April 2017
(20 Mar - 20 Apr)
 
policy updates
Indian Government considering imposing import duty on wheat: Agriculture secretary (22 Mar)

The Indian Agriculture Secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak said that the government is considering imposing import duty on wheat in order to protect farmers amid projections of a record output this year. Possible steps will be taken for wheat-growing farmers including getting the minimum support price (MSP) and keeping a watch on the arrival of the new crop. The production of wheat is estimated at record 96.64 million tonnes in 2016-17 crop year as against 92.29 million tonnes in 2015-16.

A Government-commissioned report on better managing risks to food safety in Viet Nam, launched by the World Bank (28 Mar)

The World Bank and partners launched a report Food Safety Risk Management in Vietnam: Challenges and opportunities at the request of the Government of Vietnam. The report includes an urgent call for better management of food safety issues in Vietnam and more effective communications to raise public awareness. The main recommendation of the report is to develop a risk-based system for managing food safety. Deputy Prime Minister expressed appreciation on this report as it provides key findings for the government to deal with food safety issues in Vietnam.

Philippines' Department of Agriculture turns over P20M farm assistance, pledges to improve credit facility (27 Mar)

Agriculture Secretary Manny F. Piñol announced that the Department of Agriculture (DA) committed to provide facilities needed by the farmers to help realize the government's vision towards a food sufficiency. The DA is providing hybrid seeds, improving the irrigation system, promoting mechanization, providing sufficient fertilization on farms, and improving the credit facility for farmers and fisherfolk, as part of the ongoing drive of the government to enable farmers to improve productivity and income, and empower them.

China's Central departments' efforts in poverty alleviation (31 Mar)

China's Central departments apply a series of policies and measures to tackle poverty in the first quarter of 2017 to meet the goal of lifting over 10 million more people out of poverty in 2017. Central finance increase more than 30 per cent in special funds for poverty alleviation this year. The Ministry of Finance and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development decided to expand the pilot areas for integration of agriculture-related funds to all the targeted 832 poor counties. 

Financial assistance for Fijian farmers (4 Apr)

New Caledonia Chamber of Agriculture has provided assistance amounted $130,000 to the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC) for rehabilitation of farmers affected from tropical cyclone Winston, as part of a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations. In addition to the financial support, the Chamber which comprises of farmers and agriculture technicians also shared their long experience in commercial farming to support economic growth in New Caledonia.  

Government of Kazakhstan developed Roadmap for implementation of the export policy in agro-industrial complex (3 Apr)

Kazakhstan vice Minister of Agriculture Gulmira Isayeva stated that the Government has developed a roadmap to promote Kazakh agricultural products to foreign markets and to attract foreign investment into the country. Some selected countries are becoming potential markets for certain reasons. Kazakhstan also hopes to become the largest suppliers of halal products and is in the process to certify their products for compliance with the requirements of Halal.   

Increasing the profile of crop diversity in agricultural production and policies in Uzbekistan (10 Apr)

Uzbekistan started a process of reforming its agriculture after independence in 1991, which includes adoption of laws on plant breeders' rights and on seed production. Farmers are facing severe environmental problems such as droughts and soil salinization as well as weakening seed quality control system and planting materials. A project "Improving seed systems for smallholder farmers' food security" was initiated to overcome these challenges. The project studied existing seed systems and planting material production and commercialization in Uzbekistan to identify agronomic, socio-economic, and policy factors that limit farmers' access to quality seed and planting material of selected target crops originating in Central Asia.

trends and statistics 
Global food prices decline in March as sugar and vegetable oils slide (6 Apr)

Global food prices fell in March during large available supplies and expectations of strong harvests. The FAO Food Price Index averaged nearly 171 points in March, marking a 2.8 per cent drop from the previous month while remaining 13.4 per cent above its level a year earlier. Among cereal, vegetable oil, sugar and dairy products there is only Meat Price Index which rose by 0.7 per cent. While the latest FAO Cereal Supply and Demand report says the worldwide cereal production in 2017 is projected at 2,597 million tonnes, just 9 million tonnes short of the record set in 2016.

India: Wholesale price index cools to 5.70 per cent, food prices up (17 Apr)

According to latest official data India's wholesale price index (WPI) inflation fell to 5.70 per cent in March as the manufactured goods cost decline but the food prices rise. In March the food price increased sharply by 3.12 per cent compared to 2.69 per cent a month earlier. It is mainly influenced by the increase of vegetables prices (5.70 per cent) and fruits price (7.60 per cent). Meanwhile the manufactured items inflation declined at 2.99 per cent in March compared to 3.66 percent a month before.

Higher yields driving rice output in Bangladesh (19 Apr)

Rice production in Bangladesh is expected to increase 0.4 per cent to 34.7 million tonnes in the 2017-18 marketing year driven by higher yields in the region according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). While planted area for the country is forecast down 0.3 per cent to 11.7 million hectares as farmers are reportedly switching to more profitable crops. Rice imports for 2017-18 are forecast at 125,000 tonnes, up from 100,000 tonnes in 2016-17, on expectations of better pricing from regional suppliers.

Vietnam's soybean imports to rebound in 2017 - USDA (17 Apr)

USDA forecast Vietnam's soybean imports will rise to 1.7 million tons this year, a rebound of 6 per cent after a fall in last year's overseas purchases, and further advance to 1.75 million tons in 2018. Vietnam produced just 147,500 tons of soybeans in 2016, up 0.8 per cent from the previous year, while total acreage shrunk nearly 7 per cent in the same period to 94,000 hectares. In 2016 more than half of Vietnam's soybean imports came from the U.S., followed by Brazil, Canada, Argentina and Paraguay.

Indonesia to export rice to Malaysia (30 Mar)

Indonesia will export 15 to 50 thousand tons of rice to Malaysia to meet the country's demand and requirement for the commodity. Indonesia is now considered to be successful in achieving food self-sufficiency and has not imported rice since last year. Indonesia had exported rice to Papua New Guinea as well. Indonesian government will continue maintaining self-sufficiency to become the world's breadbasket by the year 2045.  Currently the rice stock reaches 1.9 million tons and is sufficient to meet the publics need during the fasting month of Ramadan.

technological innovations
Biotech eggplant: Planting the seeds of prosperity for Bangladeshi farmers (30 Mar)

Eggplant is a major source of income for around 8 million Bangladeshi smallholder farmers, and a mainstay in the diet of the nation's 160 million people but it is constantly under threat from the fruit and shoot borer. The problem was solved by the initiatives of public and private sector scientists in finding both economically sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to tackle the pest. The biotech eggplant has shown close to 100 per cent effectiveness in controlling pests, increased yields as well as reducing insecticide applications significantly.

Asia's private sector to invest for climate change through ICT and geospatial data (29 Mar)

Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that investment opportunities based on the Paris Agreement and the SDGs in the food and agriculture sectors could be substantial. Research indicates that by 2030 global business opportunities from implementation of the SDGs related to food could be worth well over US$ 2 trillion annually for the private sector. One example is FAO and Google have recently signed a strategic partnership that will make geospatial data and analysis more accessible to users around the world.

'Internet Plus' to fuel brand-building for Chinese agricultural products (13 Apr)

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) advised Chinese farmers to promote their agricultural products through 'Internet Plus'. This innovation is important in brand-building as China is the world's largest consumer of meat and crops and could promote Chinese brand overseas. Internet has made some less developed regions have been recognized by other regions and stimulated business deals. This beneficial cycle could be perpetuated in rural areas to boost sales as well as brand-building.

Using real-time satellite data to track water productivity in agriculture (20 Apr)

A new tool developed by FAO could measure how efficiently water is used in agriculture which is very beneficial for water-scarce countries and river basins to boost productivity. The WaPOR open-access database is tapping satellite data to help farmers achieve more reliable agricultural yields and allowing for the optimization of irrigation systems. WaPOR sifts through satellite data and uses Google Earth computing power to produce maps that show how much biomass and yield is produced per cubic meter of water consumed.

case stories
Community pond restoration in Cambodia provides water for a hundred families (21 Mar)

Community ponds in Cambodian rural villages provide water for domestic use, livestock, irrigation and home gardens. However, during the dry season of 2016 the ponds were almost dry. With support from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the community people and village leaders, two community ponds in Rohal Suong village have been restored. Both ponds were dug wider and deeper to be filled during the monsoon rain season. Now the village is ready to enter the next dry season with water for about 100 families in the community.

India celebrates women in climate smart agriculture (3 Apr)

In the occasion of International Women's Day, two events were held in India states of Bihar and Haryana to celebrate the adoption of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies and practices among women farmers. The two states are representing contrast agro-ecological and socio-economic regions. Around 150 women participated in both events shared their experiences and discussed ways to increase productivity and profitability, as well as raise awareness among other women farmers in the area. 

India's food-water-energy nexus: disaster or opportunity? (19 Apr) 

The food-water-energy nexus has been studied for three different regions of India by an IIT Mumbai group to find solutions to enhance its own innovation for its monsoon-specific agricultural system, and develop nimble policies. The optimistic view would be that India's investment in science and technology will pay off by the development and implementation of indigenous solutions and also by rapid adaptation and scaling up of solutions developed elsewhere. In addition, there is strong awareness to do transition to sustainable agriculture and watershed management approaches such as agroforestry. 

Has the conversation about palm oil moved from environment to people? (12 Apr)

The debate surrounding the palm oil sector's sustainability is moving from the environment to focusing on social issues, such as fair working conditions and better lives for smallholders. Labor issues are a growing global concern, especially in industries that involve rural areas, poverty and unskilled labor, such as palm oil. Yet the issue of preventing the return of the haze is still discussed at the fourth Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources conference. Palm oil firms in Malaysia and Indonesia make efforts to ensure that oil palm smallholder farmers apply sustainability practices. A report released in November is also discussed with details recommendations on how the finance sector can improve and could provide a foundation for more sustainability-related rules.

How a palm oil company is fighting slash and burn culture (11 Apr)

Eco-Business investigates how the world's second largest palm oil company, Golden Agri Resources (GAR) works to stop the burning of peat forests to make way for plantations. In 2016 the concession has lack of fires in as a result of a community engagement programme launched a year ago to fight the culture of land burning. Their main strategy to fight fires is by improving the livelihoods of villagers living in around its concessions. But it would take a generation to have the villagers completely leave traditional practice such as land burning.

Going beyond yield: IRRI Education launches to build human capacity in farming (18 Apr)

IRRI Education was launched on 17 April at the ADB headquarters in Manila, Philippines. This investment in human capacity building is part of ADB and IRRI knowledge partnership agreement. Since 1964, more than 15,000 students have benefitted from training at IRRI, including 66 alumni from 11 developing countries supported through the ADB Scholarship Program that started in 1988. Many of these alumni have become leaders within their national agricultural research and extension systems.

Index insurance: Helping women farmers around the world (20 Mar)

Since 2009, the Global Index Insurance Facility (GIIF) has been supporting the development and growth of local markets for many types of index insurance, ranging from livestock index in Kenya, to weather index in Bangladesh, to earthquake index in Indonesia. Based on the information collected by GIIF and stories from the field, it is proved that the index insurance has made substantial impact on women farmers. GIIF is looking to further adopting women's agenda in its work programs.

FAO supports Samoan farmers to reduce post-harvest loss (22 Mar)

FAO conducted a survey led by Prof Steven Underhill from the University of Queensland, Australia to help farmers to reduce post-harvest loss which become a major issue in Samoa. The focus of Professor Underhill's research is the assessment and analysis of current commercial postharvest practices, quantifying wastage, and using this information to work with local farmers to identify practical strategies to improve postharvest quality and reduce wastage. 

voices and views
Wastewater should be recognized as a valuable resource, UN says on World Water Day (22 Mar)

Improved management of wastewater is essential in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This was highlighted in the 2017 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report, entitled Wastewater: T he Untapped Resource. The SDG6 has specific targets on halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally (target 6.3) as well as supporting countries in wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies (target 6.a). The report was launched in Durban, South Africa on the occasion of World Water Day.

Soil management could make or break climate change response efforts (21 Mar)

FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva in his remarks at the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon said that improving the health of the planet's soils and boosting their organic carbon content is critical to achieving several of the international development goals established by the UN's 2030 agenda, especially the second goal of eradicating hunger and malnutrition. FAO recently endorsed Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management which can help address technical and institutional barriers and provide key information on how to go about reversing the negative trends of soil organic losses.

Sustainable rice production is critical to environmental conservation (22 Mar)

Dr. Grant Singleton, rodent ecologist at the International Rice Research Institute and CORIGAP-PRO (Closing rice yield gaps in Asia with reduced environmental footprint)  project coordinator, discussed the research activities of the project in alleviating poverty and improving food security and gender equity of small rice farmers in an environmentally sustainable manner. The project aims to sustainably increase rice yield by 10 per cent for 500,000 smallholder farmers in Asia by 2020.

Urbanization can be a catalyst for rural development (27 Mar)

A new report presented by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and FAO addresses a wide range of issues linked to urbanization. The report looked at rural-urban value chains bringing major staple crops to cities in Bangladesh, China, India, and Ethiopia and found a "quiet revolution" is taking place. Meeting the rising urban demand for food can increase the incomes of the rural poor, most of whom derive their livelihoods from small and family farm agriculture.

Study: gender-equitable fertilizer use would benefit development and climate change mitigation (30 Mar)

A new study observes gender-equity implications for high, low, and balanced inorganic nitrogen fertilizer use. Lower nitrogen use can decrease crop yields, and when yields are low, researchers found that women may also decline food to ensure that young children or other family members eat more nutritious food. Case studies from India and sub-Saharan Africa indicate that women and children are most vulnerable to negative externalities from imbalanced nitrogen fertilizer use.  There is the need for women to be included in on-farm decision-making around fertilizer purchase and application.

Reframing food security for an urbanising world (10 Apr)

Researchers from Africa, Asia and international agencies met at a technical workshop co-organized by IIED and IFAD to reflect on the nature and diversity of urbanization processes and rural-urban linkages, their impacts on food systems and what this means for achieving food security and adequate nutrition for the urban and rural poor. Reframing food systems and food security on how the diverse processes of urbanisation contribute to profound transformations in rural areas and in food systems were discussed as most current debate on global food security is framed in terms of inadequate agricultural production.

Is Indonesia really free from a food crisis? (11 Apr)

Indonesia is not officially among the countries suffering from a food crisis, but in a survey led by the International Food Policy Research Institute last year, Indonesia is in fact still seeing a considerable level of hunger. More than 19 million people in the archipelago are malnourished and at least two children out of 100 die before the age of five according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in 2016. The government needs to respond to nation's rapidly increasing population, which currently sits at 1.49 percent annual growth and focus on improving the nation's food and agriculture sector, especially in the wake of inevitable climate change.

India: Nabard says loan waivers a bad idea (11 Apr)

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) said debt waivers create a moral hazard from a credit repayment perspective. It is not likely to have omnibus waivers as every time a debt waiver is announced, it is taxpayers' money which is used to help bail out the farmers. Nabard reported a 4.24 per cent increase in its post tax net for 2016-17 at Rs 2,631 crore, and a 16.27 per cent expansion in its outstanding loans at Rs 3.08 trillion. 

Philippine agriculture policy 'counterproductive', warns OECD (10 Apr)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) analysis found that government support for agriculture in the Philippines is inefficient and in some ways counterproductive, increasing the country's malnutrition problem. With almost five times the OECD average of 0.7 per cent the government aid to the sector, in the form of subsidies or protective taxes on imports was worth around 3.3 per cent of GDP but agricultural performance and productivity lags well behind that of other countries.

Philippines: Time to prepare as another El Niño threatens Asian countries in 2018 (18 Apr)

The Department of Agriculture will lay down early preparatory measures to protect the Filipino farmers and fishermen from its ill-effects during a threat of another long lasting El Niño. Part of the preparation would be the establishment of Small Water-Impounding Systems (SWIS) and Solar-Powered irrigation Systems which will be included in proposed budget of P20-billion for agriculture for 2018. To ensure that El Niño will not hit the next harvest, coordinative efforts will be applied with other agencies, especially the National Irrigation Administration for the early release of irrigation water for the next planting season.

National food security:
This fundamental global problem touches everything from farming to technology (18 Apr)

Fighting global hunger is just one of the many complex challenges under food security as the threats are diverse and plenty, such as climate change related diseases and trade policies. With global population projected to grow by another 2 billion by 2020 the demand for food continues to swell. Nevertheless a land-scarce country such as Singapore could rank the third most food-secure country after the U.S. and Ireland. The premise would be that food security, free trade and sustainability are a triangle of factors that are correlated with each other.

Disclamer
Statements and opinions expressed in the articles/news are solely those of the author(s) and the organizations they represented.
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