Plant resources threatened by pests and diseases


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Imagine a world where farms don’t bear crops, forests don’t have trees, and nature exists without plants.

Not only will our world be incredibly different, humanity will likely cease to exist altogether. Plants provide 98% of the air we breathe and 80% of the food we eat. It’s how much our lives depend on plants, but we often forget how vital they are.

Our global plant resources are threatened by pests and diseases. Once plant pests are established in an area, it becomes nearly impossible and extremely expensive to eradicate them. It hampers global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by limiting our ability to ensure food security for all, protect our environment and biodiversity for future generations, and ensure that crops and plant products are traded safely. to help stimulate economic growth.

Every year, we lose up to 40% of global agricultural yields, or about US$220 billion, to plant pests. In Africa alone, nearly $10 billion in annual maize yield is lost to the Fall Armyworm, a dangerous cross-border pest that has now spread to more than 70 countries. According to the latest report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), reducing this threat will help alleviate the hunger suffered by some 828 million people worldwide in 2021.

Climate change has increased pest incursions, especially into new places where they had previously gone undetected but have now thrived. Changes in temperature, humidity, light and wind are the second most important factors in pest dispersal, after international travel and trade.

Invasive pests remain the main drivers of biodiversity loss. As the world becomes more globalized and interconnected, increased movement of people and goods has been associated with increased introduction and spread of plant pests across borders.

This is why global frameworks are crucial, such as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), an international treaty ratified by 184 countries that provides provisions for the protection and safeguard of plants and the facilitation of safe trade. .

International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures—the gold standard for plant health—are in place for countries to adopt into their national legislation and import requirements. These standards range from pest monitoring, pest risk analysis, guidance to countries in developing pest eradication programs, national notification of significant pests, and more.

Global Network of Plant Experts

Building a global community of plant health experts and advocates is essential. The IPPC Secretariat works with partners and donors to develop standards, facilitate country adoption of the Convention and implementation of standards, and build the capacity of national plant protection organizations.

Guides, training materials, and e-learning courses help these plant stewards perform their plant safeguarding duties effectively. Innovative tools such as ePhyto enable countries to trade securely using digital phytosanitary certificates that make trade in plants safer, faster and cheaper.

It is also important to raise awareness and take action globally. In 2020, we celebrated the International Year of Plant Health through 680 events in 86 countries.

On May 12, 2022, the first International Plant Health Day was declared following its adoption at the United Nations General Assembly in March. We thank the governments of Zambia and Finland, tireless champions, who brought the resolution to the Assembly, with the support of FAO and the IPPC Secretariat.

The IPPC Secretariat and the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have teamed up this week to bring together the world’s leading plant health experts and advocates. The first and largest international plant health conference in London aims to address new and emerging challenges such as the impact of climate change, increasing international trade, rapid loss of biodiversity and new pest control pathways such as e-commerce. We will explore more effective policies, structures and mechanisms at national, regional and global levels.

Much remains to be done to protect our plants. We must be careful when bringing plants and plant products when we travel, as these may carry plant pests and diseases. Likewise, we must be aware that the purchase of plants and plant products online must be accompanied by phytosanitary certificates certifying that they meet the phytosanitary import requirements.

E-commerce is an emerging pathway for the introduction and spread of plant pests. Online purchases cross international borders by post or express freight systems via air freight or sea containers. These purchases often include, but are not limited to, ornamental plants, soil from imported plants, untreated wood packing materials such as pallets and crates, and even novelty items such as “bookmarks”. plantables” infused with seeds.

We call on governments, legislators, policy makers and donors to invest in research, education and capacity building of national plant protection organizations, and to strengthen pest surveillance and early warning systems.

We need all industry players and government partners to adhere to international phytosanitary standards to mutually protect our plants, our food supplies and our economies.

When we protect plants, we protect our health, our environment, our livelihoods and our lives.

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