Recognizing the magnitude of this emerging threat, some economically developed countries in Asia have invested enormous resources to minimize the potential damage and economic losses caused by invasive alien species, with very limited success. Therefore, it is important for countries in the region to share and establish common measures to efficiently and effectively minimize the potential threat of invasive alien species, particularly plant pests, based upon proper risk assessment and management.
In view of the above, FFTC organized the international seminar on Management of Major Emerging Plant Pests in Agriculture in the Asian and Pacific Region held in Taipei, Taiwan ROC in November 10-15, 2008, in cooperation with the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ), Council of Agriculture (COA), Taiwan ROC; the National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences (NIAES), Japan; and the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute (TFRI), COA.
The primary goal of the seminar was to provide a venue for the sharing and exchange of relevant knowledge and experiences in the monitoring, surveillance, and information management of emerging plant pests, as well as in maintaining an information flow and database sharing to facilitate international cooperation in addressing this major concern. Attended by 19 speakers from 8 countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan ROC, Thailand, and Vietnam) and about 30 guests and local participants, the seminar focused on the sharing of information and experiences on risk analysis and management schemes for invasive plant pests, as well as on the current status and trends of invasion, spread and establishment of important emerging plant pests in the Asian region. It also promoted the importance of a continuous information buildup and improvement of functionality of the Asian-Pacific Alien Species Database (APASD), which is a vital information resource in formulating measures for the prevention and control of intentional and unintentional introduction, spread and establishment of invasive alien species.
There is clearly a great concern on the increasing rate of introduction of invasive plant pests among Asian countries. The economic damage and ecological impacts caused by these emerging pests have also been increasing, such that different countries have established their own mechanism for prevention and control.
Some of the various measures being undertaken by countries in the region include: promulgation/amendment of laws and regulations on invasive alien pests; pest risk analysis; strengthening of plant disease and pest surveillance and control; promotion of healthy seed and seedling programs; strengthening of import and export inspection/quarantine; strengthening of international cooperation on technology development for the identification and detection of exotic plant pests and phytosanitary measures for prevention; and raising public awareness about the problem.
Pest risk analysis provides the basis for making informed decisions on the best strategy to adopt for targeted species. Meanwhile, databases provide important information toward implementing responses such as monitoring for new biological invasions through systematic surveillance systems, field surveys, and other techniques. The important functions that information technology, such as geographic information system (GIS), plays in this context include diagnostic support, taxonomic databases and species fact sheets, distribution maps, and other management tools.
Some common measures in dealing with invasive plant pests, as identified during the seminar, include: strengthening of plant protection through the development and adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, pest monitoring (real-time) and pest control/management, inspection and quarantine measures, and pest risk analysis; and regional scientific information and technology exchange.
Risk assessment/management is an essential tool in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive plant pests. Hence, each country must have an established user-friendly mechanism that provides substantial analysis to assess the risks of organisms that are harmful to agricultural crops. It must be based on the international standard for phytosanitary measures (ISPM) on pest risk analysis, and must also address environmental risks.
Toward a regional approach to this growing concern on invasive plant pests, the APASD system must be made more functional and user-friendly, and must have a good interface and working link with various databases on invasive alien species worldwide such as the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). APASD's data buildup must also be intensified through institutional partnerships to make it a more useful and effective tool in the formulation of prevention and mitigation strategies, as well as to facilitate communication on the issue of invasive plant pests among scientists and researchers in the region. International/regional cooperation on technology development for the identification/detection of exotic plant pests and phytosanitary measures for prevention must also be strengthened.
One specific issue identified during the seminar is the contamination of weed seeds into imported feed grains and other materials for agricultural production that results to abrupt increase in alien weeds in importing countries. Trade negotiations to establish standards/regulations among exporting and importing countries, as well as the development of technologies for preventing the spread of noxious weeds, must therefore be addressed.
It is also critical for each country in the region to have the political will and government commitment to strengthen institutions involved in plant protection, inspection and quarantine, and to come up with policy and standards to safeguard their respective agricultural environment from invasive plant pests.
Finally, greater public awareness, and the involvement of farmers and all stakeholders must be promoted toward the successful adoption and application of measures to prevent the entry of and mitigate the risks and negative effects brought about by exotic pests, in order to ensure the safety and sustainability of the region's agricultural production and the protection of its ecosystem.
Held in TFRI, Taipei City, Taiwan ROC, November 10-15, 2008
No. of participating countries: 8 (Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan ROC, Thailand, Vietnam)
No. of papers presented: 19
No. of participants: 19 speakers and about 30 local participants/observers
Co-sponsors: National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences (NIAES), Japan; Taiwan Forestry Research Institute (TFRI); Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ), Council of Agriculture (COA), Taiwan ROC
For further information, contact:
Dr. Te-Yeh Ku, FFTC Technical Consultant
Figure 1 Taiwan has established a sound system of plant protection and quarantine based on international standards and guidelines, primarily consisting of strict prevention of harmful organisms from entering the country through international travel and trade, and effective measures for pest and disease prevention and management.
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