MAF: International Year of Plant Health to kick off in Rome

December 2/2019

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) will officially launch the International Year of Plant Health on 2 December 2019. The thematic year is being celebrated at the initiative of the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Over the course of the year, the aim will be to raise awareness among citizens, sector operators and decision-makers of the importance of plant health for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“The plant pest situation in Finland is good at the moment, and we want it to remain that way. For this reason, we want sector operators, decision-makers, consumers and everyone else in Finland to know more about plant health and the related threats, and to understand the importance of plant health,” says Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Jaana Husu-Kallio, who will represent Finland at the event. “The European Union’s Regulations on Plant Health will be applicable starting in December. Upon their entry into force, operators will have more responsibility concerning plant health, which is why it is important to increase knowledge right now.”

In Finland, our National Year of Plant Health will begin in January and will culminate with the International Plant Health Conference to be held in Helsinki in October. Throughout the year, the theme of plant health will be visible at various fairs and events connected to agriculture and horticulture.

“The main objectives of the International Year of Plant Health are to increase awareness of the importance of plant health, to promote and strengthen national and international projects aiming to reduce plant diseases caused by climate change, and to encourage dialogue between different relevant actors,” says Ralf Lopian, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Plant pests can cause significant financial losses and weaken the quantity and quality of crops, thereby posing a threat to the availability of food. Plant health problems have a negative impact on the environment and biodiversity. Early detection and prevention of plant pests, and preventing their entry into the country, help to produce healthy and high-quality crops and reduce financial losses to operators. Every year, 20–40 per cent of the world’s crops are lost due to plant pests, and plant diseases generate losses of EUR 200 billion for the global economy.

Sustainable plant protection practices enable us to protect the environment, forests and biodiversity against pests, respond to the effects of climate change and support efforts to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

At the initiative of the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 the International Year of Plant Health in December 2018.

Inquiries:

  • Marja Savonmäki, Head of Plant Health, tel. +358 295162280, firstname.lastname@mmm.fi
  • Ralf Lopian, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295162329, firstname.lastname@mmm.fi
  • Taina Aaltonen, Deputy Director-General, tel. +358 295162439, firstname.lastname@mmm.fi (available from 2 December)