Environment

Protecting plants, protecting life

News Desk

The year 2020 has been internationally recognised and declared as the International Year of Plant Health – a year to celebrate plant health under the slogan of “Protecting Plants, Protecting Life.”

South Africa joins countries in the world to celebrate plant health as part of recognising the importance of plants to our health, animal health, environmental care and biodiversity; socioeconomic, agriculture and rural development.

“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. Food and Agricultural Organisations of the United Nations estimate that up to 40% of food crops are lost due to plant pests and diseases annually. This leaves millions of people without enough food to eat and seriously damages agriculture – the primary source of income for rural poor communities.

Plant health is increasingly under threat. Climate change, and human activities, have altered ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and creating new niches where pests can thrive. At the same time, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade and can quickly spread pests and diseases around the world causing great damage to native plants and the environment.

Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost-effective than dealing with full-blown plant health emergencies. Plant pests and diseases are often impossible to eradicate once they have established themselves and managing them are time-consuming and expensive. Prevention is critical to avoid the devastating impact of pests and diseases on agriculture, livelihoods and food security and many of us have a role to play.”*

The International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020 celebration activities at the country level will be premised on the six key messages:

  • Keep plants healthy to achieve Zero Hunger and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Be careful when bringing plants and plant products across borders
  • Make trading in plants and plant products safe by complying with international plant health standards
  • Keep plants healthy while protecting the environment
  • Invest in plant health capacity development, research and outreach
  • Strengthen monitoring and early warning systems to protect plants and plant health

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) would like to make a clarion call and encourage all to note 2020 as International Year of Plant Health and fully participate in this initiative.

The IYPH 2020 emphasises prevention and protection and believes that everyone has a role to play in preventing the spreading of pests and diseases of plants and plant products.

*For more information, please visit: www.fao.org/plant-health-2020 

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