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International Day of Plant Health – May 12, 2024

The International Day of Plant Health (I.D.P.H.) is an annual celebration held on May 12 to raise awareness about protecting plant health to improve food security, distribution, and consumption. Declared by the United Nations, I.D.P.H. aims to encourage communities to tackle plant and crop health issues as a way to help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity, and boost economic development. The day follows as a legacy of U.N.’s International Year of Plant Health observed in 2020.

History of International Day of Plant Health

Our health and that of our planet depend on the health of our plants. Plants make up 80% of the food we eat and provide 98% of the oxygen we breathe. Yet they’re constantly under threat by natural and man-made disasters, including pest infestations, the increased use of pesticides and herbicides, the rising, unsustainable pace of global trade, and climate change. These problems pose risks, especially for vulnerable rural, poverty-stricken communities, which often depend on agriculture for subsistence.

International Day of Plant Health was brought to the world’s notice first by the U.N.’s own Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.), which called for further investment in innovation to boost food security and ensure that the food we eat is grown, delivered, and consumed healthily. The organization specifically calls to note the need to transform agricultural systems around the world to become more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable.

In addition to its idea, the F.A.O. has mapped out several key steps to improve global plant health, such as fostering more development and implementing standard measures to protect global plant resources. It also notes the importance of safe trade practices that deemphasize the use of pesticides, to enhance the health of seeds, soils, and pollinators. On the political side, governments of the world are called on to prioritize the health of their agricultural products and the sanitary quality of their agricultural processes and to emphasize the need for more scientific input in tackling the matter. Unanimously, on March 2022, the United Nations General Assembly declared May 12 as International Plant Health Day to highlight these issues on a global scale. In subsequent years, this holiday will be marked by various events on global, regional, national, and even farm levels.

International Day of Plant Health timeline

4,500 Years Ago
The First Pesticide

The first form of pesticides is made through elemental sulfur dusting in ancient Mesopotamia.

The F.A.O. is Born

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization is formed in Canada, on October 16, 1945.

The Year of the Plant

The United Nations proclaims 2020 and 2021 as the International Years of Plant Health.

The Day of the Plant

The United Nations proclaims May 12 as the International Day of Plant Health.

International Day of Plant Health FAQs

What is the purpose of the F.A.O.?

The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization’s role is to lead the international fight against hunger and food insecurity. It makes sure that people have regular and unobstructed access to enough high-quality foods, and it helps ensure fair agricultural practices, aiding countries who are having difficulties in doing so.

What are the signs of a healthy plant?

The main signs of a healthy plant include firm leaves, well-formed root systems, unspoiled fruits, and growth. In other words, if the plant looks to be growing strong, then it’s likely that it’s growing healthy.

How can one improve crop quality?

To improve the quality and yield of crops, ensure the quality of seeds, test soil regularly, and monitor the plants’ growth diligently. It also helps if a farmer knows the most suitable planting spot for the greatest yield, and if he takes time to regularly monitor weather patterns in order to prepare his crops for any unfavorable weather conditions.

How to Observe International Day of Plant Health

  1. Tend to your food garden with care

    In the spirit of the celebration, tend your little food garden, if you have one. By maintaining your own garden with methods that emphasize the plants’ health, you are guaranteed better produce and healthier crops.

  2. Look for pesticide-free produce in grocery stores

    On your trip to your local grocery store, look for produce certified as organic and pesticide-free. It might cost a little more but your health is worth the cost.

  3. Support a food security charity

    Donate to a charity that focuses on food security and sustenance farming. Growing Hope Globally and the AGCO Agriculture Foundation are among many organizations working to make sure crops sold and eaten by the public are healthful, and your support will go a long way in furthering that cause.

5 Facts About Crop Health And Agriculture

  1. Pests ravage crops annually

    According to the F.A.O., up to 40% of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases every year, causing damages of up to $220 billion each year.

  2. We need a lot more food

    The F.A.O. notes that agricultural production must rise about 60% by 2050, to be able to feed the larger, generally richer population of the future.

  3. The largest industry in the world

    Up to 40% of the world’s population is employed in agriculture, making it the largest employing industry in the world.

  4. Less cheap, better results

    Organic farming tends to require 2.5x more effort than conventional farming but is able to yield 10x the profit.

  5. Not all bugs are pests

    Many insects are beneficial to crops — for pollination, pest control, and soil health — but their number has decreased by 80% in the past 25 to 30 years.

Why International Day of Plant Health is Important

  1. It raises awareness about the food we eat

    Better plant and crop health mean better, healthier foods for us to eat: nutrients would not be compromised and poisonous substances would be prevented from entering our bodies. The International Day of Plant Health is a celebration of the efforts that make this possible.

  2. It persuades governments to take action

    Part of the goal of I.D.P.H. is to persuade governments and policymakers to demonstrate commitment to fulfilling food health priorities. Experts use this opportunity to convince lawmakers to put further emphasis on the safety of the crops we consume and sell.

  3. It boosts awareness about the importance of plant health

    The day highlights how important maintaining plant health is to communities as well as to the ecosystem. Healthier ecosystems can improve the quality and health of our crops, and that’s a good thing for everyone and everything that eats.

International Day of Plant Health dates

2024May 12Sunday
2025May 12Monday
2026May 12Tuesday
2027May 12Wednesday
2028May 12Friday

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