AFRICA – At the recent Africa Food Systems Forum held in Tanzania, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled visionary collaborations aimed at fortifying plant and animal health across the African continent.

These transformative partnerships promise to usher in a new era of agricultural sustainability and food security, with far-reaching implications for Africa’s future.

Jenny Lester Moffitt, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the USDA, showcased the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) as a key player in a remarkable alliance with the World Organization of Animal Health (WOAH).

This strategic partnership is set to revolutionize the animal health landscape in Africa. Building upon their longstanding collaboration with the African Union (AU), APHIS and WOAH will embark on an ambitious mission.

Their projects will encompass the creation of cutting-edge tools for the early detection of emerging zoonotic infections in wildlife, harmonization of animal health processes, standardization of methods for addressing sensitive trade issues, and the minimization of disruptions in the food supply chain.

These initiatives are poised to safeguard both animal welfare and human health, demonstrating the global commitment to preventing the next pandemic at its source.

Africa Phytosanitary Program

In another momentous stride, the USDA has entered into a strategic alliance with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s International Plant Protection Convention and the African Union.

Together, they are birthing the Africa Phytosanitary Program—a game-changing endeavor with profound implications for agriculture on the continent.

Africa has long grappled with the menace of plant pests, which annually lead to crop losses ranging from 30% to a staggering 60%.

Moffitt emphasized the urgent need for effective pest management strategies, given that plant pests and diseases are inexorably linked to food shortages. The Africa Phytosanitary Program aims to be the solution to this dire problem.

This visionary program will empower national plant protection organizations across Africa with advanced, science-based approaches to thwart, detect, and manage significant plant pests and diseases.

These insidious threats have consistently undermined food security and economic growth on the continent.

The USDA’s APHIS has committed U.S$ 750,000 in financial support and in-kind expertise, culminating in the development of pest surveillance protocols, electronic data collection, reporting tools, training materials, and comprehensive training programs.

During the initial year of the pilot phase, 11 countries will benefit from this invaluable expertise, with the ultimate goal of including all 54 African nations by 2026.

As the Africa Food Systems Forum concluded in Tanzania, the partnerships forged between the USDA, WOAH, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and the African Union herald a brighter, more sustainable future for the continent.

These initiatives signify not only a commitment to safeguarding plant and animal health but also a determination to enhance food security, reduce crop losses, and foster economic growth.

Africa’s potential as an agricultural powerhouse is poised to flourish, while the threat of pandemics originating from wildlife is under closer scrutiny than ever before.

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