The International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020 Fiji celebrations was officially launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and the Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy in Novotel, Nadi yesterday (25.11.20).
The occasion signifies Fiji’s commitment to investing in a more green and sustainable economy backed by healthy plant resources. The IYPH event demonstrates Fiji’s priority in protecting the vital living organism responsible for life on the planet, which is plants. In his keynote address, Hon. Dr. Reddy elaborated on the important role of plants in alleviating poverty by feeding the world’s population and sustaining economies. Hon.
Dr. Reddy said “while plants play a significant role in food security, they are also threatened by pests and diseases. Annually, almost 40% of the world’s plants are lost due to pests and diseases which give rise to food shortages subsequently leading to high food prices which tends to negatively impact the agricultural sector, livelihoods of communities and national economies”.
“Climate change has also impacted plants globally making them susceptible to new pests, diseases and invasive species, which goes on to impact the biodiversity and other living species that depend on plants for food, shelter and survival”, added Hon. Dr. Reddy. Dr. Reddy further said that “by declaring 2020 the International Year of Plant Health, the UN recognises that when plants are kept healthy, people, societies, and economies thrive. The IYPH is an opportunity to educate the public and decision-makers about the link between plant health and local and global environments. They aim to help make plant health a priority in the fight against climate change and investing in a greener future”.
As a prime border control agency in the country, the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) takes the lead role in ensuring Fiji remains free from harmful foreign pests and diseases which could have irreversible negative impacts on Fiji’s flora and fauna and it is for this reason the IYPH is of essence to BAF. It will work with its key partners in ensuring Fiji’s biodiversity is well protected. BAF Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Surend Pratap reiterated that “plant biosecurity can impact food safety, food security, trade, market access, market development, profitability and sustainability of plant industries.
Hence, BAF with the assistance of its key stakeholders is taking the lead role in facilitating Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures which are in line with international best practices. Doing so helps us ensure that the plants and plants products, animals and animal products coming into our beautiful country remain free of exotic pests and diseases which can pose significant risks for our unique biodiversity”.