FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

CIHEAM Bari and FAO organize a pre-conference meeting for Transboundary Plant Pests and Diseases

Photo Credit: ©CIHEAM

Bari, 29 January 2020 – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has organized in collaboration with CIHEAM-Bari a pre-conference meeting in Bari, Italy to promote the plan to establish a regional trust fund that will support strategic programme to face transboundary plant pests and diseases. Plant protection officials from Near East and North Africa (NENA) countries, experts, donors, funding agencies and stakeholders were invited to discuss the proposed component of the regional programme. 

A result-focused programme

The regional programme aims to mitigate the risk of transboundary plant pest and diseases by reducing the probability of introduction and spread and minimize the effect on the economy – if accidentally introduced. The main pillars of the proposed programme are: Improving the coordination and knowledge sharing among NENA countries; Improving surveillance, monitoring and early warning systems for transboundary pest and diseases; Developing appropriate quarantine measures; Harmonizing methods for the production of certified plant propagation materials.

During the meeting, each pillar will be discussed among the participants, and proposed activities will be reported and used for developing work plans and recommendations. The outcomes of the meeting will be presented during the coming thirty-fourth session of the Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC-35), looking for endorsement and support by the ministerial meeting. 

Addressing Regional Challenges

The globe has witnessed a massive expansion in trade activities in the last decades, encouraged by economic growth, technological progress and free trade agreements led by the World Trade Organization. While reducing barriers and promoting good exchanges fuel economic development, human welfare and world peace, but on the other hand, has represented a high-way route for the introduction of invasive plant pests. Plant pests are responsible for losses in plant production approaching 30%, which might have been feeding billions of human instead. Transboundary plant pests and diseases are a global problem that exceeds the conventional political limitations and represent a real threat to food security and economic growth.

Near East and North Africa Region has been subject to multiple introductions of invasive species in the last 40 years. Not only promoted by trade but also inflamed by conflict and crisis, insufficiency of phytosanitary measures and weak regional coordination, transboundary plant pests and disease has potential to cause economic losses, social instability and hinder the intraregional trade.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has always supported NENA countries to strengthen their phytosanitary measures and increase the resilience of plant production system to invasive species. Nonetheless, FAO has supposed that the need for the permanent programme to continuously develop the regional capacity and improve the preparedness of NENA countries is higher than at any time before. Regional strategic programme will work – hand-in-hand with the national programme and pest-specific programme that will continue to be with particular importance.


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