The Plant Protection Unit is the National Plant Protection Organisation of Antigua and Barbuda and it receives its mandate primarily from the Plant Protection Act No. 18 of 2012. In this context, Plant Protection is mandated to prevent the introduction and control the spread of plant pests, to protect plant resources, to facilitate trade in plants and plant products, and to regulate other related matters.
As party to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as well as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Plant Protection is further guided by and operates within the context of The International Standards on Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) of the IPPC, the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. In addition, Plant Protection functions as the Scientific Authority for plants (flora) under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The Plant Protection Unit serves as the national Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety while the Plant Protection Officer specifically serves as the Official Contact Point (OCP) for the IPPC, the National Enquiry Point for matters pertaining to the SPS Agreement as well as representative on the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management. At the regional level, the Plant Protection Officer serves as the national Plant Health Director to the Caribbean Plant Health Director’s (CPHD) Forum and also chairs the CPHD’s Technical Working Group on Emergency Response Preparedness Plans & Mechanisms for Response.
The Plant Protection Board is a creature of the Plant Protection Act and functions within the Plant Protection Unit as the body that meets to determine the need for regulations in the area of plant protection, to advise the Minister on the need for such regulations, and to advise on when phytosanitary emergencies are to be declared. As a direct result of its function, the Board is also responsible for directing how the Phytosanitary Emergency Fund is to be applied. The Board was appointed by the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda for the first time in June 2015.
The Plant Protection Unit envisions itself as an agency that is recognized and respected by all stakeholders as a technically, administratively and structurally sound entity that is able to appropriately, efficiently and effectively respond in preventing and/or resolving all plant pest-related issues.
While continuing to respond to the current needs of the country, Plant Protection aims to realize its vision of effectively protecting plant life in Antigua and Barbuda through the continuation of an aggressive capacity building campaign by continued training and acquisition of additional and appropriately trained human resource, upgrading of the administrative arrangements of the agency, increasing public awareness of its role as well as the important role of the stakeholder in the process, and acquisition of a purpose-built facility to appropriately accommodate its staff and work.