Strengthening Sanitary and Phytosanitary Systems in Burundi: A transformative training experience

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17 October 2023, Africa: To ensure the competitiveness of Burundi’s agricultural products on the international market, the on-going project on strengthening Burundi’s plant health system initiated a training programme aimed at increasing the country’s capacity to improve its Sanitary and Phytosanitary Systems (SPS).

Over the course of a month, the programme sponsored the training of 10 selected officials from relevant Burundian government agencies in various aspects of SPS including pest and disease diagnostics, laboratory management, and pest surveillance.

The training was conducted under the Center of Phytosanitary Excellence (COPE) and was hosted at various centres of the Kenya’s National Plant Protection Organization (KEPHIS) in Nairobi.

COPE has been developed to spearhead the capacity building of Africa’s national sanitary and phytosanitary systems. It has already trained over 4,000 practitioners from more than 19 countries in Africa – helping countries meet market requirements for international export of fruits and vegetables.

A multifaceted training approach

The 20-day training in Kenya was a comprehensive experience that combined various teaching methodologies to maximize the learning of the Burundian team. These included lectures, presentations, class discussions, site visits, and laboratory exercises.

The training sessions were conducted in five counties: Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Mombasa, and Nakuru, ensuring a well-rounded educational experience.

Key topics covered

The training programme covered a wide range of topics crucial for effective phytosanitary systems – including the introduction to the World Trade Organization (WTO)-SPS agreement, international agreements, principles, and standards.

Other aspects of the training were the responsibilities, functions, and the legal framework of a National Plant Protection Officer (NPPO) as well as the operations of a phytosanitary import regulatory system, pest surveillance and early warning systems.

The training further covered Horizon Scanning and Pest Risk Analysis (PRA), compliance procedures, sampling, inspections, and documentation for various import and export products and import control and post-entry quarantine.

Practical experience

The training was not confined to classrooms and theoretical knowledge alone. The team from Burundi had the opportunity to visit various facilities and organizations, where they gained practical insights.

Some of these experiences included a visit to Kenya Cuttings Ltd, where they learned about the production of Pelargonium plant cuttings for export, and a trip to the Finlays Kenya facility where they were encouraged to implement innovative practices to improve the quality of Burundian tea.

The participants also received comprehensive seed system training in Nakuru, which included visits to trial sites at the KEPHIS office, Kenya Seed Company Ltd, and the Bayer-Monsanto grain handling facility.

Recommendations and action points

At the end of the training, the Burundian team reconvened at KEPHIS headquarters, where they formulated take-home recommendations and action points. These will guide the implementation of their newfound knowledge and skills in Burundi’s agricultural sector.

The closing ceremony was attended by Dr Isaac Macharia, the KEPHIS Phytosanitary Services General Manager, who commended the trainees for their dedication and urged them to make a difference in their country.

Dr Célestin Niyongere, the Programme Leader for Crops Production at the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU) and Plantwise coordinator in Burundi, expressed the Burundian government’s gratitude to CABI for facilitating this transformative training.

The commitment of organizations like CABI, KEPHIS, and COPE in enhancing the capacity of African countries in phytosanitary systems is commendable, he said.

Compliance with international standards

The month-long training in Kenya was a remarkable journey for the Burundian personnel. It equipped them with essential knowledge and practical experiences that will undoubtedly strengthen Burundi’s phytosanitary systems.

As they return home, it is expected that they will play a pivotal role in improving their country’s agricultural trade and ensuring compliance with international standards. This training is a testament to the importance of international cooperation and knowledge sharing in building a sustainable future for agriculture.

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(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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