Plant Health

The Pacific’s fragile ecosystem is constantly at risk from invasive species, pests and diseases. It is therefore vital that sustainable and appropriate management practices are developed and utilized to ensure   sustained productive use of the land. Plant Health aims to promote these practices by utilizing its three main units, entomology, pathology and weeds in undertaking regular surveys of pests and diseases, providing information, creating awareness among farmers,  updating information databases and assisting in eradication activities. 

About Plant Health
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 15:19
The Plant Health Team comprises of three sections, entomology, pathology and weeds. Together, the team aims to contribute to LRD’s objective of Integrated and sustainable agricultural and forestry resource management and development. This is achieved through developing and promoting sustainable and appropriate forest, agriculture and land use practices. The team also contributes to LRD’s objective of improved biosecurity and increased trade in agriculture and forestry products by strengthening and providing information on national capacity to comply with international and other relevant standards and develop and promote sustainable and viable post-harvest technologies.

Output 2.2: Sustainable and appropriate forest, agriculture and land use management practices developed and promoted

Sustainable management practices need to be developed to achieve results. These are often effectively promoted by getting farmers to actively participate in farm research and demonstration. Pest management is a critical element in sustainable forestry and agriculture. The fragile nature of PICTs and the desire of many to do organic agriculture indicate a critical need for environmentally friendly options including IPM, biological control and cultural control methods. Where there are no other options, the Plant Health team works with stakeholders to choose pesticides that are least harmful to the environment and humans or to minimize use of other pesticides.Recent examples of pest management strategies developed with stakeholders:
  • Biological control using a small weevil of water hyacinth in Vanuatu, a weed strangling the waterways.
  • Control of yam anthracnose (Glomerella cingulata/Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) through use of a plant resistance activator, compost tea (phylloplane biocontrol) and other new fungicides.
  • Development of cultural control methods for kava dieback that farmers will use. Use of modern biotechnology allowed Plant Health and Fiji government scientists to identify localised distribution of the virus in the kava plants which led to the development of selective rogueing techniques.
  • Biological control of mile-a-minute weed (Mikania micrantha) in Fiji and Papua New Guinea
Use of Plant Derived Pesticides (PDPs) for farmers with limited access to alternatives (e.g. financially or geographically).

Output 2.4: Invasive species, pests, and disease problems identified and addressed, and capacity to respond at national and regional levels supported

It is important to manage pests, diseases and other invasive species in order to maintain food security and protect our fragile ecosystems for the benefit of our current and future resource users. The Plant Health team provides technical support to PICTs for the development of national contingency plans for specific pests based on the national Emergency Response Plans. In the event of an incursion of a pest into a country, the Plant Health group provides technical expertise and assists in assessing the potential for eradication or, in the event that the pest is established, develops options for management with the stakeholders. Member countries are assisted to undertake regular surveys of plant pests and animal diseases, these are updated in the PICTS Information Database such as the Pacific Pest List Database(PPLD). Some recent incursions in which the PH team provided this support was in an eradication of papaya ringspot virus in the Cook Islands and a delimiting survey and subsequent public awareness for citrus Huanglongbing (greening) disease after it crossed the border into Papua New Guinea. Various weed eradications including African Tulip (Spathodea campanulata) in Palau, Yap and Chuuk are ongoing.
Training and development of training materials are also undertaken by the Plant Health team to strengthen plant protection capacity in the region.

Output 3.1: National capacity to comply with international and other relevant standards strengthened

To facilitate trade in agricultural and forestry products, PICTs must meet a variety of international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and food safety standards. The Plant Health team helps provide information and advice to countries to implement in the practical fulfillment of international obligations. A few examples of this support include providing information on choices for organic pest management that will not breach organic standards, mentoring in how to conduct delimiting surveys, and plant virus indexing for safe movement of plant genetic resources.

Output 3.3: Sustainable and viable post-harvest technologies developed and promoted

Post-harvest handling and value-adding methods are important to meeting the quality requirements of the market and the quarantine requirements of importing countries. PICTS are continuously supported to develop post harvest technologies in order to contribute to post-harvest quality. A participatory activity investigating the steps in the commodity pathway from improving health of papaya plants and the soil they are grown in through to handling and postharvest treatments had started in the Cook Islands.

Output 3.4: Improved information available on plant and animal health status

A major part of the work of the Plant Health team is supporting countries in plant pest diagnosis and national plant pest surveys. This is a service provided to PICTs and is on-going. The PPLD and PAHIS provide information on plant and animal pest status which is a precondition for trading in agricultural and forestry products.

For more information, please contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,Plant Health Coordinator.