The United Nations has declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH), Dr Maria Ayodele, a Plant Pathologist with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, has said.
Ayodele made this known while briefing newsmen on the importance of plant health on Wednesday at IITA, Ibadan.
She said that the major objective was to raise global awareness on how promoting plant health could help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment and boost economic development.
Ayodele explained that food security could only exist when all people at all times had access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food pretences for an active, healthy life.
She said that low crop yields were common in many developing countries and improved productivity was vital to reducing poverty and increasing food security.
According to her, the causes of low productivity are complex, which includes the often-neglected issue of the importance of plant health in productivity and hence, in food security.
“One major aspect of plant health, concerns crop losses due to pest, constraints, estimates of losses of 30 to 40 percent of crop production annually are common.
“Any future solution regarding improved global food security must address these losses, that means improving plant health of what we are currently producing,” she said.
Ayodele further emphasised that IITA had been involved and had good reputation on plant health management by taking measures, which included biocontrol of cassava mealy bug, biopesticides, integrated stigma control and aflatoxin management.
Also, the IITA Maize Breeder, Dr Sam Ajala, said that the major threat to plants was pest infestation.
In the bid to improve plant health, he said that the institute developed maize varieties that tolerated army worm pest.
According to him, IITA and partners work with Agricultural Development Programmes of various states to intimate them with the research findings so that they can educate the farmers.