The United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The year is an opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

Plants are the source of the air we breathe and most of the food we eat, yet we often don’t think about keeping them healthy. This can have devastating results.

FAO estimates that up to 40% of food crops are lost due to plant pests and diseases annually.

Plant health is increasingly under threat. Climate change, and human activities, have altered ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and creating new areas where pests can thrive. At the same time, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade and can quickly spread pests 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. Plant pests and diseases are often impossible to eradicate once they have established themselves and managing them is time consuming and expensive. Prevention is critical to avoiding the devastating impact of pests and diseases on agriculture, livelihoods and food security and many of us have a role to play.

Everyone needs to avoid taking plants and plant products with them when travelling across borders – (overseas to Rarotonga) or (Rarotonga to the Pa Enua).  Contact Ministry of Agriculture first for the necessary procedure and documentation.

People in the transportation industries need to make sure that ships, airplanes and trucks don’t carry plant pests and diseases into new areas.

Governments need to support national and regional plant protection organizations that are the first line of defence.

To show our support to this global initiative, the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing a program of planting fruit trees within primary school compounds – Apii Takitumu, Te Uki Ou, Avarua, Arorangi, Rutaki, St Joseph and Nikao.  This is our opportunity to raise awareness on protecting plant health to alleviate hunger, protect the environment and raise the profile of agriculture with our students.

We acknowledge the support of the Minister of Agriculture the Hon. Rose Toki-Brown, the Ministry of Education, the Principal’s and the schools involved.

“Working alone we go far, but working together, we go farther”.  Kia vai to tatou vaerua angaanga kapiti!

Kia Rangatira

Mrs Temarama Anguna-Kamana
Secretary of Agriculture