The APEC Agricultural Technical Working Group's (ATCWG) Biosecurity Planning and Surveillance Capacity Building Workshops were opened by the Honourable Tan Sri Dato' Hj. Muhyiddin bin Mohd. Yasin, Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur today.
The workshops involving plant health and agricultural scientists will build regional expertise to combat cross-border noxious pests that threaten the livelihoods of rural communities around the APEC Region.
Dato' Hjh. Khamsiah Hj. Muhammad, Director-General, Department of Agriculture Malaysia "urged serious commitment and cooperation from delegates in enhancing and strengthening their Biosecurity Planning & Surveillance capacity and capabilities to face the tremendous challenges in this era of globalization and trade liberalization."
The Honourable Minister, in his opening address, stressed that "in order to address threats posed by alien invasive species, it is imperative that plant health authorities have a sound knowledge of the health status of agricultural industries within their economy."
"Biosecurity planning is, therefore, a strategic exercise focusing attention on the opportunities for industry to take pre-emptive action, including through research and development, against exotic pests that pose the greatest threat to productivity.
"Biosecurity planning is also a key component that underpins any economy's readiness to trade and access markets in that it strengthens the economy's credentials in expounding that its production areas and ecosystems are free from undesirable invasives."
Dato' Hjh. Khamsiah Hj. Muhammad also added that he looks forward to the development of a National Biosecurity Plan for Malaysia following the Workshop.
A new publication, "Guidelines for Plant Pest Surveillance in Asia and the Pacific" will also be used for the first time at the Workshop. Dr. Graeme Evans, a research scientist from Australia who will speak at the workshop, said the publication by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), is intended to assist scientists needing to undertake plant health surveillance activities.
"This publication is particularly important for economies intending to import and export agricultural commodities under the rules of the WTO," Dr. Evans said.
"This information is being shared so that, as a region, we can make progress in overcoming the potential damage caused by the spread of noxious pests across borders."
The ATCWG Biosecurity Planning and Surveillance Capacity Building Workshop that began this morning will run until August 20. It is being attended by registered delegates from APEC Member Economies, the Deputy Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat and a series of invited speakers from intergovernmental agencies.
At the conclusion of the Workshop, delegates are expected to implement the new measures and expand skill levels in their home economies.