Food & Agriculture Update: June 21, 2018

Food & Agriculture Update | June 21, 2018
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Samantha Pryor
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam - July 11-12, Hanoi
The Council is registering members for its Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam on July 11-12, 2018. The sector-focused mission will offer members an opportunity to engage key public and private sector stakeholders which make up Vietnam’s domestic agriculture ecosystem. To register, please click here. Deadline for receipt of registration and mission materials is Friday, June 22. For questions, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org).
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Malaysia's new Agriculture Minister and National Agriculture Advisory Council
The appointment of Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Salahuddin Ayub on May 21 has brought several changes to the structure of the ministry and its goals for the country’s agricultural sector. Formerly the Vice President and head of the Youth Wing of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), Minister Salahuddin is focusing on improving current policies as well as reforming the structure of the ministry and its agencies. To do so, he is aiming to reduce the degree of political extremism within the ministry and appoint qualified personnel from a diverse range of professional backgrounds to prevent political leanings from affecting the ministry’s effectiveness.

On June 5, Minister Salahuddin announced the first four new members of the National Agriculture Advisory Council: Dagang NeXchange Bhd Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Mamat, Leong Hup International Sdn Bhd Executive Director Tan Sri Francis Lau Tuang Nguang, Universiti Putra Malaysia Institute of Agriculture and Food Policy Studies Director Datin Paduka Fatimah Mohd Arshad, and young influential entrepreneur Mohd Najib Asaddok. At the council announcement, Minister Salahuddin stated his confidence that the new council would be able to substantially contribute to decreasing the degree of national food dependency and boosting agricultural exports. Since its creation, the new council has terminated Padi Beras Nasional Bhd’s (BERNAS) monopoly on rice imports to form a more open market for rice yields and create a stronger, more competitive industry.

New Initiatives in Cambodia’s Agriculture Sector
Cambodia's agriculture sector, one of the country's main revenue streams and areas for economic growth, has been receiving millions of dollars of investments from both the government and development partners. One such project, announced by the Ministry of Agriculture in mid-2016, puts USD20 million into a three-year initiative to support crop growth along the Mekong River. The project's goal was to supply clean and quality produce to local markets. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has also invested USD189.5 million to support the implementation of ten projects. These project investments have positively impacted Cambodian farmers by raising their net income, protecting them from shocks in the commodity supply chain, and more broadly promoted the resilience of the agriculture industry.

To improve the strength and production of Cambodia's non-rice agricultural goods, the Ministry of Economy and Finance launched a USD2 million fund to increase credit access among small farmers producing agricultural goods other than rice on June 12. Disbursed by the Rural Development Bank (RDB), money can only be lent to agricultural communities (not individual farmers) to promote increased production of healthy and quality goods. The program aims to capitalize on the growing demand for healthy food by boosting local vegetable and meat production. Subsequently, the program will begin to reduce Cambodia's reliance on imported goods and boost the country's gross domestic product.

Vietnam’s Proposed Tax on Sweetened Drinks
In August 2017, Vietnam's Ministry of Finance proposed a 10% special consumption tax on sweetened beverages, expected to be levied in early 2019. As one-fourth of Vietnamese adults are reported to be overweight or obese, the Ministry hopes that this proposed measure will lead to a decrease in obesity. While the goal of this initiative is to promote healthier habits by discouraging the purchase of sweetened beverages, many stakeholders from both industry as well as government have pushed back against the tax. A central opponent to the tax, the Vietnam Association of Liquor, Beer, and Beverage (VBA), has stated that the levied tax will likely increase production costs, leading to a rise in fake and low-quality products within the market. Other fears about the tax include harming local SMEs and adverse effects on the beverage industry's large workforce. To ease the initial shock and reduce the burden on local businesses, the VBA suggested incrementally imposing the beverage tax.

Vietnam is one in a string of ASEAN nations levying taxes against sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages: Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia have already imposed beverage taxes of 25%, 10%, and 10%, respectively. Myanmar, the Philippines, and Indonesia are also considering a similar tax. In Singapore, as part of their War on Diabetes, the Singapore government launched the Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce (DPCT) to help prevent diabetes and care for the 1 in 8 Singaporeans who are afflicted with the condition. Through this initiative, the DPCT is cutting advertising for sweetened drinks, is advising its people to eliminate added sugars, and is clearly and prominently labeling nutritional information and sugar content on packaged sweetened beverages.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

ASEAN
Saving the planet, making profit: a 'nexus' approach

Cambodia
Hopes grow as agriculture sector gains from initiative
Ministry unveils new fund to support non-rice crop production
Thailand asked to intervene in Angkor Wat branding case
China Helping Boost Cambodia Rice’ Global Image & Quality
Minister of Interior to Preside over the Destruction of Contaminated Food Products
Cut More Trees! Cambodians Challenge Conservation

Indonesia
Global warming will make veggies harder to find: Study
Clean water program benefits 121 Clove Farmers and 170 Families
Government removes income tax for sugar
Indonesia's Coffee Retail Market Shows Lots of Promise: Study
Industry Ministry to open food and beverage innovation center 


Laos
Govt to create more fish conservation zones
Govt announces 268-hectare botanical conservation area
Ginseng farmers of Laos seek international markets
Lao Prime Minister Tightens Regulations Against Wildlife Trafficking
Lao Banana Workers Sickened by Chemicals Used on Farms

Malaysia
Minister expects price of rice to come down after ending monopoly
Kanthan Baru folk battling pollution problem
Feeding the future
Dam project halted for now
Cheaper rice soon with Bernas monopoly broken
Malaysian palm oil/Vegoils: Market factors to watch
Owners do not want their land to be turned into commercial plantations
Bernas keen to work with Govt if it wants to review import system
Sharing vision for quality water
MP: Politicians interfered in DBKL’s hygiene checks
Filthy reality in back alleys
Some 15 restaurants shut down so far this year in Subang
First four members of National Agriculture Advisory Council named
Agro ministry to cut red tape

Myanmar
Government encourages subsistence fish farming in rivers, lakes
Yangon HQ to oversee all water resources
New national agriculture strategy to drive growth, if properly implemented

Philippines
Tobacco industry shifting focus to export market
Tariff hike to cause meat product prices to spike
No deal yet on imports of sugar, says DA chief
Philippine Peasants Fight for Land 30 Years After Reform
House leader seeks to revitalize mango industry
Delay in shift to rice tariff to hurt farmers, consumers
DA’s Piñol says banks’ refusal to lend holding back agriculture
Is it time to impose SRPs on farm products?

Singapore
More drinking points and possible sugar tax on the cards as war on diabetes ramps up
5 land parcels for general agriculture in Lim Chu Kang, Sungei Tengah up for tender
Farm fire in Lim Chu Kang involving wood waste breaks out on Friday; takes more than 24 hours to put out
Dairy Farm Road site likely to attract keen bidding
URA, HDB release sale sites in Dairy Farm Road, Sims Drive and Tampines Avenue 10

Thailand
Green light soon for Musang King export to China
Giving up the city life and returning to their roots
BAAC sets up B1.67bn in loans for withholding paddy
Pineapple price bounce seen
Free milk leaves sour taste
Thailand, not Vietnam, is exporting 'pho' to the US
Firm removed from supplier list after school milk scare
Agri-business Sima Asean Thailand underway at Impact
Jasmine price to rise

Vietnam
Vietnam encourages organic fertilizer production
Collectivize, industrialize, Vietnam farmers urged
Vietnamese coffee prices keep dipping
Technology can raise quality of agricultural products
Demand for organic fertiliser rises
Tobacco causes socio-economic burden
Industry bitter about Vietnam tax on sweetened drinks

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Saving the planet, making profit: a 'nexus' approach Bangkok Post 11th Jun 2018
Asean has put together an ambitious sustainable development agenda with its 2025 community vision. It has also played an important role in shaping the United Nations 2020 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda. If the 17 SDGs, especially SDG2 on food security, SDG 6 on water security, SF7 on energy security, SDG 12 responsible consumption and production and SDG 13 on combating climate change, are achieved, this will combine with the impact of global trends such as climate change to intensify the competition for resources -- energy, water, raw materials and land. There is a need for large scale investment and significant improvement in services in order to address supply shortages, increase general welfare and make profit. After all, there are 65 million people across the region with no access to modern energy sources, 48 million people Asean-wide with no access to clean drinking water, and another 78 million without adequate sanitation facilities.

Cambodia

Hopes grow as agriculture sector gains from initiative Phnom Penh Post 18th Jun 2018
AS one of the Kingdom’s main engines of economic growth, the agricultural sector has been drawing increased attention recently from both the government and development partners. Millions of dollars have been poured into agriculture projects by both the state and international NGOs, investments which are bearing fruit for many of Cambodia’s farmers.

Ministry unveils new fund to support non-rice crop production Khmer Times 13th Jun 2018
Ministry unveils new fund to support non-rice crop production The Ministry of Economy and Finance yesterday launched a new $2-million fund to increase small farmers’ access to credit. The money will be made available to support the production of agricultural goods other than rice, and will be disbursed by the Rural Development Bank (RBD).

Thailand asked to intervene in Angkor Wat branding case Khmer Times 13th Jun 2018
Thailand asked to intervene in Angkor Wat branding case A sack of rice imported from Thailand bears the image of Angkor Wat. Cambodia on Monday asked Thai authorities to intervene to halt sales of Thai rice products that use Angkor Wat in their branding. Rice packages exported from Thailand were recently seen for sale in Montreal, Canada, with a logo in the form of the ancient temple of Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s national symbol.

China Helping Boost Cambodia Rice’ Global Image & Quality (video) AEC News 12th Jun 2018
Despite a long history and the receipt of numerous awards the global market image of Cambodia rice lags far behind that from Thailand and Vietnam. One young Cambodian is attempting to change that, however, with a partnership with China’s largest food processing companies helping boost exports and drive up quality. Son-in-law to Prime Minister Hun Sen and president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) since its formation in 2014, Sok Puthyvuth returned to Cambodia after completing his overseas studies determined to build a name for Cambodia rice.

Minister of Interior to Preside over the Destruction of Contaminated Food Products Fresh News 12th Jun 2018
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng will preside over the burning of 100 tons of low quality and chemical food products Kampong Speu province on June 14, 2018, according to MoI's letter on Monday. The authority cracked down and confiscated low quality, expired, chemical food products that are illegally produced, stocked, and distributed. The ceremony will be attended by leaders of relevant ministries, diplomatic representatives, judicial bodies, local authorities, and the private sector.

Cut More Trees! Cambodians Challenge Conservation Jakarta Globe 9th Jun 2018
Ta Bos, Cambodia. The Cambodian rosewood had stood for hundreds of years, but its value finally proved too hard to resist and the giant tree came crashing down - inside a protected forest. It's unclear exactly who was behind the felling - nobody has been charged - but it set off a series of events, which culminated in hundreds of villagers rejecting their community forest in favor of cutting more trees. The incident underscores the challenge of protecting the country's forests, which researchers say have been rapidly disappearing due to logging and agricultural land concessions granted to companies.

Indonesia

Global warming will make veggies harder to find: Study The Jakarta Post 12th Jun 2018
Global warming is expected to make vegetables significantly scarcer around the world, unless new growing practices and resilient crop varieties are adopted, researchers warned on Monday. By the end of this century, less water and hotter air will combine to cut average yields of vegetables -- which are crucial to a healthy diet -- by nearly one-third, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A 7.2 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) increase in temperature, which scientists expect by 2100 if global warming continues on its current trajectory, reduces average yields by 31.5 percent, said the report.

Clean water program benefits 121 Clove Farmers and 170 Families The Jakarta Post 9th Jun 2018
The Environment and Forestry Ministry estimates that about 50 percent of critical land in Bali is located in Buleleng, which has suffered from a lack of water, especially during the dry season.  Some 30 percent of Buleleng’s economy is supported by agriculture. Since 2015, PT HM Sampoerna  (Sampoerna) has been working together with the IDEP Foundation to resolve this issue through its "Access to Clean Water" initiative. This program was carried out from 2015 to 2016 in Gobleg village in Banjar subdistrict and Selat village in Sukasada subdistrict, both in Buleleng, Bali.

Government removes income tax for sugar The Jakarta Post 8th Jun 2018
The government removed on Friday income tax on sugar as part of its attempt to maintain the government’s purchasing price at Rp 9,700 (69 US cents) per kilogram. The decision was made during a meeting at the State Palace in Jakarta attended by relevant officials and ministers. Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said the government preferred to remove the tax rather than increase the government's purchasing price to Rp 10,500 per kilogram. Meanwhile, the market's ceiling price is now at Rp 12,500 per kilogram.

Indonesia's Coffee Retail Market Shows Lots of Promise: Study Jakarta Globe 2nd Jun 2018
Indonesia is one of the world's biggest coffee retail markets by volume, driven by increasing domestic demand, according to the result of a recent study by global market intelligence agency Mintel, released on Thursday (31/05).

Industry Ministry to open food and beverage innovation center - ANTARA News Antara News 30th May 2018
The Industry Ministry plans to open a Food and Beverage Innovation Center (PIMM) to support implementation of Making Indonesia 4.0 or fourth industrial revolution in Indonesia.

Laos

Govt to create more fish conservation zones Vientiane Times 18th Jun 2018
The depletion of fish stocks across Laos has led the government to increase the number of conservation zones in a move to sustain the fish population. Experts have attributed the decline in fish stocks over past decades to destructive methods of fishing, pollution, and a growing population.

Govt announces 268-hectare botanical conservation area Vientiane Times 18th Jun 2018
The government has announced the establishment of the Huaynhang forestry conservation area in Dongmakkhai village, Xaythany district, Vientiane, with the aim of creating a protected forest area free from encroachment. A ceremony to officially announce the 268-hectare Dongmakkhai Botanical Garden took place in the village on Saturday morning.

Ginseng farmers of Laos seek international markets Borneo Bulletin 29th May 2018
Growers of what is commonly called the ‘Dakcheung herb’ in Dakcheung district, Xekong province, are on the lookout for export markets after local authorities confirmed the quality of the plant was good enough for export. Elsewhere, the oval-shaped root is known as ginseng and is among the most popular herbal remedies, with claims made for a vast range of medicinal benefits. At present only one entrepreneur in the province is buying this root to use in soap and tea for domestic supply only, Dakcheung district Governor Laysouan Mithsouvanh told Vientiane Times last week.

Lao Prime Minister Tightens Regulations Against Wildlife Trafficking The Laotian Times 31st May 2018
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has issued an order to tighten regulations against hunting and trade of protected wildlife. Individuals or groups that breach the order are to be arrested and prosecuted. The PM issued the Order for Increased Stringency in Management and Inspection of Protected Wild Fauna and Flora, No. 05/PM, on 08 May this year. The order was issued to tighten implementation of forest plant and wildlife protection, especially those species which are classified as endangered. The order is intended to ensure measures are compliant with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Fora (CTIES) to which the Lao PDR is a party.

Lao Banana Workers Sickened by Chemicals Used on Farms Radio Free Asia 30th May 2018
Lao workers at Chinese-operated banana plantations are falling ill in large numbers from exposure to chemicals used on the farms, with many suffering from respiratory or liver problems, sources in the Southeast Asian nation say. Lao government orders began closing down the environmentally destructive farms in the country’s northern provinces in January 2017, with the ban shuttering the commercial operations when their contracts expire and forbidding new contracts from being signed.

Malaysia

Minister expects price of rice to come down after ending monopoly The Star 18th Jun 2018
Prices of rice will come down eventually since Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) no longer has a monopoly over rice import, says Salahuddin Ayub. The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister said the move would benefit consumers as they could choose the rice they want.

Kanthan Baru folk battling pollution problem The Star 15th Jun 2018
CHAI Chuen Tat’s trips to China always left him feeling envious of the farmers there. The modern farming practices there were an eye-opener, he said as he recalled a 1km-long farmland beneath an elevated highway during one of his trips. “The farms are so well-organised. They have a modern irrigation system to counter erratic weather changes.

Feeding the future The Star 15th Jun 2018
AGRICULTURE sits at the nexus of three of the most multifaceted challenges – known as “the perfect storm” – we face today: population growth (estimated 40.7 million in Malaysia by 2050), depleting natural resources, and changing climates. Our entire food system is in a precarious state, propped up by a narrow range of major crops – maize, wheat, rice and soybean – that are already stretched to their limits as food, feed and even biofuel. Not only do these challenges pose imminent threats to the productivity and yield of these crops, but they also affect their nutritional content.

Dam project halted for now The Star 14th Jun 2018
A PROJECT to build a mini hydro dam near Kampung Ulu Geruntum in Gopeng has been put on hold pending an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and other studies. Perak Health, Consumer Affairs, Civil Community, National Integration and Human Resources Committee chairman A. Sivanesan said the State Environment Department, Kampar District Office and Land Office have been instructed to produce the reports.

Cheaper rice soon with Bernas monopoly broken The Star 13th Jun 2018
The price of rice will go down soon now that Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) no longer has a monopoly on rice imports, says Salahuddin Ayub. The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister said the ministry, the National Agriculture Advisory Council and the corporate sector would now have to come out with the best business model to import rice for the country.

Malaysian palm oil/Vegoils: Market factors to watch The Star 13th Jun 2018
The following factors are likely to influence Malaysian palm oil futures and other vegetable oil markets on Wednesday June 13.

Owners do not want their land to be turned into commercial plantations The Star 13th Jun 2018
More than 500 landowners in Ulu Ngemah, Kanowit, have made it clear to a company that it should not go against their wishes to develop their land for the commercial planting of coconut and oil palm. Kanowit PKR division chairman Thomas Laja, in speaking at a press conference, said these landowners formed an association and five pro-tem committees to safeguard their land totalling 16,000ha from encroachment.

Bernas keen to work with Govt if it wants to review import system The Star 13th Jun 2018
Padiberas Nasio­nal Bhd (Bernas) wants some form of rice import monopoly to be retained, says its chief executive officer Ismail Mohamed Yusoff. “The system works and it should be maintained. But if the Government wants to review it, we are keen to work with them,” he said after meeting the Council of Eminent Persons at Ilham Tower yesterday.

Sharing vision for quality water The Star 18th Jun 2018
IN ITS continuous effort to provide clean and healthy water, Cuckoo International is collaborating with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) on a research study for the H2O Industrial Centre of Excellence. The project will be conducted over five years in three phases with the goal to establish an industrial national reference centre, which will act as a benchmark for water quality in Malaysia.

MP: Politicians interfered in DBKL’s hygiene checks The Star 15th Jun 2018
HERE should not be any form of interference from politicians in the operations of local authorities, said Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng. Lim said he had received information from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) senior officers about politicians interfering in food safety and hygiene operations when they carried out spot checks on eateries.

Filthy reality in back alleys The Star 13th Jun 2018
DO NOT judge a restaurant by its frontage and the dining area, advises Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL). Its Health and Environment Department director Dr Noor Akma Shabudin said most eateries in the city tend to spend money to make their entrance appealing to customers, but neglect the food preparation area.

Some 15 restaurants shut down so far this year in Subang The Star 13th Jun 2018
Some 15 restaurants have been given a minimum three days shut down notice by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council so far this year. Notices were given out under the MPSJ Food Establishment Bylaw 2007 where a restaurant that fails to achieve a 65 % mark or grade C and higher during inspection, is asked to halt operations and clean up between three to 14 days from the notice period.

First four members of National Agriculture Advisory Council named | Malay Mail Malay Mail 5th Jun 2018
PUTRAJAYA, June 5 — The first four members of the National Agriculture Advisory Council who among others will help the government raise the level of national food security and agricultural exports, were named today. They are Dagang NeXchange Bhd chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Mamat, Leong Hup International Sdn Bhd executive director Tan Sri Francis Lau Tuang Nguang, Universiti Putra Malaysia Institute of Agriculture and Food Policy Studies director Datin Paduka Fatimah Mohd Arshad and young influential entrepreneur Mohd Najib Asaddok.

Agro ministry to cut red tape NST Online 4th Jun 2018
PETALING JAYA: The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry has pledged to minimise bureaucracy to ensure stakeholders will get assistance they need without much hassle. Its minister Salahuddin Ayub said a fast track system will be established for the purpose, involving agencies under the ministry.

Myanmar

Government encourages subsistence fish farming in rivers, lakes The Myanmar Times 18th Jun 2018
The main reason for the depletion of fish stocks in rivers and lakes is illegal fishing, including electric-shock fishing, in which batteries are used to kill or stun fish; the excessive use of pesticides; and natural disasters, said U Kyaw Moe Aung, a staff officer of the department.  “Electric-shock fishing is the worst because even those fish that survive become infertile and cannnot reproduce. The reproduction of fish is decreasing. We are now educating people to practice subsistence fish farming,” he said.

Yangon HQ to oversee all water resources The Myanmar Times 13th Jun 2018
A loan of US$18 million (K24.30 billion) from the World Bank will be used to fund construction, according to the advisory group of the NWRC. Daw Khin Ni Ni Thein, secretary of the group, said the construction project would consolidate all water management resource activities aimed at improving governance and efficiency. 

New national agriculture strategy to drive growth, if properly implemented The Myanmar Times 12th Jun 2018
Building on the 2016 Agricultural Development Policy, MOALI, with the support of the Agricultural and Rural Development Coordination Group, drafted the five-year ADS with a corresponding investment plan.  Under the new ADS, significant production and productivity gains in agriculture and the natural resources sectors were identified as being “immense.” However, Myanmar also faces challenges including limited infrastructure in the rural areas, complex land tenure issue, low agricultural productivity and low competitiveness of agri-food products. 

Philippines

Classic Coke output cut on tight sugar supply BusinessMirror 18th Jun 2018
THE tightness in local sugar supply has forced beverage maker Coca-Cola Philippines to reduce the production of its Coca-Cola Original Taste to stretch its remaining sugar stockpile. Coca-Cola confirmed to the BusinessMirror that it is experiencing “market availability issues” with its Coca-Cola Original Taste product due to the company’s current sugar stockpile. “Coca-Cola is working closely with the Sugar Regulatory Administration and all other relevant stakeholders to urgently address the requirement for refined sugar in the market,” the company said in a statement sent to the BusinessMirror.

Palace sees rice prices falling as imports arrive BusinessWorld 18th Jun 2018
MALACAÑANG on Monday said that the arrival of fresh stocks of low-cost rice imports is expected to result in the reduction of commercial rice prices. “The NFA has a lot more rice, so we are expecting the market price to fall,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a briefing at the Palace, referring to the National Food Authority (NFA). In a statement, Mr. Roque said: “The rice in Subic (port) has yet to be unloaded because of last week’s incessant rains. Once unloaded, it will be sold at the NFA price of P27-P32.”

DA changes tune on rice self-sufficiency; goal is competitiveness BusinessWorld 18th Jun 2018
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said its goal is to improve the competitiveness of rice farmers and now views self-sufficiency as impossible because the government counts any imports, no matter how large, against the 100% goal. Director for field operations Christopher V. Morales told reporters on Monday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s statement that the Philippines cannot achieve rice self-sufficiency in a speech last week was due to the outdated methods of computing for self-sufficiency. “Whenever there’s an importation, no matter how many kilos that is, we will never reach 100% because there are imports in the computation,” he said. “Definitely, we’ll never reach 100%. But if you ask us, the DA and the program, if we are targeting rice self-sufficiency, we’re not [focusing] on that. We’re more focused on the competitiveness of the farmers in terms of yield and cost.”

‘Govt plan to set SRP for agri goods a double-edged sword’ BusinessMirror 17th Jun 2018
The government’s plan to set a suggested retail price (SRP) for various farm goods drew mixed reactions from consumers and vendors who regarded the proposal as a “double-edged sword.” Some consumers and vendors interviewed by the BusinessMirror threw their support behind the SRP scheme, saying it could help stabilize food prices. But some small-scale retailers are averse to the proposal, saying it could cut their profit margins “drastically.” The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier announced that it would come out with the SRPs for farm commodities this week. Commodities that would be covered by the SRP scheme include rice (regular-milled and well-milled varieties), galunggong, tilapia, milkfish, pechay and eggplant.

DA eyes label and package rules for rice after farm produce SRP BusinessMirror 14th Jun 2018
JUST as the Department of Agriculture (DA) is moving to implement a suggested retail price (SRP) system on farm products, it is now mulling over, as well, imposing labelling and packaging requirements on rice products in the market to ensure food safety. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the DA is now scrutinizing some of the current practices in rice trade, including the way the staple is packaged and labelled by retailers and millers. The imposition of a labelling requirement on rice products would aid the DA’s monitoring in its implementation of SRP on the staple, which is slated to start next week, Piñol said.

Tobacco industry shifting focus to export market philstar.com 11th Jun 2018
The local tobacco industry is putting focus on the export market as domestic consumption of cigarettes continues to decline amid government’s smoking ban and tax reform program. The National Tobacco Administration (NTA), a line agency of the Department of Agriculture, said the nationwide smoking ban which started last year would cause further reduction in the consumption of cigarettes, thus impacting production of tobacco leaf. “The strict anti-smoking campaign has a foreseen reduction of consumption. Last year, we produced 48.22 million kilograms of tobacco and this year, we are expecting to reach just 40 million kg,” NTA Regulation Department manager Rohbert Ambros said in a recent briefing. There is also a decrease in the number of farmers and planted areas which have been declining already in the last few years. Area planted in 2017 stood at 31,214 hectares and this is expected to drop by nearly 30 percent this year to reach 22,058 hectares amid farmers’ decision to shift to other high value crops. To cushion the effect, the NTA is now concentrating on the production of tobacco for export and for substitution of the blending tobacco being imported for domestic manufacturing.

Tariff hike to cause meat product prices to spike Business Mirror 11th Jun 2018
The(MDM) to 40 percent, saying this would cause prices of processed meat products to spike.In a letter to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, Pampi argued that prices of canned meat products and hot dogs would increase by as much as 17 percent once the current tariff on MDM of 5 percent reverts to its 2012 level. MDM is a widely utilized raw material in production of processed meat products, such as hot dogs and meat loaf.

Imports authorized to help stabilize domestic price, supply of sugar BusinessWorld 11th Jun 2018
The Government has allowed traders to import up to 200,000 metric tons (MT) of raw and refined sugar within the current crop year to help stabilize domestic sugar prices. The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued Sugar Order No. 10 on Monday, opening the importation of up to 100,000 MT of bottler’s grade reined sugar; 50,000 MT of standard-grade refined sugar; and 50,000 MT of raw sugar. Eligible importers should be registered at the SRA as an international sugar trader “in good standing,” it said.

DA to promote jackfruit planting to reduce import bill BusinessWorld 10th Jun 2018
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it hopes to increase domestic production of jackfruit, known by its Filipino name langka, to cut down on a P500-million annual import bill. “The lowly langka, a fruit tree that is native to the Philippines, India and other Southeast Asian countries, now looms as the next star of the country’s high value crops as demand for the fruit has increased over the years,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a Facebook post over the weekend. Demand for jackfruit ranges from the ice cream and dessert industries. Globally, it is also an emerging ingredient in recipes targeted at vegans and other healthy eaters.

No deal yet on imports of sugar, says DA chief philstar.com 7th Jun 2018
The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintained that the Philippines would not import sugar despite strong calls from local manufacturers of confectionery products following the surge in domestic sugar prices. “No agreement on sugar importation yet,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a text message to The STAR. Piñol, who is still in South Korea, did not elaborate whether he supports the private sector’s call for importation. The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is also leaving the decision up to the agri chief. The Philippine Confectionery Biscuits and Snack Association (PCBSA) earlier sought the government’s approval to import sugar, with the goal of ensuring stable supply, enhancing free competition, and ensuring a level playing field. Mill gate prices of sugar jumped 44 percent to P1,802 per 50-kilogram bag as of May 20. The wholesale prices of raw, washed, and refined sugar also went up by more than 20 percent to P1,950 to P2,550 per 50-kg. The continued increase in the price of sugar was attributed to the declining output in the farms despite assurance from SRA that local production would still meet domestic demand.

Smart tech to help PHL achieve sustainable agri goals BusinessWorld 7th Jun 2018
The Philippines is hoping to modernize and strengthen its agriculture sector, with both the state and private companies promoting the adoption of advanced technology and smart farming methods to increase harvests and minimize losses. In early April officials broke ground on the country’s first state-funded smart farm, part of the P128-million ($2.5-million) Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE) program, designed to develop and promote urban farming and high-tech plant conservation.

Philippine Peasants Fight for Land 30 Years After Reform Jakarta Globe 1st Jun 2018
Tagum City, Philippines. A dozen bamboo and tarpaulin tents are pitched on the pavement, festooned with washing and banners - the department in charge of agrarian reform in Tagum City is sporting a new facade. Inside the tents there are hammocks, boxes of groceries and cooking vessels, presenting a tranquility that belies the urgent appeals on banners demanding land for peasants, and an end to the killing of farmers on the island of Mindanao. Peasant farmers and leaders in the camp say they want genuine reform, as the government's agrarian reform program, known as CARP and enacted in 1988, has failed.

House leader seeks to revitalize mango industry BusinessMirror 31st May 2018
The decline in mango production in the first quarter has prompted a lawmaker to push for the crafting of policies that would revive the local mango sector. Citing figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Deputy Speaker and Party-list Rep. Sharon S. Garin of Aambis-OWA  noted that the production of mango dropped by 9.4 percent to 97,7000 metric tons in the first quarter, from 107,830 MT a year ago. “The recent performance of the country’s mango industry is a call for the government to take action and help improve its standing by instituting far-reaching policies that would genuinely develop the national fruit’s productivity, marketability and viability,” Garin said in a statement. She noted that mango is one of the country’s most important fruit crops in terms of export volume and value. Fresh and dried Philippine mango is widely distributed in the United States, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, China, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Delay in shift to rice tariff to hurt farmers, consumers BusinessMirror 30th May 2018
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) has warned that delaying the conversion of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice into tariffs will be costly for the local livestock sector and for consumers. There’s another reason for the urgency: conversion of the rice QR into tariff, along with the unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) and fuel vouchers, would help ease the impact of inflation on the country’s vulnerable sectors, an official of the Department of Finance (DOF) said. Finance Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa S. Habitan said scrapping the rice QR would help stabilize rice supply and prices. This, Habitan added, will help the poor as rice accounts for 20 percent of their consumption.

DA’s Piñol says banks’ refusal to lend holding back agriculture BusinessWorld 28th May 2018
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said banks are to blame for refusing to comply with Republic Act 10000, or the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009, saying that their refusal to embark on lending to farmers is holding back growth in the sector. Mr. Piñol, speaking to reporters about banks that refuse to comply with the 25% legal requirement for the share of agriculture lending, said: “How can you expect growth in Philippine agriculture if banking institutions are avoiding the Agri-Agra law commitments? You’re trying to milk a cow that you’re not even feeding so how can it give you milk?” The BSP said earlier this month it is looking at ways to improve bank compliance with the law, including applying the 25% requirement to all beneficiaries, with no distinction between regular farm loans and loans made to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Is it time to impose SRPs on farm products? BusinessMirror 3rd Jun 2018
AS the specter of steadily climbing inflation continues to spook markets and consumers,  different agriculture industry stakeholders are throwing their support behind the government’s proposal to establish a suggested retail price (SRP) scheme on basic farm products, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA). This emerged after a meeting convened by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol on Thursday, which was prompted by the increasing retail prices of agriculture products in recent months. The meeting looked into the issue of increasing retail prices of farm products in the domestic market despite sufficient supply. It also sought to discuss the possibility of imposing an SRP on basic agriculture commodities, according to Piñol.

Singapore

More drinking points and possible sugar tax on the cards as war on diabetes ramps up The Straits Times 18th Jun 2018
Imagine a Singapore where there is drinking water wherever you go - whether it is at a park connector or shopping centre - and you pay a sugar tax on your packaged drinks.That is what might happen as Health Minister Gan Kim Yong ramps up the war against diabetes. He wants to saturate the country with readily available drinking water to wean people off sweetened drinks. About 100 million cans of sweetened soda are sold here every month. Sugar, whether in drinks or food, raises the risks of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

5 land parcels for farming up for sale The Straits Times 16th Jun 2018
Five land parcels for general agriculture in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah were put on sale by public tender on Thursday by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). Of the five, three land parcels may be used to farm food crops, seafood, cattle or goats for dairy milk and/or food frogs, AVA said in a statement. These are located in Neo Tiew Crescent and Sungei Tengah Road.

5 land parcels for general agriculture in Lim Chu Kang, Sungei Tengah up for tender The Straits Times 14th Jun 2018
Five land parcels for general agriculture in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah were put on sale by public tender on Thursday (June 14) by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). Of the five, three land parcels may be used to farm food crops, seafood, cattle or goats for dairy milk and/or food frogs, AVA said in a statement. These are located in Neo Tiew Crescent and Sungei Tengah Road. The remaining two land parcels may be used only for non-food farming, such as for ornamental fishes, aquatic plants and/or ornamental birds. These land parcels can be found in Jalan Lekar in Sungei Tengah.

Farm fire in Lim Chu Kang involving wood waste breaks out on Friday; takes more than 24 hours to put out The Straits Times 5th Jun 2018
A fire, which took more than 24 hours to extinguish, broke out at a farm in Lim Chu Kang last Friday (June 1). The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it responded to the fire at 21 Neo Tiew Lane 1 at about 10.30am. The fire involved a large pile of wood waste, measuring approximately two football fields in area and 15m high, said the SCDF spokesman.

Dairy Farm Road site likely to attract keen bidding The Straits Times 1st Jun 2018
A 99-year leasehold site in Dairy Farm Road launched yesterday under the confirmed list of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme is expected to see keen interest from developers, market watchers said. There is also a strong prospect that two reserve list sites - one in Sims Drive and the other in Tampines Avenue 10 - will be triggered for sale, they added.

URA, HDB release sale sites in Dairy Farm Road, Sims Drive and Tampines Avenue 10 The Straits Times 31st May 2018
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Housing Board (HDB) have released three sites with residential components for sale in Dairy Farm Road, Sims Drive and Tampines Avenue 10. These come under the first half of the 2018 Government Land Sales programme, the authorities announced on Thursday (May 31).

Thailand

Green light soon for Musang King export to China The Star 18th Jun 2018
The Agriculture and Agro-­based Industry Ministry is ex­pect­ed to receive approval to ex­­port fresh whole fruit Musang King durian to China next year. Its deputy secretary-gene­ral Da­­tuk Mohd Salehhuddin Has­san said negotiations with the Chi­nese go­­vernment on Musang King export to the country was positive. “Negotiations with the Chinese government proceeded positively. We have met their enquiries in terms of fruit safety and security."

Giving up the city life and returning to their roots The Straits Times 16th Jun 2018
Asked why he resigned from an engineering career to start anew as a farmer, 33-year-old Pasawut "Jack" Roongrasmi simply replied: "Because I wasn't happy." Like him, dozens of young men and women in Thailand are turning away from the modern comforts of big cities, determined to make a self-sufficient life for themselves through agriculture.

BAAC sets up B1.67bn in loans for withholding paddy Bangkok Post 13th Jun 2018
The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) is offering 1.67 billion baht in soft loans to 10,000 farmers and agricultural institutes to build rice barns and delay paddy sales to stabilise rice prices. The bank will provide soft loans worth up to 150,000 baht per farmer and up to 3 million baht per farm institute, including agricultural cooperatives and community enterprises, said Sarayut Yimyoun, the bank's executive vice-president. The 10-year loan charges 4% interest for the first five years, of which 1% will be paid by borrowers and 3% by the government for the first five years.

Pineapple price bounce seen Bangkok Post 13th Jun 2018
The government believes pineapple prices are set to recover by the end of next month after efforts to connect modern trade, fresh markets and state Thong Fah Pracha Rat low-cost outlets nationwide to help absorb existing supply. Whichai Phochanakij, deputy permanent secretary for commerce, said yesterday the pineapple price slump will ease soon after the government pledged to pick up the pace of moving the fruit to other provincial markets through modern trade, supermarkets, Thong Fah Pracha Rat low-cost shops and famous community markets. The Commerce Ministry also promised to help cooperate with feedmeal factories to help absorb substandard produce.

Free milk leaves sour taste Bangkok Post 12th Jun 2018
A supplier which delivered sour milk to a Bangkok school Monday blamed a machine for "incompletely sealing" the cartons and apologised for the mistake. Chawengsak Sanguanchit, chief executive of Thaimilk Dairy cooperative, said his factory was treating the incident, which caused alarm on social media, as a major lesson and vowed there will be no recurrence. His clarification came after the cooperative was suspended as a supplier for the government's free school milk scheme, pending a probe. "We are recalling all milk cartons supplied to 12 schools in Bangkok and its neighbouring provinces," Mr Chawengsak said.

Thailand, not Vietnam, is exporting 'pho' to the US VnExpress International 6th Jun 2018
Thailand, not Vietnam, is exporting 'pho' to the US Pho, the fragrant flat rice noodles soup served with beef or chicken, has given Vietnamese cuisine an iconic status. But the company making money by exporting an instant version of the soup to the US is based in Thailand. A representative of Charoen Pokphan Foods Plc (CPF) said at a recent meeting with Vietnamese businesses that the company’s Authentic Asian Chicken Pho Noodle Soup is enjoying great sales in the US. The number of restaurants that serve Vietnamese pho in the U.S. reached 8,900 in 2014 and is increasing, the CPF representative said, citing a study by the Institute for Immigration Research.

Firm removed from supplier list after school milk scare Bangkok Post 9th Jun 2018
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on Friday ordered the Milk Board to suspend Thaimilk Dairy Cooperative as a supplier for the National School Milk Programme after a private school in Bangkok complained about milk it had provided. The move came after Patai Udom Suksa School on Tuesday sent a circular to inform parents that the school had ceased giving students government-subsidised milk supplied by the cooperative after finding it was off. The letter later went viral on social media, sparking concern among parents elsewhere fearing their children might fall sick from drinking milk from the same supplier.

Agri-business Sima Asean Thailand underway at Impact The Nation 6th Jun 2018
SIMA Asean Thailand 2018, the Southeast Asian agri-business show, is underway till June 8 at Impact Exhibition and Convention Center, Bangkok. In 2017, Asia Pacific was the largest agricultural region accounting for $6419.05 billion or 54.49 per cent of market share, making Thailand an attractive place for sustainable growth.  “Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry (MOAC) is proud to showcase the King’s philosophy on water and farm management and agricultural innovations. Farmers and agricultural operators will find a comprehensive range of agricultural machinery, technology and farming practices to meet their operational needs,” Teera Wongcharoen, Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) said.

JASMINE PRICE TO RISE  The Nation 28th May 2018
The Thai Rice Exporters Association has forecast that the Jasmine rice price will increase to US$1,300 per tonne from $1,250 per tonne, thanks to strong demand in the global market, said president Charoen Laothammatas after celebrations for the association’s 100th annivesary yesterday. “We are confident that total Thai rice exports this year will be higher than 10 million tonnes, given exports in the first five months reached 4.21 million tonnes or an increase of 6.2 per cent from the same period last year,” he said.

Vietnam

Vietnam encourages organic fertilizer production Xinhua 18th Jun 2018
Vietnam is encouraging organic fertilizer production and consumption from available domestic materials, Vietnam News Agency reported on Sunday. The country's agriculture ministry plans to set up national planning on fertilizer production which looks to larger production and consumption of organic fertilizer, Vietnam News Agency on Sunday quoted Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong as saying.

Collectivize, industrialize, Vietnam farmers urged VnExpress International 10th Jun 2018
Instead of working individually, Vietnamese farmers should band together and become “industrial workers,” an expert says. Dang Kim Son, former director of research with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said at the Vietnam Economic Forum on Tuesday that farmers need to join forces to take Vietnamese agriculture to the next level, applying advanced technology and engaging in large scale production. He said farmers need to work together under a co-operative system where their combined produce is sold by one representative organization, which will give them greater control over both input and output, Son said. Vietnam also needs to establish a research institute that provides data helping farmers to focus on cultivating the most productive fruits, he added.

Vietnamese coffee prices keep dipping VnExpress International 9th Jun 2018
Coffee price in Vietnam won't likely to climb in June 2018. Photo Coffee prices in the Central Highlands have been decreasing since the beginning of the year, and are not likely to recover any time soon, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The price stands at VND35,100–35,500 ($1.55-1.56) per kilogram, down VND400–600 from the end of last year. This is the lowest price in the last two months and Vietnamese farmers are holding on to their stock without selling, a ministry report said. It attributed the price to favorable weather in Brazil, the world’s top coffee exporter; and the start of a new season in Indonesia, another major producer and exporter.

Technology can raise quality of agricultural products VOV 6th Jun 2018
New technologies are key to advancing the agriculture sector in Vietnam, as they can boost products’ value to make them more competitive on the global market. Experts and specialists told a Vietnam Economic Forum conference yesterday that advanced technologies, including blockchain, could help companies, organisations and households in the agricultural sector raise productivity, save costs and create higher quality products.

Demand for organic fertiliser rises VOV 3rd Jun 2018
The Binh Dien II Fertiliser Joint Stock Company opened a plant in March with a capacity to produce 100,000 tonnes a year in southern Long An province, which in its first phase produces organic and microbial fertilisers and high-grade NPK fertilisers. The company plans to invest VND200 billion (US$8.77 million) to annually produce 40,000-50,000 tonnes of nano organic fertiliser, a new generation of fertilisers, from next year. Nguyen Kim Thoa, general director of Con Co Vang Group, said her company already supplies organic fertilisers to the market and plans to dedicate an 11ha plant to produce them.

Tobacco causes socio-economic burden: Minister VOV 1st Jun 2018
Smoking has created an economic burden to not only smokers and their families but also society, said Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien at a meeting held in response to the World No Tobacco Day in Hanoi on May 31.

Industry bitter about Vietnam tax on sweetened drinks VOV 1st Jun 2018
Business representatives and some experts say the beverage industry is already taxed heavily, and the latest addition could prove to the last straw. The tax proposal, first announced last year and expected take effect in 2019, aims to promote healthier habits by discouraging the consumption of sweetened drinks. The Ministry has cited reports from the World Health Organization, saying overconsumption of sweetened drinks lead to obesity and that a fourth of Vietnam’s population are already obese or overweight adults. “The tax will help regulate the consumption of sweetened beverages, and it's also an international norm,” the proposal says. However, the Vietnam Association of Liquor, Beer and Beverage (VBA) has protested the move, saying the tax could hurt small and medium businesses by promoting circulation of fake products.