Zambia is one of the nine countries from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) that have requested to implement the Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE) process within the year, 2023. The programme which will be delivered under the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) project ‘Strengthening Food Control and Phytosanitary Capacities and Governance’ is a modular tool that is country-directed and paced, developed to provide a country, a consistent basis to evaluate its national phytosanitary capacities. A PCE is also an important instrument used to guide capacity development needs with stakeholders’ participation for relevance. It is therefore a framework that the country adopts for its own purpose and benefit.

The Department of Plant Quarantine and Phytosanitary Service (PQPS) which is the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of Zambia therefore participated in the PCE Facilitator Training Course which was held in Rome, at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, from 28th November to 7th December 2022. The training course was organised by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat in which nine trainees from eight countries who had initially completed the pre-learning courses were trained on the PCE process. During the training, the skills and knowledge of trainees on phytosanitary matters, use of the logical framework approach in project development and understanding of the PCE modules was strengthened.

The training was facilitated by experienced PCE facilitators who guided the trainees on the role of the PCE facilitator which includes to provide guidance to the NPPO as they work through the self-selected modules to evaluate their strengths, weaknesses and priority areas for improvement of their phytosanitary system, management and phytosanitary core activities. Interactive activities such as role play and group exercises were used to reinforce the training learning objectives and to enhance organisation, communication, presentation and teamwork skills among participants.

At the end of the training, trainees were awarded a certificate of participation. The NPPO of Zambia was represented by Justina Chivanga Mwila and Brenda Mweemba. The trainees are however expected to apply the acquired knowledge and skill upon their return home to strengthen their phytosanitary systems in their own countries. However, before trainees are considered as certified PCE facilitators, they must work successfully alongside an experienced PCE facilitator to deliver a PCE process in a country that has requested for a PCE process.