2020 – UN International Year of Plant Health

Plants are essential to our daily lives. Not only do they produce 98% of the oxygen we breathe but they make up 80% of our food. However, plants are under constant and increasing threat from pests and diseases. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), pests and diseases account for up to 40 per cent of global food crops lost, leading to over $220 billion annually in national agricultural trade losses. This, of course, leaves millions of people facing hunger, and severely damages agriculture, which is the primary income source of many communities here in Guyana and around the world. Recognising the importance of protecting and conserving these resources, the United Nations declared 2020 International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).


History of the UN’s International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) for 2020
The FAO at the UN Agency’s Council Meeting on December 2, 2019, launched the United Nations’ International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) for 2020, which aims to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.
“Plants provide the core basis for life on Earth and they are the single most important pillar of human nutrition. But healthy plants are not something that we can take for granted,” as indicated by Mr Qu Dongyu.
In addition to raising awareness, the year’s observances seek to emphasise the importance of healthy plants for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; while 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.

Healthy plants, healthy environment
Integrated pest management is one recommended measure the FAO is encouraging farmers and policymakers to adopt to help keep plants healthy whilst protecting the environment.
Governments, legislators and policymakers should:
1. Empower plant protection organisations and other relevant institutions, and provide them with adequate human and financial resources to aid in their mandate; and
2. Invest more in plant health-related research and outreach, as well as innovative practices and technologies.

Why should you be concerned?
Plants are the source of the air we breathe and most of the food we eat, yet we often don’t think about keeping them healthy. This can have devastating results.
* We get two major life essentials from plants: air and food.
* Plant health is increasingly under threat.
* Climate change and human activities are continually changing ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and creating new niches and environment for invasive species.
* International trade and travel contribute to the spread of diseases.
* When it comes to plants and diseases, prevention is always better than cure.
* Plant health policies and actions are essential for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

How to join in on the celebration?
1. Ensure you get the relevant approvals for bringing plants and plant products across borders, even transporting from one local to another within the same country can be a health risk.
2. Take action to protect and manage natural resources.
3. Spread the word about #PlantHealth on social media and in your community throughout 2020 and beyond.
4. Farmers can 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.
5. Also, you can adopt environmentally-friendly pest-management practices including those based on biological approaches that do not kill pollinators, and beneficial insects and organisms.
6. If accessible use modern digital technology, mobile apps and software to access information about how to prevent and manage plant pests and diseases and to report outbreaks.


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