The objective of plant health control is to prevent the introduction into the national territory of new potentially dangerous organisms known as quarantine organisms and to limit their spread from one zone to another, by checking at border posts, the phytosanitary status of imported plants and plant products, by the sanitary surveillance of crops within the country and by the preservation of the quality of products for export.
The transport and in particular the trade in propagating material results in the inadvertent introduction of harmful organisms. These introductions are generally without consequences, but these organisms can sometimes be established in the country and lead to often considerable damage to agriculture and nature, threatening the natural balances by a strong reproduction.
Therefore, it makes sense to act as a preventative measure and to prevent the introduction of these organisms or at least to stem their spread. The national animal health regulations for plants and plant products shall lay down the measures to be taken to avoid as far as possible the spread of harmful organisms by establishing a list of organisms against which preventive and control measures are necessary. Given the high cost of preventive measures and their negative impact on trade, only the most important are taken into account.
These are organisms that cause proven agricultural damage, the spread of which can be effectively combated. Organisms that are already well established or not officially combated do not belong to this list, hence quarantine pests.
However, the phytosanitary control system consists of two elements:
- A legal framework and technical support tools;
- An official organisation, in this case the plant protection services belonging to the National Office for Food Safety, with sufficient resources and infrastructure, Responsible for operating or supervising the control system.
The regulatory framework provides the legal authority for plant protection services to carry out their plant health control functions, to take measures to which imported plants and plant products, exported or circulating within the country must comply, and to implement emergency measures in the event of the occurrence of pests of a calamitous nature or of potential risks of introduction into the national territory of quarantine pests.
On the other hand, the plant protection services are responsible for implementing the obligations taken by our country under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) which include responsibilities for the issuance of phytosanitary export certificates, management of household surveillance and pest control, conduct of inspections, laboratory tests and, where necessary, the disinfection of consignments of plants and plant products, the assurance of the phytosanitary safety of consignments from certification to export, the establishment and protection of pest-free areas, the analysis of the phytosanitary risk, training and development of human resources.
From these responsibilities arise functions in areas such as administration, audit and compliance verification, measures for non-compliance, emergency actions, dispute resolution. There are also requirements for international and national liaison, documentation and communication.
Phytosanitary controls on imports, exports and within the country are intended to prevent the introduction and spread of harmful harmful organisms which may cause direct or indirect losses to the national plant heritage by:
- On importation, phytosanitary controls are carried out at the points of entry and are intended to prevent the introduction of harmful organisms of plants and products into the national territory;
- On export, phytosanitary controls are aimed at ensuring compliance with the regulations of the country of destination concerning the health of plants and plant products;
- Within the country, health surveillance shall aim at ensuring the health status of plants and plant products during their production, circulation and planting;
- At the nursery level, health control is aimed at applying the regulations in force to prevent the spread of harmful organisms from plant products intended for planting.