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2020 - International Year of Plant Health

Publication date: 19 November 2019

This article was produced as part of the Hort Innovation Onion Fund project Australian onion industry communications program (VN18003).


In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly, declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). Using the theme ‘Protecting plants, protecting life’, the overarching goal is to raise awareness of plant health with government, industry and the wider community.

In Australia, Plant Health Australia and the Department of Agriculture are helping coordinate the promotion of the year-long campaign, which is being led by the governing body of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO).

Plants make up 80 per cent of the food we eat, however, plant disease alone costs the global economy around US $220 billion every year. Further, invasive insects cost around US $70 billion a year, and are responsible for the loss of up to 40 per cent of global food crops.  

Protecting the health of plants is vital for human health, food security, trade, the economy and environment. Although Australia is free from many serious plant pests due to effective quarantine measures and geographic isolation, our agricultural industries are under threat from pests and diseases.

Biosecurity is critical within the Australian onion industry with growers facing two different types of biosecurity risks; exotic pests and diseases and regionalised pests and diseases. 

Factors such as international and interstate movement, tourism and the increasing volume of goods moved into and around the country are all contributing to these increasing risks.

For the Australian onion industry, ensuring it has the capacity to minimise the risks posed by pests, and respond effectively to any pest threats is a vital step for the future sustainability and viability of the industry.

The Onion Growers’ Biosecurity Manual provides growers with a guide to farm biosecurity measures to reduce the risks of pests, diseases and weeds, impacting on production. The Manual can be accessed here.

Looking ahead to IYPH 2020, growers are encouraged to revisit the Onion Industry Biosecurity Plan, a framework for biosecurity risk mitigation measures, underpinning the core procedures that can be put in place to reduce the chance of pest and disease affecting the onion industry, as well as minimising the impact if an incursion does occur.

The onion industry biosecurity plan can be accessed here.

For more information on how you can get involved and start planning your IYPH 2020 activity visit their website here