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, 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 a 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 commented: ‘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.’