Food & Agriculture Update: January 22, 2020

Food & Agriculture Update | January 22, 2020
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Jacob Corfman and J-Ren Ong
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • February 4 & 6-7, 2020: U.S. Embassies in Vientiane and Phnom Penh Trade Events in Laos (Feb 4th) and Cambodia (Feb 6-7th), view the attached information packet for more information, or contact David Sequeira at sequeiraDR@state.gov
  • February 25, 2020: Indonesia Segment of ASEAN Safe, Nutritious PPP Initiative Workshop, in partnership with EU-ASEAN Business Council, and CropLife Asia (Click here to register)
  • February 26-27, 2020: Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia
  • May 2020: Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam
  • July 2020: Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Philippines
  • 1st Half of 2020: Joint Antimicrobial Resistance Program in ASEAN (inaugural collaboration between Council’s Food & Agriculture and Health & Life Sciences committees)
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

African Swine Fever in ASEAN, Tracking the outbreak
African Swine Fever (ASF) is a viral disease that is harmless to humans but causes haemorrhaging fever in infected pigs and has a near 100 per cent fatality rate. The current outbreak of ASF that has swept across Asia was first reported in Shenyang China in August 2018. ASF has devastated China’s pork industry with a herd loss of 55% but has also caused significant losses in ASEAN. Vietnam reported its first ASF outbreak on February 19 2019, Cambodia and Lao PDR subsequently reported cases of outbreaks on April 2 and June 20, 2019, respectively. The Philippines and Myanmar also confirmed its first cases of ASF on July 25 and August 1, with Indonesia reporting its first case of ASF on September 4, 2019. 
 
Vietnam and the Philippines have been the most affected by the ASF virus thus far. In Vietnam, ASF led to the deaths and culling of 5.9 million pigs, or 22% of the swine population spreading to all 63 of the country’s provinces/cities. Due to mitigating actions, as of January 1 2020, there have been no new reported cases of ASF for the last 30 days in the provinces of Hai Duong, Hung Yen and Thai Binh. In the Philippines, ASF outbreaks occurred in a total of 9 provinces and led to the loss of 136,770 pigs. The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DOA) has observed a decline in the number of reported cases overall but is wary of declaring an end to the outbreak due to reported cases in Bulacan and Pampanga. ASF has even spread to Indonesia where it has affected 16 regencies in North Sumatra Province where approximately 42,000 pigs have died since the first reported outbreak in September.
 
The rampant outbreak of ASF has caused pork prices to soar. In Vietnam, the price for live pigs has nearly trebled from VND35,000 (US$1.51) per kilo at the start of 2019 to VND100,000 (US$4.30) per kilo in December 2019. Furthermore, Fitch forecasts the YoY pork production in China, Vietnam and the Philippines to decline by 5% YoY, 3.7% YoY, and 1.5% YoY, this downward trend is expected to follow in 2020. Pork imports into ASEAN have also increased drastically. Vietnam has more than doubled its pork imports to 110,00 metric tonnes for the first 11 months of 2020. The Philippines is also planning to import 350,000 metric tonnes of pork for 2020. With the EU being the world’s second largest pork producer and top exporter, the EU’s FTA’s with Singapore and Vietnam could increase pork exports to the ASEAN region in 2020.
 
Vietnam sets 2020 goals for the agricultural sector
2019 has been a turbulent year for Vietnam’s agriculture sector. African Swine Fever (ASF) shook the livestock industry, leading to the culling of 5.9 million pigs. Hanoi alone lost 30 per cent of its herd, accounting for a loss of VND 1 trillion (US$43.1 million). Furthermore, agricultural restructuring outpaced the building of new rural areas leading to significant developmental gaps between localities. There has also been limited progress made on resolving issues such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing; mitigating the risk of diseases affecting livestock & crops and unsatisfactory food hygiene standards. The prices of Vietnamese agricultural and aqua-cultural commodities have also been reduced by 10 and 15 per cent respectively. 
 
Despite these circumstances, Vietnam recorded a turnover of US$41.3 billion for agricultural and aqua-cultural exports, an increase of 3.5 per cent compared to 2018. The agriculture sector generated a trade surplus of US$9.9 billion, increasing by 14 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018. The industry has also expanded rapidly. Two thousand seven hundred new agricultural enterprises were established in 2019, bringing the number of agri-businesses to 12,581 ‒ An increase of 25.3 per cent compared to 2018. 
 
Following the Council’s dialogue with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) at the 2019 ASEAN Agriculture and Forestry Ministerial meetings in Brunei and based on recent reports, in 2020 MARD plans to focus on developing deeper coordination between raw material producers, food processing factories and logistics systems to enable deeper sector integration with the global value chain and export markets. MARD will also support initiatives to build capacity of producers in AMS to better meet international MRL standards to leverage FTA’s like CPTPP and the EU-Vietnam FTA for agricultural exports. MARD also plans to pursue legislative reforms in Vietnam that cut bureaucratic red tape and offer legal frameworks and assistance policies to promote land accumulation for industrial agri-production. To achieve this MARD will submit the amended land law for National Assembly approval in 2020. The Ministry also aims to step-up new rural area building by establishing 2,000 new agricultural cooperatives by the end of the year. 2020 is a significant year for the ministry, marking the end of their 2016-2020 5-year plan, which expects to increase the agriculture sectors contribution to GDP growth from 2.8 per cent to 3 per cent and achieve an export turnover of above US$42 billion.
 
Philippine Government to tighten rice import restrictions
Throughout 2019, the Philippines had a tumultuous experience with rice pricing. In February 2019, President Duterte passed Republic Act No. 11203, or the Rice Traffication Law which removed import caps on rice to reduce shortages and address severe price hikes. The Philippines has overtaken China as the world’s largest importer of rice. By the end of 2019, the Philippines imported 2.9 million Metric Tons (MT) of rice topping China’s imports of 2.5 million MT. The glut of imported rice has caused prices to plummet, making sales tough for domestic producers. By the third week of October 2019, the average farm-gate prices of palay rice had dropped to P15.49/kg, marking a decrease of 26.1 per cent from P20.96/kg in the same week of 2018.
 
On November 21, 2019, the Duterte Administration decided against suspending all imports of rice and instead chose to tighten import restrictions. Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Senator Cynthia Villar stated that the aim of restrictions was to help stabilize local prices and protect farmers from cheap imports. The Senator also shared that rice imports would be limited to 1.5 million MT, enough to supplement annual rice consumption in the Philippines. The Department of Agriculture (DOA) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) will impose restrictions by tightening their phytosanitary standards, and limiting the number of rice importers. The stricter phytosanitary standards will not violate the Rice Tariffication Law which the country enacted in compliance with the World Trade Organization commitments.
 
Stricter food safety regulations have helped decrease the volume of rice imports. The DOA reported that tighter food safety restrictions had limited rice imports to 85,000 MT in October 2019, from 254,000 MT in the first nine months of 2019. The President has also ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to double the national emergency rice buffer to stock 30 days of supply, allowing local producers another outlet to profit from their produce.
 
Thailand to boost competitiveness of their agricultural goods
On January 1, 2020, Thailand's Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Chalermchai Sri-on, announced that the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives had set measures to boost the competitiveness of agricultural products and foods by 10 per cent to cope with the prolonged appreciation of the baht. To achieve this goal, Minister Chalermchai outlined five measures: The development of logistics across the agri-value chain, product development to increase product value, developing agricultural machinery, the promotion of smart agriculture and enhancing online trading management to increase market channels. The Minister also highlighted the importance of agricultural technology promotion and agricultural logistics committees in conjunction with increased cooperation from government agencies, academics, private industry and farmers as being crucial in driving the competitiveness of Thailand’s food and agriculture sector.
 
Thailand is also moving to modernize its agricultural  sector by investing in IT services and innovation. At the centre of this push is the National Agriculture Big Data Centre, which will function as a central information database that can be accessed by farmers and the private sector through the "Digital Farmer" phone application and computer program. Twenty-two departments under the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry will also provide online services from January 1, 2020. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives also plans to establish Agritech and Innovation Centres in 77 provinces by the end of 2020. The comprehensive upgrading of platforms that will integrate farmer and private sector interaction will add a buffer stabilizing the agriculture sector, putting Thailand's economy in a better position to deal with currency appreciation and the fluctuation of the global economy.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Recommendations to Vietnam's Drafting Committee of Decree Providing Guidelines to Implement Animal Husbandry Law
On November 19, 2018, Vietnam's National Assembly, together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development passed the Law on Animal Husbandry. MARD is seeking public feedback on a draft circular overseeing the management of veterinary drugs containing medically important antibiotics.

The Council has submitted a letter providing recommendations to MARD on December 18, 2019. The letter seeks clarification from MARD on the following issues:

  • Can feedmills designate a licensed veterinarian to prescribe and distribute medicated feed to distributors and farms directly and if so, how will this process be implemented?
  • How will smaller farmers have access to veterinary drugs that require a prescription for both treatment and prevention?

​For more information please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org), or Thao Nguyen (tnguyen@usasean.org).

Food & Agriculture Committee 2020 Workplan Discussion Call
On January 7, Council's Food & Agriculture Committee held their first 2020 Committee Workplan Discussion Call. The meeting reviewed the committee’s leadership structure and subgroups, critical regional and country level advocacy issues and outlined key programs for 2020. The following is a summary of essential action items that were agreed upon during the call:

  • Members to provide additional background information on the Crispr system
  • Council to organize planning calls for the Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Indonesia held on February 25-27, 2020. Mission delegates are expected to participate in two Pre-Mission Planning Calls. Call-in details will be provided after the registration deadline of January 31, 2020. Pre-Mission Planning Call 1: Thursday, February 6 (9.30am - 10.30am Singapore time); Pre-Mission Planning Call 2: Tuesday, February 18 (9.30am - 10.30am Singapore time)
  • Committee members to let Council know if interested to join a Petcare subgroup
  • Scoular to join the Agricultural Trading subgroup
The call notes are appended along with the updated Workplan in this update. For any inquiries or inputs, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org), Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org) and Thao Nguyen (tnguyen@usasean.org).
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

ASEAN
+ Malaysia bans pork products from Indonesia following African swine fever outbreak
+ Growing pains: Southeast Asian farmers need cheaper agritech

Brunei
+ MoU signed to enhance premium muskmelon research in Brunei
+ Brunei seeks export requirements on agriculture, livestock and aquaculture for China market
+ Singapore fund inks deal to farm salmon in Brunei

Cambodia
+ Cambodia's cashew nut exports nearly double in 2019
+ Rice sector eyes rebound after small exports drop
+ Boosting domestic vegetable production to curb imports
+ Foreign food processors attracted by Kingdom’s diverse agriculture
+ Ambitious agricultural development strategic plan launched
+ Agriculture Ministry Rejects Criticism Over Low Rice Prices
+ NBC calls for financial products to develop agricultural sector
+ Education Ministry launches food safety drive in schools

Indonesia
+ Philippines signs agreement with Indonesia to train coffee farmers
+ Coffee, cocoa and rubber farmers begin to use 'good agricultural practices' with NGOs' help
+ Indonesia launches B30 biodiesel to cut costs, boost palm oil
+ Fears rise as deadly pig virus spreads across Asia
+ Use of IoT tech to attract millennial generation to agriculture as farmers age
+ Indonesia's food security good, but climate change lurks as threat: Report
+ Plan to lift baby lobster export ban draws fire in Indonesia
+ Indonesia to revive idle shrimp farms to boost fisheries and save mangroves

Laos
+ Lao-Chinese partnership to develop industry and agriculture in Savannakhet
+ Rice farming improvements sow seeds of success in Laos

Malaysia
+ US food authority stops shrimps from some Malaysian exporters due to use of antibiotics
+ Malaysian official says local shrimps are safe for consumption, in reaction to news report
+ Agriculture Ministry to fast-track aid to drought-hit paddy farmers in Perlis, Kedah
+ Sarawak minister says looking to get youths into farming
+ NAFP to make agro-food sector more market-oriented
+ Palm oil falls 2% on lower-than-expected exports amid India-Malaysia tensions
+ Govt's Food Bank operationalises in early Feb
+ 'Transformation set to bear fruit'

Myanmar
+ Local farmers relying more on machinery due to labour constraints
+ Maize could be next big agriculture export for Myanmar
+ ILO to lead research on market sustainability in agriculture
+ Immediate termination of fish-cum-poultry farming impacts dependents and food self-sufficiency
+ Increasing food import could affect food and nutritional security
+ Number of cotton farmers declines in Sagaing
+ Water a worry for Myanmar’s farmers
+ Myanmar commodity prices tick up on higher demand
+ Growth potential in agriculture restricted by quality, other issues

Philippines
+ DTI, SRA in talks over possible sugar imports
+ Decline in rice prices continues
+ DA sees decline in ASF cases in Philippines
+ Planters on SRA board seek ‘clarification’ on sugar import plan
+ DA: Rice farmers to reap bounty of govt interventions starting 2020
+ Coco product maker Axelum expects P5.5-billion revenue
+ DTI seeks sugar imports for food industry to stay competitive
+ Farmers ask DTI to help boost their attractiveness to banks

Singapore
+ More in Singapore taking steps to cut food wastage
+ How 16 initiatives are changing urban agriculture through tech and innovation
+ Crickets, algae, soya discard — 3 foods of the future, made in Singapore
+ FHA-Food & Beverage spotlights tech innovation and industry transformation in new FoodTech Zone
+ Impossible Foods debuts its first plant-based pork products, helped by Singapore chefs

Thailand
+ Thousands of Thai fishermen protest against tough industry regulations
+ Thai water officials warn local authorities to get ready for shortages
+ Five Agencies to Study Cannabis Farming in Northern Thailand
+ New water storage project to tackle drought
+ Green algae, blue water add to fears over Mekong health
+ 57,000 push for ban on chemicals
+ Govt eases fishing regulations after protests
+ 13 provinces seeking aid as drought bites
+ Ministry outlines measures to boost competitiveness of agriculutural goods
+ Uttama, BAAC chief discuss promotion of grass-roots economy

Vietnam
+ Việt Nam's agriculture sector sets goals for 2020
+ Vietnam ranks fourth in Southeast Asia in food security
+ VN’s national forest stewardship standard effective from May
+ VN cracks down on use of banned substance in fish food
+ Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and Tea Leaf losing to Vietnamese chains
+ Japan supports Vietnam’s food value chain development
+ Farmers earn high incomes from VietGAP pineapples
+ Việt Nam ranks 9th among countries importing US fresh fruits
+ Việt Nam aims to ensure water security by 2030
+ Gov’t chief calls for sterner stance on food safety violations
+ 182 rice traders certified as eligible for rice exports
+ Industry calls for national technical regulation for raw cashew
+ Fisheries sector to focus on standardising production next year for higher value
+ Nearly 6,000 agricultural products granted traceability codes
+ The Ministry of Finance proposes reducing import tax on some foods

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Malaysia bans pork products from Indonesia following African swine fever outbreak Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
Malaysian government has banned pork-related products from Indonesia following the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak. The government has banned pork-related products from Indonesia starting 13 December following the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak. Tourists are also banned from bringing in pork-related products into Malaysia, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin. The Agriculture Ministry of Indonesia has confirmed ASF outbreak in Northern Sumatera, making Indonesia the 11th country affected by the outbreak in Asia. Other countries are: China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, North Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Timor-Leste.

Growing pains: Southeast Asian farmers need cheaper agritech Aljazeera 30th Dec 2019
Across Southeast Asia, farmers are waiting for agriculture technology - or agritech - to become more affordable. They also need help raising funds to buy such solutions. And startups are listening. A small but growing number of Asian tech firms - specialising in both hardware and financial technology - are now rolling out innovative products tailored to the specific needs of farmers in the region. Disruptive solutions - such as smart sensors that collect data on soil and crop growth, or drones that provide imagery of field conditions - are believed to increase farm productivity. But they all carry hefty price tags, with some drones costing more than $1,000 each. That price is unrealistic for many average-sized farms in the region, which are not as big as their Western counterparts and have significantly smaller budgets. Experts, however, say there is an urgent need for the region to adopt agritech. Asia is urbanising faster than any other region and, by 2030, it will house 65 percent of the world's middle-class population, according to a report by PwC, Rabobank and Singaporean state investment firm Temasek released in November. But the agriculture industry may be unable to keep up, it warned. Climate change and environmental degradation will exacerbate current food production challenges by reducing available arable land, crop yields and farm output, the report said. New technologies must be deployed "to increase yields, reduce the environmental impact of farming, improve the safety, traceability and nutritional value of food, reduce waste, shorten the supply chain and bring food to consumers in their increasingly urban settings", it recommended.

Brunei

MoU signed to enhance premium muskmelon research in Brunei The Star Online 14th Jan 2020
Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) and Gropoint Sdn Bhd inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at UTB to enhance the research and development of premium muskmelon in Brunei. Under the MoU, UTB and Gropoint, a producer and exporter of specialty muskmelon, will organise training programmes for the university students and staff. Two UTB postgraduate students under the Food Science and Technology programme of the School of Applied Sciences and Mathematics (SASM) have initiated research activities in collaboration with Gropoint and the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA) of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism. They are studying and gathering data on morphological and physiological characteristics of locally grown Japanese muskmelon and conducting scientific research on packaging technology for exports of these premium fruits. Future collaborative plans between the two partners will also include Research and Development (R&D) in the areas of marketing, post-harvest studies, disease and pest management, and food product development. These efforts are part of the Centre for Research on Agri-Food Science and Technology’s (CrAFT) strategic plans to translate research outcomes into products and process in on-going efforts to link academia with the industries.

Brunei seeks export requirements on agriculture, livestock and aquaculture for China market Biz Brunei 26th Dec 2019
Brunei’s Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) is looking to China as a major market for the country’s agriculture, livestock and aquaculture produce after meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing last week on export requirements. The delegation heads MPRT Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong and Deputy Minister of China’s General Administration of Customs Dr Zhang Jiwen also signed a protocol agreement at Xinhui Jinjiang Hotel outlining phytosanitary requirements for Brunei’s melons to be exported to China. MPRT added in a press statement that accessing Chinese markets would directly raise sector exports and contribute to GDP; aquaculture exports would increase from 16,000 metric tonnes (tonnes) to 20,000 tonnes annually, melon output would grow from 600 tonnes to 1,300 tonnes annually and meat-based products from PDS would increase substantially beyond the 1,300 tonnes currently exported annually.

Singapore fund inks deal to farm salmon in Brunei Seafood Source 18th Dec 2019
The Strategic Development Capital Fund under Brunei’s Ministry of Finance and Economy has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singapore-based private equity fund management 8F Asset Management Pte Ltd to build a 10,000 metric tons (MT) salmon farm in Brunei. Under the MoU, the two sides intend to invest in a state-of-the-art-land-based farming facility for Atlantic salmon, using recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), in Brunei, The Star reported earlier this week.

Cambodia

Cambodia's cashew nut exports nearly double in 2019 The Star Online 14th Jan 2020
Cambodia exported some 202,318 tonnes of cashew nuts last year to foreign markets, up nearly 100 per cent from 2018’s 101,973 tonnes, a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report said. Khan Samban, director of the ministry’s Department of Agro-Industry, told The Post that the strong growth in exports is due to the ministry’s simplification of export procedure and the commodity’s improved standards. Khan said he expects cashew nut prices to fall to around 5,000 or 6,000 riel (US$1.23 or $1.48) per kilogramme in the early harvest season this year and predicts cashew nut yield to increase this year due to an increase in cultivation. The report said Cambodia’s main cashew nut export destinations are Vietnam, Russia, South Korea, China, Peru, Myanmar, India, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. The area allotted to cashew nut cultivation totals 149,660ha, spanning 22 provinces. Almost 60 per cent is harvested land, which yielded 116,343 tonnes in 2018, data from the ministry shows. In 2018, the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietnamese Cashew Association (Vinacas) to increase Cambodia’s cashew nut exports to one million tonnes by 2028.

First Cambodian mango exports to South Korea officially launch Khmer Times 10th Jan 2020
Hyundai Agro, a South Korean based company, announced on Wednesday that it will begin the official export for the first consignment of Cambodian fresh mangoes to its home country market next week. Chang-Hoon Lee, managing director of Hyundai Agro, told Khmer Times that his company will send both yellow and green mangos weighing between 5 to 20 tonnes every day to the market from 15 January onwards.He said now many Korean supermarkets are waiting for the Cambodian fruit. To reach the market, according to Mr Chang, the company will send the fruit via air and ship.It is my big concern that Cambodia logistic fees are very high when comparing to others.The company’s signed contracts with 23 farmers in Kampong Speu and Kapot, and through the scheme allows to first collect 3,800 tonnes of fresh mangoes from them. Hyundai Agro’s three-hectare fruit processing facility opened in December last year. The Korean firm teamed up with local mango producer Mao Legacy to plant mangoes on 2,400 hectares in Kampong Speu province. Mr Chan said that the company is now looking to grow dragon fruits and add a vegetable business in addition to exporting mangoes to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea.

Rice sector eyes rebound after small exports drop Phnom Penh Post 5th Jan 2020
Rice exports reached 620,106 tonnes last year, a drop of almost one per cent from the 626,225 tonnes the previous year, the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) said. The total value of exports dropped more than four per cent last year from 2018, CRF added. Coupled with the 1.43 per cent decline between 2018 and 2017, the modest drop marks the second consecutive year that exports have fallen. According to a CRF report obtained by The Post on Wednesday, the total value of the Kingdom’s rice exports were valued at some $501 million in 2019, down 4.3 per cent from $524 million in 2018. A breakdown of the data showed that the 202,990 tonnes to the Chinese market accounted for 40.73 per cent of rice exports, followed by 13.41 per cent, or 83,164 tonnes, to the ASEAN region and 13.84 per cent, equal to 85,847 tonnes, to other markets. According to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data, Cambodia also exported 2.15 million tonnes of rice to Vietnam last year. Meanwhile, rice exports to European markets declined steadily after the EU imposed tariffs on rice imports from Cambodia last January. Myanmar was also hit with the tariffs.

Optimising growth in the rice sector Khmer Times 2nd Jan 2020
Cambodia’s rice sector is faced with the challenge of strengthening the quality of its fragrant rice, said Song Saran, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the recently appointed head of the milled rice export promotion body. His stated task is to sell 1 million tonnes per annum by the next three years. Saran is looking at markets in Asia – especially China – Africa and Australia as regions for growth but first must strengthen the quality and variety of rice crops and ensure there is a sufficient budget to  harvest it. Cambodia experienced a decline in milled rice exports to the EU this year because of tariff duties imposed by the European Union on Cambodia’s white Indica rice. However, the loss from the EU bloc, the biggest market for the country’s milled rice, has been replaced with increasing export to China and other new markets. Figures from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export, showed that Cambodia exported a total of 514,149 tonnes of rice to 59 countries and regions during the first 11 months of this year, up 3.4 percent over the same period last year. Cambodia shipped 174,397 tonnes of rice to the European market during the period, down 26 percent, the report read. On the other hand, Cambodia exported 205,358 tonnes of milled rice to China during the first 11 months of 2019, up 34 percent over the same period last year, according to the report. China was still the top buyer of Cambodian rice during the January-November period this year, with exports accounting for 40 percent of the Kingdom’s total.

Boosting domestic vegetable production to curb imports Khmer Times 2nd Jan 2020
The Ministry of Agriculture is taking action to grow more food domestically to cut down on imports. The country planted a variety of vegetables covering a total 58,000 hectares of land nationwide by the end of 2019 that produced 68 per cent of local market demand, according to Ministry of Agriculture’s spokesperson Srey Vuthy. By 2023, he wants this to increase to 63,000 hectares and 76 percent respectively, he said. The move would help Cambodia’s balance of payments, which currently sees more imports than exports. Non-domestic vegetable production mostly comes from Vietnam and Thailand. According to a report from the General Directorate of Agriculture, about 85 tonnes of vegetables are imported from Vietnam and 44 tonnes from Thailand per day. This figure covers Phnom Penh and eight other provinces only.

Foreign food processors attracted by Kingdom’s diverse agriculture Khmer Times 1st Jan 2020
Cambodia exported around 7 million tonnes of agricultural products in 2019, according to the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said the figure was made up of 4.784 million tonnes of formal exports and more than 2 million tonnes of informal exports. The latter avoid tariffs. Veng said Cambodia exported 620,106 tonnes of milled rice, of which 248,105 (40.7 percent) went to China, 202, 990 tonnes (32 percent) to the EU, 83,164 tonnes (13.41 percent) to ASEAN members and 85,847 tonnes to other market destinations. Veng added that Cambodia also exported about 1.608 million tonnes of fresh cassava, 1.626 million tonnes of cassava starch, and 56,874 tonnes of cassava powder. In addition to that, 202,318 tonnes of cashew nuts, nearly 120,000 tonnes of corn, 57,250 tonnes of soybeans, nearly 157,812 tonnes of bananas, nearly 60 tonnes of mangoes, more than 3,693 tonnes of pepper and other crops amounting to 273,866 tonnes were exported by the Kingdom in 2019. According to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), Cambodia’s milled rice export accounts for about 1.2 percent of the international market. CRF’s president Song Saran said that Cambodia’s markets are mostly Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia.

Ambitious agricultural development strategic plan launched Khmer Times 25th Dec 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries yesterday launched an ambitious five-year strategic plan to develop farming and push the agriculture sector to modernize, become more competitive and resilient to climate change and, in particular, to move on from labor-intensive traditional practices. The plan for 2019 and 2023 reflects government policy on developing agriculture alongside the ongoing development of society and the economy in Cambodia. Veng Sakhon, minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said at the launch ceremony that the strategy provides an important road-map to enhance farming and its products and the way they are delivered to consumers. The strategic plan, urges the creation of agricultural cooperatives and wants farmers to cooperate with the private sector under an agricultural public-private partnership involving contract farming to ensure sufficient supplies, available markets and stable prices.

Agriculture Ministry Rejects Criticism Over Low Rice Prices VOA 20th Dec 2019
The Cambodian Agriculture Ministry rejected criticism circulating on social media about farmers getting low prices for their rice in the paddy-producing provinces of Battambang, Pursat and Banteay Meanchey. The ministry released a statement on Tuesday (Dec 17, 2019) claiming that farmers receiving low rice prices were selling poor quality rice and that prices were still within an acceptable range. Ministry officials were also working with rice mills to procure as much rice as possible from farmers. The claims of low prices, the ministry said, were “far from the truth” and that the ministry was ensuring that farmers’ paddy was purchased and at fair prices. “Actually, the ministry has been taking continuous action [on the issue], but some Facebook users published the old information, which is why the ministry had to issue a statement to inform the public,” said Chan Heng, the ministry’s deputy cabinet director. Following the wet season, farmers have complained about low rice prices and have even been asked to not plant a dry season crop on account of very low water levels across the country. Earlier this month, the Cambodia Rice Federation said it needed $200 million in working capital to buy rice from the farmers on account of shrinking loans available in the financial sector, with government allocating only $50 million of the required capital.

Cambodia invites Vietnam to invest in rice processing NST Online 21st Jan 2020
Prime Minister Hun Sen has invited Vietnamese businessmen to invest in the country’s rice processing sector. He said annual rice exports to Vietnam were between one and two million tonnes, and their investment could benefit the people of both nations. “I am optimistic that Vietnamese and foreign investors will choose Cambodia as an investment destination,” he said at an annual dinner with the Vietnamese business community in Cambodia.

NBC calls for financial products to develop agricultural sector Phnom Penh Post 13th Jan 2020
The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has encouraged financial institutions to add new products and services to contribute to the development of the agricultural sector. Its deputy governor Neav Chanthana who said this was speaking at the 6th NBC Annual Macroeconomic Conference on the theme Agriculture Sector in a Rapid Structural Transformation and Uncertain Global Trade Environment which was held on Monday at its headquarters in the capital.

Education Ministry launches food safety drive in schools Khmer Times 5th Jan 2020
The Education Ministry has launched a nationwide campaign aimed at promoting food safety in schools and ensuring that a ban on the sale of harmful foodstuff is strictly followed. Education Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha, yesterday said that the campaign will be carried out in target schools in the capital and some provinces to ensure that the food doesn’t contain chemicals and is hygienically prepared. “The main purpose of this campaign is to widely disseminate information to all key stakeholders, such as the school management committee, the school’s principal and food vendors in the schools, to strictly monitor the foodstuff being sold,” he said.

Minister calls for faster community registration Khmer Times 17th Dec 2019
Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon calls for faster land registration and issuance of land titles. Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon calls for faster land registration and issuance of land titles. Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon yesterday called for faster registration of forestry communities and the issuance of land titles to better manage and protect forests. He made the call during a visit to the forestry community in Kampong Speu province where he met relevant officials, provincial authorities and villagers. Mr Sakhon noted that sustainable forest management and development are a priority to support rural livelihoods, reduce poverty and maintain biodiversity, especially when dealing with climate change.

Indonesia

Philippines signs agreement with Indonesia to train coffee farmers Business World 6th Jan 2020
The Philippines and Indonesia have signed a partnership to upgrade the skills of Filipino coffee farmers in order to boost their productivity, industry officials said. The Coffee Farmers’ Training Grant is a joint project of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the PCBI, PT Mayora Indah Tbk, and the Embassy of Indonesia in the Philippines. Under the partnership, training will be conducted in both countries for Filipino coffee farmers from Benguet, Quezon, Bukidnon, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, as well as the regions of Ilocos, Negros, and Davao. Ten coffee farmers were selected for the training grant, owning at least a hectare and producing at least one metric ton (MT) of coffee annually.

Coffee, cocoa and rubber farmers begin to use 'good agricultural practices' with NGOs' help The Jakarta Post 30th Dec 2019
This year, good agricultural practices (GAP) have become more accessible as a number of NGOs have created training, research, financing and even off-taking initiatives for cacao, coffee and rubber farmers. Indonesia is the second-largest producer and exporter of rubber and the fourth-largest producer of coffee and cocoa globally. The three commodities combined comprised about US$1.88 billion of the country’s total exports.The commodities are mostly produced by smallholder famers. According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), these farmers make up 84.4 percent, 95.9 percent and 97.6 percent of rubber, coffee and cocoa producers, respectively. Due to the prevalence of smallholders, implementing GAP on a local level is crucial to improving commodities productivity. Coffee farmers, for example, have received agroforestry training to develop better farming techniques and apply more sustainable business practices. Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia (SCAI) advisory board chairwoman Delima Darmawan said that the productivity of Indonesia’s coffee plantations was lower than other major producers such as Brazil and Vietnam because the coffee plantations in the country continued to use traditional farming methods.

Indonesia launches B30 biodiesel to cut costs, boost palm oil Reuters 23rd Dec 2019
Indonesia on Monday launched biodiesel containing 30% palm-based fuel, the highest mandatory mix in the world, in a bid to slash its fuel import bill and boost domestic palm oil consumption. President Joko Widodo said so-called “B30” biodiesel would allow Indonesia to cut its fossil fuel imports by 63 trillion rupiah ($4.5 billion) a year, up from 43.8 trillion rupiah saved in 2019 from existing B20 fuels. Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer and exporter, has been gradually increasing the bio content of its biodiesel, aiming to absorb growing supplies of palm oil while also trimming costly fuel imports. Since late 2018, bodiesel sold across Indonesia has had a mandatory 20% bio mix, using fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) made from palm oil. The program has already driven up price expectations for the edible oil as it would bolster demand at a time when output is forecast to slow, due to drought and haze from forest fires. The government has allocated 9.59 million kilolitres (KL) of FAME for the B30 mandate in 2020, up from 6.63 million KL this year. Widodo said the program would also help Indonesia preserve a market for a vital commodity instead of depending on exports. The European Union concluded in March that palm oil causes excessive deforestation and plans to effectively phase it out as a fuel for transport. Indonesia has filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization.

Southeast Asia’s palm oil industry touts sustainability narrative, but activists cast doubts CNA 22nd Dec 2019
Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer, with an output of 43 million tonnes in 2018. Palm oil is the country’s top commodity with a total export value of US$21.4 billion. The industry contributes to 3.5 per cent of GDP and employs around 17 million people. Demand has slowed since the EU said it plans to stop using palm oil in transport fuel by 2030, arguing that the cultivation of palm oil causes deforestation and yearly fires.This is a blow for Indonesia, as the EU consumes about 7.5 million tonnes of palm oil a year. It is Indonesia’s second-largest palm oil market after India. From next month, Indonesia will use more palm oil in its biodiesel, upping the current 20 per cent bio-content to 30 per cent. Since 2011, the Indonesian government has made it mandatory for companies to attain the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification to show they are practising sustainable agriculture. The ISPO consists of seven principles, 52 criteria and 141 indicators. These include conformity to laws, plantation management, protection of primary natural forest and peatlands, as well as environmental monitoring, among others. The certification, however, is voluntary for smallholders. This means not every plantation is harvested according to the ISPO principles.

Fears rise as deadly pig virus spreads across Asia BBC News 20th Dec 2019
Indonesia has become the latest Asian country to face an outbreak of African swine fever, a deadly pig virus devastating farmers across the region. On Wednesday, the country's agriculture ministry said nearly 30,000 pigs have died from the disease in North Sumatra. The virus is expected to wipe out more than half of China's pig herd this year. Australia has grown increasingly concerned, stepping up biosecurity measures to keep swine fever out. Although it's harmless to humans, the disease can kill pigs within a few days, and the fatality rate can be up to 100%, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The virus is particularly robust, and is able to survive for seven days without a host, and for months in frozen pork products. The biggest impact so far has been in China, but the spread of the virus across South East Asia has been worrying too. Vietnam and the Philippines have seen some of the worst outbreaks in the region.

Use of IoT tech to attract millennial generation to agriculture as farmers age The Jakarta Post 17th Dec 2019
Indonesia’s agricultural sector is facing a decline in its workforce as many young people in rural areas prefer moving to cities to earn a living. According to experts, the modernization of the country’s agriculture should be promoted so more educated young people are willing to return to their villages to farm. The use of modern technology, such as the internet of things (IoT), can hopefully increase the interest of millennials, people born between 1981 and 1996, in agriculture as the farmer demographic in Indonesia has started to age. Agricultural technology startup Habibi Garden's chief executive officer, Irsan Rajamin, said that the utilization of IoT technology could be a magnet for millennials and youth and bring them into the agricultural industry. Agricultural technology startup Habibi Garden's chief executive officer, Irsan Rajamin, said that the utilization of IoT technology could be a magnet for millennials and youth and bring them into the agricultural industry. Habibi Garden uses modern technology such as IoT and a digital application to help farmers. By connecting sensors and irrigation systems in the farms to the internet and providing data based on machine learning, Habibi Garden can help farmers monitor and maintain their farms and crops remotely. However, introducing modern agricultural technologies to existing farmers was a challenge for agriculture modernization. Even when the technology is already advanced, farmers cannot tap into its potential if they didn’t have the necessary abilities.

Indonesia's food security good, but climate change lurks as threat: Report The Jakarta Post 14th Jan 2020
Indonesia's food security performance is good, despite vulnerabilities to natural-resource shortages and climate change, according to the 2019 Global Food Security Index. The index, published by The Economist Intelligence Unit and supported by Corteva AgriScience, measures a country's food security performance based on food affordability, availability and quality and safety. Further, the index also shows how well a country adapts to natural-resource and climate-related risks. Indonesia ranks 62 out of 113 countries in the index, scoring 63 out of 100, which qualifies its food security as "good". The country's score improved 0.6 from last year, which is equal to the global average improvement, but still slightly below the average in Asia Pacific at 0.8.

Indonesia Steps Up Sea Patrols to Monitor China Fishing Boats Bloomberg 4th Jan 2020
Indonesia’s military has stepped up naval and aerial patrols of the Natuna Sea area because of a rising number of Chinese fishing vessels in the region. The Southeast Asian nation has deployed three ships and two aircraft in the gas-rich North Natuna Sea, and two additional vessels are on the way to join the group, Yudo Margono, commander of the Joint Regional Defense Command, said in statement.

Plan to lift baby lobster export ban draws fire in Indonesia Mongabay Environmental News 20th Dec 2019
Environmentalists in Indonesia have lambasted the government’s plan to reopen exports of lobster larvae, saying the move will threaten the sustainability of these creatures that play a key role in a healthy marine ecosystem. Indonesian fisheries minister Edhy Prabowo said on Dec. 16 that he might allow selling baby lobsters abroad in an effort to boost the Southeast Asian country’s economy. Edhy’s predecessor, Susi Pudjiastuti, banned exports in 2016 in an effort to protect the animal.

Indonesia to revive idle shrimp farms to boost fisheries and save mangroves Mongabay Environmental News 13th Dec 2019
Indonesia plans to restore more than 300,000 hectares (741,300 acres) of idle shrimp-farming ponds to boost its fisheries and reduce deforestation of the country’s mangrove ecosystems, according to a top official. More than double that area, much of it in coastal regions rich in mangroves, have been cleared for shrimp farms, but only about 40% of the farms are in production, according to 2018 government data. “We must revitalize this area that’s abandoned or poorly managed … over the next five years,” Alan Koropitan, a deputy in the office of the president’s chief of staff, told Mongabay on the sidelines of an event in Kuta, Bali, on Dec. 11.

Laos

Lao-Chinese partnership to develop industry and agriculture in Savannakhet Vientiane Times 13th Jan 2020
Lao authorities and a Chinese company will survey and design an industry and agriculture development project in Xepon district, Savannakhet province. Sun Paper Holding Lao Co., Ltd. will provide a grant of more than 177 billion kip (US$20 million) to carry out the project on 800 hectares of land. Director of the Planning and Investment Department in Savannakhet province, Mr Valiya Sichanthongthip, and Director of Sun Paper Holding Lao Co., Ltd., Mr Chen Wen Jun, recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the project. Savannakhet provincial Governor, Mr Santiphab Phomvihane, attended the signing ceremony.

Rice farming improvements sow seeds of success in Laos Phnom Penh Post 19th Dec 2019
Farmers in Laos’ two northern provinces of Xieng Khuang and Huaphan have witnessed increased yields and quality from seven seed varieties of local khao kainoi rice. The Agro-Biodiversity Initiative (Tabi) is continuing its programme to assist farmers in the provinces of Xieng Khuang and Huaphan to improve the quality of khao kainoi seeds, thereby ensuring food security in the communities and better returns for farmers.

Malaysia

US food authority stops shrimps from some Malaysian exporters due to use of antibiotics Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) last year put many Malaysian shrimp exporters on a 'red list' after samples of 18 shipments from 11 Malaysian exporters were detected to contain chloramphenicol. Between 2009 and 2018, the USFDA also put 28 Malaysian shrimp exporters on its red list because 56 shipment samples contained nitrofurans.

Malaysian official says local shrimps are safe for consumption, in reaction to news report The Straits Times 5th Jan 2020
Prawns sold in Malaysia are safe for consumption, the deputy agriculture minister said, in response to a report in The Star newspaper about the use of antibiotics in some shrimp farms in the country. Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin said the Fisheries Department has a stringent monitoring system for all shrimp farms across the country. Mr Sim, who visited a shrimp farm in Kuala Langat, Selangor, on Sunday morning, said he also requested the Fisheries Department to carry out further checks on companies under watch by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2009 and 2019 following the detection of two antibiotics, nitrofurans and chloramphenicol, in more than 50 shrimp shipment samples from 38 companies. Mr Sim added that most farmers had stopped using antibiotics about 10 years ago and have turned to using probiotics with better farming practices, as they want to ensure that their shrimp can be exported.

Agriculture Ministry to fast-track aid to drought-hit paddy farmers in Perlis, Kedah Malay Mail 2nd Jan 2020
The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry (MoA) will be speeding up assistance to help paddy farmers in Perlis and Kedah following the early onset of drought in the two states. Its Minister, Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, said the ministry was prepared to render whatever assistance including coordinating irrigation in Perlis with the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry (KATS). Salahuddin said his ministry would also direct the National Farmers Organisation (Nafas) to quickly release allocations to affected farmers by providing petrol aid to pump water into paddy fields. He said MoA would also be conducting a study on the losses suffered by farmers and would take measures soon to lighten the burden of the affected farmers.

Sarawak minister says looking to get youths into farming Malay Mail 31st Dec 2019
In his New Year’s message today, Sarawak Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said his ministry will recruit youths to take up modern farming as a career. He said after recruitment, they will attend the necessary courses and training such as on the usage of the Internet of Things (IoT). Uggah said the target is for Sarawak to be a net exporter of food and food products by 2030. Uggah said his ministry has been allocated a budget of RM797 million for 2020, adding that the priorities are to organise, strategise and implement the programmes and activities. He said the creation of the food basket project belt from Betong to Sarikei Divisions is one of the big ones. He noted the agriculture sector has been recognised as a new source of wealth for the state and the country, and that the success of agriculture modernisation will depend on the collaboration of both the private and public sectors especially the commitment of agro-preneurs. Uggah, who is also the state disaster management committee chairman, said the state has remained free of the deadly African Swine Fever affecting the pigs.

NAFP to make agro-food sector more market-oriented The Edge Markets 15th Jan 2020
The National Agro-Food Policy (NAFP) for the 2021-2030 period is being formulated to replace the National Commodity Policy (NCP) 2011-2020 in a bid to make the sector more sustainable, competitive and market-oriented, says Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok Suh Sim. She said her ministry will hold a retreat in February to get proposals from industry players as well as oli palm, rubber, cocoa, pepper and kenaf smallholders. To ensure the agro-commodity sector continues to enhance the country’s economy and benefit all stakeholders, Kok said the NAFP should be formulated in line with Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (WKB2030). She said 2020 is a challenging year for the ministry to ensure all projects and programs planned under the NCP and 11MP achieve their targets. An allocation of RM670.12 million under Budget 2020 to the ministry, including RM410.6 million as development expenditure for the implementation of 77 projects, should be wisely spent and managed to ensure the programs are implemented according to plan, she said.

Palm oil falls 2% on lower-than-expected exports amid India-Malaysia tensions Yahoo Finance 15th Jan 2020
Malaysian palm oil futures fell for the third straight session on Wednesday on lower-than-expected exports and tracking losses in rival edible oils, while the market worried about diplomatic tensions between Malaysia and India. The benchmark palm oil contract for March delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange closed down 60 ringgit, or 2%, at 2,945 ringgit ($722.88). Malaysian palm oil exports for Jan. 1-15 rose between 3% and 5.8%, cargo surveyors Amspec Malaysia and Intertek Testing Services said on Wednesday, but it was lower than had been expected.

Govt's Food Bank operationalises in early Feb NST Online 14th Jan 2020
The government's first distribution centre for the Food Bank programme in Bukit Angkat, Kajang Selangor is expected to be operational in early February, 2020. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said a major change coming this year with the new distribution centre available to continuously collect food from source and keep them before heading to designated areas for distribution.

Drying paddy fields: Penang to mobilise water pumps to affected areas NST Online 14th Jan 2020
With no rain in sight, the Penang government plans to mobilise water pump machines to provide water for harvesting involving some 1,164 hectares of paddy fields. State Agriculture, Agro-based Industries, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said the state government had ordered the state Agriculture Department to deploy the available machines to the affected areas mainly here and Paya Keladi.

Daim: The future of Malaysia is in agriculture The Malaysian Reserve 13th Jan 2020
Making agriculture profitable and attractive to young people is key to reducing the country’s import bill, lifting millions out of unemployment and boosting federal revenue, former two-time Finance Minister Tun Dr Daim Zainuddin said. The government’s principal advisor last Friday stated that the constant demand for food makes agriculture a viable solution to Malaysia’s economic woes. Daim, who was the chairman of the Council of Eminent Persons, is promoting the revival of the farming industry as the sector plays a crucial role in the development of the nation going forward. “If we start planting the right thing, we can reduce our import. Not only that, we can also increase our exports, create employment and increase income. That is what is important.

‘Encourage youth to take up agriculture’ The Star Online 11th Jan 2020
Young people should be encouraged to take up agriculture, says economic adviser to the government Tun Daim Zainuddin (pic). He said this would help reduce imports, as well as create employment and increase income. “This is important as currently, unemployment is high with a lot of jobless graduates, ’’ he told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of MyKampungku Japan yesterday.

'Transformation set to bear fruit' NST Online 30th Dec 2019
Felcra Bhd, which posted a RM187.12 million loss last year, is expected to narrow its loss this year as the new management plans to restructure the entity, raise its competitiveness and ride on rising oil palm prices. In a recent interview with the New Straits Times, Felcra chief executive officer Mohd Nazrul Izam Mansor said he was optimistic that Felcra was on track to strengthen its financial position from next year.

Myanmar

Local farmers relying more on machinery due to labour constraints The Myanmar Times 27th Dec 2019
The number of young and able men to sow crop and gather the harvest in rural Myanmar has dwindled sharply over the years, as most have left home to seek better jobs in bigger cities and overseas. According to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, a total of 274,890 Myanmar nationals went abroad for work between January and October this year. Due to the shortage of manpower, wages have risen to a level that is now on par with the cost of leasing agricultural machinery such as tractors and combine harvesters, farmers said. While mechanization has helped bigger farms gain productivity and rely less on manual labor, smaller farms are mostly unable to afford the cost of leasing and have struggled to keep up. With wages now rising, many rural farmers are finding it harder to manage their fields. The mechanization of farming became widespread in 2015. Currently, there are half a million ploughing machines, 40,000 tilling machines and 9000 harvesters in the country.  

Maize could be next big agriculture export for Myanmar The Myanmar Times 20th Dec 2019
After China, previously the main buyer of locally-produced maize, suspended imports this year, prices plunged and Myanmar was forced to seek new markets for the crop. Demand from Thailand spiked, and Myanmar was able to export more maize to its neighbor. Now, traders are discussing plans for Myanmar to export one million tonnes of corn seeds to Thailand. An agreement between the two countries is expected before year-end, said U Min Khaing, chair of the Myanmar Corn Industrial Association. In 2019, China bought a total of 150,000 tonnes of corn from Myanmar, while Thailand imported some 600,000 tonnes. During the year, Myanmar also began exporting corn in smaller quantities to the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos. The newfound demand has helped to offset a mounting glut of maize domestically. There are 1.5 million acres of cornfields in Myanmar, producing some 3.2 million tonnes each year. Maize is the second most harvested crop in Myanmar after paddy.

ILO to lead research on market sustainability in agriculture The Myanmar Times 18th Dec 2019
Daw Aung Su Yi, national coordinator of the ILO Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme, said the research will determine whether agriculture businesses are implementing standards of responsibility and accountability. The research, which will be finished in December 2020, will prioritise crop production and seafood production. Daw Khin Ohmar Moe, chair of the Women’s Coffee Alliance, said it is not difficult to follow the methods taught by the ILO, and they want to generate a report with these guidelines. Since Myanmar exports raw materials, social responsibility is factored in the chain of production. “International buyers consider not only the brand but also how much responsibility has been exercised in producing the products of this brand,” said Daw Khin Ohmar Moe. “Getting a good price in the international market does not depend on quality alone. It also depends on systematic production.”

Immediate termination of fish-cum-poultry farming impacts dependents and food self-sufficiency Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
The immediate termination of fish-cum-poultry farming may have an impact on those relying on farming, investments and the food self-sufficiency of the country and the public, according to Myanmar Livestock Federation. Currently, there are 211 entrepreneurs, 6,330 staff and workers and 31,650 dependent families. 

Increasing food import could affect food and nutritional security Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
According to a food and nutrition security assessment report in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) conducted by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) last year, future challenges for food security in the country could come from conversion of the limited productive agricultural land into residential land, loss of productivity, huge import of food requirements, and loss of food diversity in the local food system.

Number of cotton farmers declines in Sagaing Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
A decline in the number of cotton farmers is linked to the lack of development in the cotton oil market and cotton-related business, said Win Hlaing Oo, Director of Magway Region Agriculture Department Office.  Growing other crops is more economical rather than cotton growing but cotton is an essential crop for our country. The Agriculture Department is working to increase the number of cotton growing acres in order to help support the industry sector and create more employment opportunities, he added.

Water a worry for Myanmar’s farmers The Myanmar Times 13th Jan 2020
Myanmar’s rice growers are increasingly concerned about the amount of water in the country available for the irrigation of their crops, industry insiders say. And their worries are not exactly without foundation. U Myo Tint Tun, assistant secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation recently said: “A reduction in water available for crop irrigation is likely. Right now, the rainfall the country receives has been lower than in previous rainy seasons. Water flowing into the county’s dams has been fluctuating over the recent years and the amount cannot be estimated accurately. What is definitely known is that the country has to be more effective in saving water.”

Myanmar commodity prices tick up on higher demand The Myanmar Times 7th Jan 2020
Palm oil prices are up by more than 35 percent over the past three months and now fetches more than K2100 per viss (1.63 kilogrammes). That’s because global prices have been on the rise, driven by demand for palm oil to produce biodiesel, said U San Lwin, secretary of Palm Oil Importers Association. U Win Tun, a palm oil distributor, said prices have been creeping up even though the US dollar has weakened against the local currency. Myanmar imports between 30,000 tonnes and 50,000 tonnes of palm oil per month, mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia  

Growth potential in agriculture restricted by quality, other issues The Myanmar Times 20th Dec 2019
In Myanmar, agriculture contributes to a third of the country’s GDP, a quarter of its exports and creates the bulk of job opportunities. Yet, the sector’s true potential remains restricted by poor access to finance and technology, limited infrastructure, complex land tenure and quality issues as well as weak supply chains. Nevertheless, demand for products of higher and safer quality has been on the rise domestically and the agriculture sector must take advantage of the expertise international companies can offer in this regard, Aung Thu, Union Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said at the Agrobusiness Forum 2019 organised by EuroCham Myanmar recently.

Philippines

DTI, SRA in talks over possible sugar imports Philstar 6th Jan 2020
While liberalization is on hold, the government is now looking at setting a benchmark price for local sugar which, if not met, would allow food processors to import the commodity at any given time. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) are in talks about allowing domestic food processors and confectionaries to bring in imported sugar if local price cannot meet the P1,900 per bag level in the global market. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica has committed that they would make available lower and competitively priced sugar for food processors. Currently, there is no sugar order that allows importation. The last batch of imports in August last year was 250,000 metric tons of either standard grade refined sugar or bottler’s grade refined sugar. Latest data from SRA showed refined sugar is currently priced at P2,200 per bag at the wholesale level.

Decline in rice prices continues Philstar 5th Jan 2020
Prices of Filipinos’ main staple continued to be on the downward trend with consumers saving more and farmers earning less following the influx of imported rice. Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed consistent lower prices for more than nine months after the Philippines opened its rice industry to more private sector imports. In its regular update on palay, rice and corn prices, PSA said the average wholesale price of well-milled rice was P37.20 per kilogram as of the end of November. This represented a 12 percent drop from the P42.42 per kilo a year ago and 0.3 percent below on a weekly basis.Its average retail price also decreased by 9.5 percent to P41.58 per kilo.The wholesale price of regular-milled rice declined by 15 percent to P33.17 per kilo while the average retail price was P36.66 a kilo. While consumers are benefitting from the opening up of the market, local farmers are suffering from declining palay farm gate prices.

DA sees decline in ASF cases in Philippines philstar.com 3rd Jan 2020
While there has been a decline in the reported cases of African swine fever in the country, the outbreak declaration for the dreaded hog disease cannot be lifted yet. Agriculture Secretary William Dar stressed this in a press briefing Friday, noting ASF cases are still reported in Bulacan and Pampanga. According to the World Health Organization, an outbreak is the occurrence of one or more cases in an epidemiological unit. At least 62,000 pigs have been culled since the first ASF outbreak was confirmed in the country. Dar said the agency is continuously enforcing the “1-7-10” protocol and tightened airport and seaport inspections to control ASF from spreading in the country.

Planters on SRA board seek ‘clarification’ on sugar import plan Business World 9th Jan 2020
SUGAR PLANTERS and millers on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) board said they were not consulted after the agency’s administrator signaled his willingness to allow food processors to import sugar should domestic prices prove uncompetitive. “(SRA) Administrator (Hermenegildo R.) Serafica must clarify to the sugar industry that such agreement in principle is his own personal position and not that of the industry that was not privy to such decisions,” the board’s Sugar Planters Representative Emilio Bernardino L. Yulo, and Millers Representative Roland B. Beltran said in a joint statement Thursday.

DA: Rice farmers to reap bounty of govt interventions starting 2020 BusinessMirror 8th Jan 2020
DAVAO CITY—Government would aim to raise local rice production than imports this year when local rice farmers begin to reap the benefits  of government intervention last year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. The intervention came in the form of certified palay seeds which the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) distributed in October last year for the dry-season planting, the DA added. In a news statement that echoed the pronouncement of Agriculture Secretary William Dar when he spoke to reporters last week, the DA said it “targets to produce more palay [unmilled rice] and import less rice this year.”

Coco product maker Axelum expects P5.5-billion revenue Business World 6th Jan 2020
COCONUT product manufacturer Axelum Resources Corp. is estimating its 2019 revenues to hit about P5.5 billion and projecting its 2020 top line to grow double digits. The newly listed firm said its growth trajectory has remained intact for 2019 and is bullish in the year ahead as it sees further growth to be driven by its expansion and acquisition plans. “This year, because of the foreign exchange and because of the market problems, the gross revenue target will be something like maybe about P5.5 billion on a consolidated basis. Next year, we should be hitting at least P6 billion,” Axelum President and Chief Operating Officer Henry J. Raperoga said in a Dec. 18 interview with BusinessWorld.

DTI seeks sugar imports for food industry to stay competitive Business World 6th Jan 2020
TRADE Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the sugar regulator needs to allow the food industry that sells to domestic markets to import sugar if local sugar prices cannot match import prices for the sweetener. “SRA (Sugar Regulatory Administration) assured us they’ll make available lower-priced sugar especially for exporters. Kailangan ma-include (They should include) competitive prices of sugar for food processors for the domestic market,” he told reporters after the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. general meeting on Saturday. Mr. Lopez said food processors need to be able to purchase domestic refined sugar at P1,900 per bag, instead of the P2,500 or P3,000 they sometimes pay.

Farmers ask DTI to help boost their attractiveness to banks Business World 6th Jan 2020
THE Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) is urging the trade department to assist farmers in developing business plans to make them more attractive loan clients for banks. “I would like (Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez) to help us set up a special team of financial advisors (for) farmers,” PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said in an interview before the association was due to conduct a general meeting Saturday. He said that assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should extend beyond micro-businesses and also cover larger agribusiness associations, noting that the United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) poultry association is interested in putting up a pre-production plant.

DA cash transfers to rice farmers to start Dec. 23 Business World 17th Dec 2019
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and government banks have agreed on the mechanisms for disbursing P5,000 worth of cash assistance to rice farmers most affected by the decline in the price of palay, or unmilled rice, due to the Rice Tariffication Law, with payouts to start Dec. 23. The DA, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) signed a memorandum of agreement on Monday, which sets aside P3 billion for the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RFFA) program, an unconditional cash transfer targeted at 600,000 rice farmers. The eligible farmers till between one and a half to two hectares.

Singapore

More in Singapore taking steps to cut food wastage The Straits Times 24th Dec 2019
More people in Singapore are concerned about food wastage and are taking steps to do their part. A recent study commissioned by the National Environment Agency (NEA) showed that 80 per cent of respondents are "bothered" when uneaten food is thrown away and know of the environmental impact of food waste. It also found that more people have adopted various habits to reduce food waste, compared with a similar survey in 2015 of 1,000 people. These include taking away unfinished food when dining out and not over-catering when hosting guests. About 56 per cent said they would take away unfinished food when eating out, up from 44 per cent in 2015. And 32 per cent said they were open to buying fruits and vegetables with slight imperfections, compared with 23 per cent four years ago. Respondents were also more open to buying food close to its expiry date at a discount, with the figure shooting up from 18 per cent in 2015 to 38 per cent this year. The survey identified two key motivations in reducing food waste - saving money was cited by 93 per cent of respondents and protecting the environment, at 92 per cent. But it also noted that 80 per cent wanted more information on how to reduce waste.

How 16 initiatives are changing urban agriculture through tech and innovation GreenBiz 13th Jan 2020
The United Nations estimates (PDF) that nearly 10 billion people will live in cities by 2050. According to a recent publication by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, urban eaters consume most of the food produced globally and maintain more resource-intensive diets including increased animal-source and processed foods — rich in salt, sugar and fats. At the same time, many urban populations — particularly in low-income areas and informal communities — endure acute hunger and malnutrition as well as limited access to affordable, healthy food.

Crickets, algae, soya discard — 3 foods of the future, made in Singapore CNA 11th Jan 2020
Pasta, cookies and wine are comfort food to some Singaporeans. But what if the pasta and cookies are made of crickets, and the wine actually made from tofu “waste water”? Would that be hard to swallow? At a time when tastes are changing, with global trends such as the rise in plant-based meat substitutes, some local food start-ups are looking to come up with breakthroughs like these. They are part of a new food technology wave about to sweep against climate change and food insecurity as the world population and global food demand shoots up.

FHA-Food & Beverage spotlights tech innovation and industry transformation in new FoodTech Zone PR Newswire 8th Jan 2020
Visitors at the FoodTech Zone will get to see latest innovations in agri-tech, aqua-tech, food science, process, packaging and automation technologies, refrigeration and air-conditioning technology, transport storage, logistics, sustainable packaging and food waste, from exhibitors such as BioPak Sustainable Solutions, Detpak Packaging, D-Logic Refrigeration, Epromas International, Japan Seiko Glass, Mill Powder Tech, Multivac, Newtech Machinery, SEPA Korea Corp and TUV SUD PSB, amongst others.

Impossible Foods debuts its first plant-based pork products, helped by Singapore chefs The Straits Times 7th Jan 2020
Impossible Foods, maker of the eponymous "bleeding" soy-based burger, is debuting two faux-meat products at CES in Las Vegas: Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage, ramping up the rivalry with Beyond Meat. Impossible, based in Silicon Valley, plans to give away about 25,000 samples at the consumer electronics show this week, and its sausage will be rolled out starting in late January at 139 Burger King locations in five test markets. The pork was developed with input from chefs in Hong Kong and Singapore. China, the world's biggest pork-consuming country, is also key to Impossible's future plans.

Thailand

Thousands of Thai fishermen protest against tough industry regulations TODAYonline 6th Jan 2020
Thousands of Thai fishermen protested outside the agriculture ministry on Tuesday over strict regulations aimed at combating illegal and unregulated fishing which they say are driving them out of business. Thailand, the world's third largest exporter of seafood, began cracking down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing four years ago after the European Union threatened to ban its seafood exports. The EU lifted its threat in January this year, citing a "major upgrade" in Thai governance, but the reforms enacted by Bangkok have hurt the country's fishing sector. The protesters, drawn from 22 provinces around the country, turned the area in front of the ministry into a camp site with makeshift shelters under colorful umbrellas and took turns to air their grievances over a megaphone. Mongkol Sukcharoenkana, president of the National Fishing Association of Thailand, said the strict new rules and costly fines had caused many fishermen to lose their jobs.

Thai water officials warn local authorities to get ready for shortages The Thaiger 4th Jan 2020
The Office of the National Water Resources is warning that water stored in the country’s large and medium size dams is now dropping to the minimum useable level, urging measures from local agencies to ease the impact on the public. This warning goes out with another three months of dry season hanging over Thailand’s head. The annual ‘wet season’ kicks off around the Songkran Thai new year festival which is held on April 13. The Offices’ deputy Secretary-General, Samroeng Sangphuwong, says the total volume of water kept in resources nationwide stood at 49,789 million cubic metres, or 61% of their combined capacity. 14 large dams held less than 30% of their combined capacity. Meanwhile, reserved water in 91 medium resources are under observation. Samroeng says the Royal Irrigation Department, Department of Agricultural Extension, and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand had already changed their water allocation plans from 25 large and medium reservoirs.

Five Agencies to Study Cannabis Farming in Northern Thailand Chiang Rai Times 30th Dec 2019
Five related agencies have joined forces to open the first farm in Northern Thailand to study cannabis farming. The cannabis cultivation and production center, is the first to be opened in Thailand. The cultivation and production center is located at Petchlanna Organic Farming Community Enterprise in Lampang. Lampang Provincial Agriculture Office has combined interests with; the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine; the Medical Cannabis Organization; Chiang Mai University; and Rangsit Univeristy. Above all to further advance the research of medical cannabis. Which has also led to the allocation of the first legal zone for cannabis cultivation in Thailand. The National Farmers Federation plans to expand the cultivation of a Thai strain of cannabis to all regions of Thailand. With planned legal cultivation zones to open in Buriram, Surat Thani, and Kanchanaburi in the future. Even with the opening of a legal cannabis farm, it is still illegal for any unauthorized persons to grow cannabis. Even more to have cannabis products in their possession. Such offences are consequently punishable by law.

New water storage project to tackle drought Bangkok Post 13th Jan 2020
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry is planning to build an additional 421 water storage facilities in the fight against a looming water shortage, which is believed will be the worst in 10 years. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said they would comprise "new large, medium and small-scale water source projects", including kaem ling water catchment areas.

Green algae, blue water add to fears over Mekong health Bangkok Post 13th Jan 2020

ASEAN

Malaysia bans pork products from Indonesia following African swine fever outbreak Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
Malaysian government has banned pork-related products from Indonesia following the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak. The government has banned pork-related products from Indonesia starting 13 December following the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak. Tourists are also banned from bringing in pork-related products into Malaysia, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin. The Agriculture Ministry of Indonesia has confirmed ASF outbreak in Northern Sumatera, making Indonesia the 11th country affected by the outbreak in Asia. Other countries are: China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, North Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Timor-Leste.

Growing pains: Southeast Asian farmers need cheaper agritech Aljazeera 30th Dec 2019
Across Southeast Asia, farmers are waiting for agriculture technology - or agritech - to become more affordable. They also need help raising funds to buy such solutions. And startups are listening. A small but growing number of Asian tech firms - specialising in both hardware and financial technology - are now rolling out innovative products tailored to the specific needs of farmers in the region. Disruptive solutions - such as smart sensors that collect data on soil and crop growth, or drones that provide imagery of field conditions - are believed to increase farm productivity. But they all carry hefty price tags, with some drones costing more than $1,000 each. That price is unrealistic for many average-sized farms in the region, which are not as big as their Western counterparts and have significantly smaller budgets. Experts, however, say there is an urgent need for the region to adopt agritech. Asia is urbanising faster than any other region and, by 2030, it will house 65 percent of the world's middle-class population, according to a report by PwC, Rabobank and Singaporean state investment firm Temasek released in November. But the agriculture industry may be unable to keep up, it warned. Climate change and environmental degradation will exacerbate current food production challenges by reducing available arable land, crop yields and farm output, the report said. New technologies must be deployed "to increase yields, reduce the environmental impact of farming, improve the safety, traceability and nutritional value of food, reduce waste, shorten the supply chain and bring food to consumers in their increasingly urban settings", it recommended.

Brunei

MoU signed to enhance premium muskmelon research in Brunei The Star Online 14th Jan 2020
Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) and Gropoint Sdn Bhd inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at UTB to enhance the research and development of premium muskmelon in Brunei. Under the MoU, UTB and Gropoint, a producer and exporter of specialty muskmelon, will organise training programmes for the university students and staff. Two UTB postgraduate students under the Food Science and Technology programme of the School of Applied Sciences and Mathematics (SASM) have initiated research activities in collaboration with Gropoint and the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood (DAA) of the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism. They are studying and gathering data on morphological and physiological characteristics of locally grown Japanese muskmelon and conducting scientific research on packaging technology for exports of these premium fruits. Future collaborative plans between the two partners will also include Research and Development (R&D) in the areas of marketing, post-harvest studies, disease and pest management, and food product development. These efforts are part of the Centre for Research on Agri-Food Science and Technology’s (CrAFT) strategic plans to translate research outcomes into products and process in on-going efforts to link academia with the industries.

Brunei seeks export requirements on agriculture, livestock and aquaculture for China market Biz Brunei 26th Dec 2019
Brunei’s Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) is looking to China as a major market for the country’s agriculture, livestock and aquaculture produce after meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing last week on export requirements. The delegation heads MPRT Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Hj Ali Apong and Deputy Minister of China’s General Administration of Customs Dr Zhang Jiwen also signed a protocol agreement at Xinhui Jinjiang Hotel outlining phytosanitary requirements for Brunei’s melons to be exported to China. MPRT added in a press statement that accessing Chinese markets would directly raise sector exports and contribute to GDP; aquaculture exports would increase from 16,000 metric tonnes (tonnes) to 20,000 tonnes annually, melon output would grow from 600 tonnes to 1,300 tonnes annually and meat-based products from PDS would increase substantially beyond the 1,300 tonnes currently exported annually.

Singapore fund inks deal to farm salmon in Brunei Seafood Source 18th Dec 2019
The Strategic Development Capital Fund under Brunei’s Ministry of Finance and Economy has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singapore-based private equity fund management 8F Asset Management Pte Ltd to build a 10,000 metric tons (MT) salmon farm in Brunei. Under the MoU, the two sides intend to invest in a state-of-the-art-land-based farming facility for Atlantic salmon, using recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), in Brunei, The Star reported earlier this week.

Cambodia

Cambodia's cashew nut exports nearly double in 2019 The Star Online 14th Jan 2020
Cambodia exported some 202,318 tonnes of cashew nuts last year to foreign markets, up nearly 100 per cent from 2018’s 101,973 tonnes, a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report said. Khan Samban, director of the ministry’s Department of Agro-Industry, told The Post that the strong growth in exports is due to the ministry’s simplification of export procedure and the commodity’s improved standards. Khan said he expects cashew nut prices to fall to around 5,000 or 6,000 riel (US$1.23 or $1.48) per kilogramme in the early harvest season this year and predicts cashew nut yield to increase this year due to an increase in cultivation. The report said Cambodia’s main cashew nut export destinations are Vietnam, Russia, South Korea, China, Peru, Myanmar, India, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. The area allotted to cashew nut cultivation totals 149,660ha, spanning 22 provinces. Almost 60 per cent is harvested land, which yielded 116,343 tonnes in 2018, data from the ministry shows. In 2018, the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietnamese Cashew Association (Vinacas) to increase Cambodia’s cashew nut exports to one million tonnes by 2028.

Rice sector eyes rebound after small exports drop Phnom Penh Post 5th Jan 2020
Rice exports reached 620,106 tonnes last year, a drop of almost one per cent from the 626,225 tonnes the previous year, the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) said. The total value of exports dropped more than four per cent last year from 2018, CRF added. Coupled with the 1.43 per cent decline between 2018 and 2017, the modest drop marks the second consecutive year that exports have fallen. According to a CRF report obtained by The Post on Wednesday, the total value of the Kingdom’s rice exports were valued at some $501 million in 2019, down 4.3 per cent from $524 million in 2018. A breakdown of the data showed that the 202,990 tonnes to the Chinese market accounted for 40.73 per cent of rice exports, followed by 13.41 per cent, or 83,164 tonnes, to the ASEAN region and 13.84 per cent, equal to 85,847 tonnes, to other markets. According to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data, Cambodia also exported 2.15 million tonnes of rice to Vietnam last year. Meanwhile, rice exports to European markets declined steadily after the EU imposed tariffs on rice imports from Cambodia last January. Myanmar was also hit with the tariffs.

Boosting domestic vegetable production to curb imports Khmer Times 2nd Jan 2020
The Ministry of Agriculture is taking action to grow more food domestically to cut down on imports. The country planted a variety of vegetables covering a total 58,000 hectares of land nationwide by the end of 2019 that produced 68 per cent of local market demand, according to Ministry of Agriculture’s spokesperson Srey Vuthy. By 2023, he wants this to increase to 63,000 hectares and 76 percent respectively, he said. The move would help Cambodia’s balance of payments, which currently sees more imports than exports. Non-domestic vegetable production mostly comes from Vietnam and Thailand. According to a report from the General Directorate of Agriculture, about 85 tonnes of vegetables are imported from Vietnam and 44 tonnes from Thailand per day. This figure covers Phnom Penh and eight other provinces only.

Foreign food processors attracted by Kingdom’s diverse agriculture Khmer Times 1st Jan 2020
Cambodia exported around 7 million tonnes of agricultural products in 2019, according to the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said the figure was made up of 4.784 million tonnes of formal exports and more than 2 million tonnes of informal exports. The latter avoid tariffs. Veng said Cambodia exported 620,106 tonnes of milled rice, of which 248,105 (40.7 percent) went to China, 202, 990 tonnes (32 percent) to the EU, 83,164 tonnes (13.41 percent) to ASEAN members and 85,847 tonnes to other market destinations. Veng added that Cambodia also exported about 1.608 million tonnes of fresh cassava, 1.626 million tonnes of cassava starch, and 56,874 tonnes of cassava powder. In addition to that, 202,318 tonnes of cashew nuts, nearly 120,000 tonnes of corn, 57,250 tonnes of soybeans, nearly 157,812 tonnes of bananas, nearly 60 tonnes of mangoes, more than 3,693 tonnes of pepper and other crops amounting to 273,866 tonnes were exported by the Kingdom in 2019. According to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), Cambodia’s milled rice export accounts for about 1.2 percent of the international market. CRF’s president Song Saran said that Cambodia’s markets are mostly Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia.

Ambitious agricultural development strategic plan launched Khmer Times 25th Dec 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries yesterday launched an ambitious five-year strategic plan to develop farming and push the agriculture sector to modernize, become more competitive and resilient to climate change and, in particular, to move on from labor-intensive traditional practices. The plan for 2019 and 2023 reflects government policy on developing agriculture alongside the ongoing development of society and the economy in Cambodia. Veng Sakhon, minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said at the launch ceremony that the strategy provides an important road-map to enhance farming and its products and the way they are delivered to consumers. The strategic plan, urges the creation of agricultural cooperatives and wants farmers to cooperate with the private sector under an agricultural public-private partnership involving contract farming to ensure sufficient supplies, available markets and stable prices.

Agriculture Ministry Rejects Criticism Over Low Rice Prices VOA 20th Dec 2019
The Cambodian Agriculture Ministry rejected criticism circulating on social media about farmers getting low prices for their rice in the paddy-producing provinces of Battambang, Pursat and Banteay Meanchey. The ministry released a statement on Tuesday (Dec 17, 2019) claiming that farmers receiving low rice prices were selling poor quality rice and that prices were still within an acceptable range. Ministry officials were also working with rice mills to procure as much rice as possible from farmers. The claims of low prices, the ministry said, were “far from the truth” and that the ministry was ensuring that farmers’ paddy was purchased and at fair prices. “Actually, the ministry has been taking continuous action [on the issue], but some Facebook users published the old information, which is why the ministry had to issue a statement to inform the public,” said Chan Heng, the ministry’s deputy cabinet director. Following the wet season, farmers have complained about low rice prices and have even been asked to not plant a dry season crop on account of very low water levels across the country. Earlier this month, the Cambodia Rice Federation said it needed $200 million in working capital to buy rice from the farmers on account of shrinking loans available in the financial sector, with government allocating only $50 million of the required capital.

NBC calls for financial products to develop agricultural sector Phnom Penh Post 13th Jan 2020
The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has encouraged financial institutions to add new products and services to contribute to the development of the agricultural sector. Its deputy governor Neav Chanthana who said this was speaking at the 6th NBC Annual Macroeconomic Conference on the theme Agriculture Sector in a Rapid Structural Transformation and Uncertain Global Trade Environment which was held on Monday at its headquarters in the capital.

Education Ministry launches food safety drive in schools Khmer Times 5th Jan 2020
The Education Ministry has launched a nationwide campaign aimed at promoting food safety in schools and ensuring that a ban on the sale of harmful foodstuff is strictly followed. Education Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha, yesterday said that the campaign will be carried out in target schools in the capital and some provinces to ensure that the food doesn’t contain chemicals and is hygienically prepared. “The main purpose of this campaign is to widely disseminate information to all key stakeholders, such as the school management committee, the school’s principal and food vendors in the schools, to strictly monitor the foodstuff being sold,” he said.

Indonesia

Philippines signs agreement with Indonesia to train coffee farmers Business World 6th Jan 2020
The Philippines and Indonesia have signed a partnership to upgrade the skills of Filipino coffee farmers in order to boost their productivity, industry officials said. The Coffee Farmers’ Training Grant is a joint project of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the PCBI, PT Mayora Indah Tbk, and the Embassy of Indonesia in the Philippines. Under the partnership, training will be conducted in both countries for Filipino coffee farmers from Benguet, Quezon, Bukidnon, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, as well as the regions of Ilocos, Negros, and Davao. Ten coffee farmers were selected for the training grant, owning at least a hectare and producing at least one metric ton (MT) of coffee annually.

Coffee, cocoa and rubber farmers begin to use 'good agricultural practices' with NGOs' help The Jakarta Post 30th Dec 2019
This year, good agricultural practices (GAP) have become more accessible as a number of NGOs have created training, research, financing and even off-taking initiatives for cacao, coffee and rubber farmers. Indonesia is the second-largest producer and exporter of rubber and the fourth-largest producer of coffee and cocoa globally. The three commodities combined comprised about US$1.88 billion of the country’s total exports.The commodities are mostly produced by smallholder famers. According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), these farmers make up 84.4 percent, 95.9 percent and 97.6 percent of rubber, coffee and cocoa producers, respectively. Due to the prevalence of smallholders, implementing GAP on a local level is crucial to improving commodities productivity. Coffee farmers, for example, have received agroforestry training to develop better farming techniques and apply more sustainable business practices. Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia (SCAI) advisory board chairwoman Delima Darmawan said that the productivity of Indonesia’s coffee plantations was lower than other major producers such as Brazil and Vietnam because the coffee plantations in the country continued to use traditional farming methods.

Indonesia launches B30 biodiesel to cut costs, boost palm oil Reuters 23rd Dec 2019
Indonesia on Monday launched biodiesel containing 30% palm-based fuel, the highest mandatory mix in the world, in a bid to slash its fuel import bill and boost domestic palm oil consumption. President Joko Widodo said so-called “B30” biodiesel would allow Indonesia to cut its fossil fuel imports by 63 trillion rupiah ($4.5 billion) a year, up from 43.8 trillion rupiah saved in 2019 from existing B20 fuels. Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer and exporter, has been gradually increasing the bio content of its biodiesel, aiming to absorb growing supplies of palm oil while also trimming costly fuel imports. Since late 2018, bodiesel sold across Indonesia has had a mandatory 20% bio mix, using fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) made from palm oil. The program has already driven up price expectations for the edible oil as it would bolster demand at a time when output is forecast to slow, due to drought and haze from forest fires. The government has allocated 9.59 million kilolitres (KL) of FAME for the B30 mandate in 2020, up from 6.63 million KL this year. Widodo said the program would also help Indonesia preserve a market for a vital commodity instead of depending on exports. The European Union concluded in March that palm oil causes excessive deforestation and plans to effectively phase it out as a fuel for transport. Indonesia has filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization.

Fears rise as deadly pig virus spreads across Asia BBC News 20th Dec 2019
Indonesia has become the latest Asian country to face an outbreak of African swine fever, a deadly pig virus devastating farmers across the region. On Wednesday, the country's agriculture ministry said nearly 30,000 pigs have died from the disease in North Sumatra. The virus is expected to wipe out more than half of China's pig herd this year. Australia has grown increasingly concerned, stepping up biosecurity measures to keep swine fever out. Although it's harmless to humans, the disease can kill pigs within a few days, and the fatality rate can be up to 100%, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The virus is particularly robust, and is able to survive for seven days without a host, and for months in frozen pork products. The biggest impact so far has been in China, but the spread of the virus across South East Asia has been worrying too. Vietnam and the Philippines have seen some of the worst outbreaks in the region.

Use of IoT tech to attract millennial generation to agriculture as farmers age The Jakarta Post 17th Dec 2019
Indonesia’s agricultural sector is facing a decline in its workforce as many young people in rural areas prefer moving to cities to earn a living. According to experts, the modernization of the country’s agriculture should be promoted so more educated young people are willing to return to their villages to farm. The use of modern technology, such as the internet of things (IoT), can hopefully increase the interest of millennials, people born between 1981 and 1996, in agriculture as the farmer demographic in Indonesia has started to age. Agricultural technology startup Habibi Garden's chief executive officer, Irsan Rajamin, said that the utilization of IoT technology could be a magnet for millennials and youth and bring them into the agricultural industry. Agricultural technology startup Habibi Garden's chief executive officer, Irsan Rajamin, said that the utilization of IoT technology could be a magnet for millennials and youth and bring them into the agricultural industry. Habibi Garden uses modern technology such as IoT and a digital application to help farmers. By connecting sensors and irrigation systems in the farms to the internet and providing data based on machine learning, Habibi Garden can help farmers monitor and maintain their farms and crops remotely. However, introducing modern agricultural technologies to existing farmers was a challenge for agriculture modernization. Even when the technology is already advanced, farmers cannot tap into its potential if they didn’t have the necessary abilities.

Indonesia's food security good, but climate change lurks as threat: Report The Jakarta Post 14th Jan 2020
Indonesia's food security performance is good, despite vulnerabilities to natural-resource shortages and climate change, according to the 2019 Global Food Security Index. The index, published by The Economist Intelligence Unit and supported by Corteva AgriScience, measures a country's food security performance based on food affordability, availability and quality and safety. Further, the index also shows how well a country adapts to natural-resource and climate-related risks. Indonesia ranks 62 out of 113 countries in the index, scoring 63 out of 100, which qualifies its food security as "good". The country's score improved 0.6 from last year, which is equal to the global average improvement, but still slightly below the average in Asia Pacific at 0.8.

Plan to lift baby lobster export ban draws fire in Indonesia Mongabay Environmental News 20th Dec 2019
Environmentalists in Indonesia have lambasted the government’s plan to reopen exports of lobster larvae, saying the move will threaten the sustainability of these creatures that play a key role in a healthy marine ecosystem. Indonesian fisheries minister Edhy Prabowo said on Dec. 16 that he might allow selling baby lobsters abroad in an effort to boost the Southeast Asian country’s economy. Edhy’s predecessor, Susi Pudjiastuti, banned exports in 2016 in an effort to protect the animal.

Indonesia to revive idle shrimp farms to boost fisheries and save mangroves Mongabay Environmental News 13th Dec 2019
Indonesia plans to restore more than 300,000 hectares (741,300 acres) of idle shrimp-farming ponds to boost its fisheries and reduce deforestation of the country’s mangrove ecosystems, according to a top official. More than double that area, much of it in coastal regions rich in mangroves, have been cleared for shrimp farms, but only about 40% of the farms are in production, according to 2018 government data. “We must revitalize this area that’s abandoned or poorly managed … over the next five years,” Alan Koropitan, a deputy in the office of the president’s chief of staff, told Mongabay on the sidelines of an event in Kuta, Bali, on Dec. 11.

Laos

Lao-Chinese partnership to develop industry and agriculture in Savannakhet Vientiane Times 13th Jan 2020
Lao authorities and a Chinese company will survey and design an industry and agriculture development project in Xepon district, Savannakhet province. Sun Paper Holding Lao Co., Ltd. will provide a grant of more than 177 billion kip (US$20 million) to carry out the project on 800 hectares of land. Director of the Planning and Investment Department in Savannakhet province, Mr Valiya Sichanthongthip, and Director of Sun Paper Holding Lao Co., Ltd., Mr Chen Wen Jun, recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the project. Savannakhet provincial Governor, Mr Santiphab Phomvihane, attended the signing ceremony.

Rice farming improvements sow seeds of success in Laos Phnom Penh Post 19th Dec 2019
Farmers in Laos’ two northern provinces of Xieng Khuang and Huaphan have witnessed increased yields and quality from seven seed varieties of local khao kainoi rice. The Agro-Biodiversity Initiative (Tabi) is continuing its programme to assist farmers in the provinces of Xieng Khuang and Huaphan to improve the quality of khao kainoi seeds, thereby ensuring food security in the communities and better returns for farmers.

Malaysia

US food authority stops shrimps from some Malaysian exporters due to use of antibiotics Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) last year put many Malaysian shrimp exporters on a 'red list' after samples of 18 shipments from 11 Malaysian exporters were detected to contain chloramphenicol. Between 2009 and 2018, the USFDA also put 28 Malaysian shrimp exporters on its red list because 56 shipment samples contained nitrofurans.

Malaysian official says local shrimps are safe for consumption, in reaction to news report The Straits Times 5th Jan 2020
Prawns sold in Malaysia are safe for consumption, the deputy agriculture minister said, in response to a report in The Star newspaper about the use of antibiotics in some shrimp farms in the country. Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin said the Fisheries Department has a stringent monitoring system for all shrimp farms across the country. Mr Sim, who visited a shrimp farm in Kuala Langat, Selangor, on Sunday morning, said he also requested the Fisheries Department to carry out further checks on companies under watch by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2009 and 2019 following the detection of two antibiotics, nitrofurans and chloramphenicol, in more than 50 shrimp shipment samples from 38 companies. Mr Sim added that most farmers had stopped using antibiotics about 10 years ago and have turned to using probiotics with better farming practices, as they want to ensure that their shrimp can be exported.

Agriculture Ministry to fast-track aid to drought-hit paddy farmers in Perlis, KedahMalay Mail 2nd Jan 2020
The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry (MoA) will be speeding up assistance to help paddy farmers in Perlis and Kedah following the early onset of drought in the two states. Its Minister, Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, said the ministry was prepared to render whatever assistance including coordinating irrigation in Perlis with the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry (KATS). Salahuddin said his ministry would also direct the National Farmers Organisation (Nafas) to quickly release allocations to affected farmers by providing petrol aid to pump water into paddy fields. He said MoA would also be conducting a study on the losses suffered by farmers and would take measures soon to lighten the burden of the affected farmers.

Sarawak minister says looking to get youths into farming Malay Mail 31st Dec 2019
In his New Year’s message today, Sarawak Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said his ministry will recruit youths to take up modern farming as a career. He said after recruitment, they will attend the necessary courses and training such as on the usage of the Internet of Things (IoT). Uggah said the target is for Sarawak to be a net exporter of food and food products by 2030. Uggah said his ministry has been allocated a budget of RM797 million for 2020, adding that the priorities are to organise, strategise and implement the programmes and activities. He said the creation of the food basket project belt from Betong to Sarikei Divisions is one of the big ones. He noted the agriculture sector has been recognised as a new source of wealth for the state and the country, and that the success of agriculture modernisation will depend on the collaboration of both the private and public sectors especially the commitment of agro-preneurs. Uggah, who is also the state disaster management committee chairman, said the state has remained free of the deadly African Swine Fever affecting the pigs.

NAFP to make agro-food sector more market-oriented The Edge Markets 15th Jan 2020
The National Agro-Food Policy (NAFP) for the 2021-2030 period is being formulated to replace the National Commodity Policy (NCP) 2011-2020 in a bid to make the sector more sustainable, competitive and market-oriented, says Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok Suh Sim. She said her ministry will hold a retreat in February to get proposals from industry players as well as oli palm, rubber, cocoa, pepper and kenaf smallholders. To ensure the agro-commodity sector continues to enhance the country’s economy and benefit all stakeholders, Kok said the NAFP should be formulated in line with Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (WKB2030). She said 2020 is a challenging year for the ministry to ensure all projects and programs planned under the NCP and 11MP achieve their targets. An allocation of RM670.12 million under Budget 2020 to the ministry, including RM410.6 million as development expenditure for the implementation of 77 projects, should be wisely spent and managed to ensure the programs are implemented according to plan, she said.

Palm oil falls 2% on lower-than-expected exports amid India-Malaysia tensions Yahoo Finance 15th Jan 2020
Malaysian palm oil futures fell for the third straight session on Wednesday on lower-than-expected exports and tracking losses in rival edible oils, while the market worried about diplomatic tensions between Malaysia and India. The benchmark palm oil contract for March delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange closed down 60 ringgit, or 2%, at 2,945 ringgit ($722.88). Malaysian palm oil exports for Jan. 1-15 rose between 3% and 5.8%, cargo surveyors Amspec Malaysia and Intertek Testing Services said on Wednesday, but it was lower than had been expected.

Govt's Food Bank operationalises in early Feb NST Online 14th Jan 2020
The government's first distribution centre for the Food Bank programme in Bukit Angkat, Kajang Selangor is expected to be operational in early February, 2020. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said a major change coming this year with the new distribution centre available to continuously collect food from source and keep them before heading to designated areas for distribution.

'Transformation set to bear fruit' NST Online 30th Dec 2019
Felcra Bhd, which posted a RM187.12 million loss last year, is expected to narrow its loss this year as the new management plans to restructure the entity, raise its competitiveness and ride on rising oil palm prices. In a recent interview with the New Straits Times, Felcra chief executive officer Mohd Nazrul Izam Mansor said he was optimistic that Felcra was on track to strengthen its financial position from next year.

Myanmar

Local farmers relying more on machinery due to labour constraints The Myanmar Times 27th Dec 2019
The number of young and able men to sow crop and gather the harvest in rural Myanmar has dwindled sharply over the years, as most have left home to seek better jobs in bigger cities and overseas. According to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, a total of 274,890 Myanmar nationals went abroad for work between January and October this year. Due to the shortage of manpower, wages have risen to a level that is now on par with the cost of leasing agricultural machinery such as tractors and combine harvesters, farmers said. While mechanization has helped bigger farms gain productivity and rely less on manual labor, smaller farms are mostly unable to afford the cost of leasing and have struggled to keep up. With wages now rising, many rural farmers are finding it harder to manage their fields. The mechanization of farming became widespread in 2015. Currently, there are half a million ploughing machines, 40,000 tilling machines and 9000 harvesters in the country.

Maize could be next big agriculture export for Myanmar The Myanmar Times 20th Dec 2019
After China, previously the main buyer of locally-produced maize, suspended imports this year, prices plunged and Myanmar was forced to seek new markets for the crop. Demand from Thailand spiked, and Myanmar was able to export more maize to its neighbor. Now, traders are discussing plans for Myanmar to export one million tonnes of corn seeds to Thailand. An agreement between the two countries is expected before year-end, said U Min Khaing, chair of the Myanmar Corn Industrial Association. In 2019, China bought a total of 150,000 tonnes of corn from Myanmar, while Thailand imported some 600,000 tonnes. During the year, Myanmar also began exporting corn in smaller quantities to the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos. The newfound demand has helped to offset a mounting glut of maize domestically. There are 1.5 million acres of cornfields in Myanmar, producing some 3.2 million tonnes each year. Maize is the second most harvested crop in Myanmar after paddy.

ILO to lead research on market sustainability in agriculture The Myanmar Times 18th Dec 2019
Daw Aung Su Yi, national coordinator of the ILO Responsible Supply Chains in Asia programme, said the research will determine whether agriculture businesses are implementing standards of responsibility and accountability. The research, which will be finished in December 2020, will prioritise crop production and seafood production. Daw Khin Ohmar Moe, chair of the Women’s Coffee Alliance, said it is not difficult to follow the methods taught by the ILO, and they want to generate a report with these guidelines. Since Myanmar exports raw materials, social responsibility is factored in the chain of production. “International buyers consider not only the brand but also how much responsibility has been exercised in producing the products of this brand,” said Daw Khin Ohmar Moe. “Getting a good price in the international market does not depend on quality alone. It also depends on systematic production.”

Immediate termination of fish-cum-poultry farming impacts dependents and food self-sufficiency Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
The immediate termination of fish-cum-poultry farming may have an impact on those relying on farming, investments and the food self-sufficiency of the country and the public, according to Myanmar Livestock Federation. Currently, there are 211 entrepreneurs, 6,330 staff and workers and 31,650 dependent families.

Increasing food import could affect food and nutritional security Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
According to a food and nutrition security assessment report in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) conducted by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) last year, future challenges for food security in the country could come from conversion of the limited productive agricultural land into residential land, loss of productivity, huge import of food requirements, and loss of food diversity in the local food system.

Number of cotton farmers declines in Sagaing Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Jan 2020
A decline in the number of cotton farmers is linked to the lack of development in the cotton oil market and cotton-related business, said Win Hlaing Oo, Director of Magway Region Agriculture Department Office. Growing other crops is more economical rather than cotton growing but cotton is an essential crop for our country. The Agriculture Department is working to increase the number of cotton growing acres in order to help support the industry sector and create more employment opportunities, he added.

Water a worry for Myanmar’s farmers The Myanmar Times 13th Jan 2020
Myanmar’s rice growers are increasingly concerned about the amount of water in the country available for the irrigation of their crops, industry insiders say. And their worries are not exactly without foundation. U Myo Tint Tun, assistant secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation recently said: “A reduction in water available for crop irrigation is likely. Right now, the rainfall the country receives has been lower than in previous rainy seasons. Water flowing into the county’s dams has been fluctuating over the recent years and the amount cannot be estimated accurately. What is definitely known is that the country has to be more effective in saving water.”

Myanmar commodity prices tick up on higher demand The Myanmar Times 7th Jan 2020
Palm oil prices are up by more than 35 percent over the past three months and now fetches more than K2100 per viss (1.63 kilogrammes). That’s because global prices have been on the rise, driven by demand for palm oil to produce biodiesel, said U San Lwin, secretary of Palm Oil Importers Association. U Win Tun, a palm oil distributor, said prices have been creeping up even though the US dollar has weakened against the local currency. Myanmar imports between 30,000 tonnes and 50,000 tonnes of palm oil per month, mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia

Growth potential in agriculture restricted by quality, other issues The Myanmar Times 20th Dec 2019
In Myanmar, agriculture contributes to a third of the country’s GDP, a quarter of its exports and creates the bulk of job opportunities. Yet, the sector’s true potential remains restricted by poor access to finance and technology, limited infrastructure, complex land tenure and quality issues as well as weak supply chains. Nevertheless, demand for products of higher and safer quality has been on the rise domestically and the agriculture sector must take advantage of the expertise international companies can offer in this regard, Aung Thu, Union Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said at the Agrobusiness Forum 2019 organised by EuroCham Myanmar recently.

Philippines

DTI, SRA in talks over possible sugar imports Philstar 6th Jan 2020
While liberalization is on hold, the government is now looking at setting a benchmark price for local sugar which, if not met, would allow food processors to import the commodity at any given time. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) are in talks about allowing domestic food processors and confectionaries to bring in imported sugar if local price cannot meet the P1,900 per bag level in the global market. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica has committed that they would make available lower and competitively priced sugar for food processors. Currently, there is no sugar order that allows importation. The last batch of imports in August last year was 250,000 metric tons of either standard grade refined sugar or bottler’s grade refined sugar. Latest data from SRA showed refined sugar is currently priced at P2,200 per bag at the wholesale level.

Decline in rice prices continues Philstar 5th Jan 2020
Prices of Filipinos’ main staple continued to be on the downward trend with consumers saving more and farmers earning less following the influx of imported rice. Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed consistent lower prices for more than nine months after the Philippines opened its rice industry to more private sector imports. In its regular update on palay, rice and corn prices, PSA said the average wholesale price of well-milled rice was P37.20 per kilogram as of the end of November. This represented a 12 percent drop from the P42.42 per kilo a year ago and 0.3 percent below on a weekly basis.Its average retail price also decreased by 9.5 percent to P41.58 per kilo.The wholesale price of regular-milled rice declined by 15 percent to P33.17 per kilo while the average retail price was P36.66 a kilo. While consumers are benefitting from the opening up of the market, local farmers are suffering from declining palay farm gate prices.

DA sees decline in ASF cases in Philippines philstar.com 3rd Jan 2020
While there has been a decline in the reported cases of African swine fever in the country, the outbreak declaration for the dreaded hog disease cannot be lifted yet. Agriculture Secretary William Dar stressed this in a press briefing Friday, noting ASF cases are still reported in Bulacan and Pampanga. According to the World Health Organization, an outbreak is the occurrence of one or more cases in an epidemiological unit. At least 62,000 pigs have been culled since the first ASF outbreak was confirmed in the country. Dar said the agency is continuously enforcing the “1-7-10” protocol and tightened airport and seaport inspections to control ASF from spreading in the country.

Planters on SRA board seek ‘clarification’ on sugar import plan Business World 9th Jan 2020
SUGAR PLANTERS and millers on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) board said they were not consulted after the agency’s administrator signaled his willingness to allow food processors to import sugar should domestic prices prove uncompetitive. “(SRA) Administrator (Hermenegildo R.) Serafica must clarify to the sugar industry that such agreement in principle is his own personal position and not that of the industry that was not privy to such decisions,” the board’s Sugar Planters Representative Emilio Bernardino L. Yulo, and Millers Representative Roland B. Beltran said in a joint statement Thursday.

DA: Rice farmers to reap bounty of govt interventions starting 2020 BusinessMirror 8th Jan 2020
DAVAO CITY—Government would aim to raise local rice production than imports this year when local rice farmers begin to reap the benefits of government intervention last year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. The intervention came in the form of certified palay seeds which the DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) distributed in October last year for the dry-season planting, the DA added. In a news statement that echoed the pronouncement of Agriculture Secretary William Dar when he spoke to reporters last week, the DA said it “targets to produce more palay [unmilled rice] and import less rice this year.”

Coco product maker Axelum expects P5.5-billion revenue Business World 6th Jan 2020
COCONUT product manufacturer Axelum Resources Corp. is estimating its 2019 revenues to hit about P5.5 billion and projecting its 2020 top line to grow double digits. The newly listed firm said its growth trajectory has remained intact for 2019 and is bullish in the year ahead as it sees further growth to be driven by its expansion and acquisition plans. “This year, because of the foreign exchange and because of the market problems, the gross revenue target will be something like maybe about P5.5 billion on a consolidated basis. Next year, we should be hitting at least P6 billion,” Axelum President and Chief Operating Officer Henry J. Raperoga said in a Dec. 18 interview with BusinessWorld.

DTI seeks sugar imports for food industry to stay competitive Business World 6th Jan 2020
TRADE Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the sugar regulator needs to allow the food industry that sells to domestic markets to import sugar if local sugar prices cannot match import prices for the sweetener. “SRA (Sugar Regulatory Administration) assured us they’ll make available lower-priced sugar especially for exporters. Kailangan ma-include (They should include) competitive prices of sugar for food processors for the domestic market,” he told reporters after the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. general meeting on Saturday. Mr. Lopez said food processors need to be able to purchase domestic refined sugar at P1,900 per bag, instead of the P2,500 or P3,000 they sometimes pay.

Farmers ask DTI to help boost their attractiveness to banks Business World 6th Jan 2020
THE Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) is urging the trade department to assist farmers in developing business plans to make them more attractive loan clients for banks. “I would like (Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez) to help us set up a special team of financial advisors (for) farmers,” PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said in an interview before the association was due to conduct a general meeting Saturday. He said that assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should extend beyond micro-businesses and also cover larger agribusiness associations, noting that the United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) poultry association is interested in putting up a pre-production plant.

Singapore

More in Singapore taking steps to cut food wastage The Straits Times 24th Dec 2019
More people in Singapore are concerned about food wastage and are taking steps to do their part. A recent study commissioned by the National Environment Agency (NEA) showed that 80 per cent of respondents are "bothered" when uneaten food is thrown away and know of the environmental impact of food waste. It also found that more people have adopted various habits to reduce food waste, compared with a similar survey in 2015 of 1,000 people. These include taking away unfinished food when dining out and not over-catering when hosting guests. About 56 per cent said they would take away unfinished food when eating out, up from 44 per cent in 2015. And 32 per cent said they were open to buying fruits and vegetables with slight imperfections, compared with 23 per cent four years ago. Respondents were also more open to buying food close to its expiry date at a discount, with the figure shooting up from 18 per cent in 2015 to 38 per cent this year. The survey identified two key motivations in reducing food waste - saving money was cited by 93 per cent of respondents and protecting the environment, at 92 per cent. But it also noted that 80 per cent wanted more information on how to reduce waste.

How 16 initiatives are changing urban agriculture through tech and innovation GreenBiz 13th Jan 2020
The United Nations estimates (PDF) that nearly 10 billion people will live in cities by 2050. According to a recent publication by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, urban eaters consume most of the food produced globally and maintain more resource-intensive diets including increased animal-source and processed foods — rich in salt, sugar and fats. At the same time, many urban populations — particularly in low-income areas and informal communities — endure acute hunger and malnutrition as well as limited access to affordable, healthy food.

Crickets, algae, soya discard — 3 foods of the future, made in Singapore CNA 11th Jan 2020
Pasta, cookies and wine are comfort food to some Singaporeans. But what if the pasta and cookies are made of crickets, and the wine actually made from tofu “waste water”? Would that be hard to swallow? At a time when tastes are changing, with global trends such as the rise in plant-based meat substitutes, some local food start-ups are looking to come up with breakthroughs like these. They are part of a new food technology wave about to sweep against climate change and food insecurity as the world population and global food demand shoots up.

FHA-Food & Beverage spotlights tech innovation and industry transformation in new FoodTech Zone PR Newswire 8th Jan 2020
Visitors at the FoodTech Zone will get to see latest innovations in agri-tech, aqua-tech, food science, process, packaging and automation technologies, refrigeration and air-conditioning technology, transport storage, logistics, sustainable packaging and food waste, from exhibitors such as BioPak Sustainable Solutions, Detpak Packaging, D-Logic Refrigeration, Epromas International, Japan Seiko Glass, Mill Powder Tech, Multivac, Newtech Machinery, SEPA Korea Corp and TUV SUD PSB, amongst others.

Impossible Foods debuts its first plant-based pork products, helped by Singapore chefs The Straits Times 7th Jan 2020
Impossible Foods, maker of the eponymous "bleeding" soy-based burger, is debuting two faux-meat products at CES in Las Vegas: Impossible Pork and Impossible Sausage, ramping up the rivalry with Beyond Meat. Impossible, based in Silicon Valley, plans to give away about 25,000 samples at the consumer electronics show this week, and its sausage will be rolled out starting in late January at 139 Burger King locations in five test markets. The pork was developed with input from chefs in Hong Kong and Singapore. China, the world's biggest pork-consuming country, is also key to Impossible's future plans.

Thailand

Thousands of Thai fishermen protest against tough industry regulations TODAYonline 6th Jan 2020
Thousands of Thai fishermen protested outside the agriculture ministry on Tuesday over strict regulations aimed at combating illegal and unregulated fishing which they say are driving them out of business. Thailand, the world's third largest exporter of seafood, began cracking down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing four years ago after the European Union threatened to ban its seafood exports. The EU lifted its threat in January this year, citing a "major upgrade" in Thai governance, but the reforms enacted by Bangkok have hurt the country's fishing sector. The protesters, drawn from 22 provinces around the country, turned the area in front of the ministry into a camp site with makeshift shelters under colorful umbrellas and took turns to air their grievances over a megaphone. Mongkol Sukcharoenkana, president of the National Fishing Association of Thailand, said the strict new rules and costly fines had caused many fishermen to lose their jobs.

Thai water officials warn local authorities to get ready for shortages The Thaiger 4th Jan 2020
The Office of the National Water Resources is warning that water stored in the country’s large and medium size dams is now dropping to the minimum useable level, urging measures from local agencies to ease the impact on the public. This warning goes out with another three months of dry season hanging over Thailand’s head. The annual ‘wet season’ kicks off around the Songkran Thai new year festival which is held on April 13. The Offices’ deputy Secretary-General, Samroeng Sangphuwong, says the total volume of water kept in resources nationwide stood at 49,789 million cubic metres, or 61% of their combined capacity. 14 large dams held less than 30% of their combined capacity. Meanwhile, reserved water in 91 medium resources are under observation. Samroeng says the Royal Irrigation Department, Department of Agricultural Extension, and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand had already changed their water allocation plans from 25 large and medium reservoirs.

Five Agencies to Study Cannabis Farming in Northern Thailand Chiang Rai Times30th Dec 2019
Five related agencies have joined forces to open the first farm in Northern Thailand to study cannabis farming. The cannabis cultivation and production center, is the first to be opened in Thailand. The cultivation and production center is located at Petchlanna Organic Farming Community Enterprise in Lampang. Lampang Provincial Agriculture Office has combined interests with; the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine; the Medical Cannabis Organization; Chiang Mai University; and Rangsit Univeristy. Above all to further advance the research of medical cannabis. Which has also led to the allocation of the first legal zone for cannabis cultivation in Thailand. The National Farmers Federation plans to expand the cultivation of a Thai strain of cannabis to all regions of Thailand. With planned legal cultivation zones to open in Buriram, Surat Thani, and Kanchanaburi in the future. Even with the opening of a legal cannabis farm, it is still illegal for any unauthorized persons to grow cannabis. Even more to have cannabis products in their possession. Such offences are consequently punishable by law.

New water storage project to tackle drought Bangkok Post 13th Jan 2020
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry is planning to build an additional 421 water storage facilities in the fight against a looming water shortage, which is believed will be the worst in 10 years. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on said they would comprise "new large, medium and small-scale water source projects", including kaem ling water catchment areas.

Green algae, blue water add to fears over Mekong health Bangkok Post 13th Jan 2020
When the normally murky brown Mekong River turned a brilliant blue late last year, villagers in northeastern Thailand were surprised. Then, this week, unusually large patches of green algae appeared, clogging up nets and making it almost impossible to fish. Both the Mekong's strange colour and the algae have heightened worries about the health of the river that more than 60 million people in Southeast Asia depend on for their livelihoods. "This is unnatural," fisherman Tongchai Kodrak said of the algae and the blue waters, which both signal a lower level of life-bringing sediment in the water.

57,000 push for ban on chemicals Bangkok Post 13th Jan 2020
A group of 57,000 medical staff and members of the public have signed a petition pushing for a ban on three harmful pesticides after the National Hazardous Substances Committee made a controversial decision to be lenient with the chemicals' usage. The NHSC had decided to lift the scheduled ban on the herbicide glyphosate and put the ban on herbicide paraquat and pesticide chlorpyrifos off by six months, overturning its Oct 22 resolution to ban all three from Dec 1 onward. This shift has concerned health advocates and state officials, including Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who supported the ban."The voices of medical staff and the public will be louder than mine as I'm only a politician," Mr Anutin said yesterday as he accepted the 57,000 signatures. The signatures were gathered by former NHSC member, Chiraphon Limpananon, who chairs the Pharmacy Council of Thailand.

Govt eases fishing regulations after protests Bangkok Post 13th Jan 2020
Commercial fishermen across Thailand have decided to end their protests after the government pledged to assist with problems which they believed stemmed from measures taken to curb Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Rallies against the government's stringent regulations aimed at countering IUU fishing have been held in 22 coastal provinces since Tuesday. In response, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Chalermchai Sri-on, met with representatives from the National Fisheries Association of Thailand (NFAT) and other fishing associations in Bangkok to hash out an action plan.

13 provinces seeking aid as drought bites The Nation Thailand 13th Jan 2020
Thirteen provinces have requested aid amid a drought, which has caused damage to agriculture. The provinces include Nan, Phetchabun, Uthai Thani, Nakhon Phanom, Maha Sarakham, Nong Khai, Buriram, Kalasin, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kanchanaburi and Chachoengsao. So far, about 1.63 million rai of farmland in 15 provinces have been affected by the drought. About 32 per cent of water, or 5.63 billion cubic meters, have been used up since November 1, with 1.73 billion cubic meters from the Chao Phraya River zone.

Ministry outlines measures to boost competitiveness of agriculutural goods The Nation Thailand 13th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has set measures to boost the competitiveness of agricultural products and foods by 10 per cent in order to cope with the baht appreciation. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sreeon said on Wednesday (January 1) that the five measures were: agricultural logistics development, product development to increase product value, smart agriculture promotion, agricultural machinery development, and online trading management to increase market channels.

Uttama, BAAC chief discuss promotion of grass-roots economy The Nation Thailand 13th Jan 2020
Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana held a meeting with the chairman of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) on driving the Thai grass-roots economy at Ban San Thang Luang community, Mae Chan district, in Chiang Rai province. The minister also visited farmers who were the bank’s customers under the loan programme “Community Business for Thailand”. BAAC president Apirom Sukprasert explained that this programme can support local community business from production to distribution. Its concept is to drive business through demand from local communities, integrating collaboration between the government and the private sector in knowledge and technological innovation.

Vietnam

Việt Nam's agriculture sector sets goals for 2020 vietnamnews 6th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has urged Việt Nam's agricultural sector to improve its production quality and expand markets to other countries, especially the EU, next year. Facing trade wars and tightened regulations set by foreign markets, Việt Nam has been still able to record a US$41.3 billion turnover for agricultural and aqua-cultural products, rising 3.5 per cent compared to 2018, according to the report delivered at the conference. Meanwhile, prices of these products were reduced by between 10 and 15 per cent. Three of the four main goals have been achieved including export turnover, forestry coverage of 41.85 per cent and the ratio of new rural area-certified communes of 54 per cent. Minister Cường said in 2020, the ministry expects to accelerate the connection between raw material areas with food processing factories and logistics systems to expand export markets and link with the global value chain. The ministry plans to choose "locomotive" enterprises which possess strong financial and technical capacity and market accessibility to efficiently lead value chains.

Vietnam ranks fourth in Southeast Asia in food security Nhan Dan Online 15th Dec 2019
A top world rice exporter, the country scored an overall 64.6 out of 100 points, higher than the 62.9 average among 113 countries and territories. Compared to Southeast Asia peers, Vietnam was behind Singapore (1st place), Malaysia (28th) and Thailand (52nd), though ranking above Indonesia (62nd), the Philippines (64th), Myanmar (77th), Cambodia (90th) and Laos (92nd). Vietnam did well in eight indicators - presence and quality of food safety net programmes, access to financing for farmers, change in average food costs, proportion of population under global poverty line, food safety, volatility of agricultural production, urban absorption capacity and food loss - with a score above 75. However, it struggled in public expenditure on agricultural research and development with 1.7 points, and affordability of food with 5.3 points, which were below the world average of 5.0 and 17.8 respectively. Singapore topped the global index ranking with an 87.4 overall score, making it the only country in Asia to finish in the top 10. Ireland and the US each earned an overall score of 84 and 83.7 to follow Singapore and complete the global top three. Yemen, Burundi and Venezuela made up the bottom three.

VN’s national forest stewardship standard effective from May VietnamPlus 17th Jan 2020
The National Forest Stewardship Standard (NFSS) for Vietnam has been launched and will be effective from May 1 this year, according to the Vietnam Office of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). “The National Standard for Vietnam is a comprehensive tool developed specifically for forests in this country to allow them to be well-managed now and in the future, and to promote the responsible sourcing of forest products,” said FSC Asia Pacific Regional Director Cindy Cheng at the launch event earlier this month. “Applying this new standard will enable FSC certificate holders to gain greater access to global markets by proving their commitment to good forest management, and the positive impact that their operations have on the environment, as well as the communities and workers who depend on these forests,” she added. Vietnam, the third largest wood exporter in Asia, has already had 199,000 hectares of forests certified by FSC.

VN cracks down on use of banned substance in fish food Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
Viet Nam will strengthen controls on Ethoxyquin in feed production for the fishery industry to ensure stability in seafood exports to the EU, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). The ban was brought in due to fears the additive might cause a risk to human, animal health and the environment. The EU regulation is different from the regulations of Japan, the Republic of Korea and the US that have permissible limits of this substance in finished seafood products. According to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), in 2019, the EU was the largest export market of Vietnamese shrimp with export value of about US$700 million, 21 per cent of national seafood export value. It was also the third largest export market of tra fish with export value of $227 million, accounting for 11.5 per cent.

Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and Tea Leaf losing to Vietnamese chains Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Jan 2020
A report from Euromonitor in last April showed that the five largest coffee chains in Vietnam account for 15.3 per cent of the market, with Highlands holding 7.2 per cent. Previously, data from Vietnam Industry Research and Consultancy (VIRAC) showed that Starbucks Vietnam's revenue in 2018 was VND593 billion ($25.78 million), equal to about one-third of Highlands Coffee’s. Meanwhile, The Coffee House came before Starbucks, for the first time, to stand in the second position in revenue with VND669 billion ($29.1 million). The middle class is rising in Vietnam, and the market value for coffee and tea retailers in Vietnam is greater than $1 billion, according to Euromonitor Worldwide. Native Vietnamese chains are opening in greater numbers and performing better than their foreign counterparts. Native chains charge much less for espresso, adapt faster, to new traits and have an enormous foothold in the market.

Japan supports Vietnam’s food value chain development VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 14th Jan 2020
Addressing the trade promotion event, organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Deputy Chief Representative of JICA Naomichi Murooka said concern for clean foodstuff in Vietnam has been on the rise. Japan has provided support for Vietnam in agriculture and food value chain development over the years, contributing to the Vietnam-Japan strategic partnership in the agricultural sector, he added. Meanwhile, Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Do Anh Tuan said Vietnam’s agriculture export turnover in 2019 hit a record of 41.3 billion USD. However, the sector is entering a new phase of development with stricter requirements, the official noted, stressing the need for Japan’s support in market access and building e-commerce platforms and high-tech agricultural development, among others.

Farmers earn high incomes from VietGAP pineapples vietnamnews.vn 14th Jan 2020
Growing Tắc Cậu pineapple under Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP), a specialty fruit in southern Kiên Giang Province, has offered high profits for farmers in Châu Thành District’s Bình An Commune. Farmers growing pineapples under the VietGAP standards earn a profit of nearly VNĐ50 million (US$2,160) per hectare a year. The cultivation of VietGAP pineapples has enhanced farmer awareness about VietGAP standards and improved the quality of pineapples, he said. Under VietGAP standards, farmers have to strictly follow the processes of choosing seedlings, tending and harvesting under the standards. The output of pineapples under VietGAP standards is 15-25 per cent higher than pineapples planted under traditional farming methods.

Việt Nam ranks 9th among countries importing US fresh fruits vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
Việt Nam has become the ninth largest importer of fresh fruit from the US. The US' fresh fruit exports to Việt Nam reached US$97 million in 10 months of last year, as of October 30, a year-on-year increase of 46 per cent, reported the US Department of Agriculture. Agricultural trade between the two countries was one of the most important areas of the US-Việt Nam bilateral relationship during the past 25 years, said Benjamin Petlock, agricultural attaché at the US Consulate General in Việt Nam at an event in HCM City last Sunday.

Việt Nam aims to ensure water security by 2030 vietnamnews.vn 13th Jan 2020
By 2050, 60 per cent of farming areas in Việt Nam will be equipped with water-saving irrigation systems, according to the country's Water Management Strategy, which was recently approved by Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng. The strategy aims to foster innovations and build action plans to ensure water resources for farming, socio-economic development and daily use.

Gov’t chief calls for sterner stance on food safety violations VGP News 11th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called for sterner stance on food safety violations while addressing a teleconference on food safety on Saturday. Phuc said information dissemination and education are not enough, thus inferior levels must apply strict administrative or criminal punishment on any violations in this domain. Unsafe food has no longer been a pressing issue like years ago but ensuring food safety remains challenging due to small-scale production by more than eight million households and use of low-quality pesticides without clear origins, according to the PM.

182 rice traders certified as eligible for rice exports vietnamnews.vn 7th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has granted 47 certificates of eligibility to rice export businesses over the past year, lifting the number of rice exporters to 182 traders. The move is part of the Government’s efforts to create favourable conditions for rice traders, improve the competitiveness of Vietnamese rice traders and develop the rice industry sustainably, according to the ministry’s Import-Export Department. The department recently reported the assessment of the rice industry after more than one year of implementing a new decree which took effect in October, 2018 on conditions for rice exports.

Industry calls for national technical regulation for raw cashew vietnamnews.vn 6th Jan 2020
The Việt Nam Cashew Association wants the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to draft national technical regulations for raw cashew nuts so that processors can ensure the quality of imported raw material. In a communication to the ministry, it said last year processing companies imported nearly 1.6 million tonnes of raw cashew. “Therefore, the quality of imported raw cashew nuts is a very important factor that decides the efficiency of production and trading, the quality of finished products and the reputation of every Vietnamese business as well as Việt Nam's cashew industry as a whole globally.”

Fisheries sector to focus on standardising production next year for higher value vietnamnews.vn 2nd Jan 2020
The fisheries sector in 2020 will focus on granting certification to brackish shrimp farms (tiger shrimp and white-leg shrimp), tra fish farms and aquaculture in cages, Director of the Directorate of Fisheries Trần Đình Luân said. In addition, the industry will develop key aquatic products, such as tiger shrimp, white-leg shrimp and tra fish, and other high-value aquatic products to increase trade value and sustainable development. In 2020, the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, aims to reach a total fisheries output of about 8.2 million tonnes, an increase of 0.6 per cent year on year, including tra fish output at 1.42 million tonnes – the same volume in 2019 – and shrimp output at 850,000 tonnes, up 3.7 per cent.

Nearly 6,000 agricultural products granted traceability codes vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The Hà Nội Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has so far managed and granted administrative account codes for 2,527 for facilities, co-operatives, businesses and shops which trade safe food, agro, forestry and fishery products in the capital city. That marks an increase of 543 facilities compared to the end of last year. The department also granted QR codes to access information transparently for 495 businesses that have completed the procedure of joining hn.check.net.vn, with a total of managed codes for more than 5,900 products, an increase of 2,700 product codes compared to end of last year.

The Ministry of Finance proposes reducing import tax on some foods vietnamnews.vn 17th Dec 2019
The Ministry of Finance wants to reduce import tax on some foods and has asked ministries and organisations for opinions on the idea. The ministry proposed cutting import tax on some agricultural products such as chicken, pork, fresh apples, fresh grapes and raisins. Some chicken products and by-products would see their import tariffs cut from 20 per cent to 18 per cent, corresponding to the first-year cut in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).