October 2017
(20 Sep - 20 Oct)
policy updates
Asia-Pacific countries boost disaster resilience efforts at regional UN meeting (12 Oct)
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) convened the first Disaster Resilience Week in Bangkok, from 10 to 12 October 2017 to discuss how to make the region more resilient to disasters. Countries in the region agreed to establish the Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network to strengthen ESCAP's work on coherence for disaster risk reduction and resilience across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and ESCAP's Regional Roadmap on implementation of the SDGs.

Pakistan: PM discusses plans to ensure food security (4 Oct)
Issues relating to the Pakistan's agriculture sector including cost of production, productivity, marketability and competitiveness of the local agri-products and the challenges faced by the agriculturists came under discussion between Pakistan Prime Minister and representatives from various agriculture sectors. Inputs from agriculturists on solutions to Pakistani's agriculture challenges are needed to prepare a comprehensive plan to review and overcome issues pertaining to input prices, taxes and electricity over-billing.

Afghanistan: National Unity Government official raises concern over food insecurity, malnutrition (16 Oct)
Currently, 33 per cent of Afghanistan's population are vulnerable to food insecurity, of which most of them are women and children. National Unity Government (NUG) official, raises these concern at the Afghanistan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda (AFSeN) event in Kabul. The agenda aims to provide all Afghans access to adequate food and promoting better diet for women and children. Government agencies and representatives from countries and organizations that have backed AFSeN are also committed to engage in these initiatives.

Cambodia: Agriculture scholarships to help nurture local talent (19 Oct)
A new agriculture scholarship and research grant were launched recently in Cambodia providing students with opportunities to take up graduate degrees and conduct research. Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, points out Cambodia's need for human capital to develop the agriculture sector and expect that the new scholarships will provide such expertise

Livestock expected to help Indonesia become global food barn (26 Sep)
The Indonesian Government believes the vision to become a global food barn in 2045 could be achieved if the country is to boost growth in the animal husbandry sector. On 22-24 September, around 1,200 livestock breeders gathered at the Cibubur Camping Site, East Jakarta to hold the National Livestock Jamboree and seek ways to enhance this sector as well as a dialog with President Joko Widodo. The President states that by optimally industrialize its operations, the livestock sector of Indonesia can compete with those of other countries and serve as a driving force to achieve the target of making the country a global food barn.

Japan's embassies, consulates to help push agriculture exports (6 Oct)
Diplomatic outposts and head of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) overseas will be required to prepare monthly reports regarding local condition of Japanese farm products to the Central Government in Tokyo. This is part of the government's efforts to boost exports for such products. The information will then be shared with the related ministries and agencies to help create policies to increase exports and achieve government's target of 1 trillion yen ($8.86 billion) in agricultural exports by 2019.

China's massive investment in water conservancy projects (11 Oct)
To ensure that more than 80 per cent of China's rural residents enjoy centralized water supply by 2020 and as part of the country's poverty-relief efforts, The Chinese government has made a massive investment in water conservancy projects over the past five years helping many people in poor regions. The investment, worth 226.6 billion yuan (about 34.3 billion U.S. dollars), helped lift more than 300,000 rural people out of poverty, enabled 110 million rural residents for safe drinking water, built water-saving irrigation systems on around 2.3 million hectares of farmland, and treated water and soil erosion on 41,000 square kilometers of land. 

Fiji and 6 other Pacific islands to take advantage of funding facility for Argi-Business (3 Oct)
Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization (PIPSO) plans to provide Fiji and six other Pacific islands (Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands) with funding facility for Argi-Business and Nutrition which is part of their Promoting Nutritious Food Systems in the Pacific Islands Projects. To help in facilitating this project funding, PIPSO will be working with agricultural businesses and fisheries in these island countries.

Organic branding in Fiji (20 Oct)
Fiji will soon have its own national organic brand for their food products. The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism of Fiji, Faiyaz Koya, stated that Fiji will be launching a national organic brand under the Fijian Made-Buy Fijian Campaign, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. Both ministries had also been in discussions regarding the development of the national organic policy which would guide and set standards for Fiji's flourishing organic sector with growing benefits on the economy, environment and health. 

Azerbaijan: Seed production main goal facing country's agricultural sector (25 Sep)
Agriculture is the third biggest sector in the Azerbaijani economy after oil and construction. It has the biggest share in employment and has huge influence on poverty reduction in rural areas. To further enhance food security and boost the agriculture production in the country, the Agriculture Ministry established a State Seed Fund to help farmers with new high-yielding and drought-resistant seeds. This will prevent the country from importing seeds, hence save the state budget and create new jobs. 

trends and statistics 
Vietnam spends heavily on fertilizer, pesticide imports (28 Sep)
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam purchased 3.57 million tons of fertilizers valued at USD 955 million during January-September period, up 19.7 per cent in volume and 16.7 per cent in value comparing to last year. As for pesticides and pesticide materials, import shipments increased 47.9 per cent year-on-year to USD 739 million in January-September and Chinese products accounted for 55 per cent of the total. This made the import spending on the agriculture sector during the period surged 19.1 per cent year-on-year to USD 21.15 billion.

India plans domestic sale of pulses to prevent rotting (10 Oct)
India's production of pulses surged 40 per cent from last year to 22.95 million tons in 2016-17 after higher state-set minimum purchase prices encouraged farmers to increase the crop area. Due to this surge, the government is trying to sell half of reserves of its pulses to open domestic market to prevent from rotting. This sale may lower prices and will impact winter sowing. The government will continue to purchase pulses from the local market to support farmers and consumers and are seeking to buy the grain at a subsidized rate so they can distribute it to the poor under their social welfare programs.

case stories
Nepal: Testing of pesticide in imported vegetables ineffective (27 Sep)
Nepal imports huge quantities of fruits and vegetables from India and officials have said that pesticides were found in Indian vegetables. However, no step has been taken so far to test foods properly due to lack of human resources. According to the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) vegetables with pesticides that exceed 45 level are not edible. The Ministry of Agriculture Development was working on the framework of the pesticide testing laboratory and make effective use of the testing machines. 

System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Nepal (18 Oct)
Slow agricultural development, land shortages and population growth have been pushing more and more families into a vulnerable food security in Nepal. Additional rice will have to be produced on less land with less water, less labor and fewer chemicals. The system of rice intensification (SRI) can be a suitable methodology in this regard. Many countries in Asia have been practicing this system which has shown significant yield increase using half the amount of water. Currently, SRI tests and demonstrations are being carried out in 35 districts across the country. Saving labour as well as seeds, water and costs of production makes SRI increasingly attractive to farmers

Bhutan: More than 3,000 youth return to villages to take up farming (17 Oct)
According to a recent survey by the agriculture ministry in Bhutan, more than 3,000 youth have returned to their villages in the six eastern dzongkhags to take up farming. This is considered a significant increase towards urban-rural migration and indicates a positive aspect towards making Bhutan food self-sufficient. School Agriculture Programme (SAP) is another important factor that contributes towards becoming food self-sufficient. It is one of the methods of providing enough food to children in schools and some schools have been awarded as best model farm schools.

Bangladesh: Marginal farmers have least access to credit and agricultural extension services (5 Oct)
Over 76 per cent of farmers in Bangladesh are small and marginal. Recent findings of Bangladesh Integrated Household Survey (BIHS) found that these group of farmers have the least access to the credit and agricultural extension services provided by the state. Two BIHS surveys (supported by IFPRI) in 2012 and 2015 have surveyed 6,500 households across the seven administrative divisions. The lead author of the survey report emphasized the importance but still lacking, of providing the small and marginal farmers with adequate access to institutional credit and effective agricultural extension services for raising income and enhancing farm output in Bangladesh. He also emphasis on addressing the complex procedures of public agricultural credit distribution and agreed on investing more on farm research and ensuring fair prices for the produces to accelerate farm growth.

Bangladesh: New rice yields high hopes (12 Oct)
Breeders at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute have developed the new variety BRRI dhan81 through successful crosses between Iran's Amol-3 and local mega variety BRRI dhan28. This new grain has greater elongation traits and better export potential. Further it accounts for more than 91 per cent of the country's total 35 million tonnes of rice production. The new variety comes at a time when the old rice varieties are losing potential due to ageing. Farmers need replacement to gain more yield from less land and go for agricultural diversity by growing other high value crops.

Myanmar: Water surplus expected to boost paddy acres (4 Oct)
Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI) stated that dams across the country have more water than the previous year to irrigate more rice fields this coming summer. The stored water can irrigate around 1.2 million acres of rice paddy grown at the irrigated areas until the crop is mature. The government expects to export up to 2 million tonnes of rice this year.

Cambodia: Bid to invest in silkworm farms taking shape (12 Oct)
Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture encouraged farmers and investors to increase the number of silkworms and mulberry trees grown in the country and encouraged silkworm farmers to seize opportunities in the rapidly expanding cosmetics industry. For this purpose, the Ministry in partnership with a Japanese beauty company has released a new study on silkworms and their potential for the cosmetics industry for more concrete action to further investment plans. The project will help boost living standards for farmers who traditionally only grow rice.

Rubber farmers in PNG get export license (29 Sep) 
PNG Rubber Industry Board has awarded a rubber exporting license to a multimillion-kina rubber development project in New Ireland province. Agriculture and Livestock Secretary, Dr Vele Pat Ila'ava and Rubber Industry Board chairperson, Ms Josephine Kennie attended the licence presentation and
the declarations of the National Identity (NID) registrations to rubber farmers which was a benchmark initiative that the board wishes to support across rubber-growing regions in Papua New Guinea in the near future.

technological innovations
Bio-techs in crops to help Pakistan earn more revenues through exports (29 Sep)
Pakistan needs to introduce bio-technology and other modern methods to enhance its farm production beyond self-sufficiency which would also help the country make more revenues through their exports. The Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan states that the use of bio-technology is already under consideration of the government and a committee has been formed. In addition, mobile applications were also becoming popular in Pakistan to connect farmers with information and services related to agriculture timely and accurately. 

Cambodia: Clean energy from pig dung (29 Sep)
The National Biodigester Programme (NBP), implemented by the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture in cooperation with the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance and the EU, has helped pig farms in Kampong Speu province with biogas digesters that converted pig dung into biogas. Biogas digesters reduce greenhouse gas emissions therefore methane from the pig dung fermentation is no longer drifting to the air but could be used as an energy source instead. The leftover slurry does not cause soil degradation as does chemical fertilizers and has a higher nutritional value than animal manure. Over a 10-year period from 2006-2016, the NBP has helped install 25,383 biodigesters throughout the country that benefitted about 140,000 farmers.

voices and views
Curb animal antibiotics to stop spread of resistance, say health experts (3 Oct)
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that infections resistant to antibiotics are the greatest threat to human health. By 2050 some 50 million people may be dying in a year of drug resistant infections, according to a major review in 2015. On the other hand, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the use of antibiotics is crucial for food safety and quality. Research is needed to produce more affordable and quality animal vaccines, develop alternative treatments to antibiotics, and improve diagnostics. 

At UN World Food Day event, Pope Francis urges action on climate change, conflicts to end global hunger (16 Oct)
This year, World Food Day is being marked as "hunger is on the rise" for the first time in over a decade, affecting 815 million people - 11 per cent of the global population. The increase is mainly due to the rise of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks, which are also major drivers of migration. At UN World Food Day event with this year's theme 'addressing migration through investing in food security and rural development', Pope Francis called for governments worldwide to collaborate to ensure voluntary and safer migration; for a disarmament commitment; and to protect the planet while using its resources - producing and consuming food.

Rural areas, too long seen as poverty traps, key to economic growth in developing countries (9 Oct) 
According to the FAO State of Food and Agriculture 2017, rural areas have huge potential for economic growth devoted to food production and related sectors. And with most of the world's poor and hungry living in these areas, achieving the 2030 development agenda will rely on unlocking this potential. The report further says that targeting policy support and investment to rural areas to build dynamic food systems and supporting agro-industries that are well connected to urban zones will create employment and allow more people to stay, and succeed. 

Women can propel India to second green revolution: Agriculture Minister (15 Oct) 
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that women in India play a key role in the agri sector through labour supervision and participation in post-harvest operations. With such role Indian women
can boost the country to second green revolution provided they get opportunities and adequate facilities. The minister added further that appropriate structural, functional and institutional measures are being promoted to empower women to build their abilities and to increase their access to input technology and other agricultural resources and various initiatives that have been taken in this regard.

Malaysia: Be innovative to generate wealth, minister tells farmers, fishermen (28 Sep)
During the National Farmers, Livestock Breeders and Fisherman Convention 2017, Malaysian Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, encouraged these groups to be innovative and think of new ideas to find new opportunities that can generate income. The convention was expected to serve as a platform for them to provide insight and ideas on how to further develop the agriculture industry and help the Ministry to think of new policies, new approaches to further boost the economic value of this sector.

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