Food & Agriculture Update: Singapore’s Public Consultation on Regulatory Framework for Novel Foods

Food & Agriculture Update | March 8, 2017
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Meghana Srikrishna
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

Upcoming 2018 Program Dates:

  • Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia (Jakarta) - Potentially April 25-26, 2018

  • Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Thailand (Bangkok) - August 2018
  • Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam (Hanoi) - July 11-12, 2018
  • Mission to the 40th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (Vietnam) - October 2018 (TBC)

March 20 & 22, 2018: MIDA & POIC Briefing Session

The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) office and POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd will conduct a Briefing Session on POIC Lahad Datu on March 20 and 22 in Singapore. Participants will be updated on the newly integrated industrial complex & logistics hub catered for light, medium and heavy industries for palm oil, biomass, fertilizers, biomass, renewable energy, oil & gas and port & logistics economic sectors. Organizers have divided the briefing, which will take place in their offices, into morning and afternoon sessions based on industries. Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) with any questions or to express interest.

March 27-29, 2018 Business Mission to Vietnam

The US-ASEAN Business Council is now registering senior-level executives for its annual Business Mission to Vietnam. The deadline for receipt of registration and mission materials is Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org with any questions or to express interest.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Singapore’s First Public Consultation on Proposed Regulatory Framework for Novel Food and Novel Food Ingredients

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is seeking feedback from the food industry and interested experts in academia, on the proposed definition and scope of novel foods. This consultation is the first in a series of public consultations that will be held in relation to the regulatory framework for novel foods and novel food ingredients in Singapore. Subsequent consultations will cover specific safety assessment criteria and processes involved for applications for novel food. Industry members have provided feedback that there is a lack of regulatory clarity in the current regulatory approach, which could impede innovation and trade in the food sector. In addition, the current situation does not facilitate the wider adoption of the novel foods and food ingredients by the food industry, as outcomes of safety assessments may be known to only a specific company. This results in potential delays faced by industry in bringing possible benefits to consumers. The proposed regulatory framework covers the definition and scope of novel foods, safety assessment criteria of novel foods and processes involved for applications for the use of novel food. This approach is consistent with current practice in Australia and New Zealand, Canada, and the European Union, where new foods or new ingredients used in food are regulated as novel foods, and require safety assessment and approval by the respective food safety authorities before they can be marketed. More information can be reviewed here.

The Council is soliciting interest from member companies on this proposed framework for a potential joint submission during the public consultation period. If you are interested in joining a joint submission on this topic, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org).
 

Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority Issues Public Consultation on New Food Additives and Extension of Use of Existing Additives to Wider Range of Food Products

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore has issued a public consultation (here) inviting interested members of the food industry (local food manufacturers and importers) to submit applications for:

  • the use of new food additives currently not permitted for use in Singapore; and/or
  • the extension of the use of existing food additives to a wider range of food products.

The Food Regulations specifies the types of food additives that may be added to food imported/manufactured and sold in Singapore, and the categories of food to which they may be added to.

In order to facilitate trade, the industry is invited to submit applications for the use of new food additives and/or extension of the use of currently permitted food additives for AVA’s safety assessment. Based on the level of interest from the industry, AVA will coordinate and prioritize applications for safety assessment and incorporation into the Food Regulations. The full public consultation can be found here.

The Council is soliciting interest from member companies on this issue for a potential joint submission during the public consultation period. If you are interested in joining a joint submission on this topic, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org).
 

Foreign Firms Dominate Vietnam’s Feed Industry

The animal feed industry of Vietnam, which leads ASEAN and is 10th in the world in terms of feed production, has experienced consistent double-digit growth over the past 20 years. Despite various regulatory and administrative hurdles, this rapid growth in the feed industry has presented tremendous business and commercial opportunities for both domestic and foreign firms alike. However, foreign animal feed companies are generally equipped with stronger financial capacity, production lines, and distribution strategies and have had more success than local producers in expanding their businesses. For example, in the last year, foreign producers from Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand have all made decisions to open additional production plants throughout the country. In turn, this rapid foreign expansion further leaves local producers behind, struggling to compete and hold market share despite their attempts to cut costs and lower prices. This is evident in the 65 percent market share that foreign firms hold despite being outnumbered by the actual number of local animal feed producers, according to the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Animal Husbandry Department. The Council has been following the development of Vietnam’s animal feed industry as well as the government regulations that follow. As the industry continues to grow, we will track how domestic producers adapt to its new reality and how the Government of Vietnam will choose to support trade and innovation.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Cambodia
Price of Cambodian rice abroad increasing
Plantations of subsidiary crops continue to increase
Agricultural communities to rise
Cambodian Rice Organization Facing Own Problems

Indonesia
Bulog to disburse 400,000 tons of subsidized rice in March
President, economists discuss food problems
Ministry to draft regulation on sustainable palm oil
Govt. Further Amends Import Regime for Forestry Products
Farmers use organic farming to reduce dependence on imported pesticides, fertilizers
Organic farmers use natural seedling 'pots for higher yields
Indonesian mangoes, dragon fruit to enter Australian market
Imported rice starts arriving at various ports
Indonesia re-appointed to lead IFAD session

Malaysia
Agriculture Department goes digital
Agriculture sector makes soaring comeback in 2017
‘Durian coffee’ victims test positive for syabu

Myanmar
Agricultural apps ploughing the way for farmers in Myanmar
Saudi Arabia suspends fish imports from Myanmar
Myanmar rice export hits record high in 60 years

Philippines
Congress targeting to approve rice tariff bill before Lenten break
PH eyes satellite rice production abroad
DENR designates 3 river systems as WQMAs

Singapore
17 F&B businesses in Singapore commit to sourcing for sustainable palm oil
Consultation On Inclusion Of New Food Additive Provisions Under The Food Regulations 

Thailand
Ministry of Agriculture stepping up efforts to improve rubber price
Thai farmers sceptical of PM Prayut's new development scheme
Agricultural machine makers eye 10% growth
Rice forecast remains robust
Palm oil stocks dip on cooperation

Vietnam
Agriculture ministry seeks to surpass targets
Interest in VN food, beverage sector
Organic rice production models to affirm Vietnam’s export status
Agro-forestry-fishery exports exceed US$6 bln in first two months
Việt Nam works to stop illegal fishing
Foreign firms dominate Vietnam's fast-growing animal feed industry
Startups seek to change game in smart agritech
Government to allow food importers to self declare
Thaco opens plant to manufacture agricultural machinery
Foreign firms dominate VN’s fast-growing animal feed industry
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Cambodia

Price of Cambodian rice abroad increasing Khmer Times 27th Feb 2018
The price of Cambodian rice abroad has been on the rise since the beginning of February due to higher demand in China and the European Union, a representative of a local rice export company told Khmer Times. Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, said Cambodian milled rice now sells for $480 per ton, compared to $450 three weeks ago. The price of fragrant rice (known as sen kro oup) is also rising, and has now reached $775 per ton from $735 earlier this month.

Plantations of subsidiary crops continue to increase Khmer Times 27th Feb 2018
Land used in Cambodia to plant subsidiary crops increased by 9,000 hectares last year, reaching a total of 35,415 hectares, according to a recent report from the Ministry of Agriculture, with officials hailing the hike as an important step in reducing vegetable imports. Currently, Cambodian imports about half of all the vegetable it consumes. A key point in the government’s strategy for the sector is to reduce those imports and boost local production. The term subsidiary crops generally refers to non-major crops. In Cambodia, they include certain vegetables and fruits. The expansion of the total land area used for subsidiary crops is a sign that the government’s strategy to reduce imports and boost local production is working, said Ho Puthea, director of the horticulture and subsidiary crops department.

Agricultural communities to rise Khmer Times 20th Feb 2018
In an effort to increase agricultural production and raise living standards for farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture is prioritising the creation of agricultural communities throughout the nation. In 2017, there were 880 agricultural communities across the country, of which, Takeo province had 100, Battambang 77, and Kampong Thom 55. Up to 89,474 farmers are involved in agricultural communities in the kingdom, according to ministry figures. Agricultural communities boost cooperation among farmers and make it easier to find buyers for their products, said Hean Vanhan, director-general of the ministry’s general directorate of agriculture.

Cambodian Rice Organization Facing Own Problems VOA 25th Feb 2018
In a report last month, the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) warned the country's market for exports could be destroyed by secret or unlawful sales of rice. The report gave a long list of problems within the organization and the rice industry as a whole. It showed the deep problems and weaknesses in an industry that occupies a central place in Cambodia's society and economy. The CRF was founded in 2014 as part of an effort to strengthen and expand the country’s rice industry. Cambodia was exporting much less rice than its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, reports showed. Last year, Cambodia exported about 700,000 tons of rice, a 17.3 percent increase over 2016 rice levels. Yet it exports less than Vietnam, which exported 6 million tons, and Thailand, which sold more than 11 million tons to overseas buyers over the same period.

Indonesia

Bulog to disburse 400,000 tons of subsidized rice in March The Jakarta Post 2nd Mar 2018
The National Logistics Agency (Bulog) will distribute 400,000 tons of subsidized rice in an attempt to stabilize the price in March. Of the 400,000 tons, 250,000 tons was taken from the March allocation, while the remaining allocations were in January and February, said Bulog president director Djarot Kusumayakti after meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Friday. Meanwhile, a further 150,000 tons of rice from the April allocation would be pushed forward to March he said, adding: "The President has allowed us to distribute April’s allocation in March.” According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) released on Thursday, the price of all qualities of rice had increased in February compared to January. The price of premium rice increased by 0.31 percent, while the prices of medium and low quality rice increased by 0.37 percent and 1.99 percent respectively.

President, economists discuss food problems Antara News 28th Feb 2018
President Joko Widodo has invited 11 economists to the State Palace to discuss food problems in the country. "President Joko Widodo and 11 economists in the field of agriculture and fisheries discuss food problems and poverty," an economist from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) Bayu Krisnamurthi said here on Tuesday. Based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), the stability of food prices has helped reduce poverty in Indonesia. The economists urged the government to concern about the increase of rice price. Krisnamurthi pointed out that the meeting also discussed the country`s rice production data, changes in rice consumption, and farmers` welfare.

Ministry to draft regulation on sustainable palm oil Antara News 24th Feb 2018
The Economy Coordinating Ministry stated here on Friday that it will draft the Presidential Regulation (Perpres) to strengthen the certification of Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). "The (presidential) regulation is aimed at improving the supervision of (ISPO) certification," Musdhalifah, ministry`s deputy of foods and agriculture, stressed during a talk in Jakarta on Friday. She explained that a regulation was needed to synchronise all stakeholders, including Agriculture Ministry, Forestry and Environment Ministry, Industry Ministry, and the Trade Ministry. As one of the stakeholders, the Agriculture Ministry should maintain cooperation with the Forestry Ministry, because the latter determines which land is available for palm oil plantation.

Govt. Further Amends Import Regime for Forestry Products Hukum Online 22nd Feb 2018
The Ministry of Trade (“Ministry”) has issued Regulation No. 13 of 2018 (“Amendment”) which amends Ministry Regulation No. 97/M-DAG/PER/11/2015 on Import Provisions for Forestry Products (“Regulation 97/2015”) for the second time.[1] Regulation 97/2015 was amended once previously through the issuance of Ministry Regulation No. 91/2017 on the same matter (“Regulation 91/2017”).[2] In essence, the Amendment relaxes the previous import mechanisms but at the same time strengthens supervision of forestry-product imports (“Products”) through stricter post-border supervisory measures.[3] With this goal in mind, the Amendment adjusts several provisions which pertain to the following areas: Validity period for import approvals; Post-border supervisory measures; Importers watchlist; and Recall and destruction of imported products.

Farmers use organic farming to reduce dependence on imported pesticides, fertilizers The Jakarta Post 20th Feb 2018
Farmers in Nanga Tayap district, Ketapang regency, West Kalimantan, have intensively carried out organic farming over the last two years as part of their efforts to reduce their dependence on imported products, such as chemical-based fertilizers and insecticides. Using materials available in their surroundings, the farmers have produced by themselves organic fertilizers and insecticides for their fields. Bambang Riatmojo, 34, a farmer from Lembah Hijau 2 village, said he could produce organic fertilizer by mixing chopped wild plants and homemade micro-organism liquid. “Previously, I opened vegetable fields by employing the slash-and-burn method, after which I used chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Now, to open a vegetable field, I have maximized the use of locally made compost and natural insecticides,” Riatmojo told The Jakarta Post. By using compost and natural insecticides, he said, chili plants could live longer and have crop yields. Chili plants grown with chemical fertilizer could survive only around six months, he added.

Organic farmers use natural seedling 'pots for higher yields The Jakarta Post 20th Feb 2018
The residents of Lembah Hijau 2 village in Nanga Tayap district, Ketapang regency, West Kalimantan, are intensifying organic farming in community gardens, using seedling "pots" made from natural materials to increase their crop yields. The seedling pots are made from banana leaves rolled into a tube of around 3-4 centimeters in diameter, in which they cultivate the seedlings of various crop vegetables such as eggplants, chillis and leaf mustard. Blandina, 45, a Lembah Hijau 2 resident, said the natural seedling pots, locally known as koker, made it easier to manage the development and cultivation of their crop plants.   (Read also: Farmers use organic farming to reduce dependence on imported pesticides, fertilizers) One koker is used to grow 2-3 leaf mustard seedlings. After the seedlings have at least four true leaves, they will be transplanted to permanent growing pots filled with compost.

Indonesian mangoes, dragon fruit to enter Australian market The Jakarta Post 15th Feb 2018
Indonesia will soon export mangoes and dragon fruit to Australia, a decision made during the 21st meeting of the Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Forestry Cooperation (WGAFFC) between Australia and Indonesia, held in Melbourne from Feb. 14 to 15. The Agriculture Ministry’s Agriculture Quarantine Agency head, Banun Harpini, who acted as cochair during the meeting, said Australia had agreed to irradiate the fruit to assure healthy products would enter the Australian market. “In the upcoming harvest season in October, we will start exporting mangoes to Australia,” said Banun as reported by tribunnews.com on Thursday, adding that one of the aims of the meeting was to discuss the provision of Indonesian fruit to the Australian market. Meanwhile, export of dragon fruit could start in the middle of this year, Banun added.

Imported rice starts arriving at various ports The Jakarta Post 15th Feb 2018
Imported rice has started arriving in a number of ports across Indonesia as the commodity price remains above the ceiling set by the government. State Logistics Agency (Bulog) procurement director Andrianto Wahyu said that 57,000 tons of rice had arrived since Tuesday in three Indonesian ports – Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta (41,000 tons), Merak Port in Banten (6,000 tons) and Tenau Port in East Nusa Tenggara (10,000 tons). A further 24,750 tons of rice is expected to arrive on Thursday -- 20,000 tons at Panjang Port in Lampung and 4,750 tons would arrive at Benoa Port in Bali --, he said, adding that Bulog was still waiting for the arrival of another 261,000 tons of rice by the end of this month.

Indonesia re-appointed to lead IFAD session Antara News 14th Feb 2018
Indonesia once again led the 41st session of the International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD), according to the Indonesian Embassy in Rome. At the opening of the 41th session of IFAD Governing Council, Rionald Silaban, the Indonesian finance minister`s expert staff member for macro-economy and international finance, was appointed as deputy chairman for the 2018-2020 term, the embassy stated in a press statement released on Wednesday. Silaban was re-appointed to the post by acclamation. Indonesia was elected as the deputy chairman of the IFAD Governing Council, along with the Netherlands as chairman and Argentina as second deputy chairman. The governing council is the highest decision-making council of IFAD, the only international financial institution that specifically dedicates itself to encourage investment in rural areas, with the aim of alleviating poverty and overcoming famine.

Malaysia

Agriculture Department goes digital BorneoPost Online 20th Feb 2018
The Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development is pursuing modernisation and development of agriculture through the usage of digital technology. Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail said this is in line with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s aspiration for the state to embrace digital economy. He said the application of Internet of Things (IoT) system as rolled out at the Permanent Food Production Park (PFPP) in Rampangi will be expanded to other PKPPs including Kubong Agriculture Station in Limbang.

Agriculture sector makes soaring comeback in 2017 astro AWANI 14th Feb 2018
Malaysia's economy grew by 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) report.  The rate is higher than most Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth registered by other ASEAN countries like Indonesia and Singapore.  At 5.9%, Malaysia's growth is outpaced only by mega-economy China at 6.8% and the Philippines at 6.6%. BNM said, private sector demand continues to be the primary driver of growth, with further support from the external sector. From the supply side, all economic sectors continued to expand, except for the mining sector.

‘Durian coffee’ victims test positive for syabu The Star Online 16th Feb 2018
The urine and blood samples of two more victims who experienced fatigue and dizziness after drinking premixed coffee were found positive for syabu. Penang police chief Datuk A.Thaiveegan said the results were obtained last week but the police were still waiting for the chemistry department to produce results of the coffee samples.

Myanmar

Agricultural apps ploughing the way for farmers in Myanmar The ASEAN Post 20th Feb 2018
According to the World Bank, the Asian region supports the food demands of 60 percent of the global population by using just 23 percent of the world’s agricultural land. Due to an increasing population and decreasing land mass, the role of technology in agriculture is key. This is where the booming start up scene in Southeast Asia could come in handy for farmers. Some developers have seen the potential of using mobile app technology as a means to revolutionize the agricultural sector by creating apps specifically for it. These apps have the potential to help farmers utilise and maximise their limited resources for a better yield of crops. Farmers in Myanmar – what are they using? In Myanmar, the agricultural sector accounts for some 28 percent of the country's GDP, but yields are low due to farmers being cut-off from modern technology under the previous regime for decades. Farmers in Myanmar are still among the country's poorest. A 2017 World Bank study found that farmers in some areas of the country still earn as little as US$2 per day. Compared to other rice-yielding nations in the region, rice paddy generation is also low in Myanmar at 23kg a day as opposed to Cambodia (62kg), Vietnam (429kg), and Thailand (547kg) respectively, a 2016 World Bank report stated.

Saudi Arabia suspends fish imports from Myanmar The Myanmar Times 20th Feb 2018
Saudi Arabia’s general authority for food and medicine suspended aquaculture products from Bangladesh , India, Myanmar and Vietnam, according to the Saudi Aquaculture Society. This suspension is made in accordance with the regulatory procedures issued by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA). An delegation from several regulators from Saudi Arabia conducted an inspection tour last month targeting Vietnamese facilities that export to the country. The delegation found that only nine facilities met the national hygiene requirements, according to Vietnam news reports.

Myanmar rice export hits record high in 60 years Eleven Myanmar 16th Feb 2018
Myanmar's rice export this financial year has reached a record high in over 60 years, said Sai Kyaw, central executive committee member of Myanmar Rice Federation. Currently, Myanmar exports rice to more than 50 countries and nearly 3 million tons have been exported this fiscal year. In the previous years, a maximum of 1.8 million tons of rice were exported.

Philippines

Congress targeting to approve rice tariff bill before Lenten break BusinessMirror 19th Feb 2018
The chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture said the lower chamber remains committed to approve a bill amending Republic Act (RA) 8178 to abolish the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice before Congress goes on its Lenten break next month. House Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairman Jose T. Panganiban Jr. of Anac-IP said the Duterte administration, particularly the Department of Finance, wants the bill to be enacted by March 23 or before Congress’s break on March 21.

PH eyes satellite rice production abroad Manila Bulletin News 16th Feb 2018
The Philippine government is aiming to clinch a deal with Papua New Guinea (PNG) for Filipinos to be able to grow rice there and supply the staple back here. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a media conference in Quezon City that Malacañang had given its thumbs up for his travel to PNG soon, so he and authorities there can finalize the arrangements. If plans push through, he said Filipinos would be able to grow rice in satellite farms in PNG, initially supplying the grains there while that country is developing its rice industry. The excess produce would then be shipped to the Philippines.

DENR designates 3 river systems as WQMAs Manila Bulletin News 14th Feb 2018
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has designated three river systems in Luzon and Visayas as water quality management areas (WQMAs) to keep the quality of water within the guidelines set for agriculture and food production. The three river systems are Upper Amburayan River System in Benguet, Lower Amburayan River System in Ilocos Sur and La Union, and Dupong-Matlang-Merida River System in Leyte. Cimatu said this latest set of WQMA designations is “particularly premised on the food security program of the Duterte administration.”

Singapore

17 F&B businesses in Singapore commit to sourcing for sustainable palm oil The Straits Times 26th Feb 2018
Singapore has been free from the scourge of haze for the past two years, but at least 17 food and beverage companies here are not taking the clear skies for granted. The 17 - including major brands such as Crystal Jade, F&N and TungLok, as well as smaller businesses such as Veganburg in Eunos and NomVNom in Tai Seng - have recently committed to sourcing for sustainable palm oil. Of these, 10 of them made the commitment to do so this year. They include TungLok Group and Commonwealth Capital, whose portfolio includes brands like PastaMania and Baker and Cook.

Consultation On Inclusion Of New Food Additive Provisions Under The Food Regulations MCI REACH 20th Feb 2018
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) invites interested members of the food industry (local food manufacturers and importers) to submit applications for: (a) the use of new food additives currently not permitted for use in Singapore; and/or (b) the extension of the use of existing food additives to a wider range of food products. Background Food additives are chemical substances which are intentionally added to food, typically in very small known amounts, in order to serve specific technological functions. It is internationally accepted that food additives should only be used when: The Food Regulations specifies the types of food additives that may be added to food imported/manufactured and sold in Singapore, and the categories of food to which they may be added to. Further information on the regulation of food additives in Singapore is available from the following web links:

Thailand

Ministry of Agriculture stepping up efforts to improve rubber price National News Bureau of Thailand 1st Mar 2018
In addressing the falling price of para rubber, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is urging the wider use of rubber by local government offices. Meanwhile, the Ministry is also looking into ways of reducing rubber tapping activity and to have the Ministry of Commerce establish a pricing committee. Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Krisada Boonrach has delivered its policy on boosting the price of para rubber, at a meeting arranged by the Local Administrative Organization Department, calling on local administrative organizations to heed a call to use more locally grown rubber made by the Cabinet on December 12, 2017.

Thai farmers sceptical of PM Prayut's new development scheme The Straits Times 22nd Feb 2018
Farming experts in Nakhon Pathom remain sceptical of the Thai government's sustainable development plan, after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha launched the 100 billion baht (S$4.2 billion) scheme in the central province on Wednesday (Feb 21). Pathompong Jongsaksawat, 26, a community development specialist working with the organic farming network Punsuk, told The Nation that he was not fully confident given the lack of consistency in government policies. "Last year, we managed to found this network thanks to the budget allocated from the Pracharat scheme. But then, it got discontinued and we just had to find other sources of funding," he said. "And now they have launched this new policy, Thai Niyom. So, I don't know where this would lead to. We'll have to wait and see."

Agricultural machine makers eye 10% growth The Nation 19th Feb 2018
Group vows to help SMEs improve their performance Agricultural machinery manufacturers have targeted 10 per cent sales growth this year to achieve total sales of Bt220 billion. Patcharin Posirisuk, chairman of the Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Industry Club under the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said that businesses in this group had posted total sales of Bt200 billion as of now, of which 70 per cent was domestic sales and the rest being exported. She added that the industry was expected to post sales growth of 10 per cent this year to Bt220 billion.

Rice forecast remains robust Bangkok Post 17th Feb 2018
Despite lingering concerns about the baht, the government remains upbeat about Thai rice export prospects, particularly for premium hom mali rice bound for Hong Kong, where the government expects shipments to rise to 215,000 tonnes this year. Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said Thailand last year shipped 206,153 tonnes of hom mali fragrant jasmine rice to Hong Kong, up from 187,092 tonnes in 2016.

Palm oil stocks dip on cooperation Bangkok Post 14th Feb 2018
Thailand's crude palm oil stocks are expected to decline to 310,000 tonnes at the end of this month from 532,000 tonnes last November thanks to the government's measures to curb the palm oil surplus. Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan said concerted efforts by the Energy and Commerce ministries have successfully lowered the crude palm oil stocks after the level surged to 532,651 tonnes in November 2017, much higher than the safety level of 300,000 tonnes. The surplus led the prices of fresh palm nuts to drop by 18%, averaging 3.37 baht per kilogramme during the period.

Vietnam

Agriculture ministry seeks to surpass targets vietnamnews.vn 3rd Mar 2018
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) will raise its targets in production and business for this year, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn at the ministry’s monthly meeting on Friday in Hà Nội. The ministry expects to gain a growth rate of 3.05 per cent in gross domestic product (GDP) and notch export value of US$40.5 billion for this year. Meanwhile, 39 per cent of communes are expected to meet new rural standards and forest coverage will reach 41.65 per cent. To achieve those targets for fisheries, Tuấn said the fishery industry must strengthen public relations activities as well as boost inspection and control to avoid illegal fishing. The ministry expects the European Commission (EC) to withdraw its warning label regarding illegal, unregulated and undeclared (IUU) fishing in Vietnamese seafood exported to the European Union (EU

Interest in VN food, beverage sector VietNamNet 26th Feb 2018
The food and beverage sector remains a highly attractive one for both foreign and domestic players, many of whom have announced expansion plans. To mark its fifth year in Viet Nam, US beverage giant Starbucks opened a store in Da Nang in January, its 34th in the country. While never disclosing details of the company’s business in Viet Nam, Starbucks boss in the country have always claimed significant growth and that Viet Nam remains a highly promising market. On the occasion of the in Da Nang store opening, Patricia Marques, general manager of Starbucks Vietnam, said: “We have been asked many times when Starbucks will set foot outside of HCM City and Ha Noi: now it is time. And not just this first opening in Da Nang, 2018 will be a remarkable year for Starbucks Vietnam, I believe. There are more exciting plans to be executed this year.”

Organic rice production models to affirm Vietnam’s export status VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 25th Feb 2018
The Mekong Delta is one of Vietnam’s key agricultural hubs, producing masses of rice, seafood, and fruits. Currently rice production occupies 54% of the total farm land in the region, contributing more than 90% of Vietnam’s rice for export and bringing in billions of USD in revenue each year. The agricultural sector and Can Tho City are redesigning the production areas to create large-scale organic rice fields to increase rice revenues. Can Tho now has 240,000 ha for rice cultivation, more than 70% of its agricultural production area, producing an output of 1.4 million tons. Large-scale fields make up 21% of the rice production area, in which qualified rice varieties and advanced technologies combine to create rice of high competitiveness in the domestic and international markets. Pham Thi Minh Hieu, director of the municipal Department for Cultivation and Plant Protection, says that for the winter-spring 2017-2018 crop, Can Tho will reserve 10,000 ha for organic rice production, involving 5,400 farm families. The program aims to improve farmers’ productivity and links between cooperatives and businesses to boost sales.

Agro-forestry-fishery exports exceed US$6 bln in first two months VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 23rd Feb 2018
Export turnover of agro-forestry-aquatic products in February 2018 was estimated at US$2.6 billion, raising the total value in the first two months of 2018 to US$6.1 billion, up 30.2% against the same period last year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, export value of key farm produce hit US$3.3 billion, a year-on-year rise of 27.8%. Meanwhile, revenue from aquatic and forestry product shipments reached US$1.2 billion and US$1.43 billion, increases of 29.5% and 28.5%, respectively.

Việt Nam works to stop illegal fishing vietnamnews.vn 22nd Feb 2018
Việt Nam has been actively working to implement the European Commission (EC)’s recommendations since it announced a yellow card on Vietnamese fisheries on October 23 last year. According to Vũ Văn Tám, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the issuance of the EC’s illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) yellow card has gained positive results as the number of illegal fishing vessels has decreased. The central coastal province of Khánh Hòa is one of several key provinces for tuna fishing with a large offshore fishing fleet. Being aware of the issue of illegal fishing, the province has tried drastic solutions as well as disseminated information among its fishermen to understand and practise responsible fishing.

Foreign firms dominate Vietnam's fast-growing animal feed industry VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 20th Feb 2018
The animal feed industry of Vietnam, despite being among the world’s fastest-growing by scale and output, is dominated by foreign firms while local producers are struggling to compete. According to Nguyen Xuan Duong, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Livestock Production, the animal feed industry maintained two-digit growth in the past two decades, with the output jumping from 400,000 tonnes in 1993 to more than 23 million tonnes in 2016. Vietnam is today the leading country in ASEAN and the 10th in the world in animal feed production.

Startups seek to change game in smart agritech VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 19th Feb 2018
While many people scoff at the thought of working in agriculture, said to come with low productivity and low added value, a slew of local youths are pursuing smart farming support methods with the hope of making meaningful changes in the agricultural sector. Complaints were the beginning of one conversation amongst a group of seven female workers at the Yen Dung safe vegetable co-operative in the northern province of Bac Giang at the end of 2017. They were talking to each other while tilling the land into furrows for the planting of wax gourds, their backs hunched. “We created about 20 furrows over the whole day, due to a lack of dedicated furrowing machines, while hundreds of furrows for planting cabbage on the opposite field were finished by furrowing machines within three days,” Pham Thi Sam complained.

Government to allow food importers to self declare VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 17th Feb 2018
In a policy turnaround, the Government has said it is determined to assist food and beverage importers and producers by reducing inspection times, costs and criteria, opting for businesses to make self declarations instead of being constantly watchdogged by officials. Decree No 15, effective since February 2, 2018, dictates several changes, the most notable of which is giving firms the right to self-declare food-product origins and quality, replacing the long-standing method of keeping records at public management agencies. As such, only a handful of food products will now require special inspection by the Ministry of Health before entering the general market.

Thaco opens plant to manufacture agricultural machinery vietnamnews.vn 15th Feb 2018
Trường Hải Automobile Company (Thaco) has inaugurated an agricultural machinery manufacturing plant in the Chu Lai-Trường Hải Industrial Complex in the central province of Quảng Nam. The plant, which took one year to complete, has been built in collaboration with Korean company LS Mtron. Thaco said the manufacturing plant, which was built under a cooperation agreement signed in 2017, aimed to provide made-in-Việt Nam agricultural machinery with a 50 per cent localisation programme for domestic use as well as for exports to ASEAN markets.

Foreign firms dominate VN’s fast-growing animal feed industry vietnamnews.vn 14th Feb 2018
The animal feed industry of Việt Nam, despite being among the world’s fastest-growing by scale and output, is dominated by foreign firms while local producers are struggling to compete. According to Nguyễn Xuân Dương, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Livestock Production, the animal feed industry maintained two-digit growth in the past two decades, with the output jumping from 400,000 tonnes in 1993 to more than 23 million tonnes in 2016. Việt Nam is today the leading country in ASEAN and the 10th in the world in animal feed production.