Food & Agriculture Update: January 25, 2019

Food & Agriculture Update | January 25, 2019
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham and David Mineo
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
Feb 20: Screening of "Wasted! The Story of Food Waste"
Spurwing Communications invites interested food & agriculture committee member to a screening of "Wasted! The Story of Food Waste" on February 20, 2019 at The Projector, Golden Mile Tower in Singapore. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion. To register, please click here.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thailand Halts DDGS Shipments
On December 24, 2018, the Government of Thailand issued a notice that all U.S. exports of distillers’ dried grains with solubles (DDGS)—an ethanol byproduct—to Thailand would be subject to methyl bromide fumigation. The notice was issued after beetles were found in two shipments of DDGS in August and November of last year. This new regulation went into effect on January 1, 2019, giving very little time for the industry to consult with the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to come up with an alternative solution to the new regulations which would be consistent with US industry fumigation practices. U.S. DDGS exports have been temporarily suspended, and Thai government officials stated that future shipments of DDGS must be accompanied with a certificate indicating they have been properly fumigated. U.S. exporters have viewed this development alarmingly, as Thailand now constitutes a major market for DDGS due to a decrease in Chinese consumption as a result of the U.S.-China tariff conflict. In 2017, Thailand imported 738,413 tons of DDGS, making them the fourth largest importer of DDGS. While U.S. shippers will take care not to suffer any losses in the Thai market, demand for DDGS remains robust in parts of Asia and Mexico.

Reuters reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) communicated with the Government of Thailand over the weekend of January 18 to explore alternative approaches to using methyl bromide fumigation. Since the proceedings have yet to be published, it is unclear whether the two sides will arrive at an agreement soon to resume trade. The DDGS import regulation is reminiscent of a similar 2017 case in Vietnam, in which the Plant Protection Department placed a ban on DDGS imports after shipments were found to contain beetles. Eventually, following negotiations between industry and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Government of Vietnam agreed to resume DDGS imports, providing shipments follow new fumigation guidelines. The nearly year-long hiatus in DDGS trade between the United States and Vietnam is something the USDA has likely aimed to avoid in its talks with the government of Thailand.

The Benefits of Digital Agriculture and Technology in Southeast Asia’s Farming Sector
As food scarcity becomes an even more pressing issue in Southeast Asia, there will be a greater demand for technological innovations in the agricultural sector to meet the challenge. According to the Manila Standard, the farm sector in Southeast Asia is the least digitized; while the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the necessary yearly investment in agriculture technology to be $265 billion, in 2016, Southeast Asia invested a mere $4.6. Investments in agricultural technology and will have to contend with a rising global population and widening food gap.

Dr. Paul S. Teng, a Southeast Asian agricultural expert, suggests digital agriculture will become a mainstay feature of the farming sector. Digital agriculture involves harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) to expand a user’s knowledge base. As agricultural output is highly dependent on a variety of variables—such as weather patterns, soil composition and terrain—digital agriculture could provide farmers with up-to-date and reliable information that would help improve efficiency and lead to growth in the farming sector.

Beyond promoting digital agriculture, Teng is also an advocate for expanding technologies in finance (fintech). He maintains that fintech will afford farmers time-sensitive loans and allow them to keep accurate records of their faming activity and build their credit profile. Farmers will be able to find loans on favorable terms simply with their smart phones. Teng has also underscored the benefits of gene-editing biotechnologies. Above all, Teng is a strong proponent for prioritizing investments in agricultural technologies which mitigate climate uncertainties and water scarcity, and promote agro-industrial value chains and integration of smallholders, farm tourism and family farming.

Investment in digital agriculture and agricultural technology will help avert the possibility of a future food crisis and reverse recent trends of underproduction and malnutrition. This type of change can be effected through numerous advancements in technology—from new farming techniques to deployment of robotics—and can help ease the financial burden of those working in the farming sector.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
Philippines Senate Bill No. 2068 on Pet Food Additive
In October 2018, Philippine Senator Binay submitted a bill, Senate Bill No. 2068, on "Pet Food Additive Information Act". In its proposed form, the bill requires certain labeling requirements on pet food products that are not aligned with international standards. The Council is currently working with the Global Alliance of Pet food Associations (GAPFA) to submit a joint advocacy letter to the Office of Senator Binay to provide comments on this bill. For more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org). 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Digital farming to address food scarcity in SE Asia

Cambodia
EU on the verge of imposing tariffs on Burmese, Cambodian rice
Korean fishery products popular in region
What the EU’s new tariffs mean for Cambodia and Myanmar’s rice farmers
Local SMEs await procedural details from tax authorities

Indonesia
Only 11 percent of paddy fields receive dam water: President
Rice stock adequate: President Jokowi
Slow Replanting of Palm a Blow to Indonesia's Efforts on Environment

Laos
Gov’t Agencies Discuss New MIOC Decision On Timber Management
14th Food Festival To Be Held Next Week

Malaysia
Malaysia in bid to increase rice production by 5%
Sarawak reviewing forestry policies to ensure sustainability
Food bank initiative almost covers all states
Ministry: Rice production to be increased to 75 per cent
Xavier: Most state governments agree to increase water tariff
Malaysian palm oil/Vegoils: Market factors to watch Wednesday Jan 16

Myanmar
Illegal sugar trade continues at Myawady border area
Rakhine ups efforts to draw investments, hopes for development
Myanmar raises efforts to export fishery products

Philippines
Govt to relax rules on sugar shipments
Rice tarrification bill awaits PRRD’s signature
Regulate chicken imports, DA told
Farmer-friendly program pushed
Farm output slows, misses 2018 target
‘Rice tariff law to curb govt’s ability to blunt hikes from hoarding’
Profiteers blamed for pricey fish
Duterte urged to sign rice tariffication bill
Philippines to import 1.2m tonnes of rice as caps removed
Traders to import 1.19M MT of rice
Arroyo pushes for P20-B hike in agriculture budget
‘Fuel subsidy to ease prices of canned sardines’
Local authorities urged to follow food safety regulations
Stop ‘nitpicking’ on broiler raisers, DA chief tells PCC 
Gov’t to liberalize sugar imports
Food security for the poor
Sugar next on government’s deregulation list after rice — Diokno
NFA sets palay procurement target at 350,000 MT
DA to launch farmer database by March
Doubts cast on Agri dept’s 1% farm growth estimate
PIDS study: Mediocre farm performance to continue after tariffication
DA: Low prices may cause chicken shortage
DA expects to meet 2019 rice production goal
Iloilo farmers betting on carabao milk market

Singapore
With Farms Atop Malls, Singapore Gets Serious About Food Security
$2 million grant to fund zero-waste initiatives
Singapore's war on sugar: Informed public is best weapon against diabetes
Keep calm and carrot on: how agritech could transform farming in Singapore
Sale curbs lifted on alcoholic food
Scientists at NTU turn durian seeds into food stabiliser and probiotics
Food importers may be required to help tackle supply disruptions
Singapore eyes growth in urban farming, aquaculture tech
Singapore aiming to become region's urban agriculture technology hub: Koh Poh Koon

Thailand
U.S. exports of DDG to Thailand halted
Thai seafood industry buoyed by lifting of EU 'yellow card'
Govt distances itself from PPRP land plan
Govt to create data centre to help farm supply match demand
Regulations being drafted for growing medical marijuana
Govt rejects PPRP land policy plan
EU's lifting of yellow card from Thailand welcomed
Wood export rules revisited
Officials to keep an eye on food prices

Vietnam
Đắk Nông needs to facilitate investors, says PM
Deputy PM calls for strict management of food
Việt Nam improves animal farming quality
Việt Nam targets to attract 100,000 businesses in agriculture
Việt Nam to host agricultural consumption forum in February
Delta farmers reap high profits from breeding giant river prawn
Bến Tre copra price falls due to oversupply
Hà Nội should move towards self-sufficiency in food
HCM City to focus on key agricultural products this year
Provinces take action against disease outbreaks among cattle, poultry
Cash promised for rural start-ups
Mekong Delta aims for high-quality agriculture in 2019
Farmer finds success with agricultural programme
Ten outstanding achievements in agriculture, rural development in 2018
Rubber exports rise in volume but decrease in value
VN could face tra fish oversupply
Further steps needed to control food safety: Deputy PM
Việt Nam faces challenges in ensuring water security
VN should become one of the world’s top 15 most developed agriculture nations
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Digital farming to address food scarcity in SE Asia Malaya Business Insight 4th Jan 2019
The farm sector should adapt digital agriculture and disruptive breeding technologies to catch up with predicted food scarcity and raise agriculture contribution to jobs and growth. The farm sector in Southeast Asia is the least digitized sector of the economy with only $4.6 billion invested for agriculture technology in 2016 according to AgFunder. On the contrary, the needed investment for agriculture technology in the region totals to $265 billion per year,  according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Cambodia

EU on the verge of imposing tariffs on Burmese, Cambodian rice Asian Correspondent 15th Jan 2019
THE European Union plans to impose tariffs on rice coming from Cambodia and Burma for the next three years in a decision that could deal a huge blow to the agriculturally-dependent Southeast Asian economies. In a bid to curb a surge in imports, the European Commission, which oversees trade policy in the bloc, proposed the measures last year but failed to get a clear majority of the 28 countries in favour last December. According to Reuters, the commission itself is bound to make the final decision in the absence of an opinion by the relevant committee. A source familiar with the process said the committee has set a Wednesday deadline to determine if there is any opposition to the proposal, which sets a duty of EU175  (US$200.73) per tonne of rice in the first year, dropping to 150 euros in the second and 125 euros in year three. The tariffs follow an initiative by the Italian government to limit rice imports from Asian countries which is aimed at “protecting the Italian and European rice industry.” Both countries are beneficiaries of the EU’s “Everything But Arms” scheme which allows the world’s least developed countries to export most goods to the EU without duties. Separately, Cambodia and Burma stand to lose special access to the world’s largest trading bloc over their human rights records.

Korean fishery products popular in region Phnom Penh Post 22nd Jan 2019
Korean and Vietnamese officials cut tape at a Hanoi mall in September as part of a ceremony promoting Korean agricultural products. North Chungcheong Provincial Office/THE KOREA HERALD Korean fishery products popular in region SOUTH KOREA’S agro-fishery products are gaining popularity in China and Southeast Asia on the back of their reputation for quality, freshness and safety. According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, exports of fishery products hit an all-time high of $2.386 billion last year, surpassing the former record of $2.383 billion set in 2012.

What the EU’s new tariffs mean for Cambodia and Myanmar’s rice farmers The Cambodia Daily 19th Jan 2019
Rice farmers across Cambodia and Myanmar have been left scrambling for new markets for their crop after the European Union announced on Wednesday that it will now be imposing hefty tariffs on long-grain Indica rice from both Southeast Asian nations for the next three years beginning today. The decision, announced by the European Commission this week, follows a month-long investigation that confirmed the increase in Indica imports from Cambodia and Myanmar has been damaging to EU rice producers.

Local SMEs await procedural details from tax authorities Phnom Penh Post 11th Jan 2019
Workers bundle packaged goods into plastic bags at the LYLY Food Industry Co Ltd factory in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district in 2015. Hong Menea Local SMEs await procedural details from tax authorities Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are still waiting for tax authorities to provide procedural details after the government announced tax incentives for SMEs in six priority sectors three months ago, said Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia (Fasmec) operations manager Ly Visal. Speaking on Thursday, he said: “According to the General Department of Taxation [GDT], the detailed procedure for tax exemptions for the six priority sectors announced by the government will be completed by the end of January. “After news of the tax exemption, many companies and businesses expressed their delight, but still look forward to seeing the [GDT’s] [application] procedure.”

Indonesia

Only 11 percent of paddy fields receive dam water: President Antara News 14th Jan 2019
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has stated that the government will continue to build dams to irrigate paddy fields since the existing dams can irrigate only 11 percent, or 780 thousand hectares, of paddy fields. "However, after the construction of 58 dams is completed, the number will jump to 20 percent. It is very small. Hence, more dams are still needed to irrigate our farmers` paddy fields," he noted at the President`s Vision broadcast by a private television station on Sunday night. Eight of the 58 dams that have been completed comprise the Raknamo and Rotiklot dams in East Nusa Tenggara and the Tanju and Bendungan Mila dams in West Nusa Tenggara. According to the Central Statistics Agency, the area of paddy fields stood at 7.1 million hectares in 2018, down from 7.75 million hectares a year earlier.

Rice stock adequate: President Jokowi Antara News 10th Jan 2019
The stock of rice is adequate, and the market operation has been effective, according to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi). "I just want to ensure that the rice stock is adequate, and market operation is working," he noted while visiting a warehouse of the National Logistic Agency (Bulog) at Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta, here, Thursday. The management of Bulog has improved compared to that three or four years ago, Jokowi stated. "This year`s stock is higher than that of last year," the president, who was accompanied by Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution and Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita during his visit, stated. Rice prices have dropped owing to market operations conducted by Bulog, he added. He expressed optimism over the rice stock, as a grand harvest of rice will be conducted, starting March 2019.

Slow Replanting of Palm a Blow to Indonesia's Efforts on Environment Jakarta Globe 16th Jan 2019
An ambitious scheme to replant about a fifth of the land under palm oil in Indonesia is running far behind schedule, marking a blow to efforts by the world's top producer to lift yields and fend off attacks on the sustainability of the crop. The target of replanting 2.4 million hectares of palm grown by smallholders with quality seedlings by 2025 comes as Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's second largest producer, face a backlash in Western countries over the environmental toll of the edible oil. The government is counting on the scheme to help deflect criticism over massive clearance of forests, often home to endangered tigers, orangutans and elephants, by increasing production on existing plots rather than looking for new plantations.

Laos

Gov’t Agencies Discuss New MIOC Decision On Timber Management KPL: Lao News Agency 10th Jan 2019
The government agencies held a national consultation workshop to discuss the final draft of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC)’s decision on the management and monitoring of timber input in wood processing and trade sector on Jan 10. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Director General of the Department of Industry and Handicraft Somphong Soulivanh, and joined by representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, State Inspection Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Finance and the provincial Offices of Industry and Commerce across the country.

14th Food Festival To Be Held Next Week KPL: Lao News Agency 8th Jan 2019
The annual Lao Food Festival designed to promote Lao cuisines and Lao women’s entrepreneurship will be held at Chao Anouvong Park, Vientiane Capital on Jan 23-26, a press conference was told on Tuesday. “The festival aims to promote local businesses run by women. It will provide local producers, restaurant owners from Vientiane Capital and provinces the opportunity to introduce and sell their products,” said President of the Lao Businesswomen’s Association Chanthachone Vongsay. The festival will also provide local business owners the opportunity to exchange lessons and experiences regarding cooking, goods production, product marketing and income generation.

Malaysia

Malaysia in bid to increase rice production by 5% The Star Online 23rd Jan 2019
The production rate of local rice will be increased to 75% from the current 70% as Malaysia looks to reduce dependency on imports, said Datuk Salahuddin Ayub. The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister said Malaysia imported 740,000 tonnes of rice last year, which cost about RM1.18bil. “The ministry has set a target to increase the production of local rice to 75% within the next three or four years. “To increase production, we will look into the usage of modern technology such as ‘soil profiling’, and using better variety of fertilisers and such,” said Salahuddin. Salahuddin added that state governments also have a duty to ensure that enough agricultural lands are gazetted to achieve the target.

Sarawak reviewing forestry policies to ensure sustainability The Star Online 22nd Jan 2019
Sarawak is reviewing its forestry policies to keep up with current trends and ensure sustainability. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said forestry laws and policies would be strengthened as part of efforts to transform the logging and timber sector. "Obsolete laws and policies will be reviewed to ensure they are in line with current developments and best practices."

Food bank initiative almost covers all states The Star Online 22nd Jan 2019
A national food bank initiative to curb food wastage is now covering almost the entire country following pilot projects in eight states. The pilot projects have been implemented in states such as Johor, Negri Sembilan, Melaka, Kelantan and Sabah, says Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail. “There are only a few more left,” he said when contacted recently. Saifuddin said his ministry’s secretary-general had been appointed to chair the food bank initiative with the creation of the Malaysia Food Bank Foundation to run the programme.

Ministry: Rice production to be increased to 75 per cent New Straits Times 22nd Jan 2019
Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry targets to increase 75 per cent of local rice production from the current 70 per cent in a few years’ time to reduce the dependency on imported rice. Its minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said 30 per cent or 740,000 tonnes of rice were imported last year with a cost of RM1.18 million. “The ministry has agreed to increase local rice production to 75 per cent, probably in three or four years to come. “We will increase the use of technology to do ‘profiling’ and the usage of suitable fertiliser. That is what we are going to focus on,” he said during a press conference after delivering 2019 New Year’s message to his staff here today.

Xavier: Most state governments agree to increase water tariff The Star Online 16th Jan 2019
he water tariff is expected to be increased this year with most state governments having agreed to it, says Water, Land Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar. He said the matter was still being discussed and the amount yet to be finalised as the states had different tariff rates and some had not reviewed the tariff for tens of years.

Malaysian palm oil/Vegoils: Market factors to watch Wednesday Jan 16 The Star Online 16th Jan 2019
The following factors are likely to influence Malaysian palm oil futures and other vegetable oil markets on Wednesday Jan 16.. FUNDAMENTALS * Malaysian palm oil futures rose on Tuesday evening for their biggest daily advance in a week, rebounding from Monday's near two-week low, tracking gains in crude oil prices. * U.S. soybean futures fell for the third time in four sessions on Tuesday on worries that the United States and China remain far apart in resolving a bitter trade fight that has slashed U.S. soy imports by the world's top buyer.

Myanmar

Illegal sugar trade continues at Myawady border area The Myanmar Times 21st Jan 2019
To control the unstable foreign currency exchange rate, the Ministry of Commerce temporarily stopped issuing re-export licenses for sugar and fuel in August.  Although sugar re-exports are suspended, there are still illegal imports and a large local stockpile of sugar locally, as there are few buyers in China, U Win Htay, vice president of the Myanmar Sugar and Cane Related Products Association, said.  “There is illegal trading, mostly in Myawady. There is plenty of sugar locally. It is hard to estimate the amount of the sugar in Myanmar, so we should stop the smuggling,” he said.

Rakhine ups efforts to draw investments, hopes for development The Myanmar Times 21st Jan 2019
With the aim of drawing funds that will be channelled towards the development of the state, the three-day Rakhine State Investment Fair, will start on February 21. The fair will organised by the state government, with support from the Japanese government.  State officials say, in the tourism sector, there are opportunities to invest in hotels and other tour activities in Ngapali Beach, which is in Thandwe Township, as well as in other beaches in Gwa and Kyeintali townships and the Mrauk-U heritage area. In fisheries, funds are needed to build, upgrade and expand fish farms and processing factories, while agriculture will require investments in technology and converting existing farmland into areas which can double up as agri and aquaculture zones. Other sectors with growth potential include foodstuffs and garment manufacturing, power generation and distribution, education, healthcare and infrastructure, U Nyi Pu said.

Myanmar raises efforts to export fishery products The Myanmar Times 10th Jan 2019
Two fish processing plants — TT Cold Store Factory and A&N Foods (Myanmar) Co. Ltd — have been granted permits to export fish caught in the wild to the European Union, according to a report by state media. The Fisheries Department, under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation, is working with the fish processors and exporters to ensure Myanmar fishery products meet the rules and regulations of importing countries, including the EU, the report said. 21 local fish factories have been given permission to export their products to the EU so far. TT Cold Store and A&N Foods were permitted to place their products in the EU market after meeting the requirements.  However, Myanmar currently does not meet the standards required to export farmed fish, as local fish farms are not prepared to guarantee their products are free from biochemical residues. Residue tests have to be conducted at each stage of production, which includes hatching, farming, feeding and processing.  ber.

Philippines

Govt to relax rules on sugar shipments The Manila Times Online 17th Jan 2019
The government is planning to deregulate or relax regulations on sugar imports this year, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced on Wednesday. In a press briefing, Diokno said the current policy of the Duterte administration was to ease up on imports of select farm goods following the lifting of quantitative restrictions on rice. “Next is sugar, you know why? Because it’s one of the inputs to our potential export,” he told reporters. “Sugar in the Philippines is very expensive compared to the global rate. So we plan to deregulate or relax,” the Budget chief added. Asked for a timeframe, he replied that the plan could be implemented within the year.

Rice tarrification bill awaits PRRD’s signature Manila Bulletin News 17th Jan 2019
The bill that would allow the un­impeded importation of rice has been transmitted to Palace. The Senate, on Tuesday, sent to the Office of the President the harmonized version of Senate Bill 1998 and House Bill 7735, or the proposed rice tariffica­tion law, which seeks to replace the quantitative import restrictions with tariffs and lift the quantitative restriction on rice exports. The measure was ratified by both Houses of Congress in November last year. It would lapse into law if President Duterte fails to act on the measure – ei­ther sign or veto the bill – after 30 days. The bill seeks to amend the Agricul­tural Tariffication Act of 1996.

Regulate chicken imports, DA told The Manila Times Online 15th Jan 2019
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Monday urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to regulate the volume of imported chicken until local demand and supply stabilize. In an interview, Trade Undersecretary for Cosumer Protection Group Ruth Castelo also called on retailers to lower retail prices of chicken to P100 per kilogram (kg) as farmgate prices already reached P38/kg in some areas of the country. “The [farmgate] price is really low. The DA should make sure that importation will be lessened. Data showed that the importation last year is really high,” said Castelo. Data provided by Castelo revealed that for January to November 2018, importation of chicken leg quarter alone already reached 61.43 million kgs, significantly higher compared to the 44.83 million kgs imported in 2017.

Farmer-friendly program pushed The Manila Times Online 14th Jan 2019
A national credit program for farmers is being pursued by the government to liberate them from loan sharks and increase their production. The absence of credit programs in many parts of the country pushed farmers and fisherfolks to loan sharks and local traders who slap “atrocious” interest rates, hampering greater income for them, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said. This is worse at times when local traders “corner the farmers’ produce during harvest time, buying them at prices they dictate,” Piñol added. Once received, farmers usually use the borrowed money to buy seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs. They also intend to pay for labor and personal needs like tuition fees and hospital bills.

Farm output slows, misses 2018 target The Manila Times 24th Jan 2019
2018’s 0.56% result down markedly from 3.95% a year earlier Agriculture output growth slowed in last three months of 2018 from a year earlier even as it rebounded from a July-September contraction, the government reported on Wednesday, leading to a full-year result well below official estimates. At 1.8 percent, the expansion was an improvement from the third quarter’s 0.83-percent drop but was lower than the 2.26 percent posted a year earlier, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed. Full-year output growth came in at just 0.56 percent, below Agriculture Secretary Emmanual Piñol’s estimate of 1 percent and well short of a projected easing to 2.5 percent — instead of a targeted 4 percent — from 2017’s nearly 3.95-percent expansion.

‘Rice tariff law to curb govt’s ability to blunt hikes from hoarding’ BusinessMirror 23rd Jan 2019
THE government will not be able to intervene in the market when retail prices of rice shoot up due to hoarding and manipulation once the rice tariffication bill is enacted into law, House Deputy Speaker and former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap warned on Tuesday. Yap, in a statement sent to the BusinessMirror via SMS, said the National Food Authority (NFA) will “lose its power” to sell rice in the market as it has been reduced to a buffer-stocking agency under the bicameral committee-approved Senate Bill (SB) 1998.  

Profiteers blamed for pricey fish The Manila Times 23rd Jan 2019
THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has blamed profiteers and middlemen for the high prices of fish in the market. BFAR National Director Eduardo Gongona said the country had a “steady” supply of fish. “Our imported galunggong (round scad) has arrived in our fishing ports and bulk of these were already distributed to various markets. So why are prices still high? It’s mainly because of the middlemen or the in-between,” Gongona said. “Based on our monitoring data, prices of fish in Navotas port and nearby markets are stable. But comparing them to prices in Metro Manila markets, we can really see a big difference and this is really because of profiteering of some traders,” he added.

Duterte urged to sign rice tariffication bill Inquirer 23rd Jan 2019
Local and foreign business groups have urged President Duterte to sign the bill that will let rice imports flow freely into the country after problems in the staple’s supply pushed inflation to new highs last year. Thirteen business groups signed a joint statement calling for the passage of the Rice Tariffication Bill as the urgency grew stronger in the aftermath of last year’s inflation, which reached peaks that only added more burden to consumers and businesses alike. “The bill is now with Malacañang and we urge the President to sign it into law,” they said, adding that this would “address the rice supply disruption problem and concomitant high prices.”

Business groups press Duterte to sign rice tariffication measure | Philstar.com Philstar Global 22nd Jan 2019
MANILA, Philippines — Business groups on Monday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to sign into law a bill lifting the more than two-decade-old caps on rice imports to bring relief to consumers. Rice is a Filipino main staple and pivotal political commodity in the Philippines. It is a heavy item in the basket of goods and services used to compute inflation and accounts for 20 percent of the consumption of low-income households. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the country’s economic managers have repeatedly stressed the importance of replacing rice import limits with a system of tariffs to bring inflation back inside the government’s 2-4 percent target band.

Philippines to import 1.2m tonnes of rice as caps removed Bangkok Post 22nd Jan 2019
Rice traders in the Philippines are set to import about 1.2 million tonnes of the staple food, a state grains agency spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday, as the Southeast Asian country lifts a two-decade-old cap on purchases. Bigger rice purchases by the Philippines, already one of the world's top importers and consumers of the grain, could underpin export prices in Vietnam and Thailand, traditionally its key suppliers. Prices in Vietnam fell last week ahead of the country's largest harvest this month, while the Thai market is likely to see additional supply towards the end of January from the seasonal harvest. President Rodrigo Duterte in October ordered the "unimpeded" importation of rice after the country's inflation shot up to 6.7% in September and October, the highest in nearly a decade, partly due to food prices.

Traders to import 1.19M MT of rice | BusinessWorld Business World 22nd Jan 2019
THE National Food Authority (NFA) has 180 applicants from the private sector to import 1.19 million metric tons (MT) of rice under the out-quota scheme as the government prepares to lift a cap on purchases, with its tariffication law for the staple expected to be in force “soon.” The applications are for the importation of white rice at 5% and 25% brokens, fragrant rice at 5% brokens and glutinous rice at 10% brokens.

Business groups tell Duterte to sign rice tariff bill BusinessMirror 22nd Jan 2019
BUSINESS executives want no less than an enactment into law of the rice tariffication bill, as they advised President Duterte on Monday to approve the measure and dismiss calls to veto it. Business groups told the President to sign the measure that will convert the country’s quantitative restriction on rice into tariffs. The statement was made in the face of mounting calls from industry stakeholders, as well as from a senior agriculture official, to veto the measure.

Arroyo pushes for P20-B hike in agriculture budget Manila Bulletin News 22nd Jan 2019
The House of Representatives’ contingent to the bicameral panel for the 2019 General Appropriations Act was given the marching order to defend at all cost the P20 billion increase in the proposed allocation of the Department of Agriculture. Former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued the directive as she stressed the need to adjust the DA allocation to help the country battle inflation and bring it to a lower level. Arroyo has further pushed for the swift implementation of all government economic programs to further address the inflation problem that hit the country during the last quarter of 2018. The former chief executive had asked the House Small Committee on Appropriations to increase the budget of the DA by P20 billion to help in the further lowering of the inflation.

‘Fuel subsidy to ease prices of canned sardines’ BusinessMirror 21st Jan 2019
The government might provide fishermen with fuel vouchers to reduce their operating cost, after manufacturers of canned sardines reported that prices of fish remain high. Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said his agency requested canned goods producers to roll back their prices with the holiday season over. However, canned sardines makers said they are prevented to do so by the high acquisition cost of herring fish, locally known as tamban.

Local authorities urged to follow food safety regulations Manila Bulletin News 19th Jan 2019
Three Quezon City Councilors have pushed for more stringent measures in the city’s food safety rules to avert food poisoning incidents and spread of gastro-intestinal diseases associated with food intake. Councilors Victor Ferrer Jr., Eufenio Lagumbay and Allan Benedict Reyes issued the call as they urged local health authorities to ensure that the food served in the schools’ canteens are always safe for human consumption. They also asked concerned agencies to randomly conduct food safety inspections on eateries, carinderias and street food vendors catering mostly to the pupils and students in the city’s public high schools.

Stop ‘nitpicking’ on broiler raisers, DA chief tells PCC  BusinessMirror 17th Jan 2019
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol has challenged the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to run after the “real” cartel allegedly behind the manipulation of retail prices of pork, rice and poultry products in the market, instead of “nitpicking” on broiler raisers that are losing money. Piñol made the pronouncement during a recent news briefing wherein he pointed out that the proposed price fixing by broiler raisers to cut their losses is more of a “survival” measure rather than a “cartel” act. “The spirit of the law is to protect the consumers [from profiteering]. Now, this is a group of farmers trying to survive [because they have been] losing money for so many weeks,” he said last Monday.

Gov’t to liberalize sugar imports Inquirer 17th Jan 2019
After moves to remove import restrictions on rice, the government this year plans to also liberalize sugar importation, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Wednesday. In a press conference, Diokno said the next big item among agricultural products whose importation would be further opened up by the Duterte administration was sugar, noting that it is a raw material in a number of potential export products. “Sugar in the Philippines is very expensive compared to the global rate, so we plan to deregulate or relax [the sector],” Diokno said.

Food security for the poor Inquirer 17th Jan 2019
Food security is elusive for the poor, especially in the Philippines. From 2013 to 2015, our underweight percentage worsened from 19 percent to 25 percent. For stunting (a consequence of severe malnutrition), we went from 30 percent to 34 percent. The latest Social Weather Station Survey showed that in 2018, 19 million (or 19 percent of our people) experienced hunger, with 10 million experiencing severe hunger. Because of this dire situation, the government and private sector should join hands to address this very unfortunate food security situation, especially because it has disastrous consequences for the poor.

Russian bizmen keen on investing P8B in Mindanao banana plantation BusinessMirror 16th Jan 2019
A GROUP of Russian businessmen is keen on investing at least P8 billion in Mindanao to develop 5,000 hectares of Cavendish banana plantation. The project is expected to generate 10,000 jobs, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said. The Russian group, represented by French-Russian businessman Robert Gaspar, is eyeing the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) main enclave of Camp Abubakar as its plantation site, Piñol added. Together with Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, Piñol accompanied the Russian group in visiting the proposed banana plantation area in Barangay Oring, Buldon, Maguindanao, on January 14.

Sugar next on government’s deregulation list after rice — Diokno | BusinessWorld Business World 16th Jan 2019
THE GOVERNMENT will move to open up sugar imports this year to make the industry more competitive, the state Budget chief said, explaining that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration wants to do the same for other food items. “We have to deregulate most of the agricultural sector. That’s the direction now of the government, like freer importation of all food products,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in a media briefing on Wednesday. Following the proposed rice tariffication law — which will replace import quotas with a regular tariff scheme in a move estimated to slash P7 per kilogram (/kg) off this staple’s retail prices and inflation by 0.7-0.8 percentage point — that now awaits signing into law by Mr. Duterte, the government will now focus on removing hurdles to sugar trades.

Aboitiz Power explores LNG project Manila Bulletin Business 16th Jan 2019
Listed firm Aboitiz Power Corporation is exploring the possibility of investment plunge into liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fired power plant as well as new ventures in utility-scale solar farm installations. In discussion with reporters, Aboitiz Power Chief Operating Officer Emmanuel V. Rubio noted that LNG is part of the investment option they have been casting, although he indicated that final cost-to-the-consumer is still a major point of contention. “We’re looking at the price point…like is it going to be competitive as base load? That’s a major consideration,” he stressed.

174 companies want to import rice Manila Bulletin Business 16th Jan 2019
As many as 174 companies have formally expressed interest to import rice under the government’s out-quota rice importation program. That was based on a latest data provided by the National Food Authority (NFA) which shows that as of January 10, 174 companies have already filed application to bring in as much as 1.16 million metric tons (MT) of rice into the country. While most of these companies intend to import a lot of 25 percent and 5 percent brokens of White Rice, some plans to bring in a specific amount of Glutinous Rice, Super Basmati Rice, Fragrant Rice, and Well Milled Long Grain Rice.

NFA sets palay procurement target at 350,000 MT | BusinessWorld Business World 15th Jan 2019
THE National Food Authority’s (NFA) domestic rice purchasing target in the first half is about 350,000 metric tons of palay, or unmilled rice, also known as “paddy,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Tuesday. “With an initial budget of P7 billion, the NFA aims to buy 350,000 metric tons (MT) of paddy rice for the first half of 2019. This is equivalent to 227,500 MT or 4.450 million bags of (milled) rice,” Mr. Piñol said in a Facebook post.

Some politicians interested in marijuana trade – Atienza The Manila Times 15th Jan 2019
Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said several lawmakers wanted to legalize medical marijuana because they themselves were eager to go into the business of cultivating the plant and running dispensaries. “There are politicians who want to profit from legalized medical marijuana. This is clearly all about money – lots of money,” Atienza, the House senior deputy minority leader, said. A number of pro-legalization members of Congress have gone on “field trips” to the United States and Canada to look into the operations of medical marijuana dispensaries there, he said. Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte would sign into law any bill legalizing medical marijuana.

DA to launch farmer database by March | BusinessWorld Business World 14th Jan 2019
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to launch a database of farmers and fishermen containing information on assistance provided to them, within the current quarter. The project, which will be called National Farmers and Fishermen’s Database (NFFD), will geo-tag the locations of their farms and houses, and will seek to monitor improvements in their livelihood two years after the assistance was provided. “This program is expected to effectively assist the Department of Agriculture (DA) in targeting the real beneficiaries of its programs, especially the Easy Access Credit Program under the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC),” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a Facebook post on Monday.

Doubts cast on Agri dept’s 1% farm growth estimate | BusinessWorld Business World 13th Jan 2019
THE agriculture sector’s growth for 2018 could have been flat — or worse than the 1% estimate given by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, an economist said. “Likely flat,” University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Center for Food and Agribusiness Executive Director Rolando T. Dy said in a mobile message when asked for his estimate for agricultural growth in 2018. Mr. Piñol said in a Facebook post that the agriculture sector grew by 1% in 2018, citing data viewed by the DA’s management committee (MANCOM).

PIDS study: Mediocre farm performance to continue after tariffication BusinessMirror 11th Jan 2019
THE agriculture sector will continue to have difficulties contributing to the expansion of the country’s economy even after the rice import caps have been converted into tariffs, according to a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). In a study, titled “Scenarios for the Philippine Agri-Food System with and without Tariffication: Application of a CGE model with Endogenous Area Allocation,” PIDS Senior Research Fellow Roehlano M. Briones used a new Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model for his estimates.

DA: Low prices may cause chicken shortage BusinessMirror 9th Jan 2019
THE country may experience a chicken shortage in the second quarter, which could result in higher retail prices, if the current glut and low farm-gate prices are not addressed immediately, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

DA tells chicken growers to raise farmgate prices to avoid losses | BusinessWorld Business World 8th Jan 2019
AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said poultry growers should increase farmgate prices of chicken by P10 weekly from the current P38 per kilo to prevent them from exiting the industry. “I left them with the appeal that once and for all, they should agree among themselves to protect themselves. Prices at farmgate have fallen to P38 in some areas and the farmers are losing. So my suggestion a while ago is that they should agree to increase the farmgate price by at least P10 every week until such time that it hits a level where they are not losing money. If we do not address this problem, some of the small players might leave the business and in a few months, we might have a shortage of chicken,” Mr. Piñol told reporters on the sidelines of a livestock and poultry stakeholders’ meeting with government officials on Tuesday. Mr. Piñol said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will review the volume of imported chicken as it might exceed the absorptive capacity of the market. Mr. Piñol said the volume of imported chicken increased by 50 million kilograms (kg) from a year earlier and 16 million kg remains in cold storage as of today. Eighteen million kg of domestic chicken is also in cold storage, according to Mr. Piñol.

DA expects to meet 2019 rice production goal | BusinessWorld Business World 7th Jan 2019
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said that rice production target for 2019 is likely to be met as rice farmers are expected to recover from the agricultural damage brought by tropical depression Usman. “The damage was to low-yielding varieties, and we will try to make up for it with high-yielding varieties. So whatever the target is, we might go higher,” DA Undersecretary Ariel T. Cayanan told BusinessWorld after a news conference on Monday, when asked about the expected output for rice this year. Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that damaged rice crops are at their vegetative stage, and that the DA was quick to intervene by providing farmers high-yielding variety seed.

Iloilo farmers betting on carabao milk market | BusinessWorld Business World 6th Jan 2019
LOILO CITY — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking to develop the dairy industry in Iloilo province, using milk from the native carabao. Dr. Eric P. Palacpac, head of the Knowledge Management Division of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), said Iloilo is ideal because of its carabao population.

Death toll from Philippine landslides, floods climbs to 85 Reuters 2nd Jan 2019
MANILA (Reuters) - The death toll from landslides and devastating floods in the central Philippines triggered by a tropical depression climbed to 85, officials said on Wednesday, and 20 people were missing as rescuers slowly reached cut-off communities.The tropical depression, which weakened into a low pressure system before leaving the Philippines on Sunday, brought heavy rain that triggered landslides and flooding in the Bicol and eastern Visayas regions. Officials put three provinces under a “state of calamity” to give them access to emergency funds. Bicol, with a population of 5.8 million, was the hardest hit, with 68 killed in intense rains and landslides. Damage to agriculture in Bicol, which produces rice and corn, was estimated at 342 million pesos (US $6.5 million). About 20 tropical cyclones hit the Philippines every year, with destroyed crops and infrastructure taking a toll on human lives and weighing down one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.

Singapore

With Farms Atop Malls, Singapore Gets Serious About Food Security Jakarta Globe 10th Jan 2019
Visitors to Singapore's Orchard Road, the city's main shopping belt, will find fancy malls, trendy department stores, abundant food courts – and a small farm. Comcrop's 600-square-meter farm on the roof of one of the malls uses vertical racks and hydroponics to grow leafy greens and herbs such as basil and peppermint that it sells to nearby bars, restaurants and stores. The farm's small size belies its big ambition: to help improve the city's food security.

$2 million grant to fund zero-waste initiatives The Straits Times 22nd Jan 2019
People looking to kick-start ground-up initiatives to drive waste reduction and recycling can bid for $2 million worth of funding from February this year. Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor announced on Tuesday (Jan 22) that the funds are for projects specifically targeting zero waste, particularly in the areas of packaging waste, food waste, and electrical and electronic waste (e-waste). These waste streams are key areas that Singapore can improve a lot on, Dr Khor said during a site visit to a Sembcorp facility in Tuas.

Singapore's war on sugar: Informed public is best weapon against diabetes The Straits Times 20th Jan 2019
Malnutrition is a problem often perceived to be linked to food shortages, but many people do not realise that it can also be caused by excessive consumption of empty calories, such as from sugar. While close to one billion people across Asia face the threat of food shortage, twice as many are overweight or obese. This double burden of malnutrition is a threat to governments and societies in Asia, not solely in its impact on health but also on economies due to productivity loss. The McKinsey Global Institute estimated that the cost of obesity for the global economy is similar to that from smoking. Obesity is no longer described as a "problem of affluence", but rather as one of the biggest global public health threats.

Keep calm and carrot on: how agritech could transform farming in Singapore The Business Times 19th Jan 2019
THINK fast: which countries come to mind when you hear "agriculture"? China? Yes. Japan? Probably. Singapore? Not so much. The country has never had a large role to play in agriculture. Yet in the past two years, the authorities cannot seem to stop waxing lyrical about the potential of Singapore as an agrifood tech hub for the region, almost as if to say: There's so much we can do. Lettuce grow together. But jokes asides, agritech is becoming serious business here. Just earlier this week, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) investment arm Seeds Capital appointed seven co-investment partners to pump more than S$90 million into Singapore agrifood tech startups. The last year also saw notable movements within the private sector as well. Catalist-listed Trendlines announced plans to open an innovation centre to develop agrifood technologies here, and wants to raise a US$40 million venture fund. Global agrifood tech accelerator network The Yield Lab rode into town too, basing their regional operations in Singapore. And yet when it comes down to it, most of us in Singapore might go our whole lives never being in the presence of a crops farm or livestock. A single mysterious wild cow on Coney Island - which has since died - was novel and exciting enough to gather a religious following.

Sale curbs lifted on alcoholic food The Straits Times 18th Jan 2019
Craving for a tub of rum-and-raisin ice cream at midnight? From today, it will be legal to buy such non-beverage products containing alcohol from stores regardless of the hour, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday. This comes after the ministry reviewed the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act. The Act was put in place in 2015 to restrict the sale hours of liquor at retail outlets and consumption of liquor in public places, applying to all products containing more than 0.5 per cent alcohol, whether food or beverages. Under the Act, such products cannot be sold from 10.30pm to 7am. The consumption of liquor in public places is also banned from 10.30pm to 7am, to minimise public disorder.

Scientists at NTU turn durian seeds into food stabiliser and probiotics The Straits Times 17th Jan 2019
A team of researchers at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) may have given durian fans another reason to hail the King of Fruits. The scientists have found a way to turn durian seeds into a food stabiliser (a binding ingredient used to give food items a uniform texture) and probiotics - a good bacteria that, when consumed, helps people to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Food importers may be required to help tackle supply disruptions The Straits Times 16th Jan 2019
Importers of key food items may be required to come up with preventive strategies and other plans to mitigate the impact of supply disruptions to Singapore, which imports more than 90 per cent of its food and is vulnerable to factors affecting global supply, such as disease outbreaks and climate change. This and other measures to beef up Singapore's food security were included in two Bills tabled in Parliament yesterday to dissolve the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and split its functions between the National Parks Board (NParks) and a new statutory board to oversee food safety and security. The AVA will cease in April and its plant-and animal-related functions, including animal welfare, will be transferred to NParks.

Singapore eyes growth in urban farming, aquaculture tech The Straits Times 16th Jan 2019
Singapore has the "right ingredients" to make it the urban agriculture and aquaculture technology hub in the region, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said yesterday. In a keynote speech at the Indoor Ag-Con Asia conference at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, he said Singapore is in a strong position to "catalyse technological and business innovations" as it has a climate for innovation, strong talent base and strategic location, which can transform agriculture and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region. "Where arable land is scarce, innovating how we produce food is critical in helping us overcome our farming constraints and better contribute to our food sustainability and traceability efforts," he added. "Investments in agri-tech can also help to reduce our reliance on food imports and allow us to enjoy seasonal produce while lowering our carbon footprint."

Singapore aiming to become region's urban agriculture technology hub: Koh Poh Koon The Straits Times 15th Jan 2019
Singapore has the "right ingredients" to make it the urban agriculture and aquaculture technology hub in the region, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said on Tuesday (Jan 15). In a keynote speech at the Indoor Ag-Con Asia conference at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, which is being held in Singapore for the fourth time, Dr Koh said Singapore is in a strong position to "catalyse technological and business innovations", as it has a climate for innovation, strong talent base and strategic location which can transform agriculture and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region. "Where arable land is scarce, innovating how we produce food is critical in helping us overcome our farming constraints and better contribute to our food sustainability and traceability efforts," he said.

Thailand

U.S. exports of DDG to Thailand halted World Grain 14th Jan 2019
U.S. shipments of distillers’ dried grains (DDG) to Thailand have been halted due to new fumigation requirements imposed after beetles were discovered in a shipment in 2018, according to a report by Reuters. Traders told Reuters trade has stopped as the two governments negotiate which gas is best for fumigation. The report said that since Jan. 1, Thai regulations require all DDG shipments entering the country to be fumigated with methyl bromide, but many U.S. shippers would prefer to use phosphine.

Beetles halt U.S. distillers' grains exports to Thailand Reuters 11th Jan 2019
Exports of U.S. distillers’ dried grains to Thailand have stopped due to new fumigation requirements installed after beetles were discovered in a shipment last year, American traders said on Friday. Thai government officials said U.S. shipments required certificates showing they had been “properly fumigated.” Traders said sales had effectively been halted as the two governments negotiate which gas is best for the fumigation. Thailand in 2017 was the fourth-biggest overseas market for so-called DDGs, importing 738,413 tonnes of the high-protein feed used at poultry and livestock farms, USDA data showed.

Thai seafood industry buoyed by lifting of EU 'yellow card' Nikkei Asian Review 10th Jan 2019
The European Union's decision Tuesday to remove Thailand from a list of countries warned over illegal fishing is being met with relief by big Thai seafood companies that had feared being locked out of the huge European market. The European Commission said in a statement Tuesday on the lifting of the "yellow card" that it "acknowledges that Thailand has successfully addressed the shortcomings in its fisheries legal and administrative systems." It also recognized Thailand's efforts to tackle human trafficking and forced labor in the industry. The announcement comes at an ideal time for the junta, with long-awaited elections due in a matter of weeks or months. But the benefits to the seafood industry only extend as far as "short-term sentiment," the Capital Nomura analyst said. Thailand has become a leading seafood producer, ranking among the top 20 countries by catch volume. It exported 189.5 billion baht ($5.93 billion) worth of fishery products in 2017, government data shows. The EU is the country's third-largest seafood export destination behind the U.S. and Japan, accounting for about 10% of the total. The rapid expansion of Southeast Asia's fishing industry has often come at the expense of workers' rights and the environment. With yellow cards, Vietnam and Cambodia remain on the same EU illegal-fishing watch list from which Thailand was just removed. Receiving a red card from the bloc leads to a total ban on importing seafood into the EU.

Govt distances itself from PPRP land plan Bangkok Post 16th Jan 2019
The government has distanced itself from a controversial land policy floated by the pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) that would allow farmers holding Sor Por Kor documents to seek commercial gains from their properties. Government spokesman Buddhipongse Punnakanta told the Bangkok Post Tuesday Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha disagreed with the idea. He insisted this was the PPRP's proposal and it was acting unilaterally. His comment came after some Thai media reported  that Gen Prayut had ordered his deputy Somkid Jatusripitak, in charge of the economy, to reject the proposal.

Govt to create data centre to help farm supply match demand The Nation 16th Jan 2019
According to Chantanont Wankejorn, deputy chief of OAE, more than 30 agencies will be involved in the data analysis scheme to provide decision-makers with more accurate and relevant data in line with the government’s Thailand 4.0 initiate for agriculture. Agencies under the jurisdiction of Interior, Commerce and Finance ministries will also participate in this scheme, including the Department of Provincial Administration and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives. The government needs to integrate data on farm output, crop timing, and specific locations of major farming areas so that marketing and sales units could use the data to deliver better results for farmers in terms of selling price. The data analytics project covers the registration of farmers, their cooperatives, output, production factors, farming areas, land use, irrigation, marketing and other crucial information. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to improve the management of farm sector.

Regulations being drafted for growing medical marijuana The Nation 15th Jan 2019
FDA deputy secretary-general Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat revealed yesterday that these regulations would govern key issues regarding approval of cultivation, manufacturing and imports. “For example, we now plan to allow community enterprises to seek permits to grow medical marijuana, too,” he said.  According to him, “closed-system cultivation” for medical marijuana does not mean that cannabis must be grown inside greenhouses only. “It is just that cannabis must be grown inside an area with clear fences and anti-theft systems,” he said.

Govt rejects PPRP land policy plan Bangkok Post 10th Jan 2019
Agriculture Minister Grisada Boonrach on Wednesday shrugged off a land policy proposal floated by canvassing politicians that would allow farmers holding Sor Por Kor land documents to seek commercial gains from their property. He said about 35 million rai was distributed to seven million poor farmers under the Sor Por Kor land reform scheme and land ownership cannot change hands except by being passed on to heirs. "So if any political party wants to do this [change the policy], I can tell them that there is a law governing the Sor Kor Land scheme and the law doesn't allow them to proceed," he said.

EU's lifting of yellow card from Thailand welcomed The Nation 9th Jan 2019
The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has been ongoing in Thailand and Thai Union is proud to have worked with the Royal Thai Government to promote positive changes in the Thai fishing industry.  “The improvements to regulation and enforcement of the fishing industry have been significant, not only in terms of traceability and the sustainable development of the fisheries but also in terms of eliminating human rights violations,” Thirapong said. He congratulated Thai government for its efforts to bring change to the country in the fight against IUU. The yellow carding process created an opportunity for Thailand to lead the way in fisheries reform in the region and the Royal Thai Government should be commended for its work, said Darian McBain, Global Director of Sustainable Development at Thai Union.

Wood export rules revisited Bangkok Post 4th Jan 2019
The government is considering extending its grip on the exports of wood products and mai khud lom -- trees grown to a certain size and dug from the ground to be replanted in other places for landscaping -- to build confidence of trading partners and increase shipments. Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said shipments of the two product types may need to secure export licences or certificates from the Royal Forest Department and the Foreign Trade Department. Export licences are required only for shipments of timber, processed woods and charcoal.

Officials to keep an eye on food prices Bangkok Post 4th Jan 2019
The Commerce Ministry pledges to shore up key farm products this year if their prices fall below targets set by the ministry. Officials also vow to monitor food prices and service charges at restaurants to ensure fairness to consumers. Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said the department set target prices for seven agricultural products for factories: oil palm, dried coconut, eggs, shallots, onions, garlic and pineapples.

Vietnam

Đắk Nông needs to facilitate investors, says PM Vietnam News Agency 15th Jan 2019
The Central Highlands Province of Đắk Nông should streamline administrative procedures to create the most favourable conditions for investors, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said. The PM delivered the remarks during an investment promotion conference held in the province on Monday. The event – the biggest of its kind so far – witnessed the participation of nearly 1,000 delegates and business people at home and abroad. In order to ensure the success of investors, which should be considered the success of Đắk Nông, the PM urged the locality to have professional staff which could assist investors in dealing with its administrative procedures. That could contribute to improving its investment climate. Such improvement could then compensate for its other disadvantages such as inadequate infrastructure, the PM said.

Deputy PM calls for strict management of food Vietnam News Agency 14th Jan 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has called for increased management of food, especially imported food products, as the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday approaches. The Deputy PM asked ministries, central agencies and local authorities to strengthen the inspection and examination of suppliers to ensure they observe food safety laws. He asked agencies and authorities to focus on supervising food safety during the Tết holiday and spring festivals after Tết, with attention paid to preventing food poisoning, especially with alcohol. The units continued to implement measures on controlling the use of plant protection medicine, chemicals and antibiotics in food production and processing, as well as measures to protect the environment, especially in rural areas.

Việt Nam improves animal farming quality Vietnam News Agency 14th Jan 2019
Improving the quality and safety of animal husbandry products remains a major export priority in Việt Nam. Nguyễn Xuân Cường, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that competition in the animal meat market required products not only to be of high quality but also affordable. The country has about 23,000 farms, but only 1,505 facilities have received certification from the ministry as being free of epidemics. Dr Nguyễn Thanh Sơn, former director of the National Institute of Animal Sciences, said that better linkages between producers, processors and consumers would contribute to the sustainable development of animal farming. He said the role of business associations and co-operative groups in monitoring production, processing and selling of animal goods had been insignificant. Instead, governmental authorities had been doing most of the work, so agricultural monitoring would need revamping, Sơn added.

Việt Nam targets to attract 100,000 businesses in agriculture Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
Việt Nam wants to attract 100,000 businesses to invest in agriculture. It hopes between 3,000-4,000 businesses will be large scale with the rest medium sized. This information was released by Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI)’s Enterprises Development Agency Nguyễn Hoa Cương at the forum entitled “Businesses accompany agriculture, farmers and rural areas in 2019” held in Hà Nội on Tuesday. At the conference, representatives from MPI, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and relevant organisations discussed solutions to boost investment. Cương said the ministry had issued a circular guiding the support and encouragement of enterprises to invest in agriculture, assisting start-ups and removing investment barriers. Cương said: “In order to achieve this, it is necessary to devote resources to support rural areas, farmers and the development of socio-economic infrastructure related to agriculture, in which it should focus on transport system, complete legal framework, create a favourable and stable investment environment for businesses.”

Việt Nam to host agricultural consumption forum in February Vietnam News 23rd Jan 2019
Việt Nam will no longer have to ‘rescue’ agricultural products as their prices drop in the coming years, Nguyễn Quốc Toản, acting head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)’s Department of Farm Produce Processing and Development said in Hà Nội on Tuesday. Toản spoke at a press conference introducing the Vietnam Agricultural Product Consumption Promotion Forum 2019, which will be held by MARD in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and representatives of cities, provinces, associations and co-operatives in the capital city of Hà Nội on February 22. The consumption of agricultural products will be highlighted at the forum. Toản said Việt Nam must do well in the market, produce clean agricultural products with clear origins and connect production and processing chains. Toản said localities were very important in planning agricultural products.

Delta farmers reap high profits from breeding giant river prawn Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
Farmers in the Mekong Delta have had a bumper harvest of giant river prawns at good prices because of favourable weather conditions and high market demand. Under a special cultivation model, farmers breed the giant prawn and grow rice on the same field without using chemicals. The prawns eat natural food in the rice fields. In Sóc Trănng Province, shrimp–rice farmers are now entering the peak harvest season. Lê Việt Thắng, who has a one-hectare rice field in Sóc Trăng’s Phước Long District, said he had a rice yield of seven tonnes per hectare, higher than in the past. The profit from harvesting prawn and rice this year was about VNĐ50 million (US$2,150) per hectare, he said.

Bến Tre copra price falls due to oversupply Vietnam News 22nd Jan 2019
The prices of copra in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta Province of Bến Tre have dropped sharply in the last few days, worrying growers as Tết (Lunar New Year) draws near. According to Nguyễn Thị Năm, a coconut farmer in Bình Hòa Commune, Giồng Trôm District, normally copra prices increase before Tết due to higher demand for making candies and sweets. But this year, with the traditional holiday less than two weeks away, she could only sell her coconuts for VNĐ26,000 (US$1.12) per dozen, VNĐ10,000 less than a month ago.

Hà Nội should move towards self-sufficiency in food Vietnam News 18th Jan 2019
Architect Hoàng Thúc Hào talks to Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper on how to apply high-tech agriculture in high rises in Hà Nội Will you please explain your idea to develop agricultural production inside Hà Nội’s inner city? A simple yet very important issue here is that prices of agriculture products in Hà Nội are much higher than in other localities. In order to have more products and meet Hà Nội’s demands, the most common course of action is to clear forest land in areas outside the city to grow crops. Many people have even cut down trees in forests close to the city for agricultural production – a very damaging action to the environment that causes big problems with land erosion. Some people think that claiming land from the forest to become self-sufficient is a good practice. But in reality, it is harmful! It is time for Hà Nội’s farmers to think of applying technology in their agriculture and pay more attention to food safety for their consumers.

HCM City to focus on key agricultural products this year vietnamnews.vn 10th Jan 2019
HCM City will focus on shifting agricultural production to key crops and livestock to raise average production value and farmers’ incomes, Nguyễn Phước Trung, director of the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, has said. Trung released the plan’s details on January 8 at a conference reviewing the agricultural sector and its plans for this year.

Lạng Sơn to control foot-and-mouth disease in pigs Vietnam News 9th Jan 2019
The foot-and-mouth epidemic has affected pigs in five districts in Lạng Sơn Province since December 23, said Nguyễn Nam Hùng, director of the provincial Department of Animal Health on Tuesday. The five districts included Bình Gia, Chi Lăng, Văn Quan, Bắc Sơn and Hữu Lũng. The epidemic started in Tô Hiệu and Văn Thụ communes of Bình Gia District, before spreading to others. All pigs suspected of contracting the disease were culled. Each household with culled pigs received financial support at VNĐ35,000 (US$1.5) per kilo of pig. Experts said that the epidemic was caused by poor hygiene standards during the slaughtering process. Recent cold weather and rains had reduced pigs’ resistance to the disease.

Provinces take action against disease outbreaks among cattle, poultry vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2019
Provinces across the country are taking action to prevent the spread of disease that has affected cattle and poultry breeding facilities and farms in recent weeks. An outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza occurred in late December in Cần Đước District in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An, according to Đinh Thị Phương Khanh, deputy director of the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Cash promised for rural start-ups vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2019
About VNĐ15 trillion (US$646 million) will be mobilised for One Commune One Product (OCOP) programme, said Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ. The programme funds individual communes to focus on producing a single special product. Speaking at a ceremony held on Tuesday to launch the programme to students, Huệ said he expected the value of local products would be promoted to regional and national level.

Mekong Delta aims for high-quality agriculture in 2019 vietnamnews.vn 9th Jan 2019
Localities in the Mekong Delta have set ambitious targets this year with a focus on high-quality agriculture combined with eco-tourism, services and industry. Last year, though the Delta faced unseasonable weather, flooding and a decline in agricultural product prices, the localities achieved positive socio-economic targets. Located in a key economic region, with advantages in tourism, aquaculture and rice production, Kiên Giang Province, for instance, achieved an economic growth rate of 7.5 per cent last year.

Farmer finds success with agricultural programme vietnamnews.vn 8th Jan 2019
Using out-of-date bread and sandwiches from supermarkets in HCM City, farmer Vũ Thị Hậu has found a clean source of food for her fish, and earns profits of more than VNĐ500 million (US$21,700) per year. She said that the bread and sandwiches she finds are only passed their sell-by date by a few days, so they were still fine to use as fish food.

Ten outstanding achievements in agriculture, rural development in 2018 Vietnam Net 7th Jan 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced the 10 most outstanding achievements of the sector in 2018.

Rubber exports rise in volume but decrease in value vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2019
Natural rubber export prices have been falling since the second half of 2017, which has led to revised business plans for 2019. Last year, the country exported 1.58 million tonnes of rubber, worth US$2.1 billion, an increase of 14.5 per cent in quantity but a drop of 6.6 per cent in value compared with the same period in 2017.

VN could face tra fish oversupply vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2019
The tra fish export sector was probably the most improved industry this year, but rampant production could lead to excess supplies and price drops, according to Việt Dragon Securities Company (VDSC). Many farmers have rushed to breed tra fish after prices increased steadily from the beginning of 2017 due to fingerling and raw materials shortages.

Further steps needed to control food safety: Deputy PM vietnamnews.vn 5th Jan 2019
Last year saw remarkable progress in food safety monitoring, particularly in the dissemination of safety information, the promotion of clean food production and distribution and the verification of product origins. Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam praised the progress in a meeting of the Central Inter-ministerial Committee on Food Safety held in Hà Nội yesterday to review food inspection work.

Việt Nam faces challenges in ensuring water security vietnamnews.vn 4th Jan 2019
With a growing population, increasing demand for water and the negative impacts of climate change, Việt Nam faces major challenges in ensuring water security. Now is the time for the country to speed up studies on water security and environmental security to develop a legal framework and solutions to tackle the challenges, said director of the National Centre for Water Resources Planning and Investigation Triệu Đức Huy.

VN should become one of the world’s top 15 most developed agriculture nations vietnamnews.vn 4th Jan 2019
Việt Nam should become one of world’s top 15 most developed agricultural nations in the next ten years, said Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. He made the statement at a meeting on reviewing works in 2018 and launching tasks for 2019 for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) held on Thursday in Hà Nội. At the event, the PM highlighted the outstanding achievements made by the ministry in the past 12 months.