In conjunction with the celebration of the International Day of Plant Health on Thursday, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for more investment in innovation to boost food security, especially for the billions worldwide living close to the bread line.
According to a report released on May 12 by FAO, healthy plants have the power to help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development. But even though plants make up 80 percent of the food we eat, and provide 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe, threats to their survival in many cases, are piling up.
More than 40 percent of food crops are lost due to plant pests and diseases every year, and this affects both food security and agriculture, the main source of income for vulnerable rural communities, the latest report noted.
It also showed that Climate change and human activities are also altering ecosystems and damaging biopersity while creating new niches for pests to thrive in.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said, “On this very first International Day of Plant Health, we reflect on plant health innovations for food security,”adding that investments are needed in research to find more resilient and sustainable additions to the human diet.
“We need to continue raising the global profile of plant health to transform agri-food systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable."
The protection of plants is crucial and essential for people and for the planet, and that is why the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has mapped several priorities for plant health, coinciding with the inaugural Day.
The report disclosed that focusing on sustainable pest management and pesticides through the promotion of green and digital plant protection; and creating enabling surroundings for plant health by enhancing the health of soils, seeds, and pollinators, are among the main priorities.
Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost-effective than dealing with plant health emergencies. That is because once established, plant pests and diseases are often difficult to eradicate, and need to be controlled through sustainable pest and pesticide management, the report explained,
In the regard, FAO is calling on governments to prioritize plant health and its sustainable management in formulating policies and legislation, and on academia and research institutions to deliver science-based solutions.