Biosecurity risk mitigation, pest/import risk assessment, emerging threats, and plant health surveillance, including sample collection, processing and submission for identification and authentication, were all covered during a training and surveillance held in Samoa last week to address pest and disease threat and boost biosecurity in the region.
The events were part of the Safe Agricultural Trade Facilitation through Economic Integration in the Pacific (SAFE Pacific) project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) across 15 countries in the region.
"Now that Samoa and the rest of the Pacific have resumed travel and trade and considering the influx and visitor and cargo arrival, it is crucial to strengthen pre-border, at the border and post-border quarantine activities to prevent any new pests or diseases from entering the region," said SPC's Land Resources Division Integrated Programme Coordinator for Biosecurity and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (BSPS), Dr. Visoni Timote.
The training brought together 28 officers from Samoa Quarantine Division and Crops Divisions and consisted of theory and hands-on field exercises at the Ministry of Agriculture Nu’u and Salelologa stations on the island of Upolu and Savaii respectively.
The BSPS Team also assisted Quarantine and Crops Officers with the important task of compiling Samoa’s emergency plant pest list and the top 20 (most wanted) priority pest list.
The lists are part of fulfilling national obligations to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), and are also critical in specifying to other countries all currently regulated pests for Samoa for which phytosanitary measures may be taken.
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are quarantine and biosecurity rules and procedures that ensure food and beverages are safe for consumption and to protect animal or plant life from pests and diseases.
In addition to the training, SPC provided fruit fly and fall armyworm traps, sticky and wing traps, lures and field test kits for rapid disease diagnostics.
“The last two weeks of training with SPC has provided a great opportunity for our officers to refresh their knowledge and improve their skills, to better protect our borders from pests and diseases, said the Samoa Quarantine Division Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Segialii Marie Malaki-Fa'aofo.
“We are grateful for SPC’s assistance and reiterate the importance of these partnerships and collaborations to improve biosecurity in the region.”
The SPC team, through the SAFE Pacific project, will carry out similar biosecurity surveillance and capacity-building training across the region during the next two years of project implementation.
Source: Press Release, Safe Pacific Project, Pacific Community (SPC)