Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives;
Distinguished country delegates and observers;
Distinguished representatives from international, civic and private organizations;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Jacques Diouf, and on my own behalf, I am honoured to welcome all of you to Bangkok for this biennial Session of the FAO Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC). I am particularly grateful to the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Government of Thailand, for having kindly agreed to be with us today to address this grand opening ceremony of the Commission Session.
We are very grateful to the Government of Thailand for hosting this 24th Session of the Commission. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Session Organizing Committee, which is comprised of various distinguished officials of our host country Government, for having done such a superb job of organizing this meeting.
Ms. Chairperson, I am delighted to find 64 delegates from 20 member countries of the Commission and 7 observers from non-member and relevant organizations and institutions participating in this important regional meeting. I welcome you all and hope you will have a pleasant stay in Bangkok. I am also pleased to welcome my colleagues from FAO Headquarters who are with us today.
Distinguished participants, I am particularly pleased to extend our gratitude to the outgoing Chairperson of the Commission from Malaysia and to thank her for her sincere cooperation with the Executive Secretary of the Commission.
Ms. Chairperson, I would like to mention briefly my observations about the development support activities provided by this FAO Regional Commission in line with overall global plant protection strategies, particularly in the priority areas of FAO and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat.
Following its original mandate and in line with the revised Agreement of the IPPC and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the APPPC has been playing a major role in the extension and development of various areas of plant quarantine to prevent the spread of dangerous exotic plant pests through international trade of agro-products. The Commission’s Plant Quarantine Standing Committee has carried out many activities which I am sure will be reflected in detail in the reports of the Commission’s Secretariat as well as the Plant Quarantine Standing Committee as set out in the Agenda of this Session. Niek van der Graaff, Chief of FAO’s Plant Protection Service and the Executive Secretary of the IPPC Secretariat at FAO’s Headquarters in Rome, will provide you with the details and up-to-date status of the major areas of global plant protection.
Ms. Chairperson, the APPPC is giving more and more attention to phytosanitary issues. This is in line with its original mandate. Phytosanitary measures are needed to protect plant resources from introduced pests, but they can also become major “barriers” to trade in agricultural produce. This was recognized in the WTO SPS agreement, and has resulted in a global programme to establish International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures within the framework of the IPPC. The concerned public sectors in most of the developing countries in the region are now capable of understanding the importance of plant quarantine measure standards and are able to identify their development support needs in the context of import and export of agro-product. During this meeting you will consider drafts of two regional standards (Drafts RSPM No.3 and No.4) which were developed over the last two years. Another important area of work by the Secretariat of the Commission was the initiative on setting up a regional information system for the APPPC. This work has been carried out in line with international phytosanitary portal (IPP) on which the APPPC Secretariat will reflect it in his report will report to you later during the meeting.
Distinguished participants, you are well aware that the successful implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Asia has set a positive example to the world. FAO, therefore, is proud to be associated with the remarkable achievements of member countries of the APPPC. For a period of 25 years, FAO has provided assistance to implement IPM in the region. The very successful experiences of FAO’s Community IPM Programme in rice have been extended to other areas of cultivation such as IPM in cotton and vegetables, as well as to other regions of the world. FAO endeavours to improve its assistance to governments on pest and pesticide management and is committed to agricultural production programmes that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. The long-standing involvement of FAO in the promotion of IPM is a visible example of this commitment. I am confident that the number of countries with national IPM programmes will continue to increase and that governments will further expand the existing programmes.
Distinguished participants, I have no doubt that you are all aware of the problems arising from the improper use of pesticides, particularly in developing countries. One of the guiding texts for pesticide management is the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. This text has recently been revised and was adopted by FAO’s Council on behalf of the FAO Conference. Ms. Chairperson, in this context it is our observation that while in a number of countries in the region noteworthy progress has been made to improve pesticide management in line with the “International Code of Conduct”, there are still a significant number of problems concerning the proper management of hazardous pesticides in the region. FAO will therefore continue its efforts to forge partnerships and to build capacity for the effective implementation and enforcement of the Code. It will also give substantial attention to the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, which has been in force since February 2004.
Ms. Chairperson, while the region as a whole has done well in developing sound plant protection programmes, there are still some disquieting features in the plant protection systems of individual countries. Considerable development work still needs to be done, particularly in further strengthening organizational structures. For instance, some of the vital areas of pest and pesticide management – such as pesticide legislation and registration, safe handling and proper use of pesticides, improvement of plant quarantine services, and human resource development – are still very weak or inadequate in several small or less developed countries in the region. In order to alleviate these constraints, it is expected that a number of priority recommendations will be made by this Session of the Commission, keeping in mind that plant protection is a special priority in the region within the overall context of achieving sustainable agriculture. APPPC has a leading role to play in supporting the collaborative endeavor of millions of farmers towards sustainable agriculture.
Distinguished participants, one of the eight millennium development goals is to ensure environmental sustainability. FAO supports the integrated management of land, fisheries, forest and genetic resources through measures such as conservation agriculture, integrated pest management, water conservation and responsible water-use practices, and the protection of biodiversity which is vital to secure a stable food supply for the people. Other activities are designed to address the conservation and sustainable use of fragile environments and to assist those living in marginal areas with livelihood support programmes based on sound ecosystem management principles.
Ms. Chairperson, I shall bring to a close my statement with some remarks about the Commission which I have already made in the past. I wish to re-iterate that during the last biennium, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) and its intergovernmental technical body – APPPC have been involved in several significant programmes dealing with major areas of plant protection in the region. As the Secretariat will provide the detailed report of the up-to-date status of the revised Agreement of the Commission, I would like to request the delegates of the APPPC members present here to kindly bring to the attention of their respective concerned national authorities the importance of pursuing the deposition of the instrument of acceptance of the amended version of the Agreement as early as possible.
In conclusion, I would again like to extend to all of you a very cordial welcome to this Session of the APPPC. I have no doubt that with the presence of such distinguished participants, this will indeed be a highly productive Session of the Commission. It will be our endeavour to offer all necessary support to the deliberations of this Session. I wish you all a great success.