United Nations declares 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health with the aim of raising awareness of how the protection of plants benefits to the environment, reduces poverty, increases economic development and helps eradicate hunger.
According to FAO, 40% of crops are lost every year due to pests and plants diseases. This severely damages the agriculture, main economic activity of the poorest rural areas. But that it is not all that it does: it also harms the environment and global health, because plants produce the 98% of the oxygen that we breathe.
There are a lot of reasons which affect to the plant health. Some of them are climate change and economic activities that disturb the ecosystems, biodiversity and encourage the dissemination of pests. The increase in travels and international trade also damage native species and environment, as they are attacked by diseases and invasive insects from other ecosystems.
“Pests and diseases do not carry passports or pay attention to requirements associated with immigration. Proactive measures to prevent them are a high priority and requires collaboration between all countries.”, said Jari Leppä, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland.
When pests and diseases affect plants, it is very difficult to eradicate them and control that they do not spread more is very expensive. It is for this reason why prevention is the key to avoid that food and environmental security from continuing to be affected. United Nations encourages all citizens to play an active role in plant care and proposes some daily actions to do so:
- Everyone should avoid carrying plants or vegetable products with them in their cross-border journeys.
- People involved in transport sector should ensure that ships, planes, trucks and trains do not transport plant pests and diseases to new areas.
- Governments should increase their assistance to national and regional plant health organizations which are the first line of defence.
“We must enhance national, regional and global awareness of plant health and its impacts on the safety and security of food production, reducing poverty and nature protection.”, Jari Leppä.