Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Green Mbozi says there has been an increase in the introduction and spread of transboundary plant pests in the recent years.

In a speech read for him by Central province permanent secretary Milner Mwanakampwe at the Phyto-sanitary Information Management Systems (PIMS) workshop which was held in Kabwe.

Mr. Mbozi said the increase in the transboundary plant pests is due to trade, climate change and other factors.

He disclosed that the fall armyworms, fruit flies, tomato leaf miner, banana diseases, cassava diseases are among the most destructive transboundary plant pests that Zambia has experienced in the recent past.

The permanent secretary further added that Zambia’s location as a transit point in the COMESA and SADC regions for plant and plant products, and as a final consumer of imported products makes it vulnerable to plant pests.

Mr. Mbozi added that this has created a lot of work for the plant health inspectors positioned at various borders and strategic in -land stations across the country.

He also said Zambia can enhance its agricultural sector by engaging in the regional and international trade owing to the country’s comparative advantage in the production and agricultural commodities.

He further said that for Zambia to occupy its rightful position in the international trading arena, it is important for the country to conform to multilateral trading regimes including sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Mr. Mbozi said (PIMS) is one of the most important tools that will assist in mitigating phytosanitary threats and facilitate safe trade in plant and plant products across borders.

PIMS are also expected to serve as repository for pest information which will benefit a range of users such as farmers, agriculture extension workers, plant health inspectors, researchers and many others.

And Director of Plant Quarantine and Phyto-sanitary Services Kenny Msiska said the purpose of the training was to enable the plant health inspectors across the country have access to PIMS tool and are able to retrieve the information needed to develop addendums.

Dr. Msiska said that the phytosanitary requirements need to be scientifically justified and consistent and as such the need for the country to put all pest information together in a bid to protect the agriculture sector.

Dr. Msiska disclosed that the government is training plant healthy inspectors across the country with support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID). -NAIS