Food & Agriculture Update: APEC HLPDAB Meeting Focuses on Bio-Technology and Global Warming

Food & Agriculture Update | August 31, 2017
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Timotheos Tan
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF)
The Council will be leading a business delegation to the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in Chiang Mai, Thailand on September 28-29, 2017. This annual mission provides a platform for members to engage with the ten ministers of agriculture, senior agricultural officials, and the ASEAN Secretariat. Some key focus areas include Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and technology development in the agricultural sector. For more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

APEC HLPDAB Meeting Focuses on Bio-Technology and Global Warming

On 20 August, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held its High-Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology (HLPDAB) Meeting in Can Tho, Vietnam; the agenda was focused on biotechnology policy, public-private partnerships for research and applications, and response to climate change. Dr. Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, this year’s HLPDAB chair and the director general of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s department of science, technology and environment, highlighted climate change's exacerbation of agricultural challenges for vulnerable economies and geographies, and the need for global agricultural production to adapt in order to ensure food security. She added that the use of biotechnology in modern agriculture “provides a set of powerful tools for the sustainable development of agriculture, fisheries, and forestry, as well as the food industry,” such as the successful micropropagation of virus-free plants, plant disease diagnostic kits, and marker-assisted selection. This allows for improvements in a country’s ability to meet the needs of an expanding, increasingly urbanized population, but there remain concerns regarding environmental and health risks of genetically-modified organisms (GMO).

In a statement made to APEC member economies during the dialogue, the United Nation’s (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned of the significant impact global warming will have on future agricultural yields in key agricultural regions in Asia. Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, called for action on the part of policy makers, to prepare for changes in supply, shifting trade patterns, and a need for greater investment in agriculture, fisheries, land and water management, for the benefit of smallholder farmers. She added that the agriculture sector in Asia accounts for at least a fifth of total greenhouse emissions, but it also holds as much as 70 percent of the technical potential to reduce emissions, especially in tropical developing countries such as those in Southeast Asia.

The FAO has been working in conjunction with a number of Southeast Asian governments, including:

  • Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to assess the emissions reduction potential of the System of Rice Intensification and improved livestock management as contributions to Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, and the country’s agricultural priorities; and
  • Cambodia, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to develop programs under the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency to strengthen national level capacity to measure, monitor and report emissions and adaptation actions in the agriculture and land-use sectors.

Malaysia Considering Expedited Halal Certification Issuance Process

On 25 August, Malaysia’s Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Othman Aziz, announced potential initiatives to streamline the halal certification issuance process, in an effort to leverage the full potential of the growing local halal industry. Among the measures under consideration is the prioritization of the approval of companies that have already obtained specific certifications; these include Good Agricultural Practices (MyGAP) or Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry. Datuk Aziz noted that the conditions for MyGAP and GMP certification already form a subset of the conditions for halal certification as defined by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), adding that informing companies with existing MyGAP and GMP certification of the additional halal certification requirements would be a step toward facilitating compliance. Halal certification remains voluntary in Malaysia, compared to neighboring Indonesia, where it is mandatory. Malaysia exported RM42 billion (US$10.4 billion) in halal products in 2016, which paled in comparison to the US$680 billion market potential for halal food products in Muslim countries worldwide, according to Othman, but he remains confident that Malaysia’s local halal industry is ready to tackle the global market.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Philippines Proposed Sugar Sweetened Beverage (SSB) Tax
Last week, as a follow up to the Council's continued advocacy efforts  in the Philippines on its proposed sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) tax and as an action item from the Council's annual Philippines business mission, the Council filed a letter (available here) with the Senate Ways and Means Committee to outline additional concerns with research, ahead of the 2nd Public Hearing on the Proposed Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax under Section 26 of House Bill No. 5636 that took place on Thursday, 24 August in the Philippines Senate. At this time, the Senate is weighing all angles of this proposed tax measure to come up with its own version which currently is stalled because of the differing take on the proposed tax increase.

Thailand Sugar Tax
The Council is tracking a new sugar tax in Thailand slated to come into effect on September 16. According to a news report, Thailand will phase in a new sugar tax over six years. The sugar tax will be increased over two phases, and after the fourth year, the tax rate on drinks that still contain sugar beyond the WHO's standard of 6g per 100ml will be doubled and increasing further in the sixth year. The tax rate has not been specified yet, but will be based on the sugar content of the drink. The Council is currently tracking this issue and will send updates when an official announcement is made in September.

Advocacy for Science-based Regulatory Frameworks in Thailand in Food & Agriculture
As a follow-up to the Council's Thailand Business Mission in July, the Council is exploring a high-level joint advocacy effort with CropLife Asia and the EU-ASEAN Business Council to promote science-based regulatory frameworks in Thailand in the food & agriculture space towards realizing more international investment and supporting the government's "Thailand 4.0" goals. If you are interested in this effort and would like to receive more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.

Meeting with Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam
The Council’s Food & Agriculture Committee held a meeting with Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam on July 21 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Topics of discussion included Antibiotic Regulations in Animal Feed; Harmonization with Global Testing Standards for Imported Products; Ban on the Importation of Distiller’s Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS); Suspension of Herbicides (including Glyphosate); High-Tech Agriculture; and Establishment of the Authority of Agro Product Processing and Market Development (AgroTrade). The full notes from the meeting can be found here.

The Council is following up with key action items that include:

  • A conference showcasing international best practices and standards for managing antibiotics in animal feed;
  • A workshop reviewing international standards and tests for managing veterinary medicine; and
  • Reviewing the provision of evidence regarding the aluminum phosphate recirculation method for DDGS.

Please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org for a discussion.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
APEC
Agricultural trade in Pacific Rim economies faces challenges due to climate change, with uncertainty greatest for equatorial nations
Bio-technology, a powerful tool for sustainable agriculture: Apec

ASEAN
AgriMuseum to educate youth, attract future Asean farmers

Brunei
Thyssenkrupp wins order to build fertiliser plant in Brunei

Cambodia
Hydroponic farming to be tested in Cambodia
Kingdom courts rice deal with Bangladesh
Government directs support to rice farmers
Cambodian Agriculture Minister Presides Over Field Day on Potato Production in a Northeastern Province

Indonesia
Indonesia expects to become self-sufficient in salt in 2019
Agriculture Ministry to involve thousands of students to train farmers
How Indonesia’s President monitors food security
CPO export increases by 25 percent in first half
Indonesia denies biodiesel dumping allegation in US
Indonesia faces more barriers in palm oil exports
U.S. Issues Affirmative Preliminary Countervailing Duty Determinations on Biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia
Indonesia introduces two new varieties of paddy seeds

Laos
Laos: Banana exports drop due to tightened regulations
Laos’ rice exports drops 42 percent in first half

Malaysia
Malaysia will continue to face shortage of local beef
Deputy finance minister urges expedited halal certification process
Malaysia, Indonesia in talks with China to expand palm oil use in biodiesel
A new era for agriculture sector
‘Fishermen incurring losses due to foreigners’
Rural folk encouraged to go into agriculture to increase income
Malaysian palm oil price near five-month high

Myanmar
Quality cotton seeds running out even as demand rises
Myanmar political change brings food revolution

Philippines
New potato varieties to boost production in the Philippines
Avian flu poultry ban partially lifted
PHL poultry products banned in 3 countries
Philippines continues campaign vs bad coco oil rap
Special report: Bt corn opening potentials for corn export
Agriculture growth picks up to 6% in Q2
‘Limit ban on PHL poultry to areas hit by bird flu’ | BusinessMirror
Poultry growers incur huge losses due to bird flu–Ubra | BusinessMirror

Singapore
Schools have key role in helping kids keep healthy lifestyle

Thailand
Thailand-Vietnam sign 10 deals for greater coooperation
More carrots mulled to feed robotics
Flood Relief Measure

Vietnam
Spending on fruit, veg imports rises
FAO pledges continuous support for Vietnam
Vietnam, Australia cooperate in combating illegal fishing
APEC officials interested in Vietnam’s rice production, export
Pepper growers reap organic farming benefits
Food value chain plays important role in rural-urban development
High-tech farming development sluggish
Agriculture Sector Does Well As China Buys More Fruits And Veggies
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
APEC

Agricultural trade in Pacific Rim economies faces challenges due to climate change, with uncertainty greatest for equatorial nations ReliefWeb 25th Aug 2017
Global warming is expected to have a significant impact on future yields of everything from rice to fish, particularly in countries situated closer to the equator, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned today. Geographically, the negative impact of climate change on agricultural output could result in lower yields of rice, wheat, corn and soybeans in countries with tropical climates, compared with the impacts experienced by those in higher latitudes. Fisheries could also be affected by changes to water temperature. A meeting in Viet Nam of Agriculture Ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies heard that many key agricultural regions in Asia are already at risk of crossing key climate thresholds after which the productivity of plants and animals goes into decline. For example, research by FAO and other organizations has found that there are regions within Asia that are already near the heat stress limits for rice. Changes in specific climate variables are important too - for example, increased night-time temperatures have been found to have a significant negative impact on rice yields.

Bio-technology, a powerful tool for sustainable agriculture: Apec The Nation 22nd Aug 2017
Agricultural bio-technology policies, promotion of public-private partnerships in agricultural bio-technology research and applications and the use of agricultural bio-technology in response to climate change were on the agenda of the annual APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology (HLPDAB) Meeting in Can Tho on Sunday. Dr Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, director general of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s department of science, technology and environment, who is HLDPAB chair this year, said climate change has exacerbated the challenges to agricultural, especially in the most vulnerable economies and geographies. By 2050 the world’s population would reach nine billion with food demand increasing by 70 per cent from now, while natural resources, climate and production resources would be increasingly scarce, she said. That would require global agricultural production to adapt rapidly to climate change to ensure food security, she said.

ASEAN

AgriMuseum to educate youth, attract future Asean farmers BusinessMirror 27th Aug 2017
In the 50th year of “One Asean”, cooperation among the 10 member-countries has never been tighter with the Asean Economic Community paving the way for a single market and production base, of which agriculture is an important component. Yet, employment and interest in agriculture has been in decline, even as it remains the main source of livelihood in the majority of Asean member-states, with the exception of Brunei Darussalam and Singapore, though both are nonetheless dependent on agriculture for food and commerce. Seeing that the future of food and agriculture is hinged on attracting the youth to become a new generation and breed of farmers, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) is poised to build an AgriMuseum as an alternative approach to educating the young populace and other publics on the importance of agriculture and its centrality to food security, survival and overall development of economies in the Asean region. The Southeast Asian AgriMuseum and Learning Center will not only showcase the evolution and changing face of agriculture, its interconnectedness across landscapes from the mountains to the sea and its shared characteristics and diversity among Southeast Asian countries but also articulate current issues and challenges, game changers and innovations, and the envisioned futures of agricultural and food systems in the region.

Brunei

Thyssenkrupp wins order to build fertiliser plant in Brunei Mail Online 28th Aug 2017
Germany's Thyssenkrupp said it has won an order from Brunei to build a fertiliser plant in the southeast Asian state, in a much-needed boost to its struggling industrial solutions division.

Cambodia

Hydroponic farming to be tested in Cambodia Khmer Times 25th Aug 2017
Japanese company Asian Gateway (Cambodia) will soon conduct a pilot project with a hydroponic farm in Cambodia. It will be tested at the Royal University of Agriculture (Chamkar Dong campus) in the first stage and after that will be used as a model for farmers and the private sector to implement across the whole nation. Asian Gateway’s president and founder, Tomonori Kimura, said at a meeting with Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon on Wednesday that the hydroponic farm will be done in cooperation with the Royal University of Agriculture in Cambodia.

Kingdom courts rice deal with Bangladesh Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2017
The Kingdom’s apex rice industry body has been meeting this week to discuss ways of nailing down a potentially massive deal with Bangladesh, which earlier this month inked a memorandum of understanding to purchase 1 million tonnes of Cambodian rice over the next five years. Bangladesh has been shopping around to fill its silos after devastating floods earlier this year reportedly wiped out a potential 700,000 tonnes of rice under cultivation, leading to a severe food shortage. Its government has reportedly discussed import deals with Thailand, Vietnam and India, but has yet to settle on a supplier. The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) convened on Tuesday for a strategy session aimed at clinching Bangladesh’s initial order of 250,000 tonnes of rice. The shipment calls for 200,000 tonnes of white rice and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice to be delivered in October.

Government directs support to rice farmers Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2017
The government announced yesterday that it would “intervene” to support the price that farmers receive for their paddy rice, though without instituting a price floor or direct subsidies that would jeopardise a free market. Vongsey Vissoth, secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), told representatives of the private sector and agricultural cooperatives that the government would take action to prop up the price that local rice farmers receive for their harvest.

Cambodian Agriculture Minister Presides Over Field Day on Potato Production in a Northeastern Province Agence Kampuchea Presse 15th Aug 2017
H.E. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, presided over the Field Day on Potato Production in Cambodia held in Mondulkiri, a red-dirt northeastern province, on Aug. 8. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea H.E. Kim Weon Jin was also present on the occasion. Mr. Sok Kheang, Director of Mondulkiri Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said with the financial support from Korea Project on International Agriculture (KOPIA), the Royal University of Agriculture has been cooperating with Dankook, a Korean university, in testing the planting of potato varieties in the province.

Indonesia

Indonesia expects to become self-sufficient in salt in 2019 The Jakarta Post 28th Aug 2017
Indonesia, which has suffered from declining salt production in recent months, is set to become self-sufficient in the commodity by 2019 as a government team has begun the process of transforming idle land into salt fields.

Agriculture Ministry to involve thousands of students to train farmers Antara News 25th Aug 2017
Agricultural Extension and Human Resource Development Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture will involve thousands of college students to assist farmers to ensure increased agricultural production. "By the end of this year, we will deploy 5,930 farmers aides comprising college students, lecturers, graduates of agricultural colleges, and youth farmers," Head of the Agricultural Education Center of Agricultural Extension and Human Resources Development Agency Gunawan Yulianto stated here on Thursday night. During the coordination meeting to discuss the mentoring program of college students, graduates, and youth farmers for the change in the 2017 State Budget revenue and expenditure, Yulianto revealed that thousands of agricultural extension assistants from 40 partner universities of the Ministry of Agriculture and seven colleges of agricultural extension will be deployed from September to November 2017. "We are confident, although the implementation time is very short, but it will be effective if it is done optimally," he noted.

How Indonesia’s President monitors food security GovInsider 24th Aug 2017
Indonesia is under threat of food insecurity and undernutrition, and faces “alarmingly high” stunting levels. In 2007, an estimated 7.7 million children under five were stunted, according to the Food Security Portal. And when climate change is in the picture, things become much more complex. To keep abreast of what’s happening, the President has a platform in his situation room that tracks drought and its effects on agriculture in real time. It was developed by Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ), a big data analytics lab which emerged from a partnership between the United Nations and the Government of Indonesia.

CPO export increases by 25 percent in first half The Jakarta Post 24th Aug 2017
Exports of crude palm oil (CPO) and its derivative products increased by 25 percent to 16.6 million tons despite sober demand amid competition against a rapeseed and soybean oil global glut in the first six months, Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) data shows.

Indonesia denies biodiesel dumping allegation in US The Jakarta Post 24th Aug 2017
The government will ask the United States to review its latest anti-dumping measure against Indonesian biodiesel, according to Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita. “Such allegations [that Indonesian biodiesel production is subsidized] have been raised before and we can prove that there’s no subsidy involved. We’ll pass the request to the US for a review immediately after talking to producers,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Indonesia faces more barriers in palm oil exports Xinhua 24th Aug 2017
Indonesia is facing another trade barrier in its palm oil commodity exports after the one applied by European Community (EC) in April over green issue. The freshest challenge was received from the Indian government which recently increased its import duty for Indonesian crude palm oil (CPO) entering the nation by 100 percent from 7.5-15 percent. Moreover, the Indian government also raised import tariff of CPO derived products from 15 percent to 25 percent. Indonesia regarded India's move to increase its tariff on Indonesian CPO palm oil products as an effort to impede the nation's prime export commodity after the one applied in Europe. Indonesia's Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said that the nation has to take serious attention on such an issue as it may prompt export reduction to India, a major market for Indonesian commodities.

U.S. Issues Affirmative Preliminary Countervailing Duty Determinations on Biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia Department of Commerce 22nd Aug 2017
Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the affirmative preliminary determinations in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigations, finding that exporters of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia received countervailable subsidies of 50.29 to 64.17 percent and 41.06 to 68.28 percent, respectively. Commerce also determined that critical circumstances exist in both investigations, allowing for collection of duties for a retroactive period of 90 days prior to publication of the preliminary determination in the Federal Register.

Indonesia introduces two new varieties of paddy seeds The Jakarta Post 21st Aug 2017
The Agriculture Ministry launched on Monday two new varieties of paddy seeds — Inpari 42 Agritan GSR and Inpari 43 Agritan GSR — that it claimed were suitable to plant in any weather and more resistant to planthopper infestations.

Laos

Laos: Banana exports drop due to tightened regulations Fresh Plaza 28th Aug 2017
The export value of bananas in Laos during the first six months (Q1 and Q2) of this year decreased compared to the same period last year and is expected to decline further. The drop in exports comes after the government called a halt to the establishment of large scale banana plantations in a bid to prevent environmental impacts, with local authorities also taking stricter actions against banana farms. Laos earned almost US$125 million from banana exports in Q1 and Q2 this year, while last year’s figure for the same period was over US$137.5 million, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Laos’ rice exports drops 42 percent in first half vietnamplus.vn 25th Aug 2017
The rice export value of Laos in the first six months of 2017 dropped 42 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Laos earned 11.2 million USD from rice exports from January to June, lower than the figure of 19.4 million USD in the same period last year. Its main importers were Vietnam, Thailand and China, reported China’s Xinhua News Agency. According to the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Laos exports about 300,000 tonnes of rice annually. The ministry expects to export 400,000 tonnes this year and hopes the figure will climb to 1 million tonnes by 2020.

Malaysia

Malaysia will continue to face shortage of local beef NST Online 25th Aug 2017
Malaysia will continue to face shortage of local beef and dependent on imports, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman. With the shortage, he said Malaysia was forced to import livestock products from Thailand and Australia, as well as frozen meat from India. He said this caused the price, caused by the currency exchange rates, to be passed on to consumers. It was reported that Malaysia currently produced 52,000 tonnes of beef worth RM169 million and import beef worth RM1.14 billion annually to meet local demand of about 191,000 tonnes.

Deputy finance minister urges expedited halal certification process Malay Mail Online 25th Aug 2017
The process of issuing halal certification to local industry players needs to be streamlined and expedited to optimise the potential of the growing halal industry, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Othman Aziz said. Among the initiatives that could be considered was to prioritise or speed up the approval process from companies that had already obtained specific certifications such as Good Agricultural Practices (MyGAP) or Good Manufacturing Practice, both of which are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, he said.

Malaysia, Indonesia in talks with China to expand palm oil use in biodiesel Free Malaysia Today 23rd Aug 2017
Indonesia and Malaysia are currently in discussions with China to expand the use of palm oil in the world’s second-biggest economy through palm-enriched biodiesel, the plantations industries and commodities minister said today. Mah Siew Keong said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur that China, also the world’s second-largest palm oil buyer, is looking into the possibility of implementing a requirement that biodiesel should contain a minimum 5% of palm oil, a mandate known as “B5”. “Malaysia and Indonesia will make a joint effort to discuss with China,” said Mah, adding that the two countries also want to play a part in expanding the biodiesel market in India. Mah did not disclose the precise nature of the discussions or a timetable for their conclusion, nor did he indicate how much more palm oil China would consume with a “B5” mandate. It wasn’t immediately clear how seriously China is reviewing the matter.

A new era for agriculture sector BorneoPost Online 21st Aug 2017
Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg wants Sarawak to be a net exporter of high quality agriculture produce and products that meet the needs of both domestic and global markets. However, the Chief Minister believed this vision could only be achieved through the transformation of the agriculture sector. “I would like the sector to be competitive, vibrant, dynamic, sustainable and capable to generate more new innovative businesses and high value employment opportunities,” he said in his keynote address at the opening of the International Conference on Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sarawak (Icaas) 2017 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here yesterday. “For a start, our target is to increase the monthly household income of the farmers from RM2,750 to at least RM4,000 by 2020. We will reduce the 50 per cent mean household income disparity between the rural at RM2,754 and urban at RM5,516. Through this effort, we will also be able to alleviate the incidence of poverty in the rural areas from the current level of 1.6 per cent. “For food production, we aim to increase our self-sufficiency level (SSL) in food. Presently our SSL targets for food items are, for rice from 53 per cent to 60 per cent, fruits and vegetables from 60 per cent to 65 per cent, fisheries from 92 per cent to 100 per cent and beef from 10 per cent to 50 per cent.”

‘Fishermen incurring losses due to foreigners’ The Star Online 15th Aug 2017
The encroachment by foreign fishermen into Malaysian waters has caused RM600,242 in damage to local fishing boats and equipment in just two months, the state assembly was told.Datuk Seri Sh Mohmed Puzi Sh Ali (BN-Peramu Jaya) said this figure was based on 30 police reports made by 24 fishermen from Kuala Pahang and Tanjung Agas in June and July.“I’m appealing to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to step up its effort and end this problem that is affecting local fishermen,” he said yesterday.Mohmed Puzi also wanted to know what efforts were being taken by the state government to eradicate the problem of encroachment, which has led to a decline in local fishermen’s catch, in addition to their damaged nets and boats.State Rural Development, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman Datuk Shafik Fauzan Sharif said the MMEA constantly patrolled the seas and had met the fishermen’s association in Kuala Pahang.“Part of the problem is also caused by local boat owners who employ foreign crew members, even from Vietnam, to catch fish. We can’t blame them because not many locals these days are interested in becoming fishermen,” Shafik said.“Sometimes it is the foreign fishermen who use illegal netting that damages the habitats of fish and other marine life.”It has been reported that these trawler nets also destroy the smaller nets used by local fishermen.

Rural folk encouraged to go into agriculture to increase income The Star 15th Aug 2017
Rural folk have been advised to take on economic projects such as agriculture as a way to increase their income.Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun said this at a meet-the-people session in Rumah Limbing, Sungai Arau and Hulu Mukah on Sunday.He said they must choose the right type of activity so that they could reap the maximum benefits from their venture.“When your project is successful, the demand for your produce in the market will be very high. This will give you good returns,” he said.Entulu, who is also Selangau MP, urged them to support projects that would be implemented in their area.“Projects involving electricity and water supply and building of roads might affect people’s land. “Because of this, I want to advise landowners not to go against the implementation of these projects as doing so would not benefit anyone. “Moreover, the government has a proper land compensation scheme for the affected landowners,” he said.Separately, Entulu said he would discuss with the relevant ministries about providing a kidney dialysis machine for Selangau Hospital.At the event, he presented a minor rural project grant totalling RM106,000 to nine village development committees in the area.The recipients were Rumah Emong, Rumah Balang, Rumah Limbing, Rumah Jani, Rumah Pengarah, Rumah Sabeli, Rumah Abu, Rumah Lunchong and Rumah Seli.

Malaysian palm oil price near five-month high The Star Online 22nd Aug 2017
Malaysian palm oil futures surged to a near-five-month high in evening trade on Monday, supported by forecasts of slower than expected output growth and technical buying despite weaker export data from cargo surveyors. The benchmark palm oil contract for November delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange rose 1.1 percent to 2,711 ringgit ($632.60) for its strongest daily gain in more than a week. The contract earlier touched 2,720 ringgit, its highest since March 29. Traded volumes stood at 67,988 lots of 25 tonnes on Monday evening. "The market believes there may be negative growth in production," one Kuala Lumpur futures trader said. "There's also some technical buying as we break new highs."

Myanmar

Quality cotton seeds running out even as demand rises The Myanmar Times 15th Aug 2017
National produciers of cotton – one of Myanmar’s strategic export crops – are facing problems accessing seeds, cotton farmers told The Myanmar Times. Workers pick cotton at a farm in Ku Mae City. Photo - Supplied Cotton is cultivated twice a year across two seasons. However, cultivation has become expensive since farmers must now buy seeds from private agriculture companies due to insufficient government supplies. “The cost to sow the seeds per acre is now about K30,000.  When we try to access the seeds from the private [companies], the seeds are not of good quality even [when] they said the seeds are from reputable government farms like Shwe Tung. That could pose problems for future plantation yields. That’s why some of us now prefer [growing] rice rather than cotton,” one cotton farmer said.

Myanmar political change brings food revolution Financial Times 17th Aug 2017
It’s a rich fishy broth that makes for a signature Myanmar breakfast when sprinkled with condiments ranging from coriander to crispy fritters. And one young returnee restaurateur sees mohinga as a passport to reintroduce the country also known as Burma to the world, now a half-century of dictatorship has yielded to civilian led-government — and a buzzing food scene. “You go around London, you go to New York and people are talking more about Burma,” says Htet Myet Oo, as he outlines his theory of “mohinga diplomacy” in an interview above his buzzing Rangoon Tea House restaurant in the main city of Yangon. The long-isolated state is now “trying to leapfrog from the 1950s to 2017” in many spheres of life, he says, adding: “It’s not so different in food.” Mr Htet Myet Oo, who was raised mainly in north-east England, is part of a growing foodie movement seeking to rescue the country’s cuisine from a military-junta era reputation for oily indigestibility. As new eating places rise in a flowering of post-totalitarian entrepreneurship, enthusiasts think Myanmar cuisine could go global like its counterparts in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam. 

Philippines

New potato varieties to boost production in the Philippines Fresh Plaza 25th Aug 2017
Two leading research institutions have partnered to help increase potato production in the Philippines, in order to meet the increasing demand for the commodity that is also fuelled by the proliferation of more fast food establishments in the country. Through its National Technology Commercialization Program, the Department of Agriculture- Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) is supporting the Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center (NPRCRTC) based at the Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet, in producing high-yielding potato varieties for growing by farmers, initially in Mountain Province. The NPRCRTC’s project is the “Commercialization and Promotion of Processing Potato Varieties through Rapid Multiplication Technique in Potato Growing Areas,” which has so far produced 30,000 stem cuttings from 7,000 tissue-cultured mother plants.

Avian flu poultry ban partially lifted philstar.com 23rd Aug 2017
Despite the unfinished task of eliminating avian flu, the government has lifted its ban on the transport and shipment of poultry and poultry products nationwide. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol yesterday signed an administrative order lifting the ban following assurances from biosecurity experts that transporting poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country is now safe. The ban, however, stays for poultry products from avian flu “ground zero” in San Luis in Pampanga, and from Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija. The ban, first imposed last Aug. 11, was a precautionary measure to contain the virus and prevent it from infecting humans.

PHL poultry products banned in 3 countries BusinessMirror 21st Aug 2017
Japan, South Korea and Singapore have imposed a temporary ban on poultry products and pet birds from the Philippines after Manila confirmed the outbreak of bird flu in Pampanga. Documents obtained by the BusinessMirror showed that the three Asian countries notified Manila about the import ban after the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced on August 11 that bird flu struck thousands of fowls in San Luis, Pampanga. In an official communication dated August 14, South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (Mafra) informed the Philippine Agriculture Office (PAO) in Seoul that it has “prohibited the importation of Philippine fresh, chilled, frozen chicken meat and pet birds” effective August 12.

Philippines continues campaign vs bad coco oil rap philstar.com 20th Aug 2017
The Philippines continues to counter the recent backlash on the coconut oil industry, deeming it unhealthy and unfit for the heart, as it launches a campaign that will clean up the sector’s name in major markets. The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said the government and the United Coconut Association of the Philippines (UCAP) have agreed  to do a counter campaign through a series of roadshows in the US. “One of the ways we will go about it is to do a roadshow in the US together with players in the industry to talk about the benefits of coconut oil,” PCA administrator Romulo dela Rosa said. This is still in response to the controversial report of the American Heart Association (AHA) which placed anew the coconut oil industry in a bad light.

Special report: Bt corn opening potentials for corn export SunStar 19th Aug 2017
It will not be long before the Philippines will be able to position itself as among the leading exporters of corn in Southeast Asia as the corn industry has finally achieved sufficiency and surplus in its production in previous cropping seasons. This possibility is a far cry from the previous status of corn production in country in the past one and half decade ago where farmers suffered from perennial setbacks caused by infestation and poor yield with corn production unable to sustain local demands. And if we are to believe Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol, the country will be exporting corn this year to its Asian neighbors like Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan for both industrial and food consumption use.

Agriculture growth picks up to 6% in Q2 The Manila Times 16th Aug 2017
Agriculture sector growth accelerated in the second quarter as favorable weather boosted harvests, the government reported on Tuesday. The 6.18 percent expansion for April-June is an improvement from the 4.9 percent recorded in the first three months of the year. The result bodes well for second quarter economic growth, data for which will be released on Thursday. The crops sub-sector, which accounted for 50.75 percent of total agriculture output, expanded by 11.72 percent during the period. The country’s main crops of palay and corn also posted double digit gains of 11.72 percent and 45.97 percent, respectively.

‘Limit ban on PHL poultry to areas hit by bird flu’ | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 21st Aug 2017
The government is appealing to Japan and South Korea to reconsider the total ban it has imposed on Philippine poultry products, after Manila confirmed to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) the outbreak of bird flu in Pampanga.

Poultry growers incur huge losses due to bird flu–Ubra | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 15th Aug 2017
Just days after the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced the outbreak of avian influenza (AI) in Pampanga, the United Broiler Raisers Association (Ubra) said poultry sales have declined by as much as 50 percent.

Singapore

Schools have key role in helping kids keep healthy lifestyle TODAYonline 15th Aug 2017
Singapore should be worried that diabetes is increasingly being diagnosed in children owing to the increased incidence of obesity (Protect your child against diabetes; July 31). Cultivating a healthier lifestyle in children, however, is not only the job of parents but also schools. What children eat in school can influence their eating habits in future. Pupils usually have at least one meal a day from the canteen. Apart from their recess, those who arrive at school early may have breakfast there, and those who have co-curricular activities may eat lunch at school too.

Thailand

Thailand-Vietnam sign 10 deals for greater coooperation The Nation 17th Aug 2017
Thailand and Vietnam on Thursday signed 10 deals for cooperation in trade, investment, science and technology as Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Van Phuc led a delegation to a three-day visit to the Kingdom. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Phuc witnessed the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on economics and trade; science and technology; information and telecommunication; banking; and the establishment of sister cities between Thailand’s Trat and Vietnam’s Ca Mau provinces. Phuc and many of his cabinet members arrived in Bangkok in the afternoon before a plenary meeting with Prayut at Government House. Vietnamese and Thai companies also signed a number of business deals. They included an MoU between Viet Nam Oil and Gas Group and the Siam Cement Public Co Ltd; PetroVietnam Ca Mau Fertilizer JSC, PetroVietnam Fertilizer and Chemicals Corporation, Binh Son Refining and Petro Chemicals Co and SCG Chemicals Co Ltd; between SCIC Investment Co Ltd and Kasikorn Bank Public Co Ltd. An MoU on cooperation was also signed on the 700MW Bac Lieu/Ca Mau Wind Power Project between Super Energy Group Co Ltd and Cong Ty Trach Nhiem Huu Han Xay Dung–Thuong Mai-Du Lich Cong Ly.

More carrots mulled to feed robotics Bangkok Post 15th Aug 2017
The Industry Ministry is expected to submit new investment incentives for the robotics sector in the coming weeks, expecting to attract at least 10 billion baht in new investment over the next several years. Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the new investment package would cover excise tax cuts to let investors import some raw materials that cannot be made in Thailand and help to more affordably produce and use robotics. The package is part of plans to gradually encourage Thai industries to switch to robotics and automation to cut labour costs and increase accuracy, productivity and production capacity in the long run.

Flood Relief Measure The Nation 15th Aug 2017
The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives has launched a new relief measure for flood victims in the 44 provinces recently hit by tropical depression “Sonca,” by offering Bt10-billion in loan with zero per cent interest for the first six months, said bank president Apirom Sukprasert said. He added that the bank planned to help 200,000 affected farmers with a maximum loan of Bt50,000 each. No interest will be charged for the first six months and the minimum retail rate (MRR) of 7 per cent per annum will be charged from the seventh month onwards.

Vietnam

Spending on fruit, veg imports rises News VietNamNet 25th Aug 2017
Even as local farmers contend with falling prices and struggle to sell their produce, the country is spending millions of dollars buying imported agricultural products. This has raised the question of how to prevent Vietnamese agricultural products from losing out in the domestic market. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s recent statistics shows that Viet Nam imported US$852 million worth of vegetables and fruits in the first seven months of 2017, nearly double that of the same period last year. The import revenue is estimated to exceed $1 billion this year.

FAO pledges continuous support for Vietnam News VietNamNet 25th Aug 2017
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) will continue accompanying Vietnam and supporting the country to implement underway programmes and projects, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific Kundhavi Kadiresan has said. She made the affirmation at a meeting with Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on August 24 on the sidelines of the 2017 APEC Food Security Week and a High-Level Policy Dialogue on enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change. 

Vietnam, Australia cooperate in combating illegal fishing News VietNamNet 25th Aug 2017
Vietnam and Australia have agreed to set up long-term cooperation in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on August 24 within the framework of the APEC Food Security Week.   Vietnam and Australia have agreed to set up long-term cooperation in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing The signatories were Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan and Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources of Australia. 

APEC officials interested in Vietnam’s rice production, export News VietNamNet 24th Aug 2017
Officials from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies expressed their special interest in Vietnam’s rice production and export during their fact-finding trip to the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Rice Research Institute (CLRRI) and Trung An Hi-Tech Farming JSC based in Can Tho city on August 24.  Representatives of APEC economies has a fact-finding trip to the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Rice Research Institute and Trung An Hi-Tech Farming JSC in Can Tho city on August 24

Pepper growers reap organic farming benefits News VietNamNet 22nd Aug 2017
When international market pressures challenged Vietnamese farmers to adopt good agricultural practices and produce organic pepper, many responded positively. Explaining the current situation, Nguyen Dang Nghia, Director of the Southern Centre for soil, fertilizer and environment research, said: “Pepper that uses exceeding amounts of crop protection agents will be returned (by buyers). “To maintain our share of 50 per cent in the world market, we have to produce organic pepper. Farmers need to reduce all types of chemicals used to increase pepper vines’ resistance and prevent pests.”

Food value chain plays important role in rural-urban development vietnamnews.vn 21st Aug 2017
Strengthening the food value chain is one of the most important ways to foster rural-urban development in APEC economies, experts said at a seminar held in Cần Thơ on August 20 as part of APEC Food Security Week. Masakazu Ikefuchi, deputy director general for international affairs at Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), said: “The development of food supply chains will help increase farmer’s income and promote rural development by adding value to farmers’ products, reducing food loss and waste, and strengthening the competitiveness of agriculture. “These approaches will increase the amount of food production and supply,” he added.

High-tech farming development sluggish Voice of Vietnam 15th Aug 2017
The development of high-tech agriculture in Vietnam remains sluggish due to unplanned and small-scale production, and is not commensurate with the country’s comparative advantages and efforts. So far, only 28 enterprises nationwide have been recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) as high-tech businesses. At a conference held yesterday by the (MARD) in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong’s Da Lat City, participants agreed that development of technology-based agriculture is essential for Vietnam’s agriculture sector to achieve greater value-added for export products, global competitiveness and consistently high quality.

Agriculture Sector Does Well As China Buys More Fruits And Veggies Brudirect 15th Aug 2017
Agricultural products exported to China now account for 50 per cent of total border trade flow between the two countries, signifying greater approval from Chinese consumers, officials say. The surge in cross-border trade of agricultural produce was highlighted last Friday at a forum jointly held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Lạng Sơn People’s Committee. The forum discussed ways to further increase the flow of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables into Chinese markets via official border trade.