BUREAU OF PLANT INDUSTRY
L to R: Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) National Plant Quarantine Services Division assistant chief Gerald Glenn Panganiban, BPI director George Culaste, and InterCommerce Network Services, Inc. president Francis Lopez.
Story published with permission from PortCalls
The Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) will implement an electronic system that will automate the application and release of phytosanitary certificates in a bid to make the export of plant and plant products easier and more efficient.
BPI director George Culaste, in an interview with PortCalls, said pilot implementation of the electronic phytosanitary (ePhyto) system is targeted for the second quarter.
The ePhyto system will allow exporters to apply for phytosanitary certificates online and enable the Philippines to exchange ePhyto certificates with other trading countries and eventually do away with paper versions.
An ePhyto certificate is the electronic equivalent of the paper phytosanitary certificate and guarantees that a plant or plant product for export is free from pests and diseases, and conforms to other phytosanitary requirements by the importing country.
BPI National Plant Quarantine Services Division assistant chief Gerald Glenn Panganiban explained that ePhyto is a global initiative under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), a multilateral treaty deposited with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO), of which the Philippines is a member.
Since 2011, the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, which sees the implementation of the IPPC, has been encouraging electronic certification.
Panganiban said BPI, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, is pushing for automation to make the Philippines compliant with the IPPC and WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement.
He added that BPI’s push for ePhyto also came after seeing the benefits of automation when they implemented the electronic submission of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPS IC) applications.
Panganiban said that previously, BPI took five days to a week to process SPS IC applications, but now, after automation, the process is down to 1.5 days to three days.
Culaste added that the automation project complies with President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy that permits should be processed by government agencies within 72 hours.
BPI’s ePhyto system will be provided by value-added service provider InterCommerce Network Services, Inc. (INS), the same provider of other automated solutions to BPI and other DA-attached agencies.
The ePhyto system will have no cost to the government, but requires a “very minimal” service fee from users.
Panganiban said stakeholders in a meeting a month ago signified their support for the of BPI project.
Benefits of ePhyto
Once fully implemented, Panganiban said, the ePhyto system will facilitate the issuance of phytosanitary certificates and reduce, if not eliminate, fraudulent certificates.
Since the system is online, traders can file applications and schedule inspections anytime and anywhere, as long as there is internet connection. This also saves exporters time and money compared with the current process where they have to go to BPI’s offices to apply, wait for a schedule for inspection, then return to the office to get their phytosanitary certificate.
The system will also improve efficiency for BPI, Panganiban said, as the agency will be able to process phytosanitary certificates anywhere as long as there is internet connection.
BPI issues around 100,000 phytosanitary certificates every year, and has more than 180 deputized officers doing inspection and certification.
The ePhyto is also seen to reduce fraud, as IPPC provides standard format and contents that are followed by all participating countries.
Panganiban said that since the ePhyto system promotes swiftness and efficiency, BPI can then put its resources where they matter the most such as in decision making, risk management, and responding faster to emergencies.
INS president Francis Lopez, during the same interview, said that since data is electronic and there will be a central database for phytosanitary certificates, BPI can easily generate reports and audit exporters’ compliance and performance.
The plant bureau can also use the database to hold its deputized officers accountable.
Asked if the system can help raise the country’s volume of exports of plant and plant products, Panganiban said it can, as BPI can focus on value-added services to exporters and promoting the Philippines’ plant and plant products and their access to other counties.
He further noted that the system also supports BPI’s transparency, which can build trust and facilitate negotiations with its trading partners. Transparency, he added, is a requirement under the WTO SPS Agreement.
A multibillion-dollar industry, the Philippine plant industry’s main exports include bananas, pineapples, mango, and coconuts, among others, said Panganiban.
Lopez, for his part, said exporters may be encouraged to do more business since requirements and regulations will be easily available for checking and compliance.
3 stages, 3 partners
BPI’s ePhyto system will be implemented in three stages starting April, and initially involve three countries—Australia, New Zealand, and Netherlands—which have already agreed to the electronic exchange.
The first stage is to establish interconnectivity with the three partner countries. Lopez said this will allow BPI quarantine officers to verify whether the ePhyto complies with the BPI-issued SPS IC prior to the arrival of shipments.
The second stage is the online application and issuance of ePhyto, while the third stage is sending by BPI of the ePhyto to the three partner countries.
For the initial implementation, Lopez said BPI might start with exporters from Davao and some parts of Luzon.
The target, Lopez said, is to have the system running fully by the second quarter so that by the second half of year, the country can join the ePhyto Hub, a centralized global system that can receive ePhyto certificates from exporting countries. In turn, the importing countries can access and receive the certificates through the hub.
The ePhyto Hub is a project by the IPPC that aims to facilitate the exchange, eliminate fraudulent phyto certificates, reduce costs, and enable all countries to eventually eliminate paper phytosanitary certificates.
Once BPI’s ePhyto system is connected to the ePhyto Hub, the Philippines will no longer need to enter bilateral agreements with trading partners because it can already exchange ePhyto certificates with all countries connected with the ePhyto Hub.
Asked if BPI’s ePhyto system will be interlinked with the administration’s TradeNet, a Web-based platform that will act as the country’s national single window, Panganiban said the target is to do so.
However, since TradeNet is still being pilot tested and not yet fully operating, Panganiban said they want to “move forward” with the ePhyto.
Panganiban said with automation, they expect requirements to be reduced also, as they plan to stop requiring documents that exporters have already complied with in their transactions with other government agencies.
Meanwhile, birth pains are to be expected when the ePhyto system is implemented, but BPI and INS assure they will be assisting exporters all the way. – Roumina Pablo
South American Leaf Blight (SALB) is the most serious disease of the rubber tree due to its devastating effects which has destroyed plantations in South and Central America. It is not yet present in Asia, specifically in the Philippines, and its introduction will destroy the rubber plantation in a 5-7 –year period.
The role of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry through the National Plant Quarantine and Services Division (NPQSD) and Crop Pest Management Division (CPMD) is to conduct awareness campaigns and trainings particularly to those regions planting rubber to disseminate this vital information as this pest poses a threat to the rubber industry once introduced into the country.
As part of the awareness campaign, the bureau conducted a training on April 24-27, 2018 at Lantaka Hotel, Zamboanga City which was attended by 30 Plant Quarantine (PQ) Officers and Inspectors from PQ stations. The activity focused on introducing the pest, the causal organism, Microcyclus ulei, its biology and epidemiology as well as stages of rubber plant affected. The impact of possible introduction in the Philippines was stressed out during the training. The symptoms including the microscopic characteristics of the disease were also fully discussed.
Field visit to the rubber plantation was also done to check for the presence of other important insect pests and diseases of rubber which may affect the production and quality of latex.
Expertise of Ms. Amor Dimayacyac of Central Post Entry Quarantine Station (CPEQS), Dr. Lilia Portales of the CPMD, Ms. Marry Joy Flores of Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI), and Mr. Ernie Camacho of the Technical Division of Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office IX (DA-RFO 9) were tapped as speakers for the said activity.
Ever wonder why a creature this beautiful bring horror? Yes, a terrible one.
“Swarmed in” by 30 particpants from Plant Quarantine (PQ) stations, their secrets have been revealed during the Training-workshop on the Detection and and Monitoring Survey of Fruit fly in the Philippines held on April 16-21, 2018 in Manila.
Its beauty and horrors were thoroughly discussed during this activity. Most importantly, their identities differentiating fruit fly species that are present in the country from those which are not. Monitoring these insects is of equal importance for the implementation of management measures in cases where exotic fruit fly species were detected.
To better equip the PQ Inspectors with the knowledge on these insects, hands-on activities were conducted where everybody was given a chance to see the morphological characteristics of the fruit fly which will aid in the correct identification of the pest. The participants also did a field activity where they prepare the lures and trap set-up.
A practical exam was also given where Kelvin Simbre of PQS Cagayan de Oro, Arnel Solomostro of PQS Iligan, and El-Khaled Gordolan of PQS General Santos ranked 1st, second, and third, respectively.
Facilitators of the training were Ms. Helen G. Bignayan, Ms. Ferlavee F. Apacionado, Ms. Loreta C. Dulce, Ms. Ellaine T. Molon, Ms. Shereene R. Samala, Mr. Arnel C. Banasihan, Mr. Joseph C. Banasihan, and Mr. Jay-R M. Millanes.
A programme funded by the ASEAN China Cooperation Fund (ACCF) and hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Malaysia. The workshop was held at Intercontinental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on April 23 – 27, 2018.
The workshop focused on the harmonization of best practices in registration and accreditation of service providers with the objectives to: 1) enhance the effectiveness of ISPM 15 among ASEAN Member States (AMS) and China; 2) reduce the non-compliance and notifications of ISPM 15 due to the lack of effective implementation of ISPM 15; 3) gain information between participating countries in the best aspect of implementation of ISPM 15; and 4) improve understanding among AMS and China countries regarding the implementation of ISPM 15 in their respective countries.
By harmonizing best practices in registration and accreditation of service providers, it would benefit both AMS and China as this workshop provided an avenue for both parties to discuss further on better quarantine techniques that will ensure the success and on-going implementation of ISPM 15.
The activity covered series of lectures on ISPM 15, a field visit and group discussions. Lectures covered principles of quarantine treatment (fumigation and heat treatment), technical aspects and practical guidance of ISPM 15 implementation, audit of service providers and corrective actions for non-compliance, traceability among others. Participants also observed how fumigation and heat treatment being implemented in Malaysia. They also discussed ISPM 15 implementation in their countries.
A draft ‘Harmonized Practices for Accreditation/Registration of ISPM 15 Service Providers’ was produced and could serve as a guideline for all ASEAN Member States (AMS) in the future, subject to agreement.
Mesdames Lolita F. Masana and Carmela B. Rivera from the BPI-National Plant Quarantine Services Division (NPQSD) Central Office participated in the said workshop. A total of 17 participants from 9 countries namely Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam while 3 experts were invited from China, Malaysia and New Zealand.
|Sectoral Workshop||January, 2018||Manila|
Training on Screening, Detection, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Important
Pest of Imported Sugarcane Varietis
|February 4-17, 2018||Laguna, Guimaras|
|SALB Awareness||March, 2018||Cotabato|
|Training on Fruitfly Detection and Identification||April, 2018||TBA|
|Training on ISO Accreditation||TBA||TBA|
|Training on General Plant Quarantine||May, 2018||Laguna|
|Supervisory Development Course (Modules 2-3)||TBA||TBA|
|Mid-Year Review and Assesment||June, 2018||TBA|
|Planning Workshop for 2019||July or August, 2018||Manila|
|Training on Basic Plant Quarantine||September, 2018||TBA|
|Planning Workshop for 2020||October, 2018||Manila|
|Training on Advanced Laboratory Techniques||October, 2018||Laguna|
|Year-end Review||November, 2018||TBA|
Plant Quarantine Boarding Officers with Health Quarantine Officers, Customs Boarding Officers, Immigration Officers, Fishery Quarantine Officers, Shipping Line Agents and Ship’s Officer after Boarding Formalities at MV Chinese Taishan.