14 Jul 2016

IPNI SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2016 - 2

Quarter 2, 2016


Oil Palm Training on 4R Nutrient Stewardship & Sustainable Yield Intensification
IPNI SEAP conducted two courses in May this year, which met with excellent response. Both courses were completed successfully.

Course 1 on 4R Nutrient Stewardship in Oil Palm held on 9-11 May 2016 brought together 17 participants (photo below) from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Belgium and Russia with a wide range of backgrounds from Agrifert Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Genting Plantations Berhad, Hargy Oil Palms Limited, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), Petronas Chemical Group Berhad, Plantacote N.V, PBB Oil Palms Bhd, STA Group, Uralchem JSC and Yara Asia Pte Ltd.

Course 2 on Sustainable Yield Intensification in Oil Palm which was held on 12-13 May 2016 was attended by 11 participants (photo below). 10 of 17 participants from Course 1 continued with Course 2, with one new participant (PBB Oil Plams Bhd) on board.

Outstanding Achievement Award
Dr. Mirasol F. Pampolino, Deputy Director of IPNI Southeast Asia Program (SEAP), was one of the two recipients of the “Outstanding Achievement Award” during the 19th Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Philippine Society of Soil Science and Technology (PSSST) held on May 18-20 at Legazpi City. The award was given to Dr. Pampolino “In recognition of her exemplary work and contribution in the fields of soil science and agronomy, particularly on nutrient management of field crops like wheat, maize and cassava by conducting research studies on closing yield gaps through sustainable intensification and development of nutrient decision support tools. She developed the Nutrient Expert® for Hybrid Maize software—a computer-based decision support tool to assist local experts in formulating location-specific fertilizer guidelines for tropical hybrid maize based on the principles of Site-Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM). She also led the development of other versions of the tool for crops such as wheat and cassava and provided leadership on the validation and dissemination of Nutrient Expert® to farmers in Asia (China, South Asia, and Southeast Asia) and Africa (sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa).”

Dr. Mirasol Pampolino (second from right) with the officers of the PSSS

Highlights from recent Programme Advisory Committee Seminar Malaysian Palm Oil Board (Bangi, Malaysia)
Thomas Mielke, from ISTA Mielke GmbH, Germany predicted that palm oil will lose its market share in the next 12 months and beyond due to production deficit. Production of palm oil in Indonesia is estimated to drop to 33.0 Mn T in 2016 compared to 33.4 Mn T in 2015. In Malaysia palm oil production is estimated to be 19.2 Mn T in 2016 compared with 20.0 Mn T in 2015. Two Mn T deficit of oils and fats is expected from the El Nino effect in 2015/2016.

Dr. James Fry from LMC International, United Kingdom explained the choices the world faces in reconciling the desire for higher living standards with efforts to limit the pressures upon land use. More notably, the move to limit growth in the areas planted to oil palm. He added that as long as demand for oils continue to grow as in the past decades, it is impossible to meet the demand without adding significant areas of oil crops. The increase in oil palm areas to meet demand growth in 2013-2023 on trend would be 8.8 Mn ha. If palm areas are static while total demand for oils continues to grow, there needs to be sharp increases in other oil crops' areas to make up for the absence of new sources of palm oil.

Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Yusof Basiron from Malaysian Palm Oil Council discussed the challenges and opportunities from petroleum prices, El Nino, CPOPC and price war that were impacting the palm oil industry. He noted that the establishment of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) by both Malaysia and Indonesia should boost the industry to become more sustainable and bring benefits to all stakeholders. In addition, CPOPC can also correct the duopoly price war between Indonesia and Malaysia by adjusting the tax differentials in Indonesia and discourage price undercutting.

IPNI SEAP plans to support oil palm smallholder growers in Malaysia
Smallholder oil palm production systems account for approximately 40% of total area cultivated with oil palm in Malaysia. Amongst the smallholder growers, oil palm independent smallholders (OPIS) account for about 40%. Based on 2015 statistics from Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), the area cultivated by OPIS is ca. 900,000ha. The assumed average OPIS farm size is about 4ha, and hence, the number of households working these systems could be in excess of 200,000.

A recent small survey conducted by IPNI SEAP of OPIS farms in west Johore in Malaysia confirmed their low fresh fruit bunch yield (in line with past surveys). OPIS have limited access to knowledge about oil palm best management practices and there is a lack of institutional support to address this problem. Addressing OPIS agronomic farm performance using a supply chain inclusive initiative can bring significant benefits to the farmers and to their supply chain partners. IPNI SEAP is currently exploring partnership models with various organizations to support independent oil palm smallholder growers.

Now available: Bahasa Indonesia translation of article on Plantation Intelligence®
In the last Newsletter, we shared with you 2 of the 3-part series of the Bahasa Indonesia version of the IPNI SEAP article titled "Palm oil at the crossroads: the role of Plantation Intelligence® to support change, profit and sustainability". Enclosed here is part 3:
PI in Info Sawit May2016.pdfPI in Info Sawit May2016.pdf

The original English article was published in The Planter 08/2014 [Issue 90(1061):563-575] and was co-authored by Simon Cook, Chin Huat Lim, S.N. Mohanaraj, Yohannes M.S. Samosir, Christopher R. Donough, Thomas Oberthür, Ya Li Lim, James Cock, and Suan Pheng Kam.


Leveraging Smart Mapping Technology to ensure Global Food Security
“Yan Yingwei - a final year PhD student from the Department of Geography at NUS - has leveraged the smart mapping technology to look through the impact of climate change on invasive crops pests. He used a volunteered geographic information - which is a form of user-generated content - to analyse any pest invasion risks.
His project titled ‘Investigating potential distributional changes of invasive crop pest species associated with global climate change using GIS’ aims to mitigate the negative impact of pests on agriculture and to develop solutions to ensure global food security.”

Source: MIS Asia, June 2016

CCM sells loss-making Fertilizer Business
“Chemical Company of Malaysia Bhd (CCM) is selling its loss-making fertiliser business for RM48.5mil to Hextar Fertilizers Group Sdn Bhd as it seeks to focus on its pharmaceuticals and chemicals divisions. Their fertilizers division has been facing tough challenges which saw a decline in its volume sold to all of its market segment.”

Source: The Star Online, 30 June 2016

No More Fires in Indonesia?
“Between June and November 2015, Indonesia experienced one of its worst fire and haze episodes ever,…estimates indicate 116,000 individual fires burned up to 6.5millian acres of scrub and forest land.”
One year later, and things have changed. According to local government officials, accountability has stretched to include everyone. Every detected fire now requires an immediate response from the army, police, forest guards and fire fighters. Read on…

Source: Mongabay, 20 June 2016

CIC - A flagship for sustainable cocoa development in Vietnam
“Vietnam is sitting on a big opportunity to expand its high-quality cocoa production and export, with a big boost from Cacao International Corporation (CIC), the first integrated agricultural company in Vietnam that has advanced sustainable cocoa production and sourcing methods.”

Source: Vietnam Investment Review, June 17, 2016

Bionic Leaf makes Fuel from Sunlight , Water and Air
“A tree's leaf, a blade of grass, a single algal cell: all make fuel from the simple combination of water, sunlight and carbon dioxide through the miracle of photosynthesis. Now scientists say they have replicated—and improved—that trick by combining chemistry and biology in a ‘bionic’ leaf. Chemist Daniel Nocera of Harvard University and his team joined forces with synthetic biologist Pamela Silver of Harvard Medical School and her team to craft a kind of living battery, which they call a bionic leaf for its melding of biology and technology.”

Source: Scientific American, June 2016

The Origins of Your Food
“Now, for the first time, a new study reveals the full extent of globalization in our food supply. More than two-thirds of the crops that underpin national diets originally came from somewhere else — often far away. And that trend has accelerated over the past 50 years.
Colin Khoury, a plant scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (known by its Spanish acronym CIAT) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the study's lead researcher. Khoury tells The Salt that "the numbers affirm what we have long known — that our entire food system is completely global."

Source: NPR, 13 June, 2016

Global rice output still down due to El Niño
“In the Philippines, rice growers have begun planting the wet-season crop, which usually accounts for about three-fifths of yearly output. The prices of rice in the global market are still rising as lingering El Niño-related droughts continued to affect negatively the outlook for rice production in 2016, according to a United Nations-supervised monitoring system.”

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 6, 2016

Low rain forces Thai rice farmers to consider growing other crops instead
Thailand has long served as one of the globe’s main rice bowls, but chronic water shortages are pushing the country to move away from a grain that dominates its fields and has defined a way of life for generations. Laddawan Kamsong has spent the past forty years coaxing rice from her plot in central Thailand, but she is tired of watching her farmland squeezed dry by increasingly severe droughts.”

Source: The Japan Times, April 8, 2016

Sentinel-1 Sees Rice Paddy Drop in Mekong Delta
“Europe’s Sentinel-1A satellite has shown that the Mekong River Delta – one of the world’s major rice-growing areas – saw a significant drop in productivity over the past year, illustrating the effect of El Niño on food security. The Sentinel-1 mission is helping to map and monitor rice production. It carries an advanced radar that can see through all weather conditions – essential in cloud-prone South East Asia – and is highly sensitive to changes in water logged ground such as rice paddies.”

Source: Asian Surveying and Mapping, April 2016

Drought and ‘Rice First’ Policy imperil Vietnamese Farmers
“The Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s premier rice growing region, is suffering its worst drought since French colonial administrators began recording statistics in 1926. Giant cracks, some a foot deep, gouge the hard earth; brown stalks of dead rice litter the fields; and the dryness is so severe even the pests lie shriveled on the ground.
‘I’ve been planting rice since I was 13, and I have never seen anything like this,’ Ms. Loi, 38, said as she sat in her neat living room. ‘In February I got one bag of rice. Last year we harvested 1.4 tons.’
The increasingly dramatic effect of El Niño, the weather phenomenon that causes excessive heat and reduced rainfall in Southeast Asia, is the prime reason for the crop failures in the delta, scientists say. But it is not the only one.”

Source: The New York Times, 28 May, 2016

Mekong Water Crisis compounded by Rice-killing Drought
“The 3.6 hectares in southern Vietnam that double as rice paddy and shrimp pond for farmer Nguyen Thi Tam have become a wasteland. After the worst drought in 90 years, almost nothing grows.”

Source: Bangkok Post, 19 April, 2016

Cacao Growers, Enthusiasts get Organized in Southern Leyte
Farmers who have started planting quality cacao seedlings and those who are still planning to venture in cacao production formed themselves into a council which main look-out is to sustain interest in this undertaking.

Source: Republic of the Philippines: Philippine Information Agency, 18 May, 2016

Vietnam to increase Cacao area to 50,000 hectares by 2020
Vietnam plans to bring its total cacao area to 50,000 hectares by 2020, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). Of which, 38,500 hectares, mainly in the Central Highlands, southeastern and Mekong Delta regions, will be solely commercial cacao trees, producing an average output of 1.19 tonnes per hectare.”

Source: People’s Army Newspaper, May 4, 2016

Asian Irrigation influences East African Rain
“Irrigation from agriculture can directly influence climate thousands of kilometers away and even leap across continents, new research finds. Up to 40 percent of the rain in some regions of East Africa can be attributed to irrigation used in agriculture in Asia, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.”

Source: AGU Blogosphere, 20 April, 2016

Jokowi announces Moratorium on New Permits for Oil Palm Plantations, Mining Activities
“President Joko Widodo plans to push through a moratorium on new concessions for oil palm plantations and land for mining activities, in a bid to protect the environment.
This means no more permits or licenses for palm oil and mining companies to expand in Indonesia.
‘We are not letting this happen again. Mining concessions should no longer overlap with conservation land,’ he said, adding that yields from existing oil palm concessions could be doubled with better seeds.”

Source: The Straits Times, 15 April, 2016


Plant Nutrients in Palm Oil
Abstract: An apparent knowledge gap concerning the amount of plant nutrients in palm oil motivated a study to determine plant nutrient content in palm oil and assess the impact of fertilizer management on such content. Export of plant nutrients was low in palm oil extracted by industrial mills; part of the nutrients likely remains in post-milling residues. Selected nutrients in palm oil were affected by fertilizer application rate, but not timing or frequency. – C.R. Donough; Cahyo, A.; Wandri, R.; Fisher, M. and Oberthür, T.

Source: Better Crops, Vol 100 (2), 2016

Exploring Yield Gaps in Smallholder Oil Palm Production Systems in eastern Sumatra, Indonesia
Abstract: Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) has become the most important oil crop throughout the world. The growing palm oil production was mainly based on the expansion of cultivated area into forest areas, causing serious environmental and social concerns. Increasing yields on existing plantations is a potential pathway to reduce the undesired ecological impacts of oil palm agriculture while enhancing its social benefits. Although oil palm production is still dominated by large private estates, smallholder farmers are increasingly engaging in its cultivation. While there is some evidence that smallholders' palm oil yields show large variations and are often far below plantation standards, empirical studies on their agronomic performance are scarce. Based on crop modeling analysis and farm household survey data from Sumatra, Indonesia, this paper quantifies smallholder yield gaps relative to exploitable yield levels and analyses smallholders' production constraints. Results show that oil palm smallholdings offer a tremendous potential for future yield increases, because they obtain, on average, only around 50% of the cumulative exploitable yield over a 20 year plantation life cycle. In particular, we find yield gaps to be largest during the most productive phase of oil palm. Our results indicate that farmers do not adapt their labor and fertilizer inputs to the higher resource demand of the palm. In general, significant determinants of yield gaps are management practices such as fertilizer dosage, length of harvesting intervals and plant mortality. Supported smallholders perform relatively better compared to independent farmers. In summary, our study shows that there is large potential to increase productivity of smallholder oil palm systems in Sumatra. In order to exploit this opportunity, farmers' awareness about the changing management requirements of oil palm over the plantation life cycle needs to be enhanced. - M. Euler; Hoffmann, M.P.; Fathoni, Z., and Schwarze, S.

Source: Agricultural Systems 146: 111–119 (2016)

Sensitivity and resistance of soil fertility indicators to land-use changes: New concept and examples from conversion of Indonesian rainforest to plantations
Abstract: Tropical forest conversion to agricultural land leads to a strong decrease of soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks. While the decrease of the soil C sequestration function is easy to measure, the impacts of SOC losses on soil fertility remain unclear. Especially the assessment of the sensitivity of other fertility indicators as related to ecosystem services suffers from a lack of clear methodology. We developed a new approach to assess the sensitivity of soil fertility indicators and tested it on biological and chemical soil properties affected by rainforest conversion to plantations. The approach is based on (non-)linear regressions between SOC losses and fertility indicators normalized to their level in a natural ecosystem. Biotic indicators (basal respiration, microbial biomass, acid phosphatase), labile SOC pools (dissolved organic carbon and light fraction) and nutrients (total N and available P) were measured in Ah horizons from rainforests, jungle rubber, rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) and oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations located on Sumatra. The negative impact of land-use changes on all measured indicators increased in the following sequence: forest < jungle rubber < rubber < oil palm. The basal respiration, microbial biomass and nutrients were resistant to SOC losses, whereas the light fraction was lost stronger than SOC. Microbial C use efficiency was independent on land use. This resistance of C availability for microorganisms to SOC losses suggests that a decrease of SOC quality was partly compensated by litter input and a relative enrichment by nutrients. Therefore, the relationship between the basal respiration and SOC was non-linear; i.e. negative impact on microbial activity strongly increased with SOC losses. Therefore, a small decrease of C content under oil palm compared to rubber plantations yielded a strong drop in microbial activity. Consequently, management practices mitigating SOC losses in oil palm plantations would strongly increase soil fertility and ecosystem stability. We conclude that the new approach enables quantitatively assessing the sensitivity and resistance of diverse soil functions to land-use changes and can thus be used to assess resilience of agroecosystems with various use intensities. – T. Guillaumea; Maranguita, D.; Murtilaksonod, K.; Kuzyakova, Y.

Source: Ecological Indicators, Vol. 67: 49 – 57 (2016)

Integrating Business and Conservation: The way forward or a slide into greenwashed oblivion?
Interesting presentation (see below) by Erik Meijaard of Borneo Futures, exploring conservation in recent times, opportunities for oil palm, including the benefits that big companies bring into agricultural practices.
This presentation was made at the Sustainable Landscapes for People, Business and Biodiversity Joint Meeting, Society for Conservation Biology Asia section, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation Asia-Pacific chapter held on 29 June - 2 July 2016 in Singapore with Borneo Futures, PT HHAI, and University of Queensland, and is available at ResearchGate for download.
Presentation by Eric Meijaard.pdfPresentation by Eric Meijaard.pdf


We have also updated our SEAP Reference Database with references dealing mainly with the following topics: oil palm, banana, cocoa and coffee. For a complete listing of these references, please click here.


Press Release
IPNI Southeast Asia Program has in the second quarter of 2016 disseminated the following press release:

Webinar Series
We will be launching a public series of webinar. Look out for our email invitation for the following:
    Date: Wednesday, 27 July 2016
    Time: 5:00 p.m. MYT (Malaysia time)
    Speaker: Dr. Simon Cook (Agricultural Advisor, IPNI Southeast Asia Program)
    Title: Plantation Intelligence® to support more profitable and sustainable palm oil production
    Introduction: Self-awareness is regarded by many as a key step on the path to sustainable improvement. Oil palm has been one of global agriculture’s great success stories of recent years. Production has grown over 20-fold in a few decades. But how can growth be sustained in today’s ever more challenging world? In this webinar, Dr. Cook presents the concept of Plantation Intelligence® - a process developed by researchers at IPNI SEAP to develop business intelligence for oil palm operators. Plantation intelligence® aims to support managers and advisors by providing simple yet specific insights of plantation performance, fertilizer and labour productivity. Best of all, insight is generated from plantation data that virtually all oil palm operators possess in-house, so it is low-cost and high relevance.

    Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
    Time: 4.00 p.m. MYT (Malaysia Time)
    Speaker: Mr. Christopher Richard Donough (Senior Oil Palm Advisor, IPNI Southeast Asia Program)
    Title: First step to high oil palm yield - a good nursery
    Introduction: Production of high quality oil palm seedlings from a well-managed oil palm nursery is one of the first steps in establishing a plantation capable of producing high oil palm yield. Mistakes at this initial step may impact the entire cycle of oil palm production. Mr. Donough will discuss current best practices for managing oil palm nurseries, including ongoing work in the field by IPNI SEAP that supports development of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for oil palm nursery nutrient management based on the principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship.

Publications by IPNI SEAP Staff
A list of publications produced by IPNI SEAP staff is now available for viewing here.


12th Incorporated Society of Planters (ISP) National Seminar (NATSEM) 2016
Theme: Factors Impacting the Competitiveness of the Palm Oil Industry
18-20 July 2016
Sarawak, Malaysia

Palmex Thailand 2016
18-19 August 2016
Surat Thani, Thailand

Sixth IOPRI-MPOB International Seminar
27-29 September 2016
Medan, Indonesia

Oils and Fats International Congress 2016
19-21 October 2016
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Partnership Meeting and Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair
26-27 October 2016
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

26th International Conference on Coffee Sciences (ASIC 2016)
13-19 November 2016
Kunming, China

MAHA 2016: Our Food, Our Future
24 November – 4 December 2016
Selangor, Malaysia

7th International Nitrogen Initiative Conference (INI2016)
4–8 December 2016
Melbourne, Australia

International Palm Oil Congress and Exhibition (PIPOC) 2017
14-16 November 2017
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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The IPNI SEAP Quarterly Newsletter aims to provide information on recent activities of our program and selected news on regional developments.
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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 IPNI SEAP Quarterly 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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