By Dorcas Kabuya

The Plant Quarantine and Phytosanitary Service (PQPS) and other stakeholders in the agricultural sector have validated the Plant Health Bill with the view of addressing new and emerging challenges in the sector.

PQPS Chief Plant Health Inspector, Doreen Chomba, noted in her opening remarks that the key provisions of the Plant Health Bill include stringent measures to regulate the import and export of plant materials, rigorous quarantine protocols to prevent the entry of pests and diseases.

Dr. Chomba said the validation of the Plant Health Bill is a reflection of Ministry of Agriculture’s commitment to protecting the agricultural landscape.

And Head Vegetable Business Unit from Seedco Zambia, Eric Mwenda, called on PQPS to enhance its awareness programme to ensure that all stakeholders dealing in plant and plant products are on the same page.

Mr. Mwenda stated that it was cardinal for government institutions and departments to come up with deliberate programmes to educate the stakeholders so as to improve the flow information adding that an organisations stakeholders can only appreciate the government processes if they are well informed.

“When the Bill is finalised and rectified by the relevant authorities, it is important that you come back to us to communication the changes either through radio or television so that we understand what has been put in place,” he appealed.

Meanwhile Emmanuel Jere from Good Nature Agro thanked Ministry of Agriculture for making the process of reviewing and validating the bill inclusive.

Mr. Jere appealed to PQPS to come up with a holistic view of pest management by protecting the agricultural space and preserving the invaluable role that beneficial pests play in the ecosystem.

“Safeguarding beneficial insects must be a priority, not just for agriculture but for the environment as a whole. Pollinators like bees play a vital role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems. By preserving these insects, PQPS will be contributing to a healthier environment and enhanced crop yields,” he said.

Mr. Jere further noted that by nurturing and protecting the beneficial insects, farmers can reduce their reliance on harmful chemical pesticides, leading to healthier crops and a more sustainable agricultural system.

The validation of the Plant health Bill is a proactive step to ensure food security, safeguard the livelihoods of farmers and protect sector from the threats of invasive pests and diseases.