Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Staying ahead of the curve: CGIAR holds Germplasm Seed Health Workshop

Germplasm exchange is a regulated process governed by the phytosanitary policies and procedures of International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and national plant protection organizations. Since inception, CGIAR centres have adopted strict code of practice to ensure phytosanitary compliance executed by the purpose-made Germplasm/Seed  Health Units (GHUs), established as per the IPPC recommendation in the 6th International Plant Protection Congress held in Montreal in August 1993. The GHUs, titled differently in some centres (e.g. Plant Quarantine Unit, Seed Health Unit, Health Quarantine Unit), have a common mission of preventing the risk of accidental spread of pests and pathogens along with the germplasm. GHUs have adopted a multipronged interdisciplinary approach to accomplish this important objective.

In 2017, GHUs were aligned with the CGIAR Genebank Platform to address phytosanitary challenges to collection, conservation, seed increase and exchange of germplasm between genebanks and national and international partners around the world. The Genebank Platform fund enabled GHUs to align and harmonize policies, procedures and services, and establish GHU  Community of Practice (CoPs) for shared learning and capacity development. It also strengthened internal and external partnerships, and catalysed development of novel phytosanitary procedures and diagnostics methods to keep-up with ever changing phytosanitary risks due to emergence of new pests and pathogens, and consequent changes in phytosanitary policies. Awareness raising, advocacy and capacity development activities organized by GHU CoP has enhanced GHU profile, offered greater leverage and favourable concessions from national and international plant protection organizations.

The CGIAR Germplasm Health Workshop 2019, themed “Innovations and Strategies to Stay Ahead of the Curve”, is planned to inform achievements, challenges and prospects with key internal stakeholders and external partners to obtain feedback on the mission and chart future course to ensure resilient CGIAR germplasm health system to ensure unhindered international exchange of bioresources between the centres and partners.

SHU ensures compliance with plant quarantine regulations and seed health standards if both the importing and exporting country. SHU also ensures compliance with intellectual property right protocols stipulated in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture as indicated by Dr Gururaj Kulkarni, Head of Research & Regulatory Compliance and Seed Health Unit at IRRI HQ, Philippines. He also emphasised that SHU service cost to be included as part of all the research projects for sustained support from SHUs going forward.

At the 2019 meeting held at International Center For Agricultural Research In The Dry Areas (ICARDA), Rabat has engaged the representatives from Genebank, ISF (International Seed Federation), FAO, Crop Trust, APAARI (Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions) and NPPOs (National Plant Protection Organisations) from the countries. Apart from discussing the accomplishments and challenges, the team discussed the plan to work closely with NPPOs and partner with them to celebrate the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020 as called by FAO.

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