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International Day for Plant Health Observed at National Level

Asmara, 11 May 2024 – The International Day for Plant Health, celebrated globally on May 12th, was observed in Asmara under the theme: Plant Health, Safe Trade, and Digital Technology. Organized by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the event took place at the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers’ headquarters on May 10th.

The ceremony featured representatives from various sectors including ministries, regional administrations, national associations, educational institutions, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) office in Eritrea. Agriculture experts, stakeholders, and farmers also participated.

In his keynote address, Mr. Tekleab Mesgena, Director General of the Regulatory Services Department at the MoA, highlighted the critical relationship between plant health and human health, food safety, and oxygen production. He detailed the challenges posed by international trade, particularly the introduction and spread of plant pests. Mr. Tekleab discussed the MoA’s collaboration with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to enhance national plant quarantine capacities and standardize phytosanitary measures, including the adoption of a global digital certification system.

Despite progress, Mr. Tekleab acknowledged gaps in meeting international standards, emphasizing plant health as a central focus of the MoA’s Strategic Plan for 2024-2028.

Mr. Asgedom Tewelde, representing the FAO, reported that up to 40% of global crops are lost annually to plant pests and diseases, costing about USD 220 billion. He stressed the importance of plant health for food security, environmental safety, and maintaining biological diversity. Mr. Asgedom urged a collective effort among government bodies, the private sector, farmers, IPPC Contracting Parties, and the scientific community to promote safe trade practices.

The event also included presentations on topics such as bio-pesticide production, the role of digital technology in plant health, and laboratory enhancements for plant health. Discussions focused on bio-pesticide commercialization, updating the National Pest List, and improving public awareness about pesticide use.

A panel discussion further addressed these issues, emphasizing the importance of preventing illegal pesticide importation. The celebration marked the third observance of the International Day for Plant Health, highlighting its significance in promoting public awareness globally and nationally.

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