Blog and News
Third Network Workshop
5 - 9 September 2016, Nairobi, Kenya
The third AAPBP workshop in Nairobi was attended by 43 staff and Fellows. Proceedings were officially opened by the Acting Australian High Commissioner, with a keynote opening address given by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Hon. Willy Bett.
Following a presentation by private sector Associate Fellow Gerald Musyoki Nyumu, a quality assurance and supply chain expert, lectures then covered the technical themes of the workshop; diagnostics, post-entry quarantine and development of import conditions.
George Wabere, Senior Fellow from Kenya, and Doreen Chomba, Senior Fellow from Zambia, gave presentations about their work. Fellows also inspected diagnostic laboratories at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) during a site visit. Other activities during the workshop included discussion about the International Grain Standard, strategic planning, and information sharing.
During the closing session Dennis Bittisnich from ACIAR facilitated a discussion on the priority themes for the final workshop in Lusaka, Zambia. It was agreed to focus on the priority themes of seed-borne diseases, surveillance and emergency response.
Second Network Workshop
23 May - 3 June 2016, Arusha, Tanzania
The first week of the Arusha workshop went very well and provided an ideal platform to commence the process of knowledge transfer from the Senior Fellows’ experiences in Australia to the Associate Fellows. 13 Senior Fellows and 23 Associate Fellows attended the first week of the workshop.
1 .Plant Biosecurity – key themes
Associate Fellows spent the morning sessions of Week 1 in interactive workshop sessions on:
Principles of Plant Biosecurity
Monitoring, Inspection and Surveillance
Control and Eradication Strategies
Developing and Fostering Partnerships
All sessions included a combination of lectures followed by open discussion on examples of these themes, in both the Australian and the African context.
The participation of Associate Fellows from the private sector was a constant reminder to all participants that achieving good biosecurity outcomes, for both imports and exports, requires cooperation and information exchange between regulators and commercial parties. At the request of the Associate Fellows, an additional two hour session on market access was delivered. Following the week of learning, Fellows were more comfortable undertaking risk assessments of imported plants and plant products, but less familiar with the processes and skills needed to prepare technical export market access submissions. As a consequence, the Project team placed particular emphasis on the topic of export market access during the morning discussions and in the market access simulation exercise held during the afternoon.
2. Action Planning
Senior Fellows spent the morning sessions of Week 1 presenting progress reports on their action plans to address specific problems in their country or region. These included topics such as fruit fly management, Panama disease, diagnostics for seed-borne diseases and biosecurity planning. All Senior Fellows have progressed their action plans and most showed clear examples of how they had applied the information learnt during their placements in Australia to the African context. It was evident from these sessions that all Senior Fellows had grown in confidence since their Australian placements, and had improved their ability to advocate biosecurity issues in their countries. Senior Fellows agreed that they would like to revisit progress with the implementation of their action plans at the final workshop, to embed the elements of their action plans into a longer term strategic plan which could continue after the conclusion of the AAPBP.
3. Market Access simulation exercise
In the afternoon sessions of Week 1, all Fellows worked together in six teams on the market access simulation exercise. This exercise comprehensively develops skills in risk assessment, pathway analysis, application of phytosanitary measures and, most importantly, negotiation of phytosanitary measures with trading partners. The market access simulation exercise drew directly on the technical content of the modules presented in the morning sessions. The goal of the market access simulation exercise was to accurately replicate the complex negotiating environment between nations to resolve the biosecurity issues that prevent or restrict trade.
Traditional training approaches for improved market access have been narrowly focused on the theory and principles of international standards, but have lacked any actual skills needed to negotiate commercially viable terms of trade. The great advantage of the market access simulation exercise over traditional training techniques is that it reinforces the key elements of the international standards, but then converts the theory into practice. Applying the simulation exercise in a regional setting also develops strong personal relationships necessary to support real market access negotiations in the future. At the conclusion of the simulation exercise, the Fellows were asked to share their reflections on what they had learnt throughout the week.
Some examples of the key learnings were:
Phytosanitary negotiations between nations require technically competent participants, not trade policy analysts
All countries need to be mindful that the phytosanitary measures applied to imported plant materials should be those that are the least trade restrictive necessary to enable safe trade
Other trade requirements such as tariffs, quotas, seasonal requirements or pesticide residues are not part of phytosanitary negotiations
If agreed between the exporting and importing country, the presence of private sector commodity specialists can assist with negotiations
Phytosanitary negotiations must remain very clearly focused on the pathway of trade, (i.e. fruit, seed, live plants, etc) and exclude any pests not on the pathway
The principle of equivalence must be foremost in the minds of negotiators and is fundamental to achieving commercially viable trade outcomes between nations
Attention to detail in relation to specific pests, including knowledge of pest biology and supporting data for effective treatments, is crucial during phytosanitary negotiations.
During the second week, Peter Crisp, Rebecca Sapuppo and Altus Viljoen joined the workshop. Peter is a fruit fly specialist from South Australia and Rebecca is the program leader for the Panama disease program in Queensland. Altus is a specialist researcher in Panama disease from Stellenbosch in South Africa.
Group work on market access.
Day Four Update - Market access, theory or practice?
A major aim of the workshop in Arusha, Tanzania is to help Fellows develop and share practical skills in market access negotiation. Lack of experience in negotiating market access for grains, horticultural produce and other plant-based products has been identified as a key training priority for African nations. The Fellows are drawn from both the public and private sectors and, to build their skills, are working together in a simulation exercise to solve biosecurity constraints that restrict regional and international trade opportunities.
Dr Sabine Perrone and Dr Glynn Maynard have pioneered and developed this ground-breaking approach to training which requires all participants to assess biosecurity risks, create ways of managing the risks and negotiate agreed protocols for safe and commercially viable trade.
“Our goal in creating the market access simulation exercise was to accurately replicate the complex negotiating environment between nations to resolve the biosecurity issues that prevent or restrict trade,” said Dr Perrone.
“Traditional training approaches for improved market access have been narrowly focused on the theory and principles of international standards, but have lacked the actual skills needed to negotiate commercially viable terms of trade,” said Cornelius Fabian Mkondo, Assistant Director for Plant Health Services in the Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
Applying the simulation in a regional setting also develops strong personal relationships that will support real market access negotiations in the future.
Day One Update - Workshop Opening
Tanzania's National Plant Protection representative, Cornelius Mkondo, welcomed participants and noted that the Senior Fellows who had been in Australia now carried a special responsibility to share the knowledge and skills learned in Australia with the Associate Fellows and their colleagues. In particular the AAPBP training would help African nations to meet their obligations under the IPPC to ensure that biosecurity measures are technically justified. Dennis Bittisnich from ACIAR thanked CABI and PBCRC for managing the project and noted the importance of transitioning the network created under AAPBP to a longer term home at the end of 2016. Dennis shared some opening comments from Michael Robinson, CEO of PBCRC. Dennis Rangi from CABI described the benefits derived from AAPBP in terms of improved market access for participating countries.
Attendees also enjoyed the first viewing of the AAPBP video produced by Tony Steeper from PBCRC.13 Senior Fellow and 22 Associate Fellows were present on day one with additional technical experts on fruit fly and Panama disease set to join workshop in Week 2.
The AAPBP 2016 program continues to address prioritised areas for capacity development, building on the outcomes and experiences in 2015.
Workshop sessions will be led by Australian experts and mentors, AAPBP Senior Fellows, and resource persons from Africa. There will be parallel sessions for Senior and Associate Fellows, as well as combined group work, a market access simulation exercise, individual activities and field trips.
Areas to be covered in the workshop include:
Principles and practice of Plant biosecurity and plant biosecurity systems
Plant biosecurity negotiations for market access
Addressing regional plant biosecurity problems: Fruit flies and Panama disease
Update on progress with fellows’ biosecurity action plans
Monitoring and evaluation
Participants at the workshop will include the Senior and Associate Plant Biosecurity Fellows who attended the first network workshop, as well as representatives from regional and international organisations involved in trade and plant biosecurity capacity development.
Read the media release here (23 May 2016).
Photos courtesy David Onyango, CABI
Report to ACIAR: 2015 Australian training program
13 April 2016
Fifteen Senior Biosecurity Fellows from Africa were selected to participate in an intensive six week study program with Australian biosecurity institutions in 2015. This report to the funding body, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), outlines the program and what was achieved. The report concludes:
"The 2015 Australian placement program represents an important step in the formation of a group of plant biosecurity specialists in sub-Saharan Africa that can work together on the enhancement of plant biosecurity in their countries and across the region. The time spent in Australia resulted in the creation of strong professional relationships which will assist trade in plant products between countries, the resolution of phytosanitary problems when they arise and the improvement of access to international markets."
Follow the Africa Fellows journey through this Twitter storyboard
The Senior Fellows were in Australia for six weeks, with the PBCRC Twitter page following their journey using the hashtag #AAPBP. You can view the Twitter feed from their journey as a storyboard on Storify.
Africa Fellows finish six week placement in Australia - taking plant biosecurity skills to Africa
Six weeks of intensive study in Australia has given fifteen Senior Biosecurity Fellows from Sub-Saharan Africa new skills, networks and inspiration to fight crop pests and diseases in their countries and the region as a whole.
Members of the Africa Plant Biosecurity Network concluded their time in Australia on the 4 December 2015 after two weeks acquiring skills in communication, biosecurity action planning, media relations and networking, to better share their newfound expertise with colleagues and teams in their home countries.
“The Fellowship has been a fantastic experience,” said Ephrance Tumuboine from Uganda.
“I am confident I can make a real difference to agricultural trade in and from my country, as well as helping our farmers directly.”
The Fellows have worked with a range of Australian plant biosecurity organisations during their time in Australia on problems aligned to real plant pests and diseases in their home countries, including fruit fly, seed transmitted diseases, post entry quarantine and diagnostics.
While developing technical skills has helped these professionals individually, the recent training in Perth has built their capacity to share skills with their colleagues, improve their own biosecurity systems, and work in a partnership with Fellows from neighbouring nations.
“Better plant biosecurity has significant ‘bang for the buck’ when it comes to improving both trade and food security in the region,” said Dr Michael Robinson, CEO of Australia’s Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC).
Dr Laura Boykin from the University of Western Australia hosted James Mushayija from Rwanda who studied identification of whiteflies – pests that transmit serious diseases of cassava in Africa.
“James and I are at the beginning of a lifelong friendship and collaboration, united together to improve the lives of farmers in Rwanda” said Dr Boykin.
The Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership program was informed by The Windsor Report, a comprehensive assessment of the status of plant biosecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region highly reliant on agriculture.
“The Windsor Report captured direct feedback from African plant biosecurity professionals and sets out the key needs that Partnership activities are now addressing, as well as opportunities to scale the program up and out,” said Dr Robinson.
“Australia, with its world-class strength, experience and comparative advantage in biosecurity, can really help.”
The Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and is delivered by a consortium of PBCRC, CABI and the Crawford Fund.
You can follow the story of the Fellows' six weeks in Australia in this Twitter storyboard.
The Windsor Report - Plant biosecurity in sub-Saharan Africa: current status and capacity building opportunities
The Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership (AAPBP) program was informed by The Windsor Report, a comprehensive assessment of the status of plant biosecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is a region highly reliant on agriculture.
Agriculture in Africa is progressing rapidly, moving from subsistence farms to market-led production systems. Small scale producers are now generating surpluses and cash crops to sell not only locally but also regionally and on the global market. Africa will play an important role in global food security, and strong biosecurity policies and systems are important. Effective biosecurity supports the role these nations play in the global food system, and the livelihoods of every African farmer.
The Windsor Report has captured direct feedback from African plant biosecurity professionals and sets out the key needs that AAPBP activities are aiming to address, as well as opportunities to expand the program.
Industry placement news
James Mushayija is at UWA, working towards creating a molecular diagnostic protocol for Rwanda, to help him identify pests of biosecurity concern. He has mastered DNA extraction of the invasive Bemisia tabaci whitefly which is transmitting devastating cassava viruses in the region. In addition he has optimised PCR primers that are universal for all pests and many disease. James and host Laura Boykin also attended TEDxPerth where they exchanged ideas with other participants in WA. In the final week they will work on analyses methods of DNA diagnostics.
During their three week placement at Plant Health Australia (PHA) in Canberra, Bellancile Uzayisenga and Ephrance Tumuboine are involved in activities covering the exchange of information between plant industries and other partners. Bella and Ephrance have had briefings on the unique government-industry partnership of Australia’s plant biosecurity system, including managing incursions, surveillance programs and communication tips and tools. PHA staff enjoyed their presentations on plant health systems in Rwanda and Uganda as well. They’ve contributed to collating information on high priority pests, identifying pest threats and to the development of a farm biosecurity manual. In week two, they visited the honey extraction plants of two beekeepers in the Sutton area to learn about their operations and honey bee biosecurity, and visited a truffle farm to see biosecurity development in this emerging industry firsthand.
Dr Haimanot Alage has been in Adelaide, at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). She has attended a quarantine facility audit and discussed the different regulations for different types of facilities which are categorised by usage such as a greenhouse, laboratory or seed treatment. Haimanot has spent two days with Biosecurity SA learning how South Australia manages interstate transfer of plant materials, as well as spending time in the Adelaide hills and treating seed and plants in the greenhouse. She caught up with the fruit fly rotation Fellows over dinner when they came to South Australia.
Dr Godfrey Chikwenhere and Lucien Masabarakiza are spending three weeks at Murdoch University in Perth hosted by Dr Kirsty Bayliss. They are busy with discussions and hands-on activities with experts in food security, biosecurity, entomology and plant pathology. In their first week at Murdoch the Fellows met with Professor Shashi Sharma to discuss quarantine and market access strategies, discussed management of fruit fly and Lepidoptera pests with Dr Wei Xu, and spent some time in the State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre with Dr Steve Wiley and Professor Mike Jones. In the second week Godfrey and Lucien worked with Professor YongLin Ren and Dr Manjree Agarwal in the Postharvest Biosecurity and Food Safety Laboratory, learning about postharvest pests and some of the innovative new management options being developed at Murdoch University. Godfrey also presented an overview of his work to postgraduate students in the forest pathology and postharvest research groups.
Mable Mudenda and Antonia Vaz Tombolane had a week that focused on Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4), which is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense. Race 4 infects most varieties of bananas, including Cavendish, the main variety that is grown commercially. They visited the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) facility at South Johnstone, learning about options available to manage Panama TR4. In attending meetings with various stakeholders they gained valuable insight into how to control the spread of Panama TR4 and the financial implications for the banana industry. An added bonus to the week was the opportunity for Mable and Antonia to go along to the first Panama TR4 field day held at Wangan near Innisfail in North Queensland. The field day included workshops about on-farm biosecurity measures and a chance to meet with farmers and grower associations.
A busy and successful first week, 2 November 2015
Week 1 of the AAPBP Australian program has been both comprehensive and engaging for the Senior Fellows. Hosted by Agribio at La Trobe University in Melbourne, the study program centred on the principal themes of plant biosecurity including international context, diagnostics, monitoring, inspection, surveillance and eradication.
These modules were delivered by Sabine Perrone from BioSecurity and AgriSystems Protection (BSASP) and Glynn Maynard from the Department of Agriculture, with support and assistance from PBCRC's Sophie Peterson. Despite battling jetlag, the Senior Fellows responded with many questions and observations on the way these themes apply (or in some cases don't apply) in the African context.
At the welcome dinner on Monday, the Senior Fellows enjoyed meeting PBCRC CEO Michael Robinson, PBCRC Chair Martin Barlass, Crawford Fund CEO Denis Blight and ACIAR Commissioner Tony Gregson.
The Senior Fellows also spent time on Monday and Tuesday with the PBCRC media and communications team, Tony Steeper and Kylee Carpenter. Look out for photos and video interviews in the coming weeks.
A big part of the program was a simulation exercise running throughout the week. Teams of three Senior Fellows representing fictional countries have worked on simulated pest risk analyses and market access proposals. This has been a hands-on task for the Senior Fellows, requiring assessment of technical information, analysis of trade pathways, development of phytosanitary measures and negotiation between the 'countries'. From my perspective, the simulation has accurately replicated the real process of bilateral negotiation on market access. This is a critical skill in plant biosecurity advocacy and the creation of safe trade pathways for trade in agricultural products.
Other activities this week have included site visits to the plant post-entry quarantine facility at Knoxfield and the diagnostic laboratories at Agribio. The Senior Fellows have shown enormous interest in the potential application of post-entry quarantine practices in their own countries and this is something we need to consider for the 2016 program. On the final day of the week the Senior Fellows were introduced to mentoring skills, reporting and the development of action plans to guide work in 2016 in Africa with the larger cohort of Fellows in AAPBP.
A special thanks to Dennis Bittisnich from ACIAR for participation during the week and support with the program and to Brendan Rodoni from Agribio for arranging access to conference facilities, presentations on diagnostics and being a tour guide for the Senior Fellows.
Finally, to keep the entire show on the road, Naomi Thomson from PBCRC has been working tirelessly to attend to every conceivable aspect of the fellows’ travel and accommodation arrangements, ensuring that everything is running smoothly. All Senior Fellows have expressed their appreciation.
The Senior Fellows are now on the way to their host destinations for the next three weeks - more news to follow!
Bill Magee, AAPBP project leader.
Australian program underway, 26 October 2015
Fifteen Senior Biosecurity Fellows from Africa have begun an intensive six weeks studying Australia’s globally recognised plant biosecurity system, beginning today with a week-long workshop at AgriBio in Melbourne.
The Fellows are the first members of the Africa Plant Biosecurity Network, which aims to improve plant biosecurity and safe trade of agricultural products in ten east and southern African countries; Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Crop pests and diseases are major limitations to eastern African farmer incomes and food security,” said Dr Michael Robinson, CEO of Australia’s Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC) which is leading the project.
“While improving plant biosecurity, including surveillance, planning and border quarantine, can make a real difference, African countries are often hampered by a lack of resources, including skills, capabilities and training.
“By using its world-class strength, experience and comparative advantage in biosecurity, Australia can help biosecurity managers develop their plant biosecurity teams and improve biosecurity outcomes for Africa.
The six weeks in Australia will include individual three week placements with a range of State and Federal Governments, and biosecurity research organisations in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT. The Fellows will spend some of this time working with their host agencies on priority African plant pest and disease issues.
“The Network is an ongoing entity, bringing together African biosecurity professionals to share information, provide mentoring, and support Fellows to manage training and outreach in their own countries,” said Dr Robinson.
“This will have benefits for Australia too - biosecurity is a global challenge and all nations benefit from a stronger global biosecurity system.”
The Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership is funded by the Australian International Food Security Research Centre (AIFSRC), within the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The program is being delivered by a consortium of PBCRC, CABI and the Crawford Fund.
Africa workshop participants in Nairobi (Image courtesy of David Onyango, CABI)
The Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership (AAPBP) first Africa Networking Workshop, held 18-20 August in Nairobi, Kenya, marked the start of a partnership that will see Australian plant biosecurity institutions share their skills and knowledge with partner agencies in ten African countries.
Fifteen senior fellows and 30 associate fellows from National Plant Protection Organisations and private sector agricultural organisations in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe met to plan and implement activities under the AAPBP, including short-term placement of senior fellows in Australian plant pest and disease agencies scheduled for late 2015.
Senior fellows presented their country focus problems, proposed actions to address them, and the knowledge and skills they hope to acquire during their fellowship and placements. The focus problems all have a regional dimension, and the participation of COMESA, EAC, SADC, the African Union, the InterAfrican Phytosanitary Council, and FAO in the partnership was recognised as vital.
Pests that have significant impact on food security and trade were discussed including Panama disease of bananas, maize lethal necrosis disease, fruit flies, tomato leaf miner, false codling moth and invasive weeds. All delegates engaged in a process of critical examination of the biosecurity challenges within their country and across the region.
The workshop provided an initial network opportunity between African participants. It included sessions on action planning and mentoring options, and delegates discussed how these will work in practice. Plans were made for monitoring and evaluation of the program, including how fellows expect and want their actions, relationships and behaviour to improve and develop during the partnership. The importance of the need for effective collaboration between public and private sectors was highlighted as being critical to effective plant biosecurity, and the involvement of private sector fellows in the partnership was seen as vital to achieving practical solutions to specific problems.
Recognising the importance of communication and advocacy in elevating the profile of plant biosecurity for food, nutrition and income security, participants discussed and practiced various communication techniques and skills including blogging, speaking to the media, photography and video. Delegates agreed and prioritised the communication channels they will use in the network, including secure email groups, the partnership website and social media platforms.
While the long term goal of the AAPBP remains firmly set on the creation of a strong and enduring regional plant biosecurity network, the immediate focus is on the forthcoming Fellowship placements with Australian biosecurity institutions in late 2015, and how the fellows’ experience can benefit their colleagues and teams in their countries and the African region as a whole.
COMESA, FAO, African Union (including the InterAfrican Phytosanitary Council - IAPSC), ICIPE and Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) representatives who attended the workshop noted the partnership is well placed to link and complement a range of phytosanitary and trade facilitation initiatives in the region. These include the recently agreed Tripartite Free Trade Area (COMESA, SADC, and EAC), the AU-IAPSC strategic framework, and the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund project implemented by FAO on strengthening biosecurity controls in southern Africa.
The potential in time for other partners and countries to join the network – and for the partnership to be owned and run in Africa – brings legacy and scaling up opportunities that will have impact on plant biosecurity capacity across Africa and will ultimately enhance agricultural productivity, food security and international and intraregional trade of plant products.
Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership Workshop, 27-28 October 2014
The Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership recognises the importance of collaboration between government and the private sector, which is vital to achieve good biosecurity outcomes. To ensure that activities in the Partnership program are matched against African needs the consortium hosted a prioritisation workshop in Nairobi on 27-28 October 2014. Representatives were invited from a number of African government plant protection agencies, African regional trade and international bodies, and private sector organisations with an interest in plant biosecurity related matters.
The objectives of the workshop were to:
identify areas of plant biosecurity need in Africa;
match African areas of need with Australian biosecurity capacity; and
prioritise areas to be addressed in phase two of the program, through a range of capacity building activities.
The outcomes of the workshop are highlighted in a communique, which was published following the workshop.
Africa Plant Biosecurity Network underway (PBCRC media release, 18 August 2015)
Australia and Africa to work together on plant biosecurity - ‘change champions’ on the way (PBCRC media release)
Australia-Africa Plant Biosecurity Partnership - Workshop Communique (28 October 2014)
Protecting produce: ten African countries get biosecurity investment (The Guardian, 20 August 2014)
Plant biosecurity initiative targets Africa (PBCRC media release)
Plant Biosecurity CRC to lead AIFSRC capacity building program in Eastern Africa (ACIAR media release)