Many countries in Africa lack the necessary infrastructure and phytosanitary expertise to demonstrate compliance with international standards in plant protection and safety of agricultural products, which effectively excludes them from the major export markets. This lack of capacity and standards also increases the risk of the introduction and spread of invasive species and pests on the continent through imports. Therefore, it has become necessary to address this problem by increasing the potential for phytosanitary capacity building in Africa for both the public and private sector.
The Phytosanitary Centre of Excellence (COPE) will be established with two major functions:
To train phytosanitary inspectors and quality control experts from National Plan Protection Organizations (NPPOs), as well as sensitize farmers and exporter associations on phytosanitary matters both on practical and academic levels;
To provide the private sector industry and the NPPOs with inputs in Plant Risk Analysis (PRA) and pest management in African countries to enhance the import and export of agricultural commodities to protect plant resources and enhance access to export markets. While the immediate purpose of the Centre is capacity enhancement, directed towards staff of NPPOs in the region as well as within the private sector, the longer-term aim of this process will be to increase the ability of the countries concerned to compete effectively in global markets, by enabling them to meet the stringent phytosanitary standards of developed countries where the most lucrative potential export markets are found. Increased access to international markets, both within and outside Africa, creates wealth at all levels, from macro-economic growth to poverty reduction at both the individual and family levels.
The training will be done in collaboration with the University of Nairobi, KEPHIS and other collaborating phytosanitary regulatory institutions in the East African region.