HORTICULTURE'S profile is set to be given an international lift next year with the declaration of 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared the label after considering it since 2017.
The move was met with support of countries from all regions.
Director of the FAO liaison office to the UN, Carla Mucavi, said the proclamation was a paramount initiative to increase global awareness on the importance of healthy plants to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
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"In fact, promoting and protecting plant health are at the core of FAO’s mandate, helping to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable, and can help to end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boast economic development to leave no on behind," Ms Mucavi said.
"Plants are essential for life, making up 80 percent of the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe. Healthy plants feed people and animals."
Nursery and Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) welcomed the announcement.
NGIA national biosecurity manager, John McDonald, will join the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Steering Group to spearhead a calendar of events to celebrate IYPH in 2020.
Mr McDonald said the Steering Group would put the spotlight on plant industries and the need for a robust national and international plant health system.
“Plant health is top of mind for every grower, every day,” Mr McDonald said.
“The FAO has estimated that 40 per cent of global food crops are lost every year due to plant pests and disease.
“As the providers of young and mature plants into the food, fibre and foliage supply chains, the nursery industry is pleased to see this important issue on the global agenda.”
With Australian horticulture valued at almost $9 billion, the NGIA works with industry and government to fend off and prepare for exotic plant pests and diseases like citrus canker, tomato potato psyllid and Xylella Fastidiosa.
“Known as one of the world’s most devastating plant diseases, Xylella is a bacteria that spreads by imported plants and insects, potentially infecting more than 350 plant species,” he said.
“Funded by Hort Innovation using industry levies and funds from the Australian Government, a number of biosecurity programs are underway to protect against, and prepare for, exotic plant pests and disease.
“One of these programs has resulted in the appointment of a standalone Xylella coordinator and a number of industry preparedness workshops, to help keep this devastating disease out of Australia.”
Mr McDonald said the Australian nursery industry was doing its part to secure a stronger, more sustainable future for growers.
“Our industry has a number of best practice schemes for growers to implement on farm, such as BioSecure HACCP, a program that supports high health plant production," he said.
“It’s the first ever approved third party biosecurity scheme in Australia, which enables growers to mitigate biosecurity risks on farm and streamline their interstate trade across the country.”
The story 2020 labelled 'International Year of Plant Health' first appeared on Good Fruit & Vegetables.