Photo by Benjamin Davies

Plant health facts

Here are some fascinating fast facts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the importance of plant health to humanity, our economy and the environment.

Plants are the source of the air we breathe and most of the food we eat, yet we often do not pay enough attention to keeping them healthy. This can have devastating results. FAO estimates that up to 40 percent of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases annually.

- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Photo by Francesco Gallorotti

Plants are life

Plants make up 80% of the food we eat and produce 98% of the oxygen we breathe.

Economic benefits

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.

A growing demand

FAO estimates that agricultural production must rise about 60% by 2050 in order to feed a larger and generally richer population.

Pest destruction

Plant pests are responsible for losses of up to 40% percent of food crops globally, and for trade losses in agricultural products worth over USD 220 billion each year.

Climate impacts

Climate change threatens to reduce not only the quantity of crops, lowering yields, but also the nutritious value. Rising temperatures also mean that more plant pests are appearing earlier and in places where they were never seen before.

Beneficial bugs

Beneficial insects are vital for plant health - for pollination, pest control, soil health, nutrient recycling – and yet, insect abundance has fallen 80% in the last 25-30 years.

Hungry pests

One million locusts can eat about one tonne of food a day, and the largest swarms can consume over 100 000 tonnes each day, or enough to feed tens of thousands of people for one year.

Visit the FAO Plant Health website