Let's start with some bytes from Cambodia itself. The Phnom Penh Post (Jun. 8):
'Cambodian rice exports have dramatically declined over the past three months compared to the same period last year, according to data released by the General Department of Agriculture yesterday. The data detailed that rice exports had a monthly decrease of 14.5 per cent in March, 30.8 per cent in April, and 28.5 per cent in May'.
Take the Khmer Times (Jun. 29):
Or this from the Phnom Penh Post (Jun. 29):'The government has come to the rescue of rice millers and exporters, currently in the throes of a serious financial crisis, with loans of between $20 and $30 million to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF). This is to help the sector purchase rice from farmers after the harvest this November, to store in warehouses and process them for export, said the CRF'.
'The Ministry of Economy and Finance announced on Monday that the government will block all illegal rice imports at its borders and limit legal rice shipments from Vietnam based on production cost....According to Sarith [secretary-general of the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF)], Vietnamese rice produced for $200 to $300 per tonne was cheaper than locally milled rice, even with a 17 per cent import and VAT tax assessed'.
'The Institute of Standards of Cambodia (ISC) is soliciting feedback from local stakeholders as it prepares to launch two new standards for the rice industry, the country’s most important agricultural sector.The ISC is giving the public until June 30 to comment on its proposed national standards for the production and trade of two premium rice varieties – phka rumduol and phka chansensar – Chheng Uddara, director of the ISC’s standards development, training and consultancy department, said yesterday'.
Naturally then that the Bangkok Post reports (Jun. 16) on the positives of this recent rice auction:'The government is set to call its biggest rice auction to capitalise on higher demand as new supply wanes.
...Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said the new auction was timely given high market demand, but noted the amount was relatively high. Mr Chookiat said the government's auction was unlikely to affect rice market prices, as state stocks are mostly old grains while foreign purchase orders require primarily newly harvested rice'.
'The government has sold an estimated 1.99 million tonnes in its latest rice auction, the biggest since the National Council for Peace and Order took control, fetching 19.4 billion baht'.
'Thai rice is likely to see strong sales in the second half of the year as officials visit various countries to make deals amid expected healthy demand'.
Rice production will be down in Laos (Vientiane Times, Jun. 23):
'Rice production this fiscal year may be less than targeted as both natural disaster, including drought and flooding, as well as insects are expected to impact crop yields'.
'Officials believe that some rice fields in Savannakhet province that do not use chemical pesticides and herbicides might have the potential to grow organic rice for the international market.
Talking on the possible markets there was this comment:
'“One of the problems we found during the training of farmers is the change from old skills to new. It's hard to tell them to change what they have learnt from their parents about farming rice,” he [Head of the plantation division of the Savannakhet Agriculture and Forestry Department] said'.
'China has started applying more stringent regulation to ensure the safety of rice imports from Vietnam, a move some Vietnamese insiders say will benefit, instead of hurting, the rice sector'.It seems to stimulate official imports over illegal and give impetus to quality control while bringing down costs for verification. All good news apparently.
'While the luxury timber trade continues to eat away at Cambodia’s forests, there is another industry that poses a growing threat to the Kingdom’s trees: pepper farms....Black pepper prices peaked during June 2015 at $10,900 per tonne, compared to $1,560 per tonne in July 2005, according to Nedspice.....“Not only local people but also newcomers want to grow pepper,” said Prob Chib, a member of a Phnong ethnic community in Mondulkiri, adding that the new arrivals hail from Kratie, Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Prey Veng, Takeo and Siem Reap.“First they cut down the forest and sell the wood, then they occupy the land while they grow pepper, then they cut the forest in another location to make pepper stakes. It’s double deforestation'.
It makes a comparison with Japanese driven investment in northern Thai agriculture:
'Under Lanna Agro-Industrial's model contract farmers, who own the land, have the power to negotiate prices, said Ekasit Nunbhakdi, coordinator of the Japan Watch Project and a researcher for Thailand Research Fund. "We have to ask ourselves why Thai farmers have to rely on Chinese investors, who are perceived as treating workers and resources poorly. Are we taking care of our farmers well?" ddition, Thailand does not view agriculture as important to its culture. "Unlike the Japanese who see agriculture as part of their cultural foundation," Mr Ekasit said."Thailand views agriculture as a commercial product. Thai farmers receive too little assistance, they take whatever they can get."
'Imports of cassava and its products into Thailand must adhere to the specific government announcements, Thai government officials reaffirmed'.
Then the wrapping up of this blog some GMO issues.
Regionally: the Bangkok Post (Jun. 9) copies as decreed by junta:
'Authorities have brushed aside farmers' concerns about imports of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) if Thailand joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Winichai Chaemchaeng, commerce vice-minister, said the TPP would limit GMO issues only to information exchange and cooperation on trade-related matters associated with products of modern biotechnology. Thailand has the Plant Quarantine Act that bars imports of GMOs, he said'.Unfortunately the TPP will trump national legislation ...
Finally, the undergroundreporter notes (Jun. 15) how Brazil has a moratorium on imports of GMO from the United States:
'The list of countries refusing Monsanto’s genetically-modified crops continues to grow. Highlighting the world divide on the issue, Brazil recently refused all U.S.-grown GM crops. While we are continually force-fed genetically modified foods — since they are in approximately 80 percent of all packaged, conventional foods in grocery stores in America — other countries are refusing to import them, grow them, or sell them within their borders.
Ironically, Brazil is the the second largest producer of GM crops in the world after the U.S., and grows 29 varieties of GM corn, so they are likely pulling rank for trade rather than hoping to save their population’s health ...'.