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Experts urge farmers to embrace smart solutions

Agricultural experts in the country now want farmers to adopt climate smart solutions to cope with the ravages and the effects of climate change to realize desired production.

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) Managing Director Professor Theophilus Mutui says that in order to address the adverse impacts of climate change on plant health and biodiversity, the organization has continuously been advocating for the adoption of climate-smart solutions in crop production and resource utilization.

He expressed fears that the Climate variabilities including prolonged droughts and extremely wet seasons adversely affect plant health and biodiversity as the drastic shift in weather patterns occasioned by global warming have contributed to outbreaks of pests’ invasions in areas that had no history of related attacks.

In a statement on International Day of Plant Health (IDPH), the MD noted the importance of adopting drought resilient and high-yielding crops for specific regions, prudent water utilization, technology integration and expanding production units while conserving natural ecosystems.

“This day is meant to raise global awareness of how sustained plant health can reduce hunger, poverty, protect existing biodiversity and the environment, and accelerate economic development”, he added.

The IDPH, he added, is therefore of significant importance to Kenya and the global community because it is being celebrated at a time when threats of devastating diseases such as banana wilt disease Tropical Race 4 (Acronym TR4) and others are being reported across our borders.

In an effort to protect biodiversity-particularly plant species, Prof. Mutui said that KEPHIS regulates the trade and movement of all plant material and products, therefore all should embrace global efforts of safeguarding plants from diseases and pests.

“Plant health is important in the general well-being of the environment where we live in, there is need to increase awareness importance of keeping plants healthy, minimize the risk of spreading plant pests through trade and travel, by triggering compliance with international plant health standards and also enable sustainable pesticide management to keep plants healthy while protecting the environment,” he said.

The importance of plants in agriculture and in particular crop production continues to face threats from pest and disease invasion with an estimated average of 40 per cent of crops lost to pests and diseases every year in the country.

KEPHIS has been at the forefront of protecting Kenya’s plant health through regulation of imports of plants and plant materials, phytosanitary inspection and certification, provision of diagnostic services to support plant health and seed certification.

Plants play a significant role in our lives making 80 per cent of the food we eat and 98 per cent of the oxygen we breathe. Plants provide and fulfil the daily requirements of all including food, clothes, wood, medicine, shelter among many other products for human benefit.

In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution declaring 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health and designated celebrations every 12th May.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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