May 2019 Asia Agriculture, Seed Industry News

MAY 2019 SEEDS: A round-up of seed industry and agriculture news summaries from throughout the APSA region follow below, with headlines of interest from Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and elsewhere. Click the drop-down titles to expand the respective sections, which include links to original sources. [expand title="Inter-regional"]   World Seed Congress in Nice: The International Seed Federation and the French Seed Federation are organizing the World Seed Congress 2019 in Nice, France from 3-5 June. More than 1,500 seed industry professionals are expected attend and participate in discussions about global issues facing the seed industry. The event, which will be held at the NICE ACROPOLIS Convention and Exhibition Center, will feature technical sessions, a trade exhibition and social events. The theme for this year’s meeting is “Where Knowledge flows”. For more information and agenda here.     APSA members make ‘Most Influential in European Seed’ list: European Seed Magazine in its April 2019 edition has published a list of the “20 Most Influential in European Seed”. On the list are two active members of APSA including current Executive Committee Member, Casper Van Kempen, Managing Director of the Managing Director for the Anti-Infringement Bureau; and past EC Member, Anke van den Hurk, Deputy Director of the Dutch Seed Association, Plantum. See full list and details here   ASEAN universities team up to improve agriculture research: The Manila Standard reports on the latest meeting of reps in the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture program. The early May meeting was hosted in Los Banos, Laguna by the Philippines government Attending were reps from six universities: Indonesia’s  Institut Pertanian Bogor, Universitas Gadjah Mada, and Universitas Brawijaya; the Universiti Putra Malaysia; Kasetsart University in Thailand; and University of the Philippines Los Baños. Each rep discussed the situation in their locale and the group discussed ways to increase personnel, enrollment and interest in agricultural education in Southeast Asia. Improving EU-standard quality control for Chinese herb cultivation: In a bid to increase the availability in the EU of herbs used in traditional chinese medicine, the Working Group for Traditional Chinese Medicine under the European Pharmacopoeia Committee will focus on quality control in cultivation. “We will focus on the quality control of Chinese herbal medicine from its origins, such as seeds, planting, harvesting, storage, transportation, heavy metals, pesticides, traceability and transparency in the management of the quality chain among members," stated a Chinese expert,  Wang Mei, who serves on the TCM, in a report by China Daily. Agri access high on China India trade talks: Money Control Dot Com reports on a meeting between trade officials from the world’s two most populous countries. China particularly wanted greater market access in India for its apples, pears and marigold seeds; India, on the other hand, wants greater market access in China for its soyameal, pomegranate, sapota (chiku), banana, papaya, pineapple, maize, okra, and coconut. Also on the agenda was trade of meat and dairy products.    Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Australia"] LTAP withdraws GrainCorp Takeover Bid: Reuters reports that Long-Term Asset Partners (LTAP) has withdrawn a A$2.4 billion ($1.7 billion) bid to takeover of Australia’s largest listed grain handler, GrainCorp Ltd. According to the article, LTAP had offered to buy the grain firm for A$10.42 per share in December 2018, when its share price was around A$7.30, but withdrew the offer, citing due diligence. SA honey production down 50-70%: ABC Australia reports that a lack of rain and hot summer days are the reason for declining productivity of farming bees that food crops in the region depend on. Mojo mandarins to the rescue Record almond harvest anticipated: The Almond Board of Australia is predicting record output of almonds this year thanks to favorable weather conditions, increased planting and demand abroad, reports The Lead South Australia. According to preliminary figures, output could reach 100,000 tonnes, smashing the previous record of 83,000 tonnes. Almonds are harvested between February and April, and the almonds are mostly shipped to India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan. Australia is the second largest producer of almonds, claiming about 7% of global output, compared to 80% from California, the world’s largest producer.    Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Bangladesh"]  FAO offer $350k to fight fall armyworm: The Dhaka Tribune reports that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) has awarded funds to Bangladesh to the tune of $350,000, for the purpose of containing the spread of the Fall Armyworm. Asian Seed & Planting Material Q2 edition, to be published in June, features a feature report about the pest and its spread into Asia. Bt brinjal a hit in Bangladesh: According to figures in a report by the Wire India, the number of farmers growing Bt brinjal or eggplant in 2018 was more than 27,000 last year, up from only 20 in 2014 when the new GM-crop was introduced into the South Asian country. This means that nearly a fifth of bjinjal growers there are growing the GM-variety of eggplant  legally, and successfully according to various factors cited. HM Clause Bangladesh Vacancy: “Pathology Trait - Project Manager Asia (H/F)”. Announcement here.    Return to top [/expand] [expand title="China"]  Wen County Wheat Expo: The 2019 China·Wenxian Second Wheat Seed Industry Expo was held On May 5 and 6 in Wenxian Wheat Museum. Attending were 600 people, including reps from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Wheat Experts Steering Group, National Wheat Engineering Technology Research Center,  Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Henan Agricultural University, Henan Institute of Science and Technology. Chinese listed seed companies’ shares impacted by trade war: Xinhua Dot Net on May 23 reported that share values of Shandong Denghai Seeds Co. Ltd. and Hefei Fengle Seed Co. Ltd declined in a trading day each by nearly 10%, citing trade tensions with the US. According to a May 20 by on the same topic report the opposite, that “The CSI China mainland agriculture index dropped 1.2 percent in May compared to the benchmark Shanghai index which tumbled 6.4 percent in the same period. Hefei Fengle Seed, producing seeds and agrochemicals, surged 10 percent, almost reaching a four-year high, and more than doubling in May.”   Illegal seed seizures by Zhengzhou Customs: Early in May, Customs and Quarantine officials at the Zhengzhou postal office discovered sunflower oil seeds in a package from Japan. The package was wrongfully declared as chocolate and cookies and was confiscated for further inspection. According to the "List of Animals and Plants and Their Products forbidden to Carry or Mail by the People's Republic of China", any seed or seedlings and other animal and plant products with reproductive capacity are prohibited from being carried or mailed into the country. To date this year, Zhengzhou Postal Customs has intercepted 45 batches of seeds and seedlings illegally mailed from India, Japan, the United States and other countries and regions, and detected a variety of quarantine pests and weed seeds in the above items, reports China News. Qingdao cabbage inspections ensure quality seed: Bandao China reports that Municipal Agriculture and Rural Bureau Seed Station authorities  have conducted routine inspections at key cabbage seed production sites in Qingdao, the province which supplies the domestic Chinese cabbage demand with a million tonnes of produce per year, or about 30% of the market. The inspections were carried out in April, the flowering period of cabbage there, and are a measure to ensure compliance with strict cultivation standards, ranging from isolation parameters, selection protocal and other factors to ensure optimal purity of seeds.   Sea rice to feed 100 million: The Sunday China Morning Post has published a short video highlighting research of sea rice in China. According to the video report, China has been research sea rice, a variety that can grow in saline and alkaline conditions. Test farmland for sea rice reportedly currently covers 10,000 mu, or 667 hectares. The report, which features Yuan Longping -- the famed Chinese ‘Father of Hybrid Rice’ -- also notes that China has over one billion mu (67 million hectares) of saline-alkaline land that would usually be considered too barren to cultivate crops. Of this, about 100 million mu (6.7 million hectares has water sources that could potentially be used to grow rice. Thus, plans are in place to cultivate sea rice across this much land over the next eight years. The sea rice can reportedly yield 300kg per mu, which is equivalent to 4.5 tonnes per hectare. If successful to expectations, the output across 100 million mu would reach 30 million tonnes, which in turn could feat 80 to 100 million people. Armyworm threatens ‘all of Chinese grain crops’ According to a USDA report, as reported by, the fall armyworm has already infected 8,500 hectares of China grain crops in several southern Chinese provinces: Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, and Hainan. The pest is believed to have only recently entered China via Myanmar. The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs is currently employing emergency measures to control the spread of the armyworm, which poses a grave threat to all grain crops. Celebrating Xiaoshan seeds and seedlings: More than 166 ‘excellent’ vegetable and fruit varieties were demonstrated at a seed and seedling exhibition late in May in the Xiaoshan district of Hangzhou, the capital of China's Zhejiang Province. According to a news report, in 2018, the planting area of ​​vegetables in the district spanned 225,500 mu or 15,033 hectares, which generated about 2.36 billion yuan ($342.2 million) Hubei seed national seed certification model: On May 24, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and 10 provinces inspected fields of Hubei companies as part of a national seed certification scheme: Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs organized certification activities among 17 enterprises in 10 provinces, including Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan and Guizhou to carry out seed certification pilot demonstrations, including four rice, maize, wheat, potato, sorghum, cabbage, cucumber and citrus. Three seed enterprises in Hebei Province have become pilot demonstrations of national seed certification, including for wheat corn, potato and millet. Butterfly pea deemed ‘illegal’ as food item by Taiwanese officials: The Taipei City Government Department of Health has declared that the consumption of the butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) as a food item is illegal pending further investigation. The flower is widely used in South and Southeast Asia in health beverages, but some research reportedly indicates that consumption of the plant’s roots and seeds of the plant can lead to nausea, diarrhea and diuresis, reports Food Navigator Asia.   Two Chinese firms enter into industrial cannabis, with reference to seeds.    Return to top [/expand] [expand title="India"]  Crops, lives destroyed by cyclone wrath: Early in May, Cyclone Fani, with its 200+kph winds, wreaked havoc on India’s east coast, especially in the state of Odisha. More than half a million people’s homes were destroyed while at least 2 million were said to be affected. Vegetable prices soared by as much as 400 to 500 % in the face of shortages of all types of commodities. The New Indian Express reports that crops on tens of thousands of hectares were destroyed, including 22,000 hectares of green gram; 2,100 ha of vegetables and 323 ha of paddy. Figures in another report covering the damage in the Srikakulam district highlight that damage to agriculture crops across 991 hectares were valued at 33.9 million rupees, while damaged horticulture crops across 406.20 hectares were valued at about 40 million rupees. Fall armyworm detected in Manipur: The Hinustan Times reports that the Indian Council of Agricultural Research Manipur Centre has confirmed the detection of the devastating Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) at a maize research farm outside Imphal city, as well as at a village farm in Chandel district. See full feature on the pest in Asian Seed Q2 magazine out next month. 8.2 million farmers affected by drought: Extremely dry conditions continue to cause hardship for farmers in most of Maharashtra and Karnataka, reports Relief Web. Affected crops include maize, soy, cotton, citrus lemon, pulses and groundnuts. Chia seed cultivation a boon: Farmers in Karntaka’s Mysuru say they went from being slaves -- when they cultivated traditional crops like rice, sorghum, ragi, pulses, sugarcane and tobacco -- to living like kings every since they started growing chia seeds. Native to central and south America, the chia plant (Salvia hispanica) yields tiny seeds that are rich in nutrients and protein, and thus popular in health circles. The farmers were introduced to the seeds by the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) who developed stable lines after five generations of breeding. The farmers can earn as much as 22,500 rupees from a quintal (100kg) of chia seeds -- 10 times more than they would from the same amount of ragi -- and farmers are able to produce about four quintal of seeds per acre, reports Pepsi withdraws potato IP infringement lawsuit: PepsiCo India has withdrawn lawsuits against nine farmers who allegedly were infringing the company’s Intellectual Property Rights by cultivating the FC5 variety of potato, which the multinational corporation claims exclusivity to. The MNC had in 2016 registered the variety in India, which has a reduced moisture content, making it ideal in the production of potato chips. The company has insisted that it intends to find an amicable solution, having previously offered to drop the lawsuit under the condition that the accused farmers either stopped growing the variety, or join in the company’s authorized cultivation program. Harvard non-profit awarded in pilot to address farmer poverty: Gramhal, a non-profit formed by Harvard Kennedy School student, Vikas Birmha, has been awarded $40,000 as part of the  “Seed For Change” competition. Gramhal’s initial efforts included a pilot program for 25 farmers, offering them warehousing options to store their crops while they wait for favorable market prices, in addition to real time market data and favorable loan terms. The program is aiming to address farmer suicides by helping them to increase their income potential while not trapping them in debt. With the seed money, the program will increase its Indian staff so as to reach 1,100 farmers by next year. Fall Army Worm detected in Mizoram: Spodoptera Frugiperda, the devastating pest causing havoc on crops throughout the region after spreading from the Americas via Africa, has been confirmed to have damaged maize crops in the Indian state of Mizoram, where maize crops were impacted acrosss 1,748 hectares in 122 villages, reports the New Indian Express. The article suggests that the pest likely entered the state from neighboring Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Q2 edition of Asian Seed & Planting Material, out in June, will feature a report on the spread and control of the pest in APSA region. Elephants a menace for Sakleshpur Taluk farmers: Coffee crops in being cultivated in the Sakleshpur Taluk village, near Hassan, in the state of Karnataka are under threat by a herd of 22 elephants, reports the New Indian Express. The elephants reportedly trample standing crops during the nighttime and farmers hesitate to confront the large animals out of fear.  Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Indonesia"]  Sinabung eruption covers crops with ash: Plantations and fields in four districts surrounding Mount Sinabung have been damaged or destroyed by falling ash following the latest eruption of the volcano on May 7. Karo Disaster Mitigation Agency was quoted confirming that fire trucks had been deployed to help clear ash from the crops so damage assessments could be made. Residents in a nine-mile radius of the active volcano were on high alert as ash spewed as high as 6,500 feet in the air. The volcano has erupted regularly since 2010 after being dormant for 400 years. Prior to this, the last eruption was in February 2018.    Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Japan"]  Competitive flowers survive through self-pollination: Japanese researchers have observed that sexual flowers facing reproductive interference from other similar but competing flowers nearby may induce self-pollination as a survival mechanism. The finding, which was published in Functional Biology on May 2, was made by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Research Fellow Koki Katsuhara and Professor Atushi Ushimaru, who both attend the Kobe University Graduate School of Human Development and Environment. The researchers studied two species of the Asiatic dayflower Commelina communis and Commelina communis forma ciliata, which both grow wildly in Japan, look similar and compete for the same pollinators, reports Machida Rose Festival: Some 380 flower varieties, including some 844 roses have been planted on a 800-square meter site in the Machida City Notsuda Park Rose Square by volunteers at the direction of the Machida Rose Association. Visitors are welcome to visit the heavenly site from now until the end of June. Free admission.   All is heavenly on ‘Iris Hill’: Tens of thousands of German Iris (Iris germanica) will soon be in bloom on a hill in Annaka City. The flowers spread across the so-called ‘Iris Hill’ spanning a hilly area of approximately to hectares. Flowering has been delayed slightly this year for unstated reasons, but blooming is expected to commence by June.    Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Korean Peninsula"]  Native species, food sovereignty threatened: A representative from the Chungnam National Congressional Education Committee has warned that Korea’s future food sovereignty is under threat if measures aren’t taken to protect and conserve native crop species. Addressing a plenary session of the 311st Extraordinary Session, Rep. Kim Young-soo said that though biotechnology has enabled new plant varieties that have increased yields thanks to new pest-resistant and chemical-tolerance traits, farmers were unable to save such seeds, and native species were becoming more scarce. He urged for businesses and organizations get organized to focus on the conservation of native seeds.  New WorldVeg Korea Office officially opens: On May 1, the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) inaugurated its new office in  Korea. Seonghoe Jang has been named as director of the WorldVeg Korea Office, which is housed within the National Institute of Horticultural and Herbal Science (NIHHS) of Korea’s Rural Development Administration (RDA) in Jeollabuk-do. The opening follows the signing in January of a emorandum of Arrangement between the National Institute of Horticultural and Herbal Science, Rural Development Administration (RDA-NIHHS), Republic of Korea and the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) and decades of active collaboration. Ag, seed education gains STEAM: The Rural Development Administration (RDA) is gaining steam in its efforts to stiumlate interest in gardening, breeding and agriculture among students through various educational initiatives. Employing STEAM (Science, Technology, Education, Arts and Math) curricula, the RDA has developed a seed marketplace for students, offering 85 species of plant seeds for sale online and offline. Offered with the seeds is educational information that students can study, print, and reference for growing the plants, including name tags that identify common and scientific names, characteristics, images, growing difficulty level and recommended cultivation environment and techniques. In addition to this, the RDA has developed “Farm Road” program introducing students to agriculture technology career paths, ranging from tomato cultivation to marketing and sales; Moreover, there is a school nutrition program in which students learn about supplementing their daily nutrition and diet with their own garden-cultivated plants and vegetables. Details of the initiatives from Asia Today Korea. Women Ag Training: A Womens group in Daejeon carried out the first session in a series of courses to train 20 lecturers in various aspects of farming, including the preservation of native seeds and teaching methods on agro-ecological issues that women farmers commonly face. Golden rapeflower scene in Seongnam: The city of Seongnam has sown 50kg of rape seeds across a 4,200 square meter field in a city park, resulting in a picturesque scene attracting locals to come out and enjoy the scenery, take selfies and photos together. Microscoped seed, pollen photo expo: The Bucheon Mureungdo Won Arboretum [translated] will hold a photo exhibition entitled the “seeds of life's mystery” [translated] in the center hall of the 1st floor of Bucheon Botanical Garden through to June 9. On display will be pictures of seeds and pollen captured using an electron microscope that is capable of magnifying an object by up to 300,000 times. Ag output in North Korea dips to 10-year low: A UN assessment, as reported by the farmer’s weekly, has pegged 2018/2019 agriculture output in North Korea at 4.9 million tonnes, which would be the lowest in a decade. This low productivity, blamed on bad weather and economic sanctions has resulted in a food deficit of about 1.36 million tonnes.    Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Malaysia"]  Empowering farmers with high-quality paddy: 18 farmers in Kota Belud received training in the production of high-yielding paddy varieties as part of a High Quality Paddy Seed Production scheme organized by the Paddy Agronomics Division and Agricultural Research Centre of the Department of Agricultural Affairs, the Daily Express reports. The article mentions two varieties -- TR8 and TR9 -- which can yield up to seven tonnes per hectare.    Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Myanmar"]  Seeking alternatives to poppy: They Myanmar Times reports that the parliament is looking to work with the private sector in efforts to promote alternatives to poppy cultivation. According to the article, Myanmar is the world’s second largest producer of poppy, after Afghanistan, with cited figures highlighting cultivation last year across 37,300 hectares, representing a 12% reduction from the previous year. Alternative crops have difficulty in competing with poppy in terms of incomes, so more incentives are required if the country is to effectively reduce or eradicate production of the illicit flower, which is used in the production of opium and heroin bound for other countries.   American hemp cultivator, two workers jailed and under investigation: Police have detained an American national of Asian ethnicity and two Myanmar nationals while an investigation reviews claims that the cannabis plantation they were arrested on, which police raided on April 23, was authorized by the local government. John Frederic Todoroki, and two Myanmar co-workers were arrested at the 8-hectare  plantation in Mandalay region’s Myingyan district, where Myanmar’s anti-drug agency said they seized 349,300 marijuana plants, 5,200 seedlings, 380 kilogrammes of marijuana seeds, 1,804 grammes of marijuana oil, and chemicals and equipment . According to the Myanmar Times, citing a statement from plantation operator III M Nutraceutical Co, the seized plants are actually non-psychoactive varieties of hemp, and the project was approved by the Mandalay region government last August for research and development purposes. Police are also seeking to arrest another man, Alexander Skemp Todoroki, who thus far has evaded arrest. Contract farming framework under consideration: Myanmar Times reports on efforts by the public and private sectors to implement a contract farming framework that would protect not only farmers, but investments of private companies. A plan has been drafted that would cover contract farming for nine crops including rice, corn, sugarcane, groundnuts, sesame, sunflower, mung bean, gram, fermented soybean. Western wheat imports on the rise: The Business Times Singapore reports that large shipments of wheat into Myanmar on the rise, especially popular western varieties such as the US dark northern spring wheat. Accordingly there is a plan to eventually import one million tonnes of wheat through the International Bulk Terminal Thilawa. As for this year, wheat imports are expected to be about half a million tonnes this year, which would represent a six percent annual increase, while flour imports have been increasing by between 7-10% per year since 2017.      Return to top [/expand] [expand title="New Zealand"]  Cannabis legalization referendum announced: New Zealand will hold a referendum as part of its November 2020 general elections asking its citizens to vote on whether or not to make recreational cannabis legal. Medical cannabis was recently made legal in the South Pacific nation, as reported by Asian Seed & Planting, and should recreational cannabis become legal, it would allow citizens who are at least 20 years old to purchase, posses and consume cannabis. Moths hoped to tackle weed problem: Stuff New Zealand reports on efforts to ameliorate farmers who have struggled to fight a weed problem. The Horehound (Marribium vulgare) has caused much trouble becoming widespread throughout Canterbury, Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa. According to one figure cited, the weed has badly affected some 112,000 hectares of land, costing the economy NZ$7 million annually. A proposed solution being piloted is introducing two moth species as a biocontrol agent --  the horehound clearwing moth and the horehound plume moth may not eradicate the weed which it feeds on, but should bring its population to manageable levels. In related news, there are reports that the guava moth poses a threat to New Zealand macadamia crops Controlled atmosphere fruit storing tech: Many New Zealand fruit brokers will soon increase their selling power on the world market thanks to European technology that enables growers to put their fruit into storage hibernation and thus await for the best market prices to move the fruit. Controlled Atmosphere Technology and gas-tight doors developed by Besseling are being piloted Ozzy organic firm acquires South New Zealand produce grower: Queenstown-based Organic Soluttions has acquired leading south island New Zealand organic farm, Brydone Growers, which has now changed its name to Oamaru Organics. The farm is known for growing organic brassica and leafy crops, as well as potatoes distributed widely throughout New Zealand.   Two women on top of MNC seed firm in New Zealand  Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Pakistan"]  Hybrid wheat seeds show promise: Scientists from Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture (MNSUA) are reporting success from the trialing of new, early-harvest, climate-resilient varieties of wheat. Seeds were planted in two locations Multan and Faisalabad, and according to the scientists, the hybrid varieties were able to yield between 60 and 66 maunds per acre, compared to just 35 and 40 maunds per acre for conventional varieties; moreover, the seed requirement for the hybrid varieties was only 30kg per acre, compared to 50kg / acre for general varieties. Textile barons blamed for low cotton prices: According to an article by Tribune Pakistan, documents prepared by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research the cotton industry has suffered an annual loss of 52 billion rupees due to textile barons monopolizing the market, driving down prices and thus giving farmers reason to grow other crops. . Moreover the quality of cotton has dropped due to non-compliance with the Cotton Control Act, and the failure to implement a quality-based seed pricing system In related news, the government has ensured a bonus premium of 200 rupees per 40kg of neat and clean picked cotton this year, according to the Urdu Times. The premium will be offered by the Pakistan Cotton ginners Association. In addition a 1,000 rupee subsidy on cotton seed bags is being given to farmers, with 100,000 cotton seed bags to be distributed in South Punjab. Subsidies were also being offered for potassium and phosorus, while farmers are being urged to complete cultivation by end of May. Farmers were recommended to use 8-10 kg of seed per acre, which should yield 23,000 cotton plants.  Wheat harvest figures here. Mango output expected to fall 30%: Pakistan Today reports that mango output for the 2018-2019 season, harvesting for which commenced May 20, is expected to fall to 1.2 million metric tonnes, which would represent a 30% decline from last year when the output was 1.8 million MT. The fall is being blamed on bad weather, including heavy rain and hail storms. The export target for this year has been set at 100,000 tonnes. Increased rain a boon for kinnow: According to Urdu Point, increased amount of rainfall in recent weeks may contribute to increased yields of kinnow -- a hybrid mandarin citrus grown in Pakistan and India. Climate change ag insurance for Punjab farmers: The Punjab Agriculture Department (PAD) has entered into an agreement with Askari General Insurance (AGI) to extend insurance coverage to farmers in 18 districts of Punjab, Pakistan, which will cover up to 100% of the premium for farmers with landholdings of up to five acres, and up to 50% for landholdinggs of between five and 25 acres.  Return to top [/expand] [expand title="Vietnam"]  Revitalizing coffee production with better seeds: The Central Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute, with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), is producing and distributing high-quality coffee seeds to ensure sufficient supply for farmers in coffee a replanting program. Several new varieties feature large grain sizes, and resistance to disease, with possible yields of around 5 tons hectare. Older coffee varieties planted are reportedly only yielding about 2 tons per ha. In addition to providing better seeds, efforts include extension efforts to educate farmers on optimizing cultivation, including soil prep, and implementation of irrigation to ensure adequate water supply, reports Nongnghiep Vietnam. Extension efforts extending rice yields: Efforts by Agriculture Extension officers in Dak R'Lap district of Dak Nong province are paying off for some 405 residents representing 105 households. The government supports farmers with inputs, including quality rice seeds, fertilizers, and plant protection chemicals, while training farmers cultivation methods and techniques, extending to soil treatment, sowing, weeding and harvesting. One of the farmers reportedly is able to harvest 900kg of rice from his 1,200 square meter plot -- which is equal to 7.5 tonnes per hectare. In similar news from Nongnghiep Vietnam, the Quang Tri Provincial Agricultural Extension Center and Quang Tri Department of Agriculture and Rural Development have realized yields of between six and seven tonnes per hectare from trials of eight quality rice varieties in the five districts of Vinh Linh, Gio Linh, Hai Lang, Trieu Phong and Dong Ha City. The trials spanned 500 ha and involved 19 local agricultural cooperatives. Langson’s Seedling Nursery: Mr. Lang Van Tuan is a seed and seedling farmer who runs a nursery in the Chi Lang ward of Lang Son city. From his efforts there, he outputs some 500,000 seedlings of various types of fruit and flowering trees, earning a humble VND 200 million ($8,500)  annually, reports Dan Viet. Nanotechnology for better maize seed performance: Starting in April 2019, the Institute of Materials Science under the Vietnam Academy of Sciences, in cooperation with Meo Vac district begin rolling out a project to use nano-metal technology with corn seeds in Niem Son commune . The technology is being applied to seed treatment pre-planting to stimulate germination and positively impact development of roots, and growth of leaves and stems so that the plants are more resistance to drought and disease. The pilots will focus on maize cultivation plots in Cao Bang and Son La provinces.    Return to top [/expand]