FAO in Tanzania

FAO commends Tanzania for passing the Plan Health Act

The passing of the new law in Tanzania coincides with the United Nations’ International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has commended the Government of Tanzania for passing the Plant Health Act of 2020 calling it a big step towards prevention and control of plant pests and diseases in the country.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, FAO’s Assistant Representative (Programme), Charles Tulahi, said that the law is a major step forward in ensuring food security and nutrition in the country.

“This is great milestone reached towards stronger institutional response to plant pests and diseases in the country,” he said adding: “FAO is honoured to have provided technical and financial support that contributed to this historic achievement through the United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP) framework.”

Coincidence with UN’s International Year of Plant Health

Enactment of this law comes at a time when the world is marking the United Nations’ International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) for 2020 with the aim of raising global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost economic development. Plants make up 80 percent of the food we eat. Yet they are under constant attack from pests and diseases, which destroy about 20-40% of food crops every year. This leaves millions of people with no enough food to eat, and causes huge income and trade losses, particularly to poor rural communities.

It is against this background, that FAO launched the IYPH on the sidelines of the UN’s General Assembly in New York in December 2019.

In May this year, the Parliament of Tanzania passed the Plant Health Bill of 2020, which was later assented by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli to become a full law.

This is such a historic achievement by the country in dealing, among other things, with invasive alien species that pose a threat to the environment, food and income security and human health, Mr. Tulahi said.  

“Available information from  various countries indicate that, lack of effective control measures, has forced farmers to use a lot of pesticides , which are in most cases are not used effectively hence posing threat of pollution of ecosystems and heightened pesticide residues in food and feed products ,” he pointed out.

Moreover, the world depends on trade in plant and plant products, which can increase the risks of spread of pests and diseases. Pests and pesticide residues can interfere with trade. Thus, the enactment of the law is seen as an important step towards implementation of international standards and norms, which will in effect facilitate trade of agricultural commodities.

According to him, pests and pesticide management challenges in most countries  are normally compounded by inadequate regulatory framework  ; low awareness among plant protection regulators, farmers and traders on existing legislation and lack of legal frameworks, inadequate facilities for supporting the enforcement of the laws and regulations, among others.

Responding to Tanzania’s Government Request

Upon request from the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, FAO provided technical and financial assistance to address similar challenges.

Through the ‘Strengthening Tanzania Phytosanitary Regulatory Framework for Enhanced Food, Income and Nutrition Security’ project, FAO is closely working with the Government of Tanzania to strengthen the regulatory framework by supporting the enforcement of measures that will minimize risks of introduction and spread and of invasive species in the country.

One of the activities implemented under the UNJP, was the review and replacement of the current Plant Protection Act with the Plant Health Act 2020.

The Plant Health Act 2020 addresses identified gaps in the existing legal framework providing stronger institutional response to imminent pest invasions through surveys, collection of pest natural enemies, responsible use of pesticides, among others. Such measures are expected to enhance agricultural productivity and improve food and nutrition security in the bid to eliminate hunger, particularly among rural households in the country.

FAO commends the Government of Tanzania for such a step forward and reiterates its commitment to continue supporting the country in its efforts to improve the agriculture sector particularly in the implementation of the Act, Mr. Tulahi concluded.