The new Plant Healthy website provides a self-assessment tool for horticulture businesses and organisations to improve the biosecurity of sourcing systems and advance plant health management practises. The free tool, launched 29 January 2019 at the sell-out Healthy Plants, Healthy Business conference, organised by the HTA and in association with APHA, is available at: planthealthy.org.uk
The tool is based on the recently published Plant Health Management Standard (PHMS) – an initiative that Grown in Britain and the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) have been working hard to advance, along with many other organisations. The standard provides a set of requirements for businesses to meet, with a view to protecting the horticultural supply chain and the wider countryside from damaging pest and diseases. Although initially developed for the UK market, the standard is set out in a manner that enables it to be adopted internationally.
The tool is a self-assessment questionnaire which enables business’ current plant health practises to be measured against the PHMS. It will assist businesses to check that they are fulfilling statutory obligations; understand pest and disease threats; and set out a plant health policy.
The tool is intended to help businesses prepare for independent audits which will be available once the Plant Health Assurance Scheme is launched later in 2019. Currently the HTA is working with the Plant Health Biosecurity Steering Committee to set up governance structures and appoint certification bodies, that will independently audit businesses. When the scheme is ready, and once successfully audited, a business will receive an assurance certificate enabling them to demonstrate that robust plant health management practises are integral to their operations.
HTA Horticulture Manager Alistair Yeomans comments, ‘The HTA is pleased to be working with the Plant Health Biosecurity Steering Group, government, NGOs and businesses to develop the Plant Health Management Standard. Threats from exotic pests and diseases present a great threat to our industry and the wider countryside. As such it is essential that organisations work in a coordinated way to reduce the risk of environmental damage from these harmful organisms.’
Grown in Britain CEO Dougal Driver comments, ‘Grown in Britain believes the improvement of biosecurity measures across the ornamental horticulture and forestry sectors is critical to protecting the UK’s forest industries and natural environment. We believe that the plant health management standard is a fundamental part of increasing biosecurity for all’.
A further release about Healthy plants, healthy business will be issued later this week. For those unable to attend video footage of the Healthy Plants, Healthy Business event is available for a small charge.
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