Food & Agriculture Update: October 10, 2019

Food & Agriculture Update | October 10, 2019
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham and Aree Tomes
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • October 15-16: 2019 Business Mission to the 41st ASEAN Ministerial on Agriculture & Forestry
     
  • Late October/Early November 2019: First Planning Call to discuss Joint Antimicrobial Resistance Program in ASEAN/Selected ASEAN countries in 2020 (inaugural collaboration between Council’s Food & Agriculture and Health & Life Sciences Committee)
     
  • November 11-12, Singapore: U.S. Pulses: Newest Ingredients in Plant-Based Beverages
    Members are invited to join a program, entitled "U.S. Pulses: Newest Ingredients in Plant-Based Beverages", hosted by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This program is designed to increase U.S. exports of peas, lentils, chickpeas and ingredients made from these specialty crops to Southeast Asia by showcasing new plant-based beverage and related applications that use U.S. pulses. For more detailed information, please click here
     
  • February 24-25, 2020: Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia
    For more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
Thailand Approves $682 Million In New Rice Price Insurance Scheme

In response to the severe drought coupled with Thailand’s strong baht, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha introduced a 21-billion-baht insurance scheme to stabilize rice prices and protect farmers from the effects of falling rice prices. The scheme offers farmers a fixed price for a set amount of production when market prices fall below benchmark prices during main harvest seasons. Currently, the country has fallen behind in exportation, exporting 5.29 million tons (22 percent reduction compared to the same period last year) and earning $2.8 billion in revenue (17 percent reduction compared to last year). The new scheme, which insures jasmine rice and glutinous rice, is expected to assist 3.9 million families, according to estimates from the Government of Thailand. Additional measures such as subsidies on production costs and water management resources are still being deliberated. Officials collectively agree to introduce long-term measures to upgrade the rice industry and are considering to look towards Iraq, Iran, Japan, and China to do so.

Philippine Government Offers Loans As Response To Low Palay Prices
The Republic Act 11203 passed in March, also called The Rice Tariffication Law, has sparked concerns for small scale farmers because it has brought down the price of rice by as much as P7 per kilo from P35 to P45. The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it would provide P60-million through its Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers to subsidize 4,000 rice farmers suffering income loss. The DA will provide P15,000 loans to each rice farmer with no interest for 8 years. Leaders such as Edwin Paraluman, Chairman of the Philippine Farmers Advisory Board (PFAB), are doubtful of the proposal as they believe loans will become added burdens to rice farmers. Instead of loans, Paraluman suggested the government offer the P60-million as a cash incentive but new Agriculture Secretary William Dar says that the DA does not have the funding to satisfy this proposal.

Products Labeled ‘Palm Oil-Free’ Are Banned From Shelves In Indonesia
The world’s top palm oil producer and consumer, Indonesia, is removing all products from its shelves labeled “palm oil free” or “no palm oil” which are found in high-end stores. Both Indonesia and Malaysia, suppliers of about 85% of the world’s palm oil, are strongly retaliating against actions they consider “discriminatory” by developed markets including the European Union who have created a negative stigma, claiming palm oil is unhealthy and destructive to the environment. Penny K. Lukito, head of the National Agency of Drug and Food Control, believes the labels act to “undermine the competitiveness of Indonesian palm oil” and that the Indonesian government must protect the palm oil industry which is said to be worth an estimated $60 billion. Lukito is determined to inform buyers and consumers that there is no scientific evidence that palm oil is not healthy.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Presentation to the 41st ASEAN Ministerial on Agriculture & Forestry
During the Council's Business Mission to the 41st ASEAN Ministerial on Agriculture & Forestry, Council Senior Vice President for Policy Mr. Marc Mealy and Chairman of the Council's Food & Agriculture Committee, and Senior Adviser for Public Policy and Government Affairs for Elanco Animal Health Mr. Pushpanathan Sundram will be making a presentation (available here) to the 10 ASEAN Agriculture Ministers. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
Pusat Belia's Shared Kitchen offering affordable space for rent
Chinese firm launches aquaculture pens off Brunei
Inside the home-based aquaponics farm shortlisted for Shell Global's Innovator Awards

Cambodia
Floods kill seven people, 700 pigs
CRF strives to boost rice exports to China
EU to provide $135M fishing industry grant
Nine illegal timber trucks impounded
Cambodia’s rice farmers in serious danger
Ministry official questioned over suspected illegal ELCs

Indonesia
Bangka Belitung eyes farm, fishery commodity exports to East Europe
Bakmi GM set to open outlets in Sumatra
Coffee farmers yet to benefit from millennial caffeine craze
Indofood firm on palm oil expansion
Gov't Set to Redistribute 2.6mn Hectares of Forest Land
Indonesia to prioritize imports of meat, rice, raw sugar from India in exchange for lower CPO tariff
Products labeled "palm oil-free" are banned from Indonesian shelves
Wanting to Reduce Imports, DPD Chairperson: Food Sovereignty Bill Must Be Guarded
Regarding Onion Import Corruption, Ombudsman Called the Ministry of Trade Not Transparent
Jokowi Holds Internal Ratas Discuss the Fate of the Land Bill

Laos
Why agriculture investment in Lao is lacking
Floods Last Year Cause Rice Prices in Laos to Double.
More investment needed for Laos to reap profits from agriculture: minister
Severe Drought in Mekong Region Reduces Rice Planting in Laos
Lao farmers stand to lose millions of kip from caterpillar infestation
Laos transforming farming to meet needs of Asean market

Malaysia
Farmers likely to benefit from investment fund
PM: Malaysia could reap additional RM60b from modern agricultural production
Govt mulls expert’s views on large-scale padi cultivation
Farmers can benefit from investment fund, says Salahuddin
Sarawak churches urged to take part in state's agriculture transformation program
4 more anchor companies sign to push state’s food products
Mata Aerotech offers drone technology in agriculture sector
Weed problems to worsen due to environmental changes
Agri Ministry to continue training programme: Dr Daud
Vanilla growers seek help from Fama to market their produce
Malindo Air, STAN to promote Sandakan Food and Agriculture Festival
Malaysia eyes agricultural modernisation to revive the sector
Govt aims more than 90,000 paddy farmers on large-scale farming
Malaysia turning to food crops as palm oil price falls

Myanmar
Broad Coalition to Ramp Up Food Safety in Myanmar
Workers Protest Lack of Fishing Rights in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Region
Lawmaker to Propose Bill Legalizing Hemp Cultivation in Myanmar

Philippines
DA budget may be augmented by P9 billion to aid farmers
Fruitas targets to raise up to P1.2 billion from IPO
Government confirms 1st cases of African swine fever
House panel studying rice safeguard measures
Plummeting rice prices: How will our rice farmers cope?
Gov't offers loans to rice farmers as palay prices fall to P7 a kilo
Caritas backs bill seeking to end hunger, curb food wastage
Top official seeks amendment on law on lending to agriculture
Swine disease in Rizal not ASF, says DA chief
Poultry sector wants gov’t to track imports more aggressively
Halal certification allows 2 Purefoods products to enter UAE market
Cynthia Villar hits false info on rice tariffication
Landbank provides P55 M for Bohol farmers
Dar orders deployment of meat inspectors in markets
Dar’s ‘Mission Impossible’: Rebuilding a damaged agricultural sector
Digitalizing agriculture for next-gen farmers
New MinDA chief Piñol lists agriculture, poorest provinces among development priorities
Senators want Philippines to stop exporting sugar to U.S.
RCEF credit, seed funding worth P2.4 billion released 
USAID backs efforts to raise sustainability of alimasag fishery 
Syngenta: Stopping the march of the Fall Armyworm 
Give exporters 10 yrs to give up perks–DTI
Gov’t to raise tariff on imported rice

Singapore
Killiney leads $1.7m seed funding for food tech start-up
Singapore, Philippine agencies exchange eight MOUs
Killiney Group leads $1.7m seed funding in foodtech start-up Hoow Foods
BreadTalk plans $80m acquisition of Food Junction
Overhaul in food supply chain needed to tackle food waste: Study

Thailand
Central Food Retail appoints new CEO to move company forwards in an era of borderless retail and digital technology
Coalition considers demoting deputy agriculture minister, Thammanat Prompow
Mananya pushes farm chemicals ban
65% of Laem Charoen sold to MK Group
Biolubricants set to help farm products
Production moves away from plastic
CPF awards scholarships to agro-industry and food processing experts
Smart produce for smart shoppers
Prayut to visit drought-hit provinces
Thai sugar industry bitter as exports and price fall
Mananya's quest to ban harmful farm chemicals
Thailand’s rice exports hampered by strong baht
Tax on high salt content dusted off
Excise predicts B1.5bn from next phase of sugary drinks tax
Ministry to propose B26bn in subsidies for rubber farmers
Cabinet okays schemes for rice, oil palm
Ministries to discuss sugar cane farmers' debt payment
Rice panel OKs B21bn for price guarantee scheme
CPD chief proposes 3-point plan as alternative to price-guarantee scheme
Thailand approves $682 million in new rice insurance scheme
BAAC brings down its MRR, MOR to ease burden on farmers, SMEs
Thailand, other rubber producers 'ending export curbs'
Thailand to ban pig imports from Myanmar over African swine fever

Vietnam
Agricultural restructuring raises farmers' incomes in Bình Thuận
Cheap imported meats hurt domestic livestock industry
Vietnamese agricultural brands honoured
Loss-making, low-profitability firms to be eliminated
Aquaculture Việt Nam 2019 to be held in Cần Thơ
Vietnamese leader to visit Nebraska after Ricketts meeting
Deal to develop three high-tech agriculture projects worth $73m inked in Bình Phước
Cà Mau supports agricultural co-operatives
Mekong Delta expects 150,000 more tonnes from summer-autumn rice crop
VN farmers use smartphones in cultivation of lingzhi mushrooms
Vietnam coffee market dull on thin supply; trade picks up in Indonesia
Demand for organic fertilisers rising steadily
HCM City has many things to do to become seed production hub
Cashew industry seeks ways to overcome difficulties
Trà Vinh develops new strains of rice, other crops
Sugar firm to sell more than 61 million treasury shares
Việt Nam must be more active in exporting fruit
Oysters die en masse in Thai Binh
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

Pusat Belia's Shared Kitchen offering affordable space for rent Biz Brunei 18th Aug 2019
Pusat Belia’s (Youth Centre) Shared Kitchen has recently been revamped to offer local F&B businesses an affordable commercial space to prepare their products. The Youth and Sports Department collaborated with Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) last year to bring the kitchen up to commercial and safety standards, with Agribiz Group appointed to operate the facility 24/7 for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Founder of AgribizFadhlina Bakar said the introductory promotional packages – running until the end of 2019 – start as low as $1.80 an hour for 72 hours ($129.60), which covers the use of two stoves or ovens and includes free storage, use of utensils, lockers and consultation on applying for Halal certification.

Chinese firm launches aquaculture pens off Brunei Seafood Source 23rd Sep 2019
A Chinese fishery firm has commissioned 23 offshore pens off the coast of Brunei in the first phase of an aquaculture investment – another clear signal Chinese aquaculture firms are offshoring production.

Inside the home-based aquaponics farm shortlisted for Shell Global's Innovator Awards Biz Brunei 11th Sep 2019
Syazwan Hj Suni couldn’t believe his luck when S&R Aquafarms was called up not once but twice to the stage at the Shell LiveWIRE Brunei Business Awards last month. His aquaponics business – set up with his father eight years ago in their backyard in Tutong – had bagged the Most Innovative Enterprise and third place in Sustainable Business.

Cambodia

Floods kill seven people, 700 pigs Phnom Penh Post 11th Sep 2019
More than 700 pigs at a farm in Preah Vihear province’s Tbeng Meanchey district either drowned or broke loose overnight on Monday when flash floods caused by the rapidly rising Stung Sen river inundated villages in Bramme commune. Farm owner Nornn Vanny told The Post on Tuesday that following immediate action by local authorities, over 1,000 of the 3,600 pigs raised at the farm in Srepreang village had been evacuated to higher ground. “I had 3,600 pigs in total, but now I’ve lost more than 700 due to the flood. Each pig was at least 80kg so I’ve lost at least $100,000,” he said. Chab Koy, the director of the provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology, told The Post that as of Tuesday morning, the Stung Sen water level has reached 14.22m, well over the emergency level of 11.50m.

CRF strives to boost rice exports to China Phnom Penh Post 3rd Sep 2019
Cambodia has pledged to boost rice exports to China to achieve the 400,000 tonne quota provided, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF). During a meeting between the CRF and China state-owned company China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (Cofco) on Tuesday, CRF vice-president Chan Sokheang said Cambodia strongly hopes that rice exports to China will see a sharp increase this year. “Our working group is studying the markets and is preparing new strategies as well as cooperating with all relevant parties to achieve one million tonnes in [total] exports soon,” he said, adding that the working group would visit China next week.

EU to provide $135M fishing industry grant The Phnom Penh Post 19th Aug 2019
The EU will provide the Cambodian government with a more than $100 million grant to promote the country’s fisheries sector, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday. The announcement was made on the Prime Minister’s Facebook official page after he met with outgoing EU Ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar. The grant is set to be officially signed on Wednesday. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries spokeswoman Srey Vuthy told The Post that the EU will provide a $135 million grant to be used for two projects. The first project, which began last year and is set to promote the growth of inclusive sustainable fisheries, will receive $39 million over a six-year period until 2023, with approximately $5.5 million of the total granted by Agence Francaise de Developpement.

Nine illegal timber trucks impounded Phnom Penh Post 19th Aug 2019
The National Committee for Prevention and Crackdown on Natural Resource Crimes on Monday impounded nine trucks used to transport timber to Vietnam through Kratie province’s Snuol district. Committee spokesman Eng Hy declined to provide details, citing the ongoing investigation. “We are still working on the case and have not decided on the next step,” he said. Provincial Military Police commander San Bun Than declined to comment on Monday. Heng Sros, a forest activist in the province, claimed the processed timber belonged to Siemon (Cambodia) Agriculture Comprehensive Development Co, Ltd, which is registered with the General Department of Taxation as a company that deals in crops and acacia trees.

Cambodia’s rice farmers in serious danger The Cambodia Daily 27th Aug 2019
Half a million Cambodian farmers could possibly be looking at empty rice bowls if the European Union (EU) pushes through with the withdrawal of its Everything But Arms (EBA) trade preference. While the garment and footwear sectors stand to lose the most if the EBA trade scheme – which gives 49 of the world’s least developed countries tax-free access to vital EU markets for all exports except for arms and ammunition – is removed, Cambodia’s rice industry could be staring at tough times ahead. Already forced to deal with a historic drought and the reintroduction of an EU tariff on rice which has cut exports to Europe in half, Cambodia’s rice farmers now also have to worry about the possibility that that EBA duty-free preference will be suspended following the EU’s concerns about political freedom, human rights and labour rights.

Ministry official questioned over suspected illegal ELCs Phnom Penh Post 22nd Aug 2019
A Mondulkiri provincial prosecutor questioned Lor Raksmey, an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in illegally granting economic land concessions (ELCs) covering 9,741ha to a private company. Provincial court spokesman Meas Bros told The Post on Wednesday that a prosecutor had spent four hours questioning Raksmey. “We questioned him for nearly four hours, allowing him to go home afterwards. We are continuing to investigate to find others involved,” Bros said. Provincial prosecutor Hieng Sopheak on August 5 summoned Raksmey for questioning on Wednesday for his alleged role in granting land to a private company, Pacific Grand Join Stock Company Ltd.

Indonesia

Bangka Belitung eyes farm, fishery commodity exports to East Europe Antara News 9th Sep 2019
Pangkalpinang, Bangka-Belitung (ANTARA) - The Provincial Government of Bangka Belitung Island is presently targeting to export its farm and fishery commodities comprising white pepper, eaglewood, and whiteleg shrimp to nations in East Europe. "The market of West Europe is potentially huge for the trade of white pepper, eaglewood, and whiteleg shrimp," Deputy Governor of Bangka Belitung Abdul Fatah stated in here, Monday. The government had held a meeting with the Romanian Embassy and discussed the trading assessment since Fatah considered it to be beneficial to gain broader insights into the system of export in East Europe.

Bakmi GM set to open outlets in Sumatra The Jakarta Post 5th Sep 2019
Restaurant chain Bakmi GM is set to open outlets in Sumatra and other cities in Java, according to a report by KompasTravel. The director of engineering & service division of the restaurant's holding company, PT Griya Miesejati, Widianto, told KompasTravel in Jakarta on Wednesday that it had big plans to expand to more Indonesian cities. The chain currently has restaurants in Greater Jakarta, Bandung in West Java, Surabaya in East Java, Bali, Cikarang and Karawang in West Java. "This is our big plan; to multiply our outlets in Greater Jakarta to be available in all Indonesian regions. Currently we're still concentrating in Surabaya and Denpasar; next we will expand to several cities in Sumatra and Java. It's in the pipeline; we just need to realize it," added Widianto.

Coffee farmers yet to benefit from millennial caffeine craze The Jakarta Post 3rd Sep 2019
Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest coffee producer, is promoting good farming practices in coffee production to help farmers benefit from the caffeine craze among millennials that has swept almost all major cities in the country. A number of NGOs such as the Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia (SCAI) and Sustainable Coffee Platform of Indonesia (SCOPI) have been actively involved in promoting good farming practices in the production of coffee in several parts of Indonesia.

Indofood firm on palm oil expansion The Jakarta Post 27th Aug 2019
Indonesia’s largest listed food and beverages company PT Indofood Sukses Makmur will go ahead with a plan to expand its palm oil business despite Citigroup’s recent decision to stop its financing facilities for the company.Indofood director Thomas Tjhie said Citgroup’s move would not affect his company’s palm oil expansion agenda. “We have no problem with the cancelation,” he told the press in Jakarta on Wednesday, adding that the company had used a small part of Citigroup’s credit facility.Thomas said a number of foreign and domestic banks would continue to provide funds for Indofood subsidiary PT Salim Ivomas despite the withdrawal of Citigroup.

Gov't Set to Redistribute 2.6mn Hectares of Forest Land Tempo 19th Aug 2019
 Coordinating Minister for Economy Affairs Darmin Nasution said the government is ready to redistribute 2.6 million hectares of forest land as part of the government’s land objects for agrarian reform (TORA).  "We are now ready to redistribute the land," said Darmin Jakarta Presidential Palace Complex, Monday, August 19. He explained two sources of land that will be distributed comprised of the Settlement of Land Control in Forest Areas (PPTKH) covering 1.2 million hectares and unproductive forest land covering 1.41 million hectares. The land that is no longer productive to be given to the community is expected to be managed as rice fields or plantations. Darmin said the government will also encourage graduates of Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) in forestry and agriculture majors to establish a group of 5 people to manage 500 hectares of land.

Indonesia to prioritize imports of meat, rice, raw sugar from India in exchange for lower CPO tariff The Jakarta Post 19th Sep 2019
Indonesia will prioritizes imports of buffalo meat, rice and raw sugar from India after the South Asian country adjusted crude palm oil (CPO) tariffs for its top two importers, Malaysia and Indonesia, earlier this month.

Products labeled "palm oil-free" are banned from Indonesian shelves Bloomberg 21st Aug 2019
Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil producer and consumer, is joining Malaysia in removing anti-palm oil products from grocery store shelves. Local and imported food items that are labeled “palm oil free” or “no palm oil,” found at some high-end stores, will be removed, Penny K. Lukito, head of the National Agency of Drug and Food Control, said on Wednesday. Indonesia and Malaysia, which together make up about 85% of global palm oil supply, are upping their fight against what they say are discriminatory actions by some developed countries. They have threatened to retaliate in a potential trade war with the EU after the bloc decided to place stricter limits on the tropical oil’s use in biofuels on concerns over deforestation.

Wanting to Reduce Imports, DPD Chairperson: Food Sovereignty Bill Must Be Guarded Katadata 16th Aug 2019
Chairperson of the Regional Representative Council ( DPD ) Oesman Sapta Odang invited all parties to oversee the discussion of the Food Sovereignty Bill. Through food security, he is optimistic that imports can be reduced. He hopes that the government ensures that people's food needs are always met. "We hope that food sovereignty is truly realized so that we will no longer import, import and import any more," he said while delivering a speech in the MPR Annual Session series at the Parliament Building, Jakarta, Friday (16/8).

Regarding Onion Import Corruption, Ombudsman Called the Ministry of Trade Not Transparent Katadata 16th Aug 2019
The Ombudsman of the Republic of Indonesia (ORI) considers it necessary to have a special policy in food import policies, especially after the corruption case of garlic imports . Ombudsman Member for Special Planning, Ahmad Alamsyah Saragih said, the case occurred because the Ministry of Trade (Ministry of Trade) was not transparent in carrying out import policies.

Jokowi Holds Internal Ratas Discuss the Fate of the Land Bill Katadata 16th Aug 2019
President Joko Widodo ( Jokowi ) held an internal limited meeting to discuss the Land Bill. Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the land bill was now complete. Nevertheless, according to him, in-depth discussions still need to be done related to the discussion of the bill which is now on the DPR's table."We want to see how," said Moeldoko at the Presidential Palace Complex, Jakarta, Monday (12/8). He explained that the land bill involved many ministries / institutions.

Laos

Why agriculture investment in Lao is lacking The ASEAN Post 23rd Sep 2019
While the Lao PDR government recently called for increased investment in agriculture to boost its export market, there are several issues that have to be tackled before foreign investors come knocking.

Floods Last Year Cause Rice Prices in Laos to Double. Radio Free Asia 5th Sep 2019
The price of sticky rice is skyrocketing in Laos, in the wake of massive floods in one of the country’s most fertile regions and various other causes, amid rising prices of food in general due to the African swine flu epidemic that has ravaged China and Southeast Asia over the past year.

More investment needed for Laos to reap profits from agriculture: minister Xinhua 27th Aug 2019
As the demand for crops and livestock remains high, Laos needs more investment in agriculture to increase more product to export, according to a senior Lao official. Lao Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bounkhuang Khambounheuang recently stressed the need for Laos to attract investment in agriculture in order to strengthen the export market.

Severe Drought in Mekong Region Reduces Rice Planting in Laos ReliefWeb 15th Aug 2019
Lao farmers have planted rice on less than half the country’s cultivable land this year because of a persistent drought in the Mekong River region that has seen severely reduced water levels and the delay of seasonal monsoon rains, which have yet to begin. Growers have been able to plant rice on roughly 40 percent of the country’s 850,000 cultivable hectares, according to a recent announcement by Laos’ Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Lao farmers stand to lose millions of kip from caterpillar infestation Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2019
Sweetcorn farmer Sengchanh Vilaylak has incurred losses to the tune of more than 20 million kip ($2,300) this year after his crop was severely impacted by the current epidemic of fall armyworms in Laos’ Xayaboury province. Sengchanh’s family is among the 150 who plant corn as their primary commercial crop, a significant source of income for the people of Paklai district’s Saenphon village.

Laos transforming farming to meet needs of Asean market Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
The government is transforming the farming system in Laos from subsistence to commercial crop production to meet the needs of the Asean market and to help Lao farmers cope with changes in regional agricultural and food markets. 

Malaysia

Farmers likely to benefit from investment fund Borneo Post Online 11th Sep 2019
ALOR SETAR: Farmers are likely to benefit from profit earned by Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) or any other parties that will be granted a rice Permit Import (AP) as Bernas current contract expires on January 2021. Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said yesterday his ministry had planned to allocate part of the profit into the farmers’ investment fund for their welfare including the fishermen. “A part of the profit will be channelled into the investment fund, which will be distributed back to the farmers. Maybe a fund for the welfare of the children of farmers and fishermen to re-use part of the profit later. He said after 60 years of independence, the lower-level farmers have never tasted the profit from the country’s paddy and rice industry.

PM: Malaysia could reap additional RM60b from modern agricultural production The Malaysian Reserve 11th Sep 2019
THE agricultural industry is likely to reap a significant return of RM60 billion if Malaysia implements a new approach to increase agricultural production in order to reduce dependence on imported products. Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said local farmers could also be taken out of poverty with the current modern procedures available for agricultural use. “At present, we are importing RM60 billion worth of agricultural products, and that is how much we can make if we produce a sizeable amount of vegetables. “In doing so, the cultivation does not need a vast land as it could be done through multilayer cropping. The production will be enough to substitute imported vegetables.

Govt mulls expert’s views on large-scale padi cultivation Borneo Post Online 11th Sep 2019
ALOR SETAR: The government has heard the views of a former head of a plantation company which can serve as the framework to implement large-scale padi cultivation, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday. The prime minister said Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh had tabled the proposal on the amalgamation of land which is applicable for large-scale padi farming. Mohd Bakke was the managing director of Sime Darby Plantation Bhd. “He is familiar with the management of oil palm and rubber plantations and he has written a working paper on the ways to amalgamate land into bigger farms, which is not limited only to padi,” he told a press conference after opening the National Padi Convention, here. Dr Mahathir said the proposal can be applied in the case of padi farmers in the country, many of whom are Malays and each own small pieces of padi land.

Farmers can benefit from investment fund, says Salahuddin The Malaysian Insight 10th Sep 2019
FARMERS are likely to benefit from profit earned by Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) or any other parties that will be granted a rice Permit Import (AP) with Bernas’s current contract expiring in January 2021. Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub said his ministry planned to allocate part of the profit into the farmers’ investment fund for their welfare, including fishermen.

Sarawak churches urged to take part in state's agriculture transformation program Borneo Post Online 9th Sep 2019
KUCHING: Churches throughout Sarawak have been urged to take part in the state’s agriculture transformation program, in respect of the state’s ambition to be a net exporter of food by 2030. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the aim of the agriculture transformation programme was also to eradicate poverty among the people of Sarawak as the official poverty rate in the state stood at 0.9 per cent, despite certain parties disputing the accuracy of the figure. “Most of the families fall under the poverty line are located in the rural areas and a lot of them are members of your church,” said Uggah as the state government would assist the churches in terms of technical expertise and knows-how to transform the local agriculture scene. He said this in his speech when officiating the Anglican Diocese of Kuching’s 29th Biennial Diocesan Synod welcoming dinner and fund raising for the House of the Epiphany at a leading hotel here yesterday.

4 more anchor companies sign to push state’s food products Borneo Post Online 6th Sep 2019
The Sarawak government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development yesterday signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with four more anchor companies to boost sales of Sarawak’s food products to a wider market. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who witnessed the signing ceremony, said these companies have the technology, management expertise, capital and ready-access markets both at domestic and global events. The anchor companies are Foodprint Farms Sdn Bhd for collaboration in cavendish banana, RFM Global Corporation Sdn Bhd (dehydrated fruit products including from Terong Asam), Kin Hin Company Sdn Bhd (gula apong-based products) and Ginger & Coconut Development Sdn Bhd (mud crab).

Mata Aerotech offers drone technology in agriculture sector The Malaysian Reserve 5th Sep 2019
DRONE and robotic technology firm Mata Aerotech Sdn Bhd aims to expand the use of drone technology in the management and operation of the country’s agriculture within the next five years.Its CEO Wan Azrain Adnan said the move was to help improve the quality and productivity of the agriculture yield while reducing dependence on labour and operating costs. He said the use of the drone was in collaboration with Geosat Aerospace and Technology Inc based in Taiwan, which specialised in drones for more than 10 years. “For example, based on Taiwan Agriculture Research Institute study, droplet pathway by a drone system gives 93% pest removal efficiency compared to a manual sprayer with 63%,” he told Bernama in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Weed problems to worsen due to environmental changes Borneo Post Online 4th Sep 2019
KUCHING: Weed problems will worsen in the next 10 to 20 years due to global environmental changes, requiring future weed management efforts to be more innovative and holistic for sustainable intensification of crop production and environmental conservation. In noting this, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said weed management is a critically important activity for both agricultural and non-agricultural lands. “Weeds compete with crops for the same resources such as water, nutrients, light, and carbon dioxide. Furthermore, some species are alternate hosts for crop pests and pathogens. These factors have resulted in reduced agricultural productivity in terms of quality and quantity, and increased external costs.

Sabah to ban trawl fishing, catching juvenile fish The Malaysian Insight 3rd Sep 2019
SABAH is working towards ensuring sustainable fish stock in its waters by banning the use of fishing trawlers to curb reef destruction and catching of juvenile fish, said state Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Junz Wong Several policies are currently being discussed by his ministry for a Sabah Agriculture Blueprint to be launched at the end of the year, he said.

Warning against bringing in banned guarana seeds Borneo Post Online 27th Aug 2019
The Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry has never approved any permit application to bring guarana seeds into Sabah. Its minister, Datuk Junz Wong, stated this yesterday after he had received reports that a so-called application form is being circulated, inviting people to join a guarana farming project. Wong said the application form, using the Persatuan Industri dan Asas Tani Sabah (Pintas) letterhead, is being sold for between RM5 and RM10. He reminded in a statement yesterday that the state government is still enforcing an import ban on the seeds of the plant, which originates from Brazil. Wong said he had previously announced that those promoting guarana schemes must apply for permission from the Agriculture Department and adhere to procedures on plant quarantine. .

S’wak sees pufferfish potential Daily Express 27th Aug 2019
The yellow pufferfish (Xenopterus naritus), or commonly known as ikan buntal, has potential to be exported as a food item, other than becoming a tourist draw for Spaoh. Spaoh is a small town and a sub-district in Sarawak’s Betong Division, formerly known as Saribas district. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said Batang Saribas was well known for the fish during its spawning season from June to September. The pufferfish is a very special fish which requires careful preparation to remove the deadly poison in its blood vessels and egg membrane. Uggah, who is also state Minister of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development, suggested that a study be carried out to ensure its long-term survival. We have to know its spawning areas along Batang Saribas so as not to disturb those spots.

Agri Ministry to continue training programme: Dr Daud Daily Express 26th Aug 2019
The State Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry through the Sandakan Polytechnic Sabah (PSS) will continue to promote training programs to produce competent youths and entrepreneurs in various fields. Assistant Minister to the Sabah Minister of Agriculture and Industry, Dr Daud Yusof, said the effort was not only important to meet the demand of skilled workers from the public and private sectors but also to generate potential entrepreneurs in agriculture.

Vanilla growers seek help from Fama to market their produce Borneo Post Online 22nd Aug 2019
Vanilla growers from Kuching are seeking help from Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) to market their produce to a wider market. Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong, who brought them to a dialogue with Fama acting director-general Zainal Abidin Yang Razali on Tuesday, said there are about 30 identified vanilla growers around Kuching. She said following the dialogue, Zainal Abidin gave a positive response and has directed the relevant officers to work closely with the group. Apart from further cooperation with the group, she said Fama also agreed to have more technical study on vanilla. “As far as I understand, per kilo of vanilla pod can sell for about US$600 and it’s very easy to plant in Sarawak because of suitable weather and soil conditions. “The acting DG was very happy and acknowledged it was first time seeing vanilla pods harvested from local plant. These planters already have the technology know how on vanilla planting.

Malindo Air, STAN to promote Sandakan Food and Agriculture Festival Borneo Post Online 19th Aug 2019
Malindo Airways (Malindo Air) has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN) for collaboration in the promotion of the second Sandakan Food and Agriculture Festival 2019 (SFAF) which is to be held on September 13-15. In 2017, the first-ever Sandakan Food Festival (SFF) was a huge success kicking off with much fanfare and attracting huge interest from local media as well as social media influencers abroad, with an estimated 30,000 people visiting the Festival Village over the festival’s four-day period. Spurred by the positive response, STAN will once again partner with local communities and food industry leaders to organise the second edition of the festival.

Malaysia eyes agricultural modernisation to revive the sector The Malaysian Reserve 19th Aug 2019
BEFORE the 70s, agriculture cultivation was the backbone of the Malaysian economy as the country is rich with natural resources and underutilized land. Many Malaysians were working in the agriculture sector to make a living as the country made its maiden step to grow the economy after gaining independence in 1957. As a result, Malaysia had emerged as one of the world’s top producers of rubber and palm oil, driven by the birth of local commodity conglomerates. Meanwhile, smallholders were the major players for crops such as rice, fruits and vegetables.

Govt aims more than 90,000 paddy farmers on large-scale farming The Malaysian Reserve 19th Aug 2019
THE government targets to include up to 96,000 local paddy growers in the new consolidation policy to develop Malaysia’s large-scale farming for the crop. Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub (picture) said the target to enlist 30% of the 322,000 total farmers could be achieved in five years. “The consolidated lands could be managed by Area Farmers Organisation (PPK) or private companies. “For that scale of consolidation, we need ample time to get the farmers onboard with the plan. “This is our grand scheme to push forward the rice cultivation in the country and ultimately, increase the growers’ income. We want to bring them out of the bottom 40% (B40) income status,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an exclusive interview recently. Salahuddin said the concession to manage the proposed consolidated lands could take between five and 10 years, while the farmers will have profits based on their land size.

Malaysia turning to food crops as palm oil price falls inquirer.net 12th Sep 2019
Malaysia is looking to diversify into food crops, in the face of fluctuating commodity prices and Western countries’ hostility towards palm oil. In an interview with The Straits Times, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub said there are plans to plant more food crops on agricultural land, including in oil palm plantations.

Myanmar

Broad Coalition to Ramp Up Food Safety in Myanmar The Irrawaddy 11th Sep 2019
YANGON—Myanmar’s food safety advocacy groups plan to bring around 400 stakeholders from the food industry together to discuss food safety issues and challenges in the country. Myanmar Innovative Life Sciences (MILS), Myanmar Consumers Union and Food Science and Technology Association (FoSTA Myanmar) told the media at a press conference on Wednesday that they will organize a Food Safety Forum on Sept. 28 at Yangon University. The forum will bring together producers from the agriculture, livestock, fishing, dairy, bakery, water, beverage and fast food industries as well as government officials, experts and parliamentarians, according to organizers.

Workers Protest Lack of Fishing Rights in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Region The Irrawaddy 10th Sep 2019
PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region—Fishery workers in Kyonepyaw and Lemyethna townships in Irrawaddy Region staged a protest against the regional agriculture minister on Monday in Pathein, the regional capital, over what they claim is an unfair distribution of fishing rights. In a longstanding practice that dates back to the colonial period, the rights to fish in lakes in Myanmar are auctioned off by the government to private businessmen on a yearly basis.  Wealthy fishery owners have long monopolized the fishing lakes, with poor laborers generally working for a daily wage. But in recent years, fishery workers have formed cooperatives and started bidding for rights. This has been widely supported by local communities, as the increased income helps to improve living standards. 

Lawmaker to Propose Bill Legalizing Hemp Cultivation in Myanmar The Irrawaddy 3rd Sep 2019
A lawmaker will submit to the Lower House of Myanmar’s national legislature a proposal to amend the country’s antinarcotics law to allow the legal cultivation of hemp, which is treated as marijuana under existing laws. “I believe I will be able to submit [the proposed amendment] to the bill committee before the current parliamentary session ends. And I will be able to submit the bill when the next parliamentary session starts,” said National League for Democracy lawmaker U Yan Lin, who is also the chairman of the Lower House Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development Committee.

Philippines

DA budget may be augmented by P9 billion to aid farmers Philstar 11th Sep 2019
At least P9 billion in government funds will most likely be reallocated in next year’s budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to help farmers adversely affected by the Rice Tariffication Law. In an interview with reporters yesterday, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said they would make the move now that plenary debates are ongoing on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020. “I think P7 billion is just too small. I think the Department of Finance already collected more than P9 billion,” the congressman from Taguig-Pateros said. “We’re getting the data from the DA during our initial budget briefing.” Stressing that the intention of the law has always been for the benefit of farmers, Cayetano said “we will get all those collected in the rice tariffication law. As I said, the unintended consequence of low palay prices, and some abuses of the middlemen, is causing all these.” 

Fruitas targets to raise up to P1.2 billion from IPO Business World 10th Sep 2019
FRUITAS Holdings, Inc. looks to raise up to P1.2 billion from a maiden share sale by December, joining the roster of companies seeking to go public in 2019. In a statement issued Monday, the food and beverage kiosk operator said it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the sale of up to 533.66 million common shares, plus an over-allotment option of up to 68.34 million common shares, at a maximum of P1.99 each. This is equivalent to around 28.2% of the company’s total issued shares. Fruitas expects to net up to P1.06 billion from the offering, which is set to finance its store expansion. “The proceeds will be used to fund our store network expansion across the Philippines and expand our commissary to serve more customers,” Fruitas President and Chief Executive Officer Lester C. Yu said in a statement.

Government confirms 1st cases of African swine fever Philstar 10th Sep 2019
MANILA, Philippines — The recent hog deaths in Bulacan and Rizal were caused by African swine fever (ASF) virus, as confirmed by laboratory results from the United Kingdom, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced yesterday. In a press conference, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said 14 out of 20 blood samples sent to the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) reference laboratory in England were positive for ASF. Dar said these were results only of the Polymerase Chain Reaction test. He emphasized they have yet to receive results of the viral isolation test that will reveal the virulence of the ASF strain. He said a total of 7,416 pigs have been depopulated in the affected areas of San Jose, Macabud, San Isidro, San Rafael and Mascap, all in Rodriguez, Rizal; Cupang in Antipolo, and Guiguinto in Bulacan.

House panel studying rice safeguard measures Business World 5th Sep 2019
LEGISLATORS are considering amendments to afford a measure of protection for rice farmers suffering from weak prices for palay, or unmilled rice. The Safeguard Measures Act, or Republic Act 8800, authorizes the Tariff Commission to impose temporary protection for domestic producers if they are found to have suffered “serious injury” due to unfair competition from imports. “It may actually be an amendment to the Safeguard (Measures) Act. Also, we may add it to the Rice Tariffication Law, so with that we still have to discuss how to go about that as a committee,” Rep. Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga of the first district of Quezon told reporters. Mr. Enverga, who chairs the House Agriculture and Food committee, did not give further details on his planned course of action.

Plummeting rice prices: How will our rice farmers cope? Rappler 5th Sep 2019
A precipitous drop in rice prices is endangering the incomes and livelihoods of more than two million Filipino rice farmers nationwide. Many blame the Rice Tariffication Act, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed last Valentine’s Day.The law replaced the old import quotas with tariffs, so that anyone can import rice as long as they pay the requisite tariffs or import taxes. (READ: Will rice tariffication live up to its promise?) But more than 6 months after its implementation, some government economists were reportedly “surprised” by the magnitude of the recent price drops. Lower rice prices are especially good news for the poorest fifth of Filipino households, who consume as much as a fifth of their budgets on rice alone. (By contrast, the richest fifth of households spend only about 5% of their budgets on rice.) Rice tariffication was also touted as a way to combat last year’s runaway inflation. Figure 2 shows that most regions are now experiencing rice deflation, with prices decreasing the most in Soccsksargen, Caraga, and Davao.

Gov't offers loans to rice farmers as palay prices fall to P7 a kilo ABS-CBN News 3rd Sep 2019
The government needs to shell out P6 billion if it gives P5,000 each in conditional cash transfers to 1.1 million farmers tending to rice fields 1 hectare and below in size, said Dar. "We don't have that money," he told radio DZMM. Farmers listed in the government's registry could avail a P15,000 loan payable in 8 years with zero interest, which would be sourced from the agriculture department's credit policy council, he said. In the "later part of September", the government will offer another P25,000 loan package with 2 percent interest payable in 3 years, which would come from rice import tariffs, he said. Farmers have complained that the price of palay has dropped to P7 to P11 a kilo due to a flood of cheap rice imports. Under the rice tariffication law that removed the cap on grain imports, the government is mandated to allot P10 billion to aid farmers.

Caritas backs bill seeking to end hunger, curb food wastage Philippine News Agency 3rd Sep 2019
A Catholic priest on Tuesday expressed support for the bill seeking to promote food security and prevent food wastage in the country. “Caritas Manila is open to be a partner and conduit of food for the hungry,” Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila said in an interview. The Catholic priest added that the measure will address the problems of people who cannot afford to buy food. “Zero hunger act bill is spirit inspired to address directly the evil of hunger. Hunger is not God's will. Ten percent of Filipinos will sleep each night hungry. Feed the hungry is a corporal work of mercy,” he said. Pascual added that the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila is all for the passage of the House Bill 3342 filed by Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera.

Top official seeks amendment on law on lending to agriculture Mindanao Times 27th Aug 2019
The Agriculture department is seeking an amendment to the law that compels commercial banks to set aside a certain portion of their loan portfolios to the agricultural sector. This after the banks are found to be just paying the penalty instead of complying with the provision of the Agrii-Agra Reform Credit Act, which compels banks to set aside 15 to the agricultural sector and another 10% for agrarian reform. Disappointed with the implementation of the law, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the way forward is to amend it as he has started discussing with lawmakers what could be done to modify it. “There could be other schemes that will encourage commercial banks” to lend to the sector,” Mr. Dar said during a press conference here Saturday he added as the law in the present form compels commercial banks to lend 20% of their portfolios to the sector, or face a hefty penalty.

Swine disease in Rizal not ASF, says DA chief Philstar 27th Aug 2019
MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar disclosed on Sunday that the government has already identified the disease that caused the recent deaths of pigs in Rizal province, but definitely it’s not the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF). Dar, however, refused to reveal the cause of pig deaths because they do not want to create panic among the people. “We knew the disease, but we did not identify this yet because we don’t want to create panic. The hog industry is P260 billion today. We are managing, containing and controlling it,” Dar said. He said the government needs the support of everybody to believe in the Duterte administration and officials are doing everything to contain the hog disease. Dar appealed to concerned local government units (LGUs) to provide additional funds to the cash assistance being provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to affected hog raisers.

Poultry sector wants gov’t to track imports more aggressively Business World 27th Aug 2019
THE poultry industry said the government needs to address competition from imports dumped into the Philippines, which is adversely affecting small producers. The United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) said that it has asked Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar to fix the monitoring system at Customs Bonded Warehouses to facilitate the tracking of goods once they leave the premises. “It is so obvious that there’s irresponsibility on the part of the government. When you say customs bonded warehouse, you’re supposed to (use these imports for manufacturing input) and re-export, but DA (Department of Agriculture) has no data showing what is being re-exported,” UBRA President Elias Jose M. Inciong said in a statement.

Halal certification allows 2 Purefoods products to enter UAE market Manila Bulletin Business 26th Aug 2019
The facility that manufactures leading food brands Tender Juicy Chicken Franks and Purefoods Corned Beef has obtained a halal certification from Prime Group, a leading quality and compliance solutions provider in Asia, Middle East, and North Africa. This will allow Pure Foods Hormel Company, Inc., a unit of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., to export the aforementioned products to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and other international markets. The collaboration between Prime Group and Pure Foods came at a time that the global halal food market is expected to grow to US$922.53 billion by 2026, based on a study by Polaris Market Research.

Lawmaker urges Duterte government to stop land conversion BusinessMirror 26th Aug 2019
Sen. Francis N. Pangilinan, warning over the weekend that nearly 100,000 hectares of agricultural lands are no longer producing food since 1988, asked the Duterte government to stop land conversion schemes to “save farming and farmlands.” At the same time, Pangilinan prodded Congress to frontload the passage of the proposed Agricultural Land Conversion Ban Act embodied in his Senate Bill (SB) 256. Pangilinan pointed out in the bill that since agrarian reform was implemented from 1988 to 2016, at least 97,592.5 hectares of what used to be farmlands he estimated to be the combined size of Metro Manila and Cebu City are no longer producing basic food supplies.

Cynthia Villar hits false info on rice tariffication Philstar 26th Aug 2019
The Senate committee on agriculture and food is set to start this week its inquiry on the implementation of the Rice Tariffication law, which some critics said has adversely affected farmers.  Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the committee, clarified some misconceptions about Republic Act 11203 even as she hit some claims, which she described as exaggerated and “false,” that prices of palay have plunged so low because of the implementation of the law. She said the law had to be enacted as the Philippines was signatory to an agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 that allowed the country to limit rice imports for a specified period to give the government enough time to strengthen and make rice farmers competitive with the expected influx of imports of the grain. 

Landbank provides P55 M for Bohol farmers Philstar 26th Aug 2019
Government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines has provided P55 million worth of farm machineries for Bohol farmers as part of efforts to help modernize agriculture in the countryside. Landbank recently turned-over farm machineries amounting to P54.86 million to 142 farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries, and members of cooperatives in Pilar in Bohol. The state-run bank distributed 41 four-wheel tractors, seven rice combine harvesters, and 10 rice transplanters under its Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund  (ACEF), lending program and Agri-Mechanization Financing program.

Dar orders deployment of meat inspectors in markets Philippine News Agency 22nd Aug 2019
Agriculture Secretary William Dar has ordered the deployment of local government unit meat inspection services (LMIS) enforcement teams to closely monitor all public and private meat markets and outlets in view of the reported increase in swine mortalities in Bulacan and Rizal provinces. In his Administrative Order signed on Tuesday (August 20) but was issued to the media on Thursday, Dar also directed all provincial/city/municipal veterinary officers to continue implementing precautionary measures to ensure food safety and food security. Such measures include the prohibition of transporting of live animals, meat products, and meat by-products unless accompanied by veterinary health certificate (VHC) issued by a licensed veterinarian and shipping permit (SP) issued by Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and its regional veterinary quarantine offices; and the setting up of quarantine checkpoints in all ingress and egress from their respective provinces and municipalities.

Dar’s ‘Mission Impossible’: Rebuilding a damaged agricultural sector BusinessMirror 22nd Aug 2019
William Dar, the new Secretary of Agriculture, has one of the most difficult jobs in President Duterte’s Cabinet: stop the downhill slide of a broken agricultural sector. Agriculture’s share in the GDP is now a measly 8 percent, and yet its contribution to employment is still around 25 percent. In 1980, agriculture accounted for 25 percent of the GDP, and over 50 percent of employment. Poverty is deepest and widest in the countryside. This explains why rural insurgency in the Philippines, one of the world’s longest, has persisted. Secretary William Dar, a cautious man, is one of those who cautioned against the fast-tracking of the rice tariffication law, explaining that the rice sector needs a gradual phase-by-phase transition to trade liberalization.

Digitalizing agriculture for next-gen farmers Philippine News Agency 22nd Aug 2019
In many rural areas, residents rely on farming as their primary source of livelihood. But it seems agriculture’s lack of appeal to young people becomes a rising challenge today.  In an interview with Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Division Chief Antoineta Arceo during the weekly Usapang Pangkapayapaan, Usapang Pangkaunlaran (UP, UP) Pilipinas of the Philippine Air Force Virtual TV, she noted that the average age of farmers in the country today is 56. The Philippines, an agricultural country, has a population of over 100 million people. Of this number, 40 percent are farmers. Arceo, who has done numerous studies on the matter, said most of the youth do not want to go to agriculture because they prefer to work in offices or abroad. 

New MinDA chief Piñol lists agriculture, poorest provinces among development priorities Business World 19th Aug 2019
Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, taking on his role as the new head of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) on Monday, said agriculture, the poorest provinces, and indigenous people (IP) communities would be among his priority areas. Speaking during the chairmanship turn-over ceremony at the MinDA office here, Mr. Piñol said, “(Mindanao) has been endowed with so much resources, but productivity has been very low,” he said, pointing out that most of the areas that are very poor are IP communities who have been sidelined in the crafting of government programs. In the transitioning Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), where the poorest provinces are mainly located, Mr. Piñol said there is already an agricultural sector development plan, which was drawn up with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Taiwan imposes stricter African Swine Fever measure on PH Manila Bulletin News 19th Aug 2019
Taiwan has imposed stricter African Swine Fever (ASF) measure on the Philippines amid an alleged unreported case of the deadly pork disease in Bulacan and Rizal province. Over the weekend, Taiwan News reported that the East Asian nation will begin checking all carry-on bags from the Philippines starting today as a precautionary measure against ASF. The order came from Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC), the government agency tasked to monitor emergency situations in Taiwan, which said “ASF cases have been detected in Bulacan and Rizal Province of the Philippines, even though the authorities have not reported the cases to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)”.

Senators want Philippines to stop exporting sugar to U.S. Rappler 2nd Oct 2019
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri slammed the Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) for continuing the exportation of sugar to the United States, amid a local shortage and pressures to liberalize the industry. In a Senate hearing on Monday, September 30, Zubiri said the sugar to be shipped out can instead be given to local companies, rather than end users importing the commodity from other countries.

RCEF credit, seed funding worth P2.4 billion released | BusinessWorld Business World 30th Sep 2019
THE government has released P2.462 billion for the credit and seed distribution components of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). In a statement, the Agriculture department noted that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) allotted to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) P2.038 billion to fund promotion, acquiring, and distribution of certified seed to farmers listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA). Distribution will start in October for dry-season planting, covering 57 provinces, and 747 cities and municipalities, with a total land area of more than one million hectares. Each farmer will receive a maximum of 80 kilograms of certified rice seed, which include RC 222, RC 160, RC 216, and 16 other location-specific varieties, for two consecutive seasons.

USAID backs efforts to raise sustainability of alimasag fishery | BusinessWorld Business World 30th Sep 2019
THE United States government, the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and the Thai Union Group, among others, have signed up for a management plan for the alimasag (blue swimming crab) fishery in order to expand its export potential, the US Embassy in Manila said. “The US government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is stepping up its support to the BFAR to push for sustainable management of the Philippine alimasag harvested in the Visayan Sea,” the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement issued on Sept. 27. The embassy added: “BFAR, USAID, the University of Rhode Island, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Philippine Association of Crab Processors, Inc., Saravia Blue Crab Inc., and Thai Union Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to improve the ecological sustainability of alimasag harvesting to expand export potential, namely to North American markets.

Syngenta: Stopping the march of the Fall Armyworm | BusinessWorld Business World 30th Sep 2019
Since it landed in Africa from its native South America in 2016, Spodoptera frugiperda, or the lepidopteran Fall Armyworm (FAW) has quietly eaten a path to Asia. The continent’s favorable sub-tropical environment and crops provided a steady medium of growth. It enabled this insect horde to reach India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and China– the second largest producer of corn in the world. In the Philippines, the pest has been spotted in Cagayan Valley– the country’s top corn area. Government and agricultural companies are coordinating and monitoring the spread of this pest before it affects the nation’s production.

Farmers seek crackdown on rice ‘profiteering’ | BusinessWorld Business World 30th Sep 2019
A FARMER organization called on the trade department to crack down on traders and retailers who are “profiteering” with still-high retail prices while also forcing farmers to accept low prices for their harvests. “That is a problem that the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and other government agencies should try to prevent… DTI should do its job and not ask farmers to pay the price for their negligence and failure to stop profiteering by traders and retailers,” Federation of Free Farmers National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said in a statement. The entry of cheap imports has not brought about a commensurate drop in retail prices, essentially defeating the inflation-controlling intent behind the Rice Tariffication Law. At the same time, traders have turned reluctant to buy domestic palay, or unmilled rice, softening the market for palay, or unmilled rice, the form in which farmers sell their harvest.

Give exporters 10 yrs to give up perks–DTI BusinessMirror 30th Sep 2019
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is asking senators to give high export firms a maximum of 10 years to surrender their fiscal incentives to ease the impact of the second tax reform package on investment inflows and employment figures. Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez admitted that a longer transition is needed to cushion the impact of the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act bill on firms operating in economic zones. The Citira bill will reduce corporate income tax (CIT) rate to 20 percent by 2029, from 30 percent at present, at the expense of incentives granted to investors.

‘Convert P60M as cash incentive, not a loan’ The Manila Times 28th Sep 2019
The Philippine Farmers Advisory Board (PFAB) in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) has expressed its sentiment over the P15,000-loan to farmers as an added burden to the farmers. Edwin Paraluman, PFAB chairman, said it would be better for the government to release the amount as cash incentive and not as a burdensome loan on the part of the farmer-recipient. The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 2 had said it would release a P60-million subsidy to 4,000 rice farmers in the region suffering from the effects of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL). The DA said the subsidy was under the agency’s Expanded Survival and Recovery (E-Sure) aid program as an immediate response to address the needs of rice farmers affected by the sudden drop of palay (unmilled rice) price.

Davao Oriental restricts pork inbound shipments from swine fever-affected areas Business World 27th Sep 2019
DAVAO CITY — Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental issued last week an order banning the entry of swine and pork products where African Swine Fever (ASF) has been detected. According to Mr. Dayanghirang’s Executive Order 29, restricted items include “all swine or pork-related products and by-products whether edible or non-edible, whether raw, processed or cooked, including but not limited frozen boar semen” from areas that have ASF cases. Also included in the ban are canned goods from these areas. The order also called on hog farms to stop feeding their pigs with swill, or leftover food, as swill-feeding has been found to encourage the spread of the disease.

Mindanao rice farmers sign deals to supply organic, premium rice Business World 27th Sep 2019
DAVAO CITY — A supply deal has been signed between Mindanao organic rice farmers and a US buying group for rarities of organic rice varieties, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said. MinDA, in a statement, also said that a Papua New Guinea delegation, headed by Central Province Gov. Robert Agrobe, has arrived to inspect production areas for premium rice. The agency helped arrange a marketing agreement between premium rice farmers and PNG. An initial supply of about 5,000 tons is expected to be sent to PNG before the end of the year. MinDA quoted Andrew Bolougne, head of the US group, as telling the farmers: “Produce as much as you can and we will market it.”

Rice import duty hike not certain to benefit farmers | BusinessWorld Business World 25th Sep 2019
RAISING tariffs on imported rice will benefit importers that have already shipped in rice while discouraging future importers, potentially leaving consumers with more expensive rice, a government researcher said. Roehlano M. Briones, a research fellow with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), told BusinessWorld in a phone interview: “It’s a win for your earlier importers, it’s a loss for your future importers. It’s a loss for the consumer, and I don’t even know if the farmers will win. It’s uncertain whether the farmers will win in this scenario.” He added that it is unclear whether higher tariffs will improve the situation for domestic farmers, after imports softened the market for their palay, or unmilled rice. Private traders have reportedly been offering as little as P6 per kilo for palay because of competition from imports of cheap grain from elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Report highlights business, political players behind Philippine environment defender deaths Mongabay Environmental News 24th Sep 2019
MANILA — Development banks and other investors are fueling the violence against people in the Philippines who are protecting their land and environment from destructive industries, eco-watchdog Global Witness reveals in a new report. In the past six years, 178 land and environmental defenders were murdered in the Philippines in the last six years, according to Global Witness data, with verification of more cases still ongoing. “The Philippines has consistently ranked as the deadliest country in Asia to defend the environment and land rights ever since Global Witness began compiling data on murders of activists,” Ben Leather, a campaigner for Global Witness, told Mongabay. “This report is extremely timely as President [Rodrigo] Duterte and the Philippine government have just reached their mid-term and serves as an important review as their action on land and environment defenders in the first half of the Presidency.” Released Sept. 23, the report, “Defending the Philippines,” is the result of a three-year investigation that aims to demonstrate how corporations are colluding with corrupt politicians to push through environmentally damaging projects such as agribusiness, tourism, illegal logging, coal plants, and mining.

Gov’t to raise tariff on imported rice Inquirer 24th Sep 2019
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking at raising tariffs on imported rice as early as mid-October to address an oversupply of the staple grain due to excessive importation. Agriculture Secretary William Dar yesterday told reporters this would be done through the implementation of a general safeguard duty on imported goods, which was provided for in the rice tariffication law. “We believe we have imported enough (rice) and additional imports should be looked at differently,” Dar said. “We have too much supply as we have already imported 2.4 million tons since March.” The agriculture chief added that, considering that the Philippines was 93-percent self-sufficient in rice production, the country needed to import only 7 percent of its supply needs. “This means that we need to import only 1.5 million to 2 million tons,” Dar said. He said the DA was still determining how much to increase rice tariffs, but that this would be decided in early October.

Mindanao coffee industry gearing up for expanded production | BusinessWorld Business World 26th Aug 2019
THE Mindanao coffee industry is set to expand production through the Rural Agro-Industrial Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth), a project that aims to boost agriculture-based processing and businesses to be more innovative, productive, and competitive. “This is a market-driven approach. It also focuses on a value-chain approach from production down to the market, so at the end of the day, syempre yung (of course) farmers, yung (the) processors would not produce if wala silang (they do not have) market. We will make sure na yung mga (that their) products ay talagang magakaroon ng (would have) market,” Lucky Siegfred M. Balleque, provincial director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Compostela Valley, said in an interview. The P2.3-billion project is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which aims to help people in the countryside, empowering them to increase their food security, improve nutrition, and increase their incomes by allowing them to be in charge of their development. This program also extends to other crops like the cacao industry and it covers Regions VIII, IX, X, XI, and XII.

LANDBANK turns over P54.86-M worth of farm equipment | BusinessWorld Business World 26th Aug 2019
LAND BANK of the Philippines (LANDBANK) said it turned over P54.86-million worth of farm equipment to farmers in Bohol. The turnover took place during the Farmers’ Caravan event in Pilar, Bohol. A total of 142 farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB), and members of irrigators’ associations and cooperatives attended the program. The equipment included 41 four-wheel drive (4WD) tractors, 7 Kubota Rice Combine Harvesters and 10 Kubota Rice transplanters, which were given to beneficiaries under LANDBANK’s Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) program and the Agri-Mechanization Financing Program.

Senate seeks to impose more hurdles on farmland conversion process | BusinessWorld Business World 26th Aug 2019
A MEASURE adding regulatory hurdles to the conversion of irrigated and irrigable agricultural land to residential, industrial and commercial zoning has been filed in the Senate. Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, with Senate Bill No. 256, or the proposed “Agricultural Land Conversion Ban Act,” said he was seeking to preserve farmland to ensure food security. Mr. Pangilinan said some 100,000 hectares worth of agricultural land has been converted between 1988, when Republic Act (RA) 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, was implemented, and 2016. He cited data from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) showing that 80.6% of approved land conversions were in Luzon; 7.8% in the Visayas, and 11.6 in Mindanao. “We need farmers to feed the country. Farmers need farmland to feed the country,” he said in a statement Sunday.

Build build build–with tobacco - Jasper Y. Arcalas BusinessMirror 25th Aug 2019
IF an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then a tobacco at bay sends the termites astray. This is a simplistic explanation of what a Filipino engineer discovered about the potential of tobacco to be the next construction material star. Juanito P. Jimenez Jr. of the Department of Science and Technology Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) studied the use of tobacco stalk particles as additive in glues used in plywood production.

Hog raisers: Help came too late, too little - Samuel P. Medenilla BusinessMirror 21st Aug 2019
GOVERNMENT intervention in areas of Rizal province ravaged by a strange animal disease came too late and too little for them, said hog raisers who said they are now stripped bare of their livelihood. Gaddie Mercado, 46, could not hide his frustration over the supposed slow government response in addressing the still-unidentified disease that killed two of his sows. Despite his ordeal, he said he is among the lucky ones as some of his hogs are still alive. Other neighbors with backyard pig pens lost all sows.

Singapore

Killiney leads $1.7m seed funding for food tech start-up The Straits Times 10th Sep 2019
Food tech start-up Hoow Foods has raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by local food and beverage heritage brand Killiney Group, it said yesterday. Other backers include Innovate 360, Singapore's first government-backed food incubator, and Trive Ventures. Hoow Foods was incorporated last year by four engineers and scientists from the National University of Singapore. The team specialises in food reformulation, and has successfully reformulated common food products such as coffee and baked goods into healthier versions while retaining their taste and texture.

Singapore, Philippine agencies exchange eight MOUs The Straits Times 10th Sep 2019
Eight agreements were exchanged between Singapore and Philippine agencies yesterday. The memorandums of understanding (MOUs) covered areas such as water resource, agri-trade, agri-tech, skills training and education, and emerging areas such as smart city infrastructure and data protection. The signed agreements were exchanged at the Malacanang Palace and witnessed by President Halimah Yacob and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The exchange also marked Singapore's first data protection-related MOU with a data protection authority in Asean. Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission will be working with the Philippines' National Privacy Commission to cooperate on issues such as the mutual exchange of information and assistance in joint investigations, the development of compatible mechanisms to facilitate cross-border data flows and the exploration of the use of sandboxes to test innovative data-sharing ideas.

Killiney Group leads $1.7m seed funding in foodtech start-up Hoow Foods The Straits Times 9th Sep 2019
Foodtech start-up Hoow Foods has raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by local food and beverage heritage brand Killiney Group, it said on Monday (Sept 9). Other backers include Innovate360, Singapore's first government-backed food incubator, and Trive Ventures. Hoow Foods was incorporated last year by four engineers and scientists from the National University of Singapore. The team specialises in food reformulation, and has successfully reformulated common food products such as coffee and baked goods into healthier versions, while retaining their taste and texture. One of Hoow Foods' first innovations is a line of premium ice creams that contain less than a third of the calories, fat and sugar served in Ben & Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs ice cream. They hit the shelves of FairPrice Finest last year, under the brand Callery's. Hoow Foods is in the process of reformulating a wider range of foods. The seed funding will go towards expanding its research and development capabilities and staff strength.

BreadTalk plans $80m acquisition of Food Junction The Straits Times 3rd Sep 2019
BreadTalk founder George Quek is coming full circle with the food and beverage company's latest move - a proposed complete acquisition of Food Junction, a foodcourt operator he had helped start in 1993. Analysts said BreadTalk Group's plan to buy Food Junction Management for $80 million marks a further consolidation in the foodcourt and coffee shop market as larger firms continue to take out smaller ones in seeking market share and growth. The proposed acquisition will be paid in cash funded through BreadTalk's internal resources, including available cash on hand, and debt facilities, the company said in an announcement on the Singapore Exchange yesterday.

Overhaul in food supply chain needed to tackle food waste: Study The Straits Times 27th Aug 2019
Tackling the food waste issue requires an overhaul in the food supply chain, with surplus on the shelves donated or sold at a discount at food banks, and food that may otherwise end up in the bin reintroduced as useful by-products, a new study has suggested. The study by non-profit Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and consultancy firm Deloitte Singapore found that a "circular economy for food" is one way for Singapore to cut its food waste - a problem that is estimated to cost the Republic $2.54 billion worth of food annually. Among the suggestions, farmers could consider turning perishables such as fruit and vegetables into longer-lasting products, such as jam, or using technology so there is less wastage, for example, from eggs breaking.

Thailand

Central Food Retail appoints new CEO to move company forwards in an era of borderless retail and digital technology Bangkok Post 11th Sep 2019
Central Food Retail Company Limited which runs food stores and premium supermarkets in Thailand, Central FamilyMart Company Limited which operates convenience stores, and Central & Matsumoto Kiyoshi Company Limited, the no. 1 health and beauty business from Japan. Central Group has recently announced the appointment of Stephane Coum as Chief Executive Officer of Central Food Retail Group, alongside his position as President of Central Food Retail Company Limited. Concurrently, Alistair Taylor has been appointed President of Central FamilyMart Company Limited effective from 1st August, 2019. These moves are designed to drive the company’s New Central, New Retail strategy forward in an era of borderless retail and digital technology.  

Coalition considers demoting deputy agriculture minister, Thammanat Prompow The Thaiger 11th Sep 2019
The Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompow has had his accounts about his role in a 3.2 kilogram heroin-smuggling ring challenged by an Australian newspaper. The events back in 1993 landed Thammanat in a Sydney jail for four years. Thammanat Prompow is the Palang Pracharath MP for Phayao province in Thialand’s north. The article by the respected Sydney Morning Herald, “From sinister to minister: politician’s drug trafficking jail time revealed” is the result of an investigative report team going back over court documents at the time. “The Herald and The Age can reveal that a newly appointed senior member of Thailand’s ruling party spent four years in a Sydney jail in the 1990s for his role in trafficking 3.2 kilograms of heroin into Australia. He was deported on his release from Parklea prison.”

Mananya pushes farm chemicals ban Bangkok Post 11th Sep 2019
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Mananya Thaiset said her ministry and the Public Health Ministry have agreed to push for a ban on paraquat and two other hazardous farm chemicals. She was talking after Tuesday's meeting with 686 organisations which have been campaigning for the three farm chemicals -- paraquat, glyphosate and chloropyrifos -- to be banned by the end of this year. She said reports and proposals for alternatives to be submitted to the Industry Ministry will be made carefully so the ban proposals are not rejected as in the past. "When the Agriculture Ministry's committee [studying the negative impacts from the hazardous farming chemicals] has finished its report and proposals, I will sign my name and forward them to the Industry Ministry immediately," she said.

65% of Laem Charoen sold to MK Group Bangkok Post 10th Sep 2019
Laem Charoen Seafood, a 40-year-old Thai restaurant chain, expects stronger business results after selling a majority stake to SET-listed MK Restaurant Group last Friday. Chaitas Narakulsookpipat, the company's managing director, said the company decided to sell the stake to MK because it is confident the partnership will bring about synergy and improve business. Laem Charoen has been in the 400-billion-baht Thai restaurant industry for four decades and hopes for sustainable growth with the partnership. "MK Restaurant is a very successful chain in Thailand because it has expertise and knowledge from being in the business for a long time," said Mr Chaitas. "The group boasts a vast range of businesses, comprising suki, Japanese and takeaway restaurants, as well as food courts. MK also has high brand loyalty." MK Restaurant Group informed the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) last Friday the group, through Catapult, a 99.99% subsidiary of the group, acquired a 65% stake in Laem Charoen Seafood Co for 2.06 billion baht.

Govt gets tough on plot squatters Bangkok Post 9th Sep 2019
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has toughened its stance towards encroachment of Sor Por Kor land, ordering the Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro) to re-examine to examine the eligibility of the plots' occupants. Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow said he has instructed Alro's secretary-general, Winarot Sapsongsuk to seized back Sor Por Kor plots which have been improperly allocated to be redistributed to landless farmers. Capt Thamanat said about 800,000 landless farmers are still waiting to be allocated Sor Por Kor lands. Under the government's land reform programme, 40 million rai of land were set aside to be distributed to the poor. About 36 million rai have been allocated, while the remaining four million rai have yet to be parcelled out, pending further verification. He said Sor Por Kor plots that are not suitable for farming can be developed into a community-based enterprise, but the scheme must be approved.

Biolubricants set to help farm products Bangkok Post 5th Sep 2019
The Industry Ministry is keen to promote biolubricants from Thai farm products in an effort to develop the oleochemical industry, a part of the government's bioeconomy scheme. Nattapol Rangsitpol, director-general of the Office of Industrial Economics (OIE), said biolubricants could be developed from local farm products such as palm oil, providing another solution in dealing with the huge surplus of palm oil. Biolubricants are additives that increase the efficiency of motors and the engines of vehicles. Palm oil in the oleochemical industry is extracted as a fatty acid, which is used in the production process for lubricants. Other oleochemicals can be extracted from soybean oil, castor oil and linseed oil to be polyamide, widely used in the automotive and textile sectors.

Production moves away from plastic Bangkok Post 5th Sep 2019
Thailand's packaging and printing industries are shifting to produce bio-flexible packaging products in line with the government's policy to ban plastic packaging in the future, says the Thai Packaging Association. Manit Kamolsuwan, president of the association, said the policy will encourage many companies to innovate and adopt technology in line with the global movement against plastics, which will benefit the industry. "Thai producers in the packaging and printing industries have to chase the global trend and adopt new innovation and technology and learn more about bio-flexible products to serve environmental concerns," Mr Manit said. Local producers use flexible packaging such as film, mostly for foods and beverages, including other raw materials: cast polypropylene film, polyethylene terephthalate, nylon, aluminium foil and laminated film.

BAAC sees weak demand from farmers Bangkok Post 3rd Sep 2019
The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) is facing tepid loan demand, with a meagre 4.17 billion baht in loans extended for the three months through June. Demand for loans from farmers was weak as they were reluctant to invest amid ebbing purchasing power and the sluggish economy, said Somkiat Kimawaha, executive vice-president of BAAC. Normally, the BAAC lends 10 billion baht from April to June, he said. The bank's loan demand is expected to improve following the government's stimulus package, which should bolster consumer spending, said Mr Somkiat. The BAAC aims for 95 billion baht in lending this financial year, starting from April

Sukhothai set to fight Podul aftermath Bangkok Post 3rd Sep 2019
Authorities on Monday stepped up efforts to prevent Sukhothai province from being heavily flooded on Tuesday by massive runoff from the Yom River in the northern province of Phrae after Tropical Storm Podul hit on Friday. Royal Irrigation Department director-general, Thongplew Kongchan, said on Monday he had ordered authorities to intensify efforts to protect the province from being submerged after he received an urgent order from Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on. Mr Thongplew said the northern runoff in the Yom River passing through a sluice gate in Wang Chin district of Phrae around midday on Monday was measured at 1,100 cubic metres per second (cu m/s), which is double the capacity of the sluice gate in Si Satchanalai district of downstream Sukhothai, said Mr Thongplew.

CPF awards scholarships to agro-industry and food processing experts Bangkok Post 27th Aug 2019
Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company Limited or CPF together with the Faculty of Agro-Industry, Panyapiwat Institute of Management (PIM) organized its 5th CP Scholarship Day 2019 on 23 August, to award 44 scholarships to undergraduate students for the 2019 academic year. Thereby aiming to create qualified personnel and upgrade the agro-industry and food business on a sustainable global stage. Mr. Prasit Boonduangprasert, Chief Executive Officer of Charoen Pokphand Foods Public Company Limited (CPF) asserted that the company is focused on creating a ‘new generation’ professional workforce in support of their business growth strategy both in Thailand and CPF investments overseas. He reiterated that "creating qualified and motivated employees" is an important issue that CPF values. 

Smart produce for smart shoppers Bangkok Post 27th Aug 2019
The Marketing Organisation for Farmers, otherwise known as Or Tor Kor, is presiding over the Or Tor Kor Smart Expo 2019 this week, promoting food innovation and premium agricultural products. According to Or Tor Kor Director Kamolwit Kaewfaek, the event is also an opportunity for consumers to pick up the best products directly from Or Tor Kor selected farmers nationwide. Or Tor Kor market on Kamphaeng Phet Road in Bangkok's Chatuchak district is regarded as a model for fresh markets in Thailand. It has been hailed as one of the best fresh markets in the world.

Meals on wheels drive truck sales Bangkok Post 26th Aug 2019
Shops conveyed by mini trucks have grown popular in Thailand over the years, providing a healthy start for a new breed of entrepreneur. Mini trucks are the sales points for such merchants, who need space at open markets to park the vehicles and sell products. Most merchants using mini trucks are food sellers, giving rise to the "food truck" phenomenon. Food trucks are expected to prosper after the government gave full support to a plan to attract self-starting entrepreneurs via SME loans and attractive interest rates from state banks. According to Food Truck Club Thailand, the segment has a value of 13 billion baht and boasts 1,300-1,500 operators, 70% of them in Bangkok and surrounding provinces where there are many flea markets. The other 30% of food truck operators are in provincial areas.

Prayut to visit drought-hit provinces Bangkok Post 19th Aug 2019
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will visit the drought-hit provinces of Surin and Buri Ram in the Lower Northeast on Monday, said government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat on Sunday. In Surin, the prime minister will focus his attention on the Huay Saneng and Ampil reservoirs which are major sources of tap water production. "The low volume of water in the Huay Saneng and Ampil reservoirs has caused water shortages in Muang and Samrong Thap districts and is affecting 308 villages in 31 tambons and 150,995 rai of farmland," Ms Narumon said. Meanwhile, in Buri Ram, a total of 1.4 million cubic metres of water in the Huay Talat and Huay Chorakhe reservoirs has also led to a severe shortage of tap water. During his trip, the prime minister will inspect progress on the work he has set in train. In pursuit of a medium to long-term sustainable solution, Gen Prayut wants all water reservoirs to be drained and expanded to increase their holding capacities to stabilise water production, Ms Narumon said.

Thai sugar industry bitter as exports and price fall The Nation Thailand 2nd Oct 2019
The Thai sugar industry is hit by the twin crises of falling exports and sliding price, according to industry experts. The most imminent threat to the industry is the falling price of sugar in the global market, which has currently dropped by 10 to 11 cent per pound, the lowest price in six years.

Mananya's quest to ban harmful farm chemicals Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2019
Mananya Thaises, deputy minister to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, is now a high-profile name in Thai politics and society. Her determination to ban three farm chemicals -- paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos -- has won wide praise from society and increased public popularity.

Thailand’s rice exports hampered by strong baht – commodities Thailand Business News 25th Sep 2019
Bangkok (VNA) – Thai rice exports are likely to stay below targets as the strong baht weakenscompetitiveness in the world market. Honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association Chookiat Ophaswongse said Thai rice shipments may drop to as low as 8 million tonnes this year, led by a sharp decline in white rice exports. He predicted that the continued strong baht, which makes Thai rice more expensive than grains from other countries, will lower white rice shipments by up to 35 percent from 5.49 million tonnes last year, adding that Thailand’s rice exports totaled only 6 million tonnes at the end of September.

Tax on high salt content dusted off Bangkok Post 10th Sep 2019
The Excise Department has unveiled an old plan to tax salty foods by setting a ceiling at 2,000 milligrammes per day of sodium as a benchmark to determine the levy rates, a senior official says. Imposing a tax on foods containing high sodium levels follows a similar practice for sugary beverages, said Nattakorn Utensut, deputy spokesman for the Excise Department. The potential benchmark is based on a health standard that advises people consume less than 2,000mg of sodium per day, he said.

Excise predicts B1.5bn from next phase of sugary drinks tax Bangkok Post 9th Sep 2019
The Excise Department estimates the second phase of the tax hike on sugar-sweetened beverages, effective from Oct 1, will contribute an additional 1.5 billion baht a year to state coffers. The sugary drink tax now generates 2 billion baht a year for the government, said deputy spokesman of the Excise Department Nattakorn Utensut. Thailand applied the excise tax on sugary drinks from Sept 16, 2017 with a goal of lowering sugar consumption. The rates rise on a gradual basis over four phases: Sept 16, 2017 to Sept 30, 2019; Oct 1, 2019 to Sept 30, 2021; Oct 1, 2021 to Sept 30, 2023; and from Oct 1, 2023.

Ministry to propose B26bn in subsidies for rubber farmers Bangkok Post 2nd Sep 2019
The agriculture ministry will propose up to 26 billion baht in subsidies for rubber farmers in a bid to boost their income. Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said on Monday the subsidies, which may be considered by the cabinet next week, would benefit about 1.4 million farmers and nearly 300,000 rubber tappers between October and September next year.

Sticky rice discounts to B35 next week Bangkok Post 28th Aug 2019
The government will discount sticky rice packs to 35 baht per kilogramme late next week to ease consumer burdens following a steep rise in prices. Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, who on Wednesday met representatives of packaged rice producers, millers and retailers, said in the preliminary stage the ministry will offer about 200,000 to 300,000 glutinous rice packs ranging from 2kg to 5kg.

Cabinet okays schemes for rice, oil palm Bangkok Post 28th Aug 2019
The cabinet on Tuesday approved a package worth 59 billion baht in price guarantees and subsidy schemes for rice and oil palm. Of the total budget, 13.3 billion baht is for the price guarantee programme for rice, 21.4 billion for oil palm and the remaining 25 billion is to subsidise production costs for rice farmers. Rachada Dhnadirek, a deputy government spokeswoman, said the rice price guarantee scheme will cover five types of rice: white rice paddy with 15% moisture, Thai hom mali rice paddy, fragrant Pathum Thani rice paddy with 15% moisture, glutinous rice paddy with 15% moisture, and provincial fragrant rice paddy.

State tackles glutinous rice price Bangkok Post 27th Aug 2019
In a move to tackle rising glutinous rice prices, the government has ordered millers, traders and exporters to report their stocks by on Tuesday. The Commerce Ministry will also call a meeting with millers and packaged rice producers on Wednesday to produce packed glutinous rice at a special price. Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said he already ordered a nationwide inspection of glutinous rice to check hoarding and price gouging.

Ministries to discuss sugar cane farmers' debt payment Bangkok Post 27th Aug 2019
The Industry Ministry plans to talk with the Finance Ministry on Tuesday to extend the debt payment period for sugar cane farmers by another 4-5 years for debts coming due this year. These debts have a remaining value of 2.09 billion baht and the loan process has been disbursed through the Cane and Sugar Fund, which has Krungthai Bank as the debt's creditor. Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said he would talk to Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana during the cabinet meeting.

Small fishing operators caught in EU dragnet Bangkok Post 24th Aug 2019
With 116 kilometres of coastline, Pattani is home to one of the largest fisheries in the far South. The abundant seafood hauled from the 5,000-rai Pattani Bay has long been a crucial source of income for local communities. Statistics speak of a vibrant local fishing industry. The province has 2,364 artisanal fishing boats and 1,009 commercial trawlers, together pulling in a catch worth billions each year. Last year, Pattani fishermen landed 91.11 million tonnes of seafood, valued at 4.51 billion baht.

Rice panel OKs B21bn for price guarantee scheme Bangkok Post 22nd Aug 2019
The government has endorsed the price guarantee scheme for rice worth 21 billion baht, a move to help cushion farmers from falling rice prices. Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the National Rice Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday approved the price guarantee scheme as proposed by the Commerce Ministry. The scheme will cover five types of rice: white rice paddy with 15% moisture, Thai hom mali rice paddy, fragrant Pathum Thani rice paddy with 15% moisture, glutinous rice paddy with 15% moisture, and provincial fragrant rice paddy.

CPD chief proposes 3-point plan as alternative to price-guarantee scheme The Nation Thailand 22nd Aug 2019
The Cooperative Promotion Department (CPD) has come up with a three-point plan to fix the problem of farmers’ debts instead of having them rely on the government’s price-guarantee policy, which is now useless considering that most crops have been destroyed by the drought. CPD director-general Phichead Wiriyaphaha said this year’s drought has been serious and has already destroyed most crops in several regions.  “This renders the price-guarantee policy useless as farmers don’t have anything to sell. As a result, many will not be able to pay the debts they owe to agricultural cooperatives,” he said. 

Thailand approves $682 million in new rice insurance scheme Reuters 21st Aug 2019
Thailand’s National Rice Policy Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, on Wednesday announced 21 billion baht ($682 million) in subsidies to help stabilize prices for rice farmers hurt by drought and a strong baht. Under the new rice scheme, the government will agree to pay farmers a fixed price for a set amount of production if market prices fall below benchmark prices during the main harvest seasons. Thailand is suffering its worst drought in a decade, which has hurt farmers and reduced supplies, lowering the country’s rice exports. A strong baht and ample global stockpiles have further curbed sales.

BAAC brings down its MRR, MOR to ease burden on farmers, SMEs The Nation Thailand 20th Aug 2019
The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) has cut its minimum retail rate (MRR) by 0.125 per cent and its minimum overdraft rate (MOR) by 0.25 per cent from August 20 onwards, the bank’s president Apirom Sukprasert said. He said BAAC’s Asset Liability Management Committee had met on August 19 to make a decision on bringing MRR down to 6.875 per cent from 7 per cent and also MOR to 6.875 per cent from 7.125 per cent. This was in response to the central bank’s decision to cut its policy rate earlier this month. “The reduction in interest rates will reduce the financial burden on farmers and small and medium-enterprises and help them manage their cashflow better,” he said.

Thailand, other rubber producers 'ending export curbs' Bangkok Post 19th Aug 2019
The world's top producers of natural rubber are not extending curbs on exports of the commodity, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday. The International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC), which comprises Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, in March agreed to implement curbs on around 240,000 tonnes of rubber exports over four months in a bid to prop up prices for the commodity. Indonesia and Malaysia have finished their part of the programme, formally known as the Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme (AETS), as they began implementing it on April 1.

Jurin floats rice price insurance Bangkok Post 18th Aug 2019
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has proposed price insurance for five types of rice, to help farmers deal with the lower price of crops. Mr Jurin said the proposal is based on a resolution from a recent meeting chaired by farmers' representatives, rice trade associations and state officials. The collective decision agrees to set conditions on insured paddies, including its maximum insured amount that will range from 14 to 30 tonnes, and the rate of 15% moisture. However, the rice insurance package will not cover "short-lived" rice, or rice that is harvested within less than 100 days of being planted.

BAAC looks to convert gamblers into savers Bangkok Post 17th Aug 2019
The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) aims to use its new savings certificate, which features a no-lose lottery, to encourage 3 million holders of state welfare smartcards to turn their gambling into savings. The bank's 20-baht-per-ticket savings certificate has a lottery feature that it hopes to use to turn 10 billion baht in cash into savings that would otherwise be lost buying lottery tickets, said executive vice-president Somkiat Kimawaha. If the bank can compel 3 million of the 14.5 million welfare smartcard holders to shun buying lottery tickets, it will help cultivate a savings habit among low-income earners, Mr Somkiat said.

Thailand to ban pig imports from Myanmar over African swine fever Reuters 15th Aug 2019
Thailand will ban the import of pigs from Myanmar for 90 days, the country’s livestock department told Reuters on Thursday, after the neighboring country confirmed its first case of the African swine fever this week. The ban, expected to start next week, would cover live pigs and wild boars as well as carcasses from Myanmar, to prevent the disease from spreading into Thailand. It followed a similar ban Thailand issued for pig imports from Laos in June.

Vietnam

Agricultural restructuring raises farmers' incomes in Bình Thuận Vietnam News Agency 9th Sep 2019
The restructuring of agricultural production in the south-central province of Bình Thuận has achieved positive results as more rice farmers have switched to high-value crops in drought-prone areas, earning higher incomes. More than 3,000ha of ineffective rice fields were used for other crops last year, saving irrigation water in drought-prone areas, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Tuy Phong, one of the province’s districts that restructured agricultural production, has unfertile soil and the lowest rainfall in the country.

Cheap imported meats hurt domestic livestock industry vietnamplus 26th Aug 2019
Increasing meat imports are adding to the pressure on the country’s livestock industry brought by free trade agreements and the African swine flu epidemic, experts said. Vietnam imported 8,000 tonnes of pork and more than 142,000 tonnes of chicken in the first eight months of this year, three times the volume in the same period last year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs report. The imports are welcomed by consumers because of their cheap prices. jmnA kilogram of imported pork costs 27,000 VND (1.2 USD) while domestic prices are around 35,000 VND (1.57 USD), especially amid the havoc caused to the industry by African swine flu.

Vietnamese agricultural brands honoured Vietnam News Agency 26th Aug 2019
The Việt Nam General Council of Agriculture and Rural Development on Sunday held a ceremony to honour Việt Nam's gold farming brands 2019. This is the fifth time the ceremony has been held. This honour is to acknowledge the great contribution of businesses and entrepreneurs in agricultural economic development and new rural development.m After nearly four months of support from local authorities, the organising committee has awarded 75 brands of good quality agricultural products and famous brands out of more than 500 agricultural products of 63 provinces and cities nationwide.

Loss-making, low-profitability firms to be eliminated VietNamNet 22nd Aug 2019
Loss-making, low-profitability State-owned agriculture firms should be dissolved and made bankrupt, said Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue on August 21. Special regulations are needed for those loss-making, low-profitability firms to stop operating, he told a meeting on the restructuring of agriculture and forestry businesses. He asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to hasten and complete re-arranging State-owned firms by 2020 to improve their performance and efficiency. Hue appreciated the efforts of the ministry, its agencies and State-owned agriculture firms for having striven to improve their performances in recent years.

Aquaculture Việt Nam 2019 to be held in Cần Thơ Vietnam News Agency 19th Aug 2019
An international exhibition and conference on Việt Nam’s aquaculture sector will take place in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta City of Cần Thơ from October 16-18. The second edition of Aquaculture Việt Nam will introduce new technology and services for the fisheries sector, the event's organisers said. The event will also present a fisheries value chain with comprehensive coverage from food, varieties, disease prevention, processing, market, food safety and sustainable aquatic farming, they said. Several conferences will be held during the expo with the participation of experts to give firms the chance to introduce their products and services to customers. Run by UBM Asia Ltd, the Việt Nam Fisheries Society (VINAFIS) and the International Collaborating Centre for Aquaculture and Fisheries Sustainability (ICAFIS), the event is expected to draw more than 6,000 visitors.

Firm rupee lifts Indian rice rates; Vietnam prices hold near 12-year low Reuters 19th Sep 2019
Indian rice export prices rose this week on a resurgent rupee, while sluggish demand kept Vietnamese rates near a 12-year low even as the country looks to encourage private investment to make its rice more competitive. Meanwhile, Vietnam's 5% broken rice rates were unchanged at $325 per tonne, their lowest since November 2007, as "trading activity remains subdued on weaker demand," a Ho Chi Minh City based trader said.  A lack of fresh deals has squeezed the Vietnamese market, with prices now about 13% lower than at the beginning of the year. The country is seeking to encourage private investment in modernising local rice processing and storage facilities in order to raise competitiveness, state media reported on Thursday, citing an official with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

Pharmacies struggle with drug management system Vietnam News Agency 11th Sep 2019
HÀ NỘI Thousands of pharmacies in Hà Nội have connected to the national drug supply chain management system which helps control the supply of medicine and sales of drugs. However, it hasn't all been smooth sailing. Some localities have not completed the connection, including private pharmacies in Thanh Oai, Quốc Oai, Thanh Trì and Sóc Sơn districts, according to the Hà Nội Health Department. New drug-related information has not been fully and regularly updated on the management system. A recent inspection at 70 drugstores connected to the system found some pharmacies have not updated information sufficiently and regularly.

Vietnamese leader to visit Nebraska after Ricketts meeting AP NEWS 6th Sep 2019
Vietnam’s prime minister has agreed to visit Nebraska to learn more about the state’s farms and food processing after meeting with Gov. Pete Ricketts. Ricketts met Friday with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to promote Nebraska’s agricultural products and investment opportunities. The governor says he offered the prime minister a chance to visit Nebraska to learn about the state firsthand, and the prime minister accepted the invitation.

Deal to develop three high-tech agriculture projects worth $73m inked in Bình Phước Vietnam News Agency 27th Aug 2019
Three high-tech agriculture projects in the southern province of Bình Phước will receive more than VNĐ1.7 trillion (US$73 million) in investment under an agreement inked between the provincial People’s Committee and its partners on Monday. A joint-venture will be set up between Netherlands-based Royal De Heus Animal Nutrition and local Hùng Nhơn Group, which will land some VNĐ1.15 trillion to construct a high-quality chicken farm for export. The project is designed to raise 10 million chickens each year and ship 5,000 abroad each day.

Cà Mau supports agricultural co-operatives Vietnam News Agency 27th Aug 2019
The Cà Mau Province People’s Committee has earmarked VNĐ4 billion (US$172,320) worth of subsidies for seven new-style agricultural co-operatives this year. The money will be used to develop infrastructure and build warehouses and plants to process the province’s key agricultural products. Nguyễn Tiến Hải, chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, has instructed the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to inform the co-operatives that they need to complete all required procedures to receive the subsidies. The southern-most province has more than 200 co-operatives, including 135 in agriculture, according to its Co-operatives Alliance.

Mekong Delta expects 150,000 more tonnes from summer-autumn rice crop Voice of Vietnam 26th Aug 2019
This summer-autumn crop, the Mekong Delta – Vietnam’s biggest rice granary – expects to harvest 150,000 tonnes of paddy more than last year, according to an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). The Mekong Delta has so far harvested about two-thirds of its 1.57 million hectares of rice with an average yield of 5.7 tonnes per hectare, up 100 kg compared to last year’s same crop, said Le Thanh Tung, deputy head of the MARD’s Department of Crop Production. The growth is more than enough to offset the falling output of the last summer-autumn harvest, estimated at around 50,000 tonnes, he added. The harvest of this season’s entire rice area is expected to be completed in early September and to date, there has been no report on effects of drought or saline intrusion.

Vietnamese shrimp exporters enjoy zero taxes to the US Vietnam News Agency 23rd Aug 2019
The US Department of Commerce (DOC) on Wednesday released the final results of the 13th period of review (POR 13), officially imposing zero per cent tariffs on 31 Vietnamese shrimp exporters. The DOC announced that the zero per cent tariff will be applied to the two mandatory respondents in the review, Sao Ta Foods JSC and Nha Trang Seaproduct Company. The other 31 enterprises shipping shrimp to the US will be subject to the same rate at zero per cent. Earlier, the DOC in a preliminary finding concluded that the two mandatory respondents did not dump their shrimp products on the US market, making them exempt from anti-dumping tariffs when exporting shrimp to the country between February 1, 2017, and January 31, 2018.

VN farmers use smartphones in cultivation of lingzhi mushrooms VietNamNet 23rd Aug 2019
Lingzhi mushrooms contain rare active ingredients helping health and supporting the treatment of many diseases. There are many lingzhi species, but red lingzhi, or Xich chi, Hong Chi or Don Chi in Vietnam, is believed to have the best effects.Nguyen Hung Sinh’s lingzhi mushroom workshop in Thoai Giang commune of Thoai Son district in An Giang province produces 50 kilograms each month, which brings a stable income of VND10 million.Sinh began growing lingzhi mushroom 10 years ago. At that time, he grew mushroom in accordance with traditional methods. However, they were not strong or good, and the yield was modest.

Vietnam coffee market dull on thin supply; trade picks up in Indonesia Tuoi Tre News 23rd Aug 2019
Coffee trading in Vietnam continued on a sluggish note this week as stockpiles dwindled, while a busy Indonesian market saw more produce from its main harvest, traders said on Thursday. Farmers in the Central Highlands, Vietnam's largest coffee growing area, sold coffee at 35,000 dong ($1.51) per kg, unchanged from last week. "Very few exports deals were struck in the last couple of weeks due to low supply at the end of the 2018/19 crop season," a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said. "Trading activities will stay muted until the next harvest that will begin in October," he added.

Demand for organic fertilisers rising steadily Vietnam News Agency 20th Aug 2019
Many fertiliser companies are steadily increasing production of organic fertilisers since they expect demand to rise sharply over the coming years. The use of organic fertilisers is on the rise as farmers see improvements in the soil, crops and environment when they dispense with chemicals, they said. Phan Văn Tâm, marketing director of Bình Điền Fertilizer Joint Stock Company, told Người Lao Động (The Labourer) newspaper that his company has been supplying organic fertilisers to the market for three or four years, now produces nearly 20,000 tonnes a year and plans to increase production.

HCM City has many things to do to become seed production hub Vietnam Plus 19th Aug 2019
Ho Chi Minh City holds potential for crop seed export, but it still needs the State’s support to boost seed development and production which have yet to meet expectations so far. There are 38 businesses producing and trading crop seeds in HCM City at present, supplying more than 45,000 tonnes of seeds to the market between 2016 and 2018. They have studied and developed 136 new plant varieties, 55 of which have been produced, including 46 vegetable, eight flower and one rice variety, according to an official from the science and technology division of the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Cashew industry seeks ways to overcome difficulties Vietnam Plus 19th Aug 2019
he Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas) has recently held a conference to review the industry’s performance in the first seven months of 2019 and seek solutions to the problems facing it. Pham Van Cong, chairman of Vinacas, said the industry has been facing a lot of difficulties since last year. This year, it exported nearly 245,000 tonnes, an increase of 10.8 percent year-on-year, but with global prices down by an average of nearly 22 percent, revenues were down 14 percent at 1.8 billion USD, he said. Truong Sy Ba, CEO of Tan Long Group, a large agricultural enterprise, said domestic supply only meets 20 percent of the industry’s raw cashew demand and the rest has to be imported.

Đắk Lắk farmers hit by serious drought Vietnam News Agency 19th Aug 2019
Over recent months, more than 1,000ha of plants of crops have withered and died due to a serious drought in M’Drắk District, the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk. The Ea Pal reservoir, which has a capacity of more than 410,000cu.m and supplies the water for 80ha of rice fields in Krông Jing Commune and M’Drắk Town, is 90 per cent empty. Phạm Văn Hóa, a local resident, said he could not find any water despite living very close to the reservoir. The losses to his farms were estimated at more than VNĐ35 million (US$1,500). Besides agricultural damages, residents' daily lives are also heavily affected by the water scarcity.

Trà Vinh develops new strains of rice, other crops Vietnam News Agency 19th Aug 2019
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Trà Vinh has developed many new varieties of rice and other crops that are resilient to climate change. Phạm Minh Truyền, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the province has created many new plant varieties with high yields and quality. Besides, they grow well in alum- and saltwater-affected areas and in drought-prone areas, he said. The province has developed 30 new rice varieties with 10 per cent higher productivity than old varieties. It has developed dozens of models that use advanced farming techniques in growing crops, aquaculture and animal husbandry since 2016, according to the department.

Sugar firm to sell more than 61 million treasury shares Vietnam News Agency 15th Aug 2019
Thành Thành Công Biên Hòa Sugar JSC (SBT) has approved a plan to sell treasury shares. The company plans to sell all nearly 61.7 million treasury shares to increase the number of outstanding voting shares and restructure the company's capital. The selling price will be decided by the board of directors in compliance with regulations butnot lower than the market price or the book value at the time of offering.

Việt Nam must be more active in exporting fruit Vietnam News Agency 15th Aug 2019
Nguyễn Quý Dương, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Plant Protection Department, speaks with Hải quan (Customs) newspaper about China’s import policies and the need to improve the quality of Vietnamese fruits to meet stricter standards. China has been easing its import policies for a long time so that poor provinces like Yunnan and Guangxi can promote their economies via local import and export activities. This somehow is a good sign for Vietnamese products. Producers must change their methods to produce products that meet the market’s requirements. Apart from export market, the domestic market will benefit if producers manage to do so.

Oysters die en masse in Thai Binh Vietnam News Agency 15th Aug 2019
THÁI BÌNH Massive oyster deaths in Tiền Hải District, northern Thái Bình Province, in recent days have devastated local farmers. The deaths wiped out nearly 530ha of oysters, mainly in Đông Minh and Nam Thịnh communes, Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper reported. According to Trần Minh Tiến, deputy chairman of Tiền Hải District People’s Committee, there are 1,900ha of oysters raised across aqua farms at Tiền Hải District, of which 1,500ha are in the two communes, he said. The dead oysters, mostly baby oysters, have been spotted since August 7. Đinh Hữu Dinh, a farmer in Đông Minh Commune, said his family has 2ha of oyster and nearly 70 per cent of them had died already, losing nearly VNĐ1 billion (US$42,500).