August 12, 2003
Translation: FTAA Secretariat
FTAA – NEGOTIATING GROUP ON AGRICULTURE
SPECIFIC PROJECT PROFILE WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE HEMISPHERIC
PROGRAM: TRAINING OF TECHNICIANS IN ASPECTS OF PHYTOSANITARY
INCLUDING MODERN METHODOLOGIES AND PROCESSES FOR THE
IDENTIFICATION OF PESTS.
- Project Title
Training of technicians in aspects of phytosanitary diagnostics, including
modern methodologies and processes for the detection and identification of
Prior to 1968, the tests conducted by the Plant Health Department focused mainly
on entomology. As of 1970, phytopathological diagnostics were strengthened with
the assistance of the German Technical Mission, which donated materials,
reagents and equipment in use at the time to the Central Laboratory. Since the
Central Laboratory was located on the outskirts of Managua, at a height very
close to sea level, it was necessary to seek an alternative site, and an
agreement was reached in 1987 to move the facilities to their current location,
in the southern area of the capital, at approximately 380 masl. While some 1,200
tests were conducted in the 1970s and 1980s, this figure had increased 800
percent by the year 2000, with services being provided to: Plant importers and
exporters, national producers, institutions involved in agriculture, and centers
studying related issues.
Over the last ten years, the country´s phytosanitary infrastructure has
improved, as demonstrated by the establishment of eight Regional Phytosanitary
Service offices in those regions with the greatest level of economic activity.
Quarantine facilities have also been modernized, although they still require
materials, equipment and offices in order to improve their operational
efficiency. As part of the modernization process, the National Center for
Phytosanitary Diagnostics is responsible for ensuring that it maintains the same
standards and norms as its counterparts in countries with which Nicaragua has a
Conventional methods of isolation used most frequently in phytopathology include
humidity chambers, culture media, Baermann funnels, and biochemical testing,
among others. Entomology frequently uses the comparison method, in which
morphological structures key to a diagnosis are dissected. Weeds are also
identified using the comparison method.
Technicians at the Phytosanitary Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture and
Forestry of Nicaragua test plant samples by employing conventional methods that
have been in use for at least thirty years. The conventional process is believed
to be effective, although it requires an average of eight days to obtain
results. The processes of trade globalization in which Nicaragua is involved
require rapid and effective solutions. The conventional method of phytosanitary
testing for pests is reliable but quite slow, which raises the cost of imported
plant products. The use of a rapid pest diagnostic method would enable importers
to vastly reduce tariff payments, and local markets would then be able to sell
fresher products with less spoilage.
The climate in Nicaragua's land borders is extremely hot, which directly affects
storage conditions for imported plants; many quarantine ports lack sufficient
space to adequately serve the public. Our maritime ports have severe
limitations, and cargo can often not be unloaded quickly due to the physical
limitations of the facilities. The eight-day waiting period to obtain laboratory
results further compounds the problem.
- Purpose of Project
Train technicians performing phytosanitary diagnostics in modern analysis
techniques for recognizing and identifying pests.
- Train mycology lab technicians in pest-detection techniques using DNA testing.
- Train bacteriology and virology lab technicians in pest-detection techniques
using PCR testing and molecular probes.
- Train nematology lab technicians in pest-detection techniques using DNA
testing and other rapid procedures.
- Train entomology lab technicians in pest-detection techniques using DNA
testing and other rapid procedures.
- Inputs: Resources required for the project
- North- or South American laboratory where DNA and PCR tests, as well as
molecular probes, are conducted to detect phytosanitary pests.
- Training expenses for six individuals
- Six airline tickets (US$ 4,200.00)
- Per diems for six trainees for one month each (US$ 21,600.00).
- Purchase of equipment and basic reactives to perform tests in Nicaragua after
training is completed (US$ 175,800.00)
- Expected results
- Nicaragua’s phytosanitary laboratory technicians detect, recognize and
identify pests in a maximum period of eight (8) hours.
- Importers and exporters of plant products will benefit, as well as Nicaraguans
in general, who will be able to purchase a much less costly product.
- Greater reliability of diagnostic results.