With people in Asia and around the world set to celebrate Lunar New Year, CropLife Asia called for greater appreciation of regional growers and their critical contributions to food production – helping ensure food security across Asia and making available many of the ingredients to dishes enjoyed during this festive time of year.
“Lunar New Year is a time when we reflect, spend more time with friends and family, and enjoy the delicious foods of the season,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, CropLife Asia Executive Director. “In the midst of the ongoing global pandemic, it all takes on greater meaning. The time spent with loved ones and eating the foods we savour will be that much more enjoyable and memorable.
“In the midst of this year’s gatherings, I hope we can also take time to think of and thank our farmer heroes. The men and women we depend on for the food we eat during this holiday and throughout the year have been hit hard by COVID-19. They drive food security for Asia in the midst of a growing number of challenges and obstacles. Asia’s farmers earn our respect and appreciation every day, and we owe them our gratitude.”
Farmers across Asia help make Lunar New Year celebrations more festive, nutritious and delicious by producing the various foods that are served during the holiday season. In China and across Asia, mandarin oranges are a staple that can be found on tables and given as gifts. In Vietnam, xoi (sticky rice) is synonymous with Tet celebrations. Meanwhile, tteokguk (rice cake soup) is a popular dish enjoyed by many in Korea; while tikoy (sticky rice treat) is a delicacy prepared by many of those celebrating in the Philippines.
The past year has been an unprecedented time for everyone; this has been particularly true for farmers in our region. Asia is home to the smallest-sized farms and the largest number of smallholder farmers globally. The pandemic has only exacerbated a challenging landscape for these smallholders – one that includes mitigating the devasting impacts of locusts, the Fall Armyworm invasive pest and climate change. Despite these challenges, regional farmers continue to grow the safe and nutritious foods on which we depend and help ensure food security for a growing Asia and world.
Plant science continues to play a critical role in enabling farmers on this front. Biotech crops have been developed with improved traits such as increased yield, better resistance to pests and/or improved nutrition, among others. These traits are crucial tools that help farmers meet global challenges such as food insecurity. Meanwhile, farmers continue to rely on crop protection products to produce more food on less land and raise productivity per hectare. Without crop protection products, 40 percent of global rice and maize harvests could be lost every year and losses for fruits and vegetables could be as high as 50-90 percent.