Food & Agriculture Update: Philippines' NFA to be Consolidated in Wake of Rice Crisis

Food & Agriculture Update | April 20, 2018
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Meghana Srikrishna
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

2018 Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia (May 8-9, Jakarta)
The US-ASEAN Business Council is registering members for its Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia on May 8-9, 2018. This sector focused mission will offer members an opportunity to engage key public and private sector stakeholders which make up Indonesia's domestic agriculture ecosystem. The deadline for receipt of registration and mission materials is COB Thursday, April 26. To register, please click on the link above. For questions, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Philippines' NFA to be Consolidated in Wake of Rice Crisis

Recent actions by the National Food Authority (NFA) have stirred an already controversial debate on the management of the Philippines’ rice sector. Per a now published memorandum from Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. to President Duterte, the NFA sold rice originally meant for Eastern Visayas, a natural-disaster prone area, to Bulacan traders. The NFA has defended this decision, arguing that the rice stock sold was around three years old and would have been either thrown out or sold at a reduced price otherwise. The memorandum furthermore criticized the NFA’s lack of supervisors at ports where rice is imported and its favoring of certain provinces to sell to. The NFA also disputed these accusations, claiming that its jurisdiction does not cover supervision of rice imports and that it cooperates with government officials to sell rice throughout the Philippines. In the wake of these accusations and concerns over a low rice supply, President Duterte announced plans to move the NFA under the Office of the President.

The Philippines has faced criticism in the past for overlooking corruption within the NFA and rice sector specifically in the past, and these recent events have only exacerbated the NFA’s infamous reputation in regulating rice imports and sales. While President Duterte has pledged to provide 700,000 sacks of rice to make up for the sold stock, the structural problems of corruption and inadequate supervision of imports still remain. In fact, some government officials have expressed concerns that the NFA's guidance is needed in developing the rice sector, and implementing reform within the NFA might be a better option than moving it under the Office of the President. The Council will continue to monitor developments and what they might mean for rice exports and domestic consumption.
 

Vietnam Firms and Enterprises Encouraged to Invest and Improve Standards

The governments of Myanmar and Cambodia are encouraging investment in their agriculture sectors from Vietnamese firms and enterprises just as agriculture firms within Vietnam are adjusting to new regulations from import countries. Cambodia and Myanmar have fully embraced their roles as attractive agriculture markets for Vietnam through reforms and policies in their respective agriculture sectors. Agriculture comprises 25% of Cambodia's GDP and the government is actively looking to increase investment within the sector. Both countries have transitioned from centrally planned economies to more market friendly ones, making it more feasible for Vietnam firms to invest in processing, preserving, and production technologies. At the same time, Vietnamese agriculture-oriented firms and enterprises are facing pressure to improve the quality of their own goods that are imported to places like the US, EU and Japan. The United States implemented its Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in June 2016, which significantly increased the number of inspections and processes by which Vietnamese imports are approved. FSMA has served as an impetus for other regions and countries, which have created similar standards. While Vietnam has become much more institutionalized into the global economy in recent years, many domestic, agriculture-centered firms do not meet international sanitation and safety standards.

Vietnamese firms and enterprises are in a unique position as developed enough to invest in the agriculture sectors of other ASEAN countries, while Vietnam also seeks to implement policy reforms to better attract new agricultural technology investment. Vietnam has made great strides in recent months in increasing exports of fishery products. Countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia expect improvements in Vietnam's agriculture sector to translate into more agro-tech investment by Vietnamese firms into their own agriculture sectors. Recent discussions and conferences between Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar indicate that Vietnam is both willing to adapt to changing, improving international standards for its agriculture products as well as invest in intermediate agriculture goods and technology in neighboring countries. When coupled with Vietnam’s participation in the ASEAN Free Trade Area, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade frameworks, Vietnam is in a good position to both contribute to the global economy and improve its domestic agricultural market. 

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Indonesia
Land allocated to restore forests, ecosystem in Puncak
Govt destroys Rp 7b in illegally imported Chinese fruits
Minister: Sea Toll Can Lower Staple Food Price
Indonesia's Salt Spat Gives Industry a Shake
Government assures supply, price stability of basic needs

Laos
Planting ‘green gold’ for a prosperous Laos 
IFAD boosting smart agriculture in Laos
Agro-Forestry GDP Reaches 22 Trillion KIP

Malaysia
Malaysia to extend crude palm oil zero duty freeze until end-April

Myanmar
Yara confident of cashing in Myanmar’s agricultural growth
MADB to help fuel growth across entire agriculture supply chain

Philippines
As Philippine rice stock depletes, Duterte places NFA under his office
Agricultural food exports seen flat this year
PH agri exports fell by 3.6% in Q4 2017
Halal accreditation delayed over failure to harmonize standards
Philippines eyes bond float to fund agri projects
SRA moves to boost sugar supply in domestic market

Singapore
Singapore stakes claim on first organic standard for produce grown by urban and indoor farming
Govt to help with cleanup, rebuilding of damaged farms
Acromec unit to build waste-to-energy plant on Chew's Agriculture chicken farm

Thailand
Thailand resumes exporting Chicken product to China
Govt plans water boost for farmers
Thai Agriculture Min prepares for upcoming drought season
Govt urged to ban use of 'deadly' pesticide
Rice exports up but may lose momentum
Cost-cutting key to farm reform

Vietnam
Vietnam sets to have 15,000 effective agricultural cooperatives
Việt Nam’s sugarcane industry to benefit from Cola-VSSA deal
Việt Nam spends $194 million on pesticides
Cambodia, Myanmar frontier for VN firms: experts
VFA risks losing rice monopoly
Exporters urged to meet strict food safety standards
VN to cut ASEAN salt, eggs import tariffs
Aquatic export up 11.5% in first quarter
Seafood export faces numerous barriers
Food association unfit to lead rice sector: experts
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Indonesia

Land allocated to restore forests, ecosystem in Puncak The Jakarta Post 10th Apr 2018
Two tea plantation companies and state forestry company Perhutani have allocated land for forest restoration in an effort to rehabilitate the ecosystem Puncak, Bogor, West Java, which was previously the upstream area of Ciliwung river basin (DAS). The tea plantation companies are PTPN VII Gunung Mas and Ciliwung, which are managed by tea company Sumber Sari Bumi Pakuan. Together with Perhutani’s Bogor forest management office (KPH), the two companies are carrying out forest restoration programs with support from Forest Watch Indonesia, Bogor Agricultural University’s public service and research center and the Puncak Area Conservation Consortium. The partnership has been formalized through the signing of an agreement between the companies and the consortium at PTPN VIII Gunung Mas on April 3.

Govt destroys Rp 7b in illegally imported Chinese fruits The Jakarta Post 12th Apr 2018
The Trade Ministry has destroyed seven containers of apples and oranges worth Rp 7 billion (US$508,440) that were illegally imported from China. Ministry commerce supervision director Veri Anggrijono said the fruits entered Indonesia about two weeks ago through Belawan Port and Kualanamu International Airport, both in North Sumatra. “We destroyed the horticultural commodities because they entered Indonesia without any import documents,” Veri said on Wednesday in Binjai, North Sumatra, as quoted by Antara. He added that the illicit import of foreign products violated Trade Minister Regulation No. 16/2018. The ministry also revoked the import license of PT SAT for illegally importing the fruits.

Minister: Sea Toll Can Lower Staple Food Price Tempo 12th Apr 2018
Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi said the sea toll program could lower the price of staple food in eastern Indonesia. "At least 20 to 30 percent cheaper," Budi said on Thursday, April 12, 2018. According to Budi, with the sea toll program, the cost of transporting goods will be cheaper. Therefore, the price disparity of goods between the western and eastern parts of Indonesia can be lowered. However, Budi underlined that the price reduction can only be achieved if the good shipment is carried out through large ports using Pelni (Indonesian National Lines) vessels. "There is a dilemma about the small ports, therefore we encourage and support the pioneer vessels," said Budi.

Indonesia's Salt Spat Gives Industry a Shake Jakarta Globe 7th Apr 2018
Indonesia's efforts to protect farmers from imports have sometimes gone spectacularly wrong, creating shortages of staples such as rice and beef, and playing havoc with markets. Its latest misfire has come over salt, with supplies so desperately low that one of the world's biggest producers of instant noodles warned recently it could run out of the vital ingredient in a matter of weeks. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has stepped in to end a squabble between two ministries over salt import quotas.

Government assures supply, price stability of basic needs Antara News 29th Mar 2018
The government has assured the stability of price and supply of basic necessities to meet the demand, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan in May. Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita held a meeting with stakeholders on the adequacy of basic necessities, here, on Wednesday. "Ahead of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, the price would be stable. I called on all stakeholders, who have the opportunity to get maximum profit for 11 months, to reduce (the profit) by lowering the price. We must bring a smile on the faces of housewives while entering Ramadan," Lukita noted. The commodities that would be under the ministry`s surveillance include rice, sugar, cooking oil, meat, egg, and chicken meat. For rice supply, the government would not hesitate to release stock from the State Logistic Agency (Bulog) when the price starts to hike. He added that rice price would be maintained and would not exceed its ceiling price.

Laos

Planting ‘green gold’ for a prosperous Laos Borneo Bulletin Online 30th Mar 2018
When the late President Kaysone Phomvihane described forests as ‘Laos’ green gold’ likening its value to that of gold, many might not fully grasp how significant forests would be for the country’s future development and prosperity as advised by the national hero. The value of forests as described by the leader has become clearer and clearer through Laos’ development journey in which forests have been seen as an important factor determining the future success. Benefitting from the rivers running across the country, the Lao leadership has announced its top priority to pursue the production of clean and affordable hydroelectricity for domestic consumption and export to countries in the region. Ensuring extensive forest cover will enable Laos to have enough forest resources to generate sufficient water not only to operate hydroelectricity plants, but also to provide enough water to irrigate farms, which the majority of the population rely on for their survival.

IFAD boosting smart agriculture in Laos Vientiane Times 10th Apr 2018
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will continue to work with the government and partners through the provision of finance for innovative, adapted approaches and technologies relating to climate-smart agriculture. This was the message at an annual country portfolio review meeting of IFAD-funded programmes in Laos which took place recently in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province.

Agro-Forestry GDP Reaches 22 Trillion KIP KPL: Lao News Agency 5th Apr 2018
(KPL) The gross domestic product (GDP) of the agriculture and forestry sector reached 22 trillion kip, rising by 2.8 % year on year and representing 16.3% of the total GDP of the country, said on Monday Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Lien Thikeo. The GDP of the sector has rised slowly over the past five years, by 46 %, from 15 trillion kip in 2012 to 22 trillion kip last year.

Malaysia

Malaysia to extend crude palm oil zero duty freeze until end-April - Agriculture S&P Global 6th Apr 2018
Malaysia will extend an export duty exemption on crude palm oil until April 30, or when palm oil inventories in Malaysia fall below 1.6 million mt, whichever comes first, the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities said Friday. The statement nullifies a March 22 announcement by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department that CPO export duties would be raised to 5% from April 1. The government in December suspended export duties on CPO for the first three months of 2018, after inventories rose to 2.73 million mt in December from 2.55 million mt in November, according to Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) data.

Myanmar

Yara confident of cashing in Myanmar’s agricultural growth The Nation 9th Apr 2018
YARA International, a leading fertiliser company with operations in more than 60 markets, is confident of doing well in Myanmar’s agriculture sector because of the country’s current low productivity compared to other Asean countries, said Havar Valved, the firm’s country manager for Myanmar. Valved said the firm aims to be the leading provider of sustainable crop nutrition solutions in Myanmar by 2020. “Within the next three years, we aim to be the top brand that farmers trust when they think of crop quality and profitability for their farming business growth. We feel confident that we have enough knowledge to scale up and support farmers here,” he said.

MADB to help fuel growth across entire agriculture supply chain The Myanmar Times 5th Apr 2018
Attempts will be made to lower interest rates at the Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank (MADB) so that it is able to support the entire agriculture supply chain, according to U Kyaw Win, Union Minister for Planning and Finance. He said that in the 50 years during which MADB has provided loans to farmers, the sector has not grown by much.  “Currently, MADB just accepts cash from [State-owned] Myanmar Economic Bank and disburses the funds as loans to farmers of selected crops during harvest season. It is impossible for the sector to grow and develop under such conditions,” U Kyaw Win said.  The way he tells it, “the only way agriculture will grow is for MADB to become a real development bank that supports the entire supply chain, including farmers, factories and traders,” he said. 

Philippines

As Philippine rice stock depletes, Duterte places NFA under his office philstar.com 6th Apr 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday "expressed his intent" to place the National Food Authority under the Office of the President following reports that Philippine supply of its staple grain is at a dangerously low level. The decision came after Manny Piñol, the Philippine agriculture secretary, announced in a radio interview that Duterte had already given the verbal order to abolish the inter-agency National Food Authority Council. "The president expressed his intent to place the National Food Authority (NFA) under the Office of the President," Harry Roque, a president's spokesman, said in a statement. The presidential spokesman said that the Philippine leader was also considering centralizing the approval of rice importation under Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, an undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, subject to the review of the Office of the Executive Secretary. Roque said that Duterte also pledged to give at least 700,000 sacks of rice to replenish the stocks of the NFA sold at P38 per kilo to be sold at P39.

Agricultural food exports seen flat this year philstar.com 6th Apr 2018
The country’s agricultural food exports will likely be flat this year, but are expected to recover starting 2019. “We don’t expect any significant increase in our food exports due to concerns on competitiveness and availability of raw materials,” Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization Inc. president Roberto Amores told reporters yesterday. Last year, export sales of agriculture and food reached $5.6 billion. “We have to work on how to improve our exports and  the manufacturing sector by partnering with ASEAN since most of our raw materials  are also available in our neighbors,” he said. PhilFoodex is the leading food industry association in the country composed of micro, small, medium and large scale food manufacturers and exporters.

PH agri exports fell by 3.6% in Q4 2017 Inquirer.net 2nd Apr 2018
The total value of the country’s agricultural exports has declined by 3.6 percent to $4.19 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 from $4.35 billion in the same period in 2016 as the country’s major agricultural exports dwindled. The share of agricultural exports to the country’s total exports also declined to 8.4 percent from 10.3 percent in 2016. The country’s major agricultural exports for the quarter made up almost 95 percent of the total agricultural export revenue of $1.3 billion, which was lower than the $1.5 billion posted in the same period of 2016. These products include animal or vegetable oils and their cleavage products, prepared edible fats, animal or vegetable waxes, edible fruits and nuts, fish and crustaceans, and manufactured tobacco. Netherlands was the country’s top trading partner during the quarter with $306.56 million in imports, while Indonesia and Malaysia led Asean-member countries with a combined imports from the Philippines of $548.03 million.

Halal accreditation delayed over failure to harmonize standards BusinessWorld 2nd Apr 2018
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the accreditation of halal-certifying bodies has been delayed due to a failure to harmonize standards. Bureau of Philippine Standards Director James E. Empeño told BusinessWorld that since the certifying bodies are not accredited, the halal products are not recognized once exported. Mr. Empeño said that instead of sourcing from the Philippines, buyers could turn to other Southeast Asian countries with large Muslim populations like Indonesia. The Philippines exports dried fruits to the Middle East. According to Republic Act No. 10817 or the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2016, the Philippine Accreditation Bureau is mandated to accredit the halal-certifying bodies to maintain the national standard for the products. Mr. Empeño said that there are currently five halal-certifying bodies that remain unaccredited with the passage of the new law last year.

Philippines eyes bond float to fund agri projects The Nation 2nd Apr 2018
Speaking at the Philippine Agricultural Journalists (PAJ) awarding ceremonies where he was guest speaker, Pinol said that a bond flotation was necessary to complete the agency’s network of FMRs before the end of President Duterte’s term. He said the agency would need 140 billion pesos (Bt83.66 billion) to finish some 13,000 kilometres of FMRs all over the country, while another 60 billion pesos (Bt35.86 billion) would be required to finance the mechanisation of farms and fishing communities nationwide. Pinol said the proposed bond issue was already welcomed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Nestor Espenilla, along with Eastern Samar representative Ben P Evardone, who chairs the House of Representatives’ bank and finance committee. “Both [Dominguez and Espenilla] said that the measure would utilise the vast resources of private and commercial banks that are required by law to lend 25 per cent of their loan funds to the agriculture and fisheries sector,” Pinol said.

Gov’t eyes bond float to fund agri projects Inquirer.net 29th Mar 2018
The government is planning to issue bonds to raise funds for the completion of the Department of Agriculture’s farm-to-market roads (FMRs) and its farm and fisheries mechanization program, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said. Speaking at the Philippine Agricultural Journalists (PAJ) awarding ceremonies where he was guest speaker, Piñol said that a bond flotation was necessary to complete the agency’s network of FMRs before the end of President Duterte’s term. He said the agency would need P140 billion to finish some 13,000 kilometers of FMRs all over the country, while another P60 billion would be required to finance the mechanization of farms and fishing communities nationwide.

SRA moves to boost sugar supply in domestic market Inquirer.net 29th Mar 2018
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has issued an order removing its sugar allocation for the world market, reallocating the supply to the domestic market. The move is expected to improve the composite price of sugar, which is used to measure the overall profitability of sugar planters. However, this will put the plan of the sugar industry to look for stable markets outside the United States in the backseat. At present, the country exports sugar only to the United States under a quota scheme. The agreement gives the Philippines an annual sugar import quota of 136,201 metric tons (MT) at a premium price and a relatively low tariff. With SRA’s new sugar order, 94 percent will be classified as “B” or domestic sugar while the remaining 6 percent will be classified as “A” or sugar for the US. In the old sugar order, 93 percent was classified as “B,” 6 percent was classified as “A,” and 1 percent was classified as “D” or sugar for the world market. Reserve or “C” sugar gets allocation only when there is oversupply of the commodity. “Stakeholders requested to do away with the 1 percent ‘D’ sugar as it is too insignificant and just a hassle in the recording of the quedan,” said board member Roland Beltran in a text message. “Also, world market prices of sugar are going down in the past weeks and the disposal of `D’ sugar has become a problem,” he said, adding that the reallocation of “D” sugar would boost domestic supply.

Singapore

Singapore stakes claim on first organic standard for produce grown by urban and indoor farming foodnavigator-asia.com 12th Apr 2018
Singapore has launched its first organic standard, which officials believe is possibly the world’s first organic standard for produce grown in urban and indoor conditions. The Singapore Standard (SS) 632: 2017 for Organic Primary Produce has been issued by the Singapore Standards Council (SSC) and Enterprise Singapore. With increasing demand for authentic organic primary produce, SS 632: 2017 was developed to aid industry players in the organic primary produce sector as well as consumers. Dr Allan Lim, chairman of the Food Standards Committee (FSC) of the SSC, cited data from Euromonitor International that, in 2015, annual growth for organic packaged food in Singapore was 4%, with sales of US$9m, while for organic beverages it was 3%, at US$140,845. The factors driving the demand include an increase in consumer awareness, health and wellness as a key priority influencing consumer purchasing decisions, and rising disposable incomes.

Govt to help with cleanup, rebuilding of damaged farms The Straits Times 1st Apr 2018
The Government will support the cleanup and rebuilding efforts of Lim Chu Kang farmers whose premises were damaged by a torrential downpour and unusually strong winds on Friday, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Koh Poh Koon. Farms hit the hardest by Friday's storm were Chew's Agriculture, Williton Orchids, Koon Lee Nursery and Goh Swee Hoon fish farm. Dr Koh gave the assurance of help in a Facebook post yesterday after visiting the farms in Murai Farmway, near the Lim Chu Kang Cemetery, along with the chief executives of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the National Parks Board (NParks), as well as members of the Singapore Agro-Food Enterprises Federation.

Acromec unit to build waste-to-energy plant on Chew's Agriculture chicken farm The Straits Times 29th Mar 2018
Engineering firm Acromec on Tuesday (March 27) announced that its 80 per cent subsidiary, Acropower, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with HL Plus for Acropower to build, own and operate an organic waste-to-energy plant on the future poultry farm site of Chew's Agriculture at Neo Tiew Road, off Lim Chu Kang. Meanwhile, HL Plus is in the process of acquiring Chew's Agriculture. Acropower is a 80:20 venture with Malaysian alternative energy firm Green Energy Resources.

Thailand

Thailand resumes exporting Chicken product to China Far Eastern Agriculture 5th Apr 2018
Thailand has resumed the export of frozen chicken meat to China, with the first shipment of 14 containers for the Yunnan province being valued at US$1.1mn Chicken farming is a major industry to boost up Thai economy. (Image source: Ralph/Pixabay) In 2004, China banned importing poultry products from Thailand following the outbreak of bird flu disease in Thailand. Ren Yisheng, China’s consul general to Thailand said that China is closely monitoring the development of control systems of the chicken industry. The chicken products come from the seven factories which are among the 19 factories that received green light from the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China to ship to the country in March 2018.

Govt plans water boost for farmers Bangkok Post 5th Apr 2018
Pattani: Irrigation officials plan to boost the water capacity at Pattani dam to keep several thousand farmers well supplied as they work vast tracts of land during the dry season. Once the project is completed, up to 25,000 families will have enough water to grow crops on parts of 200,000 rai, Royal Irrigation Department chief Thongplew Kongchan said Wednesdayas he updated Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on water issues during his visit to the province.

Thai Agriculture Min prepares for upcoming drought season Thai Visa News 5th Apr 2018
BANGKOK, 2 April 2018 (NNT) - Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is preparing the country's water reserves for the upcoming dry season and will closely monitor drought-prone areas in 23 provinces. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Grisada Boonrach, said the country is better equipped to face the dry season than it had been in previous year. However, the ministry has identified and will closely monitor areas that are at risk of drought. As of April 1st, the country's reservoirs were at 67 percent capacity, with a combined 50.9 billion cubic meters of water, or seven billion cubic meters more than the same period last year. The country's four main dams in the Chao Phraya River Basin are at 61 percent of their combined capacity.

Govt urged to ban use of 'deadly' pesticide Bangkok Post 31st Mar 2018
Health activists have urged the government to ban "paraquat", a popular grass-and-pest killing chemical, as scientific studies have proved it is a health threat to farmers and consumers, but the Agriculture Department has raised concerns over the economic impact of a ban. Paraquat is banned in more than 50 countries around the world due to its high toxicity, as only a small amount of consumption can kill a human being.

Rice exports up but may lose momentum Bangkok Post 30th Mar 2018
Thai rice exports in the first two months of 2018 rose 10% year-on-year by volume to 1.91 million tonnes and 16.1% in baht value to 30.32 billion baht but orders are falling due to the strong baht. In February, Thailand exported 950,761 tonnes of rice worth 14.92 billion baht. The volume declined by 1.2% and the value went down by 3.1% month-on-month because of the decreasing export of Hom Mali fragrant rice and parboiled rice, Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said Friday.

Cost-cutting key to farm reform Bangkok Post 29th Mar 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak ordered agencies to rev up restructuring of the farm sector on Wednesday and find more ways to cut production costs, including low-interest loan programmes and tailor-made fertilisers. Mr Somkid visited the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry and said the government has already allocated 24 billion baht in supplementary budget for fiscal 2018 to finance the farm sector's restructuring. He urged state agencies to speed up their efforts to help the plight of 3.9 million low-income earners in the sector.

Vietnam

Vietnam sets to have 15,000 effective agricultural cooperatives VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 13th Apr 2018
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) along with the Vietnam Farmers’ Union (VFU) and Vietnam Cooperative Alliance (VCA) have signed a coordination programme to implement the National Assembly’s target of having 15,000 agricultural cooperatives and cooperative alliances operating effectively by 2020. Speaking at a conference in Hanoi on April 12, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said cooperatives play a significant role in developing agriculture. He called on the political system and economic sectors to join hands to realise the goal. The MARD and VCA have issued a joint resolution continuing reforming and developing cooperation in agriculture in 2016-2020 and signed collaboration programmes with 39 provinces nationwide.

Việt Nam’s sugarcane industry to benefit from Cola-VSSA deal vietnamnews.vn 12th Apr 2018
The capacity of the Vietnamese sugarcane industry is expected to improve with a co-operation deal between the Việt Nam Sugar Association (VSSA) and Coca-Cola Beverages Việt Nam Co Ltd. The deal was signed on April 11. VSSA Chairman Phạm Quốc Doanh said under the agreement, 100 per cent of the beverage giant’s sugar requirement will be met by domestic production. The association will also develop some sugarcane plantation areas to enable female farmers to earn more, he said. In the past years, Coca-Cola has supported Việt Nam’s sugarcane industry in production, business and consumption, making significant contributions to the sector’s development, Doanh said, adding many sugarcane companies in the country have inked contracts with the beverage firm.

Việt Nam spends $194 million on pesticides vietnamnews.vn 9th Apr 2018
Việt Nam spent US$58 million to import pesticides and raw materials in March, lifting total imports of the commodities in the first three months of this year to $194 million. The imports mainly came from China, accounting for 54.2 per cent of the total value, Thời báo Kinh tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Times) reported. Imports of pesticides from the UK, Malaysia and India also increased sharply in the first months of the year, rising 80 per cent, 51.5 per cent and 26.3 per cent, respectively, from the same period last year.

Cambodia, Myanmar frontier for VN firms: experts vietnamnews.vn 7th Apr 2018
Cambodia and Myanmar offer huge investment opportunities in the agricultural sector for Vietnamese firms, experts said. The two countries have made a successful switch from a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented one, and their productivity has increased significantly while labour costs remain competitive. Speaking at a seminar in HCM City on Thursday on the opportunities for agricultural investment in Cambodia and Myanmar, Meach Yady, chief of agricultural marketing at Cambodia’s Department of Planning and Statistics, said agriculture accounts for 25 per cent of his country’s GDP and gets special attention from the Government.

VFA risks losing rice monopoly vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2018
Following recent criticism of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has reduced the association’s power, with further plans to promote fairness in the rice export field. MARD’s Deputy Minister Hà Công Tuấn affirmed that the VFA should no longer be able to allocate rice quotas among domestic firms and the 2010 Decree 109 regulating the country’s rice exports must be amended to facilitate the change. So far, the Decree dictates that the VFA can only allocate rice export quotas under centralised contracts on the basis of agreements between Việt Nam and importing countries.

Exporters urged to meet strict food safety standards vietnamnews.vn 5th Apr 2018
Vietnamese enterprises should strive to meet strict new food safey requirements from importing countries, especially choosy markets like the US, Japan, South Korea, and the EU, speakers said at an international seminar held on April 3 in HCM City. “The time to comply with new regulations is now. Food-safety regulation non-compliance is the largest barrier to entry for Vietnamese firms,” said Herb Cochran, senior director of Trade Facilitation and Special Projects at AmCham Việt Nam in HCM City. To integrate into the global market, Vietnamese businesses must learn more about regulations and improve quality to meet these new standards, he said.

VN to cut ASEAN salt, eggs import tariffs vietnamnews.vn 4th Apr 2018
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) on Monday issued the Circular No.04/2018/TT-BCT on not applying import tariffs on salt and poultry egg products originating from ASEAN countries. These products must meet the provisions on origin of goods in the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and must have the certificate of origin, Form D, in accordance with the current laws

Aquatic export up 11.5% in first quarter VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 1st Apr 2018
The export of aquatic products in March was estimated at US$608 million, bringing the total shipment in the first three months to US$1.7 billion, up 11.5% annually, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Major importers in the first two months this year were the US, Japan, China and the Republic of Korea, accounting for 50.5% of the total. Notably, markets seeing strong export growths included the Netherlands (49.7%), Thailand (35.3%) and China (34.9%).

Seafood export faces numerous barriers VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 1st Apr 2018
Despite strong outbound sales so far this year, Vietnam’s target of earning US$9-US$10 billion from seafood exports in 2018 may prove tough due to numerous technical barriers being set up in major markets, Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper reports. According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, seafood export revenue as of mid-March 2018 reached US$1.37 billion, up 17% versus the year-ago period, making seafood one of the eight products with export revenue of over US$1 billion. While these figures show a good signal, enterprises said it would be difficult to attain the target of US$9-US$10 billion this year.

Food association unfit to lead rice sector: experts vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2018
The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) came under heavy criticism yesterday as economic experts voiced discontent with the association’s favouritism, lax business practices and overall incompetency in the rice export sector. In its latest report, the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR) claimed the VFA only represented the interests of state-owned enterprises (SoEs) in the agricultural field, and did not hold itself responsible for aiding individual farmers or private sector firms. Nguyễn Đức Thành, VEPR’s director, argued that the association was nothing more than a state management body and an extended governing arm to allocate rice export quotas instead of an advocate for all of its members.