2020 has been declared the International Year of Plant Health to inspire people to learn more about plant health, which we all depend on, and to take concrete action.

The year presents an opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost economic development.

Quick facts and figures

Plants are life: Plants make up 80% of the food we eat and produce 98% of the oxygen we breathe.

Economic benefits: The annual value of trade in agricultural products has grown almost three-fold over the past decade, largely in emerging economies and developing countries, reaching USD 1.7 trillion.

A growing demand: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that agricultural production must rise about 60% by 2050 in order to feed a larger and more affluent population.

Pest destruction: Plant pests are responsible for losses of up to 40% percent of food crops globally, and for trade losses in agricultural products worth over USD 220 billion each year.

Hungry pests: One million locusts can eat about one tonne of food a day, and the largest swarms can consume over 100,000 tonnes each day, or enough to feed tens of thousands of people for one year.

Climate impacts: Climate change threatens to reduce not only the quantity of crops, lowering yields, but also the nutritious value. Rising temperatures also mean that more plant pests are appearing earlier and in places where they were never seen before.

Beneficial bugs: Beneficial insects are vital for plant health – for pollination, pest control, soil health, nutrient recycling – and yet, insect abundance has fallen 80% in the last 25-30 years.

Take action

FAO’s recommendations on what we can do to support plant health:

  • We all need to respect plant health regulations that have been put in place to protect agriculture, forestry and the environment. Be careful about bringing plants and plant products (e.g. seeds, vegetables, cut flowers) across borders, even when you order from online sources. Everyday actions also include reducing your environmental footprint, protecting natural resources and spreading the word.
  • If you are a farmer or work in agribusiness, you can have a direct influence on plants, and the management of natural resources. Women and men who work in agriculture play a vital role in protecting plant health.
  • Governments can protect plant health in many ways, thus enhancing food security, protecting the environment, and facilitating trade.
  • Private sector businesses have a key role in plant health as they can contribute to the development of global plant health standards and help implement them. The private sector is also a driver of innovation in the plant-health domain and a key player in the production and protection of plants and plant products.

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