Food & Agriculture Update: May 28, 2018

Food & Agriculture Update | May 28, 2018
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia - Postponed
The Council’s 2018 Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia, scheduled for May 8-9, has been postponed. An email will be sent to Food & Agriculture committee members when a new date is confirmed. Please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org with any questions.

Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam - July 11-12, 2018, Hanoi
Please save the date for the Council's Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam, taking place on July 11-12 in Hanoi. More information to follow. Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org) with any questions or to express interest.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Global Innovative Trends in Agriculture
In the last few years, many ASEAN member states have implemented or proposed regulations to increase access and use of innovation and technology in the agricultural sector - in many forms, from agricultural technology and climate-smart agriculture to using big data and analytics to identify trends and determine necessary adjustments to maximize crop yields. This has been done largely to leverage available technologies globally to improve production and yields of local farmers, and as one element in pursuing greater food security. Studies have shown that in order to keep up with the growing populations, and also taking into account other factors such as climate change and availability of resources, 60% in global agricultural output is needed by 2030. As such, investments in disruptive technologies in the agricultural industry are increasing, and generating the following global digital transformative trends:

  • With more advanced agriculture equipment available, farmers are able to track the health of their machinery more easily. In addition, tractors and other equipment are now are built with navigation systems and sensors that can compensate for uneven terrain using GPS, or in other cases capable of yield mapping and harvest documentation. This ultimately leads to more productivity and reduces the amount of downtime machines experience.
  • The use of IoT and sensors in the fields and drones for crop monitoring have allowed farmers to track and monitor their crops remotely, with real-time information readily available. Field sensors and 3D imaging from drones have been used to predict soil quality through analysis and planning seed planting patterns. This ultimately lead to higher food production with less waste. Further, after crops are harvested, RFID sensors can be used to track the food from field to store, and consumers will now have the data behind where their food comes from.
  • Finally, innovation in robotics and advanced analytics is helping to improve productivity in the industry. For example, robots have been helpful in spraying and weeding more effectively to reduce use of agrochemical, and using lasers and camera guidance to navigate rows of crops on its own to identify and remove weeds without human intervention. In terms of analytics, we can now use big data to determine trends that can predict, for example, which traits and genes will be best for crop production based on location and climate. Machine learning algorithms can also be used to determine the best products to use globally for most efficiency.

While the ASEAN region is currently at an early stage in deepening technology innovation utilization in agriculture, there are examples of “green shoots” throughout the region: The "Green Way" app in Myanmar; IoT precision farming in Malaysia; and agriculture digital development in Indonesia. The Council’s F&A Committee continues to include this theme as a key component of its 2018 work plan by advocating for a range of policy & regulatory reforms along with strategic investments to improve agricultural innovation systems (AIS) in ASEAN. The Council believes that position US companies as sources of solutions to challenges governments face in addressing gaps in their AIS.

Philippines to End QR on Rice
During its recent 51st Annual Meeting on May 3-6, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said that it supported the Philippines Government’s decision to end its quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice, converting it into a tariff schedule in compliance with commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Whereas the QR would cause more volatility in the international markets for rice prices, this tariff schedule should lead to more stable rice prices and supply in the Philippines, and would also boost local production because there is more stability in the global and domestic markets. Earlier this week on May 21, Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano called on the Philippines Senate and House of Representatives to prioritize the passage of the rice tariff bill, which would officially scrap the QR. At the time of this update, the rice tariff bill is currently up for plenary deliberations at the House - the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar, has yet to release its version of the bill. Recent reports indicate that the Philippines will import large quantities of rice in order to stabilize prices and domestic stocks through the end of 2018. 

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
Myanmar Notification No.25/2018 on Wholesale and Retail Business Regulation
Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce recently released a new regulation (Notification No.25/2018) that will allow foreign-owned companies to engage in wholesale and retail business. This new notification allows for unrestricted wholesale and retail activities by foreign companies, joint ventures, and local companies, and can potentially be a gamechanger for foreign direct investment in Myanmar. There are several stipulations specific to 100% foreign owned wholesale and retail distribution business. While this development is positive, there are a few areas of clarifications needed. For more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
Girl Guides donate food items to 22 families
Eight students end aquaculture and seafood industry training –
Singapore firm to invest BND300M for fish farming –
JPKE sets ceiling prices for essential food items –

Cambodia
DPM Sar Kheng and Swiss Ambassador Discuss Strategic Cooperation
CWEA Encourages Higher Standard of Sanitary and Phytosanitary
Minister of Agriculture Discusses Future Investment with Czech Delegation
Minister of Agriculture Discusses Animal Health Control with OIE Delegation
WB: High Growth in Cambodia Expected to Continue
Cambodia Seeks India’s Assistance in Agro-Processing and Export
Cambodia To Host 5th India-CLMV Business Conclave Next Week

Indonesia
House speaker urges government to consolidate rice data
Big Ag Turns to Peas to Meet Soaring Global Protein Demand
Indonesia to import 500,000 tons of more rice
Govt. Revokes Regulation on Trading of Refined Crystal Sugar through the Commodity Auction Market
No need for rice market operations, logistics agency chief claims
Minister Amran Raises Dryer Budget to Rp1 Bn
RI to prioritize trade diplomacy for palm oil

Malaysia
KL City Hall begins food safety exercise at Ramadan Bazaars
Challenges await new line up of ministers
Government to achieve goals without increasing cost - Dr M
Rubber smallholders have until May 31 to claim for IPG
NASH hopeful the new government will concentrate on smallholders development
Food supply sufficient for Ramadan-Aidilfitri

Myanmar
Farmers to sue EHL despite legal difficulties
Govt to Help Factories Lift Saudi Ban on Myanmar Seafood, Minister Says
Starbucks to Open First Myanmar Location
Collateral-Free Loans Trialed for Small Farmers in Naypyitaw
Resources ministry plans to reforest 600,000 acres over next decade
Myanmar GDP on the Rise, Expected to Continue: World Bank

Philippines
Amendments to agri-agra lending law are still far from happening
DA seeks to stop conversion of agri lands into subdivisions, industrial zones
Agricultural people’s workshop slated September
Duterte plans to talk to Mahathir, seek agricultural training for Filipinos
Rural banks urged to invest in new technology
Nestlé launches global initiative to help children lead healthier lives
PH, PNG to boost bilateral cooperation on agriculture, aquaculture, agri-business dev’t
Agriculture growth slows to 1.47% in Q1

Singapore
Data analytics and e-platforms changing the commodity sector
Company fined S$6,000 for illegal import of fresh fruit, vegetables
Singapore's commodity trading hits new S$28b high in local business spending

Thailand
Cheap loans, tailored fertiliser offered to farmers
Two cheap loan projects launched for farmers
Money spent on farm projects has multiplier effect throughout economy 
Vietnam farm products exported to Thailand
Rice auction turns heads
Suwaphan to head forest panel
Pressure builds for ban on herbicides
Final lot of inedible stock for sale
Women face an unfair burden in farm work
EU still unhappy with Thai fishing
Farm chemicals ‘pose a threat to public health’
Cabinet gives the nod to marijuana for medical use
Data-Bait: Using Tech to Hook Globe's Multi-Billion-Dollar Fishing Cheats
Govt aims for smoother fishing rules
Farm waste served up as eco-friendly products
Measures to curb palm price plummet
Landless farmers to use forests

Vietnam
Positive policy making needed for agri-tourism booming
Blockchain technology traces farm produce origin in Vietnam
Organic fertiliser demand rises
Satellite-positioning devices provided for Ninh Thuan to fight IUU fishing
S. Korea to inspect Vietnam firms after antibiotics residues detected in shrimp
Project on Bio-technology Institute gets PM’s approval
Vinamilk to spend $127m to advance 2018 dividend
US to investigate catfish production in VN
Belgian potato exporters seek wider market in VN
Fish rules perfected, hook, line and sinker
Firms buy goods from distressed farmers
Low quality, lack of brands hinder tea exports
Agency to review beer producers’ tax liabilities
Organic product market expects higher growth
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

Girl Guides donate food items to 22 families Borneo Bulletin Online 20th May 2018
A TOTAL of 22 less fortunate families comprising members of the Girl Guides Association of Brunei Darussalam (PPPBD) from primary to secondary schools throughout the country received donation in the form of food items. The event took place at the headquarters of PPPBD in Anggerek Desa recently. The donations were presented by Hajah Siti Hafsah binti Haji Abdul Halim, the Chief Commissioner of PPPBD. The donation aimed to lessen the burden of the less fortunate families especially during fasting month, and at the same time, to strengthen the ties among the members of PPPBD.

Eight students end aquaculture and seafood industry training – Borneo Bulletin Online 17th May 2018
A GROUP of eight students from the Chihlee University of Technology (CLUT) completed their internship programme at Golden Corporation Sdn Bhd. The internship programme is part of a collaboration arrangement between CLUT and Golden Corporation Sdn Bhd. The arrangement also includes CLUT providing technical advice to Golden Corporation. GC hosts ongoing internship programmes with CLUT and with local education institutions in Brunei Darussalam so that the students can get holistic learning of the aquaculture and seafood processing industry.

Singapore firm to invest BND300M for fish farming – Borneo Bulletin Online 13th May 2018
BARRAMUNDI Asia, a Singaporean fish farming firm, will invest BND300 million to rear barramundi, or sea bass, in large cages in Brunei’s open seas. The company will build an offshore cage farm to grow kuhlbarra barramundi (selungsong) using technology adopted from salmon farming in Norway, said Joep Staarman, Managing Director of Barramundi Asia in an interview. Speaking on the sidelines of a signing ceremony between the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) and Barramundi Asia Pte Ltd to formalise the company’s investment, he said, “The attractiveness of Brunei is that it has almost virgin territories, clean and free from diseases. Brunei’s reputation as a clean, undisturbed place will make an excellent brand for export.”

JPKE sets ceiling prices for essential food items – Borneo Bulletin Online 9th May 2018
THE Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE), Prime Minister’s Office, with the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood, Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism, set the maximum prices (ceiling prices) for several selected food items during the festive season year of 1439 Hijrah/2018. The maximum prices of these selected food items will come into effect from 1st of Ramadhan, 1439 Hijrah until 7th of Syawal, 1439 Hijrah. The objective of setting the price ceiling is to control the prices of food items, especially those used as the main ingredients of food prepared during the festive season.

Cambodia

DPM Sar Kheng and Swiss Ambassador Discuss Strategic Cooperation AKP 21st May 2018
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Ambassador of Switzerland to Cambodia have discussed about strategic cooperation. Deputy Prime Minister, Samdech Kralahom Sar Kheng, and visiting Bangkok-based Ambassador of Switzerland to Cambodia H.E. Ivo Sieber held the talks recently here in Phnom Penh. On the occasion, the Swiss ambassador presented to Samdech Kralahom Sar Kheng the gist of 2018-2021 strategic cooperation between the Mekong countries – including Cambodia – and Switzerland. Speaking highly of swift progress of Cambodia, the ambassador acknowledged Cambodia as a key player in the strategic cooperation framework. H.E. Ivo Sieber also reiterated his government’s commitment to continue contributing to the development of Cambodia, particularly in the area of vocational training, agriculture, local governance – well aligned to the set United Nations Sustainable Development Goals towards 2030.

CWEA Encourages Higher Standard of Sanitary and Phytosanitary AKP 18th May 2018
Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA) has encouraged internationally standardised sanitary and phytosanitary in Cambodia toward broader exports to international markets. With years of experience in leading CWEA and in the sector, Ms. Keo Mom – Director of a Cambodia’s leading food industry called Ly Ly – made the point, emphasising that sanitary and phytosanitary remain Cambodia’s biggest challenge for exports among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Despite the hard work of the Royal Government of Cambodia as well as concerned ministries, she continued, Cambodia’s production standards have gained limited acceptance by the international markets.

Minister of Agriculture Discusses Future Investment with Czech Delegation AKP 17th May 2018
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Veng Sakhon has granted a discussion meeting to a delegation from the Embassy of the Czech Republic to Cambodia. In the meeting taking place on May 16 at the ministry office here in Phnom Penh, the Czech delegation – H.E. Vlastimil Tesar, head of mission, and Mr. Stepan Vojnar, head of economy and commerce section – intended to explore future investment cooperation with Cambodia, particularly in agriculture.

Minister of Agriculture Discusses Animal Health Control with OIE Delegation AKP 17th May 2018
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has received a delegation of the World Organisation for Animal Health – known in short as OIE – to discuss about animal health control in Cambodia. According to the May 16 post on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, certified animal health control is vital for Cambodia to export animal products to both regional and international markets. From the meeting taking place yesterday at the ministry office here in Phnom Penh, H.E. Minister Veng Sakhon received updates on a two-week assessment study of visiting OIE delegation led by Dr. John Weaver on Cambodia’s existing animal health control mechanisms.

WB: High Growth in Cambodia Expected to Continue AKP 10th May 2018
The Economic growth in Cambodia remains robust and is projected to accelerate slightly to 6.9 percent in 2018, compared with 6.8 percent in 2017, buoyed by a rebound in textile and apparel exports as well as tourism and agriculture, says a new World Bank report. Rising government spending and favourable global conditions, including robust demand in advanced economies, are expected to underpin Cambodia’s high growth trajectory, according to the latest Cambodia Economic Update (CEU), a biannual report that provides up-to-date information on macroeconomic developments in Cambodia, both in the short and medium term, launched today.

Cambodia Seeks India’s Assistance in Agro-Processing and Export AKP 21st May 2018
Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen urged here this afternoon India to help Cambodia in the processing and export of Cambodian agricultural products and to establish direct flight between the two countries in order to boost tourism. According to H.E. Eang Sophalleth, Assistant to the Cambodian Premier, the request was made by Samdech Techo Hun Sen while receiving visiting Minister of Commerce and Industry of India H.E. Suresh Prabhu, at the Peace Palace this afternoon, on the sidelines of the 5th India-CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) Business Conclave being held in Phnom Penh. Samdech Techo Hun Sen expressed his support to the cooperation between India and the CLMV countries, hoping that it will help reducing the development gap between the newer and older member states of ASEAN. H.E. Suresh Prabhu highly appreciated the long-lasting relationship between both nations and told the Prime Minister of his visit, the purpose of which is to discuss the cooperation with the CLMV countries in the fields of tourism, including direct flight, agro-processing and export, health, education and so on.

Cambodia To Host 5th India-CLMV Business Conclave Next Week AKP 17th May 2018
Cambodia is going to host the 5th India-CLMV Business Conclave in Phnom Penh early next week, said the Ministry of Commerce in a recent news release. This meeting to take place on May 21-22 aims at promoting and tightening the economic, trade, culture, and tourism relations between India, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam, it pointed out. The upcoming event will also give opportunity to traders to find trade and investment partners, share information through sectoral discussions, it added. According to the same source, the 5th India-CLMV Business Conclave will bring a lot of benefits to Cambodia under the regional integration cooperation in the areas of trade, economy, industry, agriculture, health, tourism, transportation, real estate, education, ITC, and professional training between the five participating countries. The 4th India-CLMV Business Conclave was held in Jaipur, India in February 2017.

Indonesia

House speaker urges government to consolidate rice data The Jakarta Post 22nd May 2018
House of Representatives Speaker Bambang Soesatyo has called on the government to consolidate its data on rice stocks, following different statements from government officials on whether the country needed to import rice or not. Bambang questioned the persistently high price of rice, even though the government imported 500,000 tons of rice earlier this year and would soon import another 500,000 tons of the commodity.

Big Ag Turns to Peas to Meet Soaring Global Protein Demand Jakarta Globe 19th May 2018
In a joint venture at a Wisconsin plant, flour milled from Iowa yellow peas is mixed with water and spun at high speed through stainless steel drums, separating the protein from starch and fiber. The resulting powder ends up blended into waffle mixes, sports drinks, nutrition bars and protein shakes - small examples of a much larger push by the world’s biggest agriculture firms to find alternative plant-based proteins to feed people and livestock worldwide.

Indonesia to import 500,000 tons of more rice The Jakarta Post 17th May 2018
The Trade Ministry has issued a permit for State Logistics Agency (Bulog) to import an additional 500,000 tons of rice this year after it previously issued a permit to import the same amount  earlier this year. “We have issued an import agreement of 500,000 tons of rice. It is the second [rice import],” said the ministry’s international trade director general, Oke Nurwan, in Jakarta on Tuesday as reported by tempo.co. He said the import permit was issued during the recent meeting of ministers under the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister. The rice, which will be imported from several countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, India and Pakistan, is expected to curb the price of rice, which is still above the price ceiling decided by the government, the official said.

Govt. Revokes Regulation on Trading of Refined Crystal Sugar through the Commodity Auction Market Hukum Online 17th May 2018
The Minister of Trade (“Minister”) has now revoked the regulation which addressed the trading of refined crystal sugar through the commodity auction market through the issuance of Regulation of the Minister No. 54 of 2018 (“Regulation 54/2018”) on the Revocation of Regulation of the Minister No. 16 M-DAG/PER/3/2017 on the Trading of Refined Crystal Sugar through the Commodity Auction Market, as amended several times

No need for rice market operations, logistics agency chief claims The Jakarta Post 15th May 2018
State Logistics Agency (Bulog) president director Budi Waseso says he can guarantee the availability of rice in the market because under his leadership, the agency will no longer hold market operations, a mechanism used to push rice prices down due to rice scarcity. “[Under my leadership], there will be no market operations, which Bulog had only used like a fire  extinguisher. I want that [rice] to always be available [in the market],” said Budi as reported by kompas.com on Tuesday. Soon after his inauguration as Bulog chief, Budi introduced the use of a barcode system to monitor an online database of commodities.

Minister Amran Raises Dryer Budget to Rp1 Bn Tempo 9th May 2018
Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman has increased the budget to procure 1,000 rice dryers worth Rp1 billion. “It is expected that there will be no more complain about the high of water content. This is based on the President’s instruction,” he said at the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) on Wednesday, May 9. Amran explained one unit of dryer can dry 10,000 to 15,000 tons of unhulled rice per day. The dryers will be provided for the farmers in eight main granaries. According to Amran, the dryers could reduce the distribution time to Bulog and reduce the price. In addition, the price of unhulled rice from farmers is expected to be higher. Therefore, Amran hopes that farmers, business owners, and consumers will gain benefits from the program. Furthermore, Amran guaranteed the availability of food stock during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr holiday. “Our [food] stock is safe. Sugar, meat, onion, eggs, and other foods are safe,” he added.

RI to prioritize trade diplomacy for palm oil Antara News 9th May 2018
The government would prioritize trade diplomacy for Indonesian palm oil sector, after the European Union Parliament`s decision to exclude palm oil as biofuel source in the region by 2021. Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, stated that the government would prioritize dialogue and lobbies, especially regarding the EU Parliament`s decision discriminating palm oil products. "The Indonesian government would prioritize trade diplomacy that puts forward dialogue and lobbies, and explain the government`s measures to apply sustainable palm oil sector," Pandjaitan noted here on Tuesday.

Malaysia

KL City Hall begins food safety exercise at Ramadan Bazaars Bernama 17th May 2018
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) today started its Food Safety Operation 2018 at all Ramadan bazaars around the capital to ensure that all food sold meet its standards, especially in terms of hygiene. DBKL Mayor Datuk Seri Mhd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz said enforcement operations on food sampling and stall sanitation, were seen as an effective measure in giving reminders to the hawkers to be more alert and to have the highest level of cleanliness.

Challenges await new line up of ministers Bernama 21st May 2018
Twelve days after Malaysians gave Pakatan Harapan (PH) the mandate to govern the country, 13 preliminary Cabinet ministers were sworn in today, indicating a new start in government administration. The Cabinet ministers took their oath of office, loyalty and secrecy before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V at Istana Negara this evening, in line with the Federal Constitution and affirming the responsibilities of the ministers who start their official duties instantly.

Government to achieve goals without increasing cost - Dr M Bernama 21st May 2018
The government will not increase the number of civil servants or set up new institutions to achieve the country's goals, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today. He said the existing institutions would be utilised in a more efficient manner, without increasing the cost. "We are confident that with the wisdom of the administrators and government chosen by the people, we can make changes without increasing the cost of administration," he said when addressing staff of the Prime Minister's Department at Dataran Putra, here.

Rubber smallholders have until May 31 to claim for IPG Bernama 19th May 2018
Rubber smallholders have until May 31 to submit claims for the Rubber production Incentive (IPG) based on the April output. The Malaysian Rubber Board (LGM) said claims can be made at its offices in the peninsular, agriculture departments in Sarawak and the Sabah Rubber Industry Board by showing the official sales receipts and the smallholders Rubber Transaction Authority Permit.

NASH hopeful the new government will concentrate on smallholders development NST Online 16th May 2018
National Association of Smallholders Malaysia (NASH) is hopeful that the new government under the Pakatan Harapan coalition will be able to implement the mandate that have been given by the people. NASH president Datuk Aliasak Ambia said the new government under the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would restore the glory of the country, especially the agricultural sector as it once did.

Food supply sufficient for Ramadan-Aidilfitri Bernama 15th May 2018
The supply for food products such as chicken, meat and fruits are adequate for Ramadan till Aidilftri. Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar also said the price of the products would remain stable throughout the period.

Myanmar

Farmers to sue EHL despite legal difficulties The Myanmar Times 21st May 2018
A case will be filed against military-owned Economic Holding Ltd (EHL) regarding land confiscated from farmers in Thilawa, according to high court lawyer U Myint Thwin, who is helping the complainants. Two farmers will sue EHL who were injured and hospitalised when police fired rubber bullets during unrest on May 12 that was sparked by the alleged seizure of farmers land by EHL in Thilawa, Yangon Region. They will send complaint letters to the President Office, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Human Rights Commission.

Govt to Help Factories Lift Saudi Ban on Myanmar Seafood, Minister Says The Irrawaddy 17th May 2018
The Myanmar government will work with private seafood factories to resume fish and prawn exports to Saudi Arabia, which banned their import in April, said Deputy Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Minister U Hla Kyaw. The deputy minister was responding to a question from lawmaker U Aung Kyi Nyunt during an Upper House session on Thursday about the government’s efforts to overturn bans on seafood imports from Myanmar in Saudi Arabia, the US and the EU and on its plans to find new markets.

Starbucks to Open First Myanmar Location The Irrawaddy 14th May 2018
Starbucks will open its first coffee shop in Myanmar at the Sule Square Mall in downtown Yangon. The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) officially endorsed the service provider Coffee Concepts Myanmar Limited (CCM) to be the sole operator for catering and sales of Starbucks food and beverages; sales of Starbucks brand products, and the operation of Starbucks stores, at its meeting in Yangon on May 12. CCM was registered with the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration in December 2017.

Collateral-Free Loans Trialed for Small Farmers in Naypyitaw The Irrawaddy 11th May 2018
The Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank (SMIDB) will launch a trial scheme to provide collateral-free loans to vegetable farmers in the Naypyitaw Council area, Union Industry Minister U Khin Maung Cho announced on Tuesday. The minister announced the plan at a ceremony to mark the approval of loans to operators of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises at SMIDB’s Naypyitaw branch.

Resources ministry plans to reforest 600,000 acres over next decade The Myanmar Times 21st May 2018
“We will plant about 360,000 areas where deforestation took place and natural conservation cannot be done in the next 10 years,” he said in a press briefing in Nay Pyi Taw. U Kyaw Kyaw Lwin said the ministry will also encourage the private sector to replant more than 28,000 acres of denuded forest land.  “If the private sector plants more, it can reduce the expenses of the state,” he said.  U Kyaw Kyaw Lwin said the reforestation would cost about  K500 billion (US$370 million) and will be carried out by asking for international aid. 

Myanmar GDP on the Rise, Expected to Continue: World Bank The Irrawaddy 18th May 2018
Amid risk remaining high, Myanmar’s economy performed better in the 2017-18 fiscal year with a recovery in agriculture, improved manufacturing performance with garments continuing to excel and strong services growth, the World Bank said in its Myanmar Economic Monitor report released on Thursday. It said that the economy experienced a broad-based increase in real GDP growth to 6.4 percent in 2017-18 from 5.9 percent in 2016-17. Growth is projected to increase to 6.8 percent in 2018-19.

Philippines

Amendments to agri-agra lending law are still far from happening Manila Bulletin Business 21st May 2018
A technical study on the possible amendments of Agri-Agra Reform Act funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB) is now under way, but the government can’t yet commit as to when the law — which requires all banks to set aside 25 percent of their loan portfolio to the farming sector — will be finally updated nearly a decade since its implementation. The amendments, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier, could pave the way for a great improvement, if not 100 percent, in the compliance of the law, which stands very low at the moment.

DA seeks to stop conversion of agri lands into subdivisions, industrial zones Manila Bulletin Business 14th May 2018
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol had called the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte on the problem hounding the agriculture sector for decades, which is the conversion of agriculture lands into subdivisions and industrial complexes — something that may not sit well on one of the country’s legislators. To date, he said the agriculture sector loses about 50,000 hectares of land every year to pave way for industrial and residential developments, which he calls “illegal.”

Agricultural people’s workshop slated September Manila Bulletin News 12th May 2018
To strengthen and promote competency certification systems for farmers and agricultural workers in Southeast Asia, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has recently joined forces with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), formulating recommendations for the recognition of skills of agri-workers in the region.

Duterte plans to talk to Mahathir, seek agricultural training for Filipinos Manila Bulletin News 11th May 2018
President Duterte is planning to talk to newly elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and seek agricultural training for Filipinos amid government plans to declare Lanao provinces as land reform areas.

Rural banks urged to invest in new technology Manila Bulletin Business 21st May 2018
To be “strong and dependable delivery channel in the provision of banking services,” the country’s rural banks must further invest on technology as well as expend their agriculture financing. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said this during the 65th Annual Convention and General Membership Meeting of the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP). “With the digital transformation of the banking system, we, at the BSP, are optimistic that the rural banking industry can emerge as a strong and dependable delivery channel in the provision of banking services. It can do so by taking advantage of available technology,” Espenilla said.

Nestlé launches global initiative to help children lead healthier lives Manila Bulletin Business 21st May 2018
On the United Nations International Day of Families, Nestlé announced its global “Nestlé for Healthier Kids” initiative. The program includes the further development of healthier products and advice for families on nutrition and exercise. It aims at helping 50 million children lead healthier lives by 2030. Since its foundation, Nestlé has been committed to helping parents and caregivers provide the right nutrition to their children. With this new initiative Nestlé is accelerating the transformation of its food and beverage portfolio worldwide. In 2017 alone, the company launched more than 1000 new products to meet the nutritional needs of children. In the same year, it provided 174 billion servings of fortified foods and beverages in 66 countries where people lack essential micronutrients such as iron, iodine and vitamin A.

PH, PNG to boost bilateral cooperation on agriculture, aquaculture, agri-business dev’t Manila Bulletin News 16th May 2018
The Philippines and Papua New Guinea have agreed to boost bilateral cooperation on agriculture, aquaculture, and agri-business development in a bid to help ensure food security. The Joint Declaration on Agricultural Cooperation between the two countries was signed after President Duterte held talks with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Malacañang on revitalizing economic and trade relations and exploring new areas of cooperation.

Agriculture growth slows to 1.47% in Q1 Manila Bulletin Business 8th May 2018
The country’s agriculture sector grew at a slower pace in the first three months of the year, but production value was higher at P444 billion as prices of commodities shoot up during the period. Based on a data released by Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) yesterday, the agriculture sector slackened in the first quarter of 2018, growing only by 1.47 percent compared to the growth of 5.28 percent it booked in the same period last year. This was also below the sector’s gross output for the period January to December, 2017, which improved by 3.95 percent. Although the production was low, its gross value during the first quarter of this year still jumped by 8.94 percent to P444 billion at current prices.

Singapore

Data analytics and e-platforms changing the commodity sector The Business Times 17th May 2018
THE use of data analytics and electronic platforms is transforming the Singapore commodity-trading sector, says a senior officer of Enterprise Singapore (ESG). The success of these will enhance Singapore's value proposition for commodity trading companies, as trading volumes increasingly move to Asia. While innovation has always been part of the commodity trade - due to its highly competitive nature and the sector's thin margins - new digital technological trends are emerging in the sector, said Amreeta Eng, director of trade, connectivity and business services at the government agency responsible for enterprise development, including building Singapore up as a global trading hub.

Company fined S$6,000 for illegal import of fresh fruit, vegetables Channel NewsAsia 16th May 2018
A company was fined S$6,000 on Wednesday (May 16) for importing fresh fruit and vegetables from Malaysia without a valid permit, said the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) in a press release. About 1.17 tonnes of undeclared produce was uncovered in two lorries at Woodlands Checkpoint last November.

Singapore's commodity trading hits new S$28b high in local business spending The Business Times 21st May 2018
COMMODITY trading hit a new high of S$28 billion in local business spending and hired more than 15,000 professionals last year, representing a 2.7 per cent compounded annual growth rate over the past five years. This came on the back of strong demand growth from key markets such as natural gas, nickel and copper, which is driving increased investments in the sector. Last year, the sector generated close to US$1.2 trillion in turnover. These figures were released on Thursday at Enterprise Singapore's Global Trader Dialogue 2018. The government agency attributed the healthy growth to a sustained global economy and demand from Asia.

Thailand

Cheap loans, tailored fertiliser offered to farmers The Nation 20th May 2018
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry launched “Kaset Sukjai” cards for more than three million farmers across the country on Sunday. The cards can be used to buy farm-production materials through two Pracha Rath projects, which aim to help reduce farmers’ costs. “The government has approved more than Bt93billion for these projects,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Luck Wajananawat said as he presided over the launch of the projects in Chachoengsao province.

Two cheap loan projects launched for farmers Bangkok Post 20th May 2018
The government has kicked off two major cheap loan projects with a combined value of 93.6 billion baht to help reduce the cost of farming, according to the state-run Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). The projects come in the form of a loan card provided to farmers and a loan to be disbursed to farm cooperatives and community enterprise groups. Farmers will each be given Kaset Sukjai ("Happy Farming") cards with 30,000-baht credit. They can use the cards to buy farm supplies such as fertilisers, pesticides, seeds and fuel as well as small farm machines at the A-Shop on the BAAC application. Materials at the shop are supplied by more than 17,000 participating stores, said Deputy Agriculture Minister Luck Wajananawat.

Money spent on farm projects has multiplier effect throughout economy  The Nation 20th May 2018
THAILAND’S Bt42.87-billion budget for agriculture has led to a money flow of about Bt113.52 billion in the economic system, according to the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE). Vinaroj Supsongsuk, OAE director-general, said that the multiplier effect of the government spending on 15 key agriculture-related policies could drive the flow of money to 2.65 times the actual amount budgeted and generate additional farm income. Of these 15 policies a total of Bt42.87 billion is focused on five areas: upgrading agricultural standards for sustainability extending across water resource management, fishery standardisation, development of a rice seed centre, assistance on debts to agricultural cooperative members and the Pracha Rath farm development institute.

Vietnam farm products exported to Thailand The Nation 18th May 2018
WHOLESALE supermarket MM Mega Market Vietnam has exported more than 100 tonnes of Vietnamese agricultural products to Thailand for selling through 700 Big C malls, where the two retailers share a parent. Its first batch of farm exports comprise yellow sweet potato, purple sweet potato, dragon fruit, dried fruits, and rice paper. It follows joint efforts by the supermarket and farmers in provinces of Lam Dong and Binh Thuan and other places to meet the quality requirements of business partners.

Rice auction turns heads Bangkok Post 19th May 2018
The state auction for the final lot of edible-grade rice stocks totalling 43,700 tonnes has drawn active participation from interested bidders, with nine proposing the highest buying prices for the whole amount put up for auction. Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said a total of 35 bidders submitted bidding envelopes yesterday and nine of them proposed the highest bidding prices for the entire 43,700 tonnes at a combined 534.08 million baht. Bidding prices ranged from 6,000 to 22,000 baht a tonne, depending on grain type. The bidders proposed buying 5% white rice, the largest portion at 24,500 tonnes and 56.08% of the total, followed by 100% hom mali fragrant jasmine rice (7,300 tonnes).

Suwaphan to head forest panel Bangkok Post 17th May 2018
Prime Minister's Office minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana will be appointed to chair a panel to follow up on state efforts to solve problems involving P-Move, a grassroots network of forest communities. Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who chairs the government's steering committee on national administration, said the meeting had discussed the P-Move issue and agreed to set up a panel to take charge. The committee will go through problems raised by P-Move and will go ahead with issues that do not pose legal challenges, he said, adding that those requiring legal amendments may have to wait.

Pressure builds for ban on herbicides Bangkok Post 17th May 2018
Academic experts have urged the committee making decisions on the use of chemicals to ban the herbicides paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos. "The government should not help a small group benefit by letting the majority suffer from risks arising from the use of these hazardous chemicals," Yupadee Sirisinsuk, deputy manager of the Drug System Monitoring and Development Unit at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Pharmacies said. "We call on the committee to make the right decision and ban the use of these chemicals in this country," she said. "We can no longer be complacent. As academics, we will move forward giving correct information to people," Ms Yupadee added.

Final lot of inedible stock for sale Bangkok Post 16th May 2018
The government is calling an auction for the final lot of inedible-grade rice stocks totalling 2 million tonnes, with stringent control measures vowed to prevent any abuses. Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said as chairman of a panel handling the government's rice sales, responsible authorities would unveil the terms of reference (ToR) for 2 million tonnes of inedible-grade rice on June 4. The lot comprises 1.5 million tonnes of rice fit for animal feed production, and 500,000 tonnes inedible both for humans and animals, suitable only for fuel or energy production.

Women face an unfair burden in farm work The Nation 16th May 2018
Civilisation began with agriculture. When our nomadic ancestors began to settle and grow their own food, human society changed. Not only did villages, towns and cities begin to flourish, but knowledge, arts and the technological sciences also grew. No matter how sophisticated human civilisation becomes, one cannot ignore the importance of agriculture. In the late 1980s, it was the livelihood for more than 90 per cent of Nepal’s population, although only 20 per cent of the total land area was cultivable, which accounted about 60 per cent of the GDP.

EU still unhappy with Thai fishing The Nation 16th May 2018
The European Union has kept a yellow flag for Thailand over the country’s illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing problems, a source at the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry revealed on Wednesday. The source said Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach was already informed of the results from the EU’s review of Thailand’s performance.  A delegation from the EU visited Thailand last month to discuss anti-IUU efforts.  “Two issues behind the EU decision to not upgrade Thailand’s anti-IUU ratings are fleet management and laws enforcement,” the source said.

Farm chemicals ‘pose a threat to public health’ The Nation 16th May 2018
With decision due next week, academics call for ban on dangerous herbicides and pesticides. ACADEMICS urged the government to prioritise the protection of people’s health from the threat of chemical contamination and ensure a healthy environment in keeping with the county’s pledge to pursue Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The group of professors and researchers in the medical and environmental fields from Thailand’s leading universities pressed two major demands on the authorities in an academic seminar titled “Academic truths on the controlling of hazardous chemicals: paraquat, glyphosate, and chlorpyrifos” at Chulalongkorn University yesterday.

Cabinet gives the nod to marijuana for medical use The Nation 16th May 2018
A DRAFT LAW, which allows marijuana use for medical purposes, has sailed through the Cabinet. It will next go before the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for deliberations. The Narcotics Code Bill won the nod of the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Data-Bait: Using Tech to Hook Globe's Multi-Billion-Dollar Fishing Cheats Jakarta Globe 12th May 2018
In 2016, a Thai-flagged fishing vessel was detained in Seychelles on suspicion that it had been fishing illegally in the Indian Ocean, one of the world's richest fishing grounds. The Jin Shyang Yih 668 was caught with help from technology deployed by FISH-i Africa, a grouping of eight east African countries including Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya. But as the vessel headed to Thailand, which pledged to investigate and prosecute the case, it turned off its tracking equipment and disappeared. Its whereabouts remain unknown. Such activity is rampant in the global fishing industry, experts say, where illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated to cost $23.5 billion a year.

Govt aims for smoother fishing rules Bangkok Post 11th May 2018
The government will decide next week whether to streamline the monitoring system at Port In Port Out (PIPO) centres as proposed by the fishing industry, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya said Thursday. Gen Chatchai, who is in charge of resolving IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing, said a proposal to streamline document inspections at PIPO centres will be put up for consideration by the IUU sub-panel headed by Gen Chatchai next Wednesday. If it is agreed upon it will take effect the following day. The PIPO centres, located in 22 coastal provinces, monitor fishing vessels as part of the government's attempts to combat IUU fishing.

Farm waste served up as eco-friendly products The Nation 11th May 2018
RICE husks are an unlikely raw material for a creative line of kitchenware, but they are the foundation of a business idea that is rooted in environmental awareness. Wipawinee and Tharapat Chaisutthiroj left behind the security of company pay cheques to pursue a new start as entrepreneurs when they saw a business opportunity to develop an innovative product line that makes use of the husks – usually considered waste in farming.

Measures to curb palm price plummet Bangkok Post 10th May 2018
The government is set to introduce both short- and long-term measures to cope with the seasonal palm oil surplus to curb the fall of fresh palm nut prices. Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said as a short-term measure, the Commerce Ministry will cooperate with the Industry Ministry to require oil palm-crushing factories to buy fresh oil palm nuts with at least 18% oil content, a move to pressure farmers to produce higher-quality nuts. The Commerce Ministry has pledged to boost exports of crude palm oil as much as possible, ordering the Foreign Trade Department to launch more stringent import measures to curb cross-border palm oil trade from neighbouring countries, which is limited to 40,000 tonnes a year.

Landless farmers to use forests Bangkok Post 8th May 2018
Buri Ram: The government is granting landless farmers permission to use forest land for farming in Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima, according to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Surasak Karnjanarat. Farmers will have access to five forest reserves covering more than 1,400 rai in the three Northeastern provinces, Gen Surasak announced Monday. The announcement was made ahead of the mobile cabinet meeting in Buri Ram Tuesday.

Vietnam

Positive policy making needed for agri-tourism booming vietnamnews.vn 21st May 2018
Combining agriculture and tourism has huge potential for Việt Nam, but putting the plan into practice is still a long way off. Officials say a lack of planning, strategy and training is holding the idea back. So says Nguyễn Quý Phương, an official from department of tourism under the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), during a seminar in sustainable eco-tourism and agriculture and rural development

Blockchain technology traces farm produce origin in Vietnam VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 21st May 2018
Blockchain technology is an important solution to trace the responsibilities of involved parties in the farm produce supply chain. However, the feasibility of the technology application in the immediate time is questionable.

Organic fertiliser demand rises vietnamnews.vn 18th May 2018
An expected rise in demand for organic fertilisers has sparked many companies to invest more in production. The Bình Điền II Fertiliser Joint Stock Company opened a plant in March with a capacity to produce 100,000 tonnes a year in Long An Province, which in its first phase produces organic and microbial fertilisers and high-grade NPK fertilisers.

Satellite-positioning devices provided for Ninh Thuan to fight IUU fishing VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 21st May 2018
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has decided to allocate 200 satellite-positioning devices (Movimar) to the central coastal province of Ninh Thuan as part of measures to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

S. Korea to inspect Vietnam firms after antibiotics residues detected in shrimp The Jakarta Post 17th May 2018
South Korea will send an inspection team to Vietnam to assess the country’s activities in controlling chemicals and antibiotics in the processing and export of shrimp to South Korea in June this year, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). The trip was announced after the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MSDF) sent two letters in April announcing the consecutive detection of Nitrofurans residue in shrimp shipments from Vietnam. Nitrofurans are a class of drugs typically used as antibiotics or antimicrobials.

Project on Bio-technology Institute gets PM’s approval VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 17th May 2018
The Bio-technology Institute under the Hue University in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue will be developed into one of the three national bio-technology centres on a par with ASEAN level under a project just approved by the Prime Minister.

Vinamilk to spend $127m to advance 2018 dividend vietnamnews.vn 16th May 2018
Vinamilk will pay the interim dividend for 2018 and issue additional shares to increase the share-capital in the third quarter. On September 6, the dairy company will finalise the list of shareholders that will receive the interim dividend for 2018 at the ratio of 20 per cent (equivalent to VNĐ2,000 per share-holding). The dividend will be paid in cash on September 26, which means Vinamilk will spend some VNĐ2.9 trillion (US$127.2 million) for this payout.

US to investigate catfish production in VN vietnamnews.vn 16th May 2018
The US delegation will investigate the production process of tra fish from May 14-25, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, will conduct a field inspection under the US catfish control programme for Việt Nam’s tra fish production.

Belgian potato exporters seek wider market in VN vietnamnews.vn 15th May 2018
Belgian enterprises want to widen their network and increase their share in Việt Nam’s growing market for processed potato products. They also want to raise awareness of Belgian fries in Việt Nam and the region. This was announced at a press conference in the capital city on Monday.

Fish rules perfected, hook, line and sinker vietnamnews.vn 15th May 2018
Việt Nam has perfected the legal framework of nine recommendations issued by the European Commission (EC) to ensure responsible and sustainable fishing. This was revealed by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường in Hà Nội on Monday.

Firms buy goods from distressed farmers vietnamnews.vn 14th May 2018
Korean supermarket chain Lotte Mart has bought more than 10 tonnes of pumpkins and five tonnes of watermelons from distressed farmers facing declining prices because of a bumper crop in Đắk Lắk and Quảng Nam provinces. Lotte Mart plans to increase the purchase volume to 50 tonnes of pumpkins. To help farmers, the supermarket has paid them more than the price offered by traders.

Low quality, lack of brands hinder tea exports vietnamnews.vn 12th May 2018
Việt Nam’s tea exports dropped in both volume and value in the first four months of 2018, despite a price hike. Low quality and lack of internationally known brands remain the main barriers for Vietnamese tea in gaining a strong foothold in foreign markets. Việt Nam exported 34,000 tonnes of tea for US$54 million between January-April, a decrease of 10.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent, respectively, from the same period in 2017.

Agency to review beer producers’ tax liabilities vietnamnews.vn 11th May 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ has asked the State audit agency to review the investigation conclusions concerning tax liabilities of two beer corporations amounting up to VNĐ4.35 trillion (US$191 million). The two corporations are Sài Gòn Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Corporation (Sabeco) and Hà Nội Beer Alcohol and Beverage Joint Stock Corporation (Habeco).

Organic product market expects higher growth vietnamnews.vn 10th May 2018
Food safety is one of the biggest concerns in Việt Nam. The seventh business mission, under the EU Business Avenues in South East Asia programme, will bring more than 40 organic food and beverage producers to Singapore and Vietnam to introduce their quality products to the market. The mission will be participating in EuroSphere 2018 in HCM City from May 18 to 20. A Việt Nam News reporter Vu Hoa talks with experts in the sector about potential and challenges for the organic sector in Việt Nam.