International Day of Plant Health Date in the current year: May 12, 2024

International Day of Plant Health The International Day of Plant Health is observed annually on May 12. It was established by the United Nations to highlight the importance of plant health for sustainable development and the elimination of hunger and rural poverty.

We depend on plants for 80% of the food we eat and 98% of the oxygen we breathe, so it is obvious that plant health is crucial for life on the planet. Unfortunately, plant health is jeopardized by many factors, including excessive pesticide use, diseases, pests, and invasive species. The factors that contribute to the spread of pests and diseases include international travel and trade, human activities such as unsustainable agricultural practices, and climate change.

Pests and diseases destroy up to 40% of food crops that are grown every year, which significantly affects agriculture, food security, and the environment. Agriculture is the main source of income for vulnerable rural communities in developing countries, so crop loss caused by plant diseases and pests contributes to poverty and food insecurity.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the key aspects of protecting plant health include promoting environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural practices such as integrated pest and pesticide management, adhering to International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) in order to prevent the spread of plant pests that threaten biodiversity and the stability of ecosystems, ensuring compliance with international plant health standards, investing in plant health research and innovations, strengthening monitoring and early warning systems, and empowering national, regional and international plant protection organizations.

The International Day of Plant Health is a legacy of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The UN General Assembly declared 2020 as the IYPH in December 2018 in order to raise global awareness on how plant health protection can help protect the environment and biodiversity, boost economic development, reduce poverty, and end hunger. Some of the activities planned for the IYPH were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so the IYPH was extended through July 2021.

The IYPH was a success, so the UN General Assembly designated May 12 as the International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) by its declaration adopted in March 2022. The observance of the IDPH is coordinated by the FAO. Its main goals are to raise awareness of the environmental, social and economic impact of plant health on ecosystems, food security and nutrition.

IDPH events are held around the globe by government and municipal organizations, NGOs, private businesses, civil society organizations, media professionals, schools, concerned individuals, and other relevant stakeholders. They include seminars and webinars, workshops, exhibitions, and more. You can get involved with the IDPH by participating in one of these events or organizing an event of your own, or at least spreading the word on social media with the hashtag #PlantHealthDay.

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