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FAO Report Reveals Shocking Crop Losses: Up to 40% Due to Pests and Diseases Annually

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently observed the International Day of Plant Health 2023, emphasizing the significance of safeguarding plant health in eradicating hunger, reducing poverty, preserving biodiversity, and fostering economic development. The focal point this year was the correlation between plant health and environmental conservation.

Shivam Dwivedi
FAO Report Reveals Shocking Crop Losses: Up to 40% Due to Pests and Diseases Annually (Photo Source: Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research)
FAO Report Reveals Shocking Crop Losses: Up to 40% Due to Pests and Diseases Annually (Photo Source: Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research)

In his opening statements at a global event organized by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu stressed the need to tackle plant health challenges by sharing knowledge, implementing best practices, and allocating resources to develop innovative solutions for plant diseases, invasive species, alien organisms, and the impacts of climate change.

He also highlighted the importance of education, awareness-raising efforts, and the development of educational programs and public campaigns to underline the significance of plant health. Qu emphasized the urgency to translate discussions into action. Plants play a vital role in sustaining human life, as they provide 80 percent of our food and 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe.

However, up to 40 percent of global crop production is lost annually due to plant pests and diseases. This poses a severe threat to food security, nutrition, and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. May 12 has been designated by the United Nations as the annual celebration of the International Year of Plant Health 2020.

Protecting plants is synonymous with protecting lives since they contribute significantly to combating the adverse effects of climate change and maintaining life on Earth. Unfortunately, plants are increasingly susceptible to invasive alien pests and diseases, which can cause significant harm to biodiversity and have a profound impact on food security and nutrition.

FAO is actively engaged in various initiatives, such as the Global Action for Fall Armyworm (FAW) Control, the FAO global program on desert locust and migratory pest control, and the proposed Global Phytosanitary Programme. These initiatives aim to empower governments and farmers in effectively combating plant quarantine pests. In September 2022, FAO and the IPPC hosted the inaugural International Plant Health Conference, convening top experts in the field to further advance innovative solutions for plant health.

FAO urges the public to ensure the possession of necessary phytosanitary or plant health certificates when importing plants or plant products from overseas or purchasing them online, as these can potentially introduce pests and establish them in new areas. Governments are encouraged to invest in training, research, outreach, and programs related to plant health. Strengthening pest monitoring, early warning systems, and response mechanisms are vital for protecting plants, plant health, and sustainable pest management.

FAO collaborates closely with the IPPC, the global standard-setting body on plant health, to assist countries in preventing and responding to plant pest incursions. FAO's support extends to the creation and implementation of International Standards on Phytosanitary Measures, adopted by the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures. These standards can be adopted by national plant protection organizations, ensuring safer trade in plants and plant materials.

In addition to preventive measures, FAO promotes integrated pest management, transboundary plant pest control, and sound pesticide management to minimize environmental impact. Preserving plant health also safeguards the habitats of pollinators, which serve as key indicators for assessing the well-being of ecosystems.

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