Posted on Thu, 22 Oct 2020, 16:12
Baku, 20 October 2020 – The Food Safety Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan organized a two-day virtual conference dedicated to the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020 from 20 to 21 October 2020. Moderated by Ms Khayala Dadashova, Chief State Phytosanitary Officer at the Food Safety Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the conference brought together FAO and international phytosanitary experts as well as Azerbaijani national authorities and government representatives to discuss plant health and scientific research in the region.
Eminent speakers, such as Mr Goshgar Tahmazli, Chairman of Food Safety Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Mr Jingyuan Xia, Director of the FAO’s Plant Production and Protection (NSP) Division; Mr Nico Horn, Director General of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO); Mr Inam Karimov and Mr Mukhtar Babayev, respectively Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Ms Malek Chakmak, Representative of FAO in Azerbaijan took part in the discussion and opened the conference. Mr Jingyuan Xia informed the over 80 participants and experts present at the conference about the 5-year journey undertaken by FAO and IPPC to accomplish this global and necessary achievement. From the support of Finland as the IYPH champion to the official proclamation of 2020 as the IYPH by the UN General Assembly in December 2018, the work of the plant health community has been remarkable.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting the world did not spare the IYPH, highlighted the NSP Director. Many global, regional and national events included in the IYPH original action plan, such as the fifteenth session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures and the International Plant Health Conference in Helsinki, Finland were postponed and likely to be forced to turn into virtual initiatives. Nevertheless, many countries showcased their commitment to plant health and this global occurrence and implemented various activities, such as the minting of coins and issuance of IYPH commemorative stamps, to keep promoting plant health despite the pandemic.
Considering the IYPH as a once in a lifetime opportunity to create awareness on the importance of plant health globally, Mr Xia urged participants to uphold regional and international cooperation, improve knowledge sharing and scientific research to mitigate phytosanitary challenges, and support the proclamation of the International Day of Plant Health, currently being championed by Zambia, as one of the key IYPH legacies.
Finally, Mr Arop Deng, IPPC Integration and Support Team Lead, delivered a presentation on IYPH, highlighting activities undertaken and achievements made so far by the IPPC Secretariat to promote plant health in 2020. These broadly include the development of communications and advocacy materials, such as videos, publications, human-interest stories and social media campaigns, as well as facilitating the appointment of IYPH regional Goodwill Ambassadors and National Plant Health Champions. To make plant health a global issue, everyone can contribute to the IYPH with specific actions. Governments, farmers and agribusinesses, the private sector, academia and research institutions, citizens and travellers, are encouraged to strength collaboration and promote the importance of keeping plants healthy to protect our planet.