Most of us understand the critical importance of monitoring the spread of diseases. And it is as important for plant diseases as it is for humans.
Plant disease epidemics are often hidden from view, unlike human viral disease outbreaks. Yet food and forest production systems, as well as native environments around the world, are just as threatened by emerging epidemics. That is why the UN has made 2020 the International Year of Plant Health.
It is estimated that pests and pathogens destroy between 10% and 40% of food production globally.
There are ways to deal with this problem, starting with biosecurity and plant health management systems. But this is yet another system that’s been put under tremendous pressure by the emergence of COVID-19. Under restrictions on human movement – necessary to curb the virus’ spread – the field and laboratory work that are crucial for surveillance and management of plant diseases has been severely curtailed.