September 2017
(20 Aug - 20 Sep)
policy updates
Bangladesh Government aid helping farmers to recover in flood-affected districts (14 Sep)
The recent flooding in Bangladesh has destroyed thousands of acres of farmland. The Government through its Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has initiated a rehabilitation programme across the flood-hit districts, while an incentive programme is under process to help farmers to start cultivating the land. Around 19,000 farmers have been given incentive while fertilizers and seeds of wheat, maize, mustard and lentil are provided for free for the next cultivation season.

Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council and partners to collaborate on strengthening climate services for drought monitoring (30 Aug)
The northern region of Bangladesh has been facing agricultural droughts which can reduce the productivity of farming communities, especially where irrigation is not available. Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) and its partners discussed anticipated methods, work plans, and the user engagement process for effective development and long-term sustainability of the agricultural drought monitoring service. Under this partnership, BARC is also working to strengthen the capacities of national research and agricultural extension institutes in terms of using geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing approaches for drought risk management. 

Nepal: Ministry to endorse coffee development strategy (20 Sep)
The National Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) of Nepal has developed a five-year strategic plan to improve the productivity and quality of coffee in the country. The plan is seeking endorsement from the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) for implementation. The strategy focuses on five major strategic aspects to realize the goal of Nepali Arabica coffee commercial farming in 41 districts of the country that have been identified as potential for coffee cultivation.

Pakistan sees the need to improve quality of potato seed (31 Aug)
The Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has recommended the establishment of a National Potato Institute to improve the quality of local certified seed through tissue culture. This way, it can help support sustainable agriculture as well as gain more economic benefit. Through planning and technical assistance, the private and public sectors in certified potato production have been strengthen, which resulted in 50 per cent reduction of the import of the seed potato.

Thailand: Agriculture Ministry stepping up aid for farmers in debt (29 Aug)
Thailand Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives collaborated with other agencies and local administrations in the district level have established several committees to find ways to help approximately 460,000 farmers suffering from debts. Preliminary steps are to hold mediation between lenders and farmers and to coordinate with rehabilitation and development funds to offer more assistance.

Philippine Department of Agriculture, poultry farmers to plan five-year poultry industry development roadmap (14 Sep)
The Department of Agriculture (DA) of the Philippines in cooperation with poultry and livestock raisers will formulate a five-year development roadmap for the country's poultry and livestock industry. In addition, the DA has also created a task force to conduct seminars all over the country to teach farmers appropriate methods in raising chicken and other poultry. The roadmap will also be presented to related departments to ensure their role in various aspects of the development roadmap would be adjusted to their departments' plans.

Building brand for expanding Vietnamese agricultural export (14 Sep)
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) recorded the export revenue of agro-forestry and aquatic products reached US$23.66 billion in the past eight months, an increase of 13.5 per cent over the same period in 2016. However, over 80 per cent of agricultural products are sold and exported without logos or labels. To take advantage of Vietnam's participation in free trade agreements, MARD has prioritized the building of brand for Vietnamese agricultural products, the first step will be the brand name for its rice product.

Indonesia and Uzbekistan to enhance cooperation in agriculture (21 Aug)
Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman stated that Indonesia will strengthen the bilateral cooperation in agricultural sector with Uzbekistan. The minister made the statement after a meeting with Uzbekistan Deputy Prime Minister Zoir T Mirzaev in Jakarta. The cooperation will cover various issues such as transfer of technology, investment, as well as exchange of students and researchers. Both countries have agreed to build future partnership intensively and with mutual benefit. 

Kazakhstan mobilizes ITFC supports to invest in agriculture sector (28 Aug)
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) expressed its commitment to support Kazakhstan's strategic initiative to establish the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) and to become the food basket of the Islamic world. The ITFC financing which has started in 2010, to date amounted to $810 million with agriculture as its major sector. It is expected that the continuing support from the Kazakh Government and greater cooperation with all relevant stakeholders to share experience and best practices in the effective enforcement of laws and regulations will be most important to attract potential investors.

Turkmenistan to further boost cotton industry (19 Sep)
Cotton is one of the main exports of Turkmenistan, a country of over 5.6 million people which is among the top 10 producers of cotton. The country has invested millions of dollars into the sector to further develop the cotton industry and create textile plants. By 2020 the government plans to increase investments in the textile industry to $2 billion which will include both improving existing facilities and building new ones. The plan is expected to increase the number of employees in the industry from almost 30,000 in 2013 to 36,000 in 2020. 

Mongolia's president urges financial, policy support to boost food exports (13 Sep)
The article reports that only 1 per cent of Mongolian land is used for farming and Mongolian food producers use only 30 per cent of their capacity. Mongolia has potential meat surpluses, with a population of 3.1 million people and over 70 million heads of livestock, also has the potential to become an exporter of healthy, organic wheat or potatoes. While the country also should intensify their land use for farming, Mongolian meat export business has been held back by animal health issues and hygiene requirements, as well as a lack of trade agreements. President Khaltmaa Battulga said Mongolia could increase food exports to its southern neighbour China but needs to offer more financial and policy support to enable its producers to compete.

trends and statistics 
Vietnam import of fruit and vegetable rises (25 Aug)
Recent statistics by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) shows that Viet Nam imported vegetables and fruits worth US$ 852 in the first seven months of 2017. The vegetables and fruits were imported from Thailand, which holds 57 per cent of the market share in the first half of 2017, followed by China at 16.8 per cent. The country also spends billions of dollars importing other agricultural products every year. Local producers must focus on improving quality, ensure hygiene, meet safety standards, and offer lower prices to compete with imported products.

Bangladesh: Farm growth slows down (24 Aug)
Over the past four decades, Bangladesh succeeded in overcoming the population growth rate with the growth in its rice output. However, the farm sector growth has slowed down over the last five years. The sector registered a yearly growth of 2.3 per cent in 2012-16, down from 4.7 per cent in 2007-11. Rice cultivation has to be intensified and investment in agricultural research must be increased to promote rice productivity. Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said the government had introduced application of biotechnology in the farm sector and developing stress-tolerant crops as a strategy to face climatic impacts on agriculture.

Sri Lanka, Pakistan among Asia's most undernourished countries (14 Sep)
Despite economic growth and poverty reduction, Asian countries still face a huge challenge of undernourishment. In addition, Asian countries have also recorded increasing cases of stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, calorie consumption deficiency as well as obesity. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Timor Leste, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have the highest rates of undernourishment in Asia. While, India and Bangladesh, with relatively large number of population also have 16.4 and 15.2 per cent rate of undernourishment respectively. FAO states that to overcome these challenges would require a change in policy and institutional framework, increased investment in agriculture as well as promoting awareness and sustainable practices.

case stories
Agricultural trade in Pacific Rim economies faces challenges due to climate change, with uncertainty greatest for equatorial nations (25 Aug)
Agriculture Ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies heard that many key agricultural regions in Asia particularly countries situated closer to the equator are already threatened by the significant impact of climate change on their agricultural outputs. Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, stated that policymakers need to prepare for changes in supply, shifting trade patterns and a need for greater investment in agriculture, fisheries, land and water management, that will benefit smallholder farmers that produce food. APEC is well placed to take on a leading role, with strong and wide ranging political commitment and economies. 

Philippines: Putting rice straw waste to good use (23 Aug)
In the workshop titled "Putting Waste to Good Use: Sustainable Rice Straw Management in the Philippine" researchers and private sector entrepreneurs in the country tried to find optimal uses for rice straw and how to manage it in an environmentally friendly way to increase farmers' income. The event showcased the innovative straw management technologies developed by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which included a rice straw compost turner, rice straw furnace, and an anaerobic digester that generates gas for cooking. 

Experimental games spark community cooperation on groundwater in India (28 Aug)
World Water Week 2017 (27 Aug - 1 Sep) focused on conserving and reducing waste in water use which are relevant for groundwater supplies. People often don't understand how their water use affects others. Experimental games can help to know what motivates people to cooperate in the use of any communal resources---including groundwater, as well as forests, fisheries, and surface irrigation. IFPRI and its partners investigate this issue in India to improve the management of these resources and
increase the effectiveness of other interventions.

Mountain women bear the brunt of climate change (20 Sep)
A recent study by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) highlights on the unequal levels of difficulties women and girls face because of climate change, especially in the fragile region of the Hindu Kush Himalayas. The study, which aims to help understand women's resilience to the impacts of climate change, underlines the need to place women at the centre of climate adaptation policies, to initiate climate financing mechanisms to support gender-sensitive and responsive innovations.

Late summer rains, private food supplies limit impact of North Korea drought (18 Sep)
In July, FAO warned North Korea of the worst drought in 16 years, and considered the situation as serious concerns about a lack of rainfall in key cereal-producing areas. However, rains that occurred from August helped to alleviate dry conditions. Increased food imports would be required to ensure sufficient food supplies for the most at-risk groups, including children and elderly. The impact of the drought in this country was also reduced by the growth of private food markets which has overtaken state-run Public Distribution System as the primary distributor of food. 

technological innovations
Hydroponic farming to be tested in Cambodia (25 Aug)
Asian Gateway Cambodia, a Japanese company, will launch a pilot project with a hydroponic farm in Cambodia. For the first stage, it will be tested at the Royal University of Agriculture and later it will be used as a model for farmers and private sectors for wider implementation across the country. The purpose of the project was to find the technology to apply to the indoor farm, that does not depend on climate, to grow vegetables at a low price and safe for people. It is hoped that this farming technology could supply the local market and reduce the imports from neighbouring countries.

Deep tech innovations to solve India's agriculture issues (24 Aug)
IIIT-Hyderabad and National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE) signed an MOU to start an Agri Tech Startup Accelerator Program in India. The program will identify, support and facilitate idea-stage enterprises by implementing latest technologies and innovations to solve agriculture specific issues to improve India's agricultural sector and introduce technology to the wider communities. It is also hoped that through the application of cutting-edge technologies there will be a significant impact on farmers' lives, entrepreneurs and agri-start-ups.

India: How tech-enabled agriculture ventures are offering farm related services via mobile phones (29 Aug)
Ergos, a Bengaluru-based startup that offers micro-warehousing, introduced a mobile phone app, which lists out the stock held by farmers in warehouses and real-time market price of grains. This app is considered practical and transparent, which lists out the stock held by farmers in warehouses and real-time market price of grains. Farmers are certain of their stock in the warehouse, and are also aware of market trends which allow them to set their price. It is reported that maize farmers who have tied up with Ergos have got 20-30 per cent higher prices for their grains a few months ahead of harvest. 

Report identifies high-yield, low-emission options for cereal systems in South Asia (4 Sep)
India is the third largest GHG emitter in the world, and agriculture is the second largest source of GHG emissions in the country. Recent study by CIMMYT and Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) identified high-yield, low-emission pathways for rice, wheat and maize production in India and calls for research and socio-economic interventions to support wide-scale adoption by smallholder farmers to meet food security and climate goals.

voices and views
Myanmar must establish cultivation of new plant species and seeds (13 Sep)
Officials from Myanmar Department of Agriculture Research said that the country must develop a system to protect the cultivation of new species and seeds. Agriculture is the main driver of the country's economy and food security, the business sector is encouraged to carry out sustainable seed production and work with the government to cultivate new plant species. Further, Dr Tin Htut, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation confirms that this way Myanmar can encourage investments in producing strains that can tolerate pests and climate change.

Improved access to agricultural biotechnologies needed to help defeat hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the Asia-Pacific region (11 Sep)
Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific is urging countries in the region to adopt a more holistic approach and consider the wider range of low- to high-tech solutions present in the biotechnology toolbox to improve food and nutrition security and fight poverty. Ms. Kadiresan was making the remarks during a meeting to share experiences of agricultural biotechnologies and examine opportunities for their use to meet the needs of smallholders in the Asia and Pacific. FAO is also encouraging member countries in the region to establish partnerships through South-South cooperation, with the aim to increase effective collaboration and resourcing in this field.

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