Invasives Blog

An online course on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Systems (SPS) is now globally available in Dari – one of Afghanistan’s official languages. The training module ‘Plant Pest Identification Systems’ aims to highlight the importance of establishing an official plant pest identification system that provides an appropriate level of traceability and legal authority for regulatory agencies to meet international trade standards.

CABI, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) and The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is implementing the SPS training project with a remote learning capability. The aim is to build the capacity of Plant Protection Quarantine Division (PPQD) staff working within the Government of Afghanistan’s (GoA)Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL).

The module is publicly available through the USDA-FAS and USAID Feed the Future platform at and can be also be accessed offline through the Moodle App. Users must first register their details and download the course on the app using mobile data or a Wi-Fi connection.

This course covers basic science-based principles of pest identification and is applicable to anyone working in the production and trade of agricultural commodities, including laboratories, private industry, universities, and regulatory authorities. Module users will learn about the importance of identification laboratories, testing protocols and recordkeeping to support regulatory action. Also, the module features the importance of clear communication of pest identification procedures to all stakeholders involved in dealing with plant pests.

Mr Sardar Ali Abbasi, Head of Quarantine and Plant Protection at Afghanistan’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Division, said this course will help the country’s National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), quarantine officials, and regulatory and development agencies to understand and apply sound scientific principles to authorize pest identification in Afghanistan.

Plant Pest Identification Systems is a priority topic for Afghanistan’s PPQD

Pest identification samples (Credit: CABI).

The need to customize and translate a ‘Plant Pest Identification Systems’ module was identified through a baseline study conducted in October 2020. The baseline assessment was conducted by Kabul-based CABI officers to determine the SPS capability and compliance within the PPQD.

The baseline study results encompassed all aspects of resources, talent, procedures, practice, and constraints related to SPS compliance in Afghanistan. One of the key recommendations was to deliver training on priority SPS topics, namely ‘Plant Pest Identification Systems,’ ‘Quarantine Inspections’ and ‘Pest Risk Assessment.’

The GoA recognizes international trade as a key factor in economic growth with trade and regional cooperation as critical elements of their developmental strategy. Being a World Trade Organization (WTO) member, the GoA is committed to unlocking the country’s export sector potential. Being an agriculture-based country, 70% of the country’s population is directly or indirectly connected to this sector. It is important for an agricultural country like Afghanistan to understand the changing trade environment, and be mindful of issues and reforms for improvement.

For improving trade for agricultural commodities and export promotion, MAIL has focused to strengthen and improve their SPS systems for agricultural commodities and export promotion. However, a gap of harmonization of standards and regulations exists and weakened technical and institutional capacities have augmented the need to develop a reliable system to meet the WTO’s SPS standards for international trade.

Additional information

Main photo: English and Dari version of Plant Pest ID Systems is now available at the SPS online training website.


Dr Muzammil Farooq – Project Manager


Zakria Faizi



For more information, please contact:
Jessica Mudjitaba-Fernandez
Tel: +1-202-690-1843

Dr Muzammil Farooq
Tel: +92 (0)51 843497

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