A plant pandemic could be coming. Here’s how we can prevent it.

Published September 4, 2021, 10:30 AM

by Vina Medenilla

Clearly, the world wasn’t ready for COVID-19. The pandemic exposed how insecure global food supply chains are. With the emerging threats of the health crisis to the economy, it is crucial to prepare for a probable crop pandemic that the agriculture sector may encounter anytime in the future. 

Crops suffer from the intensifying effects of climate change today. As time goes by, temperatures are expected to rise, pests will further spread in more places, and new diseases will infect plants. Over 600 pest species around the world have formed resistance to pesticides, which generates a huge loss for many farms. 

Records show that the food prices were at their highest for the past years. If not avoided, a plant pandemic could be another problem that can further drive poverty and hunger, hence the need for immediate prevention.

Photo by Alejandro Barrón from Pexels.

The use of precision agriculture

An average of 10 to 12 years is required for experts to innovate new technologies. 

Farmers cannot just wait and endure it for a long time before they can acquire tools for crop protection.

To get ahead of the growing issue, the industry must prioritize and bring this alarming concern to the table to come up with technological solutions. 

One of the modern technologies that scientists have developed includes gene or genome editing—a method of changing a plant’s DNA, which aids in improving crop yields and capturing more carbon. 

Gene editing and other tools can help avert a pandemic for crops, but this will only serve its purpose if the industry is clear with the products’ safety and if the clientele fully understands their value. 

In Hawaii, preventive measures such as the allowable use of chemical fungicides against coffee rust are being implemented. However, makeshift protocols like these push farmers to use toxic chemicals due to unavailability of other options.

Establishing consumer trust

Misinformation is a challenge that both health and agriculture industries are still facing. For instance, false news and unclear information led to a distrust of the public to COVID-19 vaccines. 

Similarly, lack of transparency and access to right information about organic farming and GMOs also resulted in disbelief and other consequences. 

An important aspect when introducing innovations is getting the patrons’ trust. Regaining consumers’ confidence demands the industry to put their faith in public, too, that they’ll be able to handle facts properly. 

By harnessing technology, learning from the ongoing pandemic, and building harmonious relationships with the consumers, the global agriculture sector can keep the possible crop pandemic at bay. Otherwise, this could leave damaging effects on growers, consumers, and economies.

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