November 2017
(20 Oct - 20 Nov)
policy updates
India set for multi-pronged approach to agriculture (15 Nov)
India has set an ambitious target of doubling their farmers' income by 2022. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu called for a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to agriculture with focus on crop diversification as well as technology infusion to make the sector viable and sustainable. Terminating restriction on movement of food grains as well as providing affordable institutional credit for farmers are some of the initiatives to achieve the target. 

Papua New Guinea's self-sufficiency drive offers openings for agri-industry (24 Oct)
The PNG Government aims to focus on import replacement and food self-sufficiency that would create opportunities for the food processing industry to encourage investment in downstream capacity.
The government in particular is planning to limit the island nation's extensive food import bill by expanding the agriculture sector. Further, to boosting primary production, PNG is seeking investors in downstream value-added processing, which could create export potential. Promoting value-added agriculture is part of a broader national effort to increase industrial capacity in the country. To achieve this goal, the PNG Government is moving to improve access to credit, introduce regulatory and supervisory reforms, as well as promote micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Indonesia focuses on palm oil smallholders to raise output (2 Nov)
Indonesia seeks to boost its overall palm oil output by improving smallholder productivity. Given that Indonesia cannot expand the planting areas, the most possible way to increase production is through improving productivity, particularly in smallholders, as stated by Joko Supriyono, chairman of the Indonesia Palm Oil Association. Indonesia's agriculture ministry aimed to replant 20,000 hectares of smallholder palm plantations this year to boost declining yields, as it tries to squeeze more output from existing plantations.

Malaysia: Ministry allocates RM75m for Income Increment Programme (8 Nov)
The Ministry of Rural and Regional Development in Malaysia is allocating RM75 million for the Income Increment Programme (PPP), with the aim to alleviate poverty and improve livelihood through economic activities. The programme targets 7,500 participants from the rural areas with focus on raising their income, especially in agriculture and economic planning. It will be based on four categories namely the agro-based businesses, small businesses, service activities and agricultural activities.

Agriculture Ministry to offer loans to help toddy producers in central Myanmar (7 Nov)
In Myanmar, toddy trees provide a nice view to the countryside in the dry zone area and its juice is used to produce jaggery (palm sugar). As traditional businesses, it thus can create job opportunities for local people. The Agriculture Ministry plans to provide loans and technical assistance to toddy farmers in central Myanmar by providing modern climbing equipment as well as other technical support for growing new toddy palm trees, producing toddy finished-products and modern techniques for jaggery making process. This will not only improve the rural economy as thousands of people dependent on the industry, but will also boost tourism in the area and prevent young people from migrating to other countries. 

Myanmar steps up for climate resilient farming (31 Oct)
Myanmar is a country most affected by climate change and has suffered from extreme weather such as cyclones, floods and droughts for the last three decades. The disaster risk reduction task force and drone mapping unit were established in August through the collaboration of government ministries with the aim of enhancing disaster preparedness and response activities in the country. 

Philippines: Better Rice Initiative Asia-Foresting Agriculture (BRIA) turns over achievements towards sustainable development for rice farmers (3 Nov) 
The Philippines Department of Agriculture celebrated the achievements of the Better Rice Initiative Asia-Foresting Agriculture and Rice Marketing by improved Education and Rural Advisory Services (BRIA-FARMERS) in bridging the gaps between the public and the private sectors. BRIA-FARMERS has established farm management through training modules. The training modules will be used as tools to enable sustainable learning experience. BRIA is a four-year multi-sector project that started in 2013 and was piloted into 13 municipalities and 13 provinces in Aurora province, Southern Leyte, and Iloilo.

Viet Nam targets international links to promote its agricultural cooperatives (7 Nov)
As of the end of last year, there were 19,569 cooperative units in Viet Nam with more than 6.25 million members, of these 10,726 were agricultural cooperatives. Recently agricultural cooperatives are facing difficulties, including capital shortage, lack of consultancy from staff, post-harvest preservation systems, and weak linkages among farmers, cooperatives and enterprises. Viet Nam plans to enhance collaborations with international organizations to promote the development of agricultural cooperatives, especially in supporting market access and management capacity.

Cambodia: Push to increase longan exports (8 Nov)
Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has announced its intention to expand longan exports to new countries. Longan farms occupy 8,816 hectares in 10 main provinces, with Battambang and Pailin as the key producers. The Ministry is now working on certain export requirements as preparation for shipping the fruit overseas in greater numbers. Farmers will expand their plantations if there is more demand locally and overseas.

China: Tax benefits to boost real economy (7 Nov)
The Chinese Government has plans to expand tax incentives in effort to reduce costs for agriculture-related and small-scale businesses. The government will also remove financial institutions' value-added tax on their interest income from small loans to peasant households and small and micro-sized businesses. This reflects the government's goal of leading financial capital efficiently to better serve the development of the real economy. More subjects of local tax will be added into the system, including a broader pilot program that shifts water resource fees into relevant tax, and to facilitate the tax on urban construction and maintenance projects.

China to complete product quality traceability system by 2020 (24 Oct)
By 2020 China is expected to complete its product quality traceability system which will provide information regarding sources, destinations and accountable persons to reinforce product quality and safety. According to the recent guidelines issued jointly by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) and nine other central departments, the system would target key products, including farm produce and food, and will raise quality management, encourage innovative quality supervision and ensure the safety of consumer goods.

Korea program on international agriculture centers assists establishing national tech hubs in 20 nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America (14 Nov)
The Rural Development Administration under the Korean agriculture ministry has developed and shared agricultural technologies customized to developing countries through partnerships with local research institutes. The Korea Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA) centers have been established in 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to help farmers solve their challenges. The KOPIA centers aim to improve the income of small-scale farms by providing advanced agricultural technology designed to the local environment. Since its establishment in 2009, KOPIA has designed and implemented a total of 21 pilot villages in six different countries.

Azerbaijan: Minister -  Food Security Institute to stimulate export development (14 Nov)
Azerbaijan has 4.8 million hectares of agricultural land, that comprises over 50 per cent of its total area. Thus, agriculture is fundamental both in terms of the development of non-oil sector, reduction of unemployment and poverty, as well as securing food supplies to its population. The country takes a new step to provide safe food by the establishment of Food Security Institute which will serve to ensure food security, improve the quality of the country's food products and support a system in developing food safety. This will further stimulate export development. Azerbaijan exported agricultural products in the amount of $374.8 million during January-August 2017, which is 47.4 per cent increase comparing to the same period in 2016.

EU, Uzbekistan discuss cooperation in cotton, agriculture spheres (25 Oct)
Uzbekistan ranks sixth in the world in terms of cotton fiber production and the fifth in its exports. The country produces about 3,500 tons of raw cotton and 1.1 million tons of cotton fiber per year. During the 76th plenary meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) held in Tashkent, the EU delegation and Uzbek officials discussed the prospects for cooperation in cotton, as well as the overall agriculture industry. The membership of the EU in the ICAC is of strategic significance to the world cotton industry as it is the 11th largest producer and 6th largest exporter of cotton in the world. 

Kazakh government has launched 264 flood preventions, mitigation measures in 2017 (9 Nov)
In Kazakhstan the major cause of floods is when snow starts to melt fast in late winter and spring, causing extensive damage to regions, including the capital city Astana. Even though it happens every year, the related departments are not always ready with preventive action. The government and local authorities embarked on the implementation of 264 flood prevention programmes in 2017 and plan to complete other 96 by the end of this year. Flood prevention and mitigation activities are also envisioned in the country's 2017-2020 roadmap. 

trends and statistics 
Rainfall could affect coffee harvest in Vietnam (27 Oct)
Erratic rainfall over the next 10 days in Vietnam's Central Highlands, considered as its main coffee belt, may affect the country's coffee harvest. Coffee beans need around two to three weeks of sunny days to be fully grown, while recent rainfall has prevented beans from turning ripe and ready for harvest. With this weather the harvest is expected be delayed and peak by mid-November with steady market offer of 42,400-43,000 dong ($1.87-$1.89) per kg. 

Cambodia: Exports of live cattle on the rise (31 Oct)
Cambodian government officials and private sector representatives discussed the prospect of cattle exports to neighboring countries Viet Nam and Thailand. The government is encouraging farmers to take on cattle farming, using traditional breeding techniques for their meat and not to use them for farm work. Cambodia is lagging behind its neighbours when it comes to cattle farming, and needs the private sector to invest in producing quality commercial feed and improving breeding techniques.

Bhutan: Exporters delay orange export to improve market (8 Nov)
Bhutan Exporters Association (BEA) will start exporting citrus mandarin (orange) in the last week of November later than the regular export time. This is a strategy to improve market by exporting ripe and mature oranges. This was discussed during the export coordination meeting organized by BEA and the department of marketing and cooperatives, agriculture ministry. The meeting also discussed other matters such as: the replacement of perishable export items under the preferential trade agreement between Bhutan and Bangladesh; as well as role of middlemen in the mandarin business. 

case stories
India's water-logged farmers try out revamped flood insurance (24 Oct)
Climate change has brought intensified rainfall in South Asia with the heaviest rains in August and September 2017. Insurance policies for farmers in India could play a role in reducing the losses however getting insurance right - from how fast help is delivered to how closely payouts match actual losses - has proved difficult. A pilot project, supported by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), plans to help insure 200 farmers for up to 5 million rupees ($78,000) in losses in total, with payouts made within a couple of months after a disaster.

Rural Nepal tackles climate change with green schemes (16 Nov)
Nepal is a country extremely vulnerable not only to climate change but to various natural disasters. It is crucial for Nepalese villages to become more resilient and adaptable to environmental change. Agriculture and energy are the two main areas where villagers are implementing a mix of traditional and innovative measures to combat this, including clean energy projects, organic farming methods, recycling schemes and the creation of a self-sustaining eco-village. There are plenty of scope for the country to lead the way on clean energy, being surrounded by mountains and hills as well as the potential to replicate some of the green initiatives that are already taking place in certain villages.

Climate change-fuelled drought pushes Sri Lanka farmers to cities (3 Nov)
According to M W Weerakoon, additional secretary of Sri Lanka Ministry of Agriculture, farmers are moving (out of their villages) because there isn't enough money in agriculture. Most farmers own less than an acre of land, and large numbers are facing worsening debt, particularly as droughts, floods and other extreme weather linked to climate change hit harvests. Weerakoon said further, the drought has accelerated migration, with harvests expected to fall by as much as 50 per cent this year and rice facing the worst harvest in a decade. The government is now focusing on helping farmers hit by drought to get back in the field by making rice seed available at lower price. 

Vanuatu: Community farms helping small islands adapt to climate change (15 Nov)
People in Futuna, small island in Vanuatu, mostly rely on the land and the ocean for their food, and natural springs for their water, which are located far away from their homes. In dry periods water is scarce, and in floods the soil runs off the gardens. With more erratic weather and a rising sea, the job of growing or gathering food become more difficult. CARE International is helping the people of Futuna build home gardens to bring them more food and adapt to climate change and diseases. The project also involves women to improve their lives and break down many cultural and social barriers.

voices and views
Thailand's new investment chief eager to spur 'smart farming' (1 Nov)
At a recent news conference in Bangkok, Duangjai Asawachintachit, the new secretary-general of the Board of Investment, outlined her plans for luring high-tech industries and developing talent to contribute turning traditional farming into smart farming. This will be executed by offering tax breaks and other incentives. The program is likely to cover everything from advanced irrigation systems to fertilizers and crop distribution. Another plan of the new chief's blueprint is talent development with her aims to promote efforts to foster elite talent at universities and vocational colleges.

Boosting Papua New Guinea agriculture the way out of poverty as new dairy farm starts production (14 Nov)
PNG is a country with natural agricultural advantages, good climate for a variety of produce, excellent water resources with dedicated farmers everywhere. However, Ilan Weiss of Innovative Agro Industry (IAI) expressed that the agriculture sector right now is not doing enough. Weiss says that there are compelling reasons to boost PNG's agriculture as it can reduce reliance on imports and is a way out of poverty. IAI has been developing modern diary production farm which will replace imports and increase self-sufficiency. 

technological innovations
New Chinese saltwater-tolerant rice can feed 200 million people (25 Oct)
Chinese scientists have managed to grow salt water-resistant rice that could feed 200 million people around the world. This breakthrough was achieved by The Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center who have been experimenting saline soil tolerant rice breeds extensively to boost its commercial production in Qingdao, a Chinese port city bordering the Yellow Sea. This rice variety is getting popular for its health benefits, flavour, and texture. The variety is also rich in calcium and micronutrients as it grows in a saline environment. Moreover, working as a disinfectant itself, the salt property in the rice may reduce the use of pesticides.

New Chinese technology helps to introduce high-quality Afghan saffron to world (13 Nov)
According to the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Saffron is cultivated in 30 out of 34 provinces on a total area of around 2,800 hectares involving approximately 18,000 farmers. The suitable weather conditions for growing saffron has attracted Chinese businessman to invest in saffron farming and use a new technology to produce high quality saffron. This will gradually replace growing opium poppies with legal saffron crops and introduce it to international markets.

Drones expected to boost agriculture in Japan (31 Oct)
Companies in Japan are increasingly competing to develop high-tech agricultural drones for crop spraying and other uses. They target small-scale farmers who are facing a serious shortage of successors. However, there are obstacles for the use of agricultural drones to expand. Under the guidelines of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, personnel should be on the site to monitor. The agriculture ministry will still have to discuss on how to ensure the safety of drones and other issues; and make a decision on whether to allow fully automated spraying within this fiscal year. 

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