Saturday, January 30, 2016

Helpful clarification

I would have wanted to start this blog off with a look into all the possible GMO interventions which, increasingly, are becoming more like traditional crop improvement but just a little faster in it's outcome. It certainly is obscuring the discussion. But there's not really that much out there to give an informed answer to this.

What is sure though, that every company-lead intervention focuses on private profits rather than providing a public good. So there's always going to a healthy case against whatever is suggested. 

But for the moment let's just see if this will remain and keep attuned to whatever changes lie ahead.

Ignore
Properly the most important news from the Cambodian rice front was a visit and speech  from the Cambodian PM to the Cambodian Rice Forum. From the Cambodia Daily (Jan. 25):
'Speaking to industry bigwigs at the annual Cambodia Rice Forum at the Sokha hotel in Phnom Penh, Mr. Hun Sen [PM] lauded efforts to in­crease the profile of Cambodian rice abroad, but noted that stiff re­gional competition had limited the country’s export totals.
...
Eang Heang, owner of the Eang Heang Rice Mill Factory in Battam­bang City, said his inability to ac­cess an affordable supply of electricity was hindering production.
“We don’t have state-supplied elec­tricity,” Mr. Heang said, noting that his milling factory was forced to run on a generator, as Electricite du Cambodge had yet to connect it to the main grid'.
As always the problems facing exporting of Cambodia rice are limitless.  
Take for instance the currency of trade. The Khmer Times (Jan. 10): 
'As China’s currency, the yuan, falls against the US dollar and other major global currencies, Cambodian rice exporters say they will need to adjust their prices to compete in the market they have targeted for expansion.
Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation [CRF], said prices of rice exports to China will need to fall due to yuan’s depreciation, which began at the end of last year. “Thailand and Myanmar lowered their rice prices and if we don’t follow suit we cannot sell our product [in China],” Mr. Lak said.
“Fragrant rice was priced at $740 per ton on average [in China] at the end of 2015, compared to around $800 early in the year and white rice is going for $430 per ton, about $20 to $30 lower,” Mr. Lak said, noting that pricing is in US dollars'.
In the same vein, the Khmer Times (Jan. 19) reveals that the Cambodia will actually focus on exporting agricultural produce:
'The Agriculture Ministry yesterday launched a strategy for the developing the sector, aiming to expand exports of agricultural products to spur economic growth through sustainable farming practices'.
No irony is lost on the government's role, as it has actually been hindering exports ... Continuing:
'Song Saran, president of Amru Rice Cambodia, said that although it was good to have a strategic plan to develop agriculture in Cambodia, the plan is already out dated because the focus should be on rice production. Rice production and export needs to be addressed urgently, Mr. Saran said.
The government should fast-track railway rehabilitation to reduce transportation costs, lower electricity costs, offer low interest loans to the rice sector, build more storage facilities and invest in ports to ensure that Cambodian rice is competitive in export markets'.
What about the CRF itself? The Phnom Penh Post (PPP) on Jan. 13:
'The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the apex body of the nation’s rice industry, is looking to bring all relevant stakeholders under one unifying vision for the sector, citing the lack of cooperation among its members as a key reason for missing last year’s 1 million-tonne milled rice export target.
...
One of the biggest challenges faced by the federation, according to Lak [CRF vice president], was managing the country’s supply and demand of rice paddy. He cited instances where millers could not purchase paddy given that the farmers desperate for cash had already sold it to millers in neighbouring countries.
To remedy this scenario and achieve the export target of 1 million tonnes of milled rice per year, Lak said the federation’s members would need about $550 million for paddy procurement'.
Again a case of trying to control the market. Better would be an export board which focuses solely on exporting the product.

A side no
te on the direct challenges ahead. The PPP (Dec. 25) reports on an issuance from the government warning farmers off a dry season rice crop:
'Farmers and exporters have expressed concerns over an Agriculture Ministry notice issued on Wednesday asking farmers to have only one harvest this upcoming dry season because of water shortages across the country, given that this could affect the paddy output next year'.
With very few alternatives given.

Organic rice news. The PPP (Dec. 30):
'Cambodian rice millers and exporters are increasingly eyeing the export of organic rice to the European Union and the United States, after shipments of this niche product increased this year.
...
Amru Rice, one of the major rice exporters in Cambodia, started exporting organic rice this year and has so far shipped 1,100 tonnes to the EU and US. It sees potential in this new market, according to the firm’s CEO Song Saran'.
From the VoA (Jan. 26) this revealing article on the state of ignorance on organics:
'Cambodian agricultural experts are suggesting a national standard for organic products.
Cambodian farmers are increasingly growing organic rice and vegetables in some places, but there is no official certification available.
Officials at an annual conference held by the Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, or Cedac, say such a standard would increase the market value of organic products, helping diversify the agricultural market and would also prevent the spread of fake organic products.
...
Hean Vanhorn, director of the agricultural department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the ministry is currently focused on a wider program called “good agricultural practice,” to increase yields, rather than organics. The development sector pushes for organics, he said, but they don’t provide as much benefit as GAP, he said.
GAP products aren’t harmful, he said, “so why do we need to resort to organic products that aren’t really scientific and not as accurate as GAP?” GAP ensures that food is safe to eat, he said. “What else should we be looking for?”
Finally some investment news. The Khmer Times (Jan. 2):
'Three of China’s major companies are planning to invest some US$400 million in the construction and operation of a state rice warehouse project in Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Thom provinces'.
Also reported by the PPP: 
'Given that Battambang, and other neighbouring provinces like Pursat and Banteay Meanchey account for a third of the country’s paddy output, the new warehouses were welcomed by Kann Kunthy, CEO of rice miller Brico.
However, Kunthy said it would be more useful if the warehouse were equipped with drying facilities, which would mean that fresh paddy could be dried and stored for a long period of time'.
Weather
Reuters (Dec. 25) expresses it's doubts on the Thai policy of emptying their warehouses a.s.a.p.:
'Thailand's military government will struggle to offload by a 2017 deadline some 14 million tonnes of rice in state warehouses left over from a policy of the civilian government it ousted, traders and exporters said.
...
"I don't think it's possible, but even if it is, offloading that much rice within a short time will have a negative effect on market prices," said Supachai Vorraapinyaporn, president of Tanasan Rice Group, Thailand's third-biggest rice exporter.
"It will also encourage bidders to delay bids and wait to purchase rice at even lower prices in the next auctions."
One way Thailand hopes to sell more is through government channels (Bangkok Post, Jan. 6):
'The Thai government aims to sell over 2 million tonnes of rice this year on a government-to-government (G-to-G) basis. But it admits a renewed attempt to sell rice to Iran may hit a snag because of escalating political conflict in the Middle East'. 
However there are others which would like to see the stored rice rather sooner than later. The Bangkok Post echoes (Jan. 18) business sentiments asking for the government to speed up exports (from stored rice). There seems no logic behind this call as all it seems is to expand trade at all costs, though more exports will mean lower prices so not necessarily more money ....
 
Despite previous assertions to the contrary, officials believe that the major rice growing areas will not suffer from drought during the first  months of this year (Bangkok Post, Jan. 11):
'But irrigation chief Suthep Noipairote predicted drought would not ravage the Chao Phraya plain as the rice bowl of the country will have enough water until the end of May'.
The Nation (Jan. 19) reports on government attempts to suppress production:
'Rice Farmers and traders have supported the government’s plan to reduce rice production to 25 million tonnes of paddy this year in the hope it will lead to the industry’s sustainable development and long-lasting stable prices.
Thai Agriculturalists Association president Suthep Kongmark said rice farmers had agreed to cut rice production by about 5 million tonnes this year.
The move followed a meeting of the Commerce Ministry's working committee to formulate a national rice strategy.
Despite the decision to cut production, rice farmers still expect the government to provide clear-cut measures to support farmers in the cultivation of other economic crops in a bid to reduce the hit from the drought'.
And despite this plan, I doubt it will work, as individual farmers will not participate ...
 

VoA (Jan. 20) reckons that it's not the government that will see Thai farmers through the upcoming crisis, but their own resilience :
'But growers hope to weather the hard times by drawing on years of farming experience and hopes of a revival in rice prices'. 
However the article has precious little proof that this just might happen ...

Bangkok Post notes that the future may be a little bleaker for exporters (Jan. 28):
'Rice exports are expected to have another difficult year as the world market is likely to be volatile amid foreign exchange and oil price risks, according to exporters'.
Then again the Nation (28 Jan.) leads us to believe that less production due to drought will mean higher world prices thus more export:
The Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) announced yesterday that Thailand should be able to export between 9.5 million and 10 million tonnes of rice this year, as drought has increased demand in many countries, while Thailand has plenty of rice stocks. TREA president Charoen Laothamatas said Thailand should be able to export at least 9.5 million tonnes of rice worth not less than US$4.77 billion (Bt165 billion). "The drought will encourage higher rice prices in the world market and domestically amid higher demand amid lower production in Thailand and many countries. In Thailand alone, rice output is expected drop by 15-20 per cent or about 2 million to 3 million tonnes from the drought," he said.
No word though on what it means for farmers themselves ....

Plans
Some more rice (trade) news from the region. 
The Vientiane Times (Jan 22) notes private initiatives:
'Phanphet Agriculture Development Farm (PADF) is preparing to sell 10,000 tonnes of rice this year after negotiating exports with international partners'.
Meanwhile Radio Free Asia reports (Jan. 24) that the Lao rice production has been a little disappointing.
'Laos’s rice production has fallen short of government targets for the second year running due to natural disasters and a seed shortage, dealing a potential blow to the Southeast Asian nation’s ambition of becoming a rice exporter.
It produced 2.70 million tons of rice in 2012, 10,000 tons short of the official goal, according to official figures'.
Only 10,000? How is that newsworthy?
The wish list of Vietnam's government (vietnam.net, Jan. 12):
'The agricultural sector plans to slash rice cultivation by 100,000 hectares in 2016 to grow other grains used to feed animals, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat.  
About 7.6-7.7 million hectares of land will be set aside for rice cultivation with a total yield of 44.5 million tonnes, he stated, highlighting that the sector will enhance quality while reducing costs of rice production by using high-quality varieties with high value and applying comprehensive cultivating methods'. 
And what if the plan economy does not exist anymore?
Vietnam is worried about Thailand's bargain sale. Of course. Vientnam.net (Jan. 21):
'Huynh The Nang, chair of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), said in the Vietnam News Agency that the sale of Thai rice would force the market price down, thus badly affecting Vietnam’s exports'.
An interesting article from Anatara (Jan. 16) on how Indonesia uses imported rice solely to cushion domestic price increases and to use in case of potential domestic shortfalls in production. Wonder why this is not done on a global scale ...

Reverse gear
In the past we have looked at some of problems rubber farmers in especially Thailand have met with and how they would like to see their problems resolved. 
And their problems are the low and lessening prices with little prospect for a change
Farmers look to the government to resolve their problem. The government (read junta) want to look strong and thus not willing to oblige.

Let's start with a background article from the Bangkok Post (Dec. 30) on the rubber glut:
'Global demand for natural rubber, used mostly in tyres, is slowing as the economy cools in China, the world's largest buyer of new cars. Supplies are expanding after a decade-long rally in prices to a record in 2011 encouraged top producers like Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam to plant more trees. Output will exceed use for two more years, with the surplus quadrupling in 2016, according to The Rubber Economist Ltd, a London-based industry researcher.
...
In Thailand, the local price of rubber sheet has plunged to about 37 baht a kilogramme from an average of 56 baht last year and 76 baht in 2013, according to the Rubber Authority of Thailand. The average cost of production is around 65 baht, the farm ministry estimates.
...
"For price recovery, we need to see a significant reduction in supply or a strong growth in demand," said Macquarie's Ms Kovalska. "We're unlikely to see any of that anytime soon."
Then the Bangkok Post (Jan. 7):
'Rubber planters have threatened to protest after prices plummeted to the lowest level in 10 years, saying some of them no longer afford to send their children to school. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed to stand firm against the growers' growing pressure'.
Some of the demands by farmers were becoming political.

The Natio
n continues (Jan. 8):
'Rubber farmers in Trang province are threatening to go on a hunger strike if the government continues to ignore their plight'.
Their other solution is to ban rubber tapping and compensate the tappers.  
The article also notes how the government is mostly ignorant of the situation and seems not to tolerate discussion of their policies.

Bangkok Post (Jan. 9) headlines that the PM will rule out rubber price subsidy. It also notes that 
'... demonstrations are illegal'. 
Interesting to read in the comments that the government in the past (as recent as 2010) had put money down to encourage farmers to grow more rubber ....

However by Jan. 11 (The Nation) orders were made for ministries to buy rubber, a way out of not subsidizing but still an (idle?) hope. Even former parlementarians who are known for the silent approval of the junta were beginning to become restless.
Something similar is reported in the Bangkok Post.

T
he Bangkok Post reports on how the new assistance measures for rubber growers are not fully welcomed (Jan. 13):
'Gen Prayut [self-appointed junta leader] had pledged to wean rice and rubber farmers off expensive subsidies used by the government it ousted, but -- under pressure to please politically powerful farmers -- it approved more than 36 billion baht in rural subsidies last year'.
And now farmers have reportedly given the government 1 month stay, otherwise they will protest as promised.

Bangkok Post (Jan. 14) notes that the government will pay 45 Thai Baht a kg.
'The announcement drew lukewarm responses from some farmers' groups'.
The Nation reports likewise. 

The Nation (Jan. 14) also has more details on the deal for rubber farmers: 
'The government will tomorrow finalise the buying price of rubber sheets totalling 100,000 tonnes from planters hit hard by the record low price of this commodity after planters demanded a minimum price of Bt60 per kilogram to cover their production cost.
...
'However, the NFC said the PWO may run into problems because it has no experience in intervening rubber market intervention. In addition to small planters, NFC suggested that the government should also buy from farmers' organisations that currently have a large inventory'.
More info from Bangkok Post (Jan. 15). A comment to the article: 
'This government's reversal of its previous position against populist policies shows a double standard. Those in the former government are being prosecuted for the similar rice scheme while the current government will suffer a loss but remains immune'.
Totally unexpected (not), the Nation notes (Jan. 17) that the Pheu Thai party criticizes the government for leaving rice farmers (their voter base) in the doldrums, while rushing to save the rubber farmers.

Bangkok Post (Jan. 20) reports that landless rubber farmers also want aid. Of course. Apparently there are only 2 million landless rubber farmers. It's only logical to know that these farmers will be the first to suffer and carry the brunt of lower pricing and halt on collection.

Profiteering 
Wrapping up this blog entry with some miscellaneous articles from the region.
 
The Philippines based Businessworld online (Jan. 22) has news from SL Agritech, the country's premier hybrid rice company. It wants to go public and is talking up it's prospects.
'“We really hope to triple the business (in terms of volume and revenue) in the next two years,” Mr. Lim said the sidelines of the listing of its P1 billion short-term commercial paper issue at the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp'.
After tripling the business the stock market beckons ...

An opinion piece in the Bangkok Post (Dec. 27) concerning the GMO revolt in Thailand. It basically describes the alternative government approach:
'A helpful clarification to the public debate on the “GMO Bill” was provided in a press conference of the so-called National Confederation for Safe, Secure and Sustainable Agriculture on Friday (BP, Dec 27). The group’s name may raise suspicions, but its statements such as “if the result of growing GM crops in open fields is good and safe, I don’t see any reason why not to give the GM seeds  to give the GM seeds to farmers” and “releasing GM seeds onto the market is standard practice for a GM trial once the experiment proves there is no negative impact on the environment” show the confederation’s bias'.
The confederation seems a near fascist approach to PR the government.

The trials and tribulations of growing agricultural produce. Growing is not the hard part. Getting your money's worth is. 
Vientiane Times (Jan. 7) on the growers of cassave who are doing everything correct, but still have little to show for:
'Cassava growers of Sangthong district in Vientiane still haven't been paid by Lao-Indochina Group Public Company for debts dating back to the 2012-2014 period. 
...
Information regarding the matter was sent to the government for resolution last year but there has been no answer yet and some local people were wondering if the factory was still operating or not, the district authorities reported.  
...
The company still owed about 13.5 billion kip to local cassava growers who supplied them with the crops, after paying almost 4 billion kip of the total 17.5 billion kip owed, he said last year.
The company wanted to be in a position to pay all the money it owes to farmers in April last year, according to a rep ort provided to the government.
However, cassava farmers in Sangthong district have not received any money yet from the company or an answer from the government'.
The Nation (Jan. 13) has an article on a seminar by Local Action Link which took a look at Thai farmer debt. And farmers debt leading to loss of land. Not really new(s) at all.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Devotion


Stoppable
During the past few weeks Thailand has been in the throes of drafting  a law to regulate the growing of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). 
Apparently there was a need to regulate the introduction of these as in the past GMO's have been introduced with little or no regard to the then non-existent government regulations.

The Bangkok Post describes the problem (Dec. 13):
'Two decades since the introduction of genetically modified organisms in Thailand, the country is still in a battle over the legalisation of such crops, as activists and farmers protest against draft legislation that would introduce a regulatory framework to allow for domestic GMO cultivation. 
But even without the new regulations, GM crops are already being grown across the country. Some experts point to government carelessness for allowing it to happen, while others say it is simply proof that the march of GM produce is unstoppable'.
It's a very interesting article which exemplifies the conundrum. With farmers growing papaya for export but unable to export to Europe as the EU refuses consignments with GMO grown contamination.
'Thailand currently has no laws controlling the research and study of GM crops. Recent laboratory tests of papaya samples confirmed that GM papaya had spread throughout many provinces across the country'.
As said there is no legislation on GMO other than that forbidding importation of seeds for all agricultural crops with the exception of soy beans intended for industrial use.  The new legislation would change this allowing imports and growing of GMO's while dictating the circumstances.
Naturally not everybody is happy:
'Visit Limlurcha, president of the Thai Food Processors’ Association, said the new biosafety legislation may have a severe effect on food exporters, as inspections will likely be extended to other products. “It will show that we accept GMO production, and it will be harder to differentiate GM from non-GM crops,” he said. “The government is sending a mixed message if they try to move forward with the bill, and at the same time promote organic crops'.”  
The Nation (Dec. 9) writes on the growing opposition in the run up to passing the new law:
'Consumer rights and organic farming advocates will rally at Government House today - and in 43 other provinces - to protest against the Biological Safety Bill, which will allow use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for commercial purposes.
...
He [Biothai official Kwanchai Muanying] said farmers were concerned most about the fact that the bill has no measures to prevent contamination.
...
Foundation for Consumers director Saree Aongsomwang wrote on Facebook that she and network members would certainly attend the symbolic protest at Government House against the bill, which she said had many weak points. They included allowing GMO plant production for commercial purposes and no punishment for biotech businesses whose products turn out to be environmentally harmful'.
A day later the Nation (Dec. 10) reports on farmers protesting the new proposed GMO legislation.  And consumers. And the (seed) industry?
'Taweesak Pulam, managing director of Thai Seed Research Co.,Ltd. , also voiced concern that GMO plants might affect exports to Europe and the US. He also said he was worried that multinational firms could monopolise local agriculture industries, and ordinary farming could become 2.5 times as expensive'.
Well, that's at least 1 player opposed ...

Then on the 16th the surprising news from the Nation
'These contrasting reactions came after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday Cabinet had agreed to withdraw the biological safety bill - the 'GMO bill' - from the drafting procedure. He said that even though there had been long debate on the bill since 1997, there was no use considering it further. 
...
Pornsilp Patchrintanakul, adviser to the Board of Trade and president of the Thai Feed Mill Association, said Thailand should have a GMO law to regulate and enhance the management of GMO plant production, as many GMO plants were already grown in the country, while there was nothing in place to regulate the import of GMO products.
"Thailand needs to look at why this law is necessary rather than say 'no' to it, because it would not lead to an influx of GMO products or plants. The NGOs were afraid, as many GMO products were already sold and grown in the country, such as papaya," he said'.
And then there are losers ..., (sections of?) the business sector are upset (Nation, Dec. 19):
'The agricultural business sector and academics have demanded that the government provide a proper explanation to society about its decision this week to shelve the biological safety bill'.
To be continued.

Facts and figures
Back on topic: the latest figures from Cambodia's rice production have been released (Phnom Penh Post, Dec. 8): 
'Cambodia’s total rice production this year will exceed 9.2 million tonnes, according preliminary estimates of rice harvested in 24 provinces and compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture'.
The Phnom Penh Post (Dec. 9) notes how not everything is going well when presenting facts and figures:
'New government estimates on this year’s rice production and forecasts for next year’s crop may be overly optimistic, industry experts say, factoring in the impact of a drought that damaged crops and is expected to carry over into the next dry season harvest.
The Ministry of Agriculture estimated that total rice production during this year’s wet season would top 7.17 million tonnes, edging up less than 1 per cent over last year’s harvest, while the coming dry season would see a 6 per cent drop in year-on-year production to 2.05 million tonnes'.
The Khmer Times has an article (Dec. 7) which emphasizes the need for production costs for Cambodian rice to drop. This as competition for exports is increasing (think Burma, think buyers market). 
As always it's a lot of of gibberish with government officials hoping production costs will go down, quality will go up as will selling prices. 
However, production costs in Cambodia at farm level are similar to the neighbours, it's post-harvest costs and government requirements that are hurting the sector.

Meanwhile there's a slight panic in the quest to export rice to China. From the Khmer Times (Dec. 13) :
'Hean Vanhan, a deputy general director at the ministry, said China had asked Cambodia to evaluate rice exporters to determine whether they adhered to hygiene laws in China because officials in the world’s second largest economy did not trust all of the 71 rice exporters registered with the Ministry of Commerce'.
The end of the rut?
While on the pricing at the start of the month, oryza.com (Dec. 1) quoting Thai sources suggests Thai export prices to lift if the dry conditions in the region and in particular Indonesia  remain.
Similarly Bloomberg mentions (Nov. 27) that due to expectations of lower harvests elsewhere, hoarding on a low level is starting to take place.

However whatever this might be the case, the prediction of rising prices seems to contradict UN's FAO's newest price overview (source) showing prices continuing to be flat. 

Spirits
Fancy winning the rights to buy rotten rice: Thailand has found some winners. Bangkok Post (Dec. 1). No names were published in the article ...

The Bangkok Post notes (Dec. 5) that the government are close
to sealing a deal for 1 million tonnes with China: 
'The government is expected to sign a deal soon to sell an additional 1 million tonnes of rice to China'. 
The move comes after that country signed rice and rubber purchase deals with Thailand on Thursday as part of a Thai-Sino railway development agreement. Trains for rice?

The Thai government is in a confident mood so notes the Bangkok Post (Dec. 15)
'Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said Thailand already exported 9.29 million tonnes worth 148 billion baht as of last Tuesday. The ministry set a target to ship 10 million tonnes this year worth $5.1 billion, but the minister yesterday said actual shipments might reach 10 million tonnes but with a value of $4.85 billion'.
The government view for rice farmers. The Nation (Dec. 15):
'The rice industry must negotiate several risk factors that are pressuring farmers to speed up the development of rice breeds to strengthen the sector in the face of intense competition, especially from other Asian countries, the government says'.
An interesting article from the Nation (Dec. 7) which explores farming and poverty:
'Many rice farmers are facing the old problems of indebtedness and loss of farm owner-|ship despite short-term gains from the former government's rice-pledging scheme, accord-ing to research by a non-government organisation.
Pongtip Samranjit, executive director of Local Action Links, a non-profit think tank researching government policies and farmers' problems, said farmers' quality of life has plunged following the end of the rice-pledging scheme.
Increased indebtedness has led to the loss of farm ownership. Pongtip cited statistics collected by the organisation over the past 10 years that the number of farmers who hold less than six rai have increased, while those having to rent farmland have also risen in the past few years.
Pongtip said past and present government rice price intervention programmes, including the last rice-pledging scheme, offered farmers quick benefits as money would directly go to their pockets. But these were temporary, and never tackled the roots of farmers' problems, namely accumulated debts and loss of farmland'.
As rice  farmers are nearly always price takers, there's little scope that this perpetual movement detrimental to all those farmers will ever change. 
A farmer is always required to pre-finance his or her harvest and only under exceptional circumstances can he / she earn a major percentage of that harvest. 
Ergo, to improve their circumstances or their sustainability, the rural population will seek income elders thereby ensuring that economies of scale can improve while others may retain limited amounts of land for their own sustenance.
Whatever policy the government will develop rent-seeking will undercut whatever the benefits could be directly for farmers.

Slightly odd news. Tuoitrenews.vn has an article on ghost rice (Dec. 8). It describes a variety of rice which loses it's grains very easily. To prevent the rice from free fall, so to say, harvesting takes place at night using blinds and a canoe. And particularly Japan is interested in this rice:
'Dozens of Japanese researchers have visited Vietnam to collect samples of ‘ghost rice’ since 2006, with two of the researchers awarded doctorates based on their theses on the grain.
The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology have cooperated with the Mekong Delta Rice Institute in Vietnam for research into ‘ghost rice.’
Japan has no ‘ghost rice,’ and their scientists have been very enthusiastic about studying the wild rice, said Professor and Doctor Nguyen Thi Lang from the Mekong Delta Rice Institute.
Some research groups have visited Vietnam two or three times a year for their study.
“In an email, Japanese researchers showed me that the DNA of the ‘ghost rice’ in Vietnam is quite different from other species of ‘ghost rice’ in the world,” Prof. Lang said.
“And they are very happy about this discovery.”
The study of the genes of Vietnamese ‘ghost rice’ is to prepare for future climate change since the rice variety can adapt well to the natural environment, the academic explained'.
The same source has more on this variety of rice.