11 Apr 2011

SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2011-02

In this IssueDevelopment of NE Maize for Africa
IPNI Program Updates
Development of NE Maize for Africa

Site-specific nutrient management for maize highlights

Climate change impacts on coffee production systems

SSNM Maize research team wins 2011 Philippine CSSP Award for Technology Development

New staff with Southeast Asia Program, Penang

News From the Region


Philippine Department of Agriculture to promote white corn to ease demand for rice


Vietnam to cut coffee area but keep output stable by 2020

Coffee processing centers in the Philippines planned


Malaysia-Indonesia council to counter bad press on palm oil

SC Johnson to Use Only Sustainable Palm Oil by 2015

McDonald’s new sustainable sourcing policy includes palm oil


G-20 announces measures to stabilize food prices

ADB report predicts prosperous Asia in four decades

Dr. Mirasol Pampolino, IPNI SEAP agronomist, travelled to Kenya on June 19-24, 2011 to advance the development of a beta version of the Nutrient Expert (NE) software for Maize adapted to African conditions. In a meeting organized and facilitated by Dr. Shamie Zingore, IPNI Africa Program Director, Dr. Pampolino presented the Site-Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM) concept and the science behind NE to local stakeholders representing research, university, extension, and the fertilizer industry. Dr. Pampolino reports that the NE software was well received by the African maize experts and helpful inputs were gathered from the group, including additional data and information that must be collected for the adaptation of NE-Maize for Africa.

Consultation meeting with local stakeholders (T) and
field visit to Western Kenya (B).
Site-specific nutrient management for maize highlights
Ms. Julie Pasuquin and Dr. Mirasol Pampolino, SEAP agronomists, travelled to the Philippines to (a) participate in the review workshop of the 2011 dry season (DS) Farmer Participatory Evaluation (FPE) activities under the Site Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM) project in maize, (b) contribute to the 2011-2014 strategic planning meeting for maize SSNM, (c) provide follow-up training to the Regional Agricultural Research Centre (RIARC) focal persons and Regional Corn Program Coordinators on the use of the software Nutrient Expert for Hybrid Maize and the development of Quick Guides for Maize, and (d) meet with the SSNM Maize Technical Working Group (TWG) and discuss future engagements of IPNI SEAP on SSNM for maize in the Philippines.

Julie gave a presentation summarizing the results across regions of the 2010-11 DS maize FPE in old sites and new sites. The FPE involved larger plot sizes (≥ 1000 m2) for SSNM and farmer fertilizer practice (FFP) treatments at each farm replicate. In the old sites, FPE was conducted at the five original farmers’ fields and in at least 5 new farms that were within the domain covered by the old site (total farms at each site ≥ 10). SSNM rates used in the FPE were derived from attainable yield and yield response data that were measured and fine-tuned at each site (with the five original farm replicates) during the 2008-2010 trials. For FPE conducted at a new site (i.e. a new municipality within the same province, a new municipality in a different province), SSNM rates were derived from estimates provided by the Nutrient Expert software following information on current farmers’ practice and the growing environment. Results across regions show that on average, yield and profit with SSNM were 1.0 t/ha (14%) and US$215 (11%) higher than FFP at the old sites (6 regions; n=65). In new sites (6 regions; n=24), yield and profit with SSNM were 1.7 t/ha (22%) and US$397 (20%) higher than FFP.

The Department of Agriculture – Bureau Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) plans to institutionalize SSNM in the technology transfer and dissemination process. DA BAR has instructed the regional research centres to integrate SSNM into their model farms under the Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CPAR) Program. CPAR is the framework mandated by Philippine law to be followed in research and extension efforts. DA-BAR is able to monitor and evaluate the CPAR Program by means of the e-Pinoy Farm Resource Management System (e-Pinoy Farms), a unified database program designed to support and improve the decision-making process of the specific community-based activities. The e-Pinoy Farms database was launched by DA-BAR in 2008 and enables farmers' organizations, cooperatives, and agribusiness enterprises to record their transactions and operations. This could be an important opportunity for IPNI SEAP to link up with DA-BAR to complement work on Nutrient Intelligence and the Benchmarking and Learning Platform. Areas covered by the CPAR Program were identified as good targets for impact assessment of SSNM. An independent party will be commissioned to do the impact assessment at a later stage.

Finally, NE Maize version 1.11 has been uploaded at seap.ipni.net and distributed to SSNM workshop participants. IPNI SEAP believes that RIARC focal persons as well as Regional Corn Program Coordinators are now adequately trained on the use of the Nutrient Expert software and in the development of Quick Guides for maize. The RIARC and the Corn Program in each region have developed their work plans for 2011-2012 which include extension activities such as training of local extension staff (provincial and municipal levels) on the use of NE, information campaigns on SSNM via radio and TV, production of revised Corn Production Technology Guides (updated nutrient management recommendations), establishment of techno-demos and field days, verification trials of NE-based Quick Guides in expansion areas, and reproduction and distribution of validated Quick Guides.
Climate change impacts on coffee production systems
Dr. Oberthür, SEA Program Director, represented IPNI at the Specialty Coffee of America Association Symposium Conference and Exhibition on April 26-30, 2011 in Houston, Texas, where he also co-authored a well-received presentation on climate change impacts on coffee production systems. The conference - exhibition - symposium event had over 8,000 attendees visiting 700+ booths, a nearly sold-out Symposium, and coffee delegates from most producing countries. We used the event to promote our forthcoming book "Specialty Coffee - Managing Quality".

The symposium had three main themes including (a) climate change impacts, (b) hunger in production regions, and (c) impacts on production systems and supply chains commodity from price volatility.

Dr. Oberthür commented: “One highlight under theme (b) was the premier screening of the documentary ‘After the Harvest – Fighting Hunger in Coffeelands’. I was privileged to lead the initial research in 2006-08 that triggered the industry response and that eventually led to the production of the movie. In a survey with coffee growing families in generally productive agricultural regions of three countries, we discovered that 2/3 of the growers were suffering from seasonal hunger during 3 to 8 months of the year. This was principally due to a combination of increasing coffee cropping system specialization, degradation of soils and other natural resources, lack of access to markets, and price volatility in markets. The documentary shows how industry has taken actions to improve growers’ livelihoods and to fight hunger.”

Details about the “After the Harvest - Fighting Hunger in Coffeelands” initiative and its underlying research can be found at http://ciatnews.cgiar.org/en/index.php/2011/05/fighting-hunger-in-the-coffeelands/.

The full length movie can be found at http://aftertheharvestorg.blogspot.com/.

Details about the book can be also be found at http://ciatnews.cgiar.org/en/index.php/2011/05/gourmet-guide-gives-a-glimpse-of-the-future-of-specialty-coffee-production/
SSNM Maize research team wins Award for Technology Development
The Crop Science Society of the Philippines (CSSP) Achievement Awards Committee has chosen the Research Team of Site-Specific Nutrient Management for Maize in the Philippines (SSNM PHIL) Group to receive the 2011 CSSP Achievement Award in Technology Development. The award was presented to the group during the Awarding and Closing Ceremonies of the 21st Federation of Crop Science Societies of the Philippines (FCSSP) Conference on 12 May 2011 at the La Piazza Hotel and Convention Center, Legazpi City, Albay.

The members of the SSNM Maize research team in the Philippines include researchers and scientists from the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB), the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), the Atlas Fertilizer Company, and the IPNI Southeast Asia Program.

Some members of the SSNM Maize Philippines Research Team
New staff with Southeast Asia Program, Penang
Ms. Hui Lan Ewe joined us on 1st May as Administration Executive. Hui Lan holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Deakin University, Australia. She was in the hospitality industry in the past 12 years and brings with her valuable experience in accounting and human resources management. Hui Lan is now assisting Sandra in these areas.

Hui Lan can be contacted by phone at + 60 4 6202 283 or by e-mail at hlewe@ipni.net.
News from the Region
Philippine Department of Agriculture to promote white corn to ease demand for rice
For those in urban areas and in many parts of the Philippines, corn may not compare to rice as the food of choice. But the Department of Agriculture (DA) said urbanites should not turn up their noses on the grain because of its health benefits and its potential to help the country attain food security. The DA said it has stepped up the production of low-glycemic white corn seedlings to encourage more Filipinos to include it in their diet to ease the demand on rice, the country’s main staple. According to the DA, it will provide P7 million (US$ 0.16 million) yearly in the next five years to the Institute of Plant Breeding-University of the Philippines in Los Baños (IPB-UPLB) to produce white corn seedlings.

The IPB, which has received a total of P40 million from the DA in the past, has been propagating the high-yielding corn variety called IPB Var 6. IPB Var 6 gives a yield that is nearly comparable to commercial white corn hybrid. Based on the national corn testing, the yield of IPB Var 6 in Luzon was at an average of 5.84 t/ha; 5.45 t/ha in the Visayas; and 4.47 t/ha in Mindanao.

The DA has been promoting white corn as an alternative or extender to rice. According to the DA, Filipinos’ rice consumption has been increasing significantly over the years. Data from the agency said Filipinos have each been consuming about 120 kilos of rice annually. Since the country cannot produce rice enough for national consumption, the government has been importing rice from abroad to fill in buffer stocks and keep prices stable. This year, the country imported about 860,000 metric tons of rice to ensure food security. Some 200,000 metric tons of it was imported by the National Food Authority from Vietnam at about P4 billion (US$ 93 million). The rest was brought in by the private sector.

According to DA, only about 20 % of Filipinos in the Visayas and Mindanao eat white corn as main staple. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who has called on Filipinos to mix corn and rice, and other agriculture officials said this number should rise as white corn would be more beneficial than rice. “Ultimately, this will lessen demand for rice. Just by increasing demand for corn, and we can definitely grow it productively and cheaply, we would no longer have to import rice. This is actually a part of the DA plan,” said Dr. Artemio M. Salazar, UPLB-IPB deputy director and National Corn RDE (Research, Development, and Extension) Network head.

Salazar said those in urban areas should think about including white corn in their diet. Unlike rice, white corn has low glycemic index (GI). Low GI makes white corn slower to digest thereby releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, thus lessening the risk of diabetes. “Later on we’ll turn this over to the private sector because there is a big demand for it since many Filipinos are now diabetics. And this is the perfect food for diabetics,” said Salazar. Diabetes is now a top degenerative disease and a major cause of death in the Philippines. Aside from giving consumers the health benefits, white corn will impact significantly in reducing hunger and malnutrition in the uplands. Corn, unlike rice, is also easier to grow and less capital-intensive. “You don’t need capital-intensive irrigation facilities because corn grows wherever there is rain. The only other thing we have to provide them is the corn mill,” he added.

Salazar said the UPLB has developed a mini-corn mill that is cheaper than the high-capacity machines available in the market. The mill would be perfect for barrios, he said, as it could process 100 kilos of corn grains per hour. At such capacity, a continuous eight-hour milling produces enough food for more than 1,000 people, assuming 300 grams of consumption per day, Salazar said.

Source:Inquirer.Net, 22 May 2011 http://newsinfo.inquirer.net
Vietnam to cut coffee area but keep output stable by 2020
Vietnam, the world’s second-largest coffee producer after Brazil, plans to cut its total coffee acreage by 13.5 % to 480,000 ha while keeping output stable by the end of this decade, state-run media reported. The area would be trimmed from 555,000 ha, while Vietnam will aim to produce about 1.1 million tonnes, or 18.33 million 60-kg bags, of coffee a year, similar to the output of the 2010/2011 crop, the official Vietnam News Agency said. It cited a development plan to 2020 for the coffee sector approved at an Agriculture Ministry meeting in Buon Ma Thuot, the capital city of Vietnam’s top coffee growing province of Daklak.

Vietnam is the world’s largest producer of robusta beans, used mainly for making soluble coffee. The plan envisaged replacement of old trees and to reduce planting in the areas that have poor soil or bad irrigation, the Vietnam News Agency said. “Cutting down trees will be very difficult because farmers would not listen while coffee prices are good,” said a trader in Buon Ma Thuot. Vietnam’s coffee prices jumped 56% last year from 2009 and have advanced nearly 30% more this year, tracking gains on London robusta futures markers that reach their peak for more than a decade in March. Vietnam’s new 2011/2012 coffee crop is forecast to produce 22 million bags, up 10 % from the current crop after higher prices spurred investment, an analyst at CoffeeNetwork has said.

Source: The Malaysian Insiders, April 24, 2011 http://www.themalaysianinsider.com
Coffee processing centers in the Philippines planned
The Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), an agency of the Department of Agriculture, is set to establish at least 21 coffee processing centers in the country in areas where coffee is grown as a cash crop. The coffee processing facilities are to be established from now up to the year 2016 with each processing center costing around P4.9 million (US$ 0.11 million).

Each coffee processing facility will produce ground coffee of different blends from the coffee beans produced by farmers and growers, and can process 60 kilos per hour at 80% efficiency, or 480 kilos of ground coffee per eight-hour shift. The production process involves milling, cleaning, sorting, grading, hot air batch drying, hot air convection roasting, grinding and blending-mixing.

Thirteen of the 21 coffee processing centers will be established in the Cordillera Autonomous Region where there are many farmers who are growing the crop organically. Four coffee processing centers are being eyed for Cagayan Valley, two for Caraga, and one each for the Calabarzon (Region 4-A) and Eastern Visayas regions.

The location of each coffee processing center was carefully studied to make sure that these are strategically located in areas where coffee farming is a major activity, and where there are more farmers and businessmen taking up coffee farming. PhilMech will involve the farmers, local government units, the private sector, nongovernment organizations and foreign aid donors in the establishment of the 21 coffee processing centers.

PhilMech Executive Director Ricardo L. Cachuela said the establishment of the coffee processing centers is the agency’s contribution to boosting the local coffee industry. Coffee was once one of the top crops being grown by farmers. There is revived interest in this beverage crop because of its high demand abroad. With that in mind, PhilMech aims to address the postharvest aspect of coffee farming to improve the income level of farmers and agribusinessmen who grow the crop.

Source: Manila Bulletin, April 1, 2011, http://www.mb.com.ph
Malaysia-Indonesia council to counter bad press on palm oil
Malaysia and Indonesia are pooling efforts to tackle negative publicity towards palm oil with a European Palm Oil Council (EPOC) in the offing. It will provide the industry a collective platform to represent both countries on public debates that relate to palm oil issues. Both countries hope to finalise the proposal on the EPOC by the end of the year, said a communique after the Sixth Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) on Bilateral Cooperation on Commodities between Malaysia and Indonesia in Kuching. Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and his Indonesian counterpart Minister of Agriculture Dr Ir H Suswono led discussions.

On the EU Directive on the Promotion of the Use of Renewable Sources (EU RED), both governments agreed to accelerate work in obtaining legal views regarding the consistency of the EU RED with the WTO provisions. "This will allow both countries to consider the possibility of consultation with the legal division of WTO," it added.

Malaysia and Indonesia also voiced their concerns on the implications of the proposed legislation on labelling of palm oil in food products under Australia's Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labeling - Palm Oil) Bill 2010. "Both countries are of the view that such a move is discriminatory, as other vegetable oils are not required to be labeled as sustainable.

The palm oil industry has contributed significantly towards reducing rural poverty and promoting economic growth in both countries.

"We will continue to monitor the development of this bill and also encourage their palm oil-related associations from their respective countries to submit their concerns to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee." On Sustainable Palm Oil, Indonesia has also agreed to cooperate in developing sustainable palm oil certification system including developing a similar scheme in Malaysia. Indonesia has implemented Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification since April 1. This is to strengthen market access for palm oil products from both countries.

Malaysia and Indonesia are also seeking cooperation in countering anti-palm oil campaign in the US and towards this end, a joint mission to the US is being held from May 24 to May 26. They will hold bilateral meetings with the US Secretary of Agriculture, US Secretary of Energy, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Secretary of Commerce and US-Asean Business Council.

Source: Business Times, May 16, 2011, http://www.btimes.com.my
SC Johnson to use only sustainable palm oil by 2015
SC Johnson, the maker of Glade, Windex and Ziploc, has announced that it will buy only sustainable palm oil by 2015. The company said it will work with its suppliers as well as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, of which it is a member, to ensure that all the palm oil it uses comes from certified sources.

SC Johnson said it consumes a relatively small amount of palm oil-based ingredients, used in some of its air fresheners and as stabilizers in some of its home cleaning products. But the company said it feels it should take this step because unsustainable palm production can lead to deforestation, causing massive carbon emissions. “While SC Johnson’s use of palm oil-based ingredients is relatively small, as a family company we believe responsibility is critical at every level. Being a smaller purchaser doesn’t let us off the hook,” said chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson. “Our commitment to the families who buy our products is that we will work hard to identify the best ingredients, we will source them responsibly and we will be transparent about what’s inside our products.”

SC Johnson’s previous environmental actions include voluntarily and unilaterally eliminating chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from its aerosols in 1975, eliminating polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from all its packaging in 2002, and phasing out phthalates in its fragrances starting in 2008. In 2009, the company launched a communication program that made information about ingredients in the company’s products available via a dedicated web site, www.WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com, and the company’s toll-free number, 1-800-558-5252. By 2012, SC Johnson says it will also voluntarily disclose the ingredients it uses in its fragrances, as well as providing information on preservatives.

Source: Environmental Leader, May 24, 2011, http://www.environmentalleader.com
McDonald’s new sustainable sourcing policy includes palm oil
McDonald’s Corporation has announced its Sustainable Land Management Commitment (SLMC), a significant advancement in the company’s effort to ensure the food served in its restaurants around the world is sourced from certified sustainable sources. The McDonald’s SLMC requires that, over time, its suppliers will only use agricultural raw materials for the company’s food and packaging that originate from sustainably-managed land. This commitment is guided by a long-term vision and supported by an external, third-party annual evaluation process.

McDonald’s actions initially will be focused on five raw material priorities – beef, poultry, coffee, palm oil and packaging. Based on a thorough analysis conducted in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the five raw materials which are the initial focus of the SLMC were identified as having the most potential sustainability impacts.

As part of the SLMC, McDonald’s:
• is working with a multi-stakeholder group, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and select Regional Roundtables, to improve the sustainability of beef production;
• has sponsored and is piloting a three-year beef farm study – the largest of its kind - to investigate the carbon emissions on 350 beef farms across the UK and Ireland;
• is joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) this year and has committed to source only RSPO-certified Palm Oil by 2015;
• has joined the Sustainability Consortium an independent organization dedicated to implementing measurable progress based on life-cycle science

“We know that our customers care about where their food comes from,” said Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s vice president for Strategic Sourcing. “McDonald’s and our suppliers have taken many positive steps in the past 20 years to improve the sustainability of our supply chain, and now we’re reaching even higher with our vision for sourcing all of our food and packaging from certified sustainable sources.”

Source: Food Ingredients First, 11 March 2011, http://www.foodingredientsfirst.com
G-20 announces measures to stabilize food prices
The largest economies in the world agreed to a series of measures to stabilize world food prices after years of sudden fluctuations caused global instability, especially in poorer countries. French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said the G-20 summit of agriculture ministers had agreed to calm the world market by establishing a transparent system to track global supplies, set up emergency food reserves, engage in more research into new wheat strains and create a rapid response mechanism to deal with drought in producer countries.

The accord was a rare case of international agreement in the area of food and agriculture, where countries have long been at loggerheads because of divergent interests. International farm groups have also called for more regulation in the market, but that has been resisted by more free market-oriented governments like Britain and Australia. The gravity of the situation, however, was driven home when rising energy prices prompted a spike in food prices in 2008 that sparked riots in almost two dozen nations over three continents.

David Nabarro, the U.N. special representative on food security and nutrition, said that a repeat of 2008 is very likely and shortages of food, water and power are bound to create social anxiety and political instability in the future. A recent U.N. study also predicted that prices will be 20% higher for cereals and up to 30% higher for meat in the coming decade compared to the past ten years. With the global population expected to increase from 6.9 billion to 9 billion by 2050, the problem of feeding the world put food security at the top of G-20 summit's agenda.

"We all recognize the necessity of putting in place on the market of agricultural products new rules and regulations," Le Maire said, reflecting the new consensus that food prices had to be protected, especially from financial speculation in commodity markets. Several dozen French farmers dressed as livestock and ears of corn demonstrated near the Paris bourse, protesting the role of financial markets in the food crisis. World Bank President Robert Zoellick appeared at the ministers' side during the news conference to express his support for the new measures and the seriousness of price swings. "We are not going to be able to stop food prices from going up and down, but we can smooth out the swings and we can protect the poor whether they are small farmers or consumers," he said.

One of the key aspects of the new accord is the Agricultural Market Information System that would stave off panic food speculation by making instantly available to all countries the state of world food stocks, production and consumption, Zoellick explained. "What we saw when prices started to surge in 2008 was that the lack of information on stocks and availability can lead to panic in markets and panic is what leads to price hikes," said Zoellick. "Uncertainty leads to volatility."

The new "action plan on food price volatility and agriculture" also called for the institution of emergency food reserves to offset humanitarian crises. Banks and international agencies were also urged to draw up risk management plans for developing countries financial tools to offset price fluctuations. "Financial engineering has been associated with the 'dark side.' This initiative helps bring it into the light," said Zoellick. "These tools that are widely and commonly used in developed countries, we can now make them available to farmers in developing countries."

The plan also called for ending export bans by producer nations, such as when Russia banned grain exports following forest fires, causing a spike in wheat prices. Le Maire emphasized that the plan sets down concrete and ambitious proposals that will be put in place immediately.

Source: The Jakarta Post, June 23, 2011, http://www.thejakartapost.com
ADB report predicts prosperous Asia in four decades
Asia has the chance to become the richest region in the world over the next four decades, with 3 billion more Asians becoming affluent, if the region keeps its current growth path, according to a report commissioned by the Asian Development Bank.

The report titled, Asia 2050—Realizing the Asian Century, noted that an additional three billion Asians could enjoy higher living standards by the middle of this century, on the condition that Asia sustains its present growth momentum and addresses daunting multi-generational challenges and risks. It said as the global economy’s center of gravity shifted toward Asia, the region could account for about half of global output in 2050, up from the current 27%, as well as half of global trade and investment. Under an optimistic Asian Century scenario, the region’s gross domestic product is seen to soar to $148 trillion and account for 51% of global output by 2050. GDP per capita in Asia would rise to $38,600 on a purchasing power parity basis, higher than the projected 2050 global average of $36,600.

Almost three billion additional Asians under the Asian Century scenario would enjoy the fruits of prosperity at least one generation earlier than under the Middle Income Trap scenario. However, the report said while developing Asia had made significant strides in tackling income poverty, non-income poverty still remained pervasive. Half of all Asians live without basic sanitation while 900 million people in the region have no access to electricity. The ADB said Asia’s long-term transformation and the eradication of poverty in the region would require more than simply high economic growth rates if the region was to reach its full potential. It identified six key drivers of transformation in the region: technical progress, capital accumulation, demographics and the labor force, the emerging middle class, climate change mitigation and the competition for resources and the communications revolution.

Source: Manila Standard Today, May 5, 2011, http://www.manilastandardtoday.com
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