20 Nov 2018

IPNI SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2018 - 3

Quarter 3, 2018


Sixth quadrennial International Oil Palm Conference (IOPC)

The 6th quadrennial International Oil Palm Conference (IOPC) organized by Indonesian Oil palm Research Institute (IOPRI) with the theme “Smoothing the Market Disequilibria: Innovation & Technologies to Challenge the Disequilibria in the Global Market” was held at The Santika Premiere Dyandra Hotel & Convention Centre in Medan, Indonesia from 17th to 19th July 2018. The conference attracted about 600 delegates from 15 countries. Four plenary papers, 34 oral papers and 62 posters were presented at the conference.

IPNI SEAP presented 3 posters, (i) an update on oil palm nutrient budgets, (ii) variability of soil quality parameters in a typical oil palm field, and (iii) growth and nutrient use efficiency in oil palm pre-nursery. One of the posters, prepared by a project partner with our assistance, shows clearly how IPNI SEAP helps in the capacity building of our project partners.

The focus of this conference was on replanting, smallholders as well as market demand and supply. In Indonesia, a small percentage of planned replanting was implemented in 2017-2018. This contributed to the strong recovery in world palm oil production in 2017/2018 but this is temporary. From 2019 onwards, smaller annual increases in palm oil production and supplies are expected. There are some 4.5 million ha under smallholders in Indonesia. They play an important role in reducing the productivity gap. Smallholders currently produce 2-3 t/ha of CPO while plantations produce 5-6 t/ha. A yield increase of 1 t/ha is worth IDR 31.5 trillion (over USD 2 billion at current exchange rate).

One proposed future marketing strategy is for Indonesia to export “branded” palm oil instead of current commodity crude palm oil, e.g., by compliance with UN sustainable development goals, and exporting to many other countries instead of focusing on compliance for export to the EU. Although vegetable oil is always in a deficit market, a change of mindset to accept a more dynamic market is needed. Furthermore, increasing storage capacity might be an option for producers to have better control of trading policy.

A “field clinic” was organized at Aek Pancur Estate on “Identification and management of Ganoderma disease in oil palm endemic area”. This included several demonstrations on a replanting method for Ganoderma endemic areas, visual identification of Ganoderma symptoms on oil palm trees, and monitoring of Ganoderma-infected field using UAV.


Domestic Chocolate Processors Propping Up Cacao Industry
“Domestic processors of cacao, some of which are operated by farmers themselves, have propped up bean prices, offering a safety net for growers at a time of fluctuating global prices for the commodity.
Valente D. Turtur, Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. (CIDAMI) executive director, said while the world market price for cacao has been volatile, farmers ‘have been enjoying better prices’ because of the increasing number of processors buying their harvest directly.”

Source: Business World, September 17, 2018

Sugar Planters Offer Concessions on Imports, Retail Prices
“Sugar planters have offered to sell refined sugar at P48 per kilo, and agreed to the import of up to 300,000 metric tons of sugar to bring down retail prices, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a statement Sunday.
Mr. Piñol said the planters want to confine the imports to the consumer market only. Mr. Piñol said the Sugar Regulatory Administration has issued import permits to planters associations only for the permits to be sold on to traders, allowing some of the latter to control the price of imported sugar.”

Source: Business World, September 17, 2018

Malaysia Targets 80% Rice Self-sufficiency by 2022
“Malaysia targets to achieve 80% self-sufficiency in rice by 2022, moving up from the current 70%, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub. He said efforts were being made in that direction, such as increasing the rice variants and fertiliser and opening the door for technology transfer from China, Taiwan and Japan.”

Source: UkrAgroConsult, August 30, 2018

Vietnamese Company to Expand Banana Farming for Export to China
“Hoang Anh Gia Lai Agriculture (HAGL) Jsc, Vietnam-based agriculture company, has announced (plans) to invest in another 5,000 ha land in Cambodia to grow bananas to export to China. The company is expected to invest about US$42mn in the project.
According to HAGL, most of the bananas will be exported to China by ship or road. The initiative is in line with Vietnam’s aim to increase the export business of its agricultural products.”

Source: Far Eastern Agriculture, August 20, 2018

Philippines Coconut Production Rebounds
“The Philippines produced more coconut in the first half of 2018 compared with the same period last year, on the back of favorable weather, specifically enough rains, and government fertilizer inputs. Latest data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed coconut production in the country rose 5.68 percent to 6.64 million metric tons in January-June this year from 6.28 million MT a year ago.”

Source: Philippine Canadian Inquirer, August 12, 2018

Vietnam Coffee Growers Expecting Record Crop in Coming Season
“Coffee farmers in Vietnam, the largest producer of robusta beans, are tipped to have a record crop next season after good weather favored plant development and replanting boosted yields. Local prices remain low.
Production will climb to 1.8 million metric tons in the year beginning October assuming normal weather, according to the median estimate of 15 traders and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That compares with 1.79 million in a survey last month and a forecast Tuesday from the nation’s agriculture ministry that output will exceed 1.8 million tons.”

Source: Bloomberg, August 1, 2018

Philippines Rice Production Seen Reaching 12.9 MMT in 2018
“The Philippine’s rice output this year could rise by 1.6 percent to a record high of nearly 13 million metric tons (MMT) on the back of favorable weather conditions and high farm-gate prices, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In its biannual food outlook report, the FAO projected that total Philippine milled-rice production in 2018 would reach 12.9 MMT, 200,000 MT more than the 12.7 MMT recorded output in 2017.”

Source: Business Mirror, July 17, 2018

Indonesia Tests Rice Farming ‘Digitalization’ Program to Boost Output
“The Indonesian government has launched a farming “digitization” project in West Java province, which may increase rice output by at least 20 percent, officials said on Monday.
The project is currently being tested with thousands of farmers in nine rice-producing regencies as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration seeks to boost domestic food production. A regency is a governmental administration region below a province.”

Source: Retail News Asia, July 12, 2018


Communicating Actionable Nutrition Science to Farmers
“The global food and nutritional security are intrinsically hinged to balanced plant nutrition. This article focuses on how IPNI communicates plant nutrition knowledge to smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa, and the unique challenges associated with reaching large number of farmers for visible impact.” – K. Majumdar, M. Pampolino, T. Oberthur

Source: Fertilizer Focus (September/ October 2018)

Response of Cacao Seedlings to Fertilizer
“Summary: Researchers combined a suite of good agricultural practices with fertilizer application. Modest amounts of fertilizer applied to cacao seedlings in the nursery increased seedling growth and nutrient concentrations. There were no significant responses if fertilizer application rates were doubled. Results find it likely that adequate and well-timed supplies of fertilizer nutrients in the nursery will translate into better long-term agronomic performance in farmers’ fields.” – T. Oberthür, M. Samson, N. Janetski, K. Janetski, and M. Fisher

Source: Better Crops 2018 No. 4: 20 - 23

Nutrient Uptake and Distribution in Black Pepper
“Summary: Black pepper is highly responsive to fertilizer application. Supplying adequate amount of nutrients is important to substantially increase growth and yield of the crop. Nutrient uptake and distribution in the different plant parts are key parameters in designing a better and more effective fertilizer management strategy.” – N. Paduit, M. Pampolino, T. M. Aye, and T. Oberthür

Source: Better Crops 2018 No. 4: 24 - 27

Using Bayesian Networks to Predict Future Yield Functions with Data from Commercial Oil Palm Plantations: A Proof of Concept Analysis
Abstract: Bayesian networks were used to predict yield functions from three commercial oil palm estates. The networks were trained using a range of environmental, agronomic and management data routinely collected during plantation management. The Bayesian networks predicted fruit yield (FFB), average weight of fruit bunches (ABW) and average bunch number per hectare (BUNCH_HA). Comparing the predictions of most probable yield against observed data showed the Bayesian networks were highly accurate, with r2 values between 0.6 and 0.9. Predictions for attaining specific yield targets exceeded 75% accuracy for the FFB, 85% for the BUNCH_HA, and 90% for the ABW function. Supplementary analysis compared the precision of the Bayesian networks with artificial neural networks (ANNs), and demonstrated that the Bayesian networks gave equivalent or superior accuracy for every test. The utility of the networks were demonstrated by predicting the probability of achieving above average yield functions for each block across the three estates using a set of hypothetical rainfall and fertiliser input scenarios during the year prior to harvest. For the majority of blocks, the probability of exceeding the yield target depended on the level of fertiliser and rainfall inputs received, indicating that production from these blocks is greatly influenced by prior rainfall and fertilizer. However, some blocks in favourable areas showed a very high probability of exceeding the mean yields at all rainfall and fertiliser inputs, while a number of other blocks showed a consistently low probability of achieving the same productivity; production from these blocks will be resistant to the effects of historic rainfall and fertiliser inputs. The ability of Bayesian networks to represent future yield expectations will greatly assist managers under pressure to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of plantations. The demonstration that machine learning can extract important insight from complex datasets will have broad application in the analysis of big data collected from oil palm as well as other agricultural industries.- R. Chapman , S. Cook, C. Donough, Y. L. Lim, P. V. V. Ho, K. W. Lo, T. Oberthür

Source: Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 151: 338 – 348 (2018)

Palm Oil Industry in South East Asia and the Effluent Treatment Technology—A Review
Abstract: The progress of Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) treatment in meeting with the regulation and standard stipulated by the Environmental Authority always been a major issue in Palm oil industries. To occupy the palm oil world market demand, palm oil industry needs to produce more than the market demand to supply necessity. Currently, South East Asia country such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand rank the top country with the largest production of palm oil in the world. However, the increasing demand for the palm oil has resulted in even massive waste especially palm oil mill effluent (POME). Direct discharge of POME will adversely affect the environment. In 2011, 53 million tonnes metric of palm oil produced and 89% of this production comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. Thailand, however, used the palm oil solely for domestic usage. Since POME has been declared among the major source of pollution, a great deal of research and development including application devoted to enhance the current treatment method for POME to consistently meet the proposed stringent regulatory requirement by environmental authority. Conventional treatment such as ponding system is the most commonplace method to treat POME through the application of ponding system which is include aerobic and anaerobic treatment. Recently, the alternative methods such as coagulation, flocculation, adsorption, advanced oxidation process (AOP) and membrane technology to treat POME has shown a promising result compared to the conventional method. – M. J. Iskandar, A. Baharum, F. H. Anuar, R. Othaman

Source: Environmental Technology & Innovation, Vol. 9: 169 – 185 (2018)

Simulating Rice and Maize Yield Potential in the Humid Tropical Environment of Indonesia
Abstract: Little is known about the yield potential of modern rice and, particularly, maize cultivars in the tropical humid environment of Indonesia where farmers can grow 2–3 consecutive crops on the same piece of land per year. This study provides a first step to fill this knowledge gap by using two crop simulation models to estimate yield potential for rice and maize based on experiments conducted across multiple site-years and measured weather and soil data. Data collected from well-managed irrigated experiments, with observed yields ranging from 7.8 to 10 Mg ha−1 (rice) and 12 to 14.4 Mg ha−1 (maize), were used to calibrate phenology and growth coefficients for both a rice (OryzaV3) and maize crop model (Hybrid Maize). The calibration was performed for commercial, high-yielding irrigated rice and maize cultivars. Subsequently, calibrated models were evaluated on their ability to simulate yield potential using an independent database available from variety (irrigated rice) and fertilizer (irrigated and rainfed maize) trials conducted at multiple site-years across major rice and maize producing areas in Indonesia. Calibrated coefficients for rice were robust at reproducing observed leaf area, aboveground biomass, and biomass partitioning to different plant organs. In the case of maize, close agreement between simulated and observed yields suggests that the generic growth model coefficients originally derived for temperate maize performed well at simulating yield potential of modern tropical maize hybrids. The two models reproduced with acceptable performance the maximum observed yields across variety and fertilizer trials, except for rainfed maize grown in a region with very heavy clay soils. Across site-years, yield potential for irrigated rice and maize averaged 9.1 and 11.6 Mg ha−1 , respectively, while rainfed maize averaged 11.5 Mg ha−1 . Comparison between simulated yields and average national rice and maize yields (5.2 and 5 Mg ha−1, respectively) suggested that room exists to further increase average farmer yields in rice and maize-based crop systems. Our study also highlighted the high yield potential of modern maize hybrids grown in intensive crop sequences in the humid tropics (> 10 Mg ha−1). The two models evaluated here can be used to benchmark productivity in rice and maize crop systems in the humid tropical environments of South East Asia and fine tune current management practices and inputs application- N. Agustiani, N. Deng, J. I. Rattallino Edreira, S. S. Girsang, Syafruddin, T. Sitaresmi, J. M.C. Pasuquin, F. Agus, P. Grassini

Source: European Journal of Agronomy, Vol. 101: 10 – 18 (2018)

What Are the Limits to Oil Palm Expansion?
Abstract: Palm oil production has boomed over the last decade, resulting in an expansion of the global oil palm planting area from 10 to 17 Million hectares between 2000 and 2012. Previous studies showed that a significant share of this expansion has come at the expense of tropical forests, notably in Indonesia and Malaysia, the current production centers. Governments of developing and emerging countries in all tropical regions increasingly promote oil palm cultivation as a major contributor to poverty alleviation, as well as food and energy independence. However, being under pressure from several non-governmental environmental organizations and consumers, the main palm oil traders have committed to sourcing sustainable palm oil. Against this backdrop we assess the area of suitable land and what are the limits to future oil palm expansion when several constraints are considered. We find that suitability is mainly determined by climatic conditions resulting in 1.37 billion hectares of suitable land for oil palm cultivation concentrated in twelve tropical countries. However, we estimate that half of the biophysically suitable area is already allocated to other uses, including protected areas which cover 30% of oil palm suitable area. Our results also highlight that the non-conversion of high carbon stock forest (>100 t AGB/ha) would be the most constraining factor for future oil palm expansion as it would exclude two-thirds of global oil palm suitable area. Combining eight criteria which might restrict future land availability for oil palm expansion, we find that 234 million hectares or 17% of worldwide suitable area are left. This might seem that the limits for oil palm expansion are far from being reached but one needs to take into account that some of this area might be hardly accessible currently with only 18% of this remaining area being under 2 hour transportation to the closest city and that growing demand for other agricultural commodities which might also compete for this land has not been yet taken into account. – J. Pirker, A. Mosnier, F. Kraxner, P. Havlík, M. Obersteiner

Source: Global Environmental Change, Vol. 40: 73 – 81 (2016)


We have updated our SEAP Reference Database with references on the following topics: nutrition and crops such as oil palm, cocoa and sugarcane. For a complete listing of these references, please click here. For a complete listing of these references, please click here.


Published in COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS IN AGRICULTURE (Vol. 151, August 2018, p. 338-348):
Using Bayesian networks to predict future yield functions with data from commercial oil palm plantations: A proof of concept analysis

Published in ADVANCES IN AGRONOMY (Vol. 152, 2018, p. 149-243):
Feeding the Palm: A Review of Oil Palm Nutrition

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