Food & Agriculture Update: September 27, 2018

Food & Agriculture Update | September 27, 2018
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Evelyn Mariano
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

October 11-12: 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 has been invited to conduct a 20-30 minutes presentation addressed to the Senior Officials and Agriculture Ministers. The council is also planning to conduct individual bilateral meetings with ministers from ASEAN countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, and exploring inaugural engagements with dialogue partners: China, Japan, and South Korea. Other potential activities on the agenda include a networking session with international multilateral institutions, and attendance at AMAF's official opening ceremony, gala dinner and field trips. For more questions, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) and Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org).

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Philippines Administrative Order 13
On September 21, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte signed Administrative Order (A0 13)-Removing Non-Tariff Barriers and Streamlining Administrative Procedures on the Importation of Agricultural Products. This action was taken to address one source of rising inflation in the Philippines noting that: “There is an urgent need to tame price spikes of basic agricultural commodities by adopting measures that remove non-tariff barriers and streamline administrative procedures to allow importation that will address shortfall on supply and ensure stable prices of agricultural products in the domestic market”. Examples of such removals include allowing the importation of certain agricultural products beyond the authorized Minimum Access Volume (MAV), and reducing or removing fees in order to ensure “their sufficient supply in the domestic market at more affordable prices.”

Link: http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/downloads/2018/09sep/20180921-AO-13-RR...

Singapore's AVA introduces draft Food (Amendment) Regulations 2019
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore recently issued a draft Food (Amendment) Regulations 2019 in order to seek feedback from local key stakeholders in the food industry. The draft amendment contains new trade facilitating measures, and a number of proposed amendments related to the use of new additives in food, extension of use of existing food additives, extension of use of a permitted health claim to a new food constituent, removal of copper from the list of incidental constituents and removal of the labelling requirement for eggs treated with mineral hydrocarbons. A new maximum limit for inorganic arsenic in husked rice will also be included in the Food Regulations.

Notably, the amendments on new food additives as well as extended usages of existing food additives are similar to regulations being used and practiced by other countries, mainly the major developed countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States. Apart from Singapore, several other nations like Taiwan, Philippines, Canada, China, Malaysia and Korea have also published their food additive proposals and amendments in the same period. In Singapore, the import and sale of food products are governed by both the Sale of Food Act as well as the Food Regulations. With these new amendments, Singapore’s food manufacturers and importers have more liberty to produce and import a wider range of food products for distribution in Singapore. Hence, there is an optimistic outlook for increased trade and opportunities in the food industry in Singapore.

Interested parties who wish to contribute to the draft Food (Amendment) Regulations 2019 may send in their proposed revisions accompanied by a reasoned explanation before 6:00 p.m. (SGT) on 5 November 2018. For more information of the draft and details of submission, please click here.

Thailand: Committee set up to research on farm chemicals
Amidst the ongoing debate over Thailand’s proposed restrictions on the use of three farm chemicals (paraquat, glyphosate, and chlorpyrifos), Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Wiwat Salyakamthorn has set up a committee to conduct an in-depth study on the impacts restrictions on these chemicals would have. The committee is expected to present results to the prime minister in October. Additionally, Minister Wiwat also signaled that the government in Bangkok would be pushing for organic farming on 5 million rai to produce crops free from crop protection technology for public consumption.

Proponents of imposing restrictions on the use of these chemicals have cited the potential loss in crop yield and production efficiency, especially for Thailand’s smallholder farmers. Instead, they have advocated for more responsible use. Glyphosate for example is an important tool to Thailand farmers representing 33% of all herbicide use in the country and is widely used in plantation crops such as oil palm, rubber, rice, corn, sugarcane, cassava and tropical fruit. Without access to glyphosate, farmer’s weed control costs would increase by $25.6/ha or $54.2 million per year. Although banned in some areas, Glyphosate has been safely used for more than 40 years and is registered for use in 160 countries worldwide. Should the ban go through, it is likely to reduce Thai farmers’ competitiveness and export opportunities due to a decrease in yield, efficiency, and higher production costs. It will also have negative implications on manufacturers and supply chains in this sector.

Vietnam: Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to auction duty quotas for sugar imports
Vietnam’s MoIT plans to conduct a bidding process for interested parties to bid for the right to use a duty quota to import 94,000 tons of sugar (65,000 tons of raw sugar and 29,000 tonnes of refined sugar). The import quota was implemented by the Government of Vietnam, at the request by the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA).

This move is an attempt to support Vietnam’s domestic sugar industry. Vietnam’s sugar industry has been suffering losses due to a surplus in the world sugar supply and high domestic sugar stock inventory, which have caused prices to fall. Meanwhile, high prices of raw materials, particularly sugarcane, insufficient economies of scale, and use of outdated equipment and technology have reduced the competitiveness of the domestic industry. Notably, Vietnam’s sugar price is about $US 45-48/ ton (lowest since January 2015), while the price in Brazil and Thailand is $US 16/ ton and $US 30/ ton, respectively.

To help domestic sugarcane and sugar enterprises the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA) originally proposed that the import quota either allow 100 per cent raw sugar up to a total of 94,000 tons for this year, or a mix of 70 per cent raw sugar and 30 per cent refined sugar of the import quota. Previously, the Association had also proposed to relevant Ministries for a preferential tax policy between sugarcane and sugar, and applying special safeguard measures for liquid sugar. They had also petitioned for non-renewal for the permit for temporary import for re-export of sugar and the petition for delaying in the implementation of commitments under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) on sugar.

ASEAN countries are important players in sugar markets and have a significant influence in the global sugar trade, accounting for approximately 13% of raw sugar exports and 14% of global sugar imports. Thailand is the world’s second largest sugar exporter after Brazil, with an export share of 60%. Indonesia is the world’s third largest consumer and a major importer of sugar. According to the VSSA, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) effective January 1, 2018 would directly affect the 41 sugar factories, of which the 21 weak factories are likely to close due to losses.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

On August 22, 2018, the Council submitted a position paper to address the recent measures by the Philippines House Committee on Trade and Industry (House Bill No. 3686) requiring the mandatory labeling and regulation of food which are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or containing substances derived from GMOs and those produced by genetic engineering technologies. The Council outlined the potential impacts of this regulation, namely in the increase in costs, industry shifts, trade implications from mandatory or voluntary adherence, and a lack of clarity in the GMO threshold.

The subsequent public hearing on August 28 on this matter signaled an optimistic shift against the bill. Chairperson of the Committee Rep. Ferjenel Biron was impressed by the attendance and statements given by the representatives of the National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST) and by former University of the Philippines President Emil Javier. After the committee hearing, he encouraged the latter to seek an audience with Speaker Gloria Arroyo who is the principal sponsor of the Mandatory GM Food Labeling bill.

Furthermore, there are now two bills that have been filed at the House of Representatives supporting agricultural biotechnology. One was filed by Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin and the other was filed by Speaker Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. Both bills adopted the recommended draft bill of the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP).

For questions, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Asean should embrace Industry 4.0 in food production

Brunei
Brugoat makes Brunei's first live goat supply to Sarawak

Cambodia
Minister pushes the implementation of agriculture policy
Food Expo Begins
Amru Rice considers durian production
Confirel expands into salt production
Local cotton farming abandoned
Agri-Smart given US Honor for farm tool

Clippings
World food prices stable in August vs July - FAO

Indonesia
Indonesia won't need to import rice through June 2019: Logistics chief
Liquor among goods to face further import restrictions
East Nusa Tenggara invites investors to develop seaweed industry

Laos
Laos facing food security challenges following extreme weather
ANZ Laos Holds Food, Beverage and Agriculture Forum

Malaysia
Malaysian chilli producers consider filing anti-dumping petition
Ministry to push for multi-billion dollar halal tourism

Myanmar
Norwegian researchers raise concerns about microplastics in Rakhine waters
Earnings from agriculture exports decline despite lower kyat exchange rate
Thailand to legalise illegal fish workers
Myanmar pulses unaffected by India’s import restriction: industry
Govt to crack down on illegal use of farmland

Philippines
Rules for implementing the sweetened beverage tax
BOC releases seized rice, food items to DSWD for Ompong victims
Initial rice crop losses due to typhoon Ompong estimated at P4.97 billion
Cagayan’s agriculture ‘totally devastated’; infra damage at P40M
DTI seeking to cancel permits of traders found selling only premium rice
Domestic chocolate processors propping up cacao industry
Army chief tapped to head grains agency
Palace sees passage of rice tariffication in Sept
NFA readies rice stocks in areas to be hit by Ompong NFA working with LGUs to ensure rice ready for deployment
Trade dep’t touts list of 41 firms agreeing to suspend price hike
Draft EO by Cabinet scraps NTBs on food
Philippines, Papua New Guinea begin farming cooperation
P10 billion for NFA rice procurement
Palace readies EO to ease food import process
Read his lips: No additional sugar importation–not yet
Negros pilot project boosts sugarcane output to 80-100 tons per hectare
GOCC Legaspi Oil aims to bring Davao coco oil mill back to full capacity
Cargill introduces digital nutrition technology in PHL
Philippines importing 250,000 MT rice to pull down rising prices
Bill adding farmers to PCA board hurdles House panel

Singapore
4Fingers buys 50% stake in Australia's Mad Mex; to bring Mexican fast-food chain to Singapore, South-east Asia
SunMoon takes up 3-month $1m term loan with entity owned by deputy chairman and wife
Singapore fresh chicken distributors fined S$27m
Enterprise Singapore's investment arm seeks co-investors in agrifood start-ups
Neo Group takes 51% stake in How's Catering for up to $4.4m in cash and shares
How supermarkets fight food waste in Singapore

Thailand
Blood tests conducted on farmers shows contamination with toxic farm chemicals
Buriram Sugar projects bitter revenue
Thailand’s road to sustainable, legal, and regulated fishing
Thailand's slave fishermen: What's needed to solve the crisis?
B1bn target for innovation
Support for total farm chemical ban grows
Rice pledging hoard cleared
Checks on imports of Chinese pork stepped up at Suvarnabhumi after swine fever reports
Livestock officials on guard against African Swine fever
Close Monopole homes in on Burgundy wine market
Rice exports slip in July, still poised for 11m tonnes

Vietnam
ThaiBev takes the reins of Sabeco after M&A
Asia Coffee: Vietnam prices edge higher on scarce supplies, further...
US lowers duty on Việt Nam’s shrimp exports
WEF ASEAN: Grow Asia Forum talks innovation in agriculture
Vietnam-WEF cooperation in agriculture becomes fruitful: official
Science-technology promotes farm produce exports
Rice exports set to go up on increasing demand
Tra Vinh to develop "clean" agricultural production
Vietnam and Denmark ink deals to unleash potentials of agro-food production
Japan shares experience in agricultural, rural development
Immediate reporting system to inspect food violations in Hanoi
MoIT to auction duty quota for sugar import
Export price of Vietnamese pepper down 62%
Khanh Hoa approves ambitious fisheries development plan
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Asean should embrace Industry 4.0 in food production Khmer Times 13th Sep 2018
A gathering at the Grow Asia Forum 2018 in Vietnam saw over 170 senior leaders and decision-makers discuss the strategies for a modernised agricultural sector in the Asean region that would bring a profitable, sustainable and stronger supply chain for the benefit of small stakeholders. Leaders at the Grow Asia Forum also explored the World Economic Forum’s innovation with a purpose report and emerging technological innovations that have the potential to drive rapid progress in food systems.

Brunei

Brugoat makes Brunei's first live goat supply to Sarawak Biz Brunei 18th Sep 2018
Brugoat Farming and Trading is targeting exporting livestock to East Malaysia after successfully completing Brunei’s first live supply of 100 boer goats to Bintulu, Sarawak last year.

Cambodia

Minister pushes the implementation of agriculture policy Khmer Times 19th Sep 2018
The Agriculture Minister, Veng Sakhon, last week urged officials to work harder in the implementation of the country’s new agriculture development policy. During a meeting last week, Mr Sakhon told officials the goal of the agricultural development policy is to bolster the development of the agriculture sector. It will ensure food security and nutrition and will help reduce poverty. It will also boost productivity, diversification, as well as the commercialisation of the final products. He said the policy will help achieve sustainability in the sector and resilience to climate change, as well as aid in the implementation of Good Agricultural Practices in animal production, animal health and the management of fisheries.

Food Expo Begins The Phnom Penh Post 14th Sep 2018
Leaders in the Kingdom’s food industry will gather next week for the Camfood, Hotel and Camcafe expo. According to AMB Tarsus Events Group, the organiser of the conference, more than 350 companies from 30 countries in the region will participate. Exhibitions will showcase local companies operating in the food and beverage supply sector, as well as hospitality equipment providers, according to Andrew Siow, director of AMB Tarsus. This is an important event for Cambodia to attract investors and tourists. The expo kicks off on September 19 and runs for three days.

Amru Rice considers durian production Khmer Times 10th Sep 2018
Local rice exporter Amru Rice is now studying the possibility of diversifying into durian production, and is considering agricultural areas in Mondulkiri to set up plantations. The company, known for following organic agricultural principles, is now conducting studies to determine the profitability of the crop. This is due to the high demand of the fruit from China. Mr Saran said that if the project is given a green light, they could be sending their first shipment of durian to China within the next five years.

Confirel expands into salt production Khmer Times 7th Sep 2018
Local firm Confirel has teamed up Le Guérandais, a famous salt producer from France, to produce high quality salt for export. Both firms are now studying ways of improving the quality of local salt and training farmers so that the product can meet European Union quality standards, Mr Ly Eang said, adding that Confirel’s salt products will be exported to the EU market. Confirel is also working with Le Guérandais to promote its Kampot pepper products in the EU.

Local cotton farming abandoned Phnom Penh Post 7th Sep 2018
Despite huge amounts of potential and a well-rooted past, the Kingdom’s cotton cultivation industry seems to be hanging by a thread. Though the country relies heavily on cotton fabric in its massive garment sector, insiders say Cambodian farmers have mostly abandoned the crop. Sok Vanna, the deputy director of the industrial crop department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said cotton has not been on the ministry’s radar for many years. He claimed farmers have moved to cassava, corn, beans or cashew nuts.

Agri-Smart given US Honor for farm tool The Phnom Penh Post 5th Sep 2018
The US government has awarded the “Patent for Humanity” to Agri-Smart Cambodia for its innovative farming equipment, according to a press release on Tuesday. The rice planting machine, dubbed “Eli”, helps farmers reduce seed consumption, increase yields and use less labour. It is attached to walk-behind tractors and uses air pressure to spray rice grains over fields.

Clippings

World food prices stable in August vs July - FAO Business World 10th Sep 2018
World food prices were largely stable in August from the month before, with a rise in wheat prices offset by declines in sugar, vegetable oils and dairy indices, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 167.6 points last month, against a downwardly revised 167.2 in July.

Indonesia

Indonesia won't need to import rice through June 2019: Logistics chief The Jakarta Post 19th Sep 2018
Indonesia will not have to import rice through June 2019 as the country has enough of the commodity in stock, said Budi Waseso, head of state-owned logistics firm Bulog. Earlier this year, the Trade Ministry issued a recommendation to import 2 million tons of rice in 2018, which was approved during a coordination meeting of economic ministers.

Liquor among goods to face further import restrictions The Jakarta Post 19th Sep 2018
Indonesia Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita has announced that the government will tighten import restrictions on a number of goods, namely alcoholic beverages, tires, iron, steel, textiles and textile products. He said the imported goods would have to enter the country through bonded logistic centers (PLBs) in an attempt to prevent smuggling.

East Nusa Tenggara invites investors to develop seaweed industry The Jakarta Post 13th Sep 2018
East Nusa Tenggara is inviting businesspeople to build factories to process seaweed, of which the province has enough resources to supply the food industry. Ganef said there were many other locations in the province, such as Rote Ndao, Alor, Lembata, Flores Timur, Sikka, Sumba Timur and West Manggarai, that had great potential to be developed into seaweed cultivation areas.

Laos

Laos facing food security challenges following extreme weather The Nation 12th Sep 2018
Laos’ attempts to strengthen food security are facing major challenges after almost 600 irrigation projects were affected by heavy flooding during tropical storms Son-tinh and Bebinca last month. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry reported that storms flooded low-lying areas in six northern provinces, three central provinces including Vientiane, and two southern provinces, damaging or destroying more than 1 million hectares of crops and fisheries.

ANZ Laos Holds Food, Beverage and Agriculture Forum Laotian Times 6th Sep 2018
Improved domestic cross-border transport and logistics, coupled with widening and deepening demand for clean, green vegetables and fruit both in neighboring China and across the emerging economies of Asia presents a host of potential niche opportunities for Laos to capitalize upon, an audience in Vientiane has heard. Laos’ geographical position, economic potential, road and rail transport development and relatively high rate of rural dwellers make the need for a more productive agricultural sector inevitable and imperative as well as desirable, the ANZ Food, Beverage and Agriculture Forum was told in the capital.

Malaysia

Malaysian chilli producers consider filing anti-dumping petition Channel News Asia 8th Sep 2018
Malaysia's Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA) will help local chilli producers submit a petition to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) regarding the dumping of imported chilli into the Malaysian market. However, he said that despite this issue, Malaysia still needs to import chilli as the volume of local production is unable to cater to local demand.

Ministry to push for multi-billion dollar halal tourism The Star Online 6th Sep 2018
Halal or Islamic tourism is a lucrative sector that is still largely untapped, and Malaysia aims to continue being the leading destination for tourists from this sector, says Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik.

Myanmar

Norwegian researchers raise concerns about microplastics in Rakhine waters The Myanmar Times 18th Sep 2018
Scientists on a Norwegian research vessel have expressed alarm over the large amount of microplastics in the sea off southern Rakhine State. The ship, RV Dr. Fridtjof Nansen – which is named after a famous Norwegian explorer, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate – conducted a month-long study of fish resources and the marine ecosystem off Rakhine and Ayeyarwady Region.

Earnings from agriculture exports decline despite lower kyat exchange rate The Myanmar Times 18th Sep 2018
Earnings from Myanmar’s agricultural exports have fallen by around 20 percent since the NLD-government took office in 2015 due to a lack of planning, technological progress and policy direction, insiders said. The fall in export earnings also coincides with a widening trade deficit and dearer exchange dollar exchange rate, which should make the country’s exports cheaper and more attractive to international buyers.

Thailand to legalise illegal fish workers The Myanmar Times 13th Sep 2018
Thailand would soon start legalising thousands of illegal Myanmar workers in its fishing industry as a first step to the signing of an agreement to provide more workers for the business, which is struggling with a labour shortage. This arrangement was reached when Thai Labour Minister Adul Sangsingkeo visited Myanmar on August 16, said U Thein Swe, minister for Labour, Immigration and Population.

Myanmar pulses unaffected by India’s import restriction: industry The Myanmar Times 7th Sep 2018
India’s Department of Commerce, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has released a trade policy statement, on August 30, stating that as per the foreign trade policy, import of peas classified under Exim Code including yellow peas, green peas, dun peas and Kaspa peas is “restricted” until the end of September. However, this will not be affecting Myanmar as yellow peas and green peas are not major exports of the country, Myanmar Pulses, Beans & Sesame Seeds Merchants Association Secretary U Min Ko Oo explained.

Govt to crack down on illegal use of farmland The Myanmar Times 4th Sep 2018
As demand for living quarters rises on the back of an expanding population, so has the illegal selling of farmland for residential purposes, U Hla Kyaw, deputy minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said during last week’s Amyotha Hluttaw meeting. He said the number of instances where plots of land meant for agriculture purposes have been carved out and sold to residents for other purposes has increased. He added that this illegal distribution of farmland for urban purposes is a key reason for the dwindling space available for agriculture development

Philippines

Rules for implementing the sweetened beverage tax Business World 19th Sep 2018
The TRAIN Law recently introduced new excise taxes on cosmetic procedures and sweetened beverages. Under the TRAIN Law, excisable sweetened beverages are non-alcoholic beverages of any constitution (liquid, powder or concentrates) that contain or use caloric sweeteners, non-caloric sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. However, sweetened beverages using purely coconut sap sugar and steviol glycosides are exempt from this tax.

BOC releases seized rice, food items to DSWD for Ompong victims BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has reported that seized food items in the bureau’s custody has been delivered to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distribution to families affected by typhoon Ompong. In line with the directive of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III last week, Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña has ordered the immediate release of seized smuggled rice and food items for donation to those affected by typhoon Ompong.

Initial rice crop losses due to typhoon Ompong estimated at P4.97 billion Business World 17th Sep 2018
LOST RICE production accounted for the vast majority of the initial estimates of agriculture damage due to Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut), reckoned at P4.97 billion out of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) preliminary crop damage estimate of P4.99 billion Monday. The DA's Disaster Risk Reduction Management's damage assessment covers 175,485 hectares of agricultural land in the Ilocos, Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions with the volume of lost production at 251,933 metric tons.

Cagayan’s agriculture ‘totally devastated’; infra damage at P40M BusinessMirror 17th Sep 2018
TYPHOON Ompong, which exited the Philippines after leaving behind a trail of destruction—and killing at least 18 people—wrought billions in farm damage mostly in Northern Luzon, but Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said damage to transportation infrastructure appeared to be much less, initially at P40 million, for Cagayan.

DTI seeking to cancel permits of traders found selling only premium rice Business World 17th Sep 2018
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it will seek to revoke the business permits of rice retailers who do not offer more affordable types of rice.Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the proposed policy will help increase the supply of regular-milled. The DTI will sign this week a memorandum of agreement with the National Food Authority (NFA), which has sole authority to issue licenses to retailers selling rice sourced from the NFA’s warehouses.

Domestic chocolate processors propping up cacao industry Business World 17th Sep 2018
Domestic processors of cacao, some of which are operated by farmers themselves, have propped up bean prices, offering a safety net for growers at a time of fluctuating global prices for the commodity. Valente D. Turtur, Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. (CIDAMI) executive director, said while the world market price for cacao has been volatile, farmers “have been enjoying better prices” because of the increasing number of processors buying their harvest directly.

Army chief tapped to head grains agency The Manila Times Online 17th Sep 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte has offered the position of National Food Authority (NFA) administrator to the retiring commanding general of the Philippine Army.

Palace sees passage of rice tariffication in Sept The Manila Times Online 15th Sep 2018
Malacañang is hopeful the Senate will pass the Rice Tariffication Bill within the month amid the increasing prices of commodities and the developing rice crisis in some areas in Mindanao.

NFA readies rice stocks in areas to be hit by Ompong NFA working with LGUs to ensure rice ready for deployment BusinessWorld 13th Sep 2018
THE National Food Authority (NFA) said it has readied rice stocks in provinces expected to be hit by Typhoon Ompong, which has already entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility. In a statement on Thursday, the NFA announced that around 380,000 bags of rice have been deployed to various warehouses in Luzon, bringing the total tally to roughly one million. These bags will be distributed by accredited retailers for relief operations. To support these efforts, offices have also opened 24-hour operation centers

Trade dep’t touts list of 41 firms agreeing to suspend price hike Business World 13th Sep 2018
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said 41 manufacturing and retail firms have agreed to delay price increases as an inflation-control measure. These include makers of canned goods including sardines, corned beef and other meats, whose prices are heavily weighted in inflation calculations. These products are among the basic necessities and prime commodities covered by a three-month price freeze. They also include makers of bottled water, detergent, instant noodles, coffee, processed milk, candles, bread, soap, condiments, batteries and candy.

Draft EO by Cabinet scraps NTBs on food BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE Economic Development Cluster (EDC) has submitted to the President a draft executive order (EO) that removes nontariff barriers (NTBs) on food items to temper inflation, which surged to a nine-year high in August. The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the EO will focus on fish, rice, sugar, meat and vegetables, which have been considered as the major contributors to inflation in the past two months. The Neda added that fish and seafood, rice and meat, and vegetables accounted for 2.4 percentage points of the 6.4-percent inflation rate in August.

Philippines, Papua New Guinea begin farming cooperation philstar.com 13th Sep 2018
Amid a rice shortage the country is facing, the Philippines sent 19 farm technicians to Papua New Guinea to train local farmers under a rice cooperation agreement between the two countries.

P10 billion for NFA rice procurement BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE Makabayan bloc on Wednesday filed a joint resolution that seeks to provide a P10-billion supplemental budget to the National Food Authority (NFA) and allow the grains agency to increase its palay buying price from farmers. House Joint Resolution (HJR) 28 eyes to raise the NFA’s current support price for palay, now pegged at P17 per kilogram, to P20 per kilogram to be able to procure more this harvest season. “The supplemental budget shall provide the NFA [with means to procure palay from famers], without [necessarily] exonerating its officials of their unauthorized diversion of procurement funds,” the resolution read.

Palace readies EO to ease food import process Business World 12th Sep 2018
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte may issue an executive order (EO) to address inflation by removing “administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers” on the import of basic goods. In a briefing at the Palace on Wednesday, Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said that one of the agenda items at the Tuesday Cabinet meeting evening was measures to address food inflation. “The Economic Cluster Group will submit to the Office of the President (OP) a draft executive order removing administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers on importation of fish, rice, sugar, meat and vegetables,” Mr. Roque said. “They will simplify the process for importing food products,” he added.

Read his lips: No additional sugar importation–not yet BusinessMirror 11th Sep 2018
AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol on Monday said there will be no additional sugar importations, as the current supply situation does not warrant it. Piñol clarified that the country will not import additional volume given the recent pronouncement of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) that opening importation of sugar to direct users is being considered as a measure to immediately address the runaway inflation.

Negros pilot project boosts sugarcane output to 80-100 tons per hectare Business World 10th Sep 2018
THE BPI Foundation and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines said that its P10-million partnership has helped boosted sugarcane farming productivity in Negros Occidental from the previous 40 to 60 tons average per hectare to current 80 to 100 tons per hectare. The project, known as Climate-Proofing Agricultural Landscapes (AgriClima) which is now on its second year, is focused on small sugarcane farmers in Negros Occidental, aims to establish agricultural production that is climate-resilient and will eventually raise farm incomes.

GOCC Legaspi Oil aims to bring Davao coco oil mill back to full capacity Business World 10th Sep 2018
Legaspi Oil Co., Inc., a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), has taken back the management and operation of a coconut oil mill here and is aiming to return production volume up to 600 metric tons per day (MTD). He said maximizing the mill’s capacity would benefit coconut farmers in the Davao Region because they can sell their copra directly to Legaspi Oil, cutting out middlemen. The GOCC will set up more copra buying stations near coconut plantations to make it easier for the farmers. At present, there are only two, located in Maco, Compostela Valley and Mati City, Davao Oriental.

Cargill introduces digital nutrition technology in PHL BusinessWorld 6th Sep 2018
ANIMAL NUTRITION provider Cargill launched on Thursday its digital nutrition solutions portfolio under its Provimi brand in the Philippines. Provimi’s technology allows animal producers to provide ideal nutrition as it offers definite nutritional data to help achieve production goals. “I think there will be some resistance at first with the market embracing the idea of digital nutrition,” Cargill Premix and Nutrition Philippines Country Director Generoso Rene M. Romo, Jr., said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Philippines importing 250,000 MT rice to pull down rising prices BusinessMirror 6th Sep 2018
MANILA will be importing an additional 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice via open tender to beef up the National Food Authority’s (NFA) stockpile and arrest the spiking retail prices of the staple in the market. The NFA on Wednesday said the NFA Council approved half of its 500,000 MT rice-importation request last September 4.

Bill adding farmers to PCA board hurdles House panel Business World 5th Sep 2018
A BILL including coconut farmer representatives to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) board was approved at committee level at the House of Representatives. The House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization on Wednesday passed a consolidated bill deriving from House Bills 8079 and 8052, intended to serve as a companion bill of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Act, which regulates the disposal of coconut levy funds

Singapore

4Fingers buys 50% stake in Australia's Mad Mex; to bring Mexican fast-food chain to Singapore, South-east Asia The Straits Times 19th Sep 2018
Singapore fried chicken chain 4Fingers announced it has acquired a 50 per cent stake in Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill (Mad Mex), an Australian brand of Mexican eateries, for an undisclosed sum. The move marks 4Fingers' first step towards its "aggregation of high quality complementary portfolio of food and beverage concepts with global scalability", according to its statement. As part of the partnership, 4Fingers will initially establish Mad Mex's presence in South-east Asia and expects to open a number of outlets in Singapore and Malaysia in the next 12 months. Together, 4Fingers and Mad Mex operate over 100 outlets across Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand. The group projects total system-wide revenues of over S$120 million for fiscal 2019.

SunMoon takes up 3-month $1m term loan with entity owned by deputy chairman and wife The Straits Times 13th Sep 2018
SunMoon Food Company said late on Wednesday (Sept 12) that it had on Tuesday entered into a three-month $1 million term loan with an interest of 8.5 per cent per annum with Singapore-based start-up DiMuto for the purchase of fresh fruits and other derived produce and packaged products.

Singapore fresh chicken distributors fined S$27m foodnavigator-asia.com 13th Sep 2018
The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) issued an infringement decision against chicken distributors for engaging in anti-competitive agreements to coordinate the amount and timing of price increases, and agreeing not to compete for each other’s customers.

Enterprise Singapore's investment arm seeks co-investors in agrifood start-ups The Straits Times 11th Sep 2018
Enterprise Singapore (ESG) investment arm Seeds Capital is seeking co-investment partners for agrifood start-ups, under a call for partnership which was launched on Tuesday (Sept 11) and closes on Oct 5, 2018. These partners should be able to identify and co-invest in Singapore-based, deep tech, early-stage start-ups in agrifood technology, which refers to innovations that improve the efficiency and sustainability of the food supply chain. They should also be able to provide hands-on assistance in helping early-stage startups commercialise quickly, as well as mentor and connect them to potential clients.

Neo Group takes 51% stake in How's Catering for up to $4.4m in cash and shares The Straits Times 10th Sep 2018
Catalist-listed food solutions provider Neo Group is acquiring a 51-per cent stake in privately held How's Catering for up to $4.4 million in cash and shares, it announced on Monday (Sept 10). Neo Group said the earnings accretive acquisition will allow it to expand its customer base and promote cross-selling opportunities, tapping How's Catering's established corporate clientele. It added that by tapping on Neo Group's procurement and logistics network, the merger will reap cost benefits and yield additional operational efficiencies.

How supermarkets fight food waste in Singapore The Straits Times 10th Sep 2018
According to the National Environmental Agency, the amount of food waste generated in Singapore has increased by about 40 per cent over the past 10 years. This number is expected to increase with Singapore's growing population and economic activity. Various supermarkets in Singapore have adopted different ways of coping with this issue.

Thailand

Blood tests conducted on farmers shows contamination with toxic farm chemicals The Nation 19th Sep 2018
Traces of toxic chemicals have been found in the blood of five out of every 100 farmers in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Bua Yai district, if results from tests across 132 villages are used as an indicator. The Bua Yai district’s public-health office arranged blood tests yesterday after learning that local farmers had been using pesticides heavily recently. “There are many contamination cases,” the district’s public-health office chief Pongpipat Chumseeda said.

Buriram Sugar projects bitter revenue Bangkok Post 18th Sep 2018
SET-listed sugar miller Buriram Sugar Plc is downbeat on its 2018 revenue as the global sugar price is expected to drop for the second consecutive year. Earlier the firm projected a 30% rise in revenue this year from 5.93 billion baht in 2017. But the current sugar price made it revise its full-year target. Buriram Sugar reported first-half revenue dipped 16% year-on-year to 3.46 billion baht, while net profit fell 56.6% to 288 million baht.

Thailand’s road to sustainable, legal, and regulated fishing POLITICO 17th Sep 2018
Over the last three years, Thailand and the European Union have been working intensively together to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Thailand. With this fruitful cooperation, in which the EU has shown real commitment to helping Thailand solve many difficult challenges, we are much farther ahead on the road to becoming IUU-free and achieving our sustainability goal. With more cooperation and continued hard work we are confident that we can achieve our goals and have a globally competitive, and recognized, fisheries industry.

Thailand's slave fishermen: What's needed to solve the crisis? Al Jazeera News 13th Sep 2018
In 2013, Chairat Ratchapaksi found a job in commercial fishing to support his family. The 40-year-old, from Thailand's central Phetchaburi province, went to see a boat owner in Samut Song Kram Province, whch straddles the Gulf of Thailand, and was hired quickly. From then on, he was at sea more or less continuously for two years, until 2015.

B1bn target for innovation Bangkok Post 13th Sep 2018
The Commerce Ministry has set its sights on boosting sales of innovative rice products to 1 billion baht next year after promoting more than 600 entrepreneurs to develop such goods this year. Founded a few years ago at the request of the Rice Policy and Management Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, API is tasked with driving and promoting agricultural product innovation. The API has teamed up with supermarkets and department stores to sell and promote innovative agricultural products.

Support for total farm chemical ban grows Bangkok Post 11th Sep 2018
The National Health Security Office (NHSO) is throwing its weight behind growing calls for a total ban on three major farm chemicals, saying around 5,000 people have sought treatment from exposure to toxic substances per year with estimated annual health costs of 22 million baht. The NHSO's stance is expected to heap pressure on the government after its Hazardous Substance Committee (HSC) revised its decision to ban those substances despite calls from consumer groups for a total and immediate ban.

Rice pledging hoard cleared Bangkok Post 11th Sep 2018
The Commerce Ministry's Foreign Trade Department says it has completed its mission to clear off 16.91 million tonnes of state rice stocks accumulated from government-sponsored rice pledging schemes. Of the total, 12.2 million tonnes were edible-grade rice for human consumption, with the remainder inedible or low-quality grains.

Checks on imports of Chinese pork stepped up at Suvarnabhumi after swine fever reports The Nation 11th Sep 2018
Livestock Development Department chief Sorawit Thaneeto has instructed the Animal Quarantine Station at the country’s largest international airport to dispatch a team, including sniffer dogs, to find, seize and properly dispose smuggled pork products from China. As part of the department’s temporary 90-day ban on the import of pigs and pork meat products from China, Thai officials have also been told to strictly scan for and suppress illegal pork imports from neighbouring countries through 89 border checkpoints in 25 provinces.

Livestock officials on guard against African Swine fever Bangkok Post 7th Sep 2018
Livestock officials stationed at borders and airports have been put on high alert against pig smuggling amid growing concern over an epidemic of African swine flu in China. In Thailand, the department ordered a temporary ban on imports of pigs and their carcasses from China soon after the virus appeared there, to prevent it damaging swine raising and related industries. The Food Agriculture Organisation, fretting about the spread of swine fever to Asia, held a three-day emergency meeting in Bangkok this week. The UN food agency on Friday issued an ASF warning for countries in Asia. Pork is especially popular with East and Southeast Asian consumers.

Close Monopole homes in on Burgundy wine market Bangkok Post 7th Sep 2018
Clos Monopole plans to become the biggest importer of Burgundy wine in Thailand through a collaboration between Estella Wine and Global Vineyards Thailand. The company aims to achieve 50 million baht in sales by the end of 2018, and expects 30% growth next year

Rice exports slip in July, still poised for 11m tonnes Bangkok Post 4th Sep 2018
Thai rice exports fell in July, both in volume and value, especially for hom mali fragrant rice and parboiled rice, but traders remain upbeat the country's overall rice shipments can reach 11 million tonnes as expected. The Thai Rice Exporters Association's report said shipments fell to 836,381 tonnes in July, down 7.3% from the same period last year, with values worth 13.83 billion baht, down 6.4%. The association's president, Charoen Laothammatas, said the drop was primarily because of dips in shipments of parboiled and hom mali rice.

Vietnam

ThaiBev takes the reins of Sabeco after M&A Hanoi Times 19th Sep 2018
Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp (Sabeco)`s shareholders approved a new board including seven members, of which four were nominated by ThaiBev - controlled by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi through its local unit Vietnam Beverage. The board of Sabeco has elected Neo Gim Siong Bennett as its new CEO for the 2018 - 2023 period at its general annual meeting on July 21, marking the control of ThaiBev over Vietnam's largest brewer. The decision, which took effect on August 1, means that Bennet will replace Nguyen Thanh Nam, who is Sabeco's current CEO and represents the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) at Vietnam's largest domestic brewer, according to an announcement on Sabeco's website.

Asia Coffee: Vietnam prices edge higher on scarce supplies, further... Reuters 13th Sep 2018
Coffee prices in Vietnam edged up this week on scarce supplies, but traders said they would not climb further ahead of the new harvest next month. Farmers in the Central Highlands, the country’s largest coffee growing area, offered coffee in a range of 33,000 dong -33,500 dong ($1.42-$1.44) per kg, compared with 32,500 dong-33,300 dong a week earlier. “Prices have risen slightly because inventory has run almost empty, while several exporters still need beans to fulfil their signed contracts,” a trader based in the province of Dak Lak said.

US lowers duty on Việt Nam’s shrimp exports vietnamnews.vn 11th Sep 2018
The US government lowered the anti-dumping duty on frozen warm water shrimp from Việt Nam. The decision was published on the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) website on September 11. According to the September 10 announcement from the US Department of Commerce (DoC), the final rate is 4.58 per cent. This new rate will impact the Sao Ta Seafood Joint Stock Company (Fimex VN) and 30 other companies.

WEF ASEAN: Grow Asia Forum talks innovation in agriculture Vietnam Plus 11th Sep 2018
The Grow Asia Forum was held in Hanoi on September 11 within the framework of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN 2018 which lasts from September 11-13. The forum brought together leaders of agriculture ministries from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), multinational and global corporations, and companies operating in agriculture in the ASEAN region in general and Vietnam in particular. With 18 sessions, the event focused on agricultural finance, digital innovation in agricultural production, agriculture and the fourth Industrial Revolution, precision technology in agriculture and low-emission agriculture, among others.

Vietnam-WEF cooperation in agriculture becomes fruitful: official Vietnam Plus 10th Sep 2018
Ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN to be opened in Hanoi on September 11, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Le Quoc Doanh has noted the outcomes of agricultural ties between Vietnam and the WEF and future cooperation prospects. The country has promoted partnerships between the State and the private sector through public-private partnership (PPP) commodity-based working groups in the Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture in Vietnam (PSAV), aiming to achieve sustainable growth in local agriculture. So far, the PSAV has successfully implemented seven PPP working groups for coffee, tea, vegetables and fruits, aquatic products, pepper and spices, rice and agricultural chemicals, the official said.

Science-technology promotes farm produce exports Viet Nam Plus 10th Sep 2018
The application of high technologies in cultivation, animal husbandry and fisheries has helped increase economic value by 10-30 percent.Thanks to the policy on agricultural restructuring in tandem with scientific and technological application, the total export turnover of agro-forestry-fishery products during 2008-2017 reached 261.28 billion USD, with an annual average rise of 9.24 percent.

Rice exports set to go up on increasing demand Viet Nam News 8th Sep 2018
Việt Nam’s rice exports are expected to rise in the remaining months of the year thanks to increasing demand in many markets, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. A new decree, which takes effect in October, is expected to remove difficulties and legal barriers faced by rice businesses in expanding exports.

Tra Vinh to develop "clean" agricultural production Viet Nam News 7th Sep 2018
Trà Vinh Province plans to use advanced technology in agriculture and increase production of specialty products, Deputy Secretary of the provincial Party Committee, Ngô Chí Cường, has said. He said the goals would ensure a competitive wholesale market and higher income for local farmers, contributing to the provincial restructuring of the agricultural economics programme

Vietnam and Denmark ink deals to unleash potentials of agro-food production Viet Nam News 6th Sep 2018
Tân Long Group on Wednesday signed strategic partnership agreement with six leading Danish companies, which are well-known for turn-key solutions in agriculture.The European firms will specialise in pig farm equipment, grain handling, feed mill plant and feed nutrition to adopt advanced technologies on its projects in Hà Nội.

Japan shares experience in agricultural, rural development Viet Nam Plus 6th Sep 2018
Japan’s experience in developing agriculture, rural areas, and farmers’ living conditions was shared at a workshop in Hanoi on September 6. Addressing the event, Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue affirmed that agriculture, farmers, and rural areas play an important role in the country’s industrialisation and modernisation, as well as in boosting economic growth in a fast and sustainable manner.

Immediate reporting system to inspect food violations in Hanoi Viet Nam News 6th Sep 2018
An immediate food violation reporting system will be launched in Hà Nội by 2020 to ensure food safety, according to the municipal People’s Committee. The inter-sector system allows health, industry-trade, agriculture-rural development sectors and authorities at district, ward and town levels to receive food-related reports and issue warnings.

MoIT to auction duty quota for sugar import Viet Nam News 5th Sep 2018
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will hold bids on the right to use duty quota to import 94,000 tonnes of sugar this year. The bidding will take place at 9am in the ministry’s meeting room on 23 Ngô Quyền Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội on September 26.The volume includes 65,000 tonnes of raw sugar and 29,000 tonnes of refined sugar.

Export price of Vietnamese pepper down 62% Viet Nam News 4th Sep 2018
The average export price of Vietnamese pepper fell by 62 per cent year-on-year in the first eight months of 2018 to around US$3,330 per tonne following a dip in the global market, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Khanh Hoa approves ambitious fisheries development plan Viet Nam News 4th Sep 2018
The Khánh Hòa Province People’s Committee has approved a fisheries development plan for the period until 2025 focusing on modernising the sector. The plan targets growing fisheries to 62-63 per cent of the south-central province’s agriculture by 2035, after rising to VNĐ10 trillion (US$439 million) by 2025 and VNĐ13 trillion ($558 million) by 2035. The plan envisages reducing fishing near shore and increase offshore fishing to improve quantity, quality and efficiency.