International Year of Plant Health

In December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). The year is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

Plant health is increasingly under threat. Climate change, and human activities, have altered ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and creating new niches where pests can thrive. At the same time, international travel and trade has tripled in volume in the last decade and can quickly spread pests and diseases around the world causing great damage to native plants and the environment.

The IYPH thus emphasizes protection and prevention. Everyone has a role in doing this!

It is risky to bring plants and plant products across borders

Make trading in plants and plant products safe

Keep plants healthy to protect the environment and biodiversity

Protect, manage and restore terrestrial and marine environments

Invest in plant health organizations and phytosanitary research and development

Healthy plants are crucial for ending hunger and achieving the SDGs

IITA & Plant Health


IITA aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and their families.


The majority of the rural population in Africa depends on what they grow to feed themselves.


Improving crops in sub-Saharan Africa is one of IITA’s top priorities


Some of IITA’s most important work is concerned with producing and keeping crops healthy.

Plant Health Impact

Production of Disease Resistant Varieties

In 1970 there was an outbreak of maize streak virus (MSV) disease, IITA and partners worked tirelessly to combat MSV and by 1985 high yielding MSV cultivars and hybrids with different maturity classes, grain colors, and textures for different zones in Africa were released.

Keeping Food Safe

Aflasafe is a safe natural solution to the problem of aflatoxin, homegrown in Africa with help from partners in the USA and Europe.

Biofortified Crops

IITA produces vitamin A-Biofortified cassava, exploiting native genetic variation for nutrient enrichment.

Improving Livelihood

In 2011, IITA established the IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) to change these perceptions and get more youths into agriculture with the aims to make young Africans see that agriculture can be an exciting and economically rewarding business venture.

Ensuring Food Security

The Germplasm & Health Unit, ensures the production of good quality and healthy plants by intercepting and guarding against the introduction of exotic seed-borne pests or races of pathogens.

Increased Crop Productivity

IITA's Bahdur was recognized for breeding fast maturing “60-day” cowpea cultivars for the tropics as well as cultivars with resistance to more than 10 pathogens and drought and heat tolerance in other cultivars.

Ask Our Plant Health Scientists


+260 211840365

Chikoye David
Director R4D, IITA-Southern Africa Hub

+254 208632900

Tripathi Leena
Plant Biotechnologist

+1 201 6336094

Kulakow Peter
Cassava Breeder / Geneticist

+229 64181313

Manuele Tamo
Principal Scientist -Insect Ecologist

+1 201 6336094

Menkir Abebe
Maize Breeder

Featured News

How wasps are used to control the destructive cowpea pest—Maruca vitrata

Banana plants’ defense against deadly wilting disease may be in the soil

Spraying locusts is ineffective – IITA entomologist

Do not regulate genome-edited crops – IITA woman scientist