You scientific review examines 15 plant pests that have spread or could spread due to climate change. Risks are increasing, the authors warn, with a single unusually warm winter providing conditions suitable for insect infestations.
“The key findings of this review should alert us all to how climate change can affect how infectious, distributed and severe parasites can become around the world,” She said Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), speaking at launch.
“The review clearly shows that the impact of climate change is one of the biggest challenges the plant health community is facing,” he added.
Billions lost every year
The study was prepared by Professor Maria Lodovica of the University of Turin in Italy, together with 10 co-authors from all over the world, under the auspices of the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention, hosted by FAO.
About 40 percent of the world’s agricultural production is currently lost to pests, the United Nations agency said, and plant diseases rob the global economy of more than $ 220 billion annually. Invasive parasites cost countries at least $ 70 billion and are also a major contributor to biodiversity loss.
Species such as the autumn army worm, which feeds on crops including maize, sorghum, and millet, have already spread due to warmer weather. Others, such as desert locusts, which are the world’s most destructive migratory pests, are expected to change their migration routes and geographic distribution.
Movements such as these threaten food security as a whole, the report said, and smallholder farmers, as well as people in countries where food security is an issue, are among those at particular risk.
Preserve plant health
The relationship is among the key initiatives of the International Year of Plant Health, which ends this month.
“Preserving plant health is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”Said Qu, the FAO Director-General. “Supporting plant health is an integral part of our work towards more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems.”
The authors outlined several recommendations for mitigating the impact of climate change, starting with intensifying international cooperation, as effective management of plant pests in one country affects success in others.
As half of all emerging plant diseases are spread through travel and trade, improved measures to limit transmission are also crucial, as are adjustments to plant protection policies.
They also stressed the need for more research and more investment in strengthening national systems and structures related to plant health.