IYPH2020: Protecting Plants, Protecting Life

By Gabrielle Stannus

2020 is the International Year of Plant Health. Find out how you can ‘Protect Plants, Protect Life’ and get involved in IYPH2020 celebrations.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently launched the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) for 2020, aiming to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development. The official Australian launch of IYPH2020 will occur on February 5th at Parliament House, Canberra presided over by the Australian Minister for Agriculture.

Protecting Plants, Protecting Life
This year’s theme is ‘Protecting Plants, Protecting Life’. Plants impact our lives every day, and not only because as members you grow and/or retail them. Plants provide us with clean air and nutritious food, without which we would not be able to exist on this planet, let alone run a nursery or similar business. However, we need to look after them if they are to look after us.

The FAO estimates that up to 40 percent of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases annually 1 . This leaves millions of people without enough food to eat and seriously damages agriculture, upon which many poor rural communities rely on for their primary source of income.

Other threats to plant health include climate change, altered ecosystems, reduced biodiversity and the creation of new niches where pests can thrive. Additionally, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade, meaning pests and diseases can spread more quickly around the world, causing great damage to native plants and the environment.

FAO emphasizes prevention and protection as the most cost-effective solutions to stop the spread of pests and disease. Once established, many pests and diseases are virtually impossible to eradicate, and it is time-consuming and expensive to manage them.

What can you do to protect plant health this year?
Importers …

The FAO reminds you to be careful when bringing plants and plant products across borders.

Production nurseries importing nursery stock into Australia, tissue culture or vegetative material, ensure your international sources are meeting Australia’s biosecurity protocols. Build relationships with professional international producers that are aware of their international biosecurity obligations and have a focus on providing high health nursery stock. Critically monitor all imported plant material for any latent signs of infection and most importantly be informed of the likely quarantine pests that may arrive on nursery stock e.g. Xylella fastidiosa

Growers …
The FAO is encouraging all growers to prevent the spread of pests by using only certified pest-free seeds and seedlings, and by regularly monitoring and reporting the occurrence of pests on their properties. The FAO is also urging the adoption of environmentally friendly pest-management practices, such as those based on biological approaches that do not kill pollinators, or beneficial insects and organisms, or harm the people or animals who depend on plants.

GIA recommends industry address prevention at the plant production stage by sourcing nursery stock from reputable growers, businesses comply with interstate quarantine requirements, supply pest, disease and weed free stock, implement a robust integrated plant protection program e.g. BioSecure HACCP, and focus on producing high health nursery stock.

Retailers …

Greenlife retailers should ensure they are sourcing their plant material from professional production nurseries that have a demonstrable focus on stock quality including pest, disease and weed free product. Inspect plant material upon arrival for pests, diseases and weeds rejecting material that fails the standard.

Educate your customers about the importance of managing pests and diseases in their gardens. Teach them how to identify signs of pests and diseases. You can also remind your customers not to bring plant material into the country or transfer it across State boarders without following approved quarantine procedures.

Share your story
The IYPH2020 also provides you with an opportunity to share your plant health story, whether it be about how you may have contributed to plant health; or the damage caused to your plants by pests and diseases, or how plant health protects the environment.

FAO is looking for stories that highlight possible solutions and encourage people to take action to protect plant health. These stories will be published online and be used in events, exhibitions plus more.

Be quick! Submissions are due 15 February 2020. Click here for more details and to access the story template.

New Australian website
You can also find more detail on the FAO call for human-interest stories on Plant Health Australia’s (PHA) International Year of Plant Health Australian website.

On this new website, you will find locally relevant IYPH2020 news, resources, information and details of upcoming events.

Throughout the year, there will be many IYPH2020 events, including Greenlife Industry Australia’s own Healthy Plants, Healthy People conference to be held from 3-5 March in Perth.

To find out what events are being held locally, visit the IYPH2020 Australian website’s Events page.
Submit your IYPH2020 event details to this website to increase your event’s exposure.

To help spruce up your IYPH2020 event, FAO have also prepared a range of fully customisable banners, posters, PowerPoint templates and other materials. These can be found in the IYPH workspace.

Free resources
The FAO has also put together a range of marketing and promotional materials making it easier for you to take part in and promote IYPH2020.

A free Communications Guide provides facts to help you inform, educate and engage your target audiences.

Join the #PlantHealth #IYPH2020 campaign by sharing its free material on your digital channels.
The IYPH workspace provides graphics for the local printing or production of t-shirts, caps, mugs and bags.

Greenlife Industry Australia is here to help
For more information on how you can prevent the spread of pests and diseases, visit the Greenlife Industry Australia’s Biosecurity webpage as well as the industry specific technical information website, www.nurseryproductionfms.com.au. There you can access information on the industry’s plant protection programs including BioSecure HACCP and Integrated Pest Management resources. For pest, disease and weed identification and information you can set up access for you and your staff to www.pestid.com.au.

If you require further help with a specific pest or disease management issue, please contact John McDonald, National Biosecurity Manager on 07 3277 7900 or john.mcdonald@greenlifeindustry.com.au.

1. Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) 2019, International Year of Plant Health, 2020: Communication guide, Rome