New Delhi, March 30
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has welcomed a UN decision to establish an annual International Day of Plant Health, an issue critical in addressing global hunger as plant pests and diseases cause massive crop losses and leave millions without enough food.
The observance, to be held every May 12, was championed by Zambia and unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in a resolution co-signed by Bolivia, Finland, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tanzania.
The day is a key legacy of the International Year of Plant Health, which was marked in 2020-2021.
The resolution sets out that healthy plants constitute the foundation for all life on the earth, as well as ecosystem functions, food security and nutrition, adding that plant health is key to the sustainable development of agriculture required to feed a growing global population by 2050.
"The International Day of Plant Health will be an opportunity to highlight the crucial importance of plant health, both in itself and as part of our One Health approach, encompassing human, animal and ecosystem health," said FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol.
"It could not be more vital to make sure that we do everything we can to maximise the food resources our planet can provide."
FAO estimates that plant pests and diseases cause food crop losses of up to 40 per cent, and the damage they cause to agriculture exacerbates the existing issue of growing world hunger and threatens rural livelihoods.
Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with plant health emergencies. Once established, plant pests and diseases are often impossible to eradicate, and managing them is time consuming and expensive.
"Sustaining plant health promotes food security and nutrition while protecting the environment and biodiversity, and boosting livelihoods and economic growth, in the context of global challenges, particularly climate change," said Jingyuan Xia, Director of FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division.
"Making the general public more aware of the role of plant health and the ways we need to act urgently to curb the risks of plant pests and diseases, as well as understanding how to restrict the spread of invasive pests will make a significant contribution to global food security," said Osama El-Lissy, Secretary of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).