In the Episode 33 of the second season, Simone Barg, Senior Vice President, Agricultural Solutions of Asia Pacific, BASF, talks about important issues like food security, climate change, and the unique position that Asia is in as one of the biggest region of smallholder farmers. She also shares the value of working with multiple stakeholders in seeking agricultural transformation. Listen ’til the end to hear Simone’s favorite food, too, which is a combination of Asia’s staple and exotic fruits – definitely a crowd favorite!
On Episode 34, we speak to Pramod Thota, President, Asia Pacific, and Vice President of FMC Corporation, on counterfeits, sustainability and the importance of agriculture technologies in improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and alleviating issues like climate change. Pramod shares with us initiatives that FMC have spearheaded that targets the issues within food and agriculture, which includes anti-counterfeiting and brand protection efforts with the #DealWithRealFMC campaign.
Over 65% of region’s female farmers cite gender disparity as a key issue in new research
By: CropLife Asia
SINGAPORE, March 8, 2022 — This International Women’s Day, CropLife Asia is calling on fellow food and agriculture stakeholders across Asia to #BreakTheBias in addressing gender disparity issues that persist in the region. The continuing inequalities between women and men are an obstacle not only to agriculture and rural development but also to achieving sustainable and equitable food systems.
In 2021 research commissioned by CropLife Asia and conducted by leading agricultural and animal health market research company Kynetec, over 65% of female farmers surveyed from Southeast Asia’s biggest agricultural-producing countries revealed that they have experienced gender inequality in farming. The highest number of farmers sharing this perspective came from Thailand (87%) and Indonesia (73%). Thai and Indonesian female farmers noted the lack of access to capital, financing and resources as key areas where they faced inequality. Additionally, those in Indonesia also cited lack of access and training opportunities as another area of gender disparity.
These findings and others came to light through the 2021 ASEAN Farmer Sustainability & Resilience Study, a research initiative to learn more about how regional farmers are coping in the face of growing food production challenges. Through the initiative, Kynetec surveyed 525 corn, rice, fruit and vegetable farmers across Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“The safe, secure and sustainable supply of food we depend on in Asia would not be possible without female farmers,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia. “While these women play an essential role in regional food systems, they are often at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts with access to resources, services and opportunities. Ensuring our region’s female farmers are enabled and empowered to realize their full potential is a responsibility shared by all of Asia’s food and agriculture stakeholders.
The Southeast Asia region has more than 100 million smallholder farmers, and the agriculture sector employs 26.7% of all working women on average in ASEAN[i]. However, these percentages likely underestimate women’s full contribution to agriculture as their work is not always captured fully in official statistics. Although women are seen as the backbone of the rural economy, they only receive a fraction of the land, credit, inputs such as improved seeds and fertilizers, agricultural training, and information as compared to men. As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is a need to ensure that no woman is left behind, including rural women working in agriculture.
Empowering and investing in rural women has shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce hunger and malnutrition, and improve rural livelihoods – not just for women but for everyone. Because of cultural attitudes, discrimination and a lack of recognition for their role in food production, women often do not enjoy benefits of extension services and training in new crop varieties and technologies. The vast majority of studies have found that differences in yields between men and women exist not because women are less skilled but because they have less access to inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizers and equipment. The yield gap between men and women farmers averages around 20-30%[ii]. The outcome of that yield gap would be monumental, boasting a 2.5–4% increase in total agricultural production in developing nations and reducing hunger by 100–150 million people.[iii]
More findings from the 2021 ASEAN Farmer Sustainability & Resilience Study are scheduled to be released this year.
About CropLife Asia
CropLife Asia is a non-profit society and the regional organization of CropLife International, the voice of the global plant science industry. We advocate a safe, secure food supply, and our vision is food security enabled by innovative agriculture. CropLife Asia supports the work of 15 member associations across the continent and is led by six member companies at the forefront of crop protection, seeds and/or biotechnology research and development. For more information, visit us at www.croplifeasia.org.
For more information please contact: Duke Hipp Director, Public Affairs & Strategic Partnerships CropLife Asia Tel: (65) 6221 1615 firstname.lastname@example.org
Farmers were a coredemographicrepresented at the UN Food Systems Summit Pre-Summit, and for good reason. Farmers produce our food and cultivate the world’s farmlands — it would be impossible to positively transform global food systems without engagingfarmersandranchers.
Kylie Epperson and her husband Jordan are young farmers in northeast Missouri in the United States. Their diversified family farm is the center of their lives, and every day they strive to produce food and animal feed while preserving the beauty and fertility of their farmland.
CropLife International asked Kylie some key questions about what it’s like to be a young farmer, what kind of everyday challenges she faces and how she champions sustainability on the farm.
As a young person, what made you want to become a farmer?
Kylie Epperson: I married into the farm, but there is something to be said for choosing to marry a farmer AND wanting to return to work on the farm alongside my husband. Agriculture is a way of life like no other. Farmers are true entrepreneurs, mechanics, engineers, marketing experts and so much more. We grow food, especially here in the United States, to feed millions of people around the world. I love being able to run my own business and raise our family in a rural, farm setting.
“Farmers are true entrepreneurs, mechanics, engineers, marketing experts, and so much more.”
What are the main crops you grow on your farm and why?
KE: We grow yellow corn and soybeans on our farm in Missouri. We also raise hogs. Most of the crops we grow go into feed for hogs and cattle. Raising hogs helps us to diversify our farming operation and better manage risk in both commodities.
What does a normal day look like on your farm? What is your routine?
KE: As a 50/50 partner with my husband on our farm, my main role is working in our farm office. A typical day for me is waking, rounding the kids up and driving about 10 minutes to our home farm. After arriving at the office, I look over any urgent matters on my desk, sort and pay bills, review finances and any other accounting matters at hand. I also manage grain inventory and sales. Between bills, grain inventory and tending to three children at work, that makes up most of my day.
What are the major challenges you face on your farm?
KE: One of the major challenges we have on our farm, and really as an industrywide problem, is labor. It is incredibly hard to find a qualified individual who loves the land and animals just as much as you do and takes care of them to the level that you see fit. More and more people are leaving rural America, and that is a threat today and will continue to be a challenge in the future.
“There is not one person who cares more about the quality of our soil, water and air than a farmer.”
How do climate change and biodiversity issues affect your farm?
KE: As a row crop and hog farmer, we take all measures available to us to ensure we are doing right by our environment, by our land and by our community. There is not one person who cares more about the quality of our soil, water and air than a farmer, and we put practices in place to ensure we are doing our part to take care of the environment.
What would you say to young people who want to know about farming and plant science?
KE: Agriculture is one of the most rewarding environments to make yourself a part of. The community, the ability to work with your hands and with the land every day, the opportunity to raise a family on a farm, teaching your kids life lessons from a young age, gosh, so many amazing things about farming.
However, farming isn’t for the faint of heart. Farmers rely heavily on matters outside of our control, like commodity prices, land availability, weather and more, and often those uncontrollable matters throw curveball after curveball. Farmers are resilient, though, and you quickly learn the love for the land and the faith for the future is much greater in agriculture than the fear of the unknown. Agriculture is a community and profession that once you start, you’ll never want to leave.
Kylie takes a special interest in telling her story through her Instagram, Facebook and blog, where she charts the ups and downs of modern farming from the perspective of a young family. This is in part due to increased interest in farming from consumers who have increasing concerns about sustainability and the supply chain, or are just taking a greater interest in where their food comes from.
Addressing the many threats to food security was a key priority at the United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit earlier this year. West Asia regional director for Youth4Nature Rayan Kassem offered closing remarks sharing his vision on how food systems could be meaningfully transformed. In celebration of International Youth Day and as part of our responsibility to include and uplift youth perspectives, we reached out to Kassem to learn more about his perspective on how key stakeholders can collaborate to help deliver more sustainable food systems for the world.
Kassem outlined 11 key action points that he believes will be vital for creating equitable and sustainable food systems.
We must consider the indirect causes of food system challenges, not just direct impacts like hunger, poverty and climate change. Looking at factors like war, smuggling, food prices, violence and food import dependence is key.
We need to create an accountability scheme for decision-makers. Our generation is making history as the first generation to actively care about the future of the planet. We must continue to call for accountability every time a shock, stress or challenge happens within food systems.
We should address trade dependencies and politics within food systems. Some countries might have disputes and create artificial trade barriers. We need to protect food systems from such trade disruptions.
We need to move beyond our unsustainable view that we can produce as much as we want, whenever and wherever we want. We need to create a new system where resources are looked at in a finite way.
We need to look at subsidies. We should stop subsidizing agricultural products that are harmful for our health and for the health of the climate and biodiversity. Instead, we should shift those subsidies to local farmers and agricultural products that are good for our health and our planet. We should subsidize fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole plant-based food products as well animal protein that is produced sustainably be it fish or land-based animals
We need to take care of farmers’ livelihoods. Farmers are the basis of our society as the producers of our food. Yet, they aren’t often able to have equitable livelihoods.
We need to switch from monocultural tree planting to nature-positive, sustainable food production so that agriculture doesn’t hurt the health of our environment or impact the climate.
We need to prioritize food justice and sovereignty, including regional culture and the heritage of food production and consumption. How people eat and how they produce food is very specific to their cultures and hundreds of years of interaction with nature. The development of food production and consumption patterns are often local, so food systems should not be approached from a global perspective with a standard diet and way of producing food.
We must use resources sustainably. That means growing crops best suited to each region based on their natural resources.
Developing countries must have access to agricultural technologies. The use of these technologies helps farmers produce food more efficiently. There is still a very large gap between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere in access to technologies.
Lastly, we need a circular economy. Technology has advanced enough to create products from food waste, and we need to incorporate these products into local, regional and global food production.
Kassem believes that if we address these 11 strategies, we will be able to improve global food systems and end world hunger. He added that we already have the policy systems in place, through both the United Nations and member states, to address these points — we just need action. Youth advocates are key to encouraging decision-makers to create lasting, long-term policies that leads to more equitable, sustainable and accessible food systems.
As the global federation representing the plant science industry, CropLife International is committed to advancing innovation in agriculture for a sustainable future, and to playing a lead role in enabling sustainable food systems. We are proud to feature the voices of stakeholders like Rayan Kassem that are shaping global negotiations at the UN Food Systems Summit.
New Research Reveals Growers in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand & Vietnam Increasingly Impacted by Effects of Climate Change
Singapore, 30 August 2021 – A finding officially released today highlights a key challenge with regional food production – chiefly that a significant number of growers in Southeast Asia’s largest agricultural-producing countries are concerned with the impact of climate change (68.5%).
This finding, part of new research titled the 2021 ASEAN Farmer Sustainability & Resilience Study, was conducted by leading agricultural and animal health market research company Kynetec and carried out in the first quarter of 2021. CropLife Asia contracted with Kynetec to conduct the survey among 525 corn, rice, fruit and vegetable farmers across Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report warning against the effects of climate change and calling for rapid actions in global cooperation. The report was referred to by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as “code red for humanity” and has spurred additional discourse on how society can support more aggressive climate change action.
“Farmers across Southeast Asia are facing increasing challenges that threaten their livelihood, food supply chain resiliency, and the sustainable supply of safe and nutritious food on which we all depend,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia. “As the prevalence of climate change-induced droughts, floods and erratic weather patterns continue to grow, Southeast Asia’s smallholder farmers are under tremendous pressure to cope. There is no food and agriculture stakeholder more important than our farmers – and no voice more critical than theirs in the debate around how to make our food systems more resilient. We owe these food heroes our attention and full support.”
While over 68% of farmers surveyed noted the effects of climate change (flood, drought) as a challenge of unique concern, the number of farmers from the Philippines and Vietnam raising their concern with climate change was particularly high. In those countries, the number was 77% and 70% respectively.
The innovative technologies of plant science continue to enable farmers to produce more safe and nutritious food with fewer impacts to the world around us. Biotech crops have been developed with improved traits such as increased yield, better resistance to pests and/or improved nutrition, among others – and allow for sequestration of carbon in the soil through practices such as no-till farming. These are crucial tools that help farmers address global challenges such as food insecurity and climate change.
Meanwhile, farmers rely on crop protection products (or pesticides) to grow more food on less land and raise productivity per hectare. Without pesticides, 40% of global rice and maize harvests could be lost every year and losses for fruits and vegetables could be as high as 50-90%. These losses in yield would likely mean additional land would need to be cleared for agriculture, leading to increased carbon emissions.
More findings from the 2021 ASEAN Farmer Sustainability & Resilience Study are scheduled to be released throughout the remainder of this year.
About CropLife Asia
CropLife Asia is a non-profit society and the regional organization of CropLife International, the voice of the global plant science industry. We advocate a safe, secure food supply, and our vision is food security enabled by innovative agriculture. CropLife Asia supports the work of 15 member associations across the continent and is led by eight member companies at the forefront of crop protection, seeds and/or biotechnology research and development. For more information, visit us at www.croplifeasia.org.
For more information please contact: Duke Hipp Director, Public Affairs CropLife Asia Tel: (65) 6221 1615 email@example.com
We expect supermarket shelves to be filled year-round with a variety of fresh produce. Society is adjusting to living under measures that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and this new normal can make us pause to reflect on where our food comes from, and celebrate those that ensure food supplies are maintained.
This episode focuses on the humble potato, or ‘spud’ as the British commonly call it, favored by chefs around the world for its versatility in cooking, and long chosen by farmers for its nutrient-dense, high-yielding value.
52 million tons of potatoes were harvested across the EU alone in 2018, but even with a crop that is so widely consumed in many different ways, there’s an increasing disconnect between the knowledge of how food is grown and how it gets to our plates.
Therefore, as an industry that helps farmers grow crops, the crop protection sector is committed to closing this gap.
Sorted Food’s Ben Ebbrell (a chef) and Mike Huttlestone (a ‘normal’) battle it out to see who can create the best tasting potato dish, incorporating some of the facts they learn about this starchy tuber.
Together with an audience of passionate and engaged food enthusiasts, they take us on a journey to understand more about how the food we eat is grown and what they discover might surprise you!
They first invited food historian Angela Clutton to the Sorted studio kitchen to discover more about this important food staple: from its origins in the high Andes, being viewed with suspicion in 16th Century France, to becoming an indispensable crop for the working class in the 19th Century.
When potato blight – a kind of mold – struck over successive years in the 19th century, it led to the infamous Irish Potato Famine between 1845 and 1849. This disaster contributed to more than one million deaths in Ireland alone and during the same time, blight also affected crops across many parts of Europe.
Disease continues to be a threat to potato crops to this day. Without crop protection methods, up to 40% of European crop yields could be lost each year and farmers are committed to producing food in challenging times and conditions.
To see this for themselves first-hand, Ben and Mike traveled to the Dutch-Belgian border near Eindhoven to visit a third-generation potato farmer whose family has been growing potatoes for more than 50 years. His harvest almost entirely goes to feed Europe’s French fry hungry consumers supplying, amongst others, brands like McDonalds.
Jacob Van Den Borne explains that his method of precision agriculture and attention to detail is something that each generation on his farm has applied. The only difference is the tools they use. Jacob has been called the Elon Musk of potatoes – this means the tools he uses are super innovative, and he takes advantage of digital advances to reduce his inputs, improve his yields and protect the environment.
Yet, despite having access to sophisticated technology tools and monitoring systems that generate data about his crops, he regularly walks around his fields and remains at the mercy of the climate and diseases – just as the generations of farmers did before him.
For example, during the extraordinary European heatwave in 2018 – maxing out at a record 42°C (107,6°F) for the Netherlands – Jacob lost almost half his yields, meaning he had to adapt and invest heavily in irrigation techniques to make sure that losses would not be as severe in following years.
Whether it is through water soil moisture monitoring, or using models to predict the spread of blight, learning about how best to protect the crop is essential to producing enough affordable, safe and high-quality food in challenging conditions.
“We use a lot of software platforms that tell us when to spray; those platforms get weather information and know in which kind of weather fungi can attack my plants. We aren’t only spraying the crops just before such an attack can happen. The software tells us when and how, and with what to spray” Jacob says.
“Sustainability is the key to what we’re doing. One thing that a lot of people forget is that we have to pay for all the chemicals we use. So, the less we put on, the better it is for us. We only use chemicals when they are absolutely necessary. Why put them on when they’re not needed? That’s how all farmers are trying to survive, also to ensure we have low food prices – every bit of money counts. Being sustainable is also about being affordable and therefore me lowering my cost price.
As farmers, we have the job of protecting future – because the population is growing fast and food demand is growing with that. If we don’t gear up, we won’t be able to work to feed the world”.
CropLife International and ECPA member organizations work to help farmers protect their crops from pests and diseases so we have safe and nutritious foods to eat.
Those methods range from the precise application of fungicides, pesticides and herbicides – including those of natural origin – to innovative biotech solutions that make crops more resistant to disease like blight.
Watch these behind-the-scenes video clips from Ben and Mike’s chats with Angela and Jacob, to find out more about where potatoes originated and how this nutritious crop with the potential to feed everyone across the globe, is protected to ensure it makes the journey to your table, Belgian frites (French fries) stand or favorite burger restaurant.