In Manila, Philippines, a gathering of representatives from the National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam aimed to explore the complexities of conducting pest risk assessments for cross-border seed movement, an integral part of broader efforts to enhance their sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capabilities and promote regional seed trade. Dr. Ravi Khetarpal, Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), extended a warm welcome to participants, emphasizing the significance of conducting pest risk analysis for seeds to optimize resources and prevent the intrusion of unwanted pests into the country. Dr. Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban, Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the Philippines, underscored the transformative power of collaboration between various NPPOs and seed sector representatives, highlighting its role in establishing a robust public-private partnership. Each country's distinct seed import requirements, including phytosanitary testing, declaration, and registration in the importing nation, were discussed, recognizing the challenges and financial implications faced by seed companies. Dr. Shivendra Bajaj, Project Manager for APAARI, emphasized the workshop's focus on developing a seed-borne pest list to streamline pest risk assessments for seed movement, ultimately saving time and resources for NPPOs and the seed sector. Launched in November 2022, the project seeks to create a pest list tailored to seeds, building upon the International Seed Federation's (ISF) existing list for 14 vegetable crops and using it as a reference for the top five vegetable crop seeds in participating countries. Dr. Mary Ann P. Sayoc, President of the Philippines Seed Industry Association, stressed the importance of a collaborative approach between regulators and the seed sector to strike a balance between facilitating international seed trade and safeguarding against pests and diseases, an essential aspect addressed in the workshop. The project aims to strengthen collaboration among countries, fostering public-private trust and partnerships necessary to make high-quality seeds accessible and enhance regional food security. Dr. Mafizul Islam, the NPPO representative from Bangladesh, lauded the informative nature of such workshops, enabling quarantine personnel to apply their newfound knowledge to execute pest risk analyses for seeds, thus boosting seed trade and contributing to food security. The Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) serves as the implementing partner of STDF, while the Asia and Pacific Seed Alliance (APSA), the International Seed Federation (ISF), CropLife Asia (CLA), and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) are associated technical partners in this project. APAARI is a multi-stakeholder, apolitical, membership-based, and intergovernmental regional organization committed to catalyzing collective action for the improvement of agri-food research and innovation systems, promoting sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region.
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