Plants are the source of life on earth and majority of living organisms depend on plants for a sustainable living. However, plant diseases impact humans directly by damaging crops, decreasing the productivity and hence less food for people to eat. From microorganisms, humans, insects and birds, biodiversity of plants provide food for every living organism. Through micronutrients and antioxidants, plant keeps us healthy at the cellular level. This is important because now, more than ever we are vulnerable to many pollutants.
The plant health observers and farmers have voiced plant health issues from time to time. The farm productivity and conditions of farmers has been vulnerable due to factors like weather conditions, pest attacks, poor irrigation facilities, low quality seeds, and so on.
Considering the ongoing plant threat, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), keeping high, its motto, ‘fiat pani’, which means ‘let there be bread’, declared 2020, the International Year of Plan Health to support plant health and curb gaps to avoid any kind of crop failure. The campaign aims to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.
FAO estimates that up to 40% of food crops are lost due to plant pests and diseases annually. Climate Change and unsustainable ways of agriculture has exposed the biodiversity of plants and created new avenues for pests to thrive. With trans boundary movements with respect to trade and travel, pests and diseases can now quickly spread around the world causing massive destruction to indigenous plants and environment.
Plant pests and diseases are challenging to eradicate once they have established themselves and managing them is time consuming and expensive. Therefore, protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with plant health emergencies. The latest global one being the infestation of locust and spread of fall armyworm.
Since the general public, most of the times remain unaware of the repercussions of their actions as masses. Hence, educating them through awareness programs can contribute to minimizing plant health risks. It is important for farmers and stake holders to adopt Integrated Pest Management system to ensure sustainable production of food at the same time managing the pests and diseases. The awareness through this year’s campaign will certainly inculcate a socially responsible culture to secure our prime food sources- ‘The Plants’.