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Celebrating International Day of Plant Health: Nurturing Plants, Empowering Communities, and Ensuring Food Security

On May 12th, the world celebrates a significant yet sometimes overlooked event: the International Day of Plant Health. This day aims to raise global awareness about the crucial role that plant health plays in addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. From ending hunger and poverty to protecting biodiversity and the environment, the health of plants is intricately linked to the well-being of our planet and all its inhabitants. Also, plant health is key to the sustainable development of agriculture required to feed a growing global population by 2050. The Day was designated by The United Nations and it is a key legacy of the International Year of Plant Health 2020, which was marked in 2020-2021.

Plant Health: Global Challenges and Sustainable Solutions

According to FAO, plants represent the essence of life since they provide us with 80 per cent of the food we consume and generate 98 per cent of the oxygen we breathe. However, international travel and trade have led to the introduction and spread of plant pests. These invasive pest species pose a significant threat to biodiversity, disrupting the delicate balance of ecosystems essential for sustaining life on our planet. Furthermore, the increasing global temperatures create environments where pests thrive, further worsening the problem. Global changes also impact plant health due to factors such as droughts and alterations in rainfall patterns, which can exacerbate the spread and impact of plant pests.

As a repones to these challenges, people use more pesticides to protect the plants, but this practice harms essential pollinators, natural pest predators and compromises the health of our environment. Therefore, prioritising plant health, while emphasising the importance the adoption of environmentally sustainable practices is imperative!

The International Day of Plant Health 2024 highlights the importance of protecting plant health while promoting safe international trade. Annually, over 240 million containers cross borders, transporting a variety of goods, including plant products. These actions pose huge biosecurity risks.

Promoting global cooperation and adhering to international standards are crucial steps in protecting plant health on a global scale. Embracing innovative solutions streamlines trade processes and enhances security measures.

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INCiTiS-FOOD Project: Spearheading Sustainable Agriculture and International Collaboration

In response to the challenges posed by global trade and climate change, innovative approaches like hydroponics are emerging as effective solutions for nurturing plant health. By cultivating plants in controlled environments, hydroponics protects them from pests, eliminates the need for fertilisers, and provides easier surveillance and pest control. Hydroponics, a technique for cultivating plants without traditional soil, utilising nutrient-rich water solutions, offers numerous benefits such as efficient water usage, accelerated growth rates, and increased yields.

This method, which can be implemented horizontally or vertically, stands out as a closed-cycle technology, eliminating reliance on traditional soil. Hydroponics comes in various complexities, such as nutrient film technique (NFT), deep water culture (DWC) for simpler setups, and aeroponics for more advanced systems. Projects like INCiTiS-FOOD are leading the way in developing hydroponic systems, offering sustainable alternatives to conventional farming methods.

Furthermore, INCiTiS FOOD, a project funded by the European Union, is fostering collaboration between the European Union and the African Union to address food security challenges in Africa. By promoting knowledge exchange and implementing innovative agricultural practices, such projects are making a significant impact on food production systems in Africa. Through partnerships and cooperation, countries are working together to build resilient agricultural systems that prioritise plant health while ensuring food security for future generations.

INCiTiS-FOOD facilitates not only cooperation between the EU and AU but also collaboration among six African nations. Through this project, communities will gain empowerment by accessing opportunities within the agri-food supply and value chains. At the heart of INCiTiS-FOOD’s collaborative strategy are its eight Living Labs situated across three African regions: Kenya in the East; Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone in the West; and Cameroon and Gabon in Central Africa. Unlike conventional laboratories, these Living Labs operate within real-life contexts, adopting a user-centric approach. They will be transformed into hubs for innovation, serving as incubators and accelerators of progress that extend far beyond the project’s timeframe


As we move forward, it’s essential to continue promoting global cooperation, adhering to international standards, and embracing innovative solutions to protect plant health and ensure food security for future generations. Together, we can work towards building a more sustainable and resilient future where plants thrive, ecosystems flourish, and humanity prospers.

To stay updated on INCiTiS-FOOD activities check our Newsroom.

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