Food & Agriculture Update: Expiring Import Restrictions on Rice in the Philippines

Food & Agriculture Update | April 13, 2017
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Trixia Apiado
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

Opportunity to Promote U.S. Agriculture Businesses in Cambodia
The Council is collaborating with the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh on an opportunity for U.S. companies in the agriculture sector to connect with Cambodian agribusiness. For more details, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org and Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org 

Save the Date: May 30 & 31 - Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Philippines (Manila & Davao)       
Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) for more details.

Save the Date: June 7 - ASEAN Agricultural Attachés Roundtable (Washington D.C.)
Please contact Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org) for more details.

Save the Date: June - Food & Agriculture Workshop in Vietnam
During the Council’s 2017 Business Mission to Vietnam, the delegation met with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Cuong. One of the follow up action items is for the Council to host a workshop in April 2017, providing members a platform to share feedback and views on current issues faced by the industry in the realm of feed management, animal health, regulations such as Circular 36, Decree 08 amongst others. The Ministry has approved this workshop idea to be held in June 2017 instead and has requested the Council to produce a detailed agenda. Minister Cuong is expected to attend. Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) to collaborate in designing the agenda, and reviewing sponsorship parameters.

August 21- 24: APEC High Level Dialogue on Food Security and PPFS Meeting (Can Tho, Vietnam) 
The Council is exploring the potential to organize a Food & Agriculture Committee engagement on the sidelines of the APEC High Level Dialogue on Food Security taking place in the week of  August 21 during SOM II in Can Tho, Vietnam. More details to follow. To express interest, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org)

THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Expiring Import Restrictions on Rice in the Philippines

The Philippines currently has a Quantitative Restriction (QR) or import restrictions on rice as part of their WTO commitments, which imposes a 35 percent tariff on imports of rice to protect local farmers and the local rice industry. The QR is set to end in June and President Duterte has said that his government will continue to protect the local rice industry. To date, several government agencies have been at odds about what policy instruments can the government use to support the rice industry in ways which are also consistent with their international commitments.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), National Food Authority (NFA), and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS) all sit on the NFA Board, which makes decisions on rice imports. The NFA wants rice imports to be under government-to-government transactions. However, the OCS supports the importation of rice by the private sector. Earlier this month, President Duterte fired Cabinet Undersecretary Valdez, a staunch supporter of maintaining rice imports. On the other hand, the DA is against any importation of rice, citing that the current harvest season will produce enough rice to reach the goal of self-sufficiency in the rice industry.

A set policy needs to be decided soon as the QR expires and the country heads towards lean months for rice (July- September). At the end of March, rice prices had already reached P18-20 per kilo, higher than the government’s support price of P17, a sign that summer harvests might not be sufficient. The NFA held an emergency meeting and decided on immediate importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice from suppliers in Thailand and Vietnam. These will be distributed to provinces with critically low inventory levels. An additional import of 250,000 tons is likely to follow later this year.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warns that the Philippine government’s policies in support of agriculture—in the form of subsidies and protective taxes on imports-- is inefficient and counterproductive. The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), a group of former Finance secretaries in the Philippines, shares these concerns. The OECD and FEF warns that these measures will result in high food prices that will ultimately hit the poor, many of whom are the local farmers. The key to modernizing Philippines' agriculture and increasing production is farm mechanization, and the use of new high-yielding rice varieties that are flood resistant for areas prone to floods and typhoons and drought-resistant for areas with little water supply.

Vietnam High-Tech Agriculture Receives $4.4 Bil

The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) issued regulations on implementing a USD$4.4 bil credit package with preferential interest rates for high-tech agriculture. These regulations will be implemented this month through commercial banks. Projects must operate in the high-tech and clean agriculture industry to be eligible for preferential loans that have interest rates that are 0.5-1.5% lower than current average rates. Commercial banks such as Agribank, Vietcombank, and the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam have all responded with supporting amounts of credit packages.

However, the government’s agenda to support high tech-agriculture faces several challenges. These projects face difficulties obtaining licenses for assets on land, which are needed as mortgaged assets for loans. In terms of other stakeholders, only 4,000 enterprises out of 600,000 Vietnamese companies invests in agriculture. Finally, although 70% of the population are farmers, agricultural production remains to only be 20% of the country’s GDP.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Philippines Sugar Order No. 3 - Update

On February 17, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued Sugar Order No. 3 (SO 3), which gives the SRA authority to regulate imports of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The SRA has blamed increasing HFCS imports for depressing the prices and demand for domestically-produced sugar. In response to SO 3, the Council sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Emmanuel Piñol warning him that implementation of SO 3 risked disrupting supply chains and raising prices in the food and beverage sectors. The Council's letter also recommended that greater stakeholder consultation be undertaken for future orders.

As a follow up on this issue, the Council is convening a conference call with affected members on April 19 (2:30 PM-3:15 PM (UTC+08:00)) to map out an industry approach of engagement and discuss next steps, including how the upcoming Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to the Philippines could be a strategic platform to raise this issue. If you are interested in joining this call, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org 

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Cambodia
Is imported meat and poultry safe?
Cambodia, Myanmar: opportunities for VN firms
Korea and Southeast Asia look to expand agricultural trade throughout the region
Hun Sen Urges Philippine Investment for Ailing Rice Sector
Millers push for China access
Cassava exports up, prices low
Europe’s ‘blood sugar’

Indonesia
Indonesian feedlot imports Aussie buffalo again
Indonesia turns it back on Vietnamese rice as crops at home flourish
World Grain
Agriculture Minister Responds to EU Resolution on CPO
US views Indonesia as potential export market for agricultural products
Stronger Food Control for Safer Food in Indonesia

Malaysia
Algae worsening water quality at Sembrong Dam
Grilled fish stalls closed after food poisoning scare
Malaysia worried EU resolution could dent palm oil exports
MyIHAB to integrate online registration with Jakim’s database

Myanmar
FDA delays labelling of food products

Philippines
Ending rice imports could raise prices, former Finance chiefs warn
Asian meat giant invests millions in Philippine farms
Philippine agriculture policy ‘counterproductive’, warns OECD
PIDS wants online repository for local food manufacturers
DOT accredits 14 more farms for agri-tourism destinations
We’re importing rice but our dream remains
Food processors back deregulation of SRP
Duterte: Govt must protect rice farmers
‘Made in PHL’ fiber, coco products show potential
Villar: Expand urban gardens to boost food supply
Agri dep’t to propose P213-B budget for 2018
Budget cut to impact on productivity, says DA
Villar thumbs down amendment of law to scrap QR on rice
PHL dairy imports up 54% in 2016
Opportunities in agriculture

Thailand
Thailand Water Pump Market Expected to Reach US$ 25.6 Million by 2021
Switch to low-emission rice farming to cut greenhouse gases 
‘Growth promotion without antimicrobials’
US Beef Gains Expanded Access to Thailand

Vietnam
Vietnam applies SRP rice production standards to increase competitiveness
Vietnamese PM orders rice revolution to raise quality of production
Vietnam agriculture ministry strengthens shrimp industry inspections
Vietnam reforms agriculture to lift growth: ADB
Vietnam’s rice price out of sync with rest of world
VN catfish exporters gear up for US inspections
Vietnam's farm firms seek high-tech
Rent-A-Port NV expands business in Việt Nam
SBV to issue regulations on $4.4b preferential credit package in April
Unsafe produce hurting exports
VN needs legal framework for organic farms
Pangasius industry gets boost
Agro, forestry, fishery export value up by 7.6%
Philippines' San Miguel to bid for Vietnam's No. 1 beer-
$4.4 billion enough to build hi-tech agriculture in Vietnam?
Việt Nam’s animal feed imports up sharply
Problems with City pork plan
KKR to Take $250 Million Stake in Vietnam's Masan and Unit
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Cambodia

Is imported meat and poultry safe? Phnom Penh Post 7th Apr 2017
I Amidst recent outbreaks in Vietnam, there has been increased alarm in the Kingdom with regards to food safety. Avian influenza, swine flu, and many zoonotic (transmitted from animals to people) diseases are the biggest concern when purchasing live animals and meat that have been brought in from across the border. While news of the spread of the epidemic trickles in, Cambodians must be careful about the food they consume. Consumption of sick poultry or pig can cause dire health consequences including but not mutually exclusive to salmonella poisoning. The public are advised to ensure to purchase their meats from trusted suppliers, in addition to cooking it well in order to avoid any form of food poisoning.

Cambodia, Myanmar: opportunities for VN firms vietnamnews.vn 4th Apr 2017
There is a huge opportunity for Vietnamese firms to invest in agriculture in their countries and export agricultural produce to other markets, Cambodian and Myanmarese officials have said. Meach Yady, chief of agricultural marketing at the Cambodian Department of Planning and Statistics, said his country had invested a lot in agriculture but the sector had not developed commensurately. He was speaking at a meeting held on Friday in HCM City to introduce the International Exhibition and Conference on Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture, Fisheries for Cambodia and Myanmar.

Korea and Southeast Asia look to expand agricultural trade throughout the region Far Eastern Agriculture 4th Apr 2017
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Kim Jae-soo, invited ambassadors to Korea from Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to its offices in Seoul on 31 March to touch upon the current status of trade in agricultural and food products among the countries. They talked about ways to further expand mutual cooperation across the sector. 'Southeast Asia is among the most beloved tourist sites for the Korean people. There's a growing number of tourists to Korea, too, traveling from the Philippines and Thailand,' said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim Jae-soo. 'Amid these growing tourist activities, we hope to see more exchanges in the agricultural and food industries, as well,' the minister said.

Hun Sen Urges Philippine Investment for Ailing Rice Sector The Cambodia Daily 11th Apr 2017
Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday he had urged Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to invest more heavily in Cambodia’s rice sector, while also acknowledging the need to lower rice processing costs and find new export markets to boost the competitiveness of Cambodia’s most important crop.

Millers push for China access Phnom Penh Post 5th Apr 2017
Millers push for China access Amid concerns that the European Union could reject shipments of Cambodian rice, exporters are pushing for more access to China as an alternative market for the Kingdom’s principal agricultural commodity. Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said just 26 Cambodian millers have satisfied China’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, making them eligible to export rice to the Chinese market.

Cassava exports up, prices low Khmer Times | News Portal Cambodia | 4th Apr 2017
Though the export of cassava from Cambodia to foreign markets increased by more than 50 percent in 2016, compared with previous years, export earnings were still low due to below-market-prices offered by buyers in Thailand and Vietnam.   According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries a total of 13.2 million metric tons of cassava tubers were produced in 2016 and 7.7 million metric tons, or 58 percent of total production, were exported overseas. In 2012, according to the ministry eight million metric tons of cassava tubers were produced, with half a million metric ton or 7.4 percent of total production sold overseas.   “Cassava production increased sharply over the past five years due to better harvests because of favorable weather,” said Hean Vanhan, director general of the agriculture general directorate at the Ministry.  

Europe’s ‘blood sugar’ POLITICO 3rd Apr 2017
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — In 2006, the Cambodian sugar industry was so negligible as to be non-existent. A decade on, it has grown into a multi-million dollar commercial enterprise — largely thanks to a European policy known as “Everything But Arms” (EBA), which provides tariff-free access to the common market for exporters from the world’s least-developed nations. As a result of ruthless shortcuts taken by the Cambodian sugar industry’s biggest players, at least 12,000 people have been affected by human rights abuses and environmental damage, many of whom have been forced to leave their homes, and children as young as 12 are harnessed to harvest cane; part of an abusive system that rights groups say badly tarnishes the EU’s human rights records and points to serious flaws in its trade policies.

Indonesia

Indonesian feedlot imports Aussie buffalo again ABC Rural 11th Apr 2017
A feedlot in Indonesia, which is 80 per cent owned by the Consolidated Pastoral Company (CPC), has started importing buffalo from the Northern Territory again, after a break of several years. Like many importers in Indonesia, the Juang Jaya Abdi Alam (JJAA) feedlot in Lampung used to buy buffalo from Australia, but ceased in 2011 because of a range of issues. CPC chief executive Troy Setter said changes to the protocols for importing feeder buffalo had allowed JJAA to trial a shipment of nearly 200 buffalo.

Indonesia turns it back on Vietnamese rice as crops at home flourish VnExpress International – Latest news, business, travel and analysis from Vietnam 11th Apr 2017
Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country and a major buyer of Vietnamese rice, has not returned to Vietnam for new purchases this year, while its overall 2017 rice imports are forecast to halve to around 500,000 tons thanks to better domestic production, according to industry reports. Indonesia was among Vietnam's 10 biggest rice buyers in the 2010-2016 period, with imports peaking at nearly 1.9 million tons in 2011, based on data from Vietnam's agriculture ministry.  But its purchases have been falling and Vietnam received no orders during the first two months of 2017, ministry data shows. Vietnam is the world's third-biggest rice exporter after India and Thailand. Indonesia is forecast to import 500,000 tons of rice this year, down 50 percent from 2016, as domestic milled rice output edges up 2.6 percent to 37.15 million tons "due to increased area harvested", a U.S. Department of Agriculture attache said in a March 30 report. The report said increased cropping intensity and new land will help expand the harvested area this year to 12.24 million hectares (30.25 million acres), 1.2 percent above 2016 when Indonesia experienced a weak to moderate La Nina weather phenomenon. 

World Grain World Grain 11th Apr 2017
Indonesia will export between 15,000 and 50,000 tonnes of rice to Malaysia as part of efforts to meet the rice demand of the neighbouring country and show the growth of its agricultural sector. According to Indonesian Minister of Agriculture Andi Amran Sulaiman, Malaysian Agriculture Minister expressed interest in importing Indonesian rice at a recent meeting. Sulaiman underscored that Indonesia has succeeded in meeting domestic food demand, especially after the rice-farming programmes in border areas was implemented effectively.

Agriculture Minister Responds to EU Resolution on CPO Tempo 10th Apr 2017
Following the issuance of a European Union Resolution banning oil-palm biodiesel, Indonesian Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman argued that the resolution would cause crude palm oil (CPO) prices to plummet, which in turn would have impacts on 30 million people working in the palm oil sector. As a result, according to Amran, farmers will be forced to find new sources of income by opening lands in forests, which could cause environmental issues. "Who could stop 30 million [people] from mobilizing?" Amran said on Monday, April 10, 2017. Amran also called on foreign countries not to interfere with Indonesia's domestic affairs. "Do not interfere with our domestic agriculture affairs. We love peace. Please don't disturb us,” Amran stated. Amran also mentioned that Indonesia has its own standards on crude palm oil (CPO) set out in a plan called the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPP).

US views Indonesia as potential export market for agricultural products Antara News 7th Apr 2017
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The US views Indonesia as a potential market to export its agricultural products, taking into account that the current trade value of food products between both nations reaches about US$8 billion. "Most of that, or about $5 billion, is Indonesias exports to the US, but here, we see the potential for more Indonesian imports from the US, as we produce meat, potatoes, fruits, and snacks," US Embassy to Indonesia Deputy Chief of Mission Brian McFeeters stated while visiting the US booth at the Food and Hotel Indonesia exhibition held in JIExpo Kemayoran on Wednesday. One of the exhibitors also informed McFeeters that their business had increased by 33 percent as compared to last year. Hence, the Trump government is highly optimistic of witnessing more quality US food products entering the country. The US Meat Export Federation, for instance, is ensuring that it offers continued services to Indonesian restaurants and hotel businesses, considering that the country is one of the important markets in Southeast Asia.

Stronger Food Control for Safer Food in Indonesia Tempo 3rd Apr 2017
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) and the Health Ministry, with supports from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization), have collaborated to conduct a food control system assessment workshop from March 3 to April 6, 2017. The FAO and WHO have developed a new and comprehensive assessment tool for food control systems, along with guidance materials on its application, to be used by member countries.

Malaysia

Algae worsening water quality at Sembrong Dam Nation | The Star Online 11th Apr 2017
The water quality at the Sembrong Dam here continues to deteriorate due to the presence of high levels of blue-green algae, which is believed to have been caused by excessive farming around the area. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Resource Sustainability Research Alliance dean Prof Dr Zulkifli Yusop said based on a recent study conducted in the area, the presence of blue-green algae had reached 99% of the total algae population.

Grilled fish stalls closed after food poisoning scare BorneoPost Online 7th Apr 2017
SANDAKAN: The famous grilled fish stalls in Pasar Sim Sim (Sim Sim Market) here were closed on April 4 by the Health Department after six people were admitted to the emergency and traumatology department of Duchess of Kent Hospital here for food poisoning on April 3. Sandakan Health Officer Dr Johari Awang Besar who inspected the stalls yesterday said the Health Department had decided to close the market in accordance with Section 18 (B) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988. Awang said an inspection and assessment was done at the market by health officers after the department received notification from the hospital that the six patients were suffering from symptoms such as vomitting, diarhoea and stomach pain. He said that it was found that there were a few flaws that may have caused the food to be unsafe for consumption.

Malaysia worried EU resolution could dent palm oil exports Reuters 5th Apr 2017
Malaysia voiced concern on Wednesday that a call by European Union lawmakers for curbs on imports of palm oil could deal a blow to one of the Asian country's biggest exports. In a vote aimed at influencing EU regulators, the European Parliament backed a call for greater vetting of palm and other vegetable oils used in biofuels to prevent the EU's renewable transport targets for post-2020 leading to deforestation. Diplomats from other big exporters of palm oil, including Indonesia, Costa Rica and Ecuador, have also expressed concern.

MyIHAB to integrate online registration with Jakim’s database the star 4th Apr 2017
SEPANG: Malaysia has developed Malaysia International Halal Authorities and Bodies System (MyIHAB) to integrate online registration and management system with a fully centralised database of the Department of Islamic Development’s (Jakim) Halal Ecosystem Solution, the first of its kind in the world.

Myanmar

FDA delays labelling of food products The Myanmar Times 4th Apr 2017
The Department of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that the labelling requirements for local food products will be delayed by three months. FDA Director General Dr Than Htut said that this extension will give food manufacturing companies more time to register their products while also preparing themselves to meet the requirements set by his department. On April 1, the FDA met with a representative from the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and local food manufacturers in Yangon to discuss issues and problems that they faced when the announcement of the new requirements was made.

Philippines

Ending rice imports could raise prices, former Finance chiefs warn philstar.com 11th Apr 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte should take back his decision to stop all rice imports and instead allow private traders to do the job or risk high food prices that will ultimately hit the poor, including farmers. This was the stance of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), a group of former Finance secretaries, which issued a statement on the matter Tuesday night.

Asian meat giant invests millions in Philippine farms GlobalMeatNews.com 11th Apr 2017
Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corporation (CPF Philippines), a subsidiary of Thai food giant CPF, has invested 10 million pesos to bolster agriculture in the country. The Ps10m (approximately $200,000) cash stimulus was delivered to Emmanuel Pinol, secretary of state for the Philippines Department of Agriculture. It comes as the country’s controversial president Rodrigo Duterte aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the Philippines’ farming sector by improving sustainability, among other things. Under Duterte’s agricultural development policy, the president wants to see farmers improve their profitability and productivity and has committed funds to invest significantly in the country’s agriculture sector. Plans include buying modern farming technology and equipment to replace ageing machinery, as well investment in infrastructure to reduce logistics costs.

Philippine agriculture policy ‘counterproductive’, warns OECD Public Finance International 10th Apr 2017
OECD analysis found that government aid to the sector, in the form of subsidies or protective taxes on imports, was worth around 3.3% of GDP – almost five times the OECD average of 0.7%. However agricultural performance and productivity lags well behind that of other countries. Agriculture is one of the Philippine economy’s key sectors – accounting for one-third of employment and one-tenth of GDP, and providing a livelihood for one in three people – but the OECD said support for it had been misdirected, served to distort the market or triggered uncertainties. Two of the key aims of the government’s agricultural policy have been to alleviate poverty by ensuring a stable and affordable supply of food and to promote self-sufficiency, particularly in rice production. Policies to achieve this have included the government purchasing rice from producers at a good price, controlling imports and subsidising supplies, equipment and infrastructure such as irrigation systems. However, the OECD noted that price support for rice, which increases the cost for consumers, resulted in a 3.2 million rise in the number of undernourished people. Such policies have also prevented a shift towards more high value commodities, seen in other countries in the region, which would boost rural incomes and improve food security. As other nations have moved towards a bigger variety of crops offering higher returns while occupying less land , they have outdone the Philippines in terms of productivity.

PIDS wants online repository for local food manufacturers | BusinessMirror Business Mirror 9th Apr 2017
State-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) urged the government to create a central online repository of technology information for food manufacturers nationwide. PIDS said this technology transfer can occur between large and small food small and medium  enterprises or two small SMEs. It can also occur between local and foreign firms. This, the study said, will not only address the lack of government support for technology transfers but also fragmented promotional activities of the government.

DOT accredits 14 more farms for agri-tourism destinations Business Mirror 8th Apr 2017
THE Department of Tourism (DOT) underscored the importance of agriculture and farming in making world-class dishes, as the second day of Madrid Fusión Manila 2017 (MFM 2017) went under way on Friday. Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon T. Teo said: “The Philippines is blessed with abundant agriculture [produce], as well as vast greenery and pristine scenery, a perfect combination for gourmet, health relaxation and leisure activities.” This has given rise to agriculture or farm tourism, another profitable endeavor for tour operators and farmers, she said during the launch of the Calabarzon Farm Tourism Travel Guide on the sidelines of the MFM 2017 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. She said the DOT has long recognized the value-added potential of farm and traditional agricultural sites as income-generating tourist destinations. “The idea of farms as tourist spots is not new. Imagine harvesting fresh farm produce for lunch, while your young ones wet their feet in a watering hole nearby. This bucolic setting and green landscapes are the best elements for R&R.”

We’re importing rice but our dream remains Manila Bulletin News 8th Apr 2017
The lean months for rice in the Philippines traditionally start in July and end in September. Last March, there were signs that the summer rice harvests may not be able to reach the targets set by the National Food Authority (NFA). Palay farm-gate prices had already reached P18 to P20 per kilo, higher than the government’s support price of P17. Thus the NFA officials – the top central office executives and the regional directors – held an emergency meeting and called for the immediate importation of half of the 500,000 metric tons of rice for the year. This first half of 250,000 tons should be here this month from our traditional suppliers in Thailand and Vietnam. These must be immediately transported to provinces with critical inventory levels. At the start of the new Duterte administration, Secretary of Agriculture Emmanuel Pinol reiterated the national goal of self-sufficiency in rice. The country was able to achieve this for a brief period during the Marcos administration with a program called “Masagana 99” but it was short-lived in the face of a fast-increasing national population and typhoons that damaged rice crops year after year.

Food processors back deregulation of SRP philstar.com 5th Apr 2017
MANILA, Philippines - A group of food manufacturers has expressed support for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)’s plan to remove its approval process in setting the suggested retail prices (SRP) of basic necessities and prime commodities to reduce bureaucratic procedures. In a statement, Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) president Felix Tiukinhoy Jr. said the group commends the move of Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez to deregulate the SRP scheme.

Duterte: Govt must protect rice farmers Business Mirror 5th Apr 2017
TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija—President Duterte on Wednesday said he is more partial to protecting Filipino farmers, and allow them to supply the rice requirement of the Philippines than import the staple. Duterte’s pronouncement came three months before the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice expires on June 30. The Philippine waiver on the special treatment on rice, which was approved by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Council for Trade in Goods, has allowed Manila to implement the QR until this year. Upon the expiration of the waiver, and no later than June 30, Manila’s importation of rice shall be subject to ordinary customs duties in accordance with the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture. In his speech, the President also said he fired Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS) Undersecretary Halmen A. Valdez over the importation of rice done by the private sector under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme of the WTO.

‘Made in PHL’ fiber, coco products show potential Business Mirror 5th Apr 2017
REGULATORS appear to be using their coconuts in grappling with the “Made in the Philippines” tag on exports. At least for those in the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), they see the potentials of products from local fiber and the lowly coconut bearing the “Proudly Philippine-made” tag. For one, the DA is keen on capitalizing on the market opportunities for pineapple leaf fiber, which is currently used as an alternative to manufacture leather-based products. This is aside from also stepping up the local abaca production. The Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), tasked to push, promote and develop the country’s local exports globally, notes that the Philippines is actually a “champion” in both coconut production and exporting.

Villar: Expand urban gardens to boost food supply Business Mirror 4th Apr 2017
The government should establish more urban gardens and roll out more agriculture-related programs in cities to boost the country’s food supply, according to Senator Cynthia A. Villar. Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said urban gardening could help augment food supply in cities, particularly when farms in rural areas are hit by natural disasters. Former Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said urban agriculture may not be able to produce all what city dwellers need but it was a way to increase awareness on agriculture and food security.

Agri dep’t to propose P213-B budget for 2018 Business World 4th Apr 2017
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday said it has prepared a budget proposal of P213 billion for 2018 to fund its projects, which will focus on greater food security and productivity.

Budget cut to impact on productivity, says DA philstar.com 4th Apr 2017
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture said a cut in its 2018 budget will likely affect productivity and delay the government’s efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency in three years. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the proposed P213-billion budget allocation for 2018 might not be given and could be further reduced. The rice and corn program is among the priorities of the DA which will get the biggest chunk of the proposed budget. Other programs include mechanization, small scale irrigation and financing.

Villar thumbs down amendment of law to scrap QR on rice Business Mirror 3rd Apr 2017
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture is not keen on amending a law that would pave the way for the scrapping of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice by July. Senator Cynthia A. Villar said she will not support any measure that seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 8178, or the Agricultural Tariffication Act, which allowed caps on rice imports. “I will not support any bill [amending RA 8178]. How can you support such bill if your farmers are not competitive?” Villar told the BusinessMirror on the sidelines of the relaunching of Cedarhills Garden Center over the weekend. At present, a bill that would amend RA 8178 has yet to be filed in the Senate. Villar also said she agrees with the Department of Agriculture (DA), which pushed for the extension of the nontariff barrier for two more years to make local rice farmers competitive against their counterparts in Southeast Asian countries. “Of course, I am afraid for our Filipino rice farmers because we are not really competitive. So we should work to continue that [QR on rice] until we become competitive,” she added. Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the House of Representatives is poised to block any amendments to RA 8178 as this was promised to him by Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez.

PHL dairy imports up 54% in 2016 | BusinessMirror Business Mirror 3rd Apr 2017
The country’s dairy imports in 2016 expanded by 54 percent to 2.77 million metric tons (MMT) in liquid milk equivalent (LME), from 1.79 MMT-LME recorded in 2015, according to the National Dairy Authority (NDA). The latest NDA data showed that the figure has surpassed the agency’s import forecast of 1.85 MMT-LME for 2016. The NDA said the value of the country’s milk imports last year reached $807.72 million (P38.358 billion), 16.3 percent higher than the 2015 record of $694.51 million (P31.60 billion). Of the dairy imports last year, NDA data showed that the bulk consisted of skimmed-milk powder at 1.43 MMT-LME valued at $349.71 million. Dairy products are currently the Philippines’s third-largest agricultural import after wheat and soybean meal.

Opportunities in agriculture Business Mirror 2nd Apr 2017
Agri-business is a key component of economies across the European Union and Asean. The food-and-beverage industry is Europe’s largest manufacturing sector, while agriculture accounts for more than a quarter of GDP in several Asean member-states. In the Philippines agri-food or agri-businesses have a great future if success is built on successful models like Nestlé (coffee) and La Frutera (fruits), creating “win-win” alliances between farmers and industrial companies that can process the produce and have access to markets. There are more good examples that can be highlighted in future columns, examples in cacao, abaca, onions, vegetables, etc. We will have to think in terms of trading and buying stations close to farmers; we have to look at intercropping and severe reductions in postharvest losses.

Thailand

Thailand Water Pump Market Expected to Reach US$ 25.6 Million by 2021 MilTech 10th Apr 2017
The Thailand water pump market accounted for US$16.7 Million in 2014 and is projected to reach US$25.6 Million by 2021, In terms of revenue. Factors fuelling the market include low manufacturing costs, expansion of water supply network, massive urbanization and industrialization, increasing arable land and land under cereal production. Thailand is an agriculture-driven country. Growth in the agricultural sector, linked with increasing arable land and land under cereal production is leading to growing trend of micro irrigation in small farms, which is projected to increase deployment of centrifugal water pumps.

Switch to low-emission rice farming to cut greenhouse gases  The Nation 4th Apr 2017
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on the plan, which will be funded by a multi-donor Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) facility. The shift will involve 100,000 rice farmers and will drive wide-scale adoption of the rice standard of the Sustainable Rice Platform that is said to offer a framework for promoting climate-smart best practices and improving the livelihoods of rice smallholders.  Thailand is among the top 15 countries most affected by climate-related impacts. With the ratification of the Paris Agreement in September 2016, the government committed to contribute to global efforts to achieve climate change mitigation.  Agriculture is Thailand’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change. The country’s rice sector ranks as the world’s fourth largest emitter of rice-related greenhouse gases, mainly methane. 

‘Growth promotion without antimicrobials’ PigProgress 3rd Apr 2017
Seldom was a subject so topical at VIV Asia, as this year’s theme of antibiotic reduction. Causes, developments and solutions were discussed at Pig Progress’ own event ‘Growth promotion without antimicrobials’ – and there was more to discover. If there was one message that remained in the minds of the visitors of VIV Asia 2017, it must be that by 2050, about 4.7 million people in Asia alone will die as a result of antimicrobials no longer functioning properly – if we don’t do anything, that is. The figure was taken from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance 2014, but it was the one fact that came back in virtually all of the presentations relating to the number one hot topic at the moment – antimicrobial resistance and how to avoid it.

US Beef Gains Expanded Access to Thailand The Cattle Site 11th Apr 2017
Bone-in and boneless beef from cattle of any age are now eligible for Thailand, as long as the slaughter date is on or after 1 April 2017. For product derived from cattle slaughtered on or after this date, all USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Export Verification (EV) Programme requirements have been removed. “Thailand enforced its boneless conditions with exceptional rigor,” explained Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific.

Vietnam

Vietnam applies SRP rice production standards to increase competitiveness Vietnam Net 11th Apr 2017
Vietnam applies SRP rice production standards to increase competitiveness Farmers in the Mekong Delta Region are welcoming the news that the rice production model pursuant to the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standards will be continued. The model was initiated by the Loc Troi Group, a leading provider of agricultural services and products in Vietnam, the World Bank’s IFC, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and the International Sustainable Rice Forum.  The program has been piloted for two crops, and has boosted local farmers’ incomes.

Vietnamese PM orders rice revolution to raise quality of production VnExpress International – Latest news, business, travel and analysis from Vietnam 11th Apr 2017
Renovation at all levels of the government is needed to "create a revolution in quality and a new vision, accompanied by strategic planning in line with globalization, in order for Vietnamese rice to meet consumer demand in Asia and the rest of the world," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was quoted on Wednesday as saying. Vietnam, the world's third-largest rice exporter after India and Thailand, will launch a comprehensive campaign to overhaul production in order to raise yields, efficiency and export value, according to the government. The Southeast Asian nation went through its first rice revolution in the late 1980s. At that time, the country still had to import rice to meet domestic demand, but 1989 marked the first year of Vietnamese rice shipments, with a total of 1.4 million tons shipped overseas thanks to rapid reforms in agricultural production.  Rice exports peaked at 8 million tons in 2012, but have since dropped due to better production in key markets such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as rising competition from India, Pakistan, China, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.  The Vietnam Food Association has targeted annual shipments of around 5 million tons this year, after sales fell to 4.8 million tons in 2016, the lowest since 2008.  Despite continued investment, falling rice exports have prompted the government to rethink its strategy. Hanoi has classed rice as a strategic commodity to ensure food security for the country's 93 million people, especially with typhoons, salination and floods posing a major threat. Phuc's instruction came days after the government estimated Vietnam's rice exports from January-March dropped 24 percent from a year ago to 1.2 million tons, a two-year low. Phuc has asked for rice fields to be merged or expanded in suitable areas, while the land damaged by salination should be switched to raising shrimp and other crops. He also called for updated agricultural technology to produce varieties with higher yields, while improving storage conditions and avoiding post-harvest losses. Modern irrigation systems and infrastructure projects to cope with climate change and rising sea levels are needed, Phuc said.

Vietnam agriculture ministry strengthens shrimp industry inspections Undercurrent News 11th Apr 2017
Vietnam’s government will coordinate with the country’s ministry of public security to inspect and punish those illegally injecting illegal substances into shrimp, reports VietNamNet Bridge. The inspections will be performed from April to May, Nguyen Nhu Tiep, head of National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department, announced at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) regular press conference, held in Hanoi this week.

Vietnam reforms agriculture to lift growth: ADB Saigon GP Daily 11th Apr 2017
The Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2017 April 10 forecast Vietnam’s economy to grow by 6.5 percent in 2017 and 6.7 percent in 2018, as a result of rising activity in the manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade, banking and tourism sectors. A transformation of Vietnam’s agriculture sector is vital for lifting growth and enabling Vietnam to graduate to upper-middle-income status, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a new flagship report. The report notes that continued record levels of foreign direct investment will boost domestic manufacturing while at the same time helping to lift Vietnam’s export earnings even though global and regional trade flows will remain depressed. Vietnam’s rapidly expanding middle-class, which is expected to double in size by 2030 to 33 million, will also help to push up consumer spending and boost retail activity. Agricultural output is expected to pick up modestly in 2017 given the outlook for higher global food prices and a return to more normal weather. However the report highlights that the sector continues to underperform relative to the rest of the Vietnamese economy, dragging down overall growth.

Vietnam’s rice price out of sync with rest of world Vietnam Net 11th Apr 2017
VietNamNet Bridge - The rice price in the Mekong Delta has increased in the last couple of weeks, which has resulted in higher export prices.  Lower rice output and high demand in the world market were cited as reasons for the price increase in the domestic market.  The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) said the winter-spring rice cultivation area in Mekong Delta fell slightly by 1.2 percent, while the yield decreased by 6.7 percent on nearly half of the harvested area.  The output is predicted to decrease by 800,000 tons, or 7.8 percent, compared with the last winter-spring crop. This is the second consecutive crop that the Mekong Delta, the country’s largest rice granary, has produced at a lower output, which is unprecedented in the last two decades.

VN catfish exporters gear up for US inspections vietnamnews.vn 11th Apr 2017
Việt Nam catfish processors must prepare for the inspection programme of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in order to boost exports into this market.“If Vietnamese producers can meet USDA’s requirement, a huge market in the US awaits them,” according to a recent article on seafoodsource.com. All catfish will be subject to the scrutiny of the USDA from September 1, including pangasius. USDA inspectors will check on all stages of the production chain in Việt Nam. Catfish regulation will shift from the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) to the USDA from the beginning of September, according to a law passed in 2014. The rules, pushed by the US catfish industry, will come into full force on September 1 after a 18-month transition period.

Vietnam's farm firms seek high-tech Vietnam Net 10th Apr 2017
As the Southeast Asian country is looking to boost a high-tech agriculture, firms are looking for modern technologies in the world to apply in farming production. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that the bottleneck of the agriculture sector was technology. He said his ministry was promoting connections with leading farming technology companies from Switzerland, the Netherlands and Israel as well as other countries with a developed agriculture sector to provide opportunities for Vietnamese agricultural firms to look for appropriate technologies. Many Vietnamese firms are now aware of that they should not import outdated machinery and technologies but look for advanced technologies. However, the most difficult thing is how to find the appropriate technologies.

Rent-A-Port NV expands business in Việt Nam vietnamnews.vn 10th Apr 2017
Rent-A-Port Green Energy on Saturday inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop wind and solar driven micro desalination, in a bid to solve the problems of salt water harming rice fields in the Mekong Delta region. The agreement was signed with officials from Việt Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). Rent-A-Port Green Energy is 100 per cent owned by Rent-A-Port NV, a Belgium engineering and investment company, specialising in the development of marine infrastructures and industrial zones. Through its shareholders, Rent-A-Port can fall back on a wealth of in-house experience in the analysis, design, construction, development and management of port, logistics and marine infrastructures, green energy as well as industrial zones worldwide. Under the agreement, the Belgian firm and MARD will set up five demonstration wind-powered water desalination plants, with a total investment of US$15 million, which are capable of providing fresh water for at least 200 hectares of rice fields in five locations across the Mekong Delta region.

SBV to issue regulations on $4.4b preferential credit package in April vietnamnews.vn 7th Apr 2017
The State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) will issue regulations on guiding commercial banks to implement a VNĐ100 trillion (US$4.4 billion) credit package with preferential interest rates for high-tech agriculture projects. The regulations will be issued in April. According to the SBV, interest rates of the loans will be some 0.5-1.5 per cent per year lower than the current average lending rates.

Unsafe produce hurting exports Business Mirror 5th Apr 2017
Weak food safety compliance by agricultural product exporters has negatively impacted Vietnam’s exports to European markets, experts said at a trade policy forum, “Food safety: Opportunities and challenges for Vietnamese exporters,” organised in HCM City on March 30. Nowadays, a number of countries apply standards by associations or sectors instead of national standards.  For instance, retailers in UK, North America and Europe only consider signing contracts with suppliers which have British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification. In Vietnam, enterprises are under pressure to comply to national standards and other regulations.  In the legal system of food safety legislation, there is one law, one decree and nearly 80 circulars of the combined three ministries.  Specifically, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has issued 45 circulars, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has 20 and the Ministry of Industry and Trade has 12 circulars. In addition, export enterprises find it difficult to comply with regulations not in the law. 

VN needs legal framework for organic farms Vietnam Net 4th Apr 2017
VN needs legal framework for organic farms VietNamNet Bridge – Viet Nam will soon complete policies, mechanisms and a national standard system to develop organic farming in the future, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyen Xuan Cuong has said. It is also one of the new directions for Vietnamese agriculture, he affirmed at a conference discussing measures to promote the production and consumption of organic agricultural products, held in Ha Noi yesterday. Demand for organic farm produce has increased significantly both in Viet Nam and globally. The early promotion of organic farming will play an important role in the restructuring of the agricultural sector, responding to the general trend of domestic consumption and export, Cuong said.

Pangasius industry gets boost vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
The "Establishing a Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain in Việt Nam" project (SUPA) has brought significant improvement to the pangasius supply chain, resolving environmental concerns, improving efficiency and ensuring consistent quality, a meeting heard in HCM City on Wednesday. The project has also opened up new markets for Vietnamese pangasius products. Before the programme began, pangasius exports had been rising sharply to account for 30 per cent of the country’s total aquaculture exports, but the sector’s development was not steady. The rapid growth had caused concern among stakeholders and the Government, who were wondering how to ensure the sector’s long-term sustainability.

Agro, forestry, fishery export value up by 7.6% vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Việt Nam gained a year-on-year increase of 7.6 per cent in total export value of agro, forestry and fishery products in the first quarter of this year to US$7.6 billion. This included $2.9 billion in March, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Of the total figure for Q1, export value of main farming products reached $4.2 billion, a year-on-year surge of 13.5 per cent. However, rice, a key farming product, still faced difficulty in export during the first quarter. The country exported 1.28 million tonnes, earning $566 million. Exports dropped by 18.1 per cent in volume and 17.3 per cent in value year-on-year. Meanwhile, coffee exports increased sharply in value, although volume fell over the same period last year, the ministry said. Coffee exports in the first three months of this year saw a year-on-year increase of 25.6 per cent in value to reach $1 billion but witnessed a year-on-year decrease of 5.4 per cent in volume to 449,000 tonnes.

Philippines' San Miguel to bid for Vietnam's No. 1 beer- Nikkei Asian Review 5th Apr 2017
MANILA -- San Miguel, the owner of the Philippines' largest brewer, plans to bid for Vietnam's No. 1 beer maker, an official said on Monday. Confirming a local report, San Miguel Chief Financial Officer Ferdinand Constantino told the Philippine Stock Exchange that the company "shall participate in the public bidding that will be conducted by the Vietnamese government for the sale of 89.59% of Saigon Alcohol Beer and Beverage Corporation," also known as Sabeco. The Vietnamese government plans to divest its stake in Sabeco in two phases, beginning with the initial sale of a 53.59% stake this year, according to reports. San Miguel Brewery controls over 90% of the Philippine beer market, which, according to Euromonitor International, is expected to grow annually by 1.5% until 2020. Vietnam's beer market is expected to grow faster, but competition is expected to become more fierce as foreign companies such as Heineken come in.

$4.4 billion enough to build hi-tech agriculture in Vietnam? Vietnam Net 5th Apr 2017
VietNamNet Bridge - The government has decided to disburse VND100 trillion for farming projects to help develop hi-tech agriculture. It is the biggest-ever credit package given in the field.   Vietnam has 24 million workers in the agriculture sector, but the contribution made by the sector to the country’s GDP is 17 percent, and it has been decreasing for many years.  There are only 4,000 agriculture businesses out of a total 420,000 businesses in Vietnam. The figures show agriculture is losing its position in the national economy. One of the reasons is the modest capital flow into the sector which only accounts for 10 percent of total outstanding loans.  However, the situation will change as the government has designed a VND100 trillion credit package, unprecedented in the history of the agriculture sector. 

Việt Nam’s animal feed imports up sharply vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
Việt Nam’s import value of animal feed and material for production of animal feed witnessed a year-on-year increase of 41.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year. This was stated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The value reached US$955 million in the first three months, including $343 million in March. The ministry said that Việt Nam mainly imported those products from Argentina, accounting for 47.2 per cent of total imports; the United States, 15.7 per cent; India, 4.2 per cent; and China, 3.4 per cent. In another development, the ministry’s Department of Livestock Production sent official letter 468/CN-TĂCN to animal feed importers in Việt Nam to ask them to stop the import of some animal feed products containing antibiotics stimulating growth from January 1, 2018.

Problems with City pork plan vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2017
HCM City’s technology-based programme to control and trace the origin of pork that began recently is encountering difficulties, according to the Department of Industry and Trade. Almost all wholesalers at the city’s Bình Điền and Hóc Môn wholesale markets are taking part in the programme. They meet 70-80 per cent of the city’s pork demand. Consumers can currently check the origin of pork they buy at nearly 385 modern outlets (supermarkets, convenience stores and food shops) and 140 booths at 23 retail markets. The project management board is now working with poultry producers and distributors in the city and neighbouring localities to implement a similar programme in June

KKR to Take $250 Million Stake in Vietnam's Masan and Unit Bloomberg.com 2nd Apr 2017
KKR & Co. is investing $250 million in Vietnam’s food and beverage company Masan Group Corp.and its unit to help boost their competitiveness in the country’s $18 billion meat industry. KKR will pay $150 million for a 7.5 percent stake in Masan Nutri-Science, Masan Group’s meat-producing business, the companies said in a statement. The New York private-equity firm will provide the support of its global network and team to Masan Nutri-Science as it accelerates its strategy to build the meat business in Vietnam, it said. KKR will also buy $100 million of Masan Group’s shares from PENM Partners.