2020 has been designated the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). The FAO (part of the United Nations) sees this as an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of healthy plants and to bring global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development.
The IYPH key objective in 2020 is to promote responsible practices that reduce the spread of plant pests and scientific innovation to address pest threats.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is working alongside partners with interests in plant health to plan a range of events and activities to celebrate IYPH in the UK. Co-ordinated by an organising committee chaired by the UK’s Chief Plant Health Officer, Nicola Spence, one of the main events will be a national Plant Health Week, which will take place from 20th to 27th April in 2020, becoming an annual event thereafter. This week will provide a focus for activities aimed at industry, academics and the general public aimed at improving awareness of the importance of keeping plants healthy.
The IYPH provides a key opportunity for us all to highlight the benefits of healthy plants and promote the work of UK Government and the wider Plant Health Sector in their mission to protect plant health and raise awareness to the public about what people can do to help keep our plants healthy.
Within our industry, the FAO ask that we take this year to look at ways to prevent the spread of pests by looking to use certified pest-free seeds and seedlings, and by regularly monitoring and reporting the occurrence of pests. Try to adopt environmentally friendly pest-management practices – including those based on biological approaches that do not kill pollinators, or beneficial insects and organisms.
In addition, be aware of the risks involved in bringing plants and plant products – which may have pests and diseases – across borders. For instance, when ordering plants and plant products through channels such as e-commerce and postal services, take note of who your suppliers are, as some may easily bypass regular phytosanitary border controls.
In the UK industry organisations such as BALI, the Royal Horticultural Society and the Horticultural Trades Association, will be supporting of the campaign throughout the year.