Agriculture experts dealing in crop production will meet for the 2018 phytosanitary conference at KEPHIS headquarters from 4th to 8th June to discuss issues relating to the health of plants, especially with respects to the requirements of international trade at a time when Fall Armyworm, a destructive pest has been detected in 44 out of 54 African countries in Sub-Saharan Africa causing crop losses of up to $5bn.
The forum will bring together plant health experts from Kenya, the Eastern Africa region and countries in the COMESA region.
The conference will be hosted by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service in collaboration with the Center of Phytosanitary Excellence (COPE) with the theme being “phytosanitary regulation for improved trade facilitation, safe food and food security”
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The event will create an opportunity for participants and agricultural stakeholders to hold discussions on emerging issues such as Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs), invasive species and pest outbreaks such as the Fall Armyworm and false codling moth. The Fall Armyworm has greatly affected East Africa’s, staple food maize while the false coddling moth affects roses among other plants.
The conference will provide a platform to share achievements, challenges and opportunities in application of phytosanitary(plant health) measures towards assuring food security, to provide National Plant Protection Organizations(NPPOs) with an opportunity to create linkages and promote market access regionally and internationally, identify potential areas of collaboration on phytosanitary regulations at regional and international levels in trade facilitation and to share and develop solutions on phytosanitary issues with the industry.
The forum comes following the hugely successful International Phytosanitary Conference held in June 2016 that enabled plant health experts to discuss challenges, successes and emerging issues on diseases and pests.
It was attended by over 110 delegates from 25 countries that included representatives from the International Plant Protection Convention, private and public sectors, academia, students and researchers.
As countries turn to pesticides to reduce the damage, farmers face the risk of the pest developing resistance to treatment, which has become a widespread problem in the Americas.
Biopesticides are a lower risk control option, but few of the biopesticides used in the Americas are yet approved for use in Africa, raising the need for urgent local trials, registration and the development of local production.
“Maize can recover from some damage to the leaves. So when farmers see damaged leaves, it doesn’t necessarily mean they need to control. Research is urgently needed, and a huge awareness and education effort is required so that farmers monitor their fields, and can make decisions on whether and how to control,” said Roger Day, CABI’s SPS Co-ordinator.
“There are natural ways farmers can reduce impact, including squashing the eggs or caterpillars when they see them, and maintaining crop diversity in the farm, which encourages natural predators.”
CABI has also warned of the need to address the human health issues raised by any far more extensive use of chemical pesticides.