KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi – The 3rd Phytosanitary Conference commenced with delegates celebrating the International Year of Plant Health and being urged to take care of plant health and resources for posterity. In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost economic development. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IYPH is also being celebrated in 2021. The Phytosanitary Conference is therefore an opportunity for KEPHIS and Kenya in general to raise awareness of the importance and positive impacts of plant health in addressing issues of global importance.
The Conference has attracted over 163 participants from 16 countries, i.e. Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, United States of America, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Cameroon and India. 68 papers and 20 posters are to be presented. The objectives of the conference are: (i) International Year of Plant Health; (ii) Pest Surveillance in Phytosanitary Systems; (iii) Import Control and Export Certification in Phytosanitary Systems; (iv) Pest Diagnostics in Phytosanitary Systems; (v) Emerging Innovations in Phytosanitary Systems; (vi) Industry Role in Implementation of Successful Phytosanitary Systems and (vii) Capacity Building, Regulatory Framework, Trade Negotiations and Communication in Phytosanitary Systems.
Mr. Douglas Kangi who represented the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Hon. Peter Munya at the official opening stated that one of the top priorities of the Ministry in Kenya is to look beyond food availability to ensuring that people are well-fed and food secure.
Dr. Jean Gerard MEZUI M’ELLA, the Director, African Union-Inter-African Phytosanitary Council addressing delegates of the 3rd Phytosanitary Conference (virtual edition) at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi
Delegates follow proceedings during the official opening session of the 3rd Phytosanitary Conference at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi
However, he noted that climate change, environmental degradation of land and loss of biodiversity threatens the ability to ensure global food security, eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. “The direct and indirect effects of climate change include changing rainfall patterns, drought, flooding and the geographical redistribution of pests and diseases, “he said. He added, “Many countries are creating national climate change adaptation plans and putting them into action, with agriculture as a priority sector for adaptation given its high vulnerability to climate risks. While we combat climate change through seed varieties that are tolerant to pests, grow in a short amount of time and require little water, active afforestation among others, increased global trade is exposing our country to pests and diseases.” This, therefore, calls for greater efforts to mitigate the entrance of pests and diseases into new territories where they would cause adverse impacts to the economy, the environment and human health derailing us from the ability to feed the bludgeoning populations.
KEPHIS Board Chairman Mr. Robin Achoki urged the delegates to commit to trade in a safe way so as to guard Kenya’s agriculture against the invasion of pests and diseases. “Traders should also comply with the international plant health standards developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to control the spread of pests,” He said.
He reiterated the importance of the International Year of Plant Health which aims to increase awareness among the public and policymakers of the importance of healthy plants and the necessity to protect them in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and push the global food security and nutrition agenda. “It is hoped the year will trigger greater global collaboration to support plant health policies at all levels, which will contribute significantly to the SDGs,” he said.
Chief guest Mr. Douglas Kangi (2nd right) the Director of Crops Development at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, the KEPHIS Board and representative of the AU- African Union-Inter-African Phytosanitary Council at the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory where produce destined for overseas markets is analyzed. This was during the official opening of the 3rd Phytosanitary Conference (virtual edition)
MD Prof Theophilus Mutui, in his presentation, gave an overview of KEPHIS and also of the Centre of Phytosanitary Excellence(COPE). COPE, one of the sponsors of phytosanitary conferences, was formed on the premise that African countries lack effective systems for managing phytosanitary measures at the national level and also lack good regional coordination on international requirements. Domiciled at KEPHIS Headquarters, it has trained more than 4,200 participants drawn from Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Botswana, Lesotho, Nigeria, Somali, Sudan, South Sudan and others. COPE has coordinated the organization of the phytosanitary conferences and supported the publishing of the phytosanitary journal.