Article - Let's Talk Modern Agriculture: Top 5 Takeaways from a Philippines Agricultural Tour
Let’s Talk Modern Agriculture: Top 5 Takeaways from a Philippines Agricultural Tour
By Sylvia Klinger, DBA, MS, RD, CPT
Farmers hold a special place in my heart. Their hard work is rarely acknowledged, yet farmers grow our food day after day with little recognition. Recently while in the Philippines, a group of dietitians and nutritionists had the opportunity to visit a corn farm. We got up close and personal with the farmers to learn about their challenges and opportunities. Below are my top takeaways from the farm visit:
1. Farmers are embracing modern technology. Let’s be honest: who doesn’t like new tech gadgets that could make our lives easier? Farmers are no different. They love new agricultural technology, especially if it’s going to make their jobs more efficient and safer.
2. As populations, diets, climates and economies change, farmers need to find ways to adapt their practices to meet demands. It has been particularly challenging for farmers to meet the needs without the expertise of agronomic and scientific developmments, so it’s time we recognize what is needed in order to advance agriculture.
3. Today there are many plant breeding methods, but let me assure you that farmers are equipped to make the best decisions based on their region as well as their crops. Farmers know best what breeding methods, such as traditional breeding, genetically engineered or gene editing, will meet their farming needs.
4. Many of the vegetables you see in the produce aisle today were bred from the same plant families. For example, the mustard plant family, better known as wild mustard, was modified through breeding methods to create more palatable veggies, such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi and even canola.
5. Farmers want you to know about the significant benefits of gentically modified (GM) crops:
- Improved productivity and sustainability
- Herbicide tolerance allows farmers to use conservation tillage practices that don’t disturb the soil with heavy equipment prior to planting
- Insect-resistance allows farmers to spray less insecticides and decrease equipment trips across a field
- Reduction of poverty and hunger among small farmers in developing nations
This last benefit is particularly important for dietitians to understand, as GM crops can help reduce malnutrition in vulnerable populations. It is a win-win for helping with prevalent health issues, such as stunting and blindness. For more information, visit any of the resources mentioned below.
- Ag Biotech http://isaaa.org/
- Plant Breeding https://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/13/default.asp
- Crop Protection / Pesticideshttps://croplife.org/
- Soil Health – FAO http://www.fao.org/3/u8480e/U8480E0B.htm