Technology Adaptation: Strengthening of Plant Health Services

The plant protection and quarantine service in Saint Lucia is lacking in required resources, both human and physical, to provide a modern service to the country. However, this service has a most important role to play in safeguarding the country from the introduction, establishment and spread of invasive pest species as well as in the effective management of those pests which have already established themselves. The introduction and establishment of several major pests over the past few years suggest that the regulatory system needs to be improved. Also, the severe impact of introduced pests such as the hibiscus mealybug or the chilli thrips suggests that pest management measures must also be improved. While the Government has been attempting to improve the capability of the plant protection and quarantine service, these efforts have not been adequate to keep up with the growing demands resulting from both the increased trade in agricultural commodities as well as the need to comply with the several international agreements, notably the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). For example, compliance with the international standards for phytosanitary measures (ISPMs) requires a completely new approach of science-based decision making in everyday plant quarantine operations. Plant quarantine officers must be trained in the implementation of these new methodologies.


Similarly with pest management; the heavy reliance on pesticides, as in the past, has to change. Not only is there the direct impact of pesticides on human and environmental health, but the emphasis on safe food has also a direct implication for trade in agricultural products. Trading partners are now setting very strict limits on the acceptable pesticide residues in food. Some of these standards may even surpass the accepted international maximum residue limits (MRLs) set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, for example. Some trade blocs are even setting their own standards (e.g. EUREgap). Hence, Saint Lucia has to move towards modern approaches to integrated pest management utilising the farmer field school approach.

What this project, therefore, aims to achieve is the strengthening of local capability and capacity to implement modern phytosanitary procedures. It will provide the necessary physical resources as well as improve the human resource through necessary training. This process has already started with previous FAO assistance and most recently through the implementation of a phytosanitary capacity evaluation (PCE) which identified the strengths and weaknesses of the plant health system. The project will also improve the technical capacity of the extension and plant protection services to deliver better pest management services to farmers through the farmer field approach.


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