APEC Member economies have agreed to strengthen biosecurity planning and surveillance capacity in the agricultural sector at a meeting of APEC's Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this week.
Acting on a proposal from Malaysia, the ATC Working Group has agreed to develop the new measures through a series of regional workshops on bio-security planning and surveillance for plant pests.
The Chair of the ATC Working Group and Director of the Korea Rural Economic Institute, Dr. Se-Ik Oh, said the damage inflicted upon the poultry industry by the recent outbreak of Avian Influenza demonstrates the need for increased biosecurity planning and surveillance capacity.
"Enhancing the capacity of economies to respond to outbreaks of diseases such as Avian Influenza will have significant economic benefits for the region," Dr. Oh said at the conclusion of the ATC Working Group Meeting.
"The agricultural sector must be prepared for worst case scenarios in order to protect our crops and wildlife.
"The new biosecurity planning and surveillance capacity measures are intended to ensure the agricultural sector can attempt to avert disasters and recover quickly after any threat has passed.
"The ATC Working Group is intending to hold the first workshop on Risk Assessment, Management and Emergency Issues in Agricultural Biotechnology in Korea in November 2004."
Dr. Oh congratulated organizers of the meeting in Chiang Mai and said Thailand is certainly a world class venue for meetings.
"Thailand's excellent arrangements for hosting this APEC meeting were instrumental to its successful outcome."
Other initiatives supported by the 8th Plenary Meeting of ATC Working Group meeting from June 15-18 included facilitating trade in agricultural products through the use of electronic health and quarantine certificates and building networks to transfer agricultural technology, particularly to developing economies.
The next full ATC Working Group meeting will take place in June 2005 in Korea.
An important objective of the ATC Working Group is to assist agricultural producers, both large and small, around the APEC Region to enhance their efficiency. The ATC Working Group is providing a high level of support to assist small and medium enterprises increase exports of fresh fruit and vegetables by enhanced supply chain management.
Further information about the ATC Working Group can be found on the APEC Website.