Fiji has modernised its phytosanitary documentation system by fully implementing the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) ePhyto Solution, enabling the exchange of electronic phytosanitary certificates, or ePhytos, quickly, accurately, and at low cost.
Adopting the IPPC Solution has enabled traders to exchange ePhyto certificates with all key trading partners via a central exchange, or hub, including New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and other countries in the Pacific region.
Traders can access the system in local Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) offices instead of having to travel to one of two central locations to obtain the necessary paperwork. Adoption is projected to cut document processing times by 56% and to save exporters US $6 per certificate.
The project brings many benefits, including:
- Improved planning for the arrival and clearance of goods and expedited clearance of commodities from ports, including pre-clearance, wherever possible
- Faster, more cost-effective completion of required certification
- Automated processes for issuing ePhytos to non-registered traders
- Efficient replacement of erroneous certificates and improved capability to search and locate certificate records and retrieve data when necessary
- Reduced overheads for exporters and importers in application and receipt of ePhytos
BAF, the entity charged with preventing the introduction of foreign pests and diseases in plants and animals into the country and with facilitating the safe trade of plant and animal products, was already linked to the IPPC hub, enabling the exchange of ePhytos with New Zealand.
However, more work was required to allow similar, seamless electronic exchange with the country’s other main export markets, including the United States and Australia.
Also, access to the system was limited to offices in two central locations, requiring in-person visits for completions – virtually ruling out businesses in more remote locations. As well as this, phytosanitary certification for all non-registered exporters – most of them micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) – remained fully paper-based.
Agriculture plays a key role in income generation and food security in Fiji, representing 7% of GDP and supporting 27% of the population. Moreover, 83% of the rural population is engaged with the sector, mainly MSMEs.
What We Did
BAF requested assistance from the Alliance in completing the adoption of the IPPC Generic ePhyto National System (GeNS), a web-based application that allows countries to connect to the IPPC hub without having to build a national Single Window.
From the outset, the local private sector was actively engaged in identifying the main systemic challenges they faced and in adopting electronic exchange. In public private dialogue marking the end of the project’s scoping stage, businesses pledged to assist BAF in bringing it to fruition, including participating in the necessary training and early testing during implementation. Further, the private sector worked alongside the Fijian government on a project steering committee to bring about a mutually successful conclusion for the country and for traders.
The Alliance supported BAF in reviewing and revising its procedures to make better use of the GeNS application, including:
- Connecting enterprises and priority BAF remote offices to the system and providing appropriate training in new systems
- Revising and implementing new procedures to handle electronic phytosanitary certificates for non-registered exporters
- Reviewing procedures for High Temperature Forced Air (HTFA) phytosanitary treatment certification, which were fully manual and were not integrated into GeNS
- Providing assistance in exchanging ePhytos with the country’s main trading partners
- Developing and delivering a range of training and change management activities, both for BAF officers and private sector operators, to secure the ongoing use and development of the GeNS application.
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