MSSRF celebrates International Day of Plant Health with state governments and local stakeholders
In 2020, the UN designated May 12 as the International Day of Plant Health (IDPH), aiming to raise awareness about crop health among stakeholders worldwide. Effective crop health management plays a crucial role in eliminating hunger, reducing poverty, boosting biodiversity, and safeguarding the environment. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) states that pests and diseases cause up to 40 per cent of all crop loss, and therefore It is important to support farmers in sustainably protecting their crops.
The 2023 theme ‘Plant Health for Environmental Protection’ was observed by MSSRF in collaboration with state governments and local stakeholders in TamilNadu and Odisha.
In TamilNadu, the MSSRF event was organised in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, at the Arimalam Panchayat Union Office in Pudukottai. The Panchayat Union President – Ms Mekala Muthu, presided over the function. Over 100 rural people including farmers, panchayat presidents, ward members, and Self-Help Group members participated. Ms D Vimala and Mr R Vinoth Khanna from MSSRF organised the event.
Dr R Rajkumar, Principal Scientist – Ecotechnology, MSSRF, advised that good crop health is best achieved by adopting an environment-friendly ‘sustainable food system’ approach. Iterating that farmers adopt such systems only with adequate support and guidance, he highlighted the need for all stakeholders to extend cooperation towards farmers.
Mr K Pandi, Assistant Director of Agriculture, Arimalam panchayat, spoke about the Agriculture Department’s efforts to ensure crop health. Felicitation speeches were delivered by Arimalam Block Development Officers Mr P Panchanathan and Mr A Saravanaraja as well.
In Odisha, at the Chikarada Village Knowledge Centre, IDPH celebrations were hosted by MSSRF under the Resilience project. Experts from State Agriculture and Horticulture Departments, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited, Odisha Agro Industries Corporation Limited, and Farm Machinery Dealers participated.
Discussions centred on developing a network of small farmers, connecting them to markets and promoting sustainable farming methods. Speakers emphasised the importance of environmental protection through organic farming practices, such as green manuring, diversifying crop from paddy to non-paddy, using biological pesticides and biofertilisers, and planting pest- and disease-resistant varieties.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.