In a letter to the government, SLU and the Swedish Board of Agriculture have proposed an initiative on plant health based on a mandate from the government. The initiative, called Joint Action Plant Health, will deliver need-based knowledge, competence and infrastructure to secure plant health in Swedish agricultural and horticultural production.
Plants are the basis of the food chain, but today we lose up to 40% of production to plant pests and weeds before harvest. For us to produce high-quality food and meet food security needs, in a new security environment and a changing climate, good plant health is needed. Today, the conditions are not met to fully address these challenges.
Reducing the distance between research and practice
To limit and prevent crop losses caused by pests, weeds and climate change, our cropping systems need to be adapted and made more resilient. There is thus a great need for knowledge to support industry and society in achieving a sustainable production.
Knowledge needs to be strengthened, access to competence needs to increase and cooperation between relevant actors needs to be developed for us to be successful in this work. Existing resources also need to be better used and we need to close the gap between research and practice.
A complementing initiative
SLU and the Swedish Board of Agriculture are the authorities with the main responsibility for plant health in Swedish food production. The two agencies therefore propose an initiative on the theme based on a mandate from the government. The initiative would complement other initiatives for sustainable societal development such as the Food Strategy, the development of civil preparedness, the Farm to Fork strategy as part of the EU Green New Deal, the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy and national and European legislation against pests and the use of plant protection products.
A secured plant health in Swedish agricultural and horticultural production
The initiative will deliver needs-based knowledge, skills and infrastructure to ensure plant health in Swedish agricultural and horticultural production. Through a continuous and coordinated work on plant health can:
- production losses due to pests, weeds and unfavorable climatic conditions be further limited,
- the achievement of defined societal objectives for all stakeholders involved in the work be facilitated,
- food security and the ability to handle food supply in a new security situation be improved,
- the costs to producers of meeting societal objectives be limited,
- conditions for development and innovation be created, and
- a stable, increased, and sustainable (all three dimensions of sustainability) crop production in agriculture and horticulture be secured.
A well-grounded proposition
Anchoring of Joint Action Plant Health has taken place both internally in each organisation and externally. Comments received have been evaluated on an ongoing basis. The members of the Plant Protection Council, the National Veterinary Institute, county councils, RISE, advisory organisations, experimental organisations, trade organizations and commerce have had the opportunity to give their views. Involvement is also an important prerequisite for success in implementation.