The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has officially announced 2020 as the United Nations’ International year of Plant Health (IYPH), which aims to draw the world’s attention to how plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and accelerate economic development.
80% of the food we consume is of plant origin. Flora produces 98% of the oxygen we breathe. At the same time, the planet’s green resources are under constant and increasing threat from pests and diseases that kill up to 40% of all food crops every year. As a result, total losses in agricultural trade exceeded US $ 220 billion.
This is why measures and actions aimed at protecting plant health can play a significant role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
“On this International Year and throughout this Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, let us dedicate the necessary resources and increase our commitment to plant health. Let us act for people and planet,” said António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.
What will the international year of plant health be dedicated to?
Prevention of plant health from an economic point of view is much more effective than the elimination of the consequences of emergency situations associated with the death of crops from pests. Often pests and diseases of plants after they have settled, it is impossible to eradicate, and fighting them takes a lot of time and effort.
The international year will focus on prevention and protection of plants, as well as our own efforts to protect plants and promote their health.
By preventing the spread of pests, governments, farmers and other participants in the food chain, such as the private sector, can save billions of dollars and ensure the availability of quality food. Therefore, the objectives of the International year of plant health can only be achieved through joint action with the participation of all stakeholders – governments, scientific and research centers, civil society and the private sector, FAO is convinced.
What can be done to support the international year of plant health?
The health of plants depends on our responsible attitude to them. FAO recommends:
• Be careful when taking plants and plant products with you when you travel as they may spread plant pests and diseases. Contact your national plant health authority beforehand to make sure that you are not infringing plant health laws.
• Spread the word about plant health on social media and in your community throughout 2020 and beyond.
• Take daily actions to reduce your environmental footprint and actively engage in initiatives to protect and manage natural resources.
Farmers and all those engaged in the agricultural industry play a direct role in protecting plant health and they can do the following:
• Prevent the spread of pests by using only certified pest-free seeds and seedlings.
• Regularly monitor and report the occurrence of pests on your farms.
• Adopt environmentally friendly pest-management practices – including those based on biological approaches that do not kill pollinators, and beneficial insects and organisms.
• Take advantage of modern digital technology, mobile apps and software to access information about how to prevent and manage plant pests and diseases and to report outbreaks.
FAO and the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention will coordinate activities for the international year.