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Director-General sets out several reasons for enhanced and coordinated work to protect plant health at International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) event

Posted on Mon, 13 May 2024, 17:34

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©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti


Rome – FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today called for stepped up efforts to protect plant health, underlining that “safeguarding the health of plants means that we are safeguarding the health of the planet.” Qu was speaking at an event to mark the International Day of Plant Health 2024.

“From the food on our tables to the air we breathe, plants play an indispensable role in sustaining life,” Qu said, underlining that the prevention of disease or pests “involves biology, ecology and agronomy” as well as pathology and entomology.

Through a video statement read on his behalf, , the Minister for Agriculture and Land Reclamation of Egypt, Mohamed El-Quseir, described plant health as a vital issue directly affecting global food security for millions of people and outlined a range of measures Egypt is taking in face of the challenges; Jennifer Moffitt, Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), underlined the impact of increased global travel and trade in proving opportunities for the spread of invasive plant pests. The Permanent Representatives to FAO from Canada and Kenya also participated in the event.

In his remarks, the FAO Director-General provided some thoughts on the need for enhanced and coordinated work to protect plant health, such as:

First: plants are a source of food and contribute to global food security, providing 80 percent of our food forming part of stable and sustainable ecosystems.

Second: plant health is critical for mitigating the impacts of the climate crisis..

Third: healthy plants are key to avoiding disruptions in international trade, with around 220 billion Dollars in economic losses being sustained due to pests and diseases.

Fourth: plant health is the foundation of One Health, which links it with soil and environmental health and animal and human health.

The Director-General also underlined the importance of FAO’s work with the International Plant Protection Convention, using innovation and technology to support countries in protecting plants and safeguarding food security, protecting the environment, and promoting safe trade.

The ePhyto Solution, now adopted my more than 120 countries, is helping make international trade of agricultural products faster, safer and more efficient.

The Africa Phytosanitary Programme, meanwhile. is helping countries in detecting plant pests of economic and environmental significance.

FAO has also helped develop maize varieties that are resistant to fall armyworm, stem borers and drought, using modern plant breeding techniques in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa, allowing farmers to use fewer insecticides and increasing their productivity and profitability.

The Director-General stressed that without healthy plants there cannot be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable agrifood systems.

“By making plant health a priority, we can contribute to the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life – leaving no one behind.”

In a technical session, which also took place at the event, speakers from Italy, Uganda, the United States and the IPPC discussed topics including: how to manage pests in the postal E-commerce pathway; experiences of digitizing official Inspection and certification systems to enhance sanitary and phytosanitary compliance for horticulture exports in Uganda; moving to digital phytosanitary - or plant health - certificates for safer trade; sea containers as pathways for pests and IPPC’s work to prevent pest spread.

Originally published on the FAO website.

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