International Day of Plant Health: High Health Nursery Production
By Gabrielle Stannus
(Image: Food and Agriculture Organization of the Untied Nations)
Greenlife Industry Australia welcomes the decision by the United Nations to establish an annual International Day of Plant Health on 12 May. We encourage all growers to increase food security and to produce high health plants more sustainably by ensuring that they are grown according to the Australian Plant Production Standard.
The United Nations (UN) has designated 12 May the International Day of Plant Health to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development.
Increase awareness of the importance of keeping plants healthy to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda, particularly Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 (Zero Hunger).
Campaign to minimize the risk of spreading plant pests through trade and travel, by triggering compliance with international plant health standards.
Strengthen monitoring and early warning systems to protect plants and plant health.
Enable sustainable pest and pesticide management to keep plants healthy while protecting the environment.
Promote investment in plant health innovations, research, capacity development and outreach.
The first objective of the International Day of Plant Health aligns with the United Nations’ ambitious goal of ending world hunger. Sustainable Development Goal 2 Zero Hunger aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture across the globe.
Understanding how to restrict the spread of invasive pests will make a significant contribution to global food security. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that plant pests and diseases cause food crop losses of up to 40 percent, and the damage they cause to agriculture exacerbates the existing issue of growing world hunger and threatens rural livelihoods1.
FAO says that protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with plant health emergencies. Once established, plant pests and diseases are often impossible to eradicate, and managing them is time consuming and expensive.
2. Growers can contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 2 Zero Hunger by ensuring they grow high health plants more sustainably according to the Australian Plant Production Standard (Image: United Nations)
Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) is uniquely positioned to contribute to the food security of Australia. The nursery industry provides the starter plants for the commercial production of fruit and vegetables, as well as those food plants sold on to retail customers for domestic gardens.
Without the nursery industry’s pre-farm gate supply, fruit, vegetable and nut production and potentially food security in Australia would be limited. The wholesale value of all horticultural products produced in Australia in the year ending June 2021 was $15.633 billion, with the nursery sector accounting for $2.929 billion (18.7%) of that total value2.
Data from the ‘Nursery Industry Statistics 2020 - 21 to 2024-5’ (NY21000) project shows that in 2020-21 an estimated 19% of production nurseries grew herbs and vegetables (933,826,608 plants valued at $290.4 million), while 25% grew fruit trees, nut trees and vines (29,024,440 plants valued at $267.06 million)3. Fruit trees, nut trees and vines represented a 7% market share, whereas herbs and vegetables represented an 8% market share4. Other contributions to the food supply chain from the nursery industry include those edible plant varieties grown within the Propagation plants (e.g., plugs, tubestock, cuttings and tissue culture) and Other (including seeds, bulbs, water plants, shot seeds, etc) categories.
To ensure that these plants are grown to the highest biosecurity and environmental standards, GIA has a range of resources and programs available to growers under the umbrella of the Australian Plant Production Standard. These programs include the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme, Australia (NIASA) Best Management Practice, the on-farm plant protection and biosecurity program BioSecure HACCP, and the environmental and natural resource management system EcoHort. These programs have been developed for production nurseries, growing media suppliers and greenlife markets, although all nurseries are able to access and use these guidelines.
Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme, Australia (NIASA)
This program includes guidelines for managing crop hygiene (root disease prevention, and disease, pest and weed control), sampling for major plant pathogens and disinfestation procedures for nursery growing media.
Also included within NIASA are stock specifications for the Avocado, Banana, Tree Stock and Macadamia Nursery sectors, in addition to the Australian Strawberry Runner Accreditation scheme.
BioSecure HACCP is the national grower-based plant protection and biosecurity program. The program is designed to assist NIASA Accredited businesses to assess their current and future pest, disease and weed risks. It contains a set of protocols and procedures that enable a business to manage plant protection and biosecurity risks by establishing an effective internal management and quarantine process for both imported and exported plant material.
BioSecure HACCP provides a system that assists production nurseries to manage both the endemic common plant pests confronted daily as well as confirming freedom of quarantine pests or the early detection of exotic plant pests. BioSecure HACCP on-farm system content includes the identification of pathways for plant pests, high health procedures to reduce risks and more.
EcoHort is the national nursery industry Environmental Management System (EMS). The program is designed to assist NIASA Accredited businesses to further improve their business sustainability whilst addressing environmental and natural resource management responsibilities.
The EcoHort program consists of a set of guidelines covering the following core environmental management areas: Water, energy, odour, pesticides, air, site biodiversity, invasive plants and environmental weeds, waste, noise, and land and soil.
Supporting these programs are a range of resources including technical information, research reports, an e-learning portal and a network of Plant Protection Officers (PPOs) around the country funded through the levy-funded ‘National Biosecurity and Sustainable Plant Production Program’ (NY20001).
To access information on this program or to organize a visit from one of the PPOs please contact National Biosecurity Manager John McDonald on firstname.lastname@example.org or the relevant PPO as follows: