Importance of healthy plants celebrated in International Year of Plant Health

Healthy plants’ contribution to New Zealand’s wellbeing and economic sustainability has been highlighted at the launch of the International Year of Plant Health at Parliament.

Healthy plants are the backbone of New Zealand’s wellbeing and make a significant contribution to the economy, said Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive Mike Chapman.

Horticulture, including viticulture, contributed about $9 billion to the New Zealand economy last year.

Mr Chapman said:

“Fruit and vegetables are essential for healthy people.  However, as many as one in five adults and one in six children in OECD countries are obese* at the same time that one in five children under five are malnourished.

“Healthy plants offer food security, not only for New Zealanders but for the people in the countries we export food to. Healthy plants are also a significant contributor to New Zealand’s human capital, providing employment and healthy food.  

“As a result, planning for future food security, particularly enabling the best use of our land, in these changing times is very necessary.”  

Philippa Stevens, Group General Manager Science Services at Plant & Food Research, said plants are a vital part of New Zealand’s economy and culture.

“Globally, New Zealand is recognised for its exemplary management of pests and diseases, both pre- and post-border,” she said.    

“Our horticultural industries use science-based sustainable production systems to ensure our fresh produce is free of pest and disease and meet or exceed the exacting residue requirements of many global markets. This means our produce is exported to 128 countries worldwide with very few barriers. 

“Unfortunately, our plants, particularly our unique native species, are being increasingly exposed to new threats. Increased travel and goods importation provide more pathways for entry and climate change is creating beneficial environments for pests and diseases that previously may not have been able to establish here.

“IYPH provides the opportunity for us to highlight and celebrate the work being undertaken to protect our plants for the benefit of New Zealand.”

Horticulture New Zealand and Plant & Food Research are working with the Ministry for Primary Industries in launching the International Year of Plant Health, during which several plant-health-related events will happen throughout the country.

The International Year of Plant Health 2020 was declared by the United Nations in late 2018 to provide an opportunity to raise global, regional and national awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

Horticulture New Zealand, an industry-good organisation, represents the interests of about 5000 growers.  The horticulture industry employs more than 60,000 people and exports to 128 markets.

Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand-based science organisation, working with the horticultural, arable, seafood and food industries to deliver a smart green future. Plant & Food Research has 1,000 people working across Aotearoa New Zealand and the world to help deliver healthy foods from the world’s most sustainable production systems.

* KPMG’s 2019 Agribusiness Agenda Report

Source:  Plant & Food Research NZ

 

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