it is too extreme and will not gain popular support.

“The initiative is too radical and overshoots the goal,” said Anna Bozzi from Science Industries Switzerland in a statement.

“Plant protection products are indispensable to ward off diseases and pests. A general ban would affect tremendously the yields as well as the quality of the agricultural products in Switzerland. The import ban would thwart supply and drive up prices.”

Supporters of the initiative think that if the Switzerland vote is eventually carried, it will have knock-on effects for others.

“I am convinced that other countries may follow suit,” said Prof Edward Mitchell from the University of Neuchâtel.

“Switzerland with its direct democracy system is somewhat different from other countries, making such a change perhaps more likely in the short term.

“This puts us in a privileged position to act proactively rather than in response to government actions, and with this goes a responsibility to do so.

“This is my personal opinion and it is likely that many Swiss citizens also think this.”

 

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Khmer TIMES-MASTHEAD-FINAL

Biological pest control agents given green light by government

Sok Chan / Khmer Times

A vegetable farmer waters plants at plantation in the countryside. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodia has just launched a new registry for companies that wish to import biological control agents (BCA), effectively allowing the importation of these organisms which are widely used in other countries for pest control.

BCA are natural organisms that are used to fight pests, such as the larva of certain flies which are used to combat insects that kill crops. Controlling pests ¬– whether they are insects, mites, weeds or plant diseases – through this method is known as biological control.

Speaking at a workshop on the subject yesterday, Phum Ra, the director of the department of agricultural legislation at the Ministry of Agriculture, said his ministry has officially opened a registry for companies who want to import BCA, a move he hailed as a milestone for the agricultural sector as it will reduce dependency of chemical products and widen producers’ markets abroad, particularly when it comes to organic buyers.

He added that the country’s current overreliance on chemical fertilizers is debilitating the soil, causing pesticide resistance and hampering access to international markets that demand higher and greener standards of agriculture production.

“Pesticides costs a lot of money and negatively impact the environment, the soil and our health,” he said. “BCA will help farmers reduce their use of chemical pesticides and will boost crop yields.”

Phum Ra, the director of the department of agricultural legislation at the Ministry of Agriculture.
KT/Chor Sokunthea

Mr Ra went on to explain that the ministry’s decision follows a rise in demand for BCA products in the kingdom and that they are being assisted by German development agency GIZ in laying the groundwork for the new initiative.

“The new registry and import documents are fully aligned with Asean guidelines on regulation, use and trade of BCA,” he said. “Now any commercial entity can register to import BCA into Cambodia.”

However, Mr Ra warned that due to the novelty of using these agents in the kingdom, there is a need for all stakeholders to cooperate to train farmers in their usage and to acquire the necessary equipment for their proper deployment.

Mao Canady, the manager of Eco-Agri Co, Ltd, welcomed the new registry. She said she had never imported these products before because of a lack of regulation, but said her company was already producing Trichoderma – a type of BCA used against certain fungi – at their facilities to distribute locally.

“We are happy with the government’s decision. It will build trust for farmers, the private sector and consumers,” Ms Canady said, adding that BCA are generally cheaper than chemical pesticides and have a much smaller footprint on the soil and the environment.

San Bunika, the country director of Agri-Smart Association, said the Ministry of Agriculture did the right thing by establishing the registry and encouraged the authorities to keep facilitating the process of obtaining BCA by cutting red tape and making it easier for farmers to acquire the products.

“We use too many pesticides in Cambodia. BCA will reduce the need for them,” Mr Bunika said.

“The government should continue to facilitate the import of these products by, for example, having labels in the local language so that farmers understand what BCA are.”

According to the department of agricultural legislation, more than 40,000 tonnes of chemical pesticides have already been imported this year. There are more than 100 companies in the country that import pesticides and fertilizers.

 

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harabi post

fall-armyworm-frontal-MER-563x744

 

Malawi President declares ‘State Of Disaster’ in districts affected by Fall Armyworm outbreak

By Special Absalom   /   Saturday, 16 Dec 2017 01:53PM   /

The public is hereby being informed that President Peter Mutharika, in accordance with powers conferred upon him by Section 32(1) of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act, has declared all the districts that have been affected by the Fall Army-worm infestation Disaster Areas, with effect from, 15th December, 2017.

The President been informed that since the onset of the 2017/ 2018 cropping season and as at 8th December 2017, the Fall Army-worms had affected a total of 20 out of 28 districts in the country, affecting thousands of hectares and 133,083 farming families in the process.

The Fall Army-worms are mostly attacking maize, sorghum and millet.

Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) and development partners, is implementing interventions to contain the spread and impact of the Fall Armyworm outbreak.

So far, a cumulative total of 56,082 litres of pesticides (i.e. Dursban and Cyperimethrin) have been procured and distributed to Agriculture Extension Planning Areas (EPA’s) where smallholder farmers are accessing them for spraying infested fields.

However, the current stocks of pesticides are not adequate to contain the situation as the cropping season progresses; hence there is need for more resources to procure additional pesticides. The plan is to procure 400,000 litres of pesticides that will be distributed to farmers through their EPA’s.

Government, with support from development partners has also procured and installed pheromone traps in several districts to monitor the prevalence of the pest.

Furthermore, Government has intensified the training of front-line staff, traditional, political and church leaders as well as farmers on identification and management of the pest. Government has also enhanced sensitization and awareness campaigns through extension channels and the media.

As a medium to long term strategy, Government has also commenced developing the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy in order to augment the chemical control that is being done currently.

Government will further embark on further studies for better understanding of the biology and ecology of the pest as well as biological control of the pest.

In these circumstances, it is clear that we have a serious crop pest infestation that is posing a major threat to food security in the country likely to affect a majority of our fellow citizens.

Since most of the areas are likely to be affected if the pest is not properly managed, additional resources are therefore required to implement interventions aimed at addressing further spread and management of the pest.

Accordingly, and in accordance with powers conferred upon him by Section 32(1) of the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act, the President has therefore declared all the districts that have been affected by the Fall Army-worm infestation.

 

 

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