10 Jul 2012

SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2012-03

In this IssueOil palm producers in Ghana looking at Best Management Practices to increase crop yield
IPNI Program Updates
Oil palm producers in Ghana looking at Best Management Practices to increase crop yield

Implementing Oil Palm Intelligence Project

IPNI SEAP at the International Oil Palm Conference in Cartagena, Colombia

Job opening for Southeast Asia Program Deputy Director

New SEAP journal publications

Upcoming IPNI SEAP Book: Specialty Coffee - Managing Quality

News From the Region

Strong demand from oil palm despite global economic concerns

Vietnam to fund more research projects on domestic hybrid rice cultivation, production

Indonesian coffee deliveries rise as growers harvest 85% of crop

Philippine farmers urged to increase cacao output

Gene helps rice grow in phosphorus-poor soils

Climate change may boost Southeast Asian agriculture

Upcoming Events

Given the increasing demand for palm oil worldwide, and the reduced availability of land resources in traditional producing countries in Southeast Asia, frontiers for commercial oil palm production are being explored in Africa and South America.

Three major oil palm producers in Ghana have endorsed the establishment of a Best Management Practice (BMP) project to intensify their oil palm production. The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) - an organization that generates and disseminates information for sustainable plant nutrition and management of cropping systems - will work in partnership with Benso Oil Palm Plantation, Twifo Oil Palm Plantation, Norpalm Ghana Limited, smallholder out growers, Ghana Oil Palm Research Institute and Ghana Ministry of Agriculture to establish BMP project sites.

The project will be a pioneering effort in West Africa where intensive, high yielding, commercial oil palm production systems are in their infancy. It is estimated that losses in opportunities are indeed significant from the four million hectares of oil palm grown in West Africa, due to reduced yields. The BMP project proposed by IPNI provides an opportunity for oil palm growers to intensify production on existing plantations, enhance their profitability and manage the environment sustainably, as shown in previously successful BMP projects in Indonesia.
Adapting best management practices from Southeast Asia, where production increases with BMP have been shown, the four-year project will include data collection (i.e. climate monitoring, soil chemical and physical analysis, fertilizer use, agronomic management, and crop recovery), optimization of production process, and training with cost-effective techniques to increase production of oil palm yields.

The BMP project site at Benso Oil Palm Plantation will also function as a learning centre for oil palm plantations in West Africa. By engaging with the Sustainable West African Palm-Oil Programme, that supports the intensification of oil palm production, IPNI aims to transfer best management practices from its BMP project sites to other plantations and smallholder systems in the region.
Implementing Oil Palm Intelligence Project
The Southeast Asia Program of IPNI has obtained industry support to implement a project called “Plantation Intelligence” in oil palm. The best management practices (BMPs) for oil palm plantations developed by IPNI SEAP and other partners have been demonstrated and documented to increase yields significantly. However, uncertainty about the size, location and nature of opportunities to intensify production and improve the plantations performance with BMPs due to variation within and between plantations inhibits their deployment on a wide scale.

Plantation Intelligence is designed to reduce decision uncertainty through a learning process based on statistical analysis of the performance of a large number of individual management blocks of estates. “Plantation Intelligence (PI) is an information management system designed to help managers of oil palm plantations make better decisions, and therefore also to systematically deploy BMP. The advances in information technology make it possible to apply operational research principles, which have been widely and successfully used in both the military and industry, to organized agricultural production systems where record keeping is the norm,” said Dr. Thomas Oberthür, Director, Southeast Asia Program.

The project will be implemented with partner plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia during 2012-2015.
IPNI SEAP at the International Oil Palm Conference in Cartagena, Colombia
Dr. Thomas Oberthür, Director of the Southeast Asia Program, gave an invited presentation at the XVII International Oil Palm Conference in Cartagena, Colombia with a paper entitled "Best Management Practices (BMP) in oil palm fertilization for sustainable intensification". In his presentation, Dr. Oberthür introduced the general concepts and principles for sustainable nutrient management in oil palm plantation systems, including yield gap analyses, role of nutrients and nutrient balances in oil palm, selected management indicators for oil palm nutrition, and BMPs contributing to yield intensification through "yield taking" and "yield making".

Dr. Oberthür also demonstrated the success of the intensification approach developed by IPNI SEAP with partner plantations with examples and results on fresh fruit bunch yields from BMP projects in Indonesia. A copy of Dr. Oberthür's presentation can be obtained from IPNI SEAP upon request.
Job opening for IPNI Southeast Asia Program Deputy Director
IPNI is seeking a Deputy Director for our Southeast Asia program, based in Penang, Malaysia. The position of IPNI SEAP Deputy Director requires a highly motivated young scientist with strong technical soil science, agronomy or crop sciences kills and an ability to work well with people. The position will support IPNI SEAP’s oil palm research, reports to the Regional Director, and works very closely together with the senior oil palm consultant of IPNI SEAP.

More information about the position can be found here.
New SEAP journal publications
Development approach and evaluation of the Nutrient Expert software for nutrient management in cereal crops

Meeting the demand for more food in the next 20–30 years requires intensifying cereal cropping systems and increasing current yields to about 70–80% of the genetic yield potential. A dynamic and robust nutrient management approach such as site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) will be essential to increase yields and optimize profits while maintaining the productivity of these intensive cropping systems. SSNM has increased yield and profit in rice, maize, and wheat in major cropping systems in Asia; but, crop advisors have found it complex and difficult to implement in the field. The Nutrient Expert (NE) software was developed to provide crop advisors with a simpler and faster way to use SSNM. NE enables crop advisors to develop SSNM recommendations using existing site information. Moreover, NE enables communication between advisor and farmer that helps establish trust and confidence, which grants credibility to the recommendations.

SEAP staff, with Dr. Mirasol Pampolino, SEAP agronomist as lead author, published recently an article in the Computers and Electronics in Agriculture journal, which discusses the conceptual framework of the NE decision support tool as applied to cereal crops in Asia and Africa. The paper also presents results from maize trials in Indonesia and the Philippines demonstrating the performance of NE in farmers' fields.

Results of field evaluation showed that NE is effective in providing recommendations that can increase maize yields and profits compared with farmers’ current practices. In Indonesia, NE increased yield by 0.9 t ha-1, which increased profit by US$ 270 ha-1 over farmer’s fertilizer practice (FFP). Compared with FFP, NE recommendations reduced fertilizer P (4 kg ha-1), increased fertilizer K (+11 kg ha-1), and did not significantly change fertilizer N. In the Philippines, NE increased yield by 1.6 t ha-1 and profit by US$ 379 ha-1 compared with FFP. NE also gave higher rates of all three nutrients (+25 kg N ha-1, +4 kg P ha-1, and +11 kg K ha-1) than FFP, which substantially increased fertilizer costs (US$ 64 ha-1) but still increased profit by about six times the additional investment in fertilizer.

Pampolino MF, Witt C, Pasuquin JM, Johnston A, Fisher MJ. 2012. Development approach and evaluation of the Nutrient Expert software for nutrient management in cereal crops. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 88 (2012) 103–110.
Upcoming IPNI SEAP Book: Specialty Coffee - Managing Quality
Over the years, we have found that there is a great deal of published information on how to produce more coffee, but relatively little on how to produce a fine high quality coffee that creates an excellent cup. This has stimulated us to produce this book, which will be available in our store in mid November.

Read more

News from the Region
Strong demand for palm oil despite global economic concerns
Despite ongoing economic crises in Europe and the US as well as related concerns over potentially diminishing demand for palm oil, the global take-up rate has been highly encouraging as the world’s top consumers have been purchasing massive amounts of edible oil.

According to Alvin Tai, an analyst from OSK Research Sdn Bhd (OSK Research), despite the prevailing concerns over a demand slowdown, India’s year-to-date edible oil purchases continue to hit record highs while China’s purchases have held steady. Malaysia’s palm oil shipments jumped 11.3% month-on-month in September, led by a 94.7% surge in exports to India and 47% increase to China.

Tai also believed the substitution of soybean due to supply shortfall would accelerate as the US harvesting season progressed, especially given a substantial discount of about US$350 per metric tonne at which palm oil was trading. It is estimated that the lower US yield will give rise to demand for 1.8 million tonnes of substitutes, which will be mainly palm oil.

In the long term, he believed palm oil price would strengthen as the commodity’s production in Indonesia would decelerate starting next year and reach a plateau in 2016 as its trees aged. “As Indonesia’s production was instrumental in driving palm oil supply growth in the past five years, slower production growth will lead to weaker global palm oil supply growth and consequently, higher palm oil prices,” he concluded.

Source: The Borneo Post, http://www.theborneopost.com, 1 October 2012
Vietnam to fund more research projects on domestic hybrid rice cultivation and production
Hybrid-rice production and cultivation in Viet Nam has been on the upswing in the last few decades, but farmers still must import at least 70% of the hybrid seeds, mostly from China, according to agricultural experts. To address the need, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set up plans to expand areas devoted to hybrid F1 seeds from the current 2,000 ha to 5,000 ha by 2015. The Government will also offer funds to private and State-owned companies as well as research institutes in an aim to develop domestically produced seeds of better quality.

Vietnam started planting F1 hybrid rice seeds in 1991. By 2009, the area under cultivation with such seeds has increased to 700,000 ha. According to the Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), this has helped secure Vietnam's food security and made the country the world's third-largest hybrid-rice producer, after China and India. Over the last year, however, the country's hybrid-rice cultivation area has fallen to about 559,000 ha with an average yield of 6.19 t/ha a crop, accounting for 12-15% of the country's total rice cultivation area.

According to Pham Dong Quang, deputy head of the Plant Cultivation Department, many domestic hybrid-rice varieties had been certified, but most of them were not key varieties and could not compete with imported varieties. Viet Nam needs between 15,000 tonnes and 18,000 tonnes of F1 seeds for cultivation a year, but domestically produced F1 seeds meet only 20-25% of the demand.

Under MARD's plan to 2015, the area under hybrid-rice cultivation would increase to 800,000 ha. Domestic production of F1 seeds must meet 50-60% of the country's demand.

Source: Vietnam News, http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn, 29 September 2012
Indonesian coffee deliveries rise as growers harvest 85% of crop
Coffee deliveries from Indonesia, the world’s third biggest robusta producer, increased this week as growers harvested about 85% of this year’s crop, according to Volcafe Ltd.

Coffee arrivals were about 6,500 to 7,500 metric tons, up from 5,000 to 5,500 tons a week earlier, reported Volcafe, the coffee unit of commodities trader ED&F Man Holdings Ltd. While harvesting is finished in lowlands, bean gathering in the highlands is 70% to 75% done. “Good volumes of robusta were traded and shipped from Sumatra, more than twice the flow of this time last year,” Volcafe said. Southern Sumatra is the main coffee growing area in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, the coffee harvest in Vietnam, the biggest robusta grower, may be delayed because of recent wet weather. The season there usually starts in October, however, persistent rainfall in the Central Highlands, is pushing harvest further into late November. “We expect the harvest will be gradual, with smaller cherries, not quite reaching the plump potential observed last year” Volcafe said.

Buyers of coffee from Indonesia for October and November shipments are paying a premium of $40 a ton to the price on the NYSE Liffe in London, unchanged from last week. On the other hand, Vietnamese beans for shipment in October and November cost $20 a ton to the exchange price, down from $40 a ton last week, Volcafe data showed.

Source: Bloomberg News, http://www.bloomberg.com, 14 September 2012

Philippine farmers urged to increase cacao output
Cacao farmers in Mindanao are being urged to increase production as rising demand for the commodity is expected to cause a worldwide shortage of about a million metric tons by the year 2020.

Val Turtur, executive director of the Cacao Development Industry Association in Mindanao, said global demand could reach five million metric tons by that year but production was seen to remain at just four million metric tons. He said a United States-based company that buys some of its cacao beans from the Philippines has made a forecast that the demand would be about 25% higher than the current global output.

Turtur said the solution was to increase the area planted to cacao. For farmers to benefit from the growing demand, the current output of 7,000 metric tons in Southern Mindanao has to increase to 100,000 metric tons by 2020. Currently, only about 20,000 ha are planted to cacao in the three Davao provinces, Compostela Valley and the city of Davao. “The Davao region has to plant seven million trees to meet the 2020 target,” Turtur said.

The rising global demand for cacao beans could make the crop the “next big agriculture product to banana.” The Cacao Development Center has since provided training to some 6,000 cacao farmers from Davao City and Davao del Norte to help them achieve a higher cacao production. Indonesian farm technicians are helping in training Southern Mindanao farmers increase their yield. Indonesian farmers produce three tons of dried coffee beans per hectare. In comparison, Southern Mindanao farmers manage only one ton per hectare.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, http://business.inquirer.net/, 23 August 2012
Gene helps rice grow in phosphorus-poor soils
Scientists in the Philippines, Japan, and Italy have found a gene that helps rice grow in phosphorus-deficient soils. The gene, which scientists have named PSTOL1 (phosphorus-starvation tolerance 1) is said to increase grain yield in P-deficient soils by enhancing early root growth, thereby enabling plants to acquire more phosphorus and other nutrients.

Gamuyao et al (2012) The protein kinase Pstol1 from traditional rice confers tolerance of phosphorus deficiency. Nature 488, 535–539. doi:10.1038/nature11346.
Climate change may boost Southeast Asian agriculture
A recent study by scientists from the International Water Management insitute (IWMI) suggests that at the regional scale, climate change may benefit agricultural production by helping raise crop output. Predictions by a regional climate modelling system PRECIS (Providing Regional Climates for Impacts Studies) show that precipitation level in major parts of Southeast Asia will remain stable, and that most of the anticipated climate changes will occur over the sea, rather than over land. Significant precipitation increases will also likely occur in the drier areas, whereas the steepest rise in temperatures will affect the coldest regions. The study, however, also points out the negative impacts of climate change in the region, such as rises in sea level, which could destroy rice firms in the Mekong Delta, as well as an increase in pest numbers and disease prevalence.

Climate Change doi: 10.1007/s10584-011-0359-3 (2012)

Source: SciDev.Net, http://www.scidev.net, 24 August 2012
Upcoming Events
10th Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil
30 October - 1 November 2012
Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

Theme: 10 Years of Driving Sustainability. A Business Model for the Future

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Asia Choco Congress
26-28 March 2013
Jakarta, Indonesia

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10th ISP National Seminar 2013 (NATSEM 2013)
24-26 June 2013
Kingwood Hotel, Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia

Theme: Confronting Management Challenges in the Oil Palm Industry

Read More

International Palm Oil Congress (PIPOC 2013)
19-21 November 2013
Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Read More
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Disclaimer: News from the Region is a selection of regional agriculture-related articles extracted from internet sources. IPNI does not verify, endorse, or take responsibility for the accuracy, currency, completeness or quality of the content in these sites. Due to the nature of this service, IPNI cannot always verify every single news item. Be sure to check with the official websites of the companies, universities, research centers, and government agencies before using any information in the SEAP newsletters or webpages, as IPNI cannot vouch for news items submitted by the public. Links to external websites are included for the sole purpose of providing easy access to the source. The inclusion of external hyperlinks does not constitute IPNI’s endorsement of the views expressed by these websites. IPNI shall not be responsible for any damages caused directly or indirectly by the use of any information or content from within linked websites.

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