The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) has named 2020 the International Year of Plant Health. The aim is to make the general public and policymakers worldwide aware of the enormous importance of plant health.
The UN believes that plant health is increasingly under threat. For example, the FAO, the UN food organisation, has written the following on its website: ‘Climate change, and human activities, have altered ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and creating new niches where pests can thrive. At the same time, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade and can quickly spread pests and diseases around the world.’
Plants are the source of the air we breathe and of most of the food we eat but we don’t often think about keeping them healthy. That can have disastrous consequences. The FAO estimates that up to 40% of food crops are lost annually to pests and diseases. That leaves millions of people without enough food and seriously damages agriculture – the main source of income for many poor rural communities.
We were at the IPM in Essen with ErfGoed in late January. It struck me that there was hardly anything to be found about this year’s theme. I came across it only once. Apparently it is not (yet) a high-profile issue, even though it is very important. Of course, the focus is mainly on food crops but ornamentals also play an important role here: the spread of pests and diseases does not respect the distinction between food and ornamentals.
It is important for all of us to contribute more to maintaining and promoting plant health. As far as I am concerned, this has less to do with engineering the creation and more with being careful with what has been entrusted to us. That is something that, here at ErfGoed, we also believe is important.
Plant health has always been an important focus in the development of our cultivation systems. Those systems make plants more resilient. And the nice thing is: that is true not only for ornamentals. Increasingly, vegetables are also being grown on our floors.
Would you like to reply or share your own ideas? Feel free to call or email me.