Press Release: Asian National Plant Protection Authorities Enhance Pest Risk Assessment for Seed Trade Boost Vishwanath Sah October 18, 2023

Press Release: Asian National Plant Protection Authorities Enhance Pest Risk Assessment for Seed Trade Boost

Manila: 18 October 2023:  Manila, the Philippines, hosted a gathering of representatives from the National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The primary objective of this event is to delve into the intricacies of conducting pest risk assessments for the cross-border movement of seeds among these nations, as a vital part of broader efforts to enhance their sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capabilities. These capabilities are essential for fostering regional seed trade.

Dr. Ravi Khetarpal, Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), welcomed participants and underscored the significance of conducting pest risk analysis for seeds. This analysis optimizes resources while simultaneously preventing unwanted pests from entering the country.

Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban, Ph.D, Director, Bureau of Plant Industry Philippines said, “I have always believed in the transformative power of collaboration. Having this kind of interaction among different National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) and representatives of the seed sector is a great way to build a sound public-private partnership.”

Each country’s unique seed import requirements must be considered during seed production and before export, for example, specific phytosanitary testing, declaration, and registration in the importing country. Ensuring full compliance with these requirements is often an issue, especially since any additional associated expenses need to be covered by seed companies, which may disincentivize further investment in the sector.

Dr Shivendra Bajaj, Project Manager for APAARI said “This workshop discussed the key aspects of developing a pest list that is seed borne which will help to conduct the pest risk assessment for seed movement among countries. Having this pest list specifically for seeds will eliminate the need for testing several pathogens that are not transmitted through seed thereby saving resources and time for the NPPOs and the seed sector.”

The project, launched in November 2022, aims to develop a pest list specifically for seeds to simplify seed movement. The International Seed Federation (ISF), representing the global seed sector, has already developed a pest list for seeds of 14 vegetable crops, which will serve as a reference for developing a seed pest list for the participating countries of the top five vegetable crop seeds.

 Dr Mary Ann P. Sayoc, President of the Philippines Seed Industry Association, emphasized the importance of a good collaboration between the regulators and seed sector in finding the right balance between facilitating international seed trade and protecting the country’s borders against pests and diseases. This workshop focuses on this very aspect. Food security hinges on farmers’ accessibility to healthy quality seeds at the right time and at the right place.

The regional project on ‘Strengthening phytosanitary compliance and public-private partnerships to boost seed trade in the Asia Pacific region’ funded by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), aims to strengthen this collaboration to ensure harmonized policies and processes to perform seed trade across the region effectively. The project will strengthen countries’ capacities to collaborate, building public-private trust and partnerships necessary for making high-quality seeds accessible to all and enhancing food security in the region.

According to Dr Mafizul Islam, the NPPO from Bangladesh, such workshops are very informative and quarantine personnel will be able to apply their gathered knowledge to execute the pest risk analysis for seed to boost seed trade and contribute to the food security.

The Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) is the implementing partner of STDF. The Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance (APSA), the International Seed Federation (ISF), CropLife Asia (CLA), and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) are the associated technical partners in this project.

APAARI is a membership-based, apolitical, multi-stakeholder, and intergovernmental regional organization that catalyzes collective action to improve agri-food research and innovation systems toward a more sustainable Asia-Pacific region.

  STDF is a global partnership facilitating safe and inclusive trade in developing countries by enhancing their capacity to meet international food safety, animal and plant health standards.