Food & Agriculture Update: April 14, 2020

Food & Agriculture Update | April 14, 2020
Authors: Hai Pham, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, and Jacob Corfman
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Food Security in ASEAN Amid COVID-19

Many countries in ASEAN attribute a significant percentage of their GDP to the food and agriculture sector. In this context, the macroeconomic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in ASEAN can partially be explored by examining how it has affected the region’s agricultural output and cross border agricultural trade flows. Below is an overview of the current status of several ASEAN countries’ food and agriculture sector, and how each respective government is responding to the global pandemic from an agricultural standpoint.

Cambodia – The Government of Cambodia is prioritizing national food security over preserving export numbers, a similar approach other ASEAN countries are taking. Prime Minister Hun Sen made a public statement encouraging measures to boost agricultural output in order to not only meet domestic demand, but also to recoup agricultural trade output and export in the near future. Currently, Cambodia has suspended the exports of food staples including fish and some rice exports to secure national supply. The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Veng Sakhon, has reassured the country that food security in Cambodia should not be a concern and that the agriculture sector is working well. As precaution, he has ordered the General Directorate of Agriculture to count the stock of rice in each rice mill, community, and household as well as estimate the demand for meat suply in the country.

Indonesia – The Government of Indonesia has been relatively quiet on announcements of food security and safety compared to its ASEAN counterparts. This may come with the general sentiment seen from the country, which is to continue life as normally as possible during the crisis. According to the Jakarta Post, “Indonesia Retailers Association (Aprindo) Secretary-General Solihin told the Post that all of its members had enough supplies of staple food for the next few months leading up to the festive Ramadhan fasting month and Idul Fitri.” In addition, the country's food balance shows that it is in surplus for eleven commodities, including protein sources such as beef, buffalo, chicken and eggs. 

Laos – In the country’s shutdown orders, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith made a specific exception for agricultural workers to continue their occupation in order to maintain food security. Food security in Laos has become especially of concern as one of their main food importers, Thailand, has made extra reserves to accommodate for the uncertain future which have eaten out of what would be exports. Despite this, boosted imports from both Vietnam and China will rebalance this says authorities. Also, the response of stockpiling during the crisis has sharply increased demand.

Malaysia – In Malaysia, despite the country’s Movement Control Order (MCO) the country’s Minister of Defense, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, clarified that all agricultural and fisheries product supply chain are permitted to operate as usual, including operations and logistics. Nonetheless, there have been some disruptions in the country's agricultural supply chain where producers' supplies have not reached consumers, in response the government has offered to buy any agricultural products from producers to resolve the problem. After Vietnam suspended its imports to the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry told Reuters that the country has enough rice to last the country nearly two and a half months.

Myanmar – Myanmar has temporarily suspended rice export permit in order to secure the nation’s food stockpile but will honor existing permits. A rice trader noted to Radio Free Asia that, “A total export ban could ‘lead to a price hike on commodities while COVID-19 batters the economy’ but create difficulties for farmers once the price of rice drops.” In addition, the country has tracked that chicken and egg supplies will be sufficient through the crisis time period. U Kyaw Htin, Chair of Myanmar Livestock Federation in Mandalay Region, stated, ““Egg and chicken stalls will operate as usual. The regional government also plans to sell essential goods such as rice, cooking oil, and eggs,” he added, “and will make the necessary arrangements to keep the trade flowing if the situation gets worse.”

Philippines – Even though Vietnam has cut off rice exports to many of its trading partners, the Philippines has secured an agreement that rice imports from Vietnam will be maintain through the crisis as they are the country’s number one rice buyer, and to honor their bilateral trade agreement. It has also been reported that the country has increased their imports of pork and chicken. In addition, the country’s Department of Agriculture has set up a program consisting of P1 billion (US$ 19.8 million) to secure loans in the agricultural sector and douse threats concerning food security.

Thailand – Thailand has curbed rice exports to many of its trade partners order to maintain stable food security. Authorities have assured that there will be no food shortages during the crisis as the Office of Agricultural Economics Secretary General, Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs, stated, “There will be no shortage of food and goods for domestic consumption, even if a lockdown is implemented -- be it for three months, six months or a year. [The production of] key agricultural products like rice, fishery products, meat products, palm oil, cassava, coconut and sugarcane will not be affected by Covid-19.” On all fronts of agriculture, fisheries, poultry, and pork, supplies are secure, production is currently at 60% and 98.3% of output will be dedicated to local consumption.

Vietnam – While a current export ban on rice stands, it has been reported that the Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed it to be lifted. Currently with regular demands, Vietnam has enough rice stockpiled for 800,000 tons to be exported through April and May while this is 40% lower than last year’s numbers. The sudden ban left heaps of the commodity at a standstill while it was being transported. While the ban’s intention is to protect food security, Vietnam’s non-essential agricultural exports such as pepper and cashews have dropped.

 
 
 
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
‘Serious consequences’: ASEAN COVID-19 lockdowns heighten food supply fears

Cambodia
Cambodia to suspend fish exports
Cambodia must boost agricultural output, says Prime Minister Hun Sen
Trade restrictions on food exports due to the coronavirus pandemic
Cambodia to ban some rice exports April 5 due to coronavirus
‘Plenty of food’ for Cambodians during uncertain COVID times

Indonesia
Challenges loom to maintain food supply until Idul Fitri
Key food prices are surging after virus upends supply chains
Indonesian palm producers have no plans to reduce hours despite virus - association
Staple foods safe, but masks, sanitizer gone from markets as consumer behavior shifts

Laos
Govt pledges food security during outbreak fears
EU amplifies food and nutrition security in Khammuan

Malaysia
Report: Malaysia Has Enough Rice To Last Us For Two And A Half Months
Defence minister: All agricultural and fisheries product supply chain allowed to operate as usual
Building resiliency into Malaysia’s long-term food security
Govt urged to keep borders open for food supply
Sabah wants to manage own food stockpile during Covid-19 crisis
Malaysia has rice stocks for 2.5 months as Vietnam curbs exports
Malaysia's vegetable supply to be disrupted in coming months due to movement control order, say farmers
Malaysia's biggest palm producing state to suspend palm some operations
MCO: No restrictions on food supply chain, marketing, says Agriculture Ministry

Myanmar
Myanmar receives 6.7 mln USD from China under LMC Special Fund
Myanmar produces around 27 million tons of paddies annually
Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank cuts interest rates
Myanmar temporarily suspends rice export permits
Mandalay growers expect no shortages of eggs, chickens
Myanmar Suspends New Rice Export Licenses to Ensure Domestic Supply Amid Virus Outbreak

Philippines
Manila gets Vietnam’s commitment to continuous rice supply
PHL to be among ‘first to know’ of new Vietnam rice policy
Vietnamese vessel unloads rice in Iligan; city gov’t to buy 20,000 sacks for food packs
‘PHL must hike investments in improving food quality, safety’
DA regional offices ordered to assist with farm logistics
DA approves P1-billion loan program amid pandemic
Palay output estimate for first quarter slashed by 6.7%
Solon to LGUs: Help farmers find market for their harvest
Broiler farm-gate price dips 30% as Covid-19 dampens demand
NFA assures enough rice supply for NCR
Meat processors warn of severe meat shortage during lockdown

Singapore
Measures for safe distancing rolled out at retail, F&B sectors to prevent COVID-19 spread

Thailand
Thailand's curfew unlikely to disrupt sugar exports on 'essential service' rating
There will be 'no food shortages'
Thailand rice, corn production bounces back
Thailand’s COVID-19 ‘war’: Local food production centre of focus as government guarantees supplies
Asia Rice-Thai rates bounce to 7-yr high as virus limits exports from other hubs
Rice exports seen rising as virus outbreak troubles competitors
Asia Rice-Locked-down India rates hit 3-month low; Thai prices off 6-1/2-yr peaks

Vietnam
Farmers, businesses struggle as pepper, cashew prices drop
Cold storage demand surges during COVID-19
New Regulations on Animal Feed and Aquafeed in Vietnam
RoK to offer 5% preferential import tax on over 55,000 tonnes of Vietnamese rice
Agricultural sector gains trade surplus in Q1 despite COVID-19
Wood industry facing losses due to COVID-19
Central region faces water shortage for summer-autumn crop
MoIT proposes exporting 400,000 tonnes of rice in April
Vietnam's fertilizer sector avoids coronavirus curbs
Ministry wants rice export ban lifted
Growtech Vietnam expo to feature advanced agricultural technologies
Vietnam's ban on rice exports still in force, government may set limit: traders
Live hog price to reduce to VNĐ60,000/kg
National food reserves sufficient for emergencies: GDSR
VIDA proposes solutions to rescue business from COVID-19 impact
Việt Nam calls for investment in fruit and vegetable processing
Central city to upgrade fishing port
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

‘Serious consequences’: ASEAN COVID-19 lockdowns heighten food supply fears foodnavigator-asia.com 1st Apr 2020
Of the 10 member states that make up the ASEAN group, six have already announced some form of COVID-19 related control measures and restrictions. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos either already have or have plans to implement lockdowns of some degree. Amidst these control measures, food supply has been a major concern for all the countries involved, leading to many consumers panic-buying dry food staples such as rice and instant noodles despite assurances from the respective authorities that government food stocks are sufficient.

Cambodia

Cambodia to suspend fish exports NST Online 8th Apr 2020
The Cambodian government has suspended all fish exports as it tries to stabilise domestic supply in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The move comes in the wake of the government’s decision last week to also ban the export of all padi and white rice.

Cambodia must boost agricultural output, says Prime Minister Hun Sen Khmer Times 8th Apr 2020
The prime minister has urged all stake holders involved in the agricultural sector in the country to boost and promote the vital agricultural sector as it will provide food for the country’s people as well as enable exports. Mr Hun Sen, speaking at a press conference at the Peace Palace yesterday instructed the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and other stakeholders to further greater attention to farming, livestock, fisheries and other products to boost its growth and help contribute towards the national economy while other traditional economic pillars are in the doldrums because of the current Coronavirus pandemic.

Trade restrictions on food exports due to the coronavirus pandemic KFGO 3rd Apr 2020
Cambodia will ban some rice exports to ensure local food security during the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday.

Cambodia to ban some rice exports April 5 due to coronavirus Successful Farming 30th Mar 2020
Cambodia will ban some rice exports starting April 5 to ensure local food security during the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday. The Asian nation is the latest country to curb food exports, although it is not a major rice exporter, exporting only about 500,000 tonnes a year according to government figures.

‘Plenty of food’ for Cambodians during uncertain COVID times Khmer Times 29th Mar 2020
A government ministry has reassured the public that there is no need to panic over potential food shortages amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking to local media, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Veng Sakhon declared that Cambodia has abundant supplies of staples such as rice, meat, vegetables and fish to meet demand within the country.

Indonesia

Challenges loom to maintain food supply until Idul Fitri The Jakarta Post 8th Apr 2020
Economists are warning against roadblocks that will endanger the supply of staple foods and push up prices as the Ramadan and Idul Fitri holiday season approaches and the coronavirus still grips the country. Agriculture Ministry data indicates that there is a large enough supply of basic commodities until Ramadan and even a surplus of them, despite concerns over supply disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key food prices are surging after virus upends supply chains The Jakarta Post 7th Apr 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic penetrates more deeply into global supply chains, prices for key staples are starting to soar in some parts of the world. Rice and wheat – crops that account for about a third of the world’s calories – have been making rapid climbs in spot and futures markets. For countries that rely on imports, this is creating an added financial burden just as the pandemic shatters their economies and erodes their purchasing power. In Nigeria, for example, the cost of rice in retail markets soared by more than 30 percent in the last four days of March alone.

Indonesian palm producers have no plans to reduce hours despite virus - association Successful Farming 3rd Apr 2020
Palm oil plantations in top palm producer Indonesia have imposed protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus among workers but have no plans to reduce workers' hours or other activities, an industry body said on Friday. Coronavirus has infected 1,790 people and killed 170 in the world's fourth-most populous nation as of Thursday, with many experts warning of a rapid spread and urging the government to impose a lockdown.

Staple foods safe, but masks, sanitizer gone from markets as consumer behavior shifts The Jakarta Post 2nd Apr 2020
Amanda, a 33-year-old creative consultant, has bought a month's worth of groceries in advance so she can stay home, as advised by the government, without having to worry about her family’s basic needs... Amanda’s story mirrors the shift in Indonesian consumers' behavior as markets across Indonesia see an uptick in demand for hygiene products, although staple food availability remains safe as people purchase supplies to last a longer period to follow the universal health advise of staying home.

Laos

Govt pledges food security during outbreak fears Vientiane Times 6th Apr 2020
There are sufficient imported sources of consumer goods, especially staples, to maintain food security amid concerns of shortages in coming weeks of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, authorities have said. Reports of goods shortages in some countries as the pandemic disrupted production and supply chains, coupled with the Lao government’s three-week-stay-at-home restriction measure (April 1-19) have escalated the concerns.

EU amplifies food and nutrition security in Khammuan Vientiane Times 2nd Apr 2020
The European Union (EU) continues to support Laos in implementing a food and nutrition security project across 100 villages in six districts of Khammuan province. The initiative includes the provision of public address systems with loudspeakers announcing vital health and nutrition information to raise awareness in many communities.

Malaysia

Report: Malaysia Has Enough Rice To Last Us For Two And A Half Months Rojak Daily 8th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry said that the country has enough rice supply to last two and a half months. We believe that’s enough to sustain all of us for this short period of time! The concern about the country running out of rice came up after Vietnam suspended its rice exports to Malaysia to ensure that they have enough for its people first.

Defence minister: All agricultural and fisheries product supply chain allowed to operate as usual Malay Mail 5th Apr 2020
All agricultural and fisheries product supply chains, including operations and logistics, are allowed to operate as usual under the movement control order (MCO), said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. In the daily non-health press conference today, Ismail clarified that those working in these sectors are allowed to work as usual and there will be no hindrance to their operations. Ismail further explained that services or shops supporting the agriculture and fisheries supply chain such as those selling fertilizers for crop production and packaging services are allowed to operate as usual. Ismail explained that produce is still being sold without hindrance albeit under stricter regulations at designated Controlled Fresh Market (PST) nationwide to ensure the continued supply and distribution of food in the country. To date, there are 97 PST’s designated to supply goods to the people.

Building resiliency into Malaysia’s long-term food security Malay Mail 2nd Apr 2020
Last week it was reported that hundreds of tonnes of vegetables grown in Cameron Highlands were dumped by producers who, due to the ongoing movement control order (MCO), had no way of getting their produce to market swiftly enough. Even in the best of times such wastefulness imposes negative costs on society: Farmers and retailers are deprived of income, and consumers of fresh produce. In the midst of a public health crisis—when food security already poses a major concern — these negative costs are amplified.

Govt urged to keep borders open for food supply The Malaysian Reserve 1st Apr 2020
Regional players in the food and beverages (F&B) industry, including Food Industry Asia (FIA) and the Asean Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA), call for the Malaysian government to keep the borders open for supply. The associations said the key role that the Malaysian government needs to play to ensure a stable food supply is ensuring that the manufacturing of F&B products, ingredients and other raw materials, as well as distribution by the retail sector can continue uninterrupted. FIA ED Matt Kovac said if severe restrictions are imposed by countries in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, they will cause a ripple effect on the regional food supply chains. AFBA president Abdul Halim Saim said the association is starting to see bottlenecks in the food supply chains when transporting food. “Any restriction of movement, including the workforce, will affect the stability of food production. The situation has now been exacerbated by the global increase in demand for food,” he added. The associations said Asean’s food value chain is not only crucial for ensuring food security, but also a major driver of GDP and employment in the region. In terms of GDP, the food value chain contributes around US$500 billion (RM2.17 trillion) of economic output, which is around 17% of Asean’s total GDP. The share of jobs is higher at 34% of the total labour force.

Sabah wants to manage own food stockpile during Covid-19 crisis Free Malaysia Today 1st Apr 2020
Sabah has asked Putrajaya to allow it to manage its own food stockpile during the Covid-19 crisis. Sabah Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Junz Wong said the state had experienced delays in procuring “essentials” as they were held up in Peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysia has rice stocks for 2.5 months as Vietnam curbs exports Successful Farming 27th Mar 2020
Malaysia's has enough rice to last two and a half months, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry told Reuters on Friday, after Vietnam suspended exports to feed its own people amid the coronavirus epidemic. Vietnam, the third largest rice exporter, on Wednesday said it would not sign any new rice export contracts until March 28 to ensure sufficient domestic supplies, raising concerns about global food security. Malaysia, a net rice importer, said its food supply was sufficient as it entered the second week of a one-month restricted movement order, including closing borders and requiring non-essential businesses to shut, in a bid to stop the virus. The country has 500,000 tons of rice stocks and consumes 200,000 tons a month, according to data from the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry provided to Reuters. Malaysia, the 22nd largest rice consumer in the world, farms its own rice but also imports 30-40% of its requirement to feed its population of 32.6 million. Below are food stocks in Malaysia as of March 25, according to the ministry: Stockpile Consumption Rice: 500,000 tons, 200,000 tons/month. Chicken: 59,000,000, 43,000,000 a month. Eggs: 800,000,000, 620,000,000 a month. Meat: 25,000 tons, enough to meet current needs. Fish: 150,000 tons, enough to meet current needs. Vegetables: 235,681.2 tons a month. Fruits: 128,282.8 tons a month. Fresh milk: 5,100,000 liters a month.

Malaysia's vegetable supply to be disrupted in coming months due to movement control order, say farmers CNA 27th Mar 2020
Malaysia's vegetable farmers have warned of a supply shortage in the coming months, as the current movement control order (MCO) has affected production processes. Among the challenges faced by farmers and sellers include difficulties in purchasing supplies, labor shortage as well as a prolonged pause in farming due to the extended MCO. Everfresh Agriculture managing director G Balamurugan said the shortage would affect at least 80 per cent of Malaysians. Mr Balamurugan, whose farm is located in Cameron Highlands, explained that most of the vegetables consumed domestically involved a three-month growing period before harvesting. Malaysian Vegetable Farmers Association's president Tan So Tiok told CNA that the 6,000 farmers in Malaysia face a cumulative loss of RM948,000 (US$221,000) daily. He said that the 6,000 farmers are working on around 30,000 ha of land and producing about 960,000 tons of vegetables per year.

Malaysia's biggest palm producing state to suspend palm some operations Successful Farming 24th Mar 2020
Malaysia' largest palm producing state, Sabah, says it will temporarily suspend palm operations in three districts after seven plantation workers tested positive for the coronavirus. All oil palm plantations in Tawau, Lahad Datu, and Kinabatangan will be suspended from March 25-31, while palm processing factories will be suspended from March 27-31, according to a government notice released on Tuesday,

MCO: No restrictions on food supply chain, marketing, says Agriculture Ministry Malay Mail 22nd Mar 2020
Agriculture, livestock breeding, fisheries and aquaculture activities are allowed to continue operating during the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to ensure adequate supply of meat, vegetables, fruits and fish in the country. Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee in a statement today said that the approval was also given to logistics and transportation services that support food supply and marketing chains including agricultural inputs and livestock feed.

Myanmar

Myanmar receives 6.7 mln USD from China under LMC Special Fund United News of Bangladesh 8th Apr 2020
Myanmar received over 6.7 million U.S. dollars from China under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Special Fund on Monday. The signing ceremony of the agreement on the transfer of fund for LMC Special Fund (2020) projects was held in Myanmar's capital Nay Pyi Taw.

Myanmar produces around 27 million tons of paddies annually Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 8th Apr 2020
Myanmar has 17.8 million acres of paddy fields and produced around 27 million tons of paddies annually, announced Central Statistics Organization by quoting the Department of Agricultural Land Management and Statistics (DALMS). Myanmar produced over 27.5 million tons of paddies in 2018-19 FY and it broke the record within five-year time, according to the DALMS.

Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank cuts interest rates The Myanmar Times 3rd Apr 2020
The Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank has announced that it will cut its interest rates on loans and savings from 8 pc to 7 pc effective April 1. It will also reduce interest on Japan International Cooperation Agency two-step loans from 8pc to 6.9pc, and interest on Myanmar Economic Bank two-step loans from 9pc to 8pc.

Myanmar temporarily suspends rice export permits The Myanmar Times 3rd Apr 2020
“We are just restricting the issuance of new export licences as a temporary measure until we can change to a better system. But after the new arrangements are in place, the licences will be issued again,” said Department of Trade Director General U Min Min yesterday. Amid speculation that the ministry had banned rice exports, U Min Min explained it was just a transition measure towards a better system. However, he did not provide any information about the new system or when it would be put in place.

Mandalay growers expect no shortages of eggs, chickens The Myanmar Times 3rd Apr 2020
U Kyaw Htin, chair of Myanmar Livestock Federation in Mandalay Region, said production of eggs and chickens will continue despite the pandemic. He said, “Mandalay has more than 2.5 million egg-laying chickens and about 35 million meat chickens.” U Kyaw Htin made the assurances during a recent meeting of government officials and agriculture and livestock growers in the region.

Myanmar Suspends New Rice Export Licenses to Ensure Domestic Supply Amid Virus Outbreak Radio Free Asia 1st Apr 2020
Myanmar has stopped issuing rice export licenses following the declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic, but will honor existing licenses, the head of an industry group said Wednesday, as local merchants warned that hoarding could threaten domestic supply. Soe Tun, executive member of the Myanmar Rice Federation, told RFA’s Myanmar Service that the government placed a moratorium on rice export licenses after the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled the virus a global threat in mid-March, suggesting the move had been made to protect domestic rice supplies.

Philippines

Manila gets Vietnam’s commitment to continuous rice supply Business Recorder 5th Apr 2020
The Philippines, the world's top rice buyer, said on Thursday it has secured Vietnam's commitment for continuous supply of the staple food, which may include a 300,000-tonne importation, under an existing bilateral trade agreement. The announcement comes after Vietnam, the world's third-largest rice exporter, stopped signing new deals as it checks whether it has sufficient domestic supplies to cope during the coronavirus outbreak. Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he had received a letter from Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh of Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Development expressing Hanoi's commitment to honour its existing supply contracts with Philippine importers.

PHL to be among ‘first to know’ of new Vietnam rice policy Business World 2nd Apr 2020
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said Vietnam has issued assurances on its intent to supply rice to the Philippines, its biggest foreign market, after Hanoi suspended export clearances in late March pending a review of its own domestic requirements during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In a letter to Mr. Dar, Vietnam’s Agriculture and Development Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh said Hanoi values its relations with the Philippines within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and particularly the two countries’ bilateral cooperation on rice. Mr. Le said that the Philippines will be one of the first to be notified of Vietnam’s revised rice export policy.

Vietnamese vessel unloads rice in Iligan; city gov’t to buy 20,000 sacks for food packs MindaNews 29th Mar 2020
A Vietnamese vessel loaded with rice docked at the Philippine Ports Authority in Iligan City at 6:55 a.m. Sunday carrying 4,722.63 metric tons of rice, but it may be the last while the COVID-19 crisis is ongoing as the Vietnamese government last Tuesday announced it wsa temporarily stopping issuing clearance for rice shipments to ensure food security for its own people.

‘PHL must hike investments in improving food quality, safety’ BusinessMirror 6th Apr 2020
The Philippines must ramp up investments in initiatives that will improve food quality to help Filipinos avoid health problems, according to the latest Global Food Security Index (GFSI), which indicated that the country was able to boost its food security last year. The Philippines improved its overall food security score to 61 in 2019, from 51 in 2018, making it the 64th most food secure country out of 113 countries, according to the GFSI. The GFSI indicated that the Philippines improved in all three categories that were assessed by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU): affordability, availability and quality and safety.

DA regional offices ordered to assist with farm logistics Business World 5th Apr 2020
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) ordered its regional offices to facilitate the transport of agricultural products to markets during the Luzon-wide lockdown to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said regional offices need to address the logistics of bringing produce to market and ensure unhampered delivery of basic commodities. He cited a regional field offices (RFO) in the Cordillera region which organized transport for vegetables to Quezon City.

DA approves P1-billion loan program amid pandemic Business World 5th Apr 2020
The Department of Agriculture (DA), through its Agriculture Credit Policy Council (ACPC), has approved an initial P1 billion for loans to help the sector amid threats to food security caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement the allotment is part of the agency’s Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers (SURE Aid) and Recovery Project. The loans will provide working capital to ensure continued operations for farmers, fisherfolk, and agri-fishery micro and small enterprises (MSEs). This will also support DA’s P31-billion “Plant, Plant, Plant” initiative meant to make basic agricultural commodities more accessible and affordable.

Palay output estimate for first quarter slashed by 6.7% Business World 5th Apr 2020
Production of palay, or unmilled rice, in the first quarter of 2020 is now estimated at 4 million metric tons (MT), 6.7% lower than the previous projection, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said. In its updated Palay and Corn Estimates, PSA said that the new projection for palay in the just-concluded quarter compares with the initial estimate of 4.28 million MT issued on Jan. 1. The new projection, if realized, would represent a 9.5% year-on-year decline from the actual output of 4.42 million MT in the first quarter of 2019.

Solon to LGUs: Help farmers find market for their harvest Business Mirror 31st Mar 2020
The chairman of the House Committee on Economic Affairs on Monday urged local government units (LGUs) to establish partnerships with small-scale farmers to help prevent food waste amid the ongoing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.AAMBIS-OWA Party-list Rep. Sharon Garin noted that the adverse agricultural impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to plague farmers with tons of spoiled food surplus. To prevent these from happening again, Garin vowed to push for a measure that can combat the increasing amount of food waste in the country when session resumes in May.Garin said she already filed House Bill 3370, otherwise known as Food Waste Reduction Act. The bill highlighted the need for a system that will promote, facilitate and ensure the reduction of food waste through redistribution and recycling.

Broiler farm-gate price dips 30% as Covid-19 dampens demand BusinessMirror 25th Mar 2020
THE average farm-gate price of live broiler plunged nearly 30 percent to P46 per kilogram as the industry endures another glut worsened by dampened demand due to Covid-19, the United Broiler Raisers Association (Ubra) said. The latest weekly price monitoring survey by Ubra showed that the average price of regular-sized broiler as of March 20 declined by P18.75 per kilogram from the P64.75-per-kilogram quotation on March 13. “It is because of the low demand since a lot of establishments and restaurants close and there are no gatherings. Demand is soft,” Ubra President Elias Jose Inciong told the BusinessMirror.

NFA assures enough rice supply for NCR Business World 23rd Mar 2020
The National Food Authority (NFA) has completed the prepositioning of rice stocks and is now awaiting delivery and disbursement in strategic areas across Metro Manila amid the enhanced community quarantine measures implemented in Luzon. NFA administrator Judy Carol L. Dansal guaranteed that there is enough rice supply to meet the requirements of the National Capital Region (NCR) for the next two weeks, with additional supply readily available depending on the demand. NFA currently has 400,000 bags or 20,000 metric tons (MT) of rice stored in its warehouses around Metro Manila.

Meat processors warn of severe meat shortage during lockdown Business World 23rd Mar 2020
Meat processors told the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that they were expecting a “severe” shortage of meat products by the middle of April, as their inventories of finished products and supplies of raw goods could last for just up to two weeks during the month-long enhanced community quarantine period. In a letter sent to DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc.said that the Luzon-wide total lockdown, which runs from March 17 to April 14, has impeded the delivery of raw materials to manufacturing plants, which has seen low production of meat products thus far. If this continues, they expect that they will run out of meat products in their inventories to sell by the first week of April. The 80-member group of food manufacturers, which mostly operate on a just-in-time basis to cut costs, said they were unprepared to increase production to secure food supplies for the duration of the lockdown.

Singapore

Measures for safe distancing rolled out at retail, F&B sectors to prevent COVID-19 spread CNA 20th Mar 2020
Retailers and food and beverage (F&B) outlets should ensure there is enough space in between customers lining up in queues, encourage them to use self-checkouts and limit the number of shoppers within stores.  These are some of the new safe distancing measures announced on Friday (Mar 20) to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thailand

Thailand's curfew unlikely to disrupt sugar exports on 'essential service' rating S&P Global Platts 8th Apr 2020
Thai sugar exports are unlikely to be impacted by the country's nationwide night curfew as the transportation of sugar from mills to ports has been classified as an essential service, Thai trade sources said Wednesday. "Workers moving agricultural goods like rice or sugar from one place to another are still able to do so, but they will require official documentation from their companies to justify," a source close to a Thai mill said. The Thai government imposed a nationwide 10 pm-4 am curfew last Friday as part of a ramp-up in restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

There will be 'no food shortages' Bangkok Post 8th Apr 2020
The Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) has assured there will be no shortage of food supplies in the country even though the Covid-19 pandemic may force the government to adopt stricter methods to curb transmissions. OAE secretary-general Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs said the agency has discussed the situation with the Commerce Ministry, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand. They would ensure there are no shortages in food supplies and essential goods if a lockdown is imposed. He added that production currently stands at 60% of total capacity.

Thailand rice, corn production bounces back World Grain 8th Apr 2020
Thailand’s rice and corn production is expected to recover from weather and pest problems, according to a March 13 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thailand’s 2020-21 market year rice production is expected to jump 17% to 21 million tonnes, compared to 2019-20, when the crop struggled with unfavorable weather conditions, the USDA said.

Thailand’s COVID-19 ‘war’: Local food production centre of focus as government guarantees supplies foodnavigator-asia.com 6th Apr 2020
Although Thailand has not yet formally ordered for a lockdown throughout the country, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declared a nationwide State of Emergency on March 25 after the country saw 934 COVID-19 cases and four deaths, and also imposed a nationwide curfew from 10pm to 4am starting on April 3... “Please don’t panic and hoard goods because you can come out to buy them in the daytime as usual.”​

Asia Rice-Thai rates bounce to 7-yr high as virus limits exports from other hubs Successful Farming 2nd Apr 2020
Thai rice export prices soared to their highest in seven years this week on expectations of a sales boost after top exporter India went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus and main rival Vietnam temporarily banned new export contracts. Thailand's benchmark 5% broken white rice was quoted around $560-$570 per tonne on Thursday, its highest level since April 2013.

Rice exports seen rising as virus outbreak troubles competitors Bangkok Post 1st Apr 2020
Thai rice exporters expect to increase sales as the spread of coronavirus sparks global food security concerns and major competitors face export bans or go into lockdown to battle the outbreak. The kingdom now sees a better outlook after the virus outbreak sent India into a three-week lockdown and Vietnam, the world's third-largest exporter, banned new rice export contracts last week to ensure domestic supply. The Thai Rice Exporters Association told Reuters that there is currently no sign Thailand will limit rice exports, as no measure was discussed with the Ministry of Commerce earlier last week. Thailand, which usually produces just over 20 million tonnes of rice each year, consumes about 10 million tonnes domestically and exports the rest.

Asia Rice-Locked-down India rates hit 3-month low; Thai prices off 6-1/2-yr peaks Successful Farming 26th Mar 2020
A nationwide lockdown in leading rice exporter India to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pushed export prices to the lowest in about three months, while rates for the Thai variety came off multi-year peaks due to fluctuations in the local currency. Health researchers have warned that more than a million people in India could be infected with the coronavirus by mid-May, prompting the government to order a 21-day lockdown and shut down all air and train travel, businesses and schools.

Vietnam

Farmers, businesses struggle as pepper, cashew prices drop vietnamnews.vn 6th Apr 2020
The price of pepper and cashew in southern Việt Nam is falling as demand has dropped due to the COVID-19 crisis, affecting farmers and businesses. Currently, the price of pepper in the Central Highlands and southern Việt Nam is VNĐ34,500–37,500 (US$1.46–1.58) per kilo, the lowest in the past few years.

Cold storage demand surges during COVID-19 vietnamnews.vn 6th Apr 2020
Demand for cold storage is increasing due to the lower consumption of food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Food accounts for about 80 per cent of cold storage demand in Việt Nam, according to data. However, that figure is rising as the F&B industry suffers and food export orders are cancelled.

New Regulations on Animal Feed and Aquafeed in Vietnam Lexology 6th Apr 2020
On March 9, 2020, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD) issued Circular No. 04/2020/TT-BNNPTNT (“Circular 4”) on National Technical Regulations on animal feed and raw materials for production of aquafeed. Circular 4 will take effect on July 1, 2020, and will have an impact on entities engaging in animal feed and aquafeed activities in Vietnam.

RoK to offer 5% preferential import tax on over 55,000 tonnes of Vietnamese rice Nhan Dan Online 4th Apr 2020
The Republic of Korea (RoK) is expected to import 50% of its total quota of 55,112 tonnes of rice from Vietnam in the tender scheduled this May with a preferential import tax rate of 5%. According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the RoK committed to apply a preferential tax rate of 5% for the quota volume of 408,700 tonnes of imported rice for 10 years, starting from 2020, including rice imports from Vietnam. Meanwhile, the tax rate applied to imported rice outside the quota is 531%.

Agricultural sector gains trade surplus in Q1 despite COVID-19 vietnamnews.vn 2nd Apr 2020
The agricultural sector recorded a trade surplus of about US$2.9 billion in the first quarter of this year despite suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). The trade surplus was up 48.9 per cent compared to the same period last year, the ministry said. In the first quarter, the total trade value of agricultural, forestry and fishery products was estimated at nearly $15.2 billion. Export value reached about $9.1 billion, the same figure in the first quarter of 2019 while import value decreased by 13.2 per cent year on year to $6.1 billion.

Wood industry facing losses due to COVID-19 vietnamnews.vn 2nd Apr 2020
The wood industry was facing a ‘disaster’ with many businesses left without orders from now until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VTFPA). VTFPA said that the US, EU, Japan, South Korea and China accounted for over 90 per cent of the country’s wood export market, and had all been strongly affected by COVID-19. “Many Vietnamese wood processing enterprises have had orders cancelled of suspended,” said the association.

Central region faces water shortage for summer-autumn crop vietnamnews.vn 1st Apr 2020
Thousands of hectares of farmland in the central region were likely to face severe water shortages for the summer-autumn rice crop, according to the General Department of Irrigation. Reservoirs were running low, and smaller water reserves were likely to dry out before the start of crop, which starts this month and runs until May, according to the department. From 13,000 to 22,000ha of cultivation area for the summer-autumn crop in the north central region including Thanh Hóa, Nghệ An, Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên–Huế provinces will be seriously affected by the water shortage.

MoIT proposes exporting 400,000 tonnes of rice in April vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2020
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has proposed to resume rice exports from April, with a volume of 400,000 tonnes, after it has compiled reports on production, domestic consumption and exports to submit to the Prime Minister. In the ministry’s report sent to the PM, it suggested exporting 800,000 tonnes of rice in April and May. In the last week of April, based on the development of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and reports of relevant ministries and sectors, the Prime Minister will consider rice exports in May.

Vietnam's fertilizer sector avoids coronavirus curbs Argusmedia 31st Mar 2020
Vietnam's fertilizer producers will largely avoid new government measures announced today to curb the country's coronavirus outbreak. The government from midnight local time (17:00 GMT) on 1 April until 15 April has ordered Vietnamese residents to stay at home and can only go out for food, essential items or urgent medical services. The government also temporarily closed borders between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to restrict travellers but not goods. But the country's fertilizer production is unaffected by these measures, according to domestic industry participants and producers, which means domestic supplies should be unaffected ahead of the application season starting around May.

Ministry wants rice export ban lifted VnExpress International 31st Mar 2020
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked the government to lift a ban it imposed on rice exports, saying that the position now is comfortable. The country could export 400,000 tonnes of rice each in April and May after retaining stocks of 700,000 tonnes, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said in a new report to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. It proposed that 400,000 tonnes should first be exported in April and the Prime Minister could decide the May volume in the last week of April.

Growtech Vietnam expo to feature advanced agricultural technologies vietnamnews.vn 31st Mar 2020
The International Exhibition on Machinery and Technologies of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery to be held at the Hanoi International Exhibition Centre from October 28 to 30 will showcase advanced technologies in those fields. Growtech Vietnam, as the annual expo is called, has for many years been a prestigious and quality platform for exhibitors from many countries and territories, including those with highly developed technologies, to display advanced agricultural equipment and technologies.

Vietnam's ban on rice exports still in force, government may set limit: traders Reuters 30th Mar 2020
Vietnam, the world’s third-largest rice exporter, has not yet lifted the ban on new rice export contracts, traders said on Monday, adding that they expect the government to remove the suspension this week and also impose a quota. The government said last week it would halt signing new contracts until March 28 at the earliest under a review to ensure it has enough domestic supplies to cope with the virus outbreak. “We haven’t been able to sign new contracts and have frozen our trading activities since last week,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said. Traders said they expect the government to make a final decision this week on whether the country will resume rice shipments or not.

Live hog price to reduce to VNĐ60,000/kg vietnamnews.vn 30th Mar 2020
Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường on Monday in Hà Nội called for 15 major livestock enterprises to reduce the price of live hog to VNĐ60,000 per kilo for stability in the domestic market during the COVID-19 pandemic. From April 1, the live hog price needs to drop to VNĐ70,000 per kilo from VNĐ75,000. It would continue reducing to VNĐ65,000 per kilo by the end of the second quarter and VNĐ60,000 in the third quarter, Dũng said.

National food reserves sufficient for emergencies: GDSR vietnamnews.vn 27th Mar 2020
The General Department of State Reserves (GDSR) affirmed on Thursday that national food reserves are sufficient to cater for emergency situations. Under the Prime Minister and the Finance Ministry’s direction on ensuring food security amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the GDSR has assigned its regional departments to promptly purchase grain, including 190,000 tonnes of rice and 80,000 of paddy, to meet the procurement target for 2020 assigned by the PM. The ministry on Tuesday proposed the PM allow businesses to continue exporting rice. This proposal was urgently sent to the PM after the General Department of Customs began nationwide suspension of registration and customs clearance for rice export on Tuesday.

VIDA proposes solutions to rescue business from COVID-19 impact vietnamnews.vn 26th Mar 2020
The Vietnam Digital Agriculture Association (VIDA) proposed the Government increase updates of accurate market information and the developments of the COVID-19 outbreak, helping businesses balance their imports with domestic consumption as well as setting operation plans. Based on updated information, businesses will reduce the amount of imported goods, especially agricultural products that are produced domestically, in order to boost consumption of domestic products.

Việt Nam calls for investment in fruit and vegetable processing vietnamnews.vn 21st Mar 2020
Việt Nam is in need of major investors in fruit and vegetable production in order to boost processing, especially in the packaging and post-processing stages, to preserve products for longer and enhance their value. The information was released by General Secretary of the Vietnam Association of Vegetables Đặng Phúc Nguyên, who said that at the same time businesses needed to gradually improve their techniques to meet the needs of various markets.

Central city to upgrade fishing port vietnamnews.vn 21st Mar 2020
The central city would start upgrade work at the overloaded Thọ Quang fishing port in the first quarter this year, according to Phạm Thành Trung, deputy head of the port's management board. He said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had allocated VNĐ79 billion (US$3.4 million) for the first quarter of 2020. Trung said the port, which was put into operation 13 years ago, was downgraded and overloaded with more boats arriving from the central region and other provinces.