Food & Agriculture Update: June 14, 2019

Food & Agriculture Update | June 14, 2019
Authors: Sunita Kapoor and Aishwarya Murthy
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • June 26, 2pm-6pm in Hanoi, Vietnam: ASEAN Safe, Nutritious Food PPP Workshop in partnership with CropLife Asia and EU-ASEAN Business Council.  The Council is currently seeking speakers for two panels (see Advocacy Section below), please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@uasean.org) to convey your interest. 
     
  • June 27-28, Vietnam: 2019 Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam
     
  • July 1-2, 3-5, Singapore: Expert Working Group on Phytosanitary Measures and the 26th Meeting of ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Crops
    The ASEAN Secretariat Food & Agriculture Division will be hosting the upcoming Expert Working Group on Phytosanitary Measures (EWG-PS) and the 26th Meeting of ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Crops (ASWGC) on the 1st-2nd July and 3rd-5th July respectively, in Singapore. The Secretariat will be able to allocate a private sector engagement slot for the Council. Members who are interested in presenting, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@uasean.org for a topic discussion.
     
  • August 5-9, Vietnam: Senior Officials Meeting for AMAF
     
  • October 7-10, Brunei: 2019 Business Mission to the 41st AMAF
    The Council seeks to lead a delegation of US companies in the Food & Agricultural (F&A) sector to officially participate in the 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in Brunei on 7-10 October 2019. 
     
  • November/December 2019: 2019 Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia
     
  • Others: Potential roundtables on Joint Antimicrobial Resistance (Human and Animal), workshops on Low Level Presence; roundtable with the Singapore Food Agency
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Global African Swine Fever Outbreak Threatens Pig Industry in Southeast Asia
A global outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), a highly contagious disease that has also been termed “pig Ebola", is creating significant impacts on Asia's pork industry. The virus is thought to have been originated in Kenya, making its way through Eastern Europe and subsequently Asia. By August 2018, the virus impacted China which lost 22 percent of the country’s pig heard to the disease and to culling. More recently, ASF has spread to neighboring countries in the region, traveling to Southeast Asia and impacting Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. While the virus is not a food safety issue, its spread in Asia and the catastrophic livestock losses that follow are posing a severe economic problem in the region, especially impacting thousands of farmers who rely on raising pigs for their livelihood.

Vietnam was one of the first Southeast Asian countries to be affected by ASF, the first case being detected in January this year near its border with China. The country has since been forced to cull nearly 2 million of its 20 million pigs, significantly impacting its pig industry as the virus has spread to 48 of the country’s 63 provinces. Vietnam’s pork industry accounts for nearly 10 percent of their agricultural sector and is valued at around 94 trillion dong ($4 billion USD). While pork accounts for three quarters of the country’s meat consumption, most of the farm raised pigs are consumed domestically, limiting the spread of the disease regionally. Additionally in March of this year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) advised Vietnam to declare the ASF outbreak a national emergency. However, Vietnam has stated that it will mobilize its military and police forces to help combat the outbreak.

Thailand is Southeast Asia’s second largest pork producer following Vietnam, producing up to 2 million pigs a year and exporting 40 percent of that number to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Following the outbreak of ASF, Thailand is now on “red alert” as preventive response to the outbreak which has become a national issue. Thailand has increasingly tightened inspections at airports and border checkpoints, cracked down on illegal slaughterhouses and traders, and imposed stricter requirements for reporting pig deaths. So far, the authorities have only been able to identify contaminated pork products at airports and borders, confiscating products 550 times and detecting the virus 43 times since August. However, they have not found any cases of the disease on farms as yet. The Thailand government is striving to keep the disease out of the country as an outbreak would cost the Thai economy more than $1 billion USD if more than 50% of its pigs are infected. Cambodia reported its first outbreak of ASF in April close to the Vietnam border. It has since had to cull over 2000 of its pigs in order to prevent the spread of the Virus.

Currently, there are no available vaccines or treatment to the disease, making culling the exposed and infected pigs the only prevention mechanism. Moreover, the development of the ASF vaccine has been significantly hampered by the severe gaps of knowledge concerning the infection and immunity of the virus. Attempts to control the outbreaks in the region have been highly difficult and unsuccessful due to rampant smuggling of pork products, large populations and high densities of domestic pigs and wild boars and trans-regional transportation of pigs and pork. Additionally, it is very difficult to observe symptoms of ASF as they are very similar to other diseases, making early detection difficult to do. The porous borders of ASEAN nations increase the risk of the disease entering the country, with fears of outbreaks in Myanmar, Philippines and Laos from the UNFAO and regional experts. The ASF outbreak not only poses a huge threat to the livelihoods of farmers and local industries but also food companies and other stakeholders in the agricultural economy.

Thailand to Provide Incentives for Use of Artificial Intelligence and Technology in Farming
The agricultural sector of Southeast Asia faces growing demands to increase output as consumption steadily increases due to income and demographic changes. In order to meet the challenge of growing demand for larger crop yields, better quality produce, increased labor and efficiency, many countries in the region are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI). In the agricultural sector, AI can be used for precision farming, livestock monitoring, drone analytics and agriculture robots to name a few of its uses. These advancements in agricultural and farming technology allows for an expansion of a once thought to be saturated industry. The utilization of AI in farming also allows for a significant increase in efficiency while simultaneously overcoming the shortcomings of manual labor.

In Thailand, the government offers incentives to both the demand and supply side to use AI. In 2018 alone, 11 robotics and manufacturing investment projects were approved by the Bank of Investment (BOI), amounting to approximately a total of 1.46 billion baht ($46.7 million USD). To further encourage the growth of the Thai automation sector, BOI offers attractive privileges to support investments in the target industries; Companies that use more advanced technology such AI may receive higher investment incentives, including corporate tax exemption of up to 13 years.

Thailand is not the only country in Southeast Asia to recognize the potential of using AI in farming as Brunei and Indonesia are also witnessing several start-ups developing innovative AI solutions to improve farming efficiency, data flow, sustainable crop management and more efficiently connect suppliers and buyers in the industry. As the agricultural sector continues to modernize and evolve, many ASEAN governments are turning towards including AI and high-tech agriculture in developing national agricultural modernization strategies.

Philippines Promotes Crop Diversification and Moving Away from Tobacco Farming
On June 3, the Philippines Senate approved Senate Bill 2233 which will increase the sin tax (excise taxes) on cigarettes from P35 to P60. The bill proposes a starting tax rate of P45 in 2020, followed by a series of annual P5 increases until the rate reaches P60 in 2023. This raise in tax rates is intended to substantially impact the Philippine cigarette industry as part of a joint campaign launched by the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Finance (DoF) against the use of tobacco. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III reiterated his position that “tobacco farmers should not be planting crops that are bad for health, stating that land should be used for other crops such as – corn, sorghum, and fruit trees.”

The new Bill is intended to incentivize tobacco farmers to change their farming choices. To ensure that such fiscal policy measures do not impact the livelihood of these farmers, the DoF will work with top tobacco producing regions to encourage and further support crop diversification. During the Council’s various engagements with the Philippines government, members of the Food & Agriculture Committee have consistently encouraged the need to make it mandatory for tobacco farmers to intercrop.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Fall Armyworm Roundtable and Field Visit in Thailand, May 22-23, 2019
The Fall Armyworm (FAW) has caused significant damage to crops in Africa and South Asia. An insect indigenous to the Americas, FAW has been spreading across the globe harming crops and has also spread to countries like Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Southern parts of China, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Bangladesh. In 2017-18, FAW damaged 20-25% crop yield worth $3.5 - 5 billion in about 40 African countries. In Thailand specifically, this pest was found in 24 provinces, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned of a strong threat of spreading to the rest of Southeast Asia, given the region’s conducive tropical and subtropical climate.

To address this and help farmers protect against this threat, the Council conducted a two-day program in Bangkok and Lopburi on May 22-23. 16 Ministry of Agriculture officials from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and a representative from the ASEAN Secretariat’s Food & Agriculture Division participated in this program which included a plenary session, government policy roundtable, and a field visit to a farm in Lopburi, Thailand, where representatives from Corteva Agriscience demonstrated the pest in action, and solutions to mitigate this threat. Senior entomologists from Thailand’s Department of Agriculture also shared corrective measures such as chemical, mechanical, cultural and biological control methods to address the threat from multiple dimensions. A post program survey showed that the FAW has not been fully studied in various ASEAN countries, and this program provided an opportunity for the ASEAN government officials to better equip their farmers in addressing this threat. In addition, there was consensus that more information on the biological control of the FAW through an integrated pest management approach is needed. The Council will be working with members to support such information requests, including advocating for a favorable regulatory environment that gives access to technology and innovative products. The Council is currently exploring an opportunity to conduct a briefing session during ASEAN Secretariat’s Expert Working Group on Phytosanitary Measures on July 1-2 in Singapore. Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) for a discussion. Please also review the following documents for more information:

USABC Consultative Session on Draft Animal Health Circular in Vietnam, June 5, 2019
On June 5, the Council co-organized a Consultative Workshop on Animal Health with Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). MARD is currently drafting a circular on animal health which has also been submitted to the World Trade Organization. The objective of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for the drafting team at MARD to discuss the key intent and elements of the circular. Council’s Food & Agriculture Committee members such as Cargill, Elanco Animal Health, and MSD Animal Health participated to provide their feedback, and shared global best practices and case studies. For more information please refer to the following document below or contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) for further questions. 

ASEAN Safe, Nutritious Food PPP Workshop in Vietnam, June 26, 2019
Ensuring the food that we eat is both safe and nutritious is a growing concern across ASEAN – including in Vietnam. In partnership with CropLife Asia, and the EU-ASEAN Business Council, the Council will be conducting this workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam on June 26, 2019 to address this concern. Purpose of this workshop is to highlight efforts underway to address the dilemma, and share perspectives on how stakeholders can work together to yield more sustainable progress in this area going forward. Three panels have been developed to discuss a range of perspectives and insights from varied stakeholders. The Council is currently seeking speakers for Panels 2 & 3. Please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) for a discussion.

  • Panel 1: Vietnam Farmers’ Ability to Grow Safe & Nutritious Food-Setbacks & Successes
    The smallholder farmers of Vietnam have a challenging job: produce more food to feed a growing population in the face of devastating droughts and floods – not to mention the impact of more pests, weeds and disease. This panel will take up the topic of Vietnam farmers producing safe and nutritious food (the barriers they face, the opportunities, and the examples of support and success to build on). 
     
  • Panel 2: Farm to Market in Vietnam: Moving Safe, Nutritious Food – Setbacks & Successes
    From transport, traceability to the role of technology, ensuring safe and nutritious food makes its way from farm to market is an essential component of delivering sustainable Food Security to Vietnam consumers. The discussion undertaken by this panel will explore existing obstacles in this portion of the Vietnam food value chain as well as successes that can be scaled up.
     
  • Panel 3: Vietnam Consumer Awareness & Actions around Safe, Nutritious Food – Setbacks & Successes 
    World hunger is on the rise with nearly 821 million people in the world undernourished and facing chronic food deprivation. On the other hand, there are 38.3 million overweight children globally with 46 percent living in Asia. A large proportion of the world population, including Asia is also affected by micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) deficiencies. With so many conflicting messages and information, the Vietnamese consumer is left wondering: Is it possible to eat food that’s both nutritious and safe? This panel will dive into the topic and help discern fact from fiction in the ongoing public dialogue taking place across not only Vietnam but the region as well.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
Ministry plans strategies to transform agro sector

Cambodia
Waste receptacles built near Kampot wetland
Non-timber forest producers contribute to social, environmental protection in Cambodia: Conservationist groups
Cambodian rice exports to China surge following EU tariffs

Indonesia
Indonesian ban on clearing new swaths of forest to be made permanent
FAO-WHO underscore critical role of food safety in life
After the Great Harvest, Farmer Exchange Rates increased by 0.38% in May 2019
Indonesia seeks to increase export of cacao to EU
NTT prepares fish to be exported through El Tari airport

Laos
Vietnam’s Vinamilk builds organic milk farm in Laos
Healthy diets vital for progress in Laos say UN food agencies
Firm helps Laos build livestock information system for epidemic control
Government Bans Banana Farm Expansion By Investors
World Food Hands Over School Feeding Programme To Government
Food From The U.S. Helps WFP Feed School Children Around Lao PDR

Malaysia
Malaysia's booming durian industry sees new investors, management methods
Alibaba Group continues to drive Malaysian agricultural exports through eWTP initiative
Good news for Malaysia’s durian growers as China approves import of frozen whole fruits
Guan Chong to double cocoa grinding capacity in five years
TH Plantations posts a net loss of RM8.09 in Q1
Malaysia govt seeks repayment of $82.4mil from company in cows-and-condos scandal

Myanmar
Zone for agriculture, manufacturing to be built in Thabeikkyin
Union Minister, MRF hold meeting on stabilizing paddy price
Farmed fish prices rise on lower production, higher feed costs
Taste for Western Diet Reshapes Trade in Myanmar
Rice-Mad Myanmar Eyes Healthier Diet
Sowing the seeds of growth in Myanmar
Germany keen to raise investment and trade in Myanmar

Philippines
Philippines Passes Bill Requiring Students to Plant 10 Trees Before Graduating
DA targets at least 1 million kilos of excess mangoes to be sold
Duterte sacks FDA chief Puno over alleged corruption
Piñol to seek Duterte’s nod for 3-month pork import ban
Taal Lake fish cage operators told to harvest tilapia now to avoid loss
Sweet problem: Bumper harvest brings down mango farm-gate price
FDA orders seizure of all pork products from countries affected with African Swine Fever | BusinessWorld
PHL hog raisers, DA seek 2-month imports halt as buffer vs ASF
Latest PSA data reveal continuous drop in rice price
Duterte signs ‘Sagip Saka Act’
Fishing boat activity rises January-April; alert up
DA urges naming of vinegar brands using synthetic raw material | BusinessWorld
PHL year-end rice stocks to hit 2.9 MMT on more imports–FAO
‘Monetary officials exploring options to fix agri-agra law’
NFA palay procurement tops three million bags | BusinessWorld

Singapore
The challenges of Singapore's industrial water demand
Singapore to ban key source of artificial trans fats by 2021
US firm says its high-tech farming methods could benefit Singapore
Corteva Agriscience Opens Asia-Pacific Office In Singapore
Commentary: Clean meat - the next big thing in Singapore’s push towards agriculture?
From sky farms to lab-grown shrimp, Singapore eyes food future

Thailand
Fishing restrictions to return to Thai Gulf
Thailand takes measures to prevent African swine fever
Big agribusiness rushes to cash in on Fall Armyworm
Thailand showcases Innovative agricultural products
UN agencies urge stronger efforts to stop illegal fishing
Export excellence: Trade chiefs seek to drive novel food exports on back of Thailand 4.0 gains
School milk goes under the microscope
Hemp eyed as new cash crop
B896m asset seizure ordered in G2G rice case
Rice forecast upheld amid downturn
Rice fields to double as catchments
Thailand to cut rubber exports next week after delay
Farm bank sets sights on extending B770bn

Vietnam
Pork shortage is expected in Vietnam later this year
Garment, fruit and vegetable exports sharply increase
Vietnam to mobilize military in fight against African swine fever
Agricultural start-ups should focus on long-term strategy
Over 10 of Vietnamese key farm produce sold abroad
Vietnam culls 2 million pigs, urges whole nation to fight swine fever
Win-win for Vietnam in Reducing Emissions
Fisheries exports forecast to pick up after listless first quarter
CP Việt Nam to export poultry products by 2020
An Giang to export mangoes to US in June
Việt Nam aquaculture has room to improve
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

Ministry plans strategies to transform agro sector Borneo Post Online 9th Jun 2019
LIMBANG: The Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Lands and Regional Development is formulating strategies to transform the state’s agricultural sector. Its minister who is also Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the move was in line with Sarawak’s goal of becoming a major producer of clean food by 2030. “Our ministry will formulate various programmes to transform the agricultural sector by expanding and increasing the production of agricultural produce such as musang king and durian kuning,” he said at the launch of the 16th Babulang Festival and the Buffalo Race 2019 in Batu Danau yesterday.

Cambodia

Waste receptacles built near Kampot wetland The Phnom Penh Post 11th Jun 2019
The one-cubic-metre concrete receptacles along rice field dykes in the Anlung Pring protected wetland area in Kampot province. Supplied Waste receptacles built near Kampot wetland Birdlife International Cambodia has installed seven one-cubic-metre concrete receptacles along rice field dykes in two villages near the Anlung Pring protected wetland area in Kampot province to encourage farmers to safely dispose of their waste. Farmers carelessly dumping chemical pesticide waste is hugely detrimental to the environment and damages the health of both humans and animals, particularly affecting endangered bird species in the protected landscape, it said.

Non-timber forest producers contribute to social, environmental protection in Cambodia: Conservationist groups Xinhua 10th Jun 2019
PHNOM PENH, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Non-timber forest producer groups and associations represented important providers of social protection, while making a significant contribution to forest conservation and poverty eradication goals in Cambodia, conservationist groups said in a joint press release on Monday. About 68 percent of total rural households across Cambodia relied on forest resources for their livelihood activities, said the release jointly issued by the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, Non-Timber Forest Products-Exchange Program (NTFP-EP), the World-Wide Fund for Nature, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Aside from collecting root crops, fruit, vegetables for daily consumption, local communities sustainably harvest forest honey, rattan, bamboo, and resin among others for processing and selling consumable food products and daily household materials, it said. "Protecting forest access rights for local communities, particularly for indigenous peoples are therefore crucial to ensure equitable benefit distribution through awareness raising and implementation of relevant legislations," the release said.

Cambodian rice exports to China surge following EU tariffs Reuters 6th May 2019
Cambodian rice exports to China have surged after the European Union imposed duties on imports of the grain from the Southeast Asian nation, the World Bank said on Monday. The EU in January imposed tariffs for three years on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar to curb an increase in imports from those two countries and to protect EU producers such as Italy. Cambodia has filed a challenge with the European Court of Justice against the duties, saying the so-called “safeguard” measure did not relate to any unfair behavior and was based on broad generalizations and a flawed use of data. After the tariffs were imposed, Cambodia’s milled rice exports to the EU in February reached only 10,080 tons, a 57.8 percent decline from the previous month, the bank said in its country economic update.

Indonesia

Indonesian ban on clearing new swaths of forest to be made permanent Mongabay Environmental News 10th Jun 2019
JAKARTA — A provisional moratorium on issuing forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging is expected to be made permanent, Indonesian officials have announced. The moratorium prohibits the conversion of primary natural forests and peatlands for oil palm, pulpwood and logging concessions, and was introduced in 2011 by then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as part of wider efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. It was initially slated to run for two years, but has been extended three times since then, most recently in July 2017 by Yudhoyono’s successor, President Joko Widodo. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar told Mongabay that when it comes up for renewal again this July, the policy will be made permanent. “[The proposal] is in the final stage now, signed by other ministers,” Siti said. An official in her ministry added that the proposal was now awaiting the president’s approval. Abetnego Tarigan, an environmental adviser in the office of the president’s chief of staff, confirmed that the ministry had proposed making the moratorium permanent. The move dovetails with the current administration’s development model of reining in agricultural and forestry expansion and boosting productivity from existing concessions.

FAO-WHO underscore critical role of food safety in life Antara News 8th Jun 2019
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) marked the first-ever World Food Safety Day on June 7, with emphasis on saving lives through safer food. The FAO and WHO, in a joint press release received here, Saturday, reiterated that safe food can contribute to economic prosperity and boost agriculture, market access, tourism, and sustainable development. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, the UN has designated two of its agencies -- FAO and WHO -- to lead and back efforts to promote food safety worldwide, and the first World Food Safety Day, themed "Food Safety, everyone's business," was celebrated on June 7. Food safety is the nonexistence of any hazardous agents in food that might be harmful to the health of consumers. Food-borne hazards can be microbiological, chemical, or physical in nature and are many times not visible to the naked eye. Bacteria, viruses, and pesticide residues are some common examples of food-borne hazards. As a middle-income nation, with a rising population of 260 million, Indonesian consumers constitute a huge market for an already large and swiftly-growing food industry comprising "ready-to-eat" food businesses, restaurants, supermarkets, catering, and large numbers of street food vendors.

After the Great Harvest, Farmer Exchange Rates increased by 0.38% in May 2019 Katadata 10th Jun 2019
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) recorded Farmer Exchange Rates (NTP) in May of 102.61, up 0.38% compared to 102.23 in the previous month. The increase in NTP was mainly driven by the horticulture subsector. "All sub-sectors have an encouraging increase in NTP, except for food crops," Head of BPS Suhariyanto said at a press conference in his office, Jakarta, Monday (10/6). In general, the increase in NTP occurred because the harvest was over.

Indonesia seeks to increase export of cacao to EU Antara News 3rd Jun 2019
The Indonesian government is ready to increase the export of cacao and its derivative products to European Union (EU) countries. "One of the leading commodities that has seen an increasing demand is chocolate, or cocoa. (Thus) Indonesia is committed to increasing the volume of cacao exports and its quality, along with sustainable derivative products," Indonesian Agricultural Attache for Belgium Wahida said on Sunday. Indonesia's trade balance for cacao products and derivatives always shows a positive trend from year to year.

NTT prepares fish to be exported through El Tari airport Antara News 3rd Jun 2019
Governor of East Nusa Tenggara Province Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat, said that officials are preparing a variety of fish products to be exported directly to destination countries through El Tari Airport in the provincial capital Kupang. Governor Viktor did not mention the destination countries for exports, but said direct exports are targeted to begin in 2019. "So we will have tuna and others fish that will be packaged by state airport operator Angkasa Pura, according to the export standards of the destination countries," he said.

Laos

Vietnam’s Vinamilk builds organic milk farm in Laos Just Food 6th Jun 2019
Vietnamese dairy group Vinamilk is to build a US$500m organic dairy complex in neighbouring Laos. The first stage of building the complex in the province of Xiengkhouang has now started. Financed by the Lao-Jagro Development Xiengkhouang Co (Lao-Jagro), in which Vinamilk holds a 51% stake, the first phase will cost $120m. It will cover 5,000 ha and house 24,000 dairy cows.  The second stage will span between 15,000 ha and 20,000 ha and will be home to 100,000 cows. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Vinamilk director-general Mai Kieu Lien said the complex - which is expected to be operational in 2020 - will open possibilities for the agriculture and dairy sectors and the economies of both Laos and Vietnam.

Healthy diets vital for progress in Laos say UN food agencies UN News 16th May 2019
Good nutrition depends not only on raising awareness about healthy foods and choices, but also on sustainable systems of delivery. With that in mind, UN agencies have been working with the Government and population of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic – or Laos as it’s commonly known – to achieve Zero Hunger, with initiatives that help farming families’ lives and livelihoods. The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ended a three-day visit on Thursday, with a call for greater investment in nutrition, after seeing first-hand the impacts of their joint programmes.  WFP Executive Director David Beasley said that he “could feel the sense of optimism from people in the communities” and that the work being done “helps create a better future for schoolchildren, for farmers and for families throughout the country." Laos has made good progress over the past twenty years in reducing poverty and hunger, but malnutrition remains an obstacle to the country's aim of becoming a middle-income country.

Firm helps Laos build livestock information system for epidemic control vietnamplus.vn 13th May 2019
Vientiane (VNA) – Vietnam’s TE-FOOD company on May 13 signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Department of Livestock and Fisheries to build a herd management and information system for urgent epidemic prevention through smart phones, amidst the spreading African swine fever in the region. The system helps breeding farmers to provide information of the scale of the herd and the epidemic situation to the management agency at any time. The data will help the management agency to deploy measures to prevent the spreading of the virus in a timely and accurate manner. The system also supports the development of production plans. TE-FOOD will provide 200,000 USD in non-refundable aid to the project over five years. In the first year, the project will cover pig farms and expand to other livestock farms across Laos in the second year. Addressing the signing ceremony, TE-FOOD CEO Dao Ha Trung said the system will allow Laos to better control diseases, while helping improve the food supply chain’s efficiency and transparency, assisting producers to meet regulations of importing countries, supporting the building and promotion of trademarks, and minimizing effects of epidemics, unsafe food, thus enhancing the confidence of consumers.

Government Bans Banana Farm Expansion By Investors KPL: Lao News Agency 22nd May 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has insisted investors cannot plant any banana trees on 600-700 ha of land they have cleared in Vientiane Capital, adding that the existing banana plantation must be clean agriculture. According to people’s complaints that investors have directly rented land from local people without permission from relevant authorities and are clearing around 600-700 ha of land in Naxaythong district, specifically, Nam Houm area, Ilay Neua and Sendin areas, to export banana overseas and our data collection suggests that this is true and the government will not allow this to be continued at all as the farm is close to community and main rivers that feed hundreds of thousand people in Vientiane and neighbouring areas,” said on Tuesday Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bounkhouang Khambounheuang.

World Food Hands Over School Feeding Programme To Government KPL: Lao News Agency 16th May 2019
The World Food Programme (WFP) on May 15 handed over its school feeding programme currently implemented at more than 500 schools across the country to the government. The handover ceremony took place at the Bor village school in Xay district, Oudomxay province where WFP provides 40,000 plates of food per year to the school’s 200 students.

Food From The U.S. Helps WFP Feed School Children Around Lao PDR KPL: Lao News Agency 10th May 2019
A large shipment of rice, lentils and oil donated by the United States arrived at the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Vientiane warehouse on May 10, 2019, where U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR Rena Bitter received the goods. Since 2008, the U.S. government’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programme, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has been supporting the WFP school meals programme in Laos with contributions totaling more than US$60 million. Since the beginning of the McGovern-Dole support through WFP, more than 1.5 million Lao children have benefited from a nutritious meal.

Malaysia

Malaysia's booming durian industry sees new investors, management methods CNA 2nd Jun 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: At a swanky sales gallery, smartly dressed representatives were on hand to greet visitors and usher them in. Lining the walls of the bright premises were glossy displays featuring the company’s business plan for a durian orchard. There were aerial photos of the orchard and durian varieties cultivated, while a flat screen TV played videos of potential investors visiting the site. Those who turned up at the sales pitch on a recent Saturday were eager to find out more about the investment scheme and to assess the project’s potential and expected returns. "Durian is 10 times more profitable than palm oil," the presenter gushed. For a minimum investment of RM10,000 (US$2,388), investors were guaranteed a return of RM7,700 beginning the fifth year, with expected annual increases. Such investment schemes have mushroomed in Malaysia along with the growing fame of Malaysian durians abroad, especially the Musang King variety. The thorny fruit have found their way to the hearts of connoisseurs not just in Singapore, but also in China, despite their exorbitant price tags.

Alibaba Group continues to drive Malaysian agricultural exports through eWTP initiative New Straits Times 4th Jun 2019
Alibaba Group, a Chinese multinational conglomerate specializing in e-commerce and retail, today announced that Malaysia's popular Musang King Durian will be officially imported into China through its comprehensive online and offline channels. The shipment will be in frozen whole fruit form for the first time for Chinese customers. The breakthrough of Musang King Durian’s import into China came just in time for this year’s 618 Mid-year Shopping Festival, which seeks to empower brands and merchants to tap into China’s less-developed regions with 1.5 million new products and multiple promotional initiatives.

Good news for Malaysia’s durian growers as China approves import of frozen whole fruits CNA 31st May 2019
Malaysia will now be able to export frozen whole durians to China, a move that is likely to be welcomed by growers just before the peak of the fruiting season.  The announcement by the Chinese customs department on Thursday (May 30), 10 months after both countries signed a memorandum on the matter, supersedes a previous agreement where only frozen durian pulp can be exported.  Posting on his Facebook page on Friday, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sim Tze Tzin said the export of whole frozen durians would widen the market for Malaysian durian growers, adding that he expects prices to be stable even with the increase in demand. 

Guan Chong to double cocoa grinding capacity in five years New Straits Times 28th May 2019
Persistent increase in sales volume for world’s fourth largest cocoa grinder Guan Chong Bhd has catalysed the group to double its grinding capacity in the next five years. Group managing director and chief executive officer Brandon Tay Hoe Lian said its current 250,000 tonne capacity was already at near-full utilisation rate. “We are seeing encouraging orders for cocoa ingredients, especially from rising consumer demand in Asian markets,” Tay said in a statement issued after Guan Chong’s annual general meeting in Pasir Gudang, Johor today. “The positive outlook augurs well not only for the group's performance this year, but also affirms our competitive strengths to supply high quality cocoa ingredients to leading chocolate suppliers and consumer brands, including multinational company (MNC) clientele."

TH Plantations posts a net loss of RM8.09 in Q1 New Straits Times 28th May 2019
TH Plantations Bhd slipped into red in the first quarter ended March 31, 2019, with a net loss of RM8.09 million compared with a net profit of RM3.23 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue was lower at RM115.28 million against RM121.24 million recorded in the previous year's corresponding period due to lower average realised prices of crude palm oil CPO), palm kernel (PK) and fresh fruit bunches (FFB), the plantation firm told Bursa Malaysia today.

Malaysia govt seeks repayment of $82.4mil from company in cows-and-condos scandal The Straits Times 20th May 2019
The Malaysian government is seeking repayment of more than RM250 million (S$82.4 million) lent out to private company National Feedlot Corp (NFC), Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said on Monday (May 20). His statement recalled a huge scandal that broke out in 2011 when Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) was in power, that led to the stepping down of a woman minister whose family is linked to the project to rear cattles.

Myanmar

Zone for agriculture, manufacturing to be built in Thabeikkyin The Myanmar Times 11th Jun 2019
The project will be located on 3237 hectares in Ohn Ta Kue, Ohn Paing, Pay Taw and Gway Maw villages. The company has sought a land-use permit for 728 hectares in the initial phase, the company’s project adviser, U Kyaw Swar Myint, said. “The land-use permit is still being sought, and we have presented details of the project to regional chief minister. We will start it when the permit is granted. As pilot project, we will begin on 728 hectares,” he said. Asian bamboo will be planted in the initial phase, and bamboo-based luxury products and handicrafts will be produced for the international market. K10 billion will be invested in the initial 1800 acres. A training school will be established and free courses offered for residents. Job opportunities will also be created. “We can make many products from bamboo; for example, paper and wood replacements. It can be used in buildings, and we used technology to overcome the termite problem so that it last for 20 or 30 years. India is widely using the products, and we can export them to Europe as well,” U Kyaw Swar Myint said.

Union Minister, MRF hold meeting on stabilizing paddy price The Global New Light of Myanmar 11th Jun 2019
Union Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Dr. Aung Thu, Deputy Minister U Hla Kyaw, Permanent Secretaries, directors general, Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) Chairman and members, private business owners and officials from public companies attended a meeting held in the meeting hall Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Union Minister Office in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday afternoon. The meeting was held to discuss increasing public-private cooperation with regards to declining paddy prices and alleviating difficulties faced by the farmers. In the meeting the Union Minister invited discussions on matters in which the ministry was required to do to resolve the matter of declining paddy price, provide immediate assistant and help to farmers facing losses, setup work processes to stabilize paddy price in the long run and increase public-private cooperation. The meeting then discussed balancing the value of investment and production, actual implementation works according to designated base price, difficulties in field purchases and drying machine in storage, acquisition of short term loan, increasing purchasing power, preparation for forthcoming raining season, coordination between relevant departments toward speedy inspection and approval of standards and norms for export sale, issuing necessary notifications to implement contract farming, increasing the paddy purchase of mills by fulfilling the mills’ energy requirements it is learnt.

Farmed fish prices rise on lower production, higher feed costs The Myanmar Times 11th Jun 2019
The drop in overall fish stocks to satisfy local demand has been made worse by the non-availability of wild-caught fish from the lakes during the non-fishing period and fish-breeding season. Myanmar bans marine fishing from June to August and bans fishing from ponds between May and July to facilitate the breeding season. U Win Kyaing noted that prices started to creep up last summer on a combination of a stronger US dollar and Saudi Arabia’s ban on Myanmar’s fish exports. “The Saudi ban on Myanmar’s fish exports led fish farmers to reduce breeding in order to stem their losses,” he said.  That led to a squeeze in local supply. Meanwhile, the stronger dollar made it costlier for fish breeders to import fish feed and other equipment. 

Taste for Western Diet Reshapes Trade in Myanmar Bloomberg 21st May 2019
The arrival of a large cargo of American wheat at Myanmar’s newly opened port signals its leap into the global grain trade as the country’s demand for Western food rises. The bulk carrier New Journey offloaded 22,000 metric tons of U.S. dark northern spring wheat last week at the International Bulk Terminal Thilawa near the capital city of Yangon, which has a planned capacity to import 1 million tons a year. While Myanmar has been buying smaller containers of grains, this may be the first time it has purchased the commodity in such large amounts at one go.

Rice-Mad Myanmar Eyes Healthier Diet Star2.com 16th May 2019
Opening the lid of her rice cooker, a luxury bought when power finally came to their village in central Myanmar three years ago, Tin Aye scooped out two fat ladles for breakfast.“I cannot go without eating rice. Since the start of the day, all my stomach asks for is rice,” said the 52-year-old mother of three, laughing.Myanmar is a nation obsessed with rice.Its people eat an average of 155 kilos a year, according to a 2016 survey by the country’s rice federation and Yezin Agricultural University, ensuring Myanmar has one of the world’s highest rates of rice consumption. For half a century, successive leaders anchored agriculture policies on rice. The government used loans, infrastructure, and services to farmers to push them to grow it and people to eat it, so rice is now woven into the fabric of daily life.

Sowing the seeds of growth in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 5th Jun 2019
Myanmar’s farms are well diversified, with most farms producing rice paddy during the monsoons and other crops such as beans, pulses, oilseeds and maize, during the cool and dry seasons. Yet, the country’s agricultural productivity is low, a key reason why farm profits are amongst the lowest in Asia. For example, to harvest rice, one day of work generates only 23 kg of paddy in Myanmar, compared to 62 kg in Cambodia, 429 kg in Vietnam, and 547 kg in Thailand. This low productivity can be attributed to the dearth of quality seeds and lack of an enabling environment for the private sector, which can stimulate seed imports or production and multiplication of seeds.

Germany keen to raise investment and trade in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 28th May 2019
Mr Hoos added that German businesses are also keen to invest in the Myanmar energy and agriculture sectors, adding to the US$32 million worth of investments by four other German businesses in Myanmar to-date, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. The largest investment by a Germany company in Myanmar is Metro Wholesale, which has channeled approximately US$10 million into its business operations in the country.

Philippines

Philippines Passes Bill Requiring Students to Plant 10 Trees Before Graduating ScienceAlert 11th Jun 2019
Between 1990 and 2005, the Philippines lost 32.3 percent of its forest cover. Illegal logging has historically been a huge issue for the country, but now the Philippines House of Representatives has put forward a new way of dealing with the problem: a bill that requires students to plant 10 trees each before graduating. House Bill 8728, or the 'Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act', has been proposed by two representatives, Gary Alejano and Strike Revilla. The bill is now to be passed on to the Senate for approval. "This initiative, if properly implemented, will ensure that at least 175 million new trees would be planted each year. In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative," Alejano explained in the bill's explanatory note, as reported by CNN Philippines.  "Even with a survival rate of only 10 percent, this would mean an additional 525 million trees would be available for the youth to enjoy, when they assume the mantle of leadership in the future."

DA targets at least 1 million kilos of excess mangoes to be sold Rappler 11th Jun 2019
The Department of Agriculture sets up stalls in Metro Manila to boost the sales of excess mangoes. Here's where to find them. MANILA, Philippines – After mango farmers struggled to make profit due to excess supply, the Department of Agriculture (DA) launched a metro-wide marketing campaign to reduce the oversupply by at least half, or one million kilos of the fruit. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Monday, June 10, admitted that while the oversupply provides an opportunity for farmers to sell more, there was a failure on the government's part to help develop the industry sooner. To give immediate aid to these farmers, the DA has set up stalls for its marketing campaign in the following areas: While the earlier plan was to have the campaign run until Tuesday, June 11, Piñol said it may last until there are no more stocks left. Citing farmers, Piñol said the oversupply of mangoes happens every 3 or 4 years. For this time, the DA chief saidEl Niño contributed to the two-million-kilo oversupply since the land was given time to rest due to the drought.

Duterte sacks FDA chief Puno over alleged corruption cnnphilippines 16th May 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte has fired another government official over alleged corruption. The latest to fall on Duterte’s chopping block was Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno, Malacañang confirmed Thursday. She was handed her dismissal letter on Wednesday. “This is line with the President’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption, and to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust,” read the order, which was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Piñol to seek Duterte’s nod for 3-month pork import ban BusinessMirror 6th Jun 2019
AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol will propose to President Duterte on Monday a three-month import moratorium on pork and pork products from countries that are at high risk for African swine fever. This means that they have not reported any ASF outbreak, but are at risk because they are contiguous with infected territories. Piñol said the proposal of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is a preventive measure aimed at ensuring stable food prices, as a decimated domestic hog population could accelerate inflation.

Taal Lake fish cage operators told to harvest tilapia now to avoid loss BusinessMirror 5th Jun 2019
Fish cage operators in Taal Lake were advised by experts to harvest tilapia now as the level of dissolved oxygen continues to go down, threatening to cause extensive damage to the aquaculture sector in the area. “We are still monitoring because the fish kill is still going on in some areas,” said Elmer Bascos, Batangas Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Officer (Penro) and concurrent Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape.

Sweet problem: Bumper harvest brings down mango farm-gate price BusinessMirror 4th Jun 2019
The country has an estimated mango surplus of at least 2 million kilograms that has prompted the Department of Agriculture (DA) to undertake a massive marketing campaign to aid farmers from falling farm-gate prices. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol called an emergency meeting on Monday with mango industry stakeholders, including farmers and processors, to discuss the ongoing oversupply in the market.

FDA orders seizure of all pork products from countries affected with African Swine Fever | BusinessWorld Business World 29th May 2019
THE Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has ordered the recall and seizure of pork meat products imported from countries affected by African Swine Fever (ASF). The order covers products which are for distribution, offered for sale, transfer, or donation. “Pursuant to the FDA Order No. 2018-133 dated 24 September 2018 and FDA Order No. 2019-045 dated 27 May 2019, all importers, distributors, retail outlets, and other dealers of processed pork meat products, are hereby ordered to immediately recall all pork meat products imported from countries suspected to be affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus as identified in the aforementioned Orders,” FDA said through the FDA Order 2019-046 given to reporters on Tuesday.

PHL hog raisers, DA seek 2-month imports halt as buffer vs ASF BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
FILIPINO hog raisers will appeal to President Duterte to impose a two-month moratorium on the importation of meat and meat products from “high-risk” countries, or those near countries struck by African swine fever (ASF), to protect the local industry from the fatal pig disease. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the two-month suspension would give the government sufficient time to improve its quarantine measures, which he admitted has lapses in averting the possible entry of ASF virus to the country.

Latest PSA data reveal continuous drop in rice price BusinessMirror 28th May 2019
The uptick in average farm-gate price of palay was abruptly cut in mid-May as nationwide quotation fell slightly to P18.35 per kilogram from previous week’s level, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported. In its weekly price monitoring report, the PSA noted that the average farm-gate price of palay in the second week of May was 0.54 percent lower than the P18.45 per kilogram recorded in the first week of the month.

Duterte signs ‘Sagip Saka Act’ The Manila Times 28th May 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law instituting the farmers and fisherfolk enterprise development program of the Department of Agriculture. Duterte signed Republic Act 11321 or the “Sagip Saka Act” on April 17, copies of which were given to members of the media more than a month later. Under the new measure, the Philippines will “strengthen its farmers and fisherfolk enterprise development by establishing a comprehensive approach in the formulation and implementation of enterprise development initiatives, consolidation of the roles of different government agencies involved in farmers and fisherfolk enterprise development and intensifying the building of entrepreneurship culture among farmers and fisherfolk.”

Fishing boat activity rises January-April; alert up BusinessMirror 23rd May 2019
COMMERCIAL fishing boats detected in municipal waters increased by nearly a third in the first four months of the year, according to data released by Oceana Philippines on Wednesday. Oceana Philippines data showed there were a total of 18,564 commercial in the January-to-April period this year from the 14,089 commercial vessels detected in the same period last year. This represented an increase of 31.76 percent.

DA urges naming of vinegar brands using synthetic raw material | BusinessWorld Business World 22nd May 2019
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release the list of vinegar brands that use synthetic acetic acid. “I don’t know why they are holding onto it pero ako (but in my opinion) it’s a Constitutional guarantee (that consumers should know). Hindi mo pwedeng itago ‘yan (You cannot hide it),” Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a social media post Tuesday. “As a consumer, I believe it is my right to know kung ano ‘yung binibili ko sa merkado (what I am buying in the market),” he added. He added that there is a need to clearly spell out in labeling products that use fermented natural materials and synthetically-produced materials

PHL year-end rice stocks to hit 2.9 MMT on more imports–FAO BusinessMirror 14th May 2019
THE Philippines could end 2019 with a nine-year-high rice inventory of 2.9 million metric tons (MMT) due to the increase in the stockpile of the National Food Authority (NFA) and the private sector’s “record-breaking” purchase of imports. In its biannual food outlook report, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said it expects the expansion in local output and imports this year to be sustained following the liberalization of the rice trade.

‘Monetary officials exploring options to fix agri-agra law’ BusinessMirror 7th May 2019
NADI, Fiji—The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is mulling over the possibility of pushing for the repeal of the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act due to its failure to expand farmers’ access to credit. In an interview, BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said if the government wants to help farmers, this can be done through the national budget and government financial institutions (GFIs) and not through commercial banks. Diokno said that, while the BSP does not yet have an official stand on the agri-agra law, “the Monetary Board members are in consensus” that something must be done to address problems in its implementation as the law was not able to achieve its purpose and even created “market distortions.”

NFA palay procurement tops three million bags | BusinessWorld Business World 6th May 2019
THE NATIONAL Food Authority (NFA) said Monday that its purchases of palay, or unmilled rice, breached the 3-million-bag mark, bringing total procurement to 3.073 million bags in the four months to April, when its mandate shifted to buying solely from domestic farmers. In a statement, the agency said that the four-month total was 5,539.5% more than the bags procured during the same period last year, when it bought 55,509 bags from farmers in the Philippines. It said selling interest was boosted by its attractive buying price.

Singapore

The challenges of Singapore's industrial water demand Asian Correspondent 10th Jun 2019
WORLD Environment Day has been celebrated every year on 5 June since 1974. Its objectives are to encourage environmental awareness and promote action for environmental protection. This year in Singapore, 180 leading water professionals from all over the world have been invited by Singapore International Water Week to discuss how industrial demands for water can be reduced. Worldwide, industry accounts for about 20 percent of total water usage, of which agriculture and domestic sectors use the most – 70 and 10 percent respectively. However, in recent years, global water usage for agriculture has been decreasing while that of industry has been increasing. For a land and water scarce city-state like Singapore, also with limited agricultural production, industry accounts for the lion’s share of water use. Currently, it’s estimated that, by 2060, total water requirements will almost double current rates. Industry will account for 70 percent of total water use.

Singapore to ban key source of artificial trans fats by 2021 The Straits Times 7th Jun 2019
Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main source of artificial trans fats, will be banned as an ingredient in all foods sold in Singapore from June 2021. This includes all pre-packaged foods such as cookies, potato chips and instant noodles, even if they are manufactured overseas. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin announced this during a visit to Sheng Siong supermarket in Woodlands Road yesterday. "This is part of an ongoing initiative to encourage healthier eating among Singaporeans and to improve the quality of Singaporeans' diets," he said. "We do not expect any price increases for consumers as there are enough alternatives to PHOs readily available." Most local manufacturers and retailers have already taken steps to reformulate their products following a limit on artificial trans fats that went into effect in 2013. A regulation was amended to stipulate that fats and oils supplied to manufacturers and food and beverage outlets in Singapore, as well as those sold on the retail market, must not have trans fat content exceeding 2 per cent per product.

US firm says its high-tech farming methods could benefit Singapore The Straits Times 6th Jun 2019
American company Corteva Agriscience is the latest big agriculture business to list in New York as it aims to create modified crops and technologies to help farmers worldwide, including in Asia. The firm develops high-tech farming methods and said it has the capabilities to produce special crops, such as temperature-and flood-resistant ones like rice, wheat and corn. The crops can have their genes engineered so that they grow well even in harsh weather conditions. This could improve harvests in Asia, said the company. Corteva is a spin-off from the agriculture divisions of chemical corporation Dow Chemical, science and innovation heavyweight DuPont, and Pioneer Hybrid International, a producer of genetically modified crops and hybrid seeds. Corteva chief executive Jim Collins said on Monday: "We are excited to mark the launch of a new kind of agriculture company, well positioned to compete and win by providing farmers the complete solution they need for sustainable, long-term growth and improved profitability."

Corteva Agriscience Opens Asia-Pacific Office In Singapore Asian Scientist Magazine | Science, technology and medical news updates from Asia 31st May 2019
AsianScientist (May 31, 2019) – Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDuPont, officially opened its Asia Pacific head office in Singapore this week. It announced a series of investments that include the establishment of a global analytics center of excellence and a new R&D lab, as well as a collaboration strategy designed to encourage the further development of the Asia-Pacific agriculture technology start-up ecosystem. Singapore will also be home to the company’s newest Product Design and Process R&D lab, which joins a network of three other facilities globally—Indianapolis, US; Drusenheim, France; and Franco da Rocha, Brazil. A key focus of the Singapore research group is to ensure the successful commercialization of Corteva Agriscience’s pipeline of products and technologies. In conjunction with the opening of the Asia Pacific head office, Corteva Agriscience announced a collaboration between its Global Analytics Center of Excellence and Southeast Asian sustainable agriculture platform, Grow Asia, to address the needs of smallholder farmers across SEA through the application of data science and analytics.

Commentary: Clean meat - the next big thing in Singapore’s push towards agriculture? CNA 26th May 2019
SINGAPORE: Would you eat a burger that doesn’t use meat? Not only are plant-based alternatives sprouting in restaurant menus in Singapore, there seems to be more demand for them.  Local burger chain, Fatboy, for example recently launched an “Impossible” menu made with Impossible Food’s plant-based meat to long queues and rave reviews online.  California-based Impossible Foods is just one of the many companies producing plant-based meats.  New forms of food, which also include “clean” or “cellular”, are increasingly popular, driven by concerns around the sustainability of current meat production systems, both in terms of animal ethics and environmental impact. 

From sky farms to lab-grown shrimp, Singapore eyes food future Reuters 30th May 2019
With tiered fish farms, vegetable plots atop office buildings and lab-grown shrimp, the island aims to beef up its own food production and rely less on imports to feed its 5.6 million people.Singapore produces about 10% of its food but as climate change and population growth threatens global food supplies, it aims to raise that to 30% by 2030 under a plan known as ‘30-by-30’. The challenge is space. With only 1% of Singapore’s 724 sq km (280 sq miles) land area devoted to agriculture and production costs higher than the rest of Southeast Asia, the pressure is on new urban farmers to answer the government’s call to “grow more with less”.

Thailand

Fishing restrictions to return to Thai Gulf Bangkok Post 11th Jun 2019
Fishing will be banned in part of the Gulf of Thailand for over three months, or from June to September, to allow marine species to recover their numbers, breed and nurture their young. Fishing will be strictly regulated in parts of the area known as the "ko shaped gulf", the upper part of the gulf which resembles the symbol "ko", the first letter of the Thai alphabet. This section is skirted by eight coastal provinces -- Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao and Chon Buri. The restrictions will take effect from Jun 15 to Aug 15 off the coasts of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon, while the coasts of Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao and Chon Buri will be closed from Aug 1 to Sept 30. The Department of Fisheries has decided to enforce rules limiting fishing off these provinces again after similar measures last year resulted in an increase in marine species stocks.

Thailand takes measures to prevent African swine fever Saigon Online 11th Jun 2019
Chief of the Livestock Development Department Sorawit Thaneto said the department is working with other agencies to stay alert against the outbreak of African swine fever, which has spread from Europe and Africa to three Asian countries such as China, Mongolia and Vietnam. Thai travellers to neighbouring countries are warned against bringing processed pork like fermented pork and sausages back home. Police and livestock officials on June 8 raided a house in Bangkok where they found 558 frozen pigs weighing 1,400 kg in two refrigerated rooms. The seizure has sparked fears of the outbreak as the meat is believed to have been smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

Big agribusiness rushes to cash in on Fall Armyworm Down To Earth 11th Jun 2019
As the pest spreads to Southeast Asia, big brands are coming up with pesticides; experts, however, advise caution The spread of the Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) or FAW, the invasive pest from the Americas, to Africa, and finally to South and Southeast Asia, has created a rush among big agriculture companies to promote their chemical pesticide products. With the arrival of the worm in Thailand in December 2018, Monsanto, the American agrochemical company, has already held a meeting with Thai authorities earlier this year. Now, Corteva Agriscience, the agricultural division of DowDuPont, another American chemical company, is also trying to push its products.    At a meeting held by Corteva Agriscience in Bangkok on May 22-23, 2019, as part of the FAW educational programme, the plant and protection research and development officer of Thailand’s agriculture ministry, senior entomologist, SaruteSudhi-Aromna put forth a list of nine chemical sprays that the Thai authorities have recommended for use against FAW. Three among them are manufactured by Corteva Agriscience.

Thailand showcases Innovative agricultural products Thailand Business News 5th Jun 2019
BANGKOK (NNT) – The Department of Foreign Trade has been promoting innovative agricultural products development through the Institute for Agricultural Product Innovation. Now, with some 700 new products developed, the institute is ready to join hands with major retailers to sell these products to customers. Some 60 innovative agricultural products, including foods and non-food health and beauty products, have been selected by the Agricultural Product Innovation (APi) from 16 manufacturers and are now featured at APi Festival at Big C event at Big C Ratchadamri shopping center in Bangkok to expand marketing opportunities for these products at modern shopping centers, and raising the awareness of these products among Thai people and tourists.

UN agencies urge stronger efforts to stop illegal fishing Washington Post 5th Jun 2019
BANGKOK — Major United Nations agencies are urging key fishing nations to join efforts to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and other groups made the call at a conference in Bangkok on Wednesday focused on helping protect fisheries and those working in the industry. Thailand is the world’s biggest importer of tuna. It has one of the seven state-of-the-art centers in the region monitoring fishing vessels in real time to help control access to regional ports and curb illegal fishing. The centers are helping enforce the Port State Measures Agreement, which aims to help curb illegal, unreported and unregulated — or IUU — fishing. Dozens of governments have joined but U.N. officials are urging more to support the effort.

Export excellence: Trade chiefs seek to drive novel food exports on back of Thailand 4.0 gains foodnavigator-asia.com 30th May 2019
DITP made the statement when addressing the media during the first day of food and beverage tradeshow THAIFEX-World of Food Asia, a five-day event that is taking place at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani in Bangkok. The department plans to drive a two-pronged strategy, promoting exports of traditional agricultural and novel food products. This was because while the agricultural industry was Thailand’s strength, the introduction of Thailand 4.0 a few years ago had directed the attention to food innovation in the country, Vannaporn Ketudat, deputy director general at DITP said. “We used to be agricultural based industry and a few years ago, we started Thailand 4.0. What it means is that we add innovation, technology and creativity and we combine it altogether and link the production from the provinces to produce food for the new generation and the global market.”​ She also told FoodNavigator-Asia ​that the US, Europe, China, and ASEAN were the major importers of Thai food in the past years, with frozen foods, canned foods, and agricultural products making the bulk of the exports.

School milk goes under the microscope Bangkok Post 19th May 2019
The Agriculture Ministry has ordered an "urgent" nationwide inspection of the provision of milk to schools under the school milk project in order to assess each supplier’s performance. Last year, an inspection found rotten milk had been distributed to schools in Bangkok and the surrounding area, prompting the recall of over 100,000 cartons. Milk delivery is due to resume at schools nationwide as many begin the new term tomorrow.

Hemp eyed as new cash crop Bangkok Post 18th May 2019
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) plans to make kanchong, a type of hemp listed as a narcotic, a cash crop. The move came after initial studies by Narcotics Control Board (NCB) and related agencies showed hemp has potential because of its medical qualities. Pharmaceutical companies and the health and wellness industry will demand more of it as studies confirm the seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 nutrients, which help to maintain good health, it said.

B896m asset seizure ordered in G2G rice case Bangkok Post 17th May 2019
The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Friday ordered the seizure of assets worth more than 896 million baht from an aide to former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom for being "unusually wealthy". The seizure of assets from Weerawut Wajanaphukka, who had served as Boonsong's secretary between August 2012 and June 2013, was sought by the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) found him guilty of being unusually wealthy in November 2017. According to the NACC, Dr Weerawut had failed to explain how assets totalling 896,554,760 baht were acquired while he served as an assistant secretary to Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol from August 2011 to January 2012, and as secretary to Boonsong from August 2012 to June 2013. 

Rice forecast upheld amid downturn Bangkok Post 16th May 2019
Despite the global economic slowdown, the government is maintaining its rice export forecast at 10 million tonnes this year. Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said yesterday the Commerce Ministry still strongly believes potential buyers and importers are confident in the quality of Thai rice. He said the country puts great emphasis on premium quality and speciality rice such as fragrant hom mali, coloured varieties with special characteristics and organic rice, all of which fetch higher export prices.

Rice fields to double as catchments Bangkok Post 16th May 2019
The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) is preparing two rice planting areas in the Central Plains, which will double as water catchment areas with a combined capacity to retain up to 1.5 billion cubic metres of water. The move is in anticipation of the rainy season that the government expects to begin later this month. The department has advised rice farmers across low-lying areas to begin planting seeds earlier than usual, so rice crops can be harvested before the planting areas are repurposed as water retention zones, said RID director-general, Thongplew Kongchan.

Thailand to cut rubber exports next week after delay Bangkok Post 16th May 2019
Thailand will cut rubber exports by 126,240 tonnes next week for four months after a delay in implementing a supply cut agreement with other regional producers, the Rubber Authority of Thailand said on Thursday. Thailand was supposed to cut exports of natural rubber on April 1 along with Indonesia and Malaysia, the date agreed by the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC), made up of the three countries, back in March. The three countries account for about 70% of the world's natural rubber production and decided for export cutbacks of 240,000 metric tonnes collectively to support prices.

Farm bank sets sights on extending B770bn Bangkok Post 11th May 2019
The state-controlled Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) aims to lend 770 billion baht in its 2019-20 financial year, up 95 billion from the previous year. The bank will extend loans to its existing customers, with incremental increases earmarked for farmers who are welfare smartcard holders, general borrowers and small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises (SMAEs) worth 13 billion, 44 billion and 38 billion baht respectively, said president Apirom Sukprasert. For the 2018-19 financial year ending March 31, 2019, the bank lent a mere 10 billion baht to SMAEs, missing its 3-billion-baht target, Mr Apirom said.

Vietnam

Pork shortage is expected in Vietnam later this year Phnom Penh Post 11th Jun 2019
Pork shortage is expected in Vietnam later this year Vietnam is expected to import more pork in the coming months to make up for domestic shortages as African swine fever continues to spread, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The ministry’s Centre for Industry and Trade Information said pork is being sold at unusually low prices because of lower demand. Pork prices dropped to between 25,000 and 34,000 dong ($1.08 and $1.46) per kg in the north, down 3,000-6,000 dong from the previous month. Prices in the south were 35,000 dong per kg, down 5,000-10,000 dong. The ministry said pork supply has been limited as some 1.5 million pigs were culled in the first four months of the year, accounting for five per cent of all the country’s pigs.

Garment, fruit and vegetable exports sharply increase Nhan Dan 11th Jun 2019
In particular, garment exports reached more than US$11.2 billion, fabric and fibre exports reached US$856 million and US$1.6 billion, respectively. Also, in the past five months, the total import revenue of garment accessories and raw materials reached US$9.3 billion, up 12% over the same period in 2018. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development Department, Vietnam exported fruit and vegetables worth US$424 million in May, bringing the total export value of those products in the first five months of 2019 to about US$1.83 billion. China remained Vietnam’s top market with a value of more than over US$1 billion. Meanwhile, fruit & veg exports to some countries such as the US, the Republic of Korea, Japan and the Netherlands recorded high growth, but the proportion of exports to these markets remains low. The fruit and vegetable sector aims to gross nearly US$4.2 billion in export revenue in 2019. Last year, Vietnam exported US$3.8 billion worth of fruit and vegetables, 8.9% more than the previous year.

Vietnam to mobilize military in fight against African swine fever U.S. 11th Jun 2019
HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam said it will mobilize its military and police forces to help combat the outbreak of African swine fever that has already resulted in the culling of about 4% of the country’s pig herd. The virus, first detected in the Southeast Asian country in February, has hit farms in 29 provinces, and prompted the authorities to cull more than 1.2 million pigs. “Soon, soldiers and policemen will take part in efforts to make sure infected pigs are culled in a timely manner, keeping the outbreak from spreading further,” the state-run Tien Phong newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing Vietnam’s deputy agriculture minister, Phung Duc Tien. According to the report, Tien said police will launch an investigation into cases, where local authorities have failed to properly handle the outbreak.

Agricultural start-ups should focus on long-term strategy vietnamnews.vn 11th Jun 2019
HCM CITY — Agricultural start-ups should capitalise on the huge demand for safe agricultural products by developing long-term, sustainable production strategies, experts said at a seminar in HCM City on Thursday. Prof Phan Văn Trường, head of the Vietnamese Agricultural Start-up Club, said that although Việt Nam’s agricultural sector was growing fast, farmers remained concerned about sales and revenues. The country has diverse agricultural products, but does not have a consumer market based on actual supply and demand, he said, adding that farmers sometimes lowered prices to sell their products and compete with rivals. “It’s difficult to build a brand for Vietnamese agricultural products because of low economic value,” he said. The number of start-ups in the agricultural sector remains low because farmers are not aware of the start-up ecosystem and quality standards for agricultural products, he said.

Over 10 of Vietnamese key farm produce sold abroad vietnamplus.vn 10th Jun 2019
Hanoi (VNA) – More than 10 key agricultural products of Vietnam are being sold across 160 countries and territories worldwide. They include rice, coffee, rubber, cashew nut, peppercorn, tea, fruit and vegetables, tra fish, shrimp, wood and timber products. Coffee, rice, cashew nut and fruit and vegetables each has an annual export turnover of more than 1 billion USD. Ministries and departments are building geographical indication for farm produce, ensuring food safety and hygiene and increasing their competitiveness in both domestic and foreign markets. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported a trade surplus of nearly 3.3 billion USD in the first five months of this year. 

Vietnam culls 2 million pigs, urges whole nation to fight swine fever CNA 31st May 2019
HANOI: Vietnam said on Friday (May 31) it has culled 2 million pigs in a bid to curb an outbreak of deadly African swine fever and called on the entire nation to join the fight against the rapidly spreading disease. The virus had spread to 48 of the country's 63 provinces, agriculture minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at a meeting of parliament, upping the number of pigs culled from 1.7 million less than a week ago. Pork accounts for three-quarters of total meat consumption in Vietnam, a country of 95 million people where most of its 30 million farm-raised pigs are consumed domestically. "This is an extremely dangerous disease ... and we have to take the fight seriously," Cuong said. "The whole political system has to get engaged in the fight."

Win-win for Vietnam in Reducing Emissions Applied Sciences from Technology Networks 30th May 2019
Through cost-saving practices for coffee, rice, corn and livestock production, Vietnam can take steps to meet Paris Agreement commitments, says a study that highlights climate action potential for agriculture, forestry and land use in SE Asia — by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. As nations look toward 2020, when they will take stock of their actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement, many are seeking ways to increase their nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, to global emissions reduction. Vietnam is one of the fortunate nations that has a suite of untapped options that, if undertaken, can save the country an estimated $2.3 billion by 2030, substantially decrease emissions while increasing agricultural productivity, and benefit coastal and forest ecosystems. These actions include agroforestry in coffee plantations, intermittently watering rice paddies instead of maintaining them permanently flooded, and providing cattle with improved feed. The study, which examines 41 measures to reduce emissions in the agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sector in Vietnam, was published in April in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems by researchers at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and colleagues.

Fisheries exports forecast to pick up after listless first quarter vietnamnews.vn 20th May 2019
Fisheries exports could increase by 8 per cent this quarter, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). The association said the increase could be achieved if shipments of items like marine fishes, tuna and octopus see strong growth and those of tra fish remain steady. Exports barely grew in the first quarter, rising by a mere 1 per cent to US$1.8 billion, due to a downward trend in shrimp exports that has persisted since last year.

CP Việt Nam to export poultry products by 2020 vietnamnews.vn 16th May 2019
The Thai-invested CP Vietnam Corporation will begin exporting processed poultry products to Asia and Europe in the second quarter of 2020, with a volume estimated at 3,000 tonnes per month, according to the firm. To achieve this goal, the company has established its CPV Food Co, Ltd at the Becamex Bình Phước Industrial Park in the southern province of Bình Phước. In the first phase of this project from 2019-23, the company will develop a closed-chain production line to breed, raise and slaughter chickens as well as processing final products.

An Giang to export mangoes to US in June vietnamnews.vn 15th May 2019
The Mekong Delta province of An Giang plans to export about 5-10 tonnes of mangoes to the US in June, according to deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Lữ Cẩm Khường. Exports of mangoes to the US next month would be an important turning point for An Giang, paving a new path for the fruit, he said. The province had previously focused on the domestic market and exports to China. He added that his department had worked with co-operatives with mangoes that met Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP) in local districts to review the quality and quantity of the fruit for export.

Việt Nam aquaculture has room to improve vietnamnews.vn 15th May 2019
Việt Nam’s seaculture area is set to reach 270,000ha with expected marine production of 750,000 tonnes by 2020. The target is a part of the seaculture development strategy for 2030 with a vision to 2050 developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. According to Lê Trần Nguyên Hùng, head of the Reservation Department under the Directorate of Fisheries, the strategy included ground-breaking orientations to develop modern aquafarming and meet domestic and international market demands.