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A new program to build skills in plant biosecurity in eastern Africa will help address significant regional plant pest and disease issues and facilitate intra-regional trade through Australian support.

The two-year $0.8m Plant Biosecurity Capacity Development Initiative – which is funded through the Australian International Food Security Research Centre within ACIAR (the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) – will be delivered by a consortium led by Australia’s Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre, including CSIRO, the Crawford Fund and CABI International

The initiative contributes to the Australian Government’s focus on aid for trade and economic growth.  It will improve agricultural productivity and sustainability, strengthen agricultural value chains and help overcome regulatory impediments, while building capacity for agricultural innovation in Australia and Africa.

“Poor capacity to control the movement of significant plant pests and diseases in eastern Africa limits farmer incomes and food security, and is an obstacle to regional trade of agricultural products,” said Dr Nick Austin, CEO of ACIAR.

Speaking on ACIAR’s biosecurity research program in Melbourne on 18 July 2014, Dr Austin said the initiative will leverage Australia’s world-class strength, experience and comparative advantage in biosecurity.

“Biosecurity is a global challenge,” said Dr Michael Robinson, CEO of the Plant Biosecurity CRC.

“If our expertise can help developing nations with crop protection and export opportunities, then Australia will benefit from a stronger global biosecurity system.”

Established in response to requests from African stakeholders, the program will commence with a regional workshop, to be conducted in Nairobi in coming months. 

Activities are expected to include short-term placements of African biosecurity specialists in relevant Australian agencies, plant biosecurity workshops in Africa, a mentoring system for African participants and funding assistance for developing biosecurity action plans at national and regional level.

The Plant Biosecurity Capacity Development Initiative aims to leverage support from other international agencies and to complement other work underway on plant biosecurity issues in Africa.

More information is available on the project pages on the AIFSRC and Plant Biosecurity CRC websites: