Nigeria set for year of plant health 2020

Ene Okwanihe, Abuja

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In line with worlds efforts to ensure that people get enough, clean and healthy food to eat, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nation has declared 2020 as International Year of Plant Health (IYPH2020) and the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service has launched activities leading to the year in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The progamme is aimed at combating challenges of pest and diseases affecting plants in Nigeria and the world in order to improve food production and availability.

In Nigeria, about 50% of food crops are lost due to plants pest; Plant pest and diseases damage crops, reduce the availability of food and increase prices.

The tomato moth (tuta absoluta), popularly called tomato Ebola, the fall armyworm of maize and bacterial blight of cassava are some of the major pest and disease outbreaks that ravage Nigerian farmlands.

To ensure that the aim of the programme is fully achieved, countries have been urged to support the declaration by carrying out activities leading to the year.

The Director General of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service Dr. Vincent Isegbe, while speaking at the launch of activities leading to the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH2020) said Nigeria needs to take plant infrastructures seriously in order to increase our capacity to feed ourselves on sustainable bases.

“In the very least, we have to improve our capacity to feed ourselves on a sustainable basis; this means that we must move speedily to adopt a forward-looking plant health policy and massively invest in the upgrade and expansion of our plant health infrastructure”

Dr. Isegbe urged the Federal, state and local governments to allocate funds for Plant Health.

According to Dr. Isegbe, Nigeria needs at least 50 Billion Naira annually for the next 5 years to scale plant health infrastructures.

“We need much more than the traditional miserly allocations to plant health to reposition our plant healthcare system”

Dr. Isegbe also added that if Nigeria has clean healthy farm produce it will boost the country’s chances in the export market.

“It means that as long as our crops are clean, that is disease free and pest free, there is no challenge in the export market, all we need to do is package them very well and then we sell, because every country that will import our commodity are demanding of the Nigerian Agricultural quarantine service that those commodities must be disease free and pest free so that is the obligation we hold to them “

He noted that investing in plant health in the country is an investment in social security; it will enable Nigeria combat hunger, malnutrition, and poverty as with healthy plants there will be food all.

The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, as the competent authority on plant health and the National Plant Protection Organisation for Nigeria recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, is organizing a series of events to herald the International Year of Plant Health 2020 (IYPH2020).

The various activities will bring together policy makers, stakeholders and media to explore ways to raise advocacy and support for plant health policies at all levels in Nigeria.