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05.12.2005 Regional News

Anglophone Senior Plant Protection Officers attend workshop

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Accra, Dec.5, GNA - Twenty Senior Plant Protection Officers from Anglophone countries in Africa on Monday began a five-day Regional Training Workshop on Information Exchange and the International Phytosanitary Portal workshop in Accra.

It was to educate the participants on how to manage information from the Website of the International Plant Protection Commission (IPPC)

The website - International Phytosanitary Portal (IPP) would enable the participants obtain information for decision-making process. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) IPPC Secretariat, Inter-African Phytosanitary Council (IAPSC) and the African Union (AU) are jointly organising the workshop. Dr W. Nii Okai Hammond, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, addressing the opening session said it would help to enhance and strengthen capacity of the participants to communicate efficiently, effectively and in a timely manner with the IPPC Secretariat. He said it would in addition facilitate communication among IPPC members and trading partners.

Dr Hammond was optimistic that the workshop would address the issue of collection, processing and storage of relevant information to provide a database that would serve the information sharing system. He said an effective bio-security services would facilitate trade and safeguard local agriculture production with emphasis on the importance of maintaining up-to-date phytosanitary information.

"We will then be able to share information with trading partners as well as relevant Regional and International Organizations." He added.

Mr Oloche A. Edache, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, said current advances in information and communication technology must be effectively harnessed to facilitate the process of information exchange in plant protection matters. "But these technologies cannot be properly utilized if countries lacked the institutional and individual capacities to operate and benefit from these modern technologies," He added. Mr Edache asked the participants to establish linkages that would facilitate interaction among them and improve collaboration in IPPC matters.

He said the workshop would enable them to strengthen national capacities in border control in relation to trade facilitation, as well as updating related national policies, legislation and regulations. Mr Odache said to improve agriculture development through regional trade, it was essential for most African countries to endorse and become signatories to the IPPC.

He said the FAO would continue to respond to requests for technical assistance for agricultural development programmes from member countries through the FAO Representatives in each country.