The United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The year is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.
Plants make up 80 percent of the food we eat, and produce 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe. Yet, they are under constant and increasing threat from pests and diseases. Every year, up to 40 percent of global food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases. This leads to annual agricultural trade losses of over $220 billion, leaves millions of people facing hunger, and severely damages agriculture – the primary income source for poor rural communities.
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We can both prevent plant pests and diseases, and tackle them, in environmentally friendly ways – such as through integrated pest management. This ecosystem approach combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops while minimizing the use of pesticides. Avoiding poisonous substances when dealing with pests not only protects the environment, it also protects pollinators, natural pest enemies, beneficial organisms and the people and animals who depend on plants.
What we can do
We all have a role to play
- Everyone needs to avoid taking plants and plant products with them when travelling across borders.
- People in the transportation industries need to make sure that ships, airplanes, trucks and trains don’t carry plant pests and diseases into new areas.
- Governments need to increase their support to national and regional plant protection organizations that are the first line of defence.
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What will the International Year of Plant Health do?
FAO and its International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) will lead activities to make the Year a success as well as promote plant health beyond 2020.
The Year will emphasize prevention and protection, and the role everyone can play to ensure and promote plant health.
The key objectives of the Year are: raising awareness of the importance of healthy plants for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; highlighting the impact of plant health on food security and ecosystem functions; and sharing best practices on how to keep plants healthy while protecting the environment.
You definitely can participate!
To engage the public and increase knowledge about plant health, FAO launched a photo contest, asking amateur and professional photographers to share photos of healthy and unhealthy plants.
The IYPH website has a range of tips on what everyone can do to safeguard plant health.
For example, travelers must be careful when taking plants and plant products with them. Ordinary citizens should be careful when ordering plants and plant products online or through postal services since packages can easily bypass regular phytosanitary controls.
Culled from FAO Official page