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Workshop: Construction of a surveillance Network of rice diseases in Africa.

Updated: Mar 7

Working Together - The CGIAR-CIRAD-IRD-NARS-NPPO workshop (CCINNOW) for a more robust pest and disease surveillance network in Africa


March 4, 2024 – Abidjan - CGIAR, in collaboration with French institutions, plans to support the revitalization of research and capacity-building partnerships with National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) and National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) in plant pest and disease surveillance through the CGIAR-CIRAD-IRD-NARS-NPPO (CCINNOW) workshop. The goal is to increase networking in the Global South. This approach aligns with the broader goal of the CGIAR to allocate resources towards collaborations, capacity development, and involvement in policy engagement across all five Impact Areas outlined in the 2030 CGIAR Strategic agenda.


Over 20 African countries will take part in CCINNOW from March 25-29, 2024, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. This event marks the beginning of a diagnostic and surveillance network aimed at sharing and empowering the technical capacities and cooperation among Africa's NARS and NPPOs. The scientific exchanges between CGIAR centers, French Research institutions, NARS and NPPOs is expected to lead to an effective diagnostic and surveillance system to facilitate decision-making in all countries involved. Moreover, it will serve as the foundation for a robust regional network for monitoring and managing plant diseases. CCINNOW is built upon the CGIAR Plant Health Initiative (PHI) framework for surveillance and diagnosis of major diseases, including those transmitted through seeds. The workshop is supported by the CGIAR Genetic Innovation Science group, with funding support from the French government, and implemented by AfricaRice, CIRAD, and IRD, in collaboration with IRRI and CIAT.


Africa incurs significant losses annually due to crop damage caused by pests and diseases, impacting both food security and economic growth. Reduced crop yields can be caused by pests and disease pathogens quickly adapting to crops and environments. Without accurate diagnosis and efficient networking, disease outbreaks linked to rapid pathogen adaptability may occur, particularly if detection is delayed owing to inadequate knowledge. For instance, an outbreak in a country can easily spread globally if the country cannot detect and respond effectively early on, as demonstrated by wheat rust and blast pathogens. In the interest of national and global crop protection, countries must prevent the spread of diseases both in-country and across borders and respond swiftly and systematically whenever a disease epidemic occurs.


However, Africa's plant health system is compromised by insufficient capacity in phytosanitary diagnostic and reporting facilities, as emphasized in the Plant Health Strategy for Africa 2022-2036. To address the pest and disease threats in Africa, it is necessary to enhance skills and create networks for promptly identifying and monitoring pests and diseases that have economic and environmental impact. Osama El-Lissy, IPPC Secretary, stated that this would help policymakers and plant health practitioners make informed decisions on pest management and reduce trade disruptions of plants and plant products, ultimately contributing to achieving national, regional, and global development goals.


We believe that a workshop termed CCINNOW, which involves several partners, should be the initial stage in building an effective continental plant disease surveillance network. CCINNOW project started when Didier Tharreau (CIRAD pathologist) visited AfricaRice and toured rice production fields in Côte d’Ivoire with Geoffrey Onaga (AfricaRice pathologist), observing several diseases affecting the crop (Picture above). Recognizing that every country needs to be equipped to carry out a set of functions around disease detection, identification, and monitoring because diseases know no borders, he returned to France and held discussions with French institutions, the French Commission for International Research in Agriculture (CRAI), and CGIAR. Subsequently, he initiated a working link with AfricaRice and CGIAR Plant Health Initiative leaders to develop a workshop concept for constructing a diagnostic and surveillance network to address economically important disease concerns encountered by smallholder farmers. The CCINNOW concept was approved for funding by the CGIAR Genetic Innovation Science group as an initial step in building a surveillance Network. While the long-term goal of CCINNOW is to mitigate the economic and environmental toll of pests and diseases on all major crops, the current phase sees the program piloted on rice diseases before expanding to other CGIAR focus crops. During this initial phase, there will be a sharing of complementary expertise among pathologists specializing in various rice diseases throughout Africa. In addition, participants will be provided with the latest scientific methods for diagnostics and monitoring of rice diseases and will participate in creating a network of rice pathologists in Africa.


By launching this workshop several outcomes are expected, including:

·   Exchange of information on ongoing research projects, and improved collaborative linkages that will take advantage of existing expertise, lab facilities, and reagents;

·   Increased and shared diagnostic capacity and awareness of surveillance strategies for major diseases;

·   Improved capacity to address emerging plant disease threats;

·   Shared standardized diagnostic protocols for reliable identification of pathogens. These protocols will aid in harmonization of quarantine and certification rules and regulations;

·   Identified knowledge gaps related to pathogen surveillance and diagnostics that will require additional research and funding to be addressed. A community of practice will form the backbone of research and development in the continent;

·   Networking opportunities created among the membership helping to build synergies and leading to interdisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborative research projects and publications;

·   It is expected that a collaborative grant proposal will be developed once solid collaborative linkages have been established.


French organizations, CGIAR centers, NARs and NPPOs will share expertise in diagnostics and surveillance during CCINNOW. We welcome interested diagnostic and surveillance tools manufacturing businesses to sponsor more attendees for the workshop and exhibitors to reserve exhibition space to showcase disease diagnostic and surveillance tools to the scientific community at the workshop.


Next steps: Surveillance is the fundamental basis for the development of other aspects of plant health systems, as outlined in the glossary of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM5). Once built, the network will create a framework for sustaining efficient monitoring systems in the participating countries. The package will consist of an operational plan, technical guidelines, information exchange, joint research programs, and training materials aimed at enhancing continental plant health security.


Contact: Interested NARS, NPPOs, and CGIAR staff who have not received an invitation but can finance their participation are encouraged to express their interest using the following email to Mrs Dali Lucie:




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