Abuja, March 13, 2019 The Nigeria Agriculture Quarantine Services (NAQS) has started creating awareness among policymakers and the public about the importance of plant health to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr Vincent Isegbe, the Director General of NAQS, made this known at the commencement of activities leading to the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020, in Abuja on Wednesday.
Isegbe said that the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution to proclaim 2020 at the IYPH on Dec. 2018.
He said that the declaration stemmed from the context of widespread concern about the state of food security and nutrition around the world and the need to protect plant resources.
“The declaration was made in order to increase awareness among policymakers and the public about the importance of plant health.
“Plant pests damage 40 per cent of global food production and plant diseases destroy 10 per cent of our food. This cuts global crop yield by half.
“It may interest you that Nigeria voted in support of the UN resolution to recognise and protect plant health.
“All of us must live up to our obligation to contribute to the development of plant health in Nigeria,” he said.
Isegbe said that Nigerian population is projected to reach 236 million by 2030 and 410 million in 2050, leapfrogging Nigeria to the largest country in the world.
“We have an urgent imperative to begin to build a robust plant health system that can support the anticipated population exploration.
“We have to improve our capacity to feed ourselves on a sustainable basis.
“We must speedily to adopt a forward-looking plant health policy and massively invest in the upgrade and expansion of our plant health infrastructure.
“This is call for investment in plant health in Nigeria and it is not a plea that should be met “tokenism’’. Tokenism will do little or nothing because plant health is a capital intensive affair.
“At the Federal level, we need a minimum of annual investment of N50 billion for the next five years to scale-up our plant health infrastructure to the proportion of our immediate needs,” he said.
According to him, investment in plant health will be an investment in social security; it will enable the country to combat hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
“As our mandate to police the health integrity of plants, animals and fisheries within the country, and the movement of those products across our borders, we have been doing our level best to advance plant health in Nigeria.
“We have established Plant Health Clinics in all six geopolitical zones in the country.
“The clinics provide prompt and efficient plan-related diagnosis and treatments that are analogous to the services rendered by the human hospital,’’ he said.
The D-G said that NAQS had been partnering with numerous organisations to tackle the agricultural commodities challenges and the reports received so far indicated that they were within the inch of the threshold of success.
“IYPH is an opportunity to raise recognition, advocacy and support for plant health throughout year 2020 and beyond and we must mobilise everyone to participate in strengthening plant health in Nigeria.’’
Mr Obaje Abah, the Director Plant Quarantine said that plants were everywhere around us, adding that they were more important than they appeared.
According to him, healthy plants are the essential foundation for all life on planet earth; they produce the oxygen we breathe and over 80 per cent of the food we eat.
“Plant health is the key to feeding the growing global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050.
“Healthy plants are vital for the protection of the environment, forests and biodiversity. Without plant health, it is impossible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of bringing an end to hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
“We can make year 2020 IYPH the dawn of agricultural renaissance in Nigeria,’’ Abah said.