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Abstract

With the signing of the WTO/SPS and the IPPC agreements, there has been liberalization in the trade of plant products and an obligation on all countries to provide sound scientific data to support the application of any plant health measures. Caribbean states face immense challenges in fulfilling this obligation because of a lack of finances, personnel, technical competence, infrastructure and baseline data. Further, the insular Caribbean is one of the few regions of the globe that does not have a functioning regional organization to protect against alien plant pests, including invasive species. To address these problems, the first meeting of Caribbean Plant Health Directors (CPHD) was convened at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat Headquarters, Georgetown, Guyana, on 23-25 April 2008, in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat, the Inter- American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD). Seventeen Caribbean states were represented at this meeting together with CABI. A second meeting of the CPHD was held on 4-5 March 2009. These meetings provide the opportunity to share plant health information, discuss mutual assistance opportunities among member states and participating organizations, and to formulate a regional approach against alien pests. The meetings eventually expanded to form part of a CPHD Forum, which also included (i) the formation of Working Groups on issues of regional importance and (ii) the formation of D-groups via the Internet for real-time communication among members. Participating organizations have offered to help sustain the Working Groups and to provide technical assistance. Current activities of the CPHD Forum include the development of pest lists for member states and the region, assistance with the development of National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agencies in member states, and the development of harmonized plant health legislation.

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