26 Oct 2010

SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2010-03

In this IssueIPNI and Sustainable Food Laboratory engage to develop concept note for sustainable and ecological intensification of oil palm
IPNI Program Updates
IPNI and Sustainable Food Laboratory engage to develop concept note for sustainable and ecological intensification of oil palm

IPNI SEA hosted wheat experts workshop

Latest updates on SSNM for maize dissemination activities

News From the Region


Night warming threatens rice output in Asia

Ambitious GM rice project enters next phase

GM rice trials in the Philippines 'will go ahead'


High corn prices seen due to tight global supply of grains


Palm oil production in Indonesia may drop up to 10%


US extends science ties with Indonesia

Singapore firm to invest $500 million in Indonesia cacao industry

Thailand invites private sector to guide public science

World is far from running out of phosphate

SSNM Videos on YouTube

IRRI releases videos on SSNM on YouTube

Upcoming Oil Palm Event

2nd Palm Oil Summit
Sustainable Yields, The Way Forward
09-10 Dec, 2010 - Bali, Indonesia

Recipients of 2010 IPNI Scholar Award Announced

The winners of each US$2,000 IPNI Scholar Award have been selected, the recipients being graduate students enrolled in science programs relevant to plant nutrition and management of crop nutrients, within a degree-granting institution located in any country with an IPNI Program.

This year, 16 students representing 10 countries were granted awards ...our widest geographic distribution ever.

Read the full story at the IPNI web portal.
Global vegetable oil consumption is predicted to double from the present 120 M t to 240 M t by 2050. If palm oil continues to contribute a large share of the world vegetable oil production and yields increase based on past performance, an additional 12 M ha of oil palm plantings may be required by 2050. This is an unsustainable solution which would further fuel public concern over the impacts of oil palm expansion to forest destruction and loss of biodiversity.

Although oil palm is an efficient crop in terms of input utilization (it produces about eight times more oil per hectare than other vegetable oil crops), present yields lag far behind the potential. The IPNI Southeast Asia Program has shown across a number of commercial plantations in Southeast Asia that yields can be increased by up to 25% with best agronomic management practices (BMP). IPNI has also demonstrated the success of BMP in degraded land environments in Southeast Asia. Today, oil palm growers invest in existing plantations elsewhere in the world, including in West Africa. Can BMP, developed in Southeast Asia, be deployed to intensify oil palm plantations in these regions?

Environmental analyses demonstrate similarity of poorer oil palm environments in Kalimantan with other regions in Southeast Asia, in Latin America, and also in West Africa. The adaptation of BMPs in West Africa would be relevant to existing farms and plantations in the established growing regions around Néka and Iboké in Ivory Coast and in the established growing regions of Twifo Praso and Kwae in Ghana.

Using a private-public sector project alliance, the Sustainable Food Laboratory (SFL) demonstrated how South to South learning and management adaptation can be used in the transfer of fine flavor cocoa technologies from Latin America to West Africa. The alliance of SFL, Ghana Cocoa Board, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, the NGO Agro-Eco, Hershey Scharffen Bergers and the Rainforest Alliance is bringing fine flavor varieties of cocoa to West African farmers to improve production practices and increase farmers’ incomes from the sale of these highly valued beans. Central to the Alliance success is the linking of and learning from experts at each stage of the cocoa value chain – from world class cocoa geneticists and participatory farmer trainers to the Ghanaian government and the premium chocolate industry.

IPNI and SFL aim to bring together an Alliance for Ecological Oil Palm Intensification that would help adapt Best Management Practices developed in environments of Southeast Asia elsewhere in the world. In addition to adapting the BMPs to West Africa, an important goal of the program would be to embed the BMPs for productivity improvements directly into a comprehensive set of sustainable practices for oil palm. This will combine the advantages of productivity improvement of an efficient perennial oil crop (carbon sequestration, avoided deforestation) with a broader set of sustainability practices what would ensure sustainable resource management and allow communication to northern buyers and NGOs of those practices. In turn, the adapted BMPs for productivity improvement will contribute to the continuous improvement of sustainability standards. Engagement of northern buyers, either directly or through the Roundtable on Sustainable Production of Palm Oil (RSPO), would be essential to create incentives for the producers and to ensure that the sustainable agricultural practices meet the needs of the whole supply chain.
News from the Region

Night warming threatens rice output in Asia
Hotter nights arising from climate change will put a brake on the rise in rice production in Asia over the coming decades, with the effect worsening as the century progresses, according to scientists. The first study to use 'real-world' data from farmer-managed rice farms has shown that, while hotter days may boost productivity, hotter nights more than compensate by reducing it.

The researchers analyzed six years of data collected by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines from nearly 230 farmer-managed irrigated farms across six major rice-growing countries in Asia. The international team wanted to disentangle the effects on rice productivity of three factors: daytime temperature, night temperature and sunshine. The scientists confirmed what previous, experimental trials have suggested: that warmer temperatures lead to a net decline in production.

The reason for the fall in productivity at night may lie in a key stage in the rice plant's cycle: grain filling. It is thought that, at night, energy needed for grain-filling goes instead to power the increased respiration a plant requires in hotter weather. The scientists' long-term prognosis is even worse because, once day time temperatures reach a certain height they, too, will start to restrict the rice growth cycle, leading to an additional loss in production.

The phenomenon is set against a background of increased rice productivity, achieved through improvements in technology such as better seeds, use of fertilizer and mechanization. The net effect will be a slowing down of the rate of growth of rice yield. Reiner Wassmann, coordinator of the Rice and Climate Change Consortium at IRRI, said that plant breeding using rice varieties that have evolved traits to adapt to very hot environments could provide a way forward.

In Asia, where 60% of the world's population lives, each hectare of land used for rice provides food for 27 people. By 2050, IRRI estimates the same land will have to feed 43 people.

Source: SciDev.Net, 10 August 2010, http://www.scidev.net
Ambitious GM rice project enters next phase
An international consortium aiming to re-engineer rice to increase yields by 50% is about to move into the second phase of its decades-long project. The project aims to genetically modify rice to use a more efficient method of photosynthesis — the process by which plants convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates needed for growth.

Rice has a type of photosynthesis called C3. But some plants, including maize and sorghum, have evolved to use a type called C4. The C4 crops are anatomically different from C3s and are better at concentrating carbon dioxide around a particular enzyme — RuBisCO — which is crucial in photosynthesis. If the scientists are successful in creating rice that follows the C4 pathway the crop could produce 50% more grain, and would require less water and fertilizer. The C4 plants work best in hot climates, so could be important as global warming increases.

"As temperatures rise, C4 plants will photosynthesise better than C3s," said Richard Leegood, a plant biologist from the UK-based University of Sheffield, which is leading an international team of researchers, coordinated by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.

The project received US$11.1 million of funding over three years from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in October 2008. Most of this money has gone to IRRI, said Leegood, where researchers are doing the mammoth task of screening plants to try to identify the genes that control photosynthesis. The project is a long-term venture — it will be at least 20 years before the modified rice is available as many genes need to be manipulated, then engineered traits need to be transferred into commercial varieties.

Since C3 photosynthesis evolved naturally into the C4 type in other plants more than 60 times through history, Leegood hopes that the public will accept this GM rice. Although there are many other issues that cause food insecurity, this solution could tackle those limitations that are "inherent" in the production of such crops.

The Sheffield work forms part of its Project Sunshine, a program that investigates how the power of the sun can be harnessed to meet the world's increasing food and energy needs.

Source: SciDev.Net, 01 July 2010, http://www.scidev.net
GM rice trials in the Philippines 'will go ahead'
Scientists researching genetically modified (GM) rice in the Philippines have insisted that field trials will go ahead in December, despite the new agriculture secretary, Proceso Alcala, making strong anti-GM statements since taking office two months ago. Alcala has made a statement that he will not permit the production of GM rice unless it is proved safe for human consumption.

Researchers at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are developing a version of 'golden rice', which is engineered to produce beta-carotene, in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), also based in the Philippines. No GM rice is yet grown commercially anywhere. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, a deficiency in which is a leading cause of blindness in children.

Alcala, a former legislator, is pushing for organic agriculture and has co-authored a recent law that promotes organic farming — although it does not prevent the use of chemical fertilizer. But PhilRice executive director, Ronilo Beronio, said that the organic farming law has not interfered with his institute's GM research.

PhilRice expects approval from the Bureau of Plant Industry, which oversees field trials. The National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, which oversees genetic engineering activities, had already permitted confined trials, which precede field trials, both at PhilRice and IRRI. The December field tests will be conducted at a single location and last for the four-month cropping season. Multi-location trials for at least two cropping seasons will follow, with the aim of commercializing the rice by 2012 or early 2013. If commercialized, the Philippines — the world's largest rice importer — would again lead the developing world in bringing a GM crop to the market. In 2002, the country was the first in Asia to commercialize a transgenic crop, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) corn, for feed and food.

Meanwhile the Institute of Plant Breeding at the University of the Philippines aims to release a Bt eggplant to the market next year with trials being conducted at the moment.

Source: SciDev.Net, 21 September 2010, http://www.scidev.net
High corn prices seen due to tight global supply of grains
Feed wheat scarcity and China’s increasing demand for grains will pull up corn prices in the Philippines, according to corn industry stakeholders. This will give local corn farmers a chance to cash in and improve their competitiveness.

Sources in feeds and livestock businesses confirmed that market prices were rising and the increase was expected to continue toward December. This, as drought-stricken Russia—a major wheat exporter—said it was extending its ban on exports to November 2011 (harvest time next year) from December 2010.

As feed wheat competes with corn as the main ingredient in livestock feeds, the pressure on consumers such as feed millers to look for alternatives heightens.

US corn is expected to take up the slack from Black Sea countries (including Russia) and other suppliers in Europe, Canada, Australia and Argentina that are dealing with either too-dry or too-soggy fields. However, there are concerns the United States may not meet its target corn production this year due to floods in low-lying fields and dry spells in the Midwest. Besides, US corn is enjoying huge demand from Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, in Russia’s absence.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, 05 September 2010, http://business.inquirer.net
Palm oil production in Indonesia may drop up to 10%
Palm oil output in Indonesia, the world’s largest producer, may drop by as much as 10% this year after a longer-than-normal rainy season disrupted harvesting, an industry official said. Output may decline to 19 million to 20 million metric tons, from 21 million in 2009, said Susanto, head of marketing at the Indonesian Palm Oil Association. The country’s agriculture ministry targeted output of 23.2 million tons this year.

The drop in supplies may extend a rally in prices, which have jumped about 18% from a seven-month low on concern that bad weather may hurt output in Indonesia and Malaysia when demand from Asian nations including China and India swells as the countries celebrate festivals.

As much as 400 millimeters (15.7 inches) of rainfall is forecast from August to October in parts of Indonesia, including Sumatra and Kalimantan, the country’s main palm oil producing regions, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said on its website. The dry season in Indonesia usually starts in July. Heavy rains in Sumatra, Kalimantan and parts of Sulawesi and Java in August and September may disrupt agriculture and mining. Tin output from the country, the largest exporter, may plunge about 20% this year because of the bad weather.

Palm oil harvesting in Malaysia, the world’s second-biggest producer, may be disrupted in November and December as the La Nina weather event causes flooding in major growing areas. La Nina, caused by a cooling of the Pacific Ocean, may gain strength by the end of the year and bring higher-than-normal rains to northern Sarawak and the state of Sabah.

Source: Business Week, 12 August 2010, http://www.businessweek.com
US extends science ties with Indonesia
The United States has allocated US$136 million for a partnership program with Indonesia in the areas of science, environment, society and technology, as part of its continued diplomacy push in the country. The announcement followed President Barack Obama's meeting with Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the G20 summit in Toronto.

Under the partnership, named SOLUSI — Indonesian for 'solution' and standing for Science, Oceans, Land Use, Society and Innovation — a second Tropical Forest Conservation Act agreement will be forged, along with a Forestry and Climate Support Project, Marine and Climate Support Program and a Clean Energy Development program.

In March, the two countries signed a science and technology pact that the US Embassy in Jakarta said would "strengthen and promote scientific research and technological cooperation and will be based on shared responsibilities, equitable contributions and benefits". Under the agreement, science and technology experts, universities and related government agencies from both countries could collaborate by, for example, exchanging information and conducting joint research projects.

The White House also announced that it will assist Indonesia — which pledged to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 41% by 2020 — in setting up a climate change center with regional reach and will provide US$7 million for its establishment and a further $10 million for projects it will run. Norway has matched the US funding for the center.

The newly announced agreements and programs are part of the US–Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership program that seeks to deepen the ties between the countries.

Source: SciDev.Net, 01 July 2010, http://www.scidev.net
Singapore firm to invest $500m in Indonesia cacao industry
ADM Cocoa Pte Ltd, an intermediate cacao product manufacturer based in Singapore, plans to invest about US$500 million in the cacao processing industry in Indonesia, says a senior official. The company expects to process between 80,000 and 100,000 tons of cacao per year, according to Deputy Agriculture Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi. He said ADM Cocoa had acquired land in South Sulawesi for a cacao plantation to supply cocoa beans for the company’s processing plants.

Apart from cacao, the ministry had also accelerated its campaign to promote other agricultural products, including coffee. Accompanied by the Indonesian Coffee Exporters Association (AEKI) and representatives from 20 coffee producers, a ministry delegation recently toured China to promote Indonesian coffee, starting with a pitch at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.

Source: The Jakarta Post, 19 July 2010, http://www.thejakartapost.com
Thailand invites private sector to guide public science
The Thai government's science agency, the National Science and Technology Development Agency, announced in July that it will formalize its focus on private partnerships to get science out of the lab and into the real world. Private firms will work with public sector researchers from the very beginning of projects to identify the most marketable areas of research.

According to Thaweesak Koanantakool, the agency's director, the aim is for research teams to produce results that correspond with firms' needs. Koanantakool said the agency has been in talks with representatives from the private sector, including the Federation of Thai Industries, to draw up a list of the private sector's research requirements in four key research areas: food and agriculture; energy and environment; public health and manufacturing.

The list will be distributed to the agency's research partners in universities and research centres, including the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center and the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, to match up private requirements with research teams.

Intellectual property rights, which belong to the agency by default, will depend on the level of investment contributed by the private firm, said Koanantakool. Firms that cover half of the research costs would profit from the technology for a certain number of years; firms that fully fund the research would own the rights.

Source: SciDev.Net, 11 August 2010, http://www.scidev.net
World is far from running out of phosphate
There is enough phosphate rock to make fertilizer for several hundred years, according to a new report, knocking down speculation that the world is poised to run out of phosphorus, a nutrient crucial to agriculture production.

The report comes amid renewed interest in the fertilizer sector as BHP Billiton fights to take control of Potash Corp, the world's third-largest phosphate producer, with a $39 billion hostile bid.

According to International Fertilizer Development Center, a non-profit aid group focused on using fertilizer to boost crops and food supplies in developing nations, there is an estimated 60 billion tons of reserves of the mined, non-renewable mineral -- one of three essential nutrients to grow crops -- plus another 290 billion tons of raw global phosphate rock resources that could be used in the future.

The estimate by the IFDC is more than triple the U.S. Geological Survey's reading of world reserves. The IFDC decided to estimate world phosphate supplies after a resurgence of concern about shortages in recent years. The study was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Alabama-based IFDC found no sign that supplies were at imminent risk of exhaustion, although it acknowledged that the fertilizer is a finite resource, and urged new research on how to mine, process and use the nutrient more efficiently.

Source: Reuters, 22 September 2010, http://www.reuters.com
SSNM videos on YouTubeIPNI SEA hosted wheat experts workshop
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has released a set of eight videos, four in English and four in Tagalog featuring Ryza the talking rice plant on a play list on YouTube. The videos discuss, in general, proper nutrition for making healthy rice plants.

The videos were developed for the Philippines, hence the fertilizer sources and units of yield measurement were based on Philippines conditions. Nevertheless, the principles and much of the content of the videos can be applied to other countries. With modifications, they can be adjusted to local conditions for a specific country.

The development and dissemination of SSNM for rice have been made possible by long-term support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), and the International Potash Institute (IPI).
On July 21-23, a consultation meeting was successfully organized in Penang by Dr. Mira Pampolino, Agronomist, Southeast Asia Program, with wheat experts Dr. Majumdar, Director, IPNI South Asia Program and Dr. Ping He, Deputy Director, China Northcentral Region, to develop Nutrient Expert for Wheat (NE Wheat) for India and China.

NE Wheat is a nutrient management decision support tool based on site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) principles and designed to help agronomists and soil scientists in implementing SSNM in wheat across growing environments in India and China. NE Wheat will be developed based on crop responses to applied nutrients and nutrient maintenance in soils. Its design will follow that of the Nutrient Expert for Hybrid Maize software developed by the Southeast Asia Program of IPNI.

The three-day meeting helped the team develop the framework for NE Wheat, fill in information gaps, and get a consensus on several issues pertaining to wheat growing conditions in China and India. Dr. Pampolino had earlier developed the model algorithms through wheat data analysis and an interface in PowerPoint format (design and modules) to support information capturing by target users.

From August until October, Dr. Pampolino will be working with a computer programmer to develop a beta version for the field validation that will begin in November 2010 in India and October 2011 in China. The release of version 1.0 of NE Wheat is targeted for 2012, after completing field validation in both countries.

This project is an interesting example of successful cross regional collaboration between various IPNI offices.
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During the first week of August, a two-day workshop held in Medan, Indonesia on the use of the Nutrient Expert (NE) software for maize brought together national research and extension agents. Participants had very high level and lively discussions that evidenced their understanding of the science behind NE recommendations acquired by using NE for several months. The team brainstormed on the next steps for developing Quick Guides (QG) for five provinces in Indonesia (East Java, South Sulawesi, Central Java, Lampung, and North Sumatra). Each participating extension officer will prepare a QG for his/her area to be shared with the group in the following workshop, preferably early next year after the field validation of NE has been completed.

Another highlight of the workshop was a visit to the Langkat District to meet with the participating "farmer researchers" and other producers in the community. The farmers in this District are interested in taking part in the NE field validation even without any financial support from extension services. Their interest is driven by their desire to learn about the technology and inspired by the coordinator of extension who said that "a financial support to buy seeds and fertilizer is only a small amount of money, but the lesson that they will learn through their participation will be retained in their memory and no one will be able to take it away from them".

Meanwhile in the Philippines, a QG template for two municipalities in Isabela and Iloilo Provinces were translated into the local dialect by research partners in the Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARC) for pre-testing with farmers. Initial feedbacks on the QG were positive, with farmers expressing their agreement that the QG would be a useful tool for them in fertilizing their maize crop. Quick Guides for all 16 regions of the country will be developed by the RIARC partners in preparation to the planned farmer participatory evaluation activities during the 2010 dry season maize crop.
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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