Capacity Development Portal
Good Practices

Diseases and pests of animals and plants

  1. Biological pest control - example of water weeds
  2. Contingency planning for pests and diseases
  3. Capacity building: the Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation
  4. Area-wide Insect Pest Eradication with Sterile Insects
  5. Early, community-level disease observation
  6. Networks in disease surveillance and control

Assessing, improving and strengthening national phytosanitary systems

What problem did it address, where?

In many cases, the ability of countries to trade in agricultural commodities and to benefit from international treaties such as the WTO-SPS Agreement and the IPPC has been constrained by inadequate phytosanitary capacity. Not being able to address plant health issues has resulted, for example, in frequent introductions of exotic pests. Unreliable certification and inspection procedures which fail to meet the requirements of trading partners, . , the absence of institutionalized programmes and supporting systems and the inability to implement the International standards of the IPPC often lead to the application of technically unjustifiable phytosanitary measures and poor decision-making regarding trade in agricultural commodities (with consequent problems at WTO). One way of improving capacity in this important area is to use an assessment tool such as FAO's Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE), as a means of identifying the weaknesses and strengths of the phytosanitary system of the country, and the strategic options and activities required to improve the situation. This approach has been used very successfully in Southern, Western and East Africa, the Caribbean, Central Asia the Middle East and Latin America.


The PCE tool is typically used in a facilitated workshop. It includes a consideration of (1) legislation and institutional issues, (2) management (including documented procedures) and training issues, and (3) infrastructure and equipment. The work is done using a set of formal questionnaires, but the process of discussing phytosanitary issues among the key stakeholders within the country, with input from global and regional experts is as important as the results of the questionnaires. To date the tool has been used in over 60 countries. An important aspect of the programme is the creation of a cadre of trained facilitators. Over the programme over 100 people from developing countries have been trained in using the tool, to a sufficient level that 31 have gone on to act as trainers or TCDC consultants on subsequent projects both within and outside their region.

Where next?

Follow up work with countries where the tool has been used; updating and maintenance of the phytosanitary evaluation tool; evaluation of the effectiveness and value of the tool.

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