Food & Agriculture Update: July 19, 2018

Food & Agriculture Update | July 19, 2018
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Samantha Pryor
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

July 26: Roundtable with H.E. Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam
Please join the Council for a roundtable with H.E. Vu Van Tam, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam. The roundtable will take place at the Council's D.C. office from 9:00-10:00 AM on Thursday, July 26. To register for this event, please click here. Please contact Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org) if you have any questions. 

Early September 2018: ASEAN Agricultural Attaché Roundtable
In early September, the Council will organize its annual roundtable with the ASEAN Agricultural Attachés in Washington, DC. This year, the roundtable will be co-hosted with the Embassy of the Philippines, who is currently chair of the ASEAN Committee in Washington, and will include economic and commercial counselors from several embassies. More details to follow, please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org with any questions.

September 26-27: Trade Event on Business Opportunities in Cambodia's Agriculture Sector
AmCham Cambodia, in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, will host a trade event focused on Cambodia’s rapidly evolving agriculture sector in Phnom Penh from September 26-27, 2018.  The objective is to help U.S. companies gain a deeper understanding of the sector, identify potential business opportunities and develop local contacts. For more details on this event, please refer to the informational packet here

October 8: Business Mission to the 40th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF)
During the week of October 8, the Council will organize its Business Mission to the 40th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Council is currently drafting a concept note addressed to the Ministers on key topics for discussion. The Council is also planning to conduct individual bilateral meetings with key priority ASEAN countries, as well as potential meetings with dialogue partners like China, Japan and South Korea. For more questions, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org).

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
Philippines' warning on sugar sweetened drinks

At a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) workshop, Department Secretary Ramon Lopez noted President Duterte's goal to have health warnings placed on sugar-sweetened beverages to inform consumers of drinks' nutrition information. With recent surveys showing the high percentage of Filipinos suffering from diabetes, the government is attempting to limit citizens' sugar intake by dissuading the regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. The government also issued a 14 percent excise tax in January 2018 on sweetened beverages like caloric and non-caloric sweetened beverages, sports drinks, and sweetened juice drinks. Secretary Lopez affirmed that the government's intention is not to raise the prices of basic commodities, but to ensure the health and wellbeing of Filipinos.

Secretary Lopez said that the government may begin requiring manufacturers and traders to put more prominent warning labels on high sugar content beverages as early as August of this year. In June 2018, the DTI and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) met to discuss more concretely the specifics of label placement and which drinks and manufacturers that would be included in the upcoming directive. At present, drinks with more 28-30 grams of sugar per serving are expected to qualify to be required to place a warning label on beverage containers. These warning labels will likely be considerably larger than they have been in the past to ensure consumer visibility. However, stakeholders in the sugar-sweetened beverage industry are pushing back against warning labels, fearing that they will further diminish their shrinking profits, following the recently imposed taxes of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) 1. Though stakeholders have opposed putting a "warning" or "caution" label on sugar-sweetened beverages, they have agreed to prominently label the contents and nutrition information of sweetened drinks.


Agriculture technology and digitalization to boost production in Indonesia
In recent months, the Indonesian government has begun developing several new tools to support the country's agriculture sector development and boost domestic food production. Since 2015, when 5.43 tons of rice were being produced per hectare, rice output growth has declined, only amounting to 5.15 tons per hectare in 2017. To help combat this decline, the government has launched a farming "digitalization" project in West Java that has the potential to increase rice production by at least 20%. This tool, developed by state-controlled telecommunications firm Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telekom), is a digital platform that collects farmer and farm land data that will be used to speed up the distribution process of subsidized loans for farmers and for farm insurance applications. Telekom will also have other features for the platform in the months to come, including an online marketplace where farmers can sell their goods and purchase fertilizers and pesticides. Once it has collected sufficient data, this tool may also begin to predict crop outputs. If successful, this tool will be employed by rice-production centers nationwide and transferred to use on other crops as well.


The Indonesian government is also investing in another technology to improve the agricultural sector: a vehicle that will hope to speed up the distribution of goods to and from villages. A vehicle prototype, called the rural multipurpose tool (AMMDes), was undergoing final trials and performance tests in Bogor, West Java in late June. Made with 70 percent domestic materials, AMMDes is to be manufactured by the Indonesian government in cooperation with more than 7 domestic industries, most of which are small-medium enterprises (SMEs). Vehicle is planned to be unveiled at the 201 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) in August 2018 in Banten. main users of the vehicle are expected to be village cooperatives, village-owned enterprises, and farmer or fisher groups to boost agricultural productivity. Mass production of AMMDes is set to take place in January 2019, with mainstream utilization of the vehicle to occur shortly thereafter.


Human Resource Training for Agriculture 4.0
On July 5, Vietnam’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development H.E. Nguyen Xuan Cuong emphasized the importance of improving human Agriculture 4.0. A term to refer to the agriculture sectors’ utilization of the Fourth Industrial Revolution's technological advances in order to increase productivity and sustainability, Agriculture 4.0 has the potential to significantly bolster agricultural growth in Vietnam. At a workshop held in Hanoi on July 4, Minister Cuong stated the necessity of reform for vocational training, as well as the need to shift the agriculture sector's focus onto practice capacity, core techniques, and soft skill training. Regarding the long-term curriculum for Agriculture 4.0, Minister Nguyen noted the importance of integrating new technologies – such as: bio-technology, digital technology, automation, exact mechanics, and new materials – into promoting smart agricultural practices. At this workshop, the Minister of Education and Training H.E. Phung Xuan Nha also emphasized that agricultural curricula should also be cognizant of shifting market demands.

 

After the initial application of high-tech agricultural models in localities nationwide, Vietnam's agriculture sector has already seen improvements. Vegetables, flowers, shrimp, and poultry farming models in Bac Ninh, Ha Nam, and Vinh Phuc have seen high-economic efficiency. By deploying these new technologies, the quality and quantity of farm produce has increased, allowing local staples to expand and develop their own brands. Finally, Minister Cuong stressed the importance of enhancing production value chains and the value of agricultural products to further increase the profitability of the agriculture sector.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Myanmar Notification 25/2018 Ministry of Commerce 
On July 5, the Council sent a letter to Myanmar's Union Minister of Commerce, H.E. U Than Myint, with regard to the United States private sector's recommendations for the implementation of the Ministry of Commerce's (MOC) Notification 25/2018. In this letter, the Council praised MOC for allowing foreign-owned and joint venture companies to undertake retail businesses and wholesale in Myanmar. The letter also included the Council's recommendations to support the successful implementation of Notification 25/2018, which are as follows

  • Ensure full liberalization of the wholesale sector
    • Recommending Notification 25/2018 to stipulate the removal of current trading restrictions to allow foreign companies to actively engage in key business activities, like the import and distribution of agricultural products.
  • Allow raw materials to be supplied freely and competitively
    • Stating that Myanmar's domestic food manufacturing sector could experience significant growth by allowing the free movement of raw materials across countries at market competitive prices.
  • Improvements to domestic agricultural productivity
    • Wider participation by foreign companies in the trading of agricultural commodities and full ownership in the agricultural sector may bring about various benefits and add value to local businesses and consumers in Myanmar. 
  • Impact on foreign direct investment
    • Advising MOC to successfully liberalize wholesale and retail activities in the agriculture and livestock sectors in Myanmar to send a strong positive signal to international agricultural companies to evaluate further investment into the country.
  • Stakeholder consultation
    • The Council recommended that stakeholders be consulted as future regulations are developed, as stakeholder consultation can help officials to identify the full complexities of the potential impacts of their legislation, and provides an opportunity for companies to also provide accurate and timely information to policymakers that can ensure that there are no unintended consequences that work against the original policy objectives. 

Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) with feedback. The letter is available here

2018 Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam
On July 11-12, the Council organized its second Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam, leading a delegation of nine companies to Hanoi with the goal of establishing productive dialogues with key agriculture officials and introducing them to the ways in which American business can support their national goals. During the meetings, Council leadership and members discussed ways to support the Government of Vietnam’s agriculture development objectives and promote the roles of international trade and foreign investment in improving food security and strengthening the role of agricultural sector as an engine of growth in the broader economy.  Across the busy two-days, the delegation met with Chairman of the Office of the Government Mai Tien Dung, Minister of Health Dr. Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, Minister of Planning & Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, Vice Minister of Industry & Trade Do Thang Hai, Vice Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development Vu Van Tam, Vice Chairman of the Central Party Commission on Economic Affairs Dr. Cao Duc Phat (who is also the former Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development), and Chairman of the National Private Economic Development Research Board Truong Gia Binh. Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) if you have any questions.

Workshop Series on Food Safety in Thailand and Vietnam
The Council’s Food & Agriculture Commitee is planning a series of workshops on Safe, Nutritious Food in Thailand and Vietnam to address issues around food safety. This workshop will be organized together with the Crop Life Asia, Food Industry Asia, and the EU-ASEAN Business Council. Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) for a discussion. Finalized concept note will be socialized with members by August 2018.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
South Korean company looking to collaborate on micro algae production
PDS Abattoir, Ghanim ink MoU

Indonesia
Indonesia, Malaysia must fight EU over CPO ban
Minister, stakeholders to meet on increasing egg price
The Long Road to Reviving Indonesia's Cacao Industry
Indonesia Tests Rice Farming 'Digitalization' Program to Boost Output
Ministry, FAO warn farmers of bird flu
Indonesia Bans Marketing Condensed Milk as Milk

Laos
Lao rice consumers pay highest price in region
FAO is working for climate change adaptation in wetland areas of Lao PDR | Global Edition
Over 2,500 Villages Benefit From Poverty Reduction Fund

Malaysia
Govt to ensure strong policy framework for oil palm sector
China says will hit back after U.S. proposes fresh tariffs on $200 billion in goods
Malaysia lowers August crude palm oil export tax to 4.5%
Gov't to boost national food productivity in next 3 years: Salahuddin

Myanmar
Officials warn against onion speculation
Over 100 bakery workers go on strike over wages
11 killed in Hpakant township flood
Government to take action on illegal fisheries exports
Government to help fish farmers resume Saudi exports
Milo maker launches campaign to teach kids about nutrition
Rice industry urges legislation to regulate supply chain

Philippines
DA to propose letting commercial boats inside 15-kilometer limit
Sugar importers warned: Don’t hold on to supply
‘All tariff revenues must go to permanent rice fund’
Manila vows to fill US sugar quota
‘PHL meat imports to double by 2027’
Farmers still hungry after 30 years of agrarian reform
P4-m organic seed storage facility to be built for Vizcaya farmers
OECD backs production shift, scrapping of rice QR for PHL 
Coconut levy trust fund law could be signed before SONA, Villar says
Agriculture trade deficit widens further in Q1
Cacao an emerging priority commodity in Zamboanga
Warning labels on sugary drinks may start by August
Farmers: we need fuel vouchers, too
NFA may import 500,000 mt more of rice to ensure low-priced supply
High-sugar product manufacturers buck ‘warning’ mark on labels

Singapore
Singapore's water supply will 'never be threatened': DPM Teo
Second food stall at NTU in two months has licence suspended for rodent infestation
Grab eyeing the grocery delivery market

Thailand
B34.5bn in rice aid measures approved
Fishing for renewed respect
Fears of Chinese putting squeeze on durian market
Farm incomes on the rise

Vietnam
Vietnam’s agro, forest, seafood exports on the rise
Farmer-researchers transform their communities
Tiền Giang sees significant growth in export turnover
Central Highlands’ pepper growers in debt as prices fall
European Commission to review yellow card against Vietnamese fisheries in early 2019
Fisheries sector strives to meet EC’s requirements
Lâm Đồng to pilot project to promote Đà Lạt potato brand
Nearly half of Gia Lai waterworks ineffective
Human resource training key to agriculture 4.0
Central Highlands province seeks to build brand for its avocado
Bắc Giang ships lychee around world
Việt Nam’s rice exports to Malaysia show strong growth
Bình Phước warns farmers not to grow uncertified cashew varieties
Govt tweaks HCM City land zoning plans
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

South Korean company looking to collaborate on micro algae production Borneo Bulletin 4th Jul 2018
DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) yesterday hosted a Brunei-Korea talk to promote technology intensive venture business programme at its iCentre in Anggerek Desa.

PDS Abattoir, Ghanim ink MoU Borneo Bulletin 4th Jul 2018
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Ghanim International Corporation Sdn Bhd and PDS Abattoir Sdn Bhd yesterday to explore collaborative avenues for potential exports of meat and meat-based products from Brunei Darussalam.

Indonesia

Indonesia, Malaysia must fight EU over CPO ban The Jakarta Post 29th Jun 2018
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said Indonesia and Malaysia need to fight together against the European Union's plan to restrict exports of crude palm oil (CPO) and its derivative products to member countries of the union. The prime minister said he could not accept the environmental issue as the EU's argument for restricting CPO exports from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Minister, stakeholders to meet on increasing egg price The Jakarta Post 16th Jul 2018
Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita is to meet with chicken breeders, traders and other stakeholders on Monday to discuss and evaluate the increasing price of chicken eggs that has become a household concern.

The Long Road to Reviving Indonesia's Cacao Industry Jakarta Globe 15th Jul 2018
Indonesia had to import about 200,000 metric tons of cacao beans last year, but it was not supposed to happen.

Indonesia Tests Rice Farming 'Digitalization' Program to Boost Output Jakarta Globe 9th Jul 2018
The Indonesian government has launched a farming "digitization" project in West Java province, which may increase rice output by at least 20 percent, officials said on Monday (09/07).

Ministry, FAO warn farmers of bird flu The Jakarta Post 6th Jul 2018
The Agriculture Ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned Indonesian farmers of threats from avian influenza, following the detection of the H9N2 low pathogenic avian influenza virus, which causes a drop in egg production of up to 70 percent on affected farms.

Indonesia Bans Marketing Condensed Milk as Milk Jakarta Globe 5th Jul 2018
Indonesia is introducing a ban on marketing condensed milk and its derivatives as milk, as misleading advertisements contribute to the country's obesity problem among children.

Laos

Lao rice consumers pay highest price in region Xinhua 2nd Jul 2018
Local Lao consumers are paying one of the highest prices for rice in the region even though Laos is a significant rice producer, local daily Vientiane Times on Thursday quoted the latest edition of the World Bank's Lao Economic Monitor as saying. Rice is the country's biggest agricultural commodity and most farmers still produce paddy rice in Laos. The crop covers about 75 percent of arable land in the country and 90 percent of the production is sticky rice.

FAO is working for climate change adaptation in wetland areas of Lao PDR | Global Edition Devdiscourse 30th Jun 2018
FAO is working for Climate Adaptation in Wetland Areas of Lao PDR.  Lao PDR is intimately associated with one of the world’s major wetlands with the Mekong River system. The Mekong basin covers 88% of the country.  The project will use an ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) approach, whereby the ability of the wetlands to buffer local people livelihoods against Climate Change impacts will be safeguarded through a combination of improved planning and governance conditions, direct investments in climate change adaptation measures and some activities to strengthen their livelihood.

Over 2,500 Villages Benefit From Poverty Reduction Fund Lao News Agency 2nd Jul 2018
Over 2,500 villages in rural areas of fifty five districts have reportedly benefited from the Poverty Reduction Fund since 2002. The statement was made at the mid-term review meeting of the Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF) Phase III in Vientiane on Jun 22, 2018 in the presence of Mr Chit Thavisay, Director of the PRF, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Erik Johnson, Mission Leader of Mid Term Review and relevant officials.

Malaysia

Govt to ensure strong policy framework for oil palm sector The New Straits Times 3rd Jul 2018
The government will lay down a strong policy framework to further develop the oil palm industry and provide assistance, as well as a supporting environment, to ensure sustainable development alongside the industry’s competitiveness. Newly-appointed Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said the oil palm industry continued to face challenges, especially in the form of anti-palm oil campaigns, despite its impressive contribution to the country’s development.

China says will hit back after U.S. proposes fresh tariffs on $200 billion in goods The Star 11th Jul 2018
China accused the United States of bullying and warned it would hit back after the Trump administration raised the stakes in their trade dispute, threatening 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion (150.70 billion pounds) of Chinese goods. China's commerce ministry said on Wednesday it was "shocked" and would complain to the World Trade Organisation, but did not immediately say how it would retaliate. In a statement, it called the U.S. actions "completely unacceptable".

Malaysia lowers August crude palm oil export tax to 4.5% The Edge Markets 11th Jul 2018
Malaysia lowered its export tax on crude palm oil for August to 4.5%, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board said on Wednesday, citing the national customs department.

Gov't to boost national food productivity in next 3 years: Salahuddin New Straits Times 7th Jul 2018
The government will focus on increasing food productivity and security, as well as minimising bureaucracy over the next three years, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub. He said the government was committed to mobilise appropriate initiatives in ensuring adequate food supply in the country, as well as to ensure the national food safety index meet the United Nations (UN) standards. “My focus, in terms of implementation, is to ensure that the rice sector can be revived drastically towards having a more efficient local supply, and to ensure the local meat supply reaches the 30 per cent production.

Myanmar

Officials warn against onion speculation The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
Officials warned traders on July 21 against speculating on the onion market, in an effort to prevent further higher prices in local markets. Onion prices in the first week July abruptly skyrocketed from K300 a viss (1 viss is equal to 1.6 kilograms or 3.6 pounds) up to K1250, a rise of about 400 percent. Rumours that there will be shortages in coming months have been causing panic but the real reason for the rapid price escalation was trader speculation, a Ministry of Commerce official told The Myanmar Times.

Over 100 bakery workers go on strike over wages The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
Ma Kay Zin  Phy, who works at the factory in Shwe Than Lwin Industrial Zone, Hlaing Tharyar township, Yangon, said 123 workers went on strike on Friday.  ‘’The factory pays us the new basic daily wage K4800, but it stopped giving us other services and extra fees. It also reduced our allowances,’’ Ma Kay Zin  Phyo, who has been employed in the factory for over 9 years, said.  The workers said the management reduced their monthly allowances to K10,000 (US$7.21) from K15,000 before the pay rise started. 

11 killed in Hpakant township flood The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
U Kyaw Swa Aung, Hpakant township administrator, said at least 70 houses were destroyed in the landslides on Saturday. He said six people were injured in the accident. “Rainfall was high. People living in huts near the mountains and scavengers died in the landslide. Earth cuttings are piled randomly and recklessly here,” U Kyaw Swa Aung. “When it rains heavily, some places are blocked, At present, we are clearing the cuttings that blocked the ditches flowing into Uru creek.” 

Government to take action on illegal fisheries exports The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
The Department of Fisheries (DOF) has issued a start warning to illegal eel and crab exporters saying that anyone caught breaking this law would be punished to the full extent of the country’s fisheries laws. “In the past few months, we have running an education campaign and only seizing shipments when we’ve caught illegal exports,” said U Khin Ko Lay, the director general of the DOF.

Government to help fish farmers resume Saudi exports The Myanmar Times 11th Jul 2018
The deputy minister was responding to questions raised by U Aung Kyi Nyunt, Hluttaw MP from Magway Region. “We will provide the necessary assistance required so that the businesses are able to export their products to Saudi Arabia once more,” said U Hla Kyaw. Saudi Arabia in February announced that it would suspend the import of aquaculture products from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Vietnam from April 1 onwards. The suspension will be in place until the facilities comply with Saudi Arabia’s requirements and is compliance with World Trade Organisation regulations.

Milo maker launches campaign to teach kids about nutrition The Myanmar Times 11th Jul 2018
The roadshow, being held at shopping malls and other public places in Yangon, Mandalay and Mawlamyine from now until August 19, will feature fun activities aimed at teaching youngsters about nutrition, how to prepare balanced meals, how to prepare a lunch box, and sports. “We would also like to improve awareness among parents about nutrition and its importance for schoolchildren,” said Dr Hsu Nwe Zaw, nutritionist and corporate nutrition manager for Nestlé Myanmar, the company behind Milo.

Rice industry urges legislation to regulate supply chain The Myanmar Times 28th Jun 2018
The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) is advocating the legislation of a draft rice law, U Ye Min Aung, secretary of MRF, said. In March, the MRF organised a stakeholder forum for the rice sector in Nay Pyi Taw, which was attended by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The event tackled two areas - the base price for paddy during the harvest period as well as to draft a rice bill. 

Philippines

DA to propose letting commercial boats inside 15-kilometer limit Business World 16th Jul 2018
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said they will propose adjustments to improve fishing yields, including permitting commercial boats to operate in municipal fishing waters. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that the government agencies will be meeting with fisheries stakeholders soon to discuss the industry’s preferences while presenting their own suggestions.

Sugar importers warned: Don’t hold on to supply BusinessMirror 11th Jul 2018
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has delivered a stern warning to accredited sugar importers as tight supply has sent prices rising and the users complaining: Deliver the committed volumes to your buyers, or we will allow industry users of sugar to import directly. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Wednesday that international traders participating under the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) importation program must ensure that the supply intended for bottlers and processors is delivered. “For traders who won the CORR [certificates of reclassification rights], you have to make sure that the intended volume to supply the bottlers and processors must be delivered to them. Because if you don’t, then the government reserves the right and power to allow these bottlers to import directly,” he told reporters in an interview on July 10. “And if we do that, you will lose profits because you will not be able to sell your imported sugar,” he added.

‘All tariff revenues must go to permanent rice fund’ BusinessMirror 11th Jul 2018
AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol wants to perpetually earmark all the tariff revenues from rice imports for the sector once the quantitative restriction (QR) on the staple is scrapped. “It should be all the tariffs [from rice imports]. We will be using those for our small irrigation projects and all the interventions [to make the sector competitive],” Piñol told the BusinessMirror on the sidelines of a forum at the Philippine International Convention Center on July 11. “And the duration [of the rice enhancement competitiveness fund (RCEF)] should be perpetual.”

Manila vows to fill US sugar quota BusinessMirror 5th Jul 2018
Despite the projected decline in local sugar production for the current crop year, Manila vowed to fill the sugar quota allocated by the United States to the Philippines for fiscal year (FY) 2019 under a preferential trade scheme. Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Hermenigildo R. Serafica made the pronouncement after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on July 2 that its tariff-rate quota (TRQ) on raw cane sugar for FY 2019 is 1.117 million metric tons raw value (MTRV). The volume is the minimum to which the US is committed under the World Trade Organization’s Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture. This was also the same volume set by the USDA for the current fiscal year ending September 30. FY 2019 would start on October 1 and would end on September 30 next year.

‘PHL meat imports to double by 2027’ BusinessMirror 5th Jul 2018
The increasing demand for meat owing to the improvement in the purchasing power of Filipinos would outpace local production and double the country’s imports by 2027. The joint report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, titled, “Agricultural Outlook 2018-2027,” published on July 3 indicated the sustained hike in meat demand in the Philippines.

Farmers still hungry after 30 years of agrarian reform Rappler 3rd Jul 2018
With barely enough rest and a rumbling stomach, 68-year-old Galbert Jamora gathered all his remaining energy to march with fellow farmers around the Quezon City Memorial Circle. He held a piece of paper, which said, “Ipatupad na ang reporma sa lupa (Implement land reform now)." Jamora saved up just to get to Manila from Negros Occidental to join this protest, organized by various farmer and non-governmental groups to mark the 30th year of the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) on Thursday, June 28.

P4-m organic seed storage facility to be built for Vizcaya farmers Manila Standard 3rd Jul 2018
A P4-million Organic Seed Storage will be built in barangay Tapaya here to boost organic agriculture in the province. Lorenzo Caranguian, DA regional director said the facility will provide panting materials for farmers involved in organic farming.

OECD backs production shift, scrapping of rice QR for PHL  BusinessMirror 2nd Jul 2018
The Philippines should prioritize investing in high-value crops production rather than focusing its resources on the rice production sector to ensure the country’s food security in the long run, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In its study, titled “Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2018,” the OECD also recommended that the government should scrap the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice to allow the freer entry of foreign imports to augment the country’s supply. Furthermore, the organization supported the proposal to convert the National Food Authority (NFA) into a “market-neutral agency managing emergency stocks” so as not to distort the prices of rice in the market.

Coconut levy trust fund law could be signed before SONA, Villar says Business World 2nd Jul 2018
Proposed legislation that will establish the coconut trust fund and provide interventions for the industry’s development could be passed and signed into law before the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, according to Senator Cynthia A. Villar. Ms. Villar, speaking to the media on the sidelines of Davao Oriental province’s 51st founding anniversary on Sunday, said the bicameral committee is expected to take up the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the measure in the coming days. “I see no huge difference between the two versions. The bicam is expected to submit the final form to President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte even before the SONA for his signature,” according to Ms. Villar, one of the bill’s authors and chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food security.

Agriculture trade deficit widens further in Q1 Business World 1st Jul 2018
THE TRADE DEFICIT in agricultural commodities further expanded in the first quarter of 2018 as agriculture exports fell sharply while imports grew. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority released Friday showed outbound shipments of agricultural goods worth $1.165 billion in the first three months of 2018, down 26.2% year on year. The first quarter slump in exports was a reversal from the 21.3% growth logged in the same period last year. Meanwhile, imports of farm products rose 4.2% to $2.994 billion. As a result, the agriculture trade deficit widened to $1.829 billion from $1.295 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Agriculture accounted for 10% or $4.159 billion of total trade, which was $41.607 billion in the first quarter. 41 million).

Cacao an emerging priority commodity in Zamboanga Malay Business Insight 29th Jun 2018
The Department of Agriculture (DA) aims to improve cacao production in Zamboanga Sibugay  as demand for the crop is expected to grow in the coming years. “In the next two years, we will not focus on the distribution of cacao seedlings but rather on the establishment of processing centers for cacao to further boost the cacao industry and make it more competitive in the local and international market as a processed product,” said Roger Bagafaro, DA-Zamboanga Peninsula chief of research division. Cacao has been identified as among the emerging priority commodities in the region. According to DA, the region has a total area of 603 hectares planted to cacao and volume of production at 135.30 metric tons (MT) with the province of Zamboanga Del Norte having the highest area of 465 hectares and volume of production at 83.19 MT followed by Zamboanga Sibugay with 101 hectares and volume of production at 30.44 MT.

Warning labels on sugary drinks may start by August PNA 29th Jun 2018
Trade and industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said government may begin requiring manufacturers or traders to put warning labels on high sugar content beverages as early as August this year. On the sidelines of Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) workshop for small and medium enterprises Wednesday, Lopez told reporters that his office and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are meeting this day to craft rules in placing warning labels on sugary beverages. This day’s meeting of the DTI and FDA also aims to identify which beverages with high sugar content will be included in the upcoming directive. “We’ll select the products that will be included and what kind of warning we should put at the label,” said Lopez. “We’re looking at about 28 or 30 percent grams above per serving, maybe it could be the basis [for identifying which beverages will be included],” he added in Filipino. The trade chief said identifying the sugar content could be done in two ways -- first is the sugar content in the pack, and second the sugar content per serving. Meanwhile, Lopez said the government will also be discussing this initiative to stakeholders before the FDA will release the order on labeling of beverages with high content of sugar. (PNA)

Farmers: we need fuel vouchers, too BusinessMirror 15th Jul 2018
FILIPINO rice farmers are now seeking government intervention to cushion the impact of rising global oil prices and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion  (TRAIN) law, which have sent their production costs soaring. For one, they are urging the government anew to issue fuel vouchers to aid them in coping with the increasing oil prices.

NFA may import 500,000 mt more of rice to ensure low-priced supply BusinessMirror 12th Jul 2018
THE National Food Authority (NFA) is eyeing to import another 500,000 metric tons (MT) of rice before the year ends to prevent the depletion of its stockpile and the loss of affordable rice in the domestic market. NFA Administrator Jason Y. Aquino said they will make the proposal to the NFA Council (NFAC), the agency’s highest policy-making body, next month during its regular meeting. The ideal arrival for the imports would be in the fourth quarter, Aquino added.

High-sugar product manufacturers buck ‘warning’ mark on labels Manila Bulletin Business 28th Jun 2018
The sugar sweetened beverage industry, which has been reeling from the impact of TRAIN 1, has opposed to putting a “warning” or “caution” mark for high-sugar content products, but agreed that sugar content in the label will be prominently displayed in the front of the product. This developed after the industry met Wednesday with Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez to discuss the sugar content labeling requirement in consultation also with the Food and Drugs Administration. “

Singapore

Singapore's water supply will 'never be threatened': DPM Teo The Straits Times 15th Jul 2018
Singaporeans can rest assured that the nation's water supply will remain secure, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean emphasised on Sunday (July 15). Speaking at the 14th Punggol North Racial and Religious Harmony Street Parade, DPM Teo said it is important for Singapore to hold on to values such as self-reliance to build a strong, resilient country.

Second food stall at NTU in two months has licence suspended for rodent infestation The Straits Times 12th Jul 2018
A Chinese food stall at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has been fined $1,000 and had its licence suspended for two weeks because of rodent infestation. The suspension for the food stall at Canteen 13 is from Tuesday (July 10) to July 23, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a notice on its website.

Grab eyeing the grocery delivery market The Straits Times 10th Jul 2018
Singapore-based firm Grab is moving into yet another area - grocery deliveries. The service, called GrabFresh, is a collaboration with regional grocery delivery firm HappyFresh and will allow users to order groceries from within the Grab app. GrabFresh will be available in Jakarta later this month and is expected to be available in Thailand and Malaysia by the end of the year.

Thailand

B34.5bn in rice aid measures approved Bangkok Post 12th Jul 2018
The National Rice Policy and Management Committee Wednesday approved rice aid measures worth 34.5 billion baht for the 2018/2019 crop year starting in November. Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, the commerce permanent secretary, said the rice measures, mostly identical to those offered for production in the 2017/2018 crop year, cover three projects: a loan scheme for farmers who agree to delay their paddy sales and a grant for harvesting and price-quality improvement costs; a loan scheme for agricultural cooperatives to gather rice and add value to the grain; and the 3% interest rate subsidy programme for rice traders who agree to keep their stocks.

Fishing for renewed respect Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2018
Beaten down by back-breaking labour and deprived of their liberty, weary migrant workers are closer to emancipation from sea slavery with the government's increased efforts to prosecute and convict human traffickers. While some might call it a knee-jerk reaction, the military-led government has increased law enforcement efforts to improve Thailand's tarnished image as a human trafficking destination following reports in 2014 on rampant illegal fishing and reliance on trafficked workers from neighbouring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia.

Fears of Chinese putting squeeze on durian market Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
China's growing thirst for the king of fruits has built Thai durian farmers' wealth in recent years, but the dominance of Chinese traders has made dealers nervous about the possibility of price collusion. Dealers seeking durian from farmers are often Thai, but some Chinese traders are using them as nominees, aiming to control purchase orders, as well as set prices and the harvest time, said Thongchai Kunnam, a 58-year-old durian exporter in Chanthaburi province.

Farm incomes on the rise Bangkok Post 28th Jun 2018
Farm incomes rose 9% year-on-year in May, the highest in 13 months, and grassroots consumption is likely to rise in the future, according to the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO). Pornchai Thiraveja, economic and monetary adviser, said on Thursday that farm incomes had dropped by 4.7% in the first quarter this year then reversed direction and increased in April by 7.8% and then 9% last month. Consequently farm incomes for the period January to May were down by only 0.3%. Surveys found that the price of Hom Mali fragrant rice rose from 15,000 baht in April to 18,000 baht a tonne in May. The price of oil palm nuts went up from 2.81 baht to 3.1 baht per kilogramme and natural rubber from 43.22 baht to 45.68 baht per kilogramme last month.

Vietnam

Vietnam’s agro, forest, seafood exports on the rise vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jul 2018
Việt Nam registered a growth in the exports of all key farming products as well as forestry and seafood products during the first half of this year. This was reported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Some key agro products continued to witness strong growth in exports that had recovered from 2017, such as vegetables, fruits and seafood, the ministry’s Agro Processing and Market Development Authority said at the ministry’s conference on production and business in the first half of this year and those activities in the second half.

Farmer-researchers transform their communities vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jul 2018
Farmers and researchers may seem to have little in common, let alone to work side by side. A special project, however, empowers barefoot farmers to conduct insightful studies into the issues of their communities. They not only work with researchers, they become them, all without stepping into the ivory tower.

Tiền Giang sees significant growth in export turnover vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jul 2018
Total export turnover of the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta Province of Tiền Giang reached US$1.27 billion in the first six months, a year-on-year increase of 6.8 percent, according to Ngô Văn Tuấn, chairman of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade. The province’s main export products, copper pipes (US$244 million), footwear products (US$230.8), textile fibres (US$210.5 million), and rice (US$93.2 million), recorded significant growth.

Central Highlands’ pepper growers in debt as prices fall vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jul 2018
Pepper growers in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai are facing debt as the price of black pepper has plunged in recent years. According to figures from Gia Lai’s agricultural sector, the province’s black pepper growing area has expanded to 16,000ha, though only 6,000ha of pepper were officially planned by 2020.

European Commission to review yellow card against Vietnamese fisheries in early 2019 vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jul 2018
The European Commission (EC) recorded Việt Nam’s efforts in addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and would review its ‘yellow card’ warning against fisheries export in early next year. The information was released by Việt Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, following EC’s field inspection last month.

Fisheries sector strives to meet EC’s requirements vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The Directorate of Fisheries (DoF) has proposed the government use the medium-term public investment budget for the 2016-20 period to upgrade fisheries ports to meet European Commision (EC) requirements for the supervision of fishing vessels, traceability and management of fisheries products. Trần Đình Luân, deputy director general of the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Developments (MARD), made the statement at a meeting to review the operation of the sector in the first half of the year and set tasks for the rest of the year.

Lâm Đồng to pilot project to promote Đà Lạt potato brand vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
Lâm Đồng People’s Committee has approved a pilot project to promote the Đà Lạt potato brand in an effort to combat Chinese potato, which claimed to be of Đà Lạt brand. The pilot project, managed by Lâm Đồng’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, includes surveying the potato market and production activities and educating consumers on the difference between the two types of potatoes via flyers, government websites and mass media.

Nearly half of Gia Lai waterworks ineffective vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The People’s Council of the Central Highlands Province of Gia Lai have found 126 out of 313 water supply works in the province are operating ineffectively or are even unused. The works were damaged, degraded or unused, causing waste of over VNĐ126 billion (US$5.5 million) in total as the province spent nearly VNĐ260 billion ($11.27 million) from its budget to build more than 300 works to supply water to rural areas since 2001.

Human resource training key to agriculture 4.0 vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyễn Xuân Cường, stressed the significance of improving human resource training to meet the requirements of agriculture 4.0, which refers to farming practices that use technological advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to increase productivity and sustainability. At a workshop in Hà Nội on Wednesday, the minister said reforms should be made in vocational training and it is crucial to shift the focus onto practice capacity and core techniques, as well as soft skill training in light of technological advancements.

Central Highlands province seeks to build brand for its avocado vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The Central Highlands province of Đắk Nông is aiming to build a brand for its avocado by applying good agricultural practices and traceability of origin, local officials told a news briefing in HCM City on Tuesday. Tôn Thị Ngọc Hạnh, deputy chairwoman of the province People’s Committee, said Đắk Nông is among the largest avocado producers in the country with an area of around 2,600ha, or one-fifth of its total fruit growing area, under that fruit.

Bắc Giang ships lychee around world vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The northern province of Bắc Giang has sold more than 207,000 tonnes of lychees this year, including more than 1,000 tonnes shipped abroad. According to the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, the lychees have entered more than 30 countries and territories worldwide, including the US, the EU, Canada, China, Japan, Thailand and Australia.

Việt Nam’s rice exports to Malaysia show strong growth vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
Việt Nam’s rice export value to Malaysia reached nearly US$122.4 million in the first five months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 177 per cent, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Trade. With impressive growth, rice ranked fourth among five groups of Vietnamese exports to Malaysia earning $100 million in the first five months. They included phones and components; computers, electronic products and components; steel; rice; and glass and glass products.

Bình Phước warns farmers not to grow uncertified cashew varieties vietnamnews.vn 3rd Jul 2018
The Bình Phước Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has warned local farmers not to grow new cashew varieties that have not been certified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure cashew quality is not affected. Farmers in the country’s largest cashew growing province have begun to replant old cashew trees since the start of the rainy season in summer.

Govt tweaks HCM City land zoning plans vietnamnews.vn 3rd Jul 2018
The Government has issued a resolution to amend HCM City’s land use plans for the period until 2020. Following the changes, the city will convert 26,246 hectares of agricultural land into non-agricultural land by 2020, raising the total area of the latter to 118,890ha, or 56.9 per cent of the city’s total land area.