Towards a NENA Regional Strategy for the Management of Transboundary Plant Pests and Diseases
Ministers of Agriculture, Heads of Country Delegations, the Director of the FAO Plant Production and Protection Division, Mr Xya Jingyuan, and internationally renowned experts participated in the High-level Meeting on the management strategy of transboundary plant pests and diseases in the NENA Region from 21 to 23 June 2023 organized by the FAO and the CIHEAM Bari (Italy). Participants recognized the strategic importance of controlling transboundary plant pests and diseases and recalled their imminent threats to food security.
During 3 days at the CIHEAM Bari Institute, technical consultations were held focusing on the threats of pests and plant diseases, and the constraints and weaknesses of plant protection systems in NENA countries. A technical visit also took place at the Conservation and Production Center during which participants discussed the effects of Xylella fastidiosa in the Salento region, on the observation of symptoms, sampling, geolocation, and measures of eradication put in place. The conference ended with the endorsement of the Regional Strategy for the Management of Transboundary Plant Pests and Diseases in the NENA Region.
The debates highlighted the concern of the countries of the region regarding the constant increase in hunger and food insecurity. It was recalled that in addition to the threats of plant pests and diseases, food systems were seriously weakened by financial and economic crises, climate change, water shortage, land degradation, and biodiversity loss.
In this respect, the Minister of Agriculture and the heads of delegation of the countries called for sustainable management of the threat of transboundary pests and diseases, which also need to take into account measures to combat climate change and which can take leveraging science and innovation to increase agricultural productivity and ensure sustainability.
The Secretary General of the CIHEAM M. Teodoro Miano who opened the ministerial meeting on capacity building and harmonized regional actions to address threats expressed his great satisfaction to see such an advantageous initiative and welcomed the partnership established with FAO to support and develop transboundary programs for the control of plant pests and diseases in close collaboration with the NENA institutions.
As part of the multi-actor partnership, the FAO and CIHEAM Bari will support the implementation of the Regional Strategy for MENA Countries, in particular by providing technical and scientific support to the institutions responsible for developing action plans or strengthening surveillance systems and services. and phytosanitary structures.
Both institutions will support a technical committee at the regional level for continued interaction that could provide responses to emergencies. Finally, they will develop capacity-building programs at various levels (advanced and innovative technologies for diagnosis, control, monitoring, etc.).