The 2nd National Plant Health Symposium 2022 will be held on June 25, 2022 as a virtual event. The theme of the symposium is “Towards Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Strategies for Plant Disease Management”. The symposium is organized by the Sri Lanka Association of Mycology and Plant Pathology (SLAMPP).
Keynote addresses will be delivered by two renowned plant pathologists, Emeritus Professor Pratibha Sharma, SKN College of Agriculture, India and Dr. Romina Gazis, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, USA during the inaugural session and session II respectively. .
Role of plant pathology in food safety
Plant pathology, the study of plant diseases, continues to be of central importance to maintaining food security through improved food supplies.
Food security protects the right of all human beings to live in dignity, free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition (World Bank). There has been a spike in commodity prices, as well as the cost and shortages of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and energy in Sri Lanka, threatening the country’s food security. In this situation, agriculture and food supply chains are needed to become more resilient and sustainable.
Climate change is expected to increase the number and severity of plant diseases requiring more robust disease control methods to sustain food supply and maintain food security.
Although plant disease control remains the primary focus of plant pathologists, knowledge about other aspects of plant disease continues to grow.
The first plant disease of a highly destructive nature in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was coffee rust in 1867 which ravaged the thriving coffee cultivation in the hills. The disease broke out in Madulsima (now Badulla district), spread rapidly throughout the coffee districts, abandoning coffee cultivation in the highlands.
This was also the beginning of tea cultivation in Ceylon. The pioneering efforts of two British scientists to study coffee rust disease, although belated, have been highlights in the annals of plant pathology.
This led to the birth of plant pathology in Ceylon, opening the first chapter in plant disease investigations, laying the foundations of tropical plant pathology.
Mycology began as a discipline in Ceylon during the latter part of the 18th century, by British scientists even before the coffee rust epidemic broke out.
Studies continued steadily, and more than 2,100 fungi were identified by 1950, 60 percent of which were new species from Ceylon. Today, plant pathology and mycology are practiced in Sri Lanka as a science at the highest level of professionalism.
The Sri Lanka Association of Mycology and Plant Pathology (SLAMPP), founded in 2007 with the aim of promoting the advancement of knowledge in mycology and plant pathology, is an associate member of the International Society of Plant Pathology (ISPP) and affiliated with the ‘Asian Mycological Association (AMA) and Asian Association of Societies of Plant Pathology (AASPP.)