SINGAPORE — As Asia and the world prepare to celebrate the Lunar New Year, CropLife Asia encouraged those ringing in the ‘Year of the Rooster’ to remember the smallholder farmers and their immense contributions to ensuring a safe, sustainable food supply for the region and world – and who grow many of the foods we’ll enjoy during the festive season.
The Lunar New Year, also known in Chinese culture as the Spring Festival, is widely celebrated across Asia. The history of the festival is deeply rooted in the cyclical pattern of agriculture in ancient China, with farmers relying on the lunar calendar to predict seasonal changes for crops.
“The traditions and customs around how we mark the Lunar New Year in Asia are all unique depending on where it’s celebrated – but the common denominator is the good food we all enjoy with family and friends at this time of year,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia. “From the mandarin oranges traditionally shared during visitations, to the yu sheng (raw fish salad) of Singapore, the xoi (sticky rice) enjoyed during Tet in Vietnam, the tteokguk (rice-cake soup) synonymous with celebrations in Korea, and a host of other seasonal culinary treats – the importance of food in the festivities is universal.”
“What’s often forgotten, however, is that there are hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers in Asia who make this all possible. These farmers behind the food deserve our gratitude, appreciation, and support – not just during Lunar New Year, but year round.
“CropLife Asia and the plant science industry remain committed to enabling and empowering Asia’s smallholder farmers to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply for our region. This commitment includes ensuring their access to the tools and technology needed to produce more food for a growing world with fewer available resources.”
It is estimated that Asia is home to roughly 85% of the world’s 525 million smallholder farmers. The ASEAN region alone accounts for more than 100 million of these men and women growers.
The world’s population is projected to exceed nine billion inhabitants by the year 2050, and Asia alone is expected to have roughly one billion more people living within it. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has also estimated that roughly two-thirds of the world’s hungry presently live in Asia and the Pacific.
Meanwhile, growers around the world will need to produce as much as 70% more food than today to meet the expected needs of our population in 2050. The numerous innovations of plant biotechnology and crop protection are key in driving sustainable production of a safe and nutritious food supply to feed our growing population.