A workshop focusing on plant biosecurity awareness and two video clips in English and Mauritian Creole on the topic, were launched by the Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security Maneesh Gobin, in Port-Louis
The initiative is jointly organised by the ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, the National Plant Protection Office and Food Security and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for extending support towards the initiation of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (STOSAR).
The aim is to enlist the collaboration of all parties concerned for a coordinated control and management of transboundary pests and diseases of plants and animals through a networking among plant protection authorities, border control agencies, specialists in plant health and testing laboratories, farmers, and other relevant stakeholders (airlines, shipping lines, importers, exporters, etc). Transboundary pests and diseases are migratory insects, plant diseases and weeds that can spread to several countries and reach epidemic proportions, cause significant losses to farmers, threaten food security, and damage the local biodiversity and environment.
Minister Gobin underpinned the key objective of the plant biosecurity awareness campaign, which is to ensure that all the frontline workers have direct contact with plants and animals and are fully aware of the biosecurity threats and precautions to be taken to prevent the spread of exotic pests. He underlined the need for frontline workers including farmers, officers working in shipping lines, importers, exporters, and fisheries officers, to be continually trained on existing biosecurity protocols.
Mauritius as a small island is vulnerable and it is crucial to protect its agricultural economy and natural resources, added the minister.
Gobin also urged the population to take into consideration the potential consequences of importing and breeding exotic animals such as ornamental fish as they may turn into invasive species if they are let out in the ecosystem.
SADC Regional Agricultural Policy project
The SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (STOSAR) project is funded by the FAO. The project is aiming for a coordinated control and management of transboundary pests and diseases of plants and animals through a networking among plant protection authorities, veterinary authorities, specialists in plant and animal health and testing laboratories in the region.
The project also aims to enhance sharing of information and improve market access through effective control strategies of plant and animal diseases. A number of National strategies which are globally recommended and recognised are being prepared for the prevention of entry of invasive quarantine pests.