Plant pests pose threat to food security in region

Muscat, Sept 17 – Plant pests and diseases threaten food security and nutrition around the world, and endangers food security in our region with serious economic and environmental implications, Dr Nora Orabah Haddad, FAO Representative in the Sultanate, has said. Speaking at a regional workshop on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) for Near East and North Africa, she said: “The risk of emergence and spread of transboundary pests and diseases has been exacerbated by the increasing movement of goods, people, plants and products. Not to forgot, the impact of climate change in recent years.”
The most important diseases that have been affecting plants are date palm red weevils, bacteria (Xylella fastidoisa), autumn worms, among others, she said.
Organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the workshop began here on Monday. It was held under the auspices of Dr Ahmed al Bakri, Under-Secretary of the Ministry. It will continue until September 20.
Forty plant quarantine specialists, plant protection workers and technicians from the region are participating in it.
The workshop aims at providing an understanding of phytosanitary realities and challenges faced by each region as well as learning the latest in international phytosanitary standards.
IPPC is one of the oldest international conventions sponsored by FAO, which entered into force in 1952. It has 183 member states, including all countries in the Near East and North Africa region.
The convention aims at assisting the member states to improve and modernise plant protection programmes.
“IPPC’s objective is to provide guidelines and recommendations with a view to standardising phytosanitary measures at the global level to facilitate international trade in plant products,” said Dr Nora Orabah Haddad.
Nassr bin Saif al Shamsi, Head of Agricultural Quarries Department, spoke about the need for appropriate phytosanitary legislation and procedures to deal with agricultural shipments based on scientific grounds, risk analysis and assessment. This is to prevent spread of agricultural pests, protect environment and plant resources, and facilitate trade.
“Oman, in coordination with the GCC states, has been keen to update legislations on plant protection and develop capacity of agricultural quarantine in line with developments at the international level,” he said.
Some of the provisions of Unified Agricultural Quarantine Law between the GCC States are now being revised along with methods used for inspecting agricultural shipments and determining import conditions so they comply with international standards of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM), he added.
Meanwhile, an official from MoAF, presenting his paper, said Oman’s agricultural exports in 2017 stood at 0.5 million tonnes with a value of RO 63 million, while it imported 2.9 million tonnes of goods valued at RO 370 million in the same year.

Zainab al Nassri