Minister Singh: “Plant health crucial in addressing food security!”
Critical to addressing the issue of global hunger, is treating with those plant pests and diseases which continue to cause massive crop losses and leave millions without enough food. So said the Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Avinash Singh earlier today (Saturday 14th May, 2022), as he addressed an event held to commemorate Trinidad and Tobago’s inaugural launch of the International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) on the Head Office compound of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF) in Chaguanas.
The event, hosted by the World Food Day National Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (WFDNCTT) in collaboration with the Extension Training and Information Services Division (MALF), was attended by the Permanent Secretary (MALF) Ms. Susan Shurland; Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative to Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, Mr. Reuben Robertson; Acting Chief Technical Officer (MALF), Ms. Gloria Brathwaite-Didier and; Chair of the WFDNCTT, Ms. Deanne Ramroop.
The Minister, in acknowledging that we all have a role to play in protecting our planet and by extension, our plant resources, said that through activities such as these, the Ministry was taking the necessary steps to increase the awareness of plant health to the general public. He added too that the role of plant health and the urgency with which we needed to employ strategies to curb the risk of plant pests and diseases, were things which could not be understated.
Referring to FAO’s statistics, Minister Singh reported that up to forty percent (40%) of the global food crop production is lost every year due to plant pests and diseases, while climate change and human activities are posing new and imminent challenges for plant health.
“Improving our understanding of how to restrict the spread of invasive pests will mark a significant contribution to global food security. Plants provide the core basis for life on Earth and are considered the single most important pillar of human nutrition. Therefore, ensuring the sustenance of healthy plants, is not something that we can ever afford to take for granted,” he said.
In delivering her remarks, Permanent Secretary Shurland said that the intention of today’s exercise was to: increase awareness of the importance of keeping plants healthy; minimise the risk of spreading plant pests through trade and travel and; enable sustainable pest and pesticide management to keep plants healthy while protecting the environment and promoting investment in plant health innovations, capacity development and outreach.
Also speaking at the event was Mr. Robertson (FAO) who reminded the audience that the business of plant health bore a collective responsibility and that just as proactive as we are regarding our personal health, so too must we be proactive in the execution of good agricultural practices in order to safeguard the best of health for all our plants.
In welcoming the decision of the United Nations to highlight the importance of plant health, Ms. Ramroop (WFDNCTT) took the liberty of apprising both the audience and patrons of the Chaguanas Farmers Market, of the range of activities being undertaken today (from 7:30 a.m. – 12 Noon), to mark the global observance. These include: a live plant clinic session and extension services; the distribution of seeds, seedlings and saplings in addition to an exhibition featuring posters and promotional material on the various management and mitigation strategies which may be employed to treat with a range of plant pests and diseases.