Status of Plant Quarantine in Nepal: Lessons from outbreak of bird flu in Jhapa

Unscathed by the past bird flu epidemics that had swept its giant neighbours India and China, Nepal has finally reported the first outbreak of the deadly poultry disease (Bird flu), declaring an eastern town adjoining the Indian border quarantined area.

Government officials recently said that the country's first-ever bird flu outbreak had been fully controlled and that the fatal virus strain had not spread to other parts of the country. They said the flu was highly unlikely to surface in the country again. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) and Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) had worked hand in hand with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international agencies to control the epidemic, officials said. We have not found any trace of bird flu in other parts of the country, they said.

“We have contained and controlled the bird flu outbreak,” said Pravakar Pathak, director of Livestock Services at MoAC.

He added that the government had sent samples to OIE Reference Laboratories in England after some birds died in the eastern region on January 10. The laboratory report confirmed the birds had indeed died of avian flu. Subsequently, the government culled all birds in the area and carried out intensive surveillance there.

Pathak said ever since bird flu was confirmed in Nepal in January, 23,947 chickens, 4,931 eggs, 329 pigeons, 401 ducks, 12 parrots, 345 stocks of feed, and 1,009 egg crates were destroyed.

Pathak added that the government took 109 samples from Pokhara, Kathmandu, Surkhet, Rupandehi, Kailali, Biratnagar and Sindhuli but found no evidence of avian-influenza in them. Dr Manash Kumar Banarji, coordinator of the Avian Influienza Control Project under MoHP, said although the government had banned production, consumption, sale and transportation of poultry products in Jhapa district, an outbreak was still possible since illegal trade in poultry products was flourishing due to the porous border with India.

According to President of Poultry Farming Entrepreneurs Association Iswore Sharma, there is a total investment of 17 billion rupees in poultry and related industries in Nepal. After the bird flu outbreak, production in the sector has plummeted by 70 percent.

Actually quarantine and plant quarantine is vital to prevent the introduction of non-indigenous, potentially damaging pests and diseases of plants into a country or to eradicate them before they can become widespread and well established. Less-developed countries and other countries in transition are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of exotic pest introductions because of often inadequate infrastructure and the fragility of their economies. The well-meaning importation of germplasm for agricultural development projects creates a further risk of introducing such quarantine pests. Without stronger phytosanitary services nations will be unable to participate in the liberalisation of world markets.

Plant Quarnatine in Nepal

Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives' Notice regarding the compulsory provision for Phytosanitary Certificate Gazette of His Majesty's Government, Section 54, Number 33, 6 December 2004

Establishment of Plant Quarantine Checkposts in Nepal bordering with India and China. Notice of Department of Agriculture, 14 May 2004

Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives assigns the Plant Protection Directorate as the "National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO)". Government decision, 16 March 2005

Description of content:

It is the compulsory provision for importers to submit the Phytosanitary Certificate along with the Declaration Form for importing plant and plant products at the entry point of the Kingdom of Nepal. Phytosanitary Certificate will be issued by all quarantine offices (National Plant Quarantine Program, Regional Plant Quarantine Offices, and Plant Quarantine chekposts / sub checkposts).

To extend the quarantine service in the borderline and throughout the country, a National Plant Quarantine Program, is centrally located in Harihar Bhawan, Lalitpur. Its supporting other 15 quarantine offices / checkposts / sub-checkposts have been established across the country. Eleven of them are in Nepal – India borders. Among them, five are Regional Plant Quarantine Offices, namely:

Regional Plant Quarantine Office, Kakandhbhitta, Jhapa
Regional Plant Quarantine Office, Birgunj, Parsa
Regional Plant Quarantine Office, Bhairhawa, Rupendehi
Regional Plant Quarantine Office, Nepalgunj, Banke
Regional Plant Quarantine Office, Gaddachauki, Kanchanpur.

Six are Plant Quarantine Checkposts, namely:
a. Plant Quarantine Checkpost, Bhantbari, Sunsari
b. Plant Quarantine Checkpost, Biratnagar, Morang
c. Plant Quarantine Checkpost, Malangawa, Sarlahi
d. Plant Quarantine Checkpost, Jaleswor, Mahottari
e. Plant Quarantine Checkpost, Krishnanagar, Kapilwastu
f. Plant Quarantine Checkpost, Jhulaghat, Baitadi

A Plant Quarantine Checkpost is in Tribhuwan International airport, Kathmandu, for providing quarantine services for the plant and plant products entering Nepal via Air Ways.

Three Plant Quarantine Checkpost / sub-checkpsots are established in the Nepal - China border areas, namely:
a. Plant Quarantine Checkpost, Tatopani (Sindhupalchowk)
b. Plant Quarantine Sub-Checkpost, Lomanthang (Mustang)
c. Plant Quarantine Sub-Checkpost, Kerung Bhanjyang (Rasuwa)

Objective and rationale of Plant Qurantine

1. food safety,
2. animal health,
3. plant protection,
4. protect humans from animal/plant pest or disease,
5. protect territory from other damage from pests

Plant Quarantine Programme
Division of Plant Pathology
Ministry of Agriculture
Khumal Tar, Lalitpur
GPO Box 1126, Kathmandu
Tel: 977 1 524352 / 523143 / 521197
Fax: 977 1 225825 (c/o Ministry of Agriculture)

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