Poor or fragmented capacity to control plant pests and diseases of significance in eastern Africa reduces farm productivity and is an obstacle to regional and international trade of plant products.
African stakeholders of the AIFSRC have specifically noted that:
- intra-regional trade is a key pathway to food security in Africa with poor biosecurity control capacity being a significant obstacle to the trade of agricultural products
- the world-class strength, experience and comparative advantage of Australian biosecurity agencies could be levered to build African plant biosecurity capacity.
In response to this need, the Food Security Centre has contracted the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre through a tender process, to implement a 2-year, $800,000 Australia Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership (formerly Plant Biosecurity Capacity Development Initiative).
The Partnership aims to enhance the ability of east African biosecurity agencies to more effectively control plant pest and diseases through developing the capacity of individuals and institutions within target eastern Africa countries and the region as a whole.
The Food Security Centre have contracted a consortium led by the Plant Biosecurity CRC comprised of CSIRO, the Crawford Fund, and CABI Africa to manage the project.
The Partnership will commence with a high level regional plant biosecurity prioritisation workshop to be conducted in Nairobi on 27 and 28 October 2014. The prioritisation workshop will ensure African plant biosecurity priorities and needs are identified and matched with Australian capacity building expertise. Workshop invitees include officials from target countries, African trade and regional agencies, multilateral aid agencies, and – importantly – the private sector.
The Partnership aims to leverage support and complement the work of other donors and international agencies rather than duplicate existing capacity development activities. Extra investment has already been gained from CABI who are committing $200,000 to the project.
Activities under the Partnership will be developed subsequent to the Prioritisation workshop and delivered from start 2015. Activities are expected to include:
- short-term placement of African biosecurity specialists in relevant biosecurity agencies in Australia and related institutions;
- workshops in Africa on priority plant biosecurity issues;
- a mentoring system for African participants to ensure transfer and application of knowledge; and
- follow up funding to assist participants develop biosecurity action plans at national and regional level in Africa.
The impact of the Partnership will be evaluated not simply by the number of participants – but by looking at knowledge transfer and impact on plant biosecurity capacity at institutional, trade and market level.
The Partnership contributes to Australian Government focus on aid for trade and economic growth by:
- improving agricultural productivity and sustainability
- strengthening agricultural value chains and overcoming regulatory impediments to trade
- building capacity in Australia and overseas for ongoing agricultural innovation
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