August 2017
(20 Jul - 20 Aug)
policy updates
Collectively managing South Asia's stressed water resources (1 Aug)
Nowadays, freshwater is facing a crisis around the world. The Fourth Consultation of the UN High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) on Valuing Water was held in Dhaka with the goal of achieving the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by inspiring better decision-making, and making better trade-offs between competing claims on water. The regional consultation also encouraged governments, businesses and civil society to consider water's multiple values, and to guide the transparent incorporation of these values into decision-making by policymakers, communities and businesses.

India to launch new accelerator program to boost agriculture start-ups (4 Aug)
The Government of India is launching a new AGRI-UDAAN programme, managed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) that will train startups and connect them with potential investors. The programme will also help convert innovative ideas from India's rural youth into feasible businesses. Several new startups have been incubated during the pre-launch phase of the programme, and they are now processing exotic grains, manufacturing kinetic farm machines and developing smart irrigation systems. AGRI-UDAAN will reach out to agri-startups in several cities in India. 

Thailand promotes organic agriculture with new incentives (25 Jul)
The Government of Thailand promotes organic farming by providing various incentives to farmers. The government hopes that up to 400,000 farmers will take part in the scheme over the next four years, and that another 600,000 rai (96,000 ha) of organic crops will be cultivated in that time. According to the Oxford Business Group, better land management practices, improved infrastructure, further diversification of crops and greater emphasis on programmes like organic production could help boost yields and decrease rural poverty.

Thailand: Raft of aid measures for affected farmers (9 Aug)
Farmers in 36 provinces in northern Thailand were hit by tropical floods over the last month. The Thai government, through its Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, will provide cash handout worth 1.69 billion baht to affected farmers who are registered with government units. A tax-deduction scheme for people who donate money to help flood victims has also been approved by the cabinet. Reduced interest rate, interest-free loans, tax breaks and credit support for SMEs are some other government-led relief aids for farmers in flood- destroyed areas. 

Cambodia: Contract farming explored (7 Aug)
The Government of Cambodia stated that it is time for Cambodia's agriculture sector to make more of an effort to use modern technology to expand the country's potential to all sub-sectors of agriculture and transform the country into a middle-income country by 2030. For this purpose, the Agriculture Ministry has signed an agreement with a leading agriculture, education and infrastructure company to collaborate on a modern contract farming project. The project will focus on rice production, crop rotation with the use of technology for harvesting, the use of machinery, proper use of pesticides, studies on soil conditions, as well as efforts to help farmers access markets and raise funds.

Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture develops map of agro processing enterprise locations (31 Jul)
According to Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, agricultural efficiency depends on agro processing, as it forms demand for agricultural products and increases its added value. The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a map of its agro processing enterprise locations to boost the sector's growth and increase import substitution. New enterprise construction is planned mainly in the South Kazakhstan, Almaty, Pavlodar, West Kazakhstan and Aktobe regions to accommodate to the available raw material and existing plants in the regions.

Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to help Saffron farmers with 500 tons of bulbs (14 Aug)
Many believe Afghanistan is one of the biggest producers of saffron in the world. Currently, one kilogram of saffron is sold for up to USD 1,000 in the world market, and this high price has encouraged farmers to cultivate more saffron. Farmers state that more saffron can be produced if the Afghan government, through its Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), provides more support and assistance. In response, the Ministry plans to distribute 500 tons of saffron bulbs to farmers, which is expected to result in a harvest of up to 8 tons of saffron this year.

Farm produce quality improves in China (18 Aug)
Produce quality in China has improved gradually over the past five years, with 97.6 per cent of the output passing a quality check during the first half of this year. China's Ministry of Agriculture has organized comprehensive safety standards, including around 6,000 quality standards in pesticide and veterinary residue, and more than 5,000 other industry standards. In addition, there are 117,000 superintendents on duty as part of a national safety monitoring network.

Australia provides additional funding to agribusiness project in Samoa (28 Jul)
The Samoa Agribusiness Project has been supporting the country's agribusiness sector, which includes cocoa, coconut, root crop, and poultry farming. With the goal of helping the sector increase agricultural production and generate local employment, the project - co-financed by the Asian Development Bank and the Governments of Australia and Samoa - has now partnered with four commercial banks to provide suitable and affordable financial services to participating agribusinesses.

trends and statistics 
Global warming could cause yield of sorghum crops to drop 'substantially' (15 Aug)
Sorghum is a cereal grain that is grown for food in arid parts of Africa and South Asia, and is also grown for animal fodder (and sometimes biofuel) in many countries. Sorghum is particularly resilient in dry conditions and it has also adjusted its reproductive system to adapt to high temperatures. However, a new study finds that sorghum yields decline substantially at temperatures higher than 33 degrees Celsius. This suggests this hardy cereal may be more vulnerable to heat stress caused by climate change than previously thought. Developing new, heat-resistant breeds as well as new crop management strategies are some potential solutions to the problem.

India: Onion price rise temporary phenomena: Agriculture Secretary (7 Aug)
India's Agriculture Secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak stated that the rise in onion prices is a temporary trend. According to the secretary, with more onion being harvested in some states, the supply of onion will increase soon and cool down prices. The government is closely monitoring wholesale and retail prices. The secretary's words are at odds with a statement made earlier this month by the director of the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation, who said that there would be a 30-40 per cent fall in acreage of kharif onion this year due to poor rains in some states. About 30-40 per cent of the country's total onion production comes from the kharif season, and the rest from the rabi season. 

Nepal: Floods shave Rs 2.9 billion off farm sector (15 Aug)
According to the Ministry of Agricultural Development, the farm sector is estimated to suffer loss of Rs 2.86 billion due to flash flood. The vegetable and fishery sectors suffered the biggest loss while the cost of paddy fields damage has not been ascertained yet. The agricultural sector of the central Tarai region suffered the biggest loss amounting to Rs 1.95 billion. Rice yields decline may adversely affect the economy as it contributes of around 20 per cent to the total agricultural output. To minimize the loss of paddy output the ministry has suggested that farmers use paddy varieties that can tolerate submergence stress.

Myanmar: As demand rises, local coffee could emerge as key national export (1 Aug)
Coffee is one of the highest-value crops among Myanmar's agricultural products. The international market for coffee is much bigger than rice, Myanmar's largest export. Currently, the country's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation expects to produce coffee on 200,000 acres of coffee plantation land between 2018 and 2020, and hopes to produce up to 60,000 tons of coffee by 2030. However, the government needs to resolve existing farmland problems to support and protect local farmers and businesses, and prevent trespassing.

Viet Nam's corn imports to continue (28 Jul)
In Viet Nam, corn is an important food crop, especially for people in mountainous areas. Corn, used to produce animal feed or directly used for food, food processing or for producing bio-energy, is mostly imported. With high production cost and low yields, the domestic output of corn is unable to compete with cheaper imports. According to the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, the sector needs to apply new farming methods to raise productivity, cut costs and improve competitiveness. Closer links with corn farmers and co-operatives also need to be established. 

case stories
Globally, untreated wastewater is used to irrigate crops way more than previously thought (27 Jul)
A recent study which has been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, used advanced computer modeling to determine the extent of untreated urban wastewater being used for agriculture. Findings show that more than 50 per cent of farmers around the world are using untreated wastewater to irrigate their crops. The study recommends further work to ensure that urban sanitation policies not only address the protection of surface water quality for ecological reasons, but also recognize the water quantity and quality needs of downstream farmers. 

As rural Sri Lanka dries out, young farmers look for new job options (16 Aug)
As Sri Lanka struggles with its worst drought in 40 years, young farmers in the hardest hit areas have left their villages and are migrating elsewhere for new jobs. Farming is no longer seen as a feasible career option as climate change brings more frequent extreme weather. The impact of this shift on Sri Lanka's economy will be substantial, with more than a quarter of the country's labor force currently working in the agriculture sector - a sector that contributes 8 per cent of GDP.

Climate experts identify building blocks of Vietnam's mitigation actions on rice (2 Aug)
During a stakeholder engagement workshop organized by Vietnam's Institute of Agricultural Environment and the Institute for Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development held in Hanoi, stakeholders discuss the development of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) in Vietnam's rice sector. Experts stressed that the rice NAMAs actions should be inclusive and appropriate to the needs and capacities of the communities, have institutionalized financial mechanisms and economic incentives, and create strong collaboration among stakeholders. Challenges that constrain mitigation efforts were also discussed at the workshop. Unclear policy guidelines, gaps between science and policy, lack of an approved Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system, are among the constraints that the government needs to deal with to achieve mitigation targets.

Hope in farming: Filipino farmers who have earned millions via agriculture (8 Aug)
Philippines has a lot of potential in the vegetable sector. The country's vegetable production is increasing by almost 2 per cent annually, and there's been a parallel 1.7 per cent growth in the amount of land dedicated to planting vegetables. However, this is still not sufficient to meet local demand for vegetables, and the country continues to import. The East-West Seed (EWS) company has urged farmers to earn more and escape poverty by planting vegetables in addition to their existing crops. As they celebrate the 35th year in the industry, the company is in search for "35 Farmer Heroes" which will serve as ambassadors and role models in the country's vegetable farming industry. Two nominees who have become millionaires from agriculture shared their success stories. 

Fiji's kava industry meets to discuss value chain analysis (17 Aug)
Fiji produces around 4,000 tonnes of dried kava a year to meet both local demand as well as to export to countries like New Zealand and the United States.  As part of the government's effort to improve kava production and increase exports, a comprehensive analysis of the kava value chain will be carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture's Kava Taskforce and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program. The analysis will map the value chain, establish baselines as well as identify the roles, responsibilities, expectations, challenges and opportunities for all participants.

Solomon: Cassava seedlings to Kukudu school (10 Aug)
The Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) held a workshop and distributed cassava seedlings to Kukudu Adventist College (KAC) in the Western province of Solomon Islands. Cassava is a staple food in Solomon Islands, alongside other root crops such as taro, sweet potato and yam. A KAC teacher stated that by providing varieties of healthy seedlings, they can help the school to identify the best variety of crop to plant by recording the yields and running organoleptic tests in the kitchen. 

Vanuatu agriculture experts develop food crops designed to withstand the effects of climate change (25 Jul)
Vanuatu crops have been impacted by climate change. Increased temperatures, and changes in precipitation have created problems for agriculture. Root crops that have been the main diets of indigenous people in this island which used to be resilient, able to survive extreme weather, pests, and diseases, are no longer resistant. Agriculture experts in Vanuatu have been crossbreeding more than 50 varieties of sweet potato to develop drought-resistant crops that addressing global climate change.

technological innovations
How the internet of things is digitizing agriculture and speeding up rural development in India
(26 Jul)
India's agricultural sector, which employs 50 per cent of the country's population, can reap huge benefits if it uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve supply chains and farming practices. By taking advantage of Agricultural IoT, India may revolutionize the way farmers plant, fertilize and harvest in the next decade. One potential development is the growing usage of smart sensor technology to monitor produce quality, as well as wind and light conditions, and soil acidity, temperature and mineral content. The IoT trend promises a bright future for agriculture and rural development in India.

Nuclear technology to help Pacific Islands (1 Aug)
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Pacific Community (SPC) signed an agreement in Vienna to provide nuclear technology to the Pacific region, in support of increasing food security and improving nutrition. The agreement also aims to help the region manage land sustainably and adapt to climate change and its effects on agriculture. Countries struggling with limited land space can use nuclear technology to better manage their water resources through smart agriculture and to develop new crops that are resistant to salty soil.

Japan's farming industry poised for automation revolution (4 Aug)
In a few years, Japan will improve the use of robotics in their agriculture sector. This unmanned farm machinery would require accurate positioning systems. Currently, a combination of GPS, supplemented with data sent from ground-based stations are used to improve accuracy. However, automation cannot take over all farming operations. The future of Japan's agriculture would be the combination of farmers' knowledge and farming technology.

voices and views
Most countries are better off with intact forests (15 Aug)
Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) examined deforestation in more than 50 countries in the tropics between 2000-2012, and identified regions where deforestation is most and least beneficial. According to Luis Roman Carrasco, the study's lead author, the goal of the research is to help policymakers realize whether their deforestation strategies made economic sense, and how their strategies could be modified to avoid inefficient loss of natural resources. The findings show that while agricultural gains are US $32 billion to US $53 billion per year, the environmental damage caused by tropical deforestation during this period amounts to future losses of US $107 billion to US $135 billion per year.

Iranians urged to avoid water-intensive crops (25 Jul)
Abolfazl Abesht, director of the Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project, said that with Iran being an arid region with an average of only 200 to 250 milliliters of rainfall each year, Iran needs to be careful about how they use water in every sector. According to Abesht, authorities and farmers need to review their policy of growing water-intensive crops and comprehensive planning is required to boost crop output and conserve water. Around 92 per cent of the country's water resources are used up by unsustainable and wasteful farming practices. Experts warned that if this practice continues, many parts of the country will turn into a barren desert and entire towns and villages will become unhabitable.

Pakistan: Government, stakeholders must collaborate to ensure food security (10 Aug)
During the Joint Advisory Group on Food Security meeting, the Advisor to Chief Minister for Social Welfare Department of Sindh, Shamim Mumta, stated that food security is a critical issue for the provincial government and collaboration among stakeholders is required to ensure food security. According to Mumta, women in both rural and urban areas should also be involved in the effort to tackle the issue. The meeting further discussed the present status of food security, food security policy frameworks, as well as a consultation plan. More consultation meetings at the district level involving relevant stakeholders will be conducted to resolve the challenge of food insecurity. 

Sri Lanka, it's high time for a NEW Green Revolution (15 Aug)
Sri Lanka and other countries need a new type of green revolution in response to bigger challenges encountered at present, such as unsustainable development and consumption. Social Scientist and Former Head of Sociology Department of the Colombo University Professor Siri Hettige outlined the importance of improving the productivity of the domestic agriculture sector. He stressed that farmers should be encouraged to produce biodegradable material, and that cooperatives and organizations should be established to assist farmers.

Myanmar can raise value, volume of agriculture exports by going organic (10 Aug)
Even though local farmers in Myanmar have the potential to export organic produce for better profit, they are still facing some constraints. Organic crops are generally more expensive, and the market for organic food is still not developed in Myanmar. In addition, the certification procedure required for exporting organic produce remains costly for farmers. There are only three companies in Myanmar that have been certified by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which make it difficult for the country to create an export market. Currently, Thailand is one of the largest exporters of organic foods among ASEAN countries.

Statements and opinions expressed in the articles/news are solely those of the author(s) and the organizations they represented.
Centre for Alleviation    
of Poverty  through Sustainable Agriculture
Jl. Merdeka 145
Bogor 16111
Contact person
Fetty Prihastini
Public Information Assistant
Follow us on

CAPSA's latest news update is available at its website 
as well as through ESCAP Newsletter