Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann at FAO

Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann – Photo: FAO

CABI this week joined the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for the official launch of the inaugural International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) 2020, previously proclaimed as part of a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018.

Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director, Global Operations, was part of a special session – including a high-level panel of global plant health experts – convened by the FAO Director-General Dr Qu Dongyu at the UN organisation’s headquarters in Rome, Italy.

Dr Kuhlmann, in the panel discussion moderated by Hans Dryer, Director of the FAO’s Plant Protection and Protection Division, took the opportunity to highlight CABI’s role in helping to secure the world’s food security, for example, through its global Plantwise programme.

IYPH launch

IYPH launch held at the FAO headquarters in Rome – Photo: FAO

Plantwise helps farmers lose less of what they grow to plant health problems. It works closely with national agricultural advisory services as part of a global plant clinic network, run by trained plant doctors, where farmers can find practical plant health advice.

Other examples of how CABI is helping to ensure global food security through plant health includes its global Action on Invasives programme. This is developing innovative solutions to tackling invasive species – which can devastate key food crops and farmers’ livelihoods – and help protect 50 million poor rural households.

It is envisaged that programmes such as Plantwise will continue to play a key role in the aims and objectives of IYPH 2020, which is being led in collaboration with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), including raising awareness of the importance and impacts of plant health in addressing world hunger, poverty, threats to the environment and economic development.

CABI’s attendance at the launch of IYPH 2020 comes as it is itself collaborating with Koppert Biological Systems and Wageningen University to hold the first Plant Health, Agriculture & Bioscience Conference (PHAB 2020) which will be held on 9-11 September, 2020 in The Hague, the Netherlands.


Dr Kuhlmann said, “Plants are the foundation for all life on earth and improving plant health is the key to feeding the growing global population as well as supporting economic development around the world.

“Plant health is facing a number of challenges, from plant pests and diseases, to poor soil health and water scarcity, which is why the UN has declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health in order to raise awareness of these issues.

“As part of this global effort we are also inviting plant health stakeholders – from researchers to policymakers and the private sector – to join us at the first Plant Health, Agriculture & Bioscience Conference to share, discuss and promote both the latest findings on plant health problems as well as innovative solutions to them.

“Together, we hope to work towards a sustainable future for plant health.”

PHAB 2020 is now accepting proposals and abstracts before the deadline of January 8 2020. Find out more and submit your panel proposal or abstract at