Inspectors of the Nigeria Plant Quarantine Department have received intensive training on the modalities of their operations, particularly on the best practices for plant quarantine operation.
The training was collaboratively organised by the University of Missouri Assistance Program (UMAP), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the NPPO/IPPC of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), including the support of the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS).
Themed “Use of the Harmonized Phytosanitary Inspection and Decision-Making Guide”, the 3-day training held last week at the NAQS training center in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Similar training workshops were earlier held in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and the Republic of Benin, for their individual countries’ plant quarantine inspectors.
The initiative was dedicated to supporting West Africa’s NPPO’s Taskforce, to disseminate and test the applicability of the harmonised Guide, to promote best practices in the conduct of plant quarantine operations in the region.
It was in line with the USDA-FAS and USDA-APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) continued efforts to help West African countries’ plant quarantine systems meet international standards and promote safe trade.
The agenda of the training included the presentation and discussion of two main sections of the Guide (Inspection procedures at Import and Export), and the simulation exercises with practical demonstrations of Phytosanitary inspection, including pest detection and identification at the laboratory.
The Ibadan training was facilitated by Mr Ademu Aminu Ocheje, of the Nigeria Plant Quarantine Department, with the assistance of Dr B. Gnonlonfin of the ECOWAS Commission and Dr C.S. Fall, consultant to USDA, who also doubles as an Entomology expert.
Oyo State Head of NAQS Post Entry Diagnostic and Surveillance Station, Ibadan, Mr A.O. Ogunfunmilayo, coordinated the practical field and laboratory training for participants.
The participants took cowpea pods and corns from the fields, which were analysed in the laboratory, and they also engaged in other practical tasks on inspection of commodities.
Speaking during the training, Dr Gnonlonfin said, “Proper inspection is a fundamental step in the trade of agricultural commodities that guarantees the compliance to the national and international regulations, which contributes to safe trade, by ensuring the safeguarding of consumer health, plant and animal health and the environment”.
On his part, Dr Fall said that the training will help promote the safe trade of agricultural products in West Africa.
He added, “This is a starting point of the harmonization process of the Phytosanitary inspection procedure in West Africa, which will also help the region to be ready to join the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, AfCFTA, and integrate into it”.
Director, Plant Quarantine Department and IPPC contact in Nigeria, Mr Obaje John Abah, who delivered the closing remarks on behalf of the Hon Minister of Agriculture and the DG, NAQS, said the training was crucial for the safe export of agro-commodities.
“If you don’t have training hands to put things right, zero tolerance for pest and safeguarding of consumable foods for local consumption, exports and imports, cannot be attained,” he said.
The director further lauded the organisers, sponsors, facilitators and those who made the training a success, expressing confidence that the engagement will ensure that agricultural produce meets international regulations.
At the end of the workshop, certificates were issued to participants.
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