USDA announced major partnerships at the Africa Food Systems Forum in Tanzania last week focusing on plant and animal health.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will work closely with the World Organization of Animal Health to develop resources “for early detection of zoonotic infections in wildlife, standardizing trade issue management methods, and reducing food supply chain disruptions,” USDA said.

USDA also is collaborating with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's International Plant Protection Convention and the African Union to create the Africa Phytosanitary Program. The initiative aims to equip Africa with advanced tools for preventing, detecting, and managing significant plant pests and diseases.

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“The connections between plant pests, crop losses and food shortages are evident in Africa,” Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA's undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, said in Tanzania last week

“With plant pests undermining crop production and causing losses between 30-60 percent annually, the need for effective pest management strategies that address the detrimental effects of plant pests and plant and animal diseases is critical,” Moffitt added.

In its initial stage, the program will equip plant protection organizations with the proper means to “prevent, detect and mange” plant pests and diseases, USDA noted. The first-year Africa Phytosanitary Program will only include 11 countries, but plans are to integrate it into all 54 African countries by 2026.

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