Plant Health


Effective plant health management is critical for improving the productivity, profitability, sustainability and resilience of agrifood systems. Yet, farming communities, especially in low- and middle-income countries, struggle to contain existing and emerging plant pests and diseases. Each year, these threats cause on average 10–40% losses to major food crops, costing the global economy around US$220 billion. The highest losses are associated with food-deficit regions with fast-growing populations. 

Increasing international trade and travel, coupled with weak phytosanitary systems, are accelerating the global spread of pests and diseases. The situation is exacerbated by climate change, with agricultural intensification and diversification driving the emergence of new threats. These burdens fall disproportionately on poorly resourced communities, especially women and youth in rural areas. 

Diagnostic capacity, global-scale surveillance data, risk prediction/forecasting and rapid response and management systems for major pests and diseases are still lacking. Inadequate information and knowledge of and access to climate-smart control options leave smallholders and marginalized communities ill-equipped to respond to biotic threats. Environmental and health effects of toxic pesticides, exposure to mycotoxins and acute unintentional pesticide poisoning are major concerns.  


This Initiative aims to protect agriculture-based economies of low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America from devastating crop pest incursions and disease outbreaks by developing, validating and deploying inclusive innovations, and by leveraging and building viable networks across an array of national, regional and global institutions.


This objective will be achieved by:

    • Bridging knowledge gaps and networks for plant health threat identification and characterization, focusing on strengthening the diagnostic and surveillance capacity of national plant protection organizations and national agricultural research and extension systems, and facilitating knowledge exchange on pests and diseases. 
    • Building capability of relevant national stakeholders for risk assessment, and data management and guiding preparedness for rapid response, focusing on controlling the introduction and spread of pests and diseases by developing and enhancing tools, standards and policies. 
    • Improving integrated pest and disease management, focusing on designing and deploying approaches against prioritized plant health threats in targeted crops and cropping systems. 
    • Designing and deploying tools and processes for protecting food chains from contamination, specifically, through innovations for reducing mycotoxin contamination to protect health, increase food/feed safety, enhance trade, diversify end-use and boost income. 
    • Promoting gender-equitable and socially inclusive scaling of plant health innovations to achieve impacts through multistakeholder partnerships, inter-disciplinary research, effective communications and capacity development. 


      While this Initiative is global in its outlook, it will work in Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam as a priority, from which lessons of global application will be extracted.


      Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

      1. National plant protection organizations in at least eight target countries participate in a global plant diagnostic and surveillance network, exchanging data and knowledge. 
      2. At least 15 national partners in eight target countries use the novel diagnostic and surveillance tools to effectively counter existing or emerging plant health threats. 
      3. At least eight target national plant protection organizations increase their capacity to use epidemiological modeling data and decision support tools for pest risk assessment and preparedness to counter prioritized pests and diseases.  
      4. A global plant health consortium comprising at least 60–70 institutions is operational, co-developing and deploying integrated pest and disease management innovation packages for effective plant health management. 
      5. Adoption of eco-friendly and climate-smart integrated pest and disease management innovations by at least 3 million smallholders in 10 target countries results in reduction in crop losses of at least 5% and use of toxic pesticides of at least 10%. 
      6. At least 10 private sector partners in four focal countries in Africa commercialize the aflatoxin bioprotectant Aflasafe to at least 200,000 farmers (400,000 ha of maize), resulting in enhanced availability of safe and nutritious food and feed, as well as increased income. 
      7. At least 300,000 smallholder households across five countries use affordable and easy-to-use pre- and post-harvest integrated mycotoxin management innovations for mitigating contamination of the food chain. 
      8. Plant health research communities in at least 10 targeted countries use needs assessment evidence and data to develop demand-driven, equitable and scalable innovations. 
      9. National and regional partners use validated scaling approaches for detection, surveillance and management of pests, diseases and mycotoxin. 
      10. Based on science-based plant health policy briefs, investors and decision makers in targeted regions create an enabling environment for research for development and scaling of plant health innovations.


                        Projected impacts and benefits include:


                        NUTRITION, HEALTH & FOOD SECURITY

                        More than 110 million people (over 16 million households) benefit from better resilience of crops and cropping systems, better preparedness to counter biotic threats exacerbated by climate variability and changing farming practices, further increasing food security and safety, farm profitability, and reducing food prices. 

                        Losses in yield and quality of major food crops due to pests and diseases are reduced through integrated pest and disease management innovations. Food and feed are made safer for consumption by reducing pesticide and mycotoxin contamination in targeted crops, improving human and animal health. 


                        Reduction in use of toxic pesticides and associated safety hazards, including pesticide residues in the environment, due to integrated pest and disease management and prioritization of nature-based solutions are applied on more than 9 million hectares of food crops, benefiting more than 24 million people (over 5 million households). Natural biodiversity and ecologies are protected from devastating invasive pests and pathogens, toxic pesticides and mycotoxin contamination.  


                        Livelihoods of more than 27 million people (over 6 million households) across 10 target countries are improved due to increased yield stability and containment of pests, diseases and mycotoxin-induced crop and food losses at the field- and landscape-levels through development and delivery of eco-friendly innovations to detect and control pests and diseases. 


                        Around 8 million women have increased access to and benefit from plant health innovations through prioritization and implementation of approaches for gender-equitable and socially inclusive design and scaling of plant health innovations. These are supported by diverse multistakeholder partnerships and new opportunities for women and youth. 

                        CLIMATE ADAPTATION & MITIGATION

                        More than 8 million people (over 1.3 million households) benefit from reduced impact of climate-induced changes in pests and diseases on crops, food security and safety, and livelihoods through better preparedness and adaptation of plant health innovations based on improved forecasting of threats and modeling of impacts.  


                        Projected benefits are a way to illustrate reasonable orders of magnitude for impacts which could arise as a result of the impact pathways set out in the Initiative’s theories of change. In line with the 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, Initiatives contribute to these impact pathways, along with other partners and stakeholders. CGIAR does not deliver impact alone. These projections therefore estimate plausible levels of impact to which CGIAR, with partners, contribute. They do not estimate CGIAR’s attributable share of the different impact pathways.

                        The Plant Health Initiative has a wide array of demand, innovation and scaling partners, including CGIAR, ministries of agriculture, institutions under the National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES), national and regional plant protection organizations, International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs), FAO/IPPC, advanced research institutions/universities, regional organizations, NGOs, the  private-sector, and phytosanitary research/coordination networks, farmers’ organizations, and so on.  

                        Header photo: Sprayers using pesticides against fall armyworm, Nigeria. Photo by C. de Bode/CGIAR.