VERONICA MANUK of UNRE
Bio-security is a major global issue affecting Papua New Guinea as the country does not have natural barriers to keep out exotic pests and diseases.
This was the issue discussed on the University of Natural Resources and Environment’s radio program ‘Uni Tokaut’ last week.
Peter Mwayawa, a lecturer in plant protection for more than 30 years, who featured in the programme, said this was a serious issue because Papua New Guinea was part of the wider world community and no longer an isolated island.
“PNG does not have natural barriers to keep out these exotic pests and diseases even though we have some strict quarantine regulations,” he said.
“Our plants and animal resources have the local value of K100 billion and contribute more than K2 billion in export income.”
Mr Mwayawa also raised concerns that the country did not have proper plant and animal health policies.
He said it was important that these policies were developed as they would be used for:
* Threats and risks identification including assessment;
* Implementing comprehensive risks management strategies to minimise the impact of pest incursions;
* Developing bio-security measures at provincial, district, local level government and farm levels;
* Developing comprehensive and effective diagnostic network at national and international levels;
* Developing effective incursion response programme, shared understanding of responsibilities, training and infrastructure; and
* Effective planning and identification and development of research and development activities to support plant and animal health initiatives.
Mr Mwayawa said bio-security was an important component of agriculture.
“It involves a set of measures designed to protect plants and animals from emergency pests that have already established in the country or entirely new serious pests that are likely to have an adverse economic impact if they become established at national, regional and local community farm levels,” he said.
Mr Mwayawa said an emergency plant pest may also be a plant pest that was officially controlled but required emergency responses to ensure that a large scale epidemic of regional or national significance did not occur.
An example he highlighted was the cocoa pod borer (CPB) which has adversely affected and devastated the economy of East New Britain.
This, he said, was because most household income and small scale businesses of the East New Britain people revolved around cocoa.
Mr Mwayawa also said it was crucial that people took stock of traditional and novel invasive species and their social and economic impacts on the medium team development strategy.