Food & Agriculture Update: U.S. Ambassador Concerned over Indonesia’s Import Restrictions on Agricultural Products

Food & Agriculture Update | November 13, 2017
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Jade Hoang, Kirthana Ganeson, Riley Smith
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

Dec 6-8: Business Mission to Myanmar

Please save the date for the US-ASEAN Business Council's annual business mission to Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon, Myanmar on December 6-8, 2017. Official invitation with registration details to follow. Requested meetings include: President U Htin Kyaw, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Key Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament including Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) U Win Myint, Myanmar Investment Comissioner and the UMFCCI. Please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org for any questions or to express interest.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

U.S. Ambassador Concerned over Indonesia’s Import Restrictions on Agricultural Products

In an opening speech at the US-Indonesia Investment Summit hosted by AmCham Indonesia and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta on November 2, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph Donovan expressed worries over the country’s severe restrictions on agricultural imports in recent years, leading to a continuing decline in U.S. export value. These concerns were raised in response to Indonesian President Joko Widodo's push for national self-sufficiency through import limits on a number of commodity products including agriculture, plantation, and livestock, beginning in early 2015. Arguing that this protectionist policy will help domestic producers grow, the government has since established temporary import restrictions on imports of corn, rice, sugar, animal feed, and beef—products that serve as crucial raw materials for many of Indonesia’s key sectors including tempe and tofu, textiles, instant noodles, and meat manufacturing. The country’s most recent restrictions on rice and corn in 2016 and 2017 resulted in various disruptions to the global supply chain of U.S. agricultural trading companies and the accumulation of exorbitant shipping charges as vessels carrying tonnes of imported corn were left stranded in domestic ports, forcing companies to pay daily fees to the vessel owners for extended use. To date, many industry stakeholders worry that the government will apply a similar measure to soybean imports to achieve the planned goal of self-sufficiency in soybeans by 2020. The restriction, if implemented, is expected to cause a scarcity of soybeans in the country and severely disrupt local production activities.

Addressing the mutually beneficial trade relationship in agriculture between the U.S. and Indonesia, which was valued at 10.4 trillion rupiah (US$7.6 billion) in 2016, Ambassador Donovan asserted that a stable domestic food supply should be achieved through a combination of local production and imports. He believed Indonesia’s current focus on self-sufficiency as a means to achieve food security to be misplaced, particularly because import protection increases food costs for consumers and hinders the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, thereby limiting agricultural productivity growth. The country can benefit significantly from corporate best practices and private-sector-led agricultural research and development, which is becoming more important as the agricultural workforce shrinks and risk factors like climate change increases. The Council has consistently advocated that reduced access to foreign agricultural products (and investment and innovation) will likely result in higher prices to domestic consumers but not necessarily result in higher incomes for farmers. The quality of key farm inputs is also likely to decline with less access to the best technology needed to increase productivity and hence meet the government’s overall objectives for food security. Such import restrictions will not only inhibit foreign investment in the crop and food processing industries, but could also have implications under various international investment frameworks and agreements – such as ASEAN Economic Integration and the World Trade Organization (WTO). One prominent example of such repercussions is the recent WTO ruling on Indonesia's import licensing measures for horticultural and animal products as unjustified and inconsistent with WTO rules. The report was established in response to a U.S.-initiated dispute on Indonesia's restrictive import policies which had been severely affecting U.S. agricultural exports to the country in recent years.

The Council will continue to advocate that given the complex and multifaceted challenges facing Indonesia’s agricultural sector, remaining committed to its international trade agreement obligations and staying connected with global initiatives and markets can enable the GOI to achieve food security objectives.

Amendments to the Sale of Food Act Tightens Health and Nutrition Claims on Food Labels

The Singapore Parliament passed on November 7 amendments to the Sale of Food Act (SOFA), which tightens regulations on labelling and advertising of food, including infant formula milk. Essentially, SOFA will require that a defendant prove the veracity of a food advertisement or label, whereas previously prosecutors had to show that advertisements or labels are untrue. According to Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, Dr. Koh Poh Koon, the Singapore Government wants to ensure that parents are not, “unduly swayed into paying more for certain products due to aggressive or potentially misleading marketing.” Dr. Koh also chairs the taskforce that was formed following the Competition Commission of Singapore’s findings that there were significant barriers of entry to the market for infant formula milk, barriers that had pushed up prices for infant formula milk to some of the highest levels in the world. Prices have dropped since the taskforce’s creation in May as supermarkets have expanded the number of brands of infant formula milk that they carry. Under the new amendments, if a company wants to include a new health claim on a food label, it will have to submit an application with scientific evidence backing the claim to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). Dr. Koh said that further clarification on what types of health and nutrition claims can be included on infant formula milk labels will be announced by the end of this year.

In terms of food safety, the amended SOFA expands the AVA's authority to initiate food recalls more rapidly and to license non-retail food businesses. Under the amended SOFA, the AVA can initiate food recalls even when contamination is only just suspected. This expanded authority means the AVA can initiate a recall without having to confirm the source and nature of the food contamination. Given the financial and reputational repercussions of food recalls for food companies, the amended SOFA includes an appeal and compensation mechanism in the case that the AVA mistakenly initiates a recall. The amended SOFA also gives the AVA the ability to license non-retail food businesses to help protect the public health. Such businesses include warehouses, distributors, and wholesalers. Those non-retail food businesses storing high-risk items, such as infant formula milk, or food that requires a temperature controlled environment will likely be targeted in the first round of licensing. Dr. Koh stated that licensing fees would correlate to the size of the non-retail food business but be capped at S$600 (US$441). The amendments to the SOFA can be found here, while the 2002 revised version of the act can be found here.

Thailand’s New Investment Chief Eager to Spur ‘Smart Farming’

In an effort to modernize the agricultural sector as part of Thailand 4.0 strategies, the Government of Thailand plans to expand business incentives and tax breaks to promote higher farm productivity. Under the new secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit’s leadership, the Board of Investment is introducing a new investment category called “smart farming services” with preferential policies towards the development of advanced irrigation systems, fertilizers, and crop distribution. The framework also encourages farmers and businesses to obtain international certification on food safety and sustainability through additional tax incentives. “We promote activities that help to contribute turning traditional farming into smart farming,” said Duangjai in a recent news conference. In addition to existing aid programs for rice farmers, the board’s new initiatives will focus on education and high-tech development to positively transform the sector and ultimately accelerate GDP growth. The Council has continually reiterated our support for “Thailand 4.0” and we are especially encouraged that international trade has been recognized as an integral component to promoting greater economic development. The successful implementation of the flagship projects will certainly require the tri-sector collaboration of government, businesses, and other stakeholders such as the Council. In the developing the Council’s 2018 work plans, we will continue to explore opportunities to engage the Government of Thailand, and particularly the Department of Trade Negotiations, to identify areas of potential collaboration under this strategic partnership and position members as sources of best practices, solutions and problem solvers.

Industry Experts Promote Usage of Biotech Corn in Vietnam

A recent report published by PG Economics in collaboration with Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Development (MARD) discusses the potential socio-economic and environmental impacts from the adoption of corn hybrids with biotech in Vietnam, and outlines the key benefits of this technology. An alternative to existing conventional corn crop technology, the benefits of biotech corn are aplenty. It offers improved and more flexible weed control practices because the seed that is tolerant to the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate commonly used as both a pre-plant or post-emergent herbicide. Biotech corn technology contributed to preserving the earth’s natural resources while allowing farmers to grow more high-quality crops. According to the report, crop biotechnology has been responsible for the production of an additional 574 million tonnes of food, feed, and fibre. Key findings of the 59 page report titled "The potential benefits of adoption of GM corn in Vietnam" are:

  • Impact on yield and revenue: an average yield improvement of between +5% to +12%, in areas of consistent, high Asian Corn Borer (ACB) pest pressure, yield gains in excess of 15% are possible. In revenue terms, this equates to an average increase of between $54/ha - $131/ha.
  • Impact on net margin profitability: At the average yield improvement of +5%, net margin profitability would probably increase by $74/ha (+51%). If the average yield impact was over 12% (2015 demonstration farms in Vietnam and typical of impact in other countries), average net margins would increase by $141/ha (+98%).
  • For each extra $1 spent on biotech seed, farmers will potentially obtain a return of nearly $2.2 -$3.2. The returns to investment are even higher for farms that currently use hand weeding for their main form of weed control, with returns on investment in a range of about $4.5 - $5.5 for each extra $1 spent on biotech seed.
  • Potential impacts relative to the current corn market: Depending on the adoption level of 20-60% biotech corn, the farm income gain would be between $16.9 million - $100 million, event rising to $110.4 million if a proportion of farms that currently use mostly hand weeding changed to using biotech corn.
  • The additional production potential could also make an important contribution to meeting the growing demand for corn in the feed sector, improving the balance of payments. At the 20% adoption level, the additional production is approximately equal to an import saving of between $8.8 million and $26 million. At the 60% adoption level for the technology, the additional production is equal to an import saving potential of between $26.5 million and $78 million.
  • The use of biotech corn will allow farmers to stop using insecticides for control of the ACB, Corn Earworm (CEW) and Common Corn Worm (CCW) pests. At a 20% adoption level, the reduction in insecticide use is likely to be equal to one third of total usage (a saving of 82,500 kg-99,000 kg of active ingredient per year). At 60% adoption, it is probable that almost all insecticide use on corn would stop (a saving of 250,000 kg-300,000 kg of active ingredient per year).
  • If 20% of the corn crop used herbicide technology and seed technology, this would likely result in a 1.5% decrease in the total amount of herbicide active ingredient used and a 9.1% improvement in the associated environmental impact, as measured by the EIQ (Environmental Impact Quotient) indicator. At a 60% adoption level, the reduction in the amount of herbicide use would be about 4.6% and the associated environmental impact, as measured by the EIQ indicator would improve by nearly 27.2%.

For the full report published by PG Economics, click here.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

U.S. Wins WTO Dispute on Indonesia’s Agricultural Restrictions

In a report issued on November 9, the World Trade Organization (WTO) confirms that Indonesia’s import restrictions on horticultural and animal products initiated in 2012 are inconsistent with WTO rules. It upholds the original panel findings that all 18 Indonesian licensing measures challenged by the United States are unjustified as legitimate public policy measures under Article XI:1 and Article XX of the GATT 1994, and rejects Indonesia’s appeal on such grounds. This is a complete victory for the U.S. where the restrictions have cost farmers and ranchers millions of dollars per year in lost export opportunities in Indonesia. The WTO announcement will likely open doors for U.S. exporters and provide Indonesian consumers with access to high-quality U.S. agricultural products.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Mainstreaming BIMP-EAGA among LGUs: a problem waiting to be addressed

APEC
APEC member economies eye sustainable agriculture

ASEAN
Farmers urge ASEAN members to adopt UN Declaration on peasant rights

Brunei
Progresif Cellular gives full support to Agrome IQ’s educational platform
Indomie relaunched in Brunei

Cambodia
Women lead sugar fight as Cambodia sours on land deals
Cambodia's rice export to China up 59% in 10 months
Vietnam asked to invest in rubber
Rural Cambodians train to meet latest middle class trend: fine woodworking
High hopes for potatoes in Cambodia
National cassava policy in the works
Push to increase longan exports

Indonesia
Fighting climate change, doubling incomes: Rice variety developed with nuclear techniques expands in Indonesia
Indonesia to drop NZ import restrictions
Food security vital for political stability: Kalla
Indonesia up in arms over EU's negative campaign against palm oil
US ambassador criticizes Indonesia`s import restrictions on agricultural products
Indonesia seeks to bolster palm oil sector by increasing plantation productivity, strengthening role of smallholder farmers
Balancing higher energy costs with food prices may bear fruits: Bank Danamon
Jokowi inaugurates shrimp ponds to boost local economy
Coordination needed to settle food resilience issue: Finance minister
President Jokowi calls on youth to work in agriculture sector
GAPKI urges government to increase palm oil competitiveness

Malaysia
Need to erase stigma towards vocation in agriculture
Sabah Forestry ironing out issues to meet RSPO Compliance by 2025
MDF2017: Agricultural sector players must be ready to meet demand from China
Focus again on agriculture, former Sabah strongman tells Putrajaya
More than 2,000 paddy farmers in Kota Belud affected by flood, says deputy minister
Uggah: Digital application crucial for faster market penetration
Singapore frets as Malaysia courts Chinese market for durian

Myanmar
FDA refuses approval to sell baby food online
Japan agency commences two-step loans for farmers
World-class seafood breeding farm for Yangon
Myanmar to develop country’s fishery sector
FAO aims to make Myanmar farming climate-change proof
Rice Federation to invest $39.9 million for Rakhaine agro development
Defaults up on the back of rising loans disbursed to farmers
Yoma Strategic profits from equipment sales, KFC expansion in Myanmar
Dow showcases water purification products for the Myanmar market

Philippines
At Philippines research centre, Modi briefed on rice quality to combat food scarcity
PHL may import US dairy goats in 2019
Protect organic agriculture areas to guarantee healthy, affordable food
Agricultural supply and value chains
ASEAN businesses not a threat to Filipino farmers
PHL to thumb down new WTO agri deal sans SSM
DA to ensure cattle imports from Brazil will be free from foot-and-mouth disease | BusinessMirror

Singapore
Maliki Osman urges region to reduce unsustainable agricultural practices
3 land parcels for food-fish farming in Lim Chu Kang up for tender
Laws on sale of food amended, rule changes on infant formula milk labels to be announced by end of the year

Thailand
Prayut tipped to put competence ahead of friendship in Cabinet reshuffle
‘Find right markets’ before hiking organic rice output
Suntory and PepsiCo to Form Joint Venture in Thailand
Thailand's new investment chief eager to spur 'smart farming'
Rice group eyes record exports
Shakeup in Thai poultry industry as human health fears grow
PM’s Office regulation published, paving way for national forest policy committee
Exporters seek to regain market share
Rubber growers plan rally over price drop

Vietnam
Vietnam teams up with Netherlands, WB in food safety
Cooperation to enhance animal feed supply chain management
2nd Ornamental Fish Festival opens in HCM City
Vietnam enjoys strong growth in shrimp exports to RoK
Farm co-ops target int’l links
Vietnam officials and CGIAR agree joint research priorities for the rest of the decade
Vietnam's coffee belt braces for more rains as storm looms
Farm exporters warned on pesticides
Agriculture leads all exports
Cashew nut exports expected to exceed US$3 billion
Mekong Delta region faces storm risk
Vietnam nutrition market to be worth 6b by 2020
Wholesalers caught in Da Lat produce fraud
Lawmakers urge strong boost to fruit & vegie export, logistics sector
Dong Thap Muoi develops flood-adapted agriculture
Agro-forestry SOEs to be audited in 2019: Deputy PM
SCIC announces initial price of Vinamilk’s share auction
Saline fields leave Quảng Bình farmers worried
Vietnam exports sugar to 28 markets
Food poisoning fatalities surge in Vietnam in January-October period
​Vietnamese province ceases free Nestlé chocolate drink program following suspected mass poisoning
​Vietnam's Jan-Oct coffee exports down, rice up
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Mainstreaming BIMP-EAGA among LGUs: a problem waiting to be addressed Minda News 29th Oct 2017
Romeo Montenegro, Mindanao Development Authority Assistant Secretary told MindaNews LGUs play a critical role in realizing many of the targets under ASEAN integration. He cited the effort to generate wider public engagement across political, economic and socio-cultural pillars. The Brunei -Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) LGU Forum (LGF), he added, has been adopted as a regular venue for local governments of the focus areas to convene, exchange ideas and pursue possible collaboration to complement specific projects of different clusters. So far, the BIMP EAGA has five pillars: connectivity, food basket, tourism, environment and socio-cultural. But he admitted that the forum is convened only if there is a meeting of the ministers. When there is none, they don’t see each other.

APEC

APEC member economies eye sustainable agriculture VietnamNet 10th Nov 2017
At a dialogue with youth delegates as part of the APEC Voices of the Future forum, Noeleen Heyzer, former Under-Secretary-General of the UN and former Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said climate change can directly affect future generations in such issues as employment, startup opportunities and labour movement. APEC member economies need to immediately take action to cope with climate change and help younger generations in the region have a safer world, she noted. Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said Vietnam is one of the five countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts. In 2016, natural disasters nationwide caused economic losses equivalent to about 1 percent of total GDP.

ASEAN

Farmers urge ASEAN members to adopt UN Declaration on peasant rights Rappler 13th Nov 2017
Farmer groups from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand on Saturday, November 11, urged Southeast Asian governments to protect peasant rights. Led by international movement La Via Campesina, around 40 small and landless farmers from the 3 countries, joined by civil society groups, marched to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Saturday. The group urged Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-countries, whose leaders will meet in Manila for the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings, to protect and promote the right to land and access to justice of farmers and peasants in the region.

Brunei

Progresif Cellular gives full support to Agrome IQ’s educational platform Borneo Bulletin Online 11th Nov 2017
Brunei local agricultural business intelligence company, Agrome IQ, recently conducted their Sprout IQ Farm-to-School Train-The-Trainers workshop. The session was exclusive for teachers from the Jerudong International School (JIS), Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (YSHHB) Primary School, and School of Agro-Technology and Applied Sciences of IBTE Agrotechnology Campus for them to teach and guide students on the Sprout IQ farm-to-school educational platform, a press release stated. The programme for the three schools was sponsored by Progresif Cellular Sdn Bhd to be integrated under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategic initiative, that invests in entrepreneurship, education, arts and culture and environment.

Indomie relaunched in Brunei Borneo Bulletin Online 4th Nov 2017
Indomie has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1970’s. The noodles are made from carefully selected ingredients, the best quality flour and fresh spices from the natural resources of Indonesia giving it a unique and delicious taste. As a result of the success, Indomie has expanded to more than 15 different products, a press release stated. Indomie is available in over 80 countries around the world including Australia, America, The Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, China, Dubai, Nigeria, Malaysia and many more.

Cambodia

Women lead sugar fight as Cambodia sours on land deals Reuters 9th Nov 2017
For generations, Tep Them’s family has grown rice, reared cattle and collected resin from the forest to eke out a living and set aside a little extra. Not any more. Now, the women spend their days campaigning for the return of their land, while the men look for new ways to earn a living. Like the rest of the community in Prame in northern Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province, Them lost land that her ancestors had cultivated when the government decided in 2011 to develop it under its Economic Land Concession (ELC) policy. About 40,000 hectares (155 sq miles), home to 25 villages and nearly 25,000 people, were leased to Chinese sugar companies. Few villagers had titles to their land, with boundaries agreed by mutual consent. They lost everything.

Cambodia's rice export to China up 59% in 10 months China Daily 9th Nov 2017
Cambodia had exported 142,768 metric tons of milled rice to China in the first 10 months of 2017, a 59-percent rise over the same period last year, according to the latest report on Thursday. The report released by the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export showed that China is the top buyer of Cambodian rice, followed by France and Poland.

Vietnam asked to invest in rubber Khmer Times 7th Nov 2017
Cambodia is seeking Vietnamese investment to build factories that can process rubber and cassava, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. During a meeting last week with a Vietnamese rubber association, Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon reminded Vietnamese investors of the many opportunities that the Cambodian agricultural sector offers and asked them to come to the kingdom to establish rubber and cassava processing factories.

Rural Cambodians train to meet latest middle class trend: fine woodworking Southeast Asia Globe Magazine 6th Nov 2017
A vocational school in Cambodia is seeking to exploit gaps in the local market by training rural youth for a career in woodworking. Think about young men working with wood in Cambodia and you’d be excused for imagining a crew hidden away in a forest armed with chainsaws and chopping down top-grade timber. But in a country with abundant natural resources and expanding urban centres, Kénory You saw an opportunity to use wood for good. During trips to her home country in the 2000s, the French-Cambodian businesswoman saw a poor education system and a dearth of employment opportunities – along with almost no domestic supply of fine furniture or craftspeople capable of making it for the country’s many restaurants and hotels. In an effort to fill these gaps, and inspired by the Kingdom’s lack of vocational training, she decided to open a woodworking school.

High hopes for potatoes in Cambodia PotatoPro 31st Oct 2017
With the first large harvest of potatoes in Cambodia expected next year, months of research in the highlands of Mondulkiri province show the country’s soil and climate are well-suited for growing certain varieties. According to Song Kheang, the director of Mondulkiri’s Provincial Agriculture Department, research undertaken since April shows the crop has a future in Cambodia.

National cassava policy in the works Khmer Times 8th Nov 2017
Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture, said yesterday the government will promote contract farming to boost cassava production, sustain the price of the commodity and attract more investment into the sector. The minister’s remarks follow continued growth in the production and exports of Cambodian cassava. Speaking at a cassava investment forum held this week in Siem Reap, Mr Sakhon said cassava production played a central role in the government’s plans to diversify agricultural output.

Push to increase longan exports Khmer Times 8th Nov 2017
With plantations yielding nearly 20,000 tonnes of the fruit per year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has announced its intention to expand longan exports to new countries. According to officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, only the provinces of Pailin and Battambang, which share a border with Thailand, now export the fruit. To prepare for shipping the fruit overseas in greater numbers, the Ministry of Agriculture is now working on certain export requirements, according to Hean Vanhan, the director-general of the General Directorate of Agriculture.

Indonesia

Fighting climate change, doubling incomes: Rice variety developed with nuclear techniques expands in Indonesia IAEA 13th Nov 2017
Stocky, strong and quick to ripen – that is how Indonesian farmers like their rice, and that is exactly what nuclear science has delivered to them.  And higher income, to top it all. It is the second season that some 200 farmers in this region of East Java have used the variety Inpari Sidenuk (“nuclear dedication” in Indonesian), arming themselves against the effects of climate change while doubling their yields to 9 tons per hectare. Inpari Sidenuk is one of 22 rice varieties developed by scientists at the country’s National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) using irradiation, a process often used to generate new and useful traits in crops (see Breeding new varieties using nuclear techniques). The IAEA, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supports researchers in 70 countries, including Indonesia, in the use radiation for agricultural research. The development of new, improved varieties helps increase food supply and therefore food security around the world.

Indonesia to drop NZ import restrictions Radio New Zealand 10th Nov 2017
Indonesia has lost an appeal ruling at the World Trade Organisation in a dispute with New Zealand and the United States over its restrictions on imports of food and animal products including beef and poultry. The WTO has again told Indonesia to its drop the import barriers, estimated to have cost New Zealand's beef sector up to a billion dollars in lost trade. Indonesia had argued that its rules were based on health concerns and halal food standards, or aimed to deal with temporary surpluses on the domestic market. In December 2016, a panel of adjudicators faulted Indonesia, which appealed.

Food security vital for political stability: Kalla Jakarta Globe 3rd Nov 2017
Food security plays an important role in keeping any government in power, hence the current administration's focus on food production and prices, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said. The government has subsidized fertilizers and built dams and roads to boost food production and improve distribution. The government also established a team consisting of representatives of the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade, Bank Indonesia and the National Police, to keep inflation in check. "In many parts of the world, including Indonesia, every food-related problem can shake a government," Kalla said during the opening of the first EAT Asia-Pacific Food Forum in Jakarta on Monday (30/10).

Indonesia up in arms over EU's negative campaign against palm oil The Jakarta Post 3rd Nov 2017
Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita has called on palm oil stakeholders to join hands to fight the European Union’s negative campaign against palm oil-based products at a conference in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Friday. In response to the EU campaign, Indonesia would take strong action by disrupting import commodities from Europe, such as milk powder, he added. “If the EU disrupts palm oil production, we will disrupt milk powder imports,” he told reporters on the sidelines of 13th Indonesian Palm Oil Conference (IPOC). Enggar also threatened to stop palm oil exports to Europe for a month, if the EU keeps putting pressure on Indonesia.

US ambassador criticizes Indonesia`s import restrictions on agricultural products Antara News 2nd Nov 2017
US Ambassador to Indonesia Joseph R Donovan criticized Indonesias import restrictions on food and agricultural products. "It is a mistake to hinder this healthy trade with import restrictions, as Indonesia has been doing recently," Joseph R Donovan said during the US-Indonesia Investment Summit here on Thursday. The ambassador understood Indonesias desire to assist rural producers in boosting their incomes. However, this can best be accomplished through research and development to increase productivity and by improving the rural infrastructure to shorten supply chains.

Indonesia seeks to bolster palm oil sector by increasing plantation productivity, strengthening role of smallholder farmers Jakarta Globe 2nd Nov 2017
Nusa Dua, Bali. Indonesia, the largest palm oil producer in the world, will seek to increase plantation productivity and strengthen the role of smallholder farmers, Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Darmin Nasution said at a conference on Thursday (02/11). From Nov. 1-3, the Indonesian Palm Oil Association, known as Gapki, is holding its 13th "Indonesian Palm Oil Conference and 2018 Price Outlook," an annual event that gathers relevant stakeholders in the palm oil industry to exchange views, network and exhibit new products. A series of discussions on pressing challenges the industry faces will be held during the three-day conference and exhibition event. Government regulations, policies, black campaigns and price fluctuations are among the most prominent themes for discussion.

Balancing higher energy costs with food prices may bear fruits: Bank Danamon Jakarta Globe 2nd Nov 2017
Indonesia's annual inflation slowed for a fourth month in October, hitting its lowest rate since January, as food prices remain stable. Bank Danamon Indonesia on Thursday (02/11) released its short note "Indonesia Economic Briefing," written by economists Wisnu Wardana and Anton Hendranata, who observe that deflation in staple food prices continues to be deeper than last year. The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced a food inflation of 0.01 percent month-on-month for October. The last time volatile food prices inflated this low was in 2004, yet this year is was intentional. According to Wisnu and Anton, the government's efforts to lower food prices in compensating for higher energy costs may bear fruit.

Jokowi inaugurates shrimp ponds to boost local economy Antara News 1st Nov 2017
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has inaugurated construction of 17 hectares of shrimp ponds in Muaragembong Sub-district, Bekasi District of West Java, to boost local economy. "We will construct the ponds as an effort to boost the economic condition of the farmers, including the cultivators of tiger shrimp and vaname shrimp," the president said here on Wednesday. The small, medium enterprises program developed by the state enterprise, in cooperation with the Indonesian government, is aimed to improve the economic condition of the farmers. The program will utilize the technology system to increase shrimp harvest in ponds.

Coordination needed to settle food resilience issue: Finance minister Antara News 31st Oct 2017
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said coordination among ministries and between central and regional administrations was needed to settle the issue of food resilieance in Indonesia with regard to dealing with exploitation of natural resources. "We have a room to settle the problem but the challenges are not easy to deal with. Geographically Indonesia can provide natural resources that are needed not only by us but also by global community. Coordination is needed," she said at Asia Pacific Food Forum here on Monday. The coordination is needed not only among ministries concerned with providing food supplies such as the ministry of agriculture and the ministry of fisheries but also between central and regional administrations, she said.

President Jokowi calls on youth to work in agriculture sector Antara News 28th Oct 2017
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has called on the youth to work in the agriculture sector and to modernize it. "I want to invite our youth to work in the food and agricultural sectors by applying modern management (practices), as, so far, we have seen that we increasingly focus on agricultural cultivation in farms," the head of state said during an interactive discussion with Indonesian youngsters while commemorating Youths Pledge Day at the Bogor presidential palace, here, Saturday. The post-harvest period is also important in the agriculture sector in order to offer added value to the commodities, he added.

GAPKI urges government to increase palm oil competitiveness The Jakarta Post 2nd Nov 2017
The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI) has urged the government to help increase the competitiveness of palm oil products, as palm oil remains the country’s most important export commodity, the GAPKI chairman stated on Thursday at an industry conference.

Malaysia

Need to erase stigma towards vocation in agriculture BorneoPost Online 6th Nov 2017
The Agriculture and Agro-industry Ministry is determined to change the public’s mindset towards the field of agriculture, which is always seen as a ‘domain of the poor’ and incapable of generating wealth. Its minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the agrofood sector, for instance, should be given a new perception so that people would start viewing agriculture as a sector which could be an important economic source  to raise their standard of living. “Through dramas or films, we’ve always been fed with the image of farming or rice growing being carried out by poor villagers and which gives no lucrative returns.

Sabah Forestry ironing out issues to meet RSPO Compliance by 2025 Bernama 5th Nov 2017
The Sabah Forestry Department is working to identify and sort out land issues to help the state's palm oil industry meet its target of full compliance under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by 2025. Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Sam Mannan said by meeting the standards set under RSPO on environment and governance, Sabah would be able to compete effectively with other countries as a sustainable palm oil producer. RSPO is an international non-profit organisation that promotes sustainable palm oil products through global standards. "The whole state of Sabah (palm oil produced in the state) will become certified by 2025 and this can be achieved by pooling all players including smallholders to achieve economies of scale and efficiency," he said during a media briefing at the Sabah Forestry Department Office here recently.

MDF2017: Agricultural sector players must be ready to meet demand from China Bernama 4th Nov 2017
Agricultural industry players in Malaysia, especially for 'Musang King' durian, must start making thorough preparations to meet demand from the huge China market, as exports to the republic are projected to breach RM12 billion annually by 2020. Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the issue of getting approval for fresh durian to enter China was no longer a concern following positive response from the Chinese government and local residents, but the concern was on Malaysia's own capability to meet their market demand. "We are aware that demand for agricultural products from Malaysia, especially durian, has huge potential in China based on our calculation, if we can reach just 30 per cent of demand from China, we can achieve trade value of RM12 billion. We can realise this target by 2020.

Focus again on agriculture, former Sabah strongman tells Putrajaya Free Malaysia Today 1st Nov 2017
Malaysia’s economy is going down the drain because the federal government continues to implement policies that do not match the country’s capability and potential, said former Sabah chief minister Harris Salleh. Speaking exclusively to FMT, the veteran politician said Malaysia need not be too dependent on imported food if the government introduced large-scale agriculture. Currently, Malaysia is importing RM40 billion worth of food, mainly from Australia, to fulfil its domestic demands.

More than 2,000 paddy farmers in Kota Belud affected by flood, says deputy minister Malaymail Online 30th Oct 2017
More than 2,000 paddy farmers in Kota Belud were affected by floods which hit the district recently, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman. The ministry through the Kota Belud Integrated Agriculture Development Area (IADA) was in the midst of determining the losses incurred by the farmers and the area of paddyland affected by the flood. “The farmers’ losses and the land area affected by the flood is still being assessed and help will be given to them,,” he told reporters at an event to present assistance to Kota Belud flood victims here, yesterday. About 500 flood victims comprising of farmers received food donations including rice and sugar.

Uggah: Digital application crucial for faster market penetration BorneoPost Online 30th Oct 2017
The state government views conducting business using digital application as crucial to ensure that state-produced products can penetrate the market at a faster pace. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said in line with this, the Agriculture Department would roll out courses relating to digital economy and e-commerce. “With the approach towards digital economy, I believe that the state will be able to produce far-sighted entrepreneurs and of global standard.

Singapore frets as Malaysia courts Chinese market for durian South China Morning Post 28th Oct 2017
The time is ripe for Malaysian durian growers to enter the Chinese market – but that’s an unpalatable development for Thailand and Singapore It is the “king of fruits”, yet it rules over a deeply divided court. It is an aphrodisiac with an offensive odour, a pungent, ugly and thorn-covered delicacy that tastes so sweet to some, yet smells so foul to others. It teases discerning palates with a flavour that is at once savoury, sweet and creamy, yet torments olfactory organs with an scent likened to turpentine, rotting flesh and gym socks. True to its divisive reputation, the durian is now kicking up a stink between the agricultural sectors of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand – and China’s caught in the middle.

Myanmar

FDA refuses approval to sell baby food online Eleven Myanmar 6th Nov 2017
The Myanmar Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has not approved the sale of baby food online. Although some baby formula and food selling is now selling online, it does not have FDA approval. “Most the brands and types selling online are similar to products in the market,” said an FDA official. “However, we can’t check thoroughly where these products come from or how they entered the local market. “We are just checking supermarkets and wholesale and retail shops that are distributing officially.” Myanmar introduced the “Order of Marketing of Formulated Food for Infant and Young Child”, a code adopted from the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing Breast Milk Substitutes, into its National Food Law on July 24, 2014.

Japan agency commences two-step loans for farmers The Myanmar Times 6th Nov 2017
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw had approved the arrangement, under which JICA loans funds to MADB, which, in turn disburses the money to famers, in December 2016. The loans will now be disbursed in Mandalay for the first time.  Bago Region and Nay Pyi Taw have also received similar loans, said U Min Thu, managing director of the Myanmar Farmers Development Bank. By providing the loans, JICA is aiming to improve productivity in the agriculture and livestock sectors and bridge the inequality between the urban and rural areas. Through JICA, farmers will also gain access to funds that would otherwise be difficult to obtain under normal bank loans. 

World-class seafood breeding farm for Yangon Eleven Myanmar 6th Nov 2017
A world-class seafood breeding farm will be established in 2018, according Phyo Min Thein, Yangon Chief Minister said. The remark came at the opening ceremony of No. 1 Applied Fish and Prawn Breeding Course held at Thiri Annawa Hall of Myanmar Fisheries Federation in Yangon on November 5. Phyo Min Thein said: “We predict that there are about 3.5 million breeders in the fish and prawn sector. For that reason, this sector should be improved, and the breeding of fish and prawns is a valuable use of land. “There are about 80,000 acres of breeding farms for fish and prawns in Yangon Region. But out of them, only 40,000 acres are officially established.

Myanmar to develop country’s fishery sector Mizzima 3rd Nov 2017
Myanmar has plans to open a fishery university in 2018, aimed at developing the country's fishery sector, Xinhua reported quoting an official Global New Light of Myanmar report. Cooperating with related ministries, the university will be established as an academic institution of a high standard rather than a degree mill, according to Dr. Toe Nandar Tin, vice-chairman of the Myanmar Fisheries Federation.

FAO aims to make Myanmar farming climate-change proof The Myanmar Times 1st Nov 2017
Climate change resilience in agriculture and livestock sectors is one of the focus areas of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to support Myanmar’s effort to attain food security in the next five years, the agency’s country representative said. “We (FAO country programme) are focused on … food security, nutrition and food safety,” said Xiaojie Fan, FAO’s representative in Myanmar, at the celebration of the organisation’s 40th anniversary in Myanmar held in Yangon last Friday. She said FAO also wants to help Myanmar “strengthen the governance and sustainable management of land, forest and natural resources; and enhancement of more resilience of rural communities, also local farmers' resilience in climate change as well as transboundary animal diseases.”

Rice Federation to invest $39.9 million for Rakhaine agro development Myanmar Business Today 31st Oct 2017
According to the Com­mercial Tax Law, sellers who failed to pay taxes must pay fine equal to 10 percent of the value of each sold item, and buy­ers who inform the au­thorities of tax fraud will be awarded with the sell­ers fine. Myanmar Rice Fed­eration (MRF) will invest K500 billion ($39.9 million) for the development of agri­cultural and rice sector in Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Rathedaung town­ships in Rakhine State, by forming a company named Rakhine Agribusiness Public Co., Ltd, according to press conference held at its office on October 24th. MRF has adopted a three-year scheme to de­velop the agricultural economy in Rakhine State and has started im­plementing its schemes, U Ye Min Aung, secretary of Myanmar Rice Federa­tion, said.

Defaults up on the back of rising loans disbursed to farmers The Myanmar Times 31st Oct 2017
The number of defaults has risen since the Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank [MADB] started giving out loans to farmers, said U Maung Maung Win, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Finance. The MADB loans are funded by the Myanma Economic Bank. “We’ve observed that if the loan amount is increased, failure to pay it back also increases gradually,” he said in his address to the Pyithu Hluttaw on October 30. U Maung Maung Win was responding to a question raised by U Aye Win, Pyithu Hluttaw MP from Ingapu Township of Ayeyarwaddy Region regarding the terms of loans given to farmers.

Yoma Strategic profits from equipment sales, KFC expansion in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 30th Oct 2017
The company announced revenues amounting to S$59 million for the six months to September 30, 2017, representing an increase of 38.6 percent year-on-year (yoy). This was mainly driven by growth in demand for its New Holland tractors and other construction equipment, as well as higher contributions from a larger number of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fast food stores.  As a result, earnings for the period rose 8.9pc yoy to S$10.5 million. Yoma Strategic runs three main business divisions in Myanmar: real estate development, automotive and heavy equipment sales and food and beverage distribution. It also invests across a range of sectors such as telecommunications and tourism. The company has been listed in Singapore since 2006, where its shares are now trading at 59 Singapore cents each. It is controlled by Myanmar tycoon Serge Pun and run by Mr Pun’s son Melvyn. The Puns also control FMI, which listed on YSX just last year.

Dow showcases water purification products for the Myanmar market Mizzima 28th Oct 2017
One of the exhibitors at the Myanmar Water Show 2017 in Yangon this week is the Dow Chemical company. From lowering waste water generation for residential customers to achieving high water and purification efficiency in industrial use, world leader in sustainable water separation and purification technologies Dow Water & Process Solutions, a business unit of Dow DuPont Specialty Products, introduced its latest range of advanced water treatment technology products to the Myanmar market, according to a press release October 26.

Philippines

At Philippines research centre, Modi briefed on rice quality to combat food scarcity The Asian Age 13th Nov 2017
Scientists briefed the PM on flood-tolerant rice varieties which can provide 1-3 tonnes more yield per hectare. The government is also setting up a regional centre of the International Rice Research Insitute in Varanasi, to develop high-yielding rice varieties. (Photo: PTI | Representational) Los Banos (Philippines): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday visited the Global Rice Research Centre in the Philippines and got a briefing from the scientists at the world famous institute which is working towards developing better quality of rice seeds to address issues relating to food scarcity.

PHL may import US dairy goats in 2019 BusinessMirror 7th Nov 2017
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to import some 8,000 dairy goats from the United States in 2019 in line with its goal of increasing Philippine milk production. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the DA will tap the remaining P1.5 billion in the US food-aid program under Washington’s Public Law (PL) 480 for the importation of dairy goats. “We will roll out a four-year dairy goat program starting 2019, and it will involve the importation of about 8,000 dairy goats with superior genes,” Piñol told reporters in an interview on Monday.

Protect organic agriculture areas to guarantee healthy, affordable food Minda News 7th Nov 2017
Environmental groups call on the City Government to fast track the declaration of Barangay Sibulan in Toril District as an organic agriculture zone, making it a protected area from contamination of chemical-based farm inputs and to guarantee continuous production and supply of affordable organic food for the city’s residents. “We need to secure and expand our existing organic agricultural areas, given our growing population and increasing demand for safe food. These OA zones will encourage more farmers to adopt organic farming practices. The more organic farmers we have, the better assurance we have that pesticide- and GMO-free food will be affordable and accessible to all Dabawenyos,” said Nena Morales, Chair of the Davao Participatory Guarantee System Committee and GODC member. This month’s Organic Agriculture celebration theme, “pagsisguro na organiko ang konsumo ng bawat Dabawenyo tungo sa tunay na pagbabago,” is focused on ensuring organic food as the staple food for all Dabawenyos.

Agricultural supply and value chains BusinessMirror 6th Nov 2017
Despite high levels of economic growth, the Philippines’s agriculture sector has shown consistently low growth and productivity rates. The lack of modernization, productivity and profitability of the agriculture sector is the result of an accumulation of factors across the supply and value chain: Farmers, in the vast majority smallholders with an average age of 57 and five years of education, are often unable to turn agriculture into a profitable business, as they lack the capacity or the funds to apply innovative methods and technologies to their farming methods. Indeed, the small size of the farms, the lack of mechanization, use of high-productivity agricultural methods, such as intercropping, planting of new plant varieties and proper application of agricultural inputs, are some of the major barriers to increasing farmers’ productivity. As mentioned in my last week’s column, cooperatives have to be created to establish farming communities that will be able to address the issues I mentioned above.

ASEAN businesses not a threat to Filipino farmers Rappler 3rd Nov 2017
Helping farmers should form part of companies' corporate strategy and not just fall under their corporate social responsibility, say experts at the 2nd Global Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship Conference MANILA, Philippines – The economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is rather a significant opportunity for Philippines small-hold farmers, not a threat. (READ: 'Inclusive growth must start with agriculture') However, to ensure the resilience of farmers amid globalization, helping farmers should form part of companies' corporate strategy and not just fall under their corporate social responsibility.

PHL to thumb down new WTO agri deal sans SSM BusinessMirror 30th Oct 2017
THE Philippines may reject any new agreement on agriculture at the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) if it would not include the special safeguard mechanism (SSM) that would allow developing countries to protect their farm sectors from import surges.

DA to ensure cattle imports from Brazil will be free from foot-and-mouth disease | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 6th Nov 2017
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will see to it that live cattle to be imported from Brazil would be free from the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which usually affects cattle, pigs and sheep. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he would personally lead a technical team that would inspect the Girolando heifers that the Philippines would purchase from Brazil next year. Piñol added that the heifers would only be sourced from the state of Santa Catarina, the lone area in Brazil that currently enjoys the FMD-free without vaccination status.

Singapore

Maliki Osman urges region to reduce unsustainable agricultural practices Channel NewsAsia 13th Nov 2017
Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman has called on countries in the region to do more to reduce unsustainable agricultural practices. Speaking at the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting (AMM), Dr Maliki said the nations “must continue to encourage progress in the region to reduce unsustainable practices which are detrimental to both the environment and producers”. He also urged leaders to be “sensitised” to the impact of regional conflicts on food production and trade, and to “consider ways to alleviate these”.

3 land parcels for food-fish farming in Lim Chu Kang up for tender SGSME 31st Oct 2017
Three land parcels for food-fish farming in Lim Chu Kang were put on sale by public tender on Tuesday (Oct 31) by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). Food-fish farming is the farming of fish for human consumption. The tender means that farmers will not have to worry about engaging in a price war to secure land. Instead, their proposals will be judged on factors such as production capability, track record, relevant experience and qualifications, and whether they can harness innovation to improve and sustain production, and keep their businesses viable.

Laws on sale of food amended, rule changes on infant formula milk labels to be announced by end of the year TODAYonline 7th Nov 2017
Stricter rules on labelling and advertising of food, including formula milk for babies, were passed in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 7) together with provisions allowing the authorities to act more quickly on food recalls. Amendments to the Sale of Food Act (Sofa) will mean tighter regulations on health and nutrition claims, to enable consumers to make more informed choices. Regulatory changes on health claims and images on infant formula milk labels will be announced by the end of the year, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Koh Poh Koon.

Thailand

Prayut tipped to put competence ahead of friendship in Cabinet reshuffle The Nation 9th Nov 2017
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to be more decisive in selecting qualified, competent members for his fifth Cabinet, in what could be his final year in office. One of the clearest indications of his new stringent approach is that Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda, the national police chief, has already tendered his resignation from Thai Airways International’s board of directors and is expected to take up a portfolio in the new Cabinet. Prayut will focus on the qualifications and competence of his new Cabinet members, especially those named to run crucial ministries.  Agriculture Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya will likely be replaced by a person more qualified for the job even though Chatchai is one of the premier’s close confidants. Chatchai, one of Prayut’s classmates at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, could be moved to a less-important portfolio, such as to replace General Sirichai Distakul as the Labour Ministry, as the next Cabinet will need to improve the performance of the Agriculture Ministry which handles the well-being of millions of farmers.

‘Find right markets’ before hiking organic rice output The Nation 5th Nov 2017
The government has to find the right market for organic rice before it encourages farmers to increase the area producing the crop from 300,000 rai (48,000 hectares) this year to 1 million rai in 2019, Thai Rice Exporters Association president Pol Lieute-nant Charoen Leothamatas said.He added that when farmers grow organic rice for export, they need a certificate to prove it matches global standards, and that was both difficult and expensive to achieve. If the government wants to promote the country as an organic rice producer, it has to help farmers to apply for global organic rice certification, help develop rice seed and find a market with the right demand for the product, Charoen said recently.

Suntory and PepsiCo to Form Joint Venture in Thailand The Financial 3rd Nov 2017
Suntory Beverage & Food Asia Pte Ltd (Suntory), the Asia Pacific headquarters of Tokyo Stock Exchange listed Suntory Beverage & Food Limited, a global soft drink company, and PepsiCo, Inc., one of the world's largest food and beverage companies, on November 2 announced an agreement to form a beverage joint venture in Thailand. The new joint venture is designed to build on PepsiCo's strong existing position in Thailand and to create new growth opportunities for both companies in the market. PepsiCo is one of the leading players in Thailand's growing liquid refreshment beverage market, and the alliance is intended to combine the strengths of both companies in ways that are mutually beneficial to their businesses, customers and consumers. The joint venture also positions PepsiCo to continue to transform and expand its beverage portfolio to meet consumer demand for healthier options, and incorporate Suntory’s complementary brands and broad offerings, according to PepsiCo.

Thailand's new investment chief eager to spur 'smart farming' Nikkei Asian Review 1st Nov 2017
The Thai government is expanding tax and other incentives designed to strengthen the country's industries. A top priority is accelerating the modernization of agriculture, which accounts for nearly 40% of the workforce but only 12% of gross domestic product.  Duangjai Asawachintachit, the new secretary-general of the Board of Investment, outlined her plans for luring high-tech industries and developing talent at a recent news conference. When it comes to farming, she said, "We promote activities that help to contribute turning traditional farming into smart farming." Duangjai, who served for seven years as a deputy chief of the board, was promoted to the top job on Oct. 1. On her watch, the board is to create a new investment category called "smart farming services" and will promote it by offering tax breaks and other perks. The program is likely to cover everything from advanced irrigation systems to fertilizers and crop distribution.

Rice group eyes record exports The Nation 1st Nov 2017
The Thai Rice Association is confident that exports of the staple will this year come in at 11 million tonnes, which would mark a record high for overseas shipments.The optimism is based on strong demand in the market and the government’s barn rice-pledging programme that has helped to maintain prices, the association’s president, Pol Lt Charoen Laothamatas, said yesterday. “We are confident that rice exports this year will show growth both in terms of volume and value, as the demand for Thai rice has been strong,” Charoen said after taking rice importers from Hong Kong on a tour of a Hom Mali rice field in Ubon Ratchathani province yesterday.

Shakeup in Thai poultry industry as human health fears grow Nikkei Asian Review 7th Nov 2017
The fresh meat counter at a supermarket in Ari, a wealthy Bangkok neighborhood, has a new crop of signs to reassure customers eyeing trays laden with pink chicken parts. "Our chicken is health conscious," the pink and white signs tell shoppers, backed up by blue and white stickers asserting that the products, supplied by Betagro, Thailand's second largest poultry supplier, have been "raised without antibiotics." The supermarket messages reflect growing concerns about the consequences for human health of the widespread use of antimicrobial drugs as aids to production in the food industry. Betagro's decision to stop the routine use of antibiotics is intended to protect sales of the 140 million birds it produces annually.

PM’s Office regulation published, paving way for national forest policy committee The Nation 7th Nov 2017
The new PM’s Office regulation in regard to the national forest policy committee came into effect on Tuesday after being published in the Royal Gazette yesterday, paving the way for the establishment of the committee to address and put in place forestry policies as well as strategies that would be in line with the national strategy and reform plans concerning the sector. The committee, as addressed in the regulation, would be chaired by a prime minister, joined by related ministers including the ministerial head of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, forestry chiefs, as well as appointed forestry experts.

Exporters seek to regain market share Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2017
Thailand plans to snatch back its market share for premium-grade white rice by exporting more to its traditional markets, including Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian countries. Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said Thailand's market share for the segment has hovered around 40% the past few years. It used to control 90% in the past, leading the association to work closely with the Commerce Ministry on more proactive marketing to regain market share.

Rubber growers plan rally over price drop Bangkok Post 1st Nov 2017
Rubber growers from the South plan to gather in the capital to pressure the military regime into propping up falling prices in all central rubber markets in the South, according to an informed source. They are mulling a protest at the Agriculture Ministry, the source added. At a recent meeting, rubber growers agreed the rubber price problem had reached a point where they have to do something.

Vietnam

Vietnam teams up with Netherlands, WB in food safety Vietnamplus 11th Nov 2017
Vietnam seeks to enhance food safety management with support of the Netherlands and the World Bank (WB), announced the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on November 10. At a ceremony to announce the memorandum of understanding on sustainable agricultural and food sector development, Vietnam expressed hope to increase cooperation with the Netherlands and the WB in evaluating risks of food safety. Projects and activities will be launched under the cooperation to improve Vietnam’s food supply chain toward international standards of food safety.

Cooperation to enhance animal feed supply chain management Vietnamnews 10th Nov 2017
A memorandum of understanding was signed on Thursday between Business Association of High Quality Vietnamese Products and Netherlands-based GMP+ International and Business Support and Application Services Limited Company (BSAS). The agreement is aimed at enhancing the capacity of managing the animal feed supply chain for Vietnamese firms. This was among several efforts to help Vietnamese food companies produce safe meat products by using safe animal feed, association chairwoman Vũ Kim Hạnh said.

2nd Ornamental Fish Festival opens in HCM City Vietnamnews 9th Nov 2017
The second Ornamental Fish Festival opened at Lê Văn Tám Park in HCM City’s District 1 on November 9, with 120 ponds of fish and 50 booths displaying materials and equipment used for breeding. The festival offers ornamental fish enthusiasts a chance to learn more about different species of fish, promotes their breeding and is a forum for aficionados to exchange experiences. There will also be a conference on developing the market for ornamental fish.

Vietnam enjoys strong growth in shrimp exports to RoK VOV 8th Nov 2017
Vietnam has so far this year exported US$243.2 million worth of shrimp to the Republic of Korea (RoK), a surge of 29.8% year on year, reported the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers. The RoK is currently the fifth largest market of Vietnamese shrimp after the EU, Japan, China and the US. In 2007-2016, Vietnam’s shrimp exports to the RoK enjoyed strong growth, with the country a stable market where shrimp are sold at a high price. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development views the RoK as a promising market with opportunities for domestic shrimp exporters amidst difficulties in traditional markets such as the US and the EU.

Farm co-ops target int’l links Vietnamnews 7th Nov 2017
Việt Nam wants to enhance co-operation with international organisations to promote the development of agricultural co-operatives, especially in supporting market access and management capacity, participants said at a seminar in HCM City on Monday. Đặng Văn Thanh, vice director of Co-operative Development Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, said Việt Nam’s legal framework for co-operative development had contributed to increasing the number of co-operatives and their improvement in scale, technology and markets.

Vietnam officials and CGIAR agree joint research priorities for the rest of the decade Far Eastern Agriculture 3rd Nov 2017
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam, representatives of the 10 CGIAR centres operating in the country and key national and international partners met on 18 October 2017 in the second coordination meeting between MARD and CGIAR in Hanoi. MARD’s vice minister Le Quoc Doanh opened the event and said that despite the agricultural sector providing the country with US$32bn worth of exports earning in 2016, it faced the challenge of coping with a changing climate and global market competition which requires sector restructuring to add more value to producers and ensure its sustainability. He lauded the contribution of the CGIAR centres role in the development of agriculture sector in Vietnam, and said CGIAR could contribute to addressing the current challenges in the sector.

Vietnam's coffee belt braces for more rains as storm looms Tuoi Tre News 3rd Nov 2017
Rains are expected to continue for the next few days in Vietnam, affecting the harvest in the world's top producer of robusta coffee, while Indonesia remained quiet, traders said on Thursday. A storm heading to the central and southern Vietnam is likely to cause rains in several parts of the Central Highlands, Vietnam's main coffee belt, during the weekend, preventing farmers from harvesting and drying coffee beans. "It's been rainy for three to four days but turns sunny this morning; farmers are not harvesting ... beans are not ripe yet," said Le Duc Huy, vice general director of Simexco, a top exporter in Daklak, Vietnam's largest coffee growing province.

Farm exporters warned on pesticides VOV 3rd Nov 2017
Vietnamese exporters of farm produce must learn more about food-safety requirements and maximum residue limits (MRL) of importing countries, experts said at a workshop held in HCM City on November 2. Farm produce exports have greatly contributed to total export revenue, with exports reaching an average growth rate of 2.4% per year in the past five years, according to Chu Van Chuong, deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of International Co-operation. In the first 10 months of the year, the country earned US$15.62 billion from exports of farm produce, a year-on-year increase of 15.2%.

Agriculture leads all exports Vietnamnews 3rd Nov 2017
Việt Nam’s agricultural production not only met domestic demand, but was exported to 180 countries, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cườngng told the National Assembly in Hà Nội yesterday. Cường said that in 2016, agricultural exports amounted to US$30 billion, and were expected to reach $35 billion this year. He said while climate change brought many challenges for agricultural production, they could be tackled by reforms in the sector, citing the fact that the Mekong Delta region had shifted from growing rice, fish and fruit to producing more fish and fruit.

Cashew nut exports expected to exceed US$3 billion Customs News 2nd Nov 2017
Vietnam's cashew nut exports are forecast to surpass the 3 billion USD benchmark for the first time in 2017 thanks to increasing shipments in the first ten months of the year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, cashew nuts raked in US$2.87 billion from 289,000 tonnes, down 0.4% in volume but up 23.1% in value. With this growth, the country’s export revenue of cashew nuts is likely to hit some US$3.4-US$3.5 billion in 2017. The result is spurred by a surge in both prices and demands. Vietnam experienced a poor cashew crop during 2016-2017 with productivity of 250,000 tonnes, thus cashew nuts has been sold at higher prices, average US$9,909 per tonnes in nine-month period ending in September, an increase of 25.1% year on year.

Mekong Delta region faces storm risk VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
The Mekong Delta region is facing two tropical low pressures with one at high risk of turning into a storm, according to the Central Steering Committee for Flood and Storm Control. The Mekong Delta region is facing two tropical low pressures with one of at high risk of turning into a storm The committee on November 1 held an urgent meeting in response to two tropical low pressures which are forecasted to hit the Mekong Delta region. One of them has become stronger on the East Sea and is likely to become a storm.  

Vietnam nutrition market to be worth 6b by 2020 VietnamNet 1st Nov 2017
Following double-digit growth in the past five years the in-home fast-moving consumer goods nutrition market in Viet Nam reached $4.1 billion last year and is forecast to reach US$6 billion in 2020, offering great prospects for the sector, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The in-home fast-moving consumer goods nutrition market in Viet Nam is forecast to reach US$6 billion in 2020. The in-home FMCG nutrition market includes dairy and products from dairy, soya milk, tonic food drinks, noodles and soups, biscuits and cakes, canned foods, processed foods, and frozen foods.

Wholesalers caught in Da Lat produce fraud Tuoi Tre News 1st Nov 2017
A large volume of dried vegetables and fruits of unknown origin have been discovered being disguised as specialties in Da Lat, a popular tourist city in Lan Dong Province, located in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Officers from the provincial Department of Police carried out a sudden inspection at a facility on Ho Tung Mau Street in the city at around 9:00 am on Tuesday. At the venue owned by 50-year-old Tu Bo Linh, several dried food products were being packaged and labeled as “Da Lat specialties.”

Lawmakers urge strong boost to fruit & vegie export, logistics sector VOV 1st Nov 2017
Some lawmakers have underscored major benefits to be gained from fruit, vegetables and flower export and logistics services, asking for more attention to boost the development of these sectors. They continued to discuss the country’s socio-economic and State budget situation on November 1, part of the ongoing fourth session of the 14th National Assembly in Hanoi. Deputy Nguyen Thien Nhan of Ho Chi Minh City said in 2016, Vietnam exported US$2.4 billion worth of crude oil and US$2.45 billion worth of fruit, vegetables and flower. This was the first time fruit, vegetables and flower exports had surpassed crude oil shipments. Meanwhile, crude oil exports were 31 times higher than fruit and vegetables exports in 2005, US$7.3 billion compared to US$235 million.

Dong Thap Muoi develops flood-adapted agriculture VOV 1st Nov 2017
Dong Thap Muoi wetland stretching across the Mekong Delta provinces of Dong Thap, Long An and Tien Giang, formerly a solid revolutionary base during the war against French and US invaders, has sustainably developed agriculture in adaptation with flooding. The wetland covers a site of over 697,000ha, accounting for 17.7% of the region’s total coverage. Nguyen Van Man, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Tan Phuoc district – the only lying in Dong Thap Muoi in Tien Giang province, said since the Dong Thap Muoi reclamation scheme began in the late 1980s, the State has unearthed and dredged nearly 680km of major canals and over 1,100km of interior field canals to drain flood water and improve soil.

Agro-forestry SOEs to be audited in 2019: Deputy PM Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
A thorough audit of all State-owned agricultural businesses will be carried out in 2019 following next year’s concentrated restructuring efforts, so as to identify underperforming firms and other issues facing the sector. The findings will be reported to the National Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ said at a conference last weekend. The conference aimed to review the progress of restructuring, renewing, and improving the operational effectiveness of State-owned agribusinesses in the 2015-2017 period.

SCIC announces initial price of Vinamilk’s share auction Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
The State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) has announced the initial selling price of the competitive tender for Vinamilk’s shares, scheduled on November 10 on the HCM Stock Exchange. The starting price is set at VNĐ150,000 (US$6.61) per share, higher than the initial price of VNĐ144,000 a piece in the first sale that took place in December last year.

Saline fields leave Quảng Bình farmers worried Vietnamnews 1st Nov 2017
Farmers in central Quảng Bình Province are facing a dilemma as their paddy fields have been affected by salty water following the typhoon Doksuri last September. The salinity has impacted 110ha of land in the province’s Bắc Trạch Commune in Bố Trạch District, leaving local farmers hesitant about sowing rice for winter-spring crops because of the fear of loss of crops. However, no start for the crops means poverty in the next year. Nguyễn Thị Xoan, head of a village in the commune, said salty water has inundated local fields for a month now, but the villagers have failed to get it to flow out.

Vietnam exports sugar to 28 markets VOV 31st Oct 2017
Vietnam exported 43,000 tons of sugar to 28 markets, earning more than US$20.6 million to the end of September, said Pham Quoc Doanh, President of Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association. Major consumers of Vietnamese sugar products included China, Russia, the US, the Republic of Korea, the UK, Australia, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. The largest domestic exporter is Bien Hoa Sugar JSC which shipped nearly 23,000 tons of sugar to Myanmar, China, Singapore, and India with an export value of more than US$12 million.

Food poisoning fatalities surge in Vietnam in January-October period Xinhua 30th Oct 2017
Vietnam faced 93 food poisoning cases from January to October, which killed 20 people and sickened 2,854 others, the Preventive Health Department said Monday. In October, the country witnessed nine food poisoning cases which affected 392 local people, including three fatalities. Vietnam saw 111 food poisoning cases which sickened 3,283 people and claimed nine lives in the first 10 months of last year.

​Vietnamese province ceases free Nestlé chocolate drink program following suspected mass poisoning Tuoi Tre News 29th Oct 2017
A program, sponsored by Nestlé, providing free malted chocolate drinks for elementary students in Hau Giang Province, located in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, has been halted following a recent suspected mass food poisoning. Leaders of the provincial People’s Committee have put the brakes on the program, which offered Nestlé’s Milo gratis to students at elementary schools across the province. Milo is a chocolate and malt powder that is often mixed with hot or cold water or milk to produce a beverage. The decision to cease the program was made after nearly 500 students of two elementary schools in Nga Bay Town had been admitted to a local hospital after having the drink on Friday morning.

​Vietnam's Jan-Oct coffee exports down, rice up Tuoi Tre News 29th Oct 2017
Vietnam's coffee exports are expected to have fallen an estimated 22 percent in the first 10 months of this year from a year earlier, while rice shipments are set to have risen 21.6 percent, the General Statistics Office said in a report on Sunday.