Alluri: International Year of Plant Health is a great opportunity to support the importance of healthy plants

The United Nations (UN) declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) to grow global awareness about how crucial it is to protect plant health for helping to decrease hunger, reduce poverty and protect the environment. Before COVID muddied the waters, sigh! From the food we eat to our daily surroundings, they are all composed of plants. As humans, we depend on plants every day, making plants an essential part of our lives. Due to this massive effect of plants on the ecosystem, it is important to be concerned about plant disease forecasting and plant resiliency against diseases, climate change and droughts.

Unfortunately, however, due to an increase in air pollution and climate change, plant health is slowly diminishing and decreasing in biodiversity, threatening crop production, economic sustainability and the use of natural resources. This negative impact on plants was brought to attention by shining the spotlight on plant health throughout 2020. This is being done through outreach activities, articles and plant scientists’ social media accounts. Awareness is incredibly important to gain more knowledge on plant health. From cultural performances to exhibitions, a global effort is taking place to mark the IYPH 2020.

Within our local community, even simple efforts to raise attention to plant health can make a big difference. Currently in South Dakota, activities being implemented include a science fair booth, developing activities for biology labs and working with middle and high schoolers through various activities. 

Through these engaging activities and conversations, students will be able to understand the impacts of diminishing plant health and ecosystem sustainability. For Augustana students, the university can serve as a platform to create an initiative, and any student could design a project to allow other students to understand the goals of IYPH 2020. For example, Ohio State University is currently working with their library to design a display about the importance of healthy plants for human health and diet. Other activities can be similar in manner and will also serve to encourage more students to participate.

Taking action is a great step to support and deliver messages on the importance of plant health. Researching and reading articles about plants and their relation to global food scarcity and crop production, along with learning about improvements and technologies being made to increase plant health can be informative. Reaching out to a local representative is also a great effort to spread the message of protecting plant health.

Protecting plant health means protecting life, and IYPH 2020 is dedicated to ending food scarcity and world hunger. Showing support, engaging in the local community, and doing advocacy work is absolutely vital to ensure that plant resources are guaranteed and that the ecosystem can be sustainable for a long time to come.

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