Plant quarantine experts on Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) from four countries in South Asia joined together in Bangladesh last week (4th -5th September) for a workshop led by CABI on the new Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) decision support tool and workflow. The PRA tool workshop, which was made possible through CABI’s Action on Invasives programme, took place over two days in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The regional event, coordinated by Dr Malvika Chaudhary (Asia Regional Coordinator) with kind support from Ganeshamoorthy Rajendran (Country Coordinator, South Asia) brought together and welcomed participants from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, as well as delegates from FAO and SAARC, Bangladesh.
In his opening remarks, Dr Md. Abdur Rouf, Additional Secretary, PPC Wing, Dhaka, explained the importance of agriculture to the region, and the need to be aware of the risks that pests, particularly invasive alien pests, pose to the agricultural sector. Later, the participants were addressed by AZM Sabbir Ibne Zahan, Director, Plant Protection Wing, Dhaka. He reiterated the importance of this work to the region. During the workshop, CABI experts presented CABI’s Crop Protection Compendium (CPC), PRA decision support tool and Horizon Scanning Tool (HST), all of which are designed and maintained with risk assessors in mind.
The PRA tool has been developed to make the job of conducting PRAs easier and more efficient by guiding users through the steps required in completing a PRA and making relevant information easy to access. The workflow of the tool is closely aligned with the International Plant Protection Convention’s (IPPC) International Standards on Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), particularly ISPM 2 and ISPM 11, which outline the process for completing a PRA.
Participants at the regional PRA workshop gained hands-on experience of completing a pathway-initiated PRA using the decision support tool. They were able to go through the full process from initiation, to risk assessment and finally risk management for the species highlighted by the tool. In the initiation stage of a pathway-initiated PRA, the tool generates a list of species that may need assessing for risk to the PRA area. It is from this list that risk assessors can begin to assess the probability of entry, establishment, and spread of particular species, as well as potential impact of the species should it arrive and establish in the PRA area. For high risk species, risk management options are identified by users and documented in the tool.
As risk assessors are aware, completing PRAs is a highly data demanding activity. The PRA tool uses the wealth of content that CABI has gathered in the CPC to provide the necessary information to complete accurate Pest Risk Analysis reports. This includes distribution data, host information, methods of movement and pest management information.
The participants of the workshop were very excited and completed all exercises presented in the workshop with great enthusiasm. Some participants shared that they were not using any proper method for doing PRAs, but this training had instilled confidence in them to do complete PRAs on their own, and all participants will now take their learnings back to their respective countries, to train their fellow colleagues and teams on the use of the tool.
At the moment, CABI’s PRA tool is in a beta stage, and is available as a free trial to CPC subscribers. After its full launch in October 2019, it will be made available as an add-on for users of the CPC. CABI has also offered gratis access to 97 NPPOs from lower and middle income countries.
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