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Plant Health Governing Body Convenes to Address Pests and Diseases

In a bid to mitigate the threats posed by plant pests and diseases to agriculture, ecosystems, and global food security, the FAO Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) met today to deliberate on further measures.

Global Impact of Pest and Disease Outbreaks

Opening the 18th Session of the Commission, QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), emphasized the dire consequences of unchecked pest and disease outbreaks. These repercussions extend beyond agricultural losses, affecting trade and endangering the global food supply.

The Role of CPM in Plant Health Management

The CPM serves as the governing body of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), convening annually to assess the global state of plant health and review progress towards achieving the Convention’s objectives. Notably, the IPPC welcomed the Federal Republic of Somalia as its 185th contracting party in 2023, marking a milestone in international cooperation on phytosanitary measures.

Climate Change Impact on Pest Distribution

Changing climatic conditions have altered the geographic distribution and intensity of plant pests and diseases worldwide. This necessitates enhanced international cooperation facilitated by the CPM to enable early detection, rapid response, and coordinated control efforts.

Combatting Destructive Plant Diseases

The devastating impact of diseases like Fusarium Tropical Race 4 (TR4) on banana crops was underscored at recent FAO-hosted events. With climate change exacerbating yield losses, efforts are underway to assist banana-producing countries in combating TR4 through awareness campaigns, simulation exercises, and the development of preventive guidelines.

Integrated Approach to Sustainable Agriculture

At the recent COP28, FAO launched the “Global Roadmap for Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) without Breaching the 1.5°C Threshold,” emphasizing the importance of integrated pest management to safeguard crops and reduce reliance on chemical inputs.

Positioning IPPC in the One Health Framework

The CPM is set to discuss integrating the IPPC within the One Health approach, aligning efforts across organizations working on plant, animal, and human health. Amendments to phytosanitary standards, including criteria for fruit fly host status and pest-free area establishment, are also on the agenda.

Empowering National Governments in Africa

The endorsement of the Africa Phytosanitary Programme aims to equip African nations with the tools and knowledge needed to manage plant pests effectively, addressing regulatory, environmental, and economic concerns.

Digital Solutions for Safe Trade

The IPPC’s ePhyto Solution has streamlined trade through digital phytosanitary certification, facilitating safe and efficient international exchange. With over 5 million ePhyto certificates exchanged among 88 active user countries, this digital platform is revolutionizing phytosanitary processes.

Upholding Plant Health Standards

While there’s significant emphasis on food safety and animal health standards, Director-General QU Dongyu stressed the foundational role of plant health standards. Describing them as the “guard rails” against the impacts of pests and diseases, he highlighted their paramount importance in safeguarding global agriculture and food security.

As the CPM continues its deliberations, stakeholders anticipate concrete measures to bolster global plant health resilience and ensure sustainable agricultural practices for future generations.

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