Plants make up 80 percent of the food we eat and produce 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe. The annual value of trade in agricultural products has grown almost three-fold over the past decade, largely in emerging economies and developing countries, reaching USD 1.7 trillion.
However, plants are at risk. Each year an estimated 10–16% of global harvest is lost to plant pests. Plant pests are responsible for the loss of up to 40 percent of global food crops, and for trade losses in agricultural products exceeding USD 220 billion annually.
More plant health pests are appearing earlier and in places where they were never seen before. More plant pests are appearing earlier and in places where they were never seen before due to climate change. Indeed, climate change is having a big impact on plant health. It threatens to reduce both the quality and quantity of crops, leading to lower yields. Rising temperatures are also exacerbating water scarcity, and changing the relationship between pests, plants and pathogens.
Attached to this post, a paper published in March 2019 “The global burden of pathogens and pests on
major food crops” by Serge Savary, Laetitia Willocquet, Sarah Jane Pethybridge, Paul Esker, Neil McRoberts and Andy Nelson (Nature Ecology & Evolution | VOL 434 3 | MARCH 2019 | 430–439 | http://www.nature.com/natecolevol
Some examples of the impact of pests and IPPC role:
1. ISPM 15: Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade:
Pests associated with wood packaging material are known to have negative impacts on forest health and biodiversity. The billions of dollars associated with agricultural and forestry resources, pest eradication programs, and disruptions in trade are consequences of the pests spread internationally. The emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle native to Asia, has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in 31 states since it was confirmed in Detroit, Michigan, in 2002. On the other hand, in South Korea, where pine trees are cultural, historical and ecological cornerstones, containing the pine wood nematode has cost over $600 million in 20 years. Despite the loss of forest and crop but there are so many indirect impacts of these pests too - the ecology, the social impact and the environment which are not easily estimated.
In recognition of the plant health risk associated with wood packaging material, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has adopted a wood packaging standard: International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures - ISPM 15: Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade. This standard aims to significantly minimize the risk of unprocessed raw wood being used as a pathway for the introduction and the spread of most quarantine pests and diseases through international trade.
Implementation of this standard is considered to reduce significantly the spread of pests and subsequently their negative impacts. In the absence of alternative treatments being available for certain situations or to all countries, or the availability of other appropriate packaging materials, methyl bromide treatment is included in this standard. Methyl bromide is known to deplete the ozone layer. An IPPC / CPM recommendation on the replacement or reduction of the use of methyl bromide as a phytosanitary measure has been adopted in relation to this issue (https://www.ippc.int/en/publications/84230/
2. Fruit fly standards
Fruit flies are considered one of the most destructive agricultural pests, and keeping exotic fruit flies out is a major concern for many countries. Losses to fruits and vegetables caused by fruit flies (family Tephritidae) are substantial and maybe broken into two categories: Firstly, direct losses to the fruits and vegetables; secondly, quarantine restrictions imposed by importing countries result in losses in overseas or, in some cases, within country markets. Invariably, these restrictions result in a cost to governments and horticultural industries for quarantine surveillance and regulatory inspections as part of guaranteeing quarantine security.
For example, if melon fly (Bactrocera cucurbitae) became established in Tonga, the export market of squash/pumpkin to Japan would immediately cease until the outbreak was eradicated or a satisfactory quarantine treatment was developed. The monetary loss would be in excess of US$8–10 million. The outbreak of Mediterranean fruit fly in Auckland has already cost the New Zealand Government about NZ$ 6.0 million. Dowell and Wange (1986) listed eight fruit flies of greatest threat to California and estimated that the state wide establishment of these would cost US$ 910 million to eradicate and US$ 290 million to control.
Another example is the oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, has been found in at least 65 countries including parts of Oceania and most of continental Africa (in particular sub-Saharan countries). In the African region, it was detected in 2003 and represents a great phytosanitary challenge because of the threat the pest poses to the region’s exports, particularly of avocado, banana, guava and mango. It is thought that import trade bans to the region alone are causing around US$ 2 billion losses annually. After introduction, B. dorsalis can easily spread as it has a high reproductive potential, high biotic potential (short life cycle; up to 10 generations of offspring per year depending on temperature), a rapid dispersal ability, high competitiveness with native fruit flies, and a broad host range.
To limit the international spread of fruit flies, the IPPC develops international standards to prevent their introduction into new areas and the fruit flies spread. As of October 2018, the IPPC has over 23 international standards that provide guidance to establish areas pest free of fruit flies, guidance to determine if a fruit or a vegetable is a true host of fruit flies, to standards that provides true operational technical guidance on how to apply a range of treatments for the food commodities: since irradiation to cold treatments. It is known that these international standards helped to promote international trade while safeguarding countries crops’ productions and reduced not only the direct losses into the commodities traded but also considerably provided costs cuts to governments and horticultural industries.
3. Avocados in Mexico
The annual value to Mexico from exports of fresh avocados to the USA exceeds $1 billion. From the initial application of fruit flies pest free areas in 5,000 ha in 1997, to the subsequent establishment of a systems approach program in over 125,000 ha today, 23,000 owners of orchards (80 percent with average of 5 ha) have overcome the poverty endured by generations.
The development of phytosanitary measures to minimize the risk of international movement of three weevils and a moth, which were later adopted as international standards, is credited with removing an import barrier in place for 82 years and providing growers and packers with a decent living at home – significantly reducing the migratory flow to the US.
4. Fall Armyworm
Fall Armyworm (FAW), or Spodoptera frugiperda, is an insect that is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. In its larva stage, it can cause significant damage to crops, if not well managed. It prefers maize, but can feed on more than 80 additional species of plants, including rice, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton. FAW was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 and has quickly spread across virtually all of Sub-Saharan Africa. Because of trade and the moth’s strong flying ability, it has the potential to spread further. Farmers will need great support through Integrated Pest Management to sustainably manage FAW in their cropping systems.
FAO has proposed a five-year programme of action to help smallholder farmers, their organizations, their public institutions, national governments and development partners quickly respond to the challenges of FAW infestation across Africa. FAO is taking an active role in coordinating partners’ activities, plans and approaches to provide sustainable solutions to the FAW challenge.
5. Success of FAO and IPPC to address Xylella fastidiosa
Xylella fastidiosa is a plant pathogenic bacterium that has more than 500 host plants among them important cash crops in many countries such as citrus, grapes, stone fruits, and olive. The outbreak of Olive Quick Decline Syndrome (OQDS) caused by X. fastidiosa in Italian Apulia region in 2013, serious and significant losses in olive production sector were estimated by USD 1 billion. With so many challenges on the NENA region such the lack of enforcement of phytosanitary measures, and inadequate capacities and the fragile situation on some conflicts areas, X. fastidiosa is considered a real threat to olive production in all NENA region countries and to the entire Mediterranean Basin.
The FAO interventions started in 2015 in responding to this threat concern risk communications, early warning messages, technical seminars, workshops, and technical support. Many technical workshops were held in different areas to raise the stakeholder’s awareness of this dangerous of pest. The largest meeting was the International Workshop on the Olive Trees Quick Decline Disease, Xylella fastidiosa that took place on 19 – 22 April 2016 in Bari, Italy, organized by FAO, in partnership with IPPC, NEPPO, and CIHEAM. On August 2016, FAO-RNE lunched a regional TCP project (TCP/RAB/3601), (duration: 22 months, budget: USD 499,000). The project supported seven countries (Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia) in their efforts to enforce preventive measures for the introduction and spread of X. fastidiosa and Olive Quick Decline Syndrome in their territories. The project activities focused on raising awareness, developing human and institutional capacities, strengthen and update phytosanitary regulations/measures to prevent the introduction of the disease and assisting countries to put in place effective surveillance and monitoring programmes.
Furthermore, contribution of FAO the IPPC to globally regulate this disease, an International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 27) about the diagnostic protocol for Xylella fastidiosa as regulated pest and Guidelines for the prevention, eradication and containment of Xylella fastidiosa in olive-growing areas have been developed. Further training programmes have been carried out in cooperation with IPPC partners for the staff of different NPPOs in the world about the implementation of the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), taking Xylella fastidiosa as a case study significantly raised the awareness on this disease.
Adriana G. Moreira
Standard Setting Officer (Programme Specialist)
International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO/UN)
E-mail / Skype: firstname.lastname@example.org