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FAO sounds caution on the alarming use of pesticides

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FAO Africa

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Botswana expressed concern that the extensive use of pesticides to manage pests, weeds, and diseases may increase the risk of harming species essential to ecosystem health.

Speaking at the commemoration of the International Day of Plant Health in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, on Monday, Lesedi Modo-Mmopelwa, assistant FAO representative, said up to 40 percent of food crops are lost every year due to pests, weeds, and diseases. “This not only affects the economy but also seriously impacts the country’s food and nutrition security, especially for vulnerable groups in rural communities who are mostly dependent on agriculture.”

According to Modo-Mmopelwa, climate change, and human activities are also harming plant health and destroying biodiversity while creating a favorable habitat for pests and diseases, causing them to arise in previously unseen areas.

She stressed that pesticide use may increase in response to the spread of disease, endangering pollinators, natural pest enemies, and organisms critical to a healthy ecosystem.

“It is therefore vital to protect plant health across borders by promoting global cooperation and international standards, such as the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures,” she said.

Botswana is affiliated with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), which seeks to safeguard the world’s plants, agricultural products, and natural resources against plant pests. The IPPC has created the Africa Phytosanitary Program (APP), the continent’s first phytosanitary program, which aims to help all 54 African countries avoid and control plant pests.

APP, a five-year initiative of the IPPC implemented in cooperation with the FAO and the African Union, aims to empower African National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) to effectively monitor, efficiently and quickly detect, and eventually respond to and recover from plant pests and diseases of regulatory, economic, and environmental significance. The pilot phase of the APP includes 11 African countries.

The UN designated May 12 as the International Day of Plant Health. It is a day organized by the IPPC Secretariat and the FAO. This year’s commemoration was held under the theme “Plant Health, Safe Trade, and Digital Technology.”

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