The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar has called on stakeholders to take plant health seriously because plants are in constant danger of attack by viruses, bacteria, nematodes, insects, aphids, fungi and other environmental factors.
The Minister made this known at a press conference to mark this year’s International Day of Plant Health, organised by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), noted that due to negligence of plant health, Nigeria loses 50 per cent of its annual farm gate values to infestation.
The purpose of the International Day of Plant Health was to create global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.
Protection and Prevention are critical to avoid the devastating impact of pests and diseases on agriculture, livelihoods and food security. Plant pests and diseases are often impossible to eradicate once they have established themselves and managing them are time – consuming and expensive.
Abubakar noted that healthy plants mean a thriving economy, the healthier our plant resources are, the more business value we can generate from agriculture, and create decent jobs in the crop value chains, adding that if plant health is not given priority, the quest for food security will be a mirage and farmers will be unable to export their products to the international market.
The Director-General of NAQS, Dr Vincent Isegbe said that the quarantine service would continue to maintain plant health, animal health and fish health to meet international standards and help generate economic growth.
Dr Isegbe said most of the agricultural products that are been rejected by European Countries was due to the failure of both the owner and the exporter in packaging the produces to meet international standards, explaining that other countries come to Nigeria and buy agricultural products such as ginger, garlic and so on then go to repackage them and export them.