Home News Solomon Islands biosecurity training boosts safe trade efforts

Solomon Islands biosecurity training boosts safe trade efforts

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Solomon Islands is stepping up its efforts to manage invasive pests and boost safe trade through fresh training for its biosecurity, extension and research officers, as well as the private sector. The recently completed training of 32 officers was directed by SPC in collaboration with the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the Solomon Islands Biosecurity Development Programme (SIBDP).

The training was held from 17 to 21 April in Honiara, Solomon Islands and co-funded by the European Union through the Safe Agricultural Trade Facilitation through Economic Integration in the Pacific (SAFE Pacific) project and SIBDP.

“Biosecurity plays a pivotal role in market access and the economy, ensuring that the import of plants and plant products into the Solomon Islands is safe,” said SPC Biosecurity Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) Coordinator Dr. Visoni Timote. “Likewise, when agricultural products are exported, pest and disease risks, including their entry and spread, are also addressed.”

The training included officers from Biosecurity Solomon Islands (BSI), officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) – Extension Department, relevant government departments and representatives from the private sector, including agricultural commodity growers, processors and exporters. SPC’s Timote and Riten Gosai, in collaboration with Carol Quashie Williams from DAFF, facilitated.

The first three days of the training focused on helping biosecurity officers master pest risk assessment principles. These principles include the essential processes and frameworks to identify pests and pest risks, in addition to risk evaluation methodology and further mitigation steps. The training also focused on providing officers the skills to write market access submissions for the export of plants and plant products from the Solomon Islands.

The training is timely as the Solomon Islands has been negotiating with trading partners to export taro, cassava and fresh fruits and vegetables. This will help develop pathways and enable efficient negotiation of export procedures and import specifications set by the importing countries.

“This is an opportunity to encourage and offer support to Biosecurity Solomon Islands to also strengthen its ongoing surveillance and monitoring activities for priority pests and diseases, as these activities are a pivotal component in a systems approach for the trade of fresh fruits and vegetables,” said SPC Biosecurity Officer Riten Gosai.

 BSI Director Francis Tsatsia thanked DAFF and SPC and acknowledged the EU SAFE Pacific Project at the close of the training.

“After this training, the officers are more confident in conducting import risk analysis,” said Tsatsia. “We are happy that DAFF and SPC, through the Pacific Plant Protection Organisation and SAFE Pacific Project, stand ready to provide further support and coaching as the team requires.”

Tsatsia added that although countries such as Fiji and Tonga have successfully used the systems approach to trade fresh agricultural commodities, it is a new concept for the Solomon Islands. His team is eager to work with MAL Extension, MAL Research and the private sector to develop pathways for Solomon Island products. As a start, BSI is looking to facilitate the import of orchids and other ornamental plants from Fiji. It will also look to facilitate export of selected fresh commodities to Australia, Kiribati and China, as well as value-added products to Europe in the long run.

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