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International Day for Plant Health 2023

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By Mercy Kelani

Plant health is essential to achieving sustainable development of agriculture.

In March 2022, the United Nations assigned May 12 as International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) for the creation of awareness on how protection of plant health can help in eradication of hunger, reduction of poverty, improvement of economic development, and protection of biodiversity and the environment. The day is recognized as an achievement of the International Year of Plant Health 2020, celebrated in 2020-2021. There was an unanimous adoption of IDPH by the United Nations General Assembly in a resolution (A/RES/76/256).

The resolution that endorsed IDPH was co-signed by Bolivia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Finland, the Philippines, and Zambia in March 2022. According to the resolution, healthy plants are key factors of the foundation of every life on Earth, including functioning of the ecosystem, food security and nutrition. It also highlights that plant health is significant to the achievement of sustainable development of agriculture needed to feed a rising global population by 2050. As a result, plants need to be protected for the survival of people and the planet.

Plants contribute 80% of humans food and 98% of oxygen that is breathed.

According to research, the health of humans and the health of the planet highly rely on plants. Plants are said to contribute 80 percent of the food humans eat and 98 percent of the oxygen that is taken in. Despite these benefits, they seem to be under threat. Every year, about 40 percent of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases. These losses have worsened growing world hunger and threatened livelihoods of the rural residents. Plant diseases and invasive insects have cost the global economy about $220 million and $70 million, respectively.

However, protection of plants from pests and diseases is more cost-effective than tackling plant health emergencies. It has also been discovered that climate change and human activities are damaging ecosystems and negatively affecting biodiversity while making new means for pests to survive. International trade and travel, although have multiplied in volume in the last ten years, have likewise contributed to the circulation of pests and diseases. These crises requires everyone to play their role in protecting plant health for survival.

IDPH recognizes plant health as important to One Health approach.

Therefore, FAO Deputy Director General, Beth Bechdol, stated that International Day of Plant Health is recognized as an opportunity to emphasize the significant importance of plant health as a whole and as a part of the world’s One Health approach which covers the health of humans, animals and ecosystems. It is deemed very important that, as humans, everything humanly possible is done to ensure maximization of food resources that Earth, is able to provide.

Commemoration of IDPH was slated for May 12 every year to fulfill five specific objectives. The first of these objectives is to increase awareness of the significance of helping plants stay healthy for achievement of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, especially Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 — Zero Hunger. Another objective is to campaign to ensure minimization of the risk of circulating plant pests and diseases through trade and travel, by fostering compliance with standards of the international plant health.

Sustainable pest and pesticide management is necessary.

Additionally, the goals set to be achieved by the celebration of IDPH include strengthening of monitoring and early warning systems for protection of plants and plant health. Also, enablement of sustainable pest and pesticide management is key to ensuring continuous healthiness of plants, while keeping the environment protected. Additionally, promotion of investment in plant health innovations, capacity development, research and outreach is a significant objective that the international is keen on achieving; with humans playing their roles in achievement of these objectives.

Related Link

Geneva Environment Network: Website 

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