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More than 60 plant health professionals attended the third plant health series event, funded by Defra, discussing international standards in Africa.

The use of multi-country coordination to limit the spread of transboundary pests in Africa was discussed regarding phytosanitary (plant health) measures.

The event was chaired by Dr Geraint Parry, executive officer of the Association of Applied Biologists, who introduced the keynote speaker, Dr MaryLucy Oronje, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) scientist at the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI).  

Dr Oronje has a PhD in biology from Bielefeld University, Germany, and has managed a wealth of projects and training in SPS. In her keynote, she drew on her 10 years' experience specialising in crop protection and integrated pest management to examine the challenges and solutions for pest control.

She discussed a number of selected pests of concern to Africa, from the Papaya mealybug (Paracoccus marginatus) to water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes).

Dr Oronje outlined the challenges of the prevention of pests crossing borders, noting weak border biosecurity and an inadequate infrastructure to limit invasions are some of the main issues society needs to tackle.

She went on to propose opportunities to minimise the spread of pests in Africa, including the necessities of pest risk analysis, pest modelling, and surveillance.

Dr Oronje touched upon some of the projects CABI is involved to help limit the spread of these pests, including strengthening the horticulture sector in Ghana to enhance exports to the EU and using drones as a means of surveillance in tracking desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) populations.

The event ended with an audience Q&A and discussion, chaired by Dr Parry, which brought about insightful comments from Dr Oronje on the issues she raised in her talk.

Previous events in the plant health series include a summer conference discussing cutting-edge research and a keynote address by UK chief plant health officer Professor Nicola Spence CBE FRSB on plant biosecurity.

A recording of this event will be available on the RSB YouTube channel.