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Eswatini Completes Assessment of National Plant Health System to Enhance Phytosanitary Protection

The Eswatini National Plant Health Inspection Services (NaPHIS), working in collaboration with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat, and other partners – including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce and Trade, Ministry of Tourism and Environment, Peak Timbers, Nisela Farms, and NamBoard among others – has concluded a seven-month assessment of Eswatini’s phytosanitary system. The third and final consensus workshop took place from 27 November to 1 December. During these workshops, participants from the NaPHIS, representatives of other government departments and the national phytosanitary industry, grower associations and IPPC Secretariat staff reviewed and validated the outcomes of the Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE) and shared key outcomes with development partners.

This assessment is part of the project “Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control,” a project funded by the European Union which began in November of 2022 to provide support to the national plant protection organizations in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Member Countries. The project is designed to build up capabilities, strengthen governance and improve strategic planning around two main components: food safety and plant health. As part of the European Union-funded project, PCEs are being implemented in nine countries in the African Union to support them in fulfilling international obligations and develop strategic plans to strengthen phytosanitary trade regulatory systems and the country’s phytosanitary network. Throughout the project’s activities, three missions are being carried out in each country to conduct a PCE.

Assessment of the national phytosanitary system in Eswatini

The project, co-signed by the Government of Eswatini, falls within the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Policy Framework for Africa developed by the African Union (AU) to spur trade among AU Member States and is being implemented in close collaboration with the African Commission Division for Rural Economy and Agriculture (AUC DARBE).

Through the PCE process, the NPPOs and private sector stakeholders evaluate the country’s current phytosanitary systems and develop a national strategy to improve these systems over the next 5-10 years. Over the course of three PCE consensus workshops and much collaborative work happening in-between, the process empowers NPPOs to develop and implement a strategy that will address gaps identified and guide the country’s capacity development needs. The outcomes of the PCE can be used to help mobilize resources to implement elements of the strategic plan.

Throughout the process, IPPC-certified phytosanitary capacity evaluation facilitators have worked closely with the NPPO and relevant stakeholders, guiding the PCE process and the development of a national phytosanitary capacity development strategy meant to improve the country’s plant health and economic development.

Conclusion of the project and the final workshop in Eswatini

The final workshop, following the two previous missions that took place in April and June, is the culmination of a seven-month process for Eswatini. During the workshop, the results of the first two workshops were validated by a team of national stakeholders involved in the project, who also started developing a national strategic plan. During the closing ceremony, the results of the PCE process were shared with senior government officials and partners and key elements of the strategic plan were highlighted. The culmination of the PCE will be a National Phytosanitary Capacity Development Strategy and a costed plan that NaPHIS will use to guide its work to improve national phytosanitary systems.

Among the expected outcomes of the PCE process is the NPPO’s foreseen implementation of a number of national phytosanitary policies, which includes the adoption of standard operating procedures based on the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) of the IPPC. Added to this, the stakeholders emphasized the expected strengthening of the NPPO’s capacity in order to carry out their functions. Finally, during the closing ceremony, the stakeholders emphasized how Eswatini will record an improvement of the phytosanitary system of the Kingdom.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.

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