In an effort to promote crop health management and safeguard food safety in the country, the Council of Agriculture (COA) officially launched on December 29 the Crop Health Management Team, which grouped together research personnel of the Council and 11 research units under its jurisdiction. Adopting strategies to promote and research simultaneously and focusing its attention on 30 items of staple crops and those with a higher rate of failing drug tests, the Management Team will introduce standard methods of integrated management, assist and guide farmers to grow safe, tasty and good-looking agricultural products, and carry out strict checks from the source, hoping to stride towards the ideal of making Taiwan a “non-toxic agricultural island” at an early date.
The COA further explained that the concept of “crop health management” is different from traditional agriculture’s goal of blindly pursuing for high yields through intensive farming. “Crop health management” emphasizes the co-prosperous relationship between crop cultivation and environmental development to ensure crop health by making the environment healthy and then decreasing the use of agricultural chemicals to protect the health of both farmers and consumers. At present, the Good Agriculture Practice (Gi-Am-Pu) safe vegetable and fruit label focuses its attention on pest and disease control and medication safety technical guidance. On this basis, the Management Team will take more active actions to strengthen medication safety guidance while hoping to enhance crop yields and quality, create incentives for farmers to produce safe and high quality agricultural products by introducing correct cultivation concepts. The Management Team will adopt key techniques to cultivate healthy crops and increase crop resistance to pests and diseases, plus biological controls and non-pesticide controls, from such angles as healthy seedlings, healthy cultivation environment, appropriate supply of nutrients and isolating the source of pests, in order to achieve the goal of using less or none agricultural chemicals.
The Crop Health Management Team selected 30 crops closely related to people’s daily diet, including rice, short-term leaf vegetables, kidney bean, yard-long bean, Lima bean, pea, pea sprout, cucumber, scallion, green bamboo shoot, water bamboo, cherry tomato, cantaloupe, strawberry, grape, mango, wax apple, jujube, papaya, pomelo, pineapple, guava, sugar apple, Atemoya (pineapple-like sugar apple), litchi, round kumquat, potato, sweet potato, tea and florist’s daisy at the beginning of this year, noted the Council. Starting from core farmers, the Management Team will help local farmers gradually introduce the Crop Health Management concept and assist and guide them to establish standard methods of integrated management directed at different crops. Through the efforts of various research units under the COA, the Crop Health Management Team has gotten preliminary results. For instance, safe and high quality fresh cherry tomatoes grown in greenhouses have been very popular in the auction market, Internet and direct marketing as well as among wholesalers and retailers. Not only local consumers can buy exquisite, safe and high quality cherry tomatoes, producing farmers can also make very good profits.
The Council stressed that it expects to more systematically guide farmers, expand production areas for domestic crop health management, and accelerate the popularization of the Crop Health Management concept through close cooperation among various units whose research personnel composed of the Crop Health Management Team. The COA hopes to provide
Taiwan with a clean production environment, promote reasonable production methods so that local people can eat healthy, safe and high quality agricultural products. In this way, it will have a far-reaching impact on the long-term development of
Taiwan agriculture while keeping a more natural environment for future generations. (