Healthy plants mean healthier people. Healthy plants are key to profitable and sustainable crop production, crop quality, and the global food supply. Plant health impacts human health and the protection of plants is crucial for the people and the planet. Up to 40% of food crops are often lost to plant pests and diseases yearly. Plant health is already at risk because of climate change, which has severely reduced biodiversity in some countries, created new places where pests can thrive, and altered ecosystems.
Agriculture is an important sector for all countries and if plant pests and diseases impact the food cycle, it jeopardizes food security and hundreds of millions of people would suffer globally. Many depend on agriculture for their livelihoods as it is the main source of income for some, while also feeding the masses.
Healthy plants provide nutritional value to humans. Minerals come from plants, such as legumes, whole grains, and nuts. These minerals are also rich in magnesium and good for nerve and muscle function. For strong bones and bone structure, phosphorus can be obtained from lentils, beans, almonds, and walnuts. Additionally, bananas and lentils provide potassium and act as an electrolyte, helping to relax muscles and contract them.
The plant pests that alter ecosystems or affect crop production have been inadvertently released into ecosystems or spread through globalization and human activities. Plant health depends on a balance that coincides with some pests. Environmentally friendly approaches to maintain the balance of plant health like integrated pest management (IPM) have been used in some countries. IPM helps to protect the natural environment and biodiversity.
Commercial methods of getting rid of pests involve the use of industrial pesticides. However, there IPM serves as an alternative to those harmful pesticides. Furthermore, minimizing the use of lethal substances and chemicals while dealing with pests, helps to protect natural pest enemies, pollinators, beneficial organisms, and the animal and people who depend on plants. If plant health declines, so do the state of human health. Humans thrive on good food, which comes from healthy plants.
Farmers have started growing plants that are more resilient to plant pests and diseases as well as drought. These advances in plant genetics and breeding allow for more nutritious and productive crops.
Read more from our sources below!
United Nations – UN focus on plant health, crucial for boosting food security worldwide
USDA – Plant Health
FAO – International Year of Plant Health 2020
British Association Landscape Industries – National Plant Health Week 2022