Scientists

Agricultural scientists announced Wednesday they have developed a framework for Global Surveillance System (GSS) for crop diseases to help improve food security globally.

Roger Day, Sanitary and Phytosanitary coordinator at the Centre for Agricultural and Biosciences International (CABI), said surveillance is a key component for effective prevention, early detection and rapid response to new invasive crop diseases, as well as for control of species already established.

“The innovative approaches will help strengthen national and regional capacity to respond to the growing threat of invasive species,” Day told journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday.

He noted that in East Africa, five major invasive species alone cause 1 billion dollars in economic losses to smallholder farmers each year.

The scientists called for the development of a global approach that will respond to existing and emerging crop diseases around the world.

Monica Carvajal, scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), observed that effective measures to control crop diseases already exist at a national and regional level in well-developed countries.

“What we need to do is gather those measures and adapt them to different regions and different crops, and implement new diagnostic technologies, especially in less developed countries with limited surveillance capacity to facilitate a prompt recovery response,” said Carvajal.

She noted that creating a global surveillance system for crop disease, is urgently needed since it is one of the best ways to ensure that the world can have sufficient food now and in the future.

The GSS for crop diseases calls for building the capacity across regions as well as creating regional hubs to coordinate the activities under the system. It also seeks to bring together best practices on the different aspects of crop protection.

The experts now plan to approach the Group of 20 countries and seek donor support to upscale the system.

The GSS for crop diseases will function through diagnostics network hubs, risk assessment network, data management network, communication network and management network.

The regional hubs will set priorities and focus attention on emerging issues for crop health by acquiring data from GSS, assimilating data in risk assessment models and publishing risk assessment information through the communication network. Enditem

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