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Tuesday, October 22

Minister: Nigeria has succeeded in preventing ‘invasive plant pests’

Nigeria has succeeded in preventing the entry of invasive plant pests and other emerging pests, an official ha said.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, said this at the ongoing 31st Technical Consultation among Regional Plant Protection Organisation (TC-RPPOs).

The Technical Consultation is the first to be held in Africa and is being hosted by Nigeria.

The National Plant Protection Organisation for Nigeria, and the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) are hosting the historic assembly on behalf of the country and the continent.

The event, which started Monday, is expected to end on October 25.

It came up as a result of food insecurity caused by pests and diseases amidst a rising population.

The Technical Consultation comprise heads of plant protection bodies across the globe as well as staff members of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat domiciled in the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Rome.

Organisers says this will place the spotlight on the Nigerian plant health system.

According to the minister, plant pests such as Maize lethal Necrotic Disease, Fusarium Oxysporium spp Cubense (TR4) of banana, Cassava Brown Streak Disease “do not exist in Nigeria.”

“Nigeria has over the years battled with and contained highly invasive plant pests such as Cocoa Swollen Shoot Disease, Tuta Absoluta, Tomato Moth, Banana Bunchy Top Disease,” he said.

“Due to an elaborate pytosanitary administrative structure and pest surveillance system, Nigeria has succeeded in preventing the entry of invasive plant pests such as Maize lethal Necrotic Disease, Fusarium Oxysporium spp Cubense (TR4) of banana, Cassava Brown Streak Disease and other emerging pests,” Mr Nanono said.

Mr Nanono said the outcome (of the conference) will provide solutions that will protect the plant resource in Africa and also spread to nations under the ten (10) RPPOs “creating market access and enhancing international trade for pest free plants and plant products,” he said.

Also, the Director General NAQS, Vincent Isegbe, said human population is growing and piling up the pressure on the food production system.

“Myriad protracted conflicts are engendering scorched earth devastation of plant resources and enabling vicious cycles of starvation, malnutrition and poverty,” he said.

Mr Isegbe said climate change, previously reckoned a problem of the distant future, is now a present-day reality.

“It is altering landscapes and livelihoods without discrimination, imposing a new normal of aggravated drought and flooding as well as the ascendancy of a wave of strange pests,” he said.

He said these challenges impinge on global food security “and solving them requires concerted multilateral efforts”.

Meanwhile, an official of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Adeola Akinola, said to sustain the containment of such pests as Fall Army Worm and Tuta absoluta, “there is need to use the opportunity offered by this technical consultation to revisit all the existing International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures, Phytosanitary Treatments and Diagnostic Protocols to strengthen it.”

He said there is need to prevent further introduction of such infestation from one boundary to another.

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