With the technical assistance of CABI, the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture has develop guidelines to regulate the procurement and use of Invertebrate Biological Control Agents (IBCAs) and other beneficial organisms in Ghana.
The guidelines will provide guidance on and procedures for the import, export, shipping, handling and release of these organisms without backbones for biological control of agricultural pests and other prescribed purposes. The document will also help with the management of the risk involved in such operations.
The document highlights the responsibilities of contracting parties to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) including the National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPO) and other responsible authorities, importers and exporters.
The need for these guidelines has arisen as a result of the increasing recognition and demand for the use of safer biological options for managing crop pest. According to Dr Victor A. Clottey, the Regional Representative for CABI West Africa Centre, work on the guidelines started in December 2019 after a workshop organized by CABI for relevant stakeholders in 2019 on biopesticides regulation in Ghana where the decision was made on the relevance of such a document to the country.
Speaking during a workshop organized for the validation of the document by relevant actors, the Head of Crop Pest and Diseases Management Division at PPRSD, Mr Ebenezer Aboagye indicated that biological control is currently the most desirable low-risk option for managing crops pests.
Mr Aboagye added, “the guidelines have become an urgent need for the country as greenhouses have begun to spring up across the country and the producers are increasingly opting for biological control of pests and the use of beneficial organisms for pollination”.
He further explained that this situation calls for putting in place the appropriate mechanisms to monitor and regulate the procurement and use of these bio-control organisms in order to forestall any dangers and properly manage the potential risks associated with such enterprises.
On his part, Dr Victor A. Clottey pointed out that the development and implementation of these guidelines on IBCAs is a major boost for the area of plant health since it is going to fill a major void and complement the already existing guidelines for the registration of biopesticides in Ghana.
Dr Clottey continued that “as we take steps to move away from the over-reliance on synthetic chemicals for pest control because of their deleterious effect on humans and the ecosystem, we need to make safer alternatives easily available to people”.
It is believed that this shift towards the use of bio-control options may lead to increased demand and supply activities on the IBCAs with the possibility of people going into it as a commercial venture or for research purposes.
Dr Clottey explained this as the reason why there is the need for the regulations and guidelines so that people play by the rules. “We want people to know what they are supposed to do if they are to import or export these organisms or even produce them within the country and release them at another place,” he said.
Shedding more light on the importance of the IBCA guidelines, the manager of the CABI Action on Invasives programme in Ghana, Dr Lakpo Koku Agboyi said that it is dangerous for a country not to have regulatory mechanisms for the acquisition, handling and use of bio-control organisms because, though intended for beneficial use, their uncontrolled and unregulated use may lead to unintended and unforeseen problems for both humans and the ecosystem in the long run.
“The guidelines are very necessary even if it is for research purposes. This is because sometimes, organisms could escape research facilities and cause some problems in the country and therefore, users must know how to prevent or properly manage such potential risks,” he said.