Twenty eight Phytosanitary experts from 11 SADC Member States met at the Rainbow Towers Hotel and Conference Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe from 3 – 5 March, 2015 to harmonize phytosanitary import regulations for horticultural commodities that are traded within the region and between SADC and the European Union (EU). These phytosanitary import regulations will serve as a basis for export certification.
Phytosanitary measures are any legislation, regulation or official procedure having the purpose to prevent the introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests, orto limit the economic impact of regulated non-quarantine pests. It is important that Member States base their phytosanitary measures on the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). ISPMs facilitate safe trade by providing guidance on procedures, regulations and treatments that can be used to manage pest risk s associated with the international movement of goods and conveyances.
Following the Regional Economic Integration Support (REIS) programme sponsored Study to identify Phytosanitary measures hindering trade in the SADC Region, 19 products were selected by the SADC Plant Protection Technical Committee (PPTC) for harmonization based on the identified phytosanitary challenges presented in the report.
The products selected are: citrus, avocado, apple, pear, litchi, watermelon, tomato, pineapple, peppers, mango, banana, prunes, strawberries (berries), butternut, grapes, passion fruit, guavas and pawpaw. SPS Measures are mandatory requirements adopted by Member States to protect the health and lives of humans, animals and plants from risks associated with diseases, pests and contamination of foodstuffs and to prevent damage caused by establishment or spread of pests and diseases.
Presenting a speech at the official opening of the workshop, the Permanent Secretary at the Zimbabwe Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development, Mr Rueben Chitsiko, emphasized the importance of standards harmonization in the facilitation of regional and international trade.
He also highlighted the need for Member States, as expressed in Article 16 of the SADC Protocol on Trade which came into force in January 2000, to base their SPS measures on international standards, guidelines and recommendations so as to harmonize SPS measures for food and agro-products.
Harmonization of phytosanitary regulations allows the region to have the same or equivalent phytosanitary regulations governing importation of commodities into their territories. The meeting in Harare reviewed the lists of pests of quarantine importance affecting the above mentioned horticultural fruits using risk assessment procedure developed by IPPC. The harmonization programme will continue for the selected products and once complete, other products of trade importance will be identified.
Participation of the phytosanitary experts from the National Plant Protection Organisations at the harmonization meeting was made possible through funding from the REIS Programme.