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ISPP Task Force on Global Food Security



The Task Force


The Board of the British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) undertook to support ISPP's Task Force initiative, by providing funding for an initial meeting of the Task Force. This reflected a recognition that the Task Force initiative arose at ICPP98, for which BSPP was responsible.

For its first meeting, the ISPP Task Force linked with a Round Table meeting on:


in Bangkok, 13-15 September 1999

convened by the Asia Pacific Crop Protection Association (APCPA, an industry-sponsored group) and the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR, a group sponsored by FAO and the World Bank).

ISPP invited an international group of plant pathologists to be Members of the Task Force, to participate in the first meeting, and to continue to participate in the programme outlined above, which was to be amplified at the first meeting.

Participation was confirmed by:

Chris Akem, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aleppo, Syria
Mike Jeger, British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP), Wageningen, Netherlands
Hajime Kato, Kobe, Japan
Jill Lenn, Natural Resources Institute, Chatham, UK
Emmanuel Moses, Crops Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana
Chris Mundt, Oregon State University, USA *
Rebecca Nelson, International Potato Center, Lima, Peru *
Peter Scott, International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP), Oxford, UK
CY Shen, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Bangkok, Thailand *
Paul Teng, Monsanto, Manila, Philippines
Nollie Vera Cruz, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baos, Philippines *

* Not available for the September 1999 meeting.

The following SUMMARY is from the REPORT of the September 1999 Meeting


The activities of this Task Force relate to the 7th International Congress of Plant Pathology (ICPP98), held in the UK in 1998 under the auspices of the International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP). During ICPP98, a public meeting was held on "Global Food Security: The Role for Plant Pathology". The enormity of the problem of food security was outlined, and its link with poverty, noting especially the needs of developing countries where rates of population increase are highest. The determination of the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996 to halve the number of hungry people by 2015 was noted.

The impact of pests, diseases and weeds on food supply was highlighted, noting estimates that they reduce production by at least one-third, and that diseases alone reduce production by more than 10%. Options for managing crop diseases to improve food security were addressed by five distinguished scientists, including Nobel Peace Laureate Norman Borlaug.

During a public discussion of these issues, ISPP accepted the challenge to form a Task Force on Global Food Security.

The Executive Committee of ISPP, recognizing its limited resources, adopted the principle that a small Task Force should focus its activities, and should concentrate on delivering some tangible results of demonstrable value. In consultation with ISPP Councillors, representing national plant pathology societies, the Executive determined that the first activity would be to hold a meeting of the Task Force in Bangkok, in September 1999, in association with a meeting on "Food for the Billions: Sustainable agriculture - the global issues" organized by APCPA and GFAR. Eleven plant pathologists were identified to form the Task Force, representing many different regions and disciplines, of whom seven met in Bangkok. The meeting was generously financed by the British Society for Plant Pathology.

The Task Force prepared for its first meeting by reading a series of papers, including:  Papers from the World Food Summit, November 1996;  Papers related to plant pathology and food security, e.g. from ICPP98, and from the APS/CPS 1999 meeting;  Papers on population growth and poverty, including links with plants;  Material proposed by Task Force Members themselves.

At its meeting the Task Force elected to:  Focus on what ISPP can do to deliver tangible results;  Identify changes that ISPP may bring about;  Evaluate the likelihood of achieving changes, given ISPPs status as an international scientific society with limited resources;  Develop a workplan, with timetable and budget for 3 years, focusing on a small number of achievable objectives.

Six areas were addressed in which ISPP might reasonably expect to be able to effect useful change:  Policy changes;  Education changes;  R & D changes;  Farmer-practice changes;  Public opinion changes;  Information changes.

One member of the Task Force adopted each of these topics, as indicated in the list above, and prepared a short paper during the meeting, summarizing areas where change might be sought. These papers were then debated by the Task Force, with a view to prioritizing a smaller number of areas which offered the best probability of change being successfully effected by ISPP. As part of the process, the six topics were shared with representatives of National Programmes in Asia, FAO and other bodies represented at the APCPA and GFAR meetings, who joined the Task Force for one of its sessions. Other input came from participation by Task Force members in the APCPA and GFAR meetings.

These papers and resources were used as input in the preparation of proposals for five Activities. Each is presented, with:  Rationale;  Objectives;  Activities plan;  Anticipated outputs;  Resource requirements (including proposals for sources).



1.      Establish an ISPP Policy Group  
  With a programme to inform policy makers of the importance of plant diseases in food insecurity  
2.      Study PhD training for plant pathologists in developing countries, with a view to enhancement  
  To assist decision making by donors, national agricultural research services, and universities in developing and developed countries  
3.      Quantify economic impact of some major diseases  
  To provide a record of  major examples of the consequences of diseases for food security, pointing to the need for support for continuing research  
4.      Develop a pilot project for farmer training in simple disease management  
  Focused on basic knowledge of cassava diseases in Ghana, to help in diagnosis and management, as a starting point for further knowledge transfer  
5.      Develop the ISPP Website as a means of improved communication  
  To provide information about ISPP, plant pathology, and the work of the Task Force  

The first of these is an overarching activity which may need to be projected forward indefinitely. the last is a piece of infrastructure for the others, and for ISPP's entire programme. The middle three are specific and varied in their aims - respectively in education, economics and extension - each being focused on an objective for which ISPP has access to the necessary skills for its completion.

All the proposed Activities are considered to be:  Appropriate to the status of ISPP;  Achievable within a time frame of 3 years;  Capable of being resourced;  Likely to deliver tangible results that will effect useful change.

Obviously these outputs are a beginning rather than an end. They are presented by the Task Force to the Executive and Councillors of ISPP, and through them to the membership, as a proposed basis for action and - in due course - for delivery of tangible results through effecting change in the chosen areas.

Subject to the agreement of ISPP Executive Committee, work will start immediately on these activities and on securing the resources necessary for their completion.

Chrys Akem, Mike Jeger, Hajime Kato, Jill Lenn, Emmanuel Moses, Peter Scott, Paul Teng
For ISPP Task Force on Global Food Security
October 1999