Ministry of Agriculture Promotes tree planting
15 October 2020
The Research and Development Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives hosted a tree planting ceremony in an effort to promote actions that protect plant health, and to raise awareness on how protecting plant health can safeguard lives, the environment, and boost economic development.
The acting Minister for Agriculture Herod Stanislas, urged the public to ensure that plants being imported to Saint Lucia meet phytosanitary requirements to help reduce the spread of plant pests and diseases.
“The urgent reality is that plant health is increasingly under threat. Climate change and human activities have altered ecosystems reducing biodiversity and creating new niches where pests can thrive. At the same time, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade and can quickly spread pest and diseases around the world causing great damage to native plants and the environment. Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than dealing with full blown plant health emergencies,” Minister Stanislas said.
The Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has been working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture in educating industry stakeholders on the measures that should be adopted to ensure that the safety of food production is sustained. CARDI’s Representative to Saint Lucia, Andrea Veira, highlighted the importance of initiatives such as the tree planting ceremony.
“I want us to think for a moment of the situation globally with COVID-19, and think about this from an angle of plants. We have a disease that is affecting our human race throughout the world. What if we had a disease that was affecting all of our crops. What would happen to us in terms of our food?”
IICA has also been encouraging the use of innovating technology and practices to support more sustainable plant health in the Caribbean.
Representative of (IICA) in the Eastern Caribbean States, Gregg Rawlins, reaffirmed IICA’s commitment to continue to assign high priority to plant health.
“IICA has and continues to implement projects to improve the knowledge and skills of professionals in the detection, monitoring and management of key pests that can potentially impact food and security, livelihoods and regional and international trade. Over the past two years, the achievements under these projects have contributed to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of plant health systems in the region,” Mr. Rawlins said.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that up to 40 percent of food crops are lost due to plant pests and diseases annually.