Sale prices give timely lift to lamb sector


OPTIMISM in the lamb business was reflected at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual show and sale of gimmer shearlings – one of the largest fixtures of its kind in the North of England.

The sale of young ewes last Tuesday attracted 5,000 entries – over 1,700 up on the previous year – and achieved an overall average of £146.41 per head, a rise of £11.83 on 2010.

Mule shearlings were notably strong, with the 3,272 entry averaging £155.97 each, up £18.73 on 2010. NEMSA-tagged consignments sold to a high of £218 each – for the second-prize pen from the Littondale sheep farming family headed by James Hall of Darnbrook. They were bought by Craven Cattle Marts’ chairman Anthony Hewetson, Bank Newton.

The Halls, who run some 2,000 Mule, Swaledale and Blue Faced Leicester sheep on their 3,000-acre holding were also responsible for the champion pen of Mule shearlings, which won the Edgar Boothman Memorial Trophy. It is a familiar piece of silverware to the Halls, who also lifted the trophy in 2008 and 2009. Their 2011 victors sold for £212 per head to Angus Dean, Threshfield.

The gimmer shearlings fixture followed a sale of 4,628 prime sheep the previous day and 11,696 store lambs were catalogued for sale on Wednesday, in the busiest week of the year to date at Skipton.

East coast sheep farmer Mike Allen, of Borrowby Grange, Staithes, presented the first prize pen of Masham gimmer shearlings, sold at £155 per head to Michael and David Wilson, Beckwithshaw, who also bought the 2010 champions.

David is chairman of Masham Sheepbreeders’ Association. Masham shearlings averaged £133.59, up £10.77 on 2010.

First prize in the Continentals class fell to a pen of pure-bred Texels from Tim Jackson of Goosnargh, Preston. They headed the prices at £195 apiece when joining William Warren, Cleckheaton. Texel shearlings averaged £128.20.

* The August Craven Dairy Auction, on Monday, included the second annual show for dairy bulls.

Champion was a March 2009-born red and white Holstein bull shown by Alan Midgley of Dean House Farm, Luddenden, Halifax, which headed the prices when joining Chris Harrison at Elsack for 1,460gns (£1,533).

Reserve champion was a 15-month-old home-bred pedigree Brown Swiss bull from breed enthusiasts David and Pauline Brown of Longside Farm, Ramsgill. Mr Brown is chairman of Nidderdale Show and his runner-up sold for 600gns (£630) to David Pennock, Bolton Abbey.

* Kirkby Stephen saw 3,102 sheep through its weekly sale, on Tuesday night, consisting of 2092 Prime Lambs, 763 Cast Ewes/Rams and 247 Store Lambs.

Trade topped at 205.10p/kg for a pen of Beltex-X lambs. Overall average was 5p/kg up on the week and 22p/kg up on the corresponding week last year. Light lambs under 36kg were very dear with pens of Cont-X lambs often fetching 190-200p/kg and pens of horned lambs regularly achieving 175-180 p/kg.

Many more store lambs could have been sold.


BAKEWELL Market, serving South Yorkshire as well as Derbyshire, reported exceptional prices for store cattle. Auctioneers Bagshaws said: “We have seen the occasional animal making over £1,000 recently and last week there was a steer at £1,215. This week, steers sold to £1,200 and heifers £1,295 with no fewer than 26 store cattle topping the £1,000 mark.”

He added that prices for OTM (Over Thirty Months) cattle reflected demand for all grades of beef, at 125-145p a kilo.

Lebanese farmers meet to discuss sector’s challenges

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BEIRUT: Lebanese farmers association held a meeting Thursday to discuss the challenges facing the agriculture sector in Lebanon and the solutions that must be adopted by the government to improve the performance of this sector.

“The Lebanese agriculture sector is suffering a lot while the Agriculture Ministry is not properly assuming its responsibilities,” the association said in a statement following the meeting.

The association asked the government to reinstate Export Plus in order to assist farmers in exporting their excess produce.

The program consists of a subsidy for the transport of agricultural goods based on the quantity exported and the destination.

The association has also called for stopping the financial assistance to farmers until a committee is formed to make sure that these donations are fairly distributed among all farmers.

It also called for the establishment of an agriculture agenda in accordance with a law managed by the chamber of commerce, industry and agriculture.

Agriculture in Vietnam gets a boost with new public-private sector project

tải xuống (3) Twelve global companies have joined with the Government of Vietnam to launch a public-private task force to advance sustainable agricultural growth in the country. Developed through discussions of the Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture Initiative, the task force will take an innovative approach to improve food security and agricultural sustainability nationwide.
As the first of its kind in Vietnam, the task force will work to coordinate and leverage public and private sector investments in agriculture to increase high-quality production while benefiting farmers. The task force will operate both on a strategic level, exchanging best practice and addressing policy issues and on an operational level, working to scale effective initiatives by combining public and private sector capacities.

"Government and business share the same goal: we both want to see strong and sustainable growth in Vietnam’s agriculture sector," said Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. "We have identified a number of ways in which we can work together more effectively towards that goal."

"Growing Asian demand for food means we must increase both production and quality to meet that growth while operating within the constraints of climate change . If companies combine efforts with the government and each other, we can operate more effectively along the full value chain," said Frans Muller, Member of the Management Board of METRO Group and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on East Asia.

The task force will work to develop an initial action plan in the coming six months for presentation at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The group’s activities will likely include:
• Undertaking research to identify high leverage opportunities and exchanging best practices
• Undertaking a policy dialogue to build support across key stakeholders and industries
• Fast-tracking and scaling implementation of select initiatives to achieve rapid progress on several “quick wins”

Participating companies include Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, Cargill, Dupont, METRO Group, Monsanto, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Swiss Re, Syngenta, Unilever and Yara International.

The World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture facilitates partnership-building and action among key stakeholders including business, government, civil society, international organizations and academia. It claims to promote models of agricultural growth that contribute to food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity.

The programme for the 19th World Economic Forum on East Asia will explore the many facets of the region’s rising economic influence such as how high-growth economies can improve their competitiveness through developing innovation-driven, green economies. At the same time, the discussions will consider to what extent ongoing regional integration will serve as the basis for Asian leaders to assume a greater leadership role in global cooperation.

Dip in land and shares puts cloud over farm sector

images Farmland prices have slipped for a third successive month in the US, and share prices in agricultural groups markedly underperformed the market, raising a question mark over the sector’s standing with investors.

Farm values, while continuing this month a rise in prices stretching back to the start of 2010, rose more slowly than in June, with a price index falling to 59.4 from 62.0, Creighton University said, following a survey in main farming states including Illinois, Iowa and North Dakota.

Any figure above 50 indicates growth.

"We are tracking consistent slippage in farmland price growth as the index has declined for three straight months," said Creighton economics professor Ernie Goss, adding that many other indicators for the rural economy were "trending lower too".

An index for the farm equipment market fell to 53.7 from 63.1 in June, a fourth successive month of decline.

‘Widepsread declines’

The data came as analysis from the University of Illinois showed that shares in agriculture companies fell in the April-to-June quarter by an average of 6%, a contrast with a small rise in the average stock, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

"Unlike in previous quarters… the Agindex decline is not accompanied by a decline in the S&P 500," University of Illinois professor Gary Schnitkey said.

Declines in agriculture shares were "widespread", although led by processors such as Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Corn Products International, which suffered an average fall of 10%.

Fertilizer groups, including Agrium, Mosaic and PotashCorp, fell by 9%, while seed groups, such as Monsanto and Syngenta, proved the most resilient, easing only 1%.

Futures market trend

The performance came in a quarter which ended weakly for prices of many food commodities too, hurt by a wave of liquidation among speculators, stoked by macroeconomic fears, with Greece’s debt crisis and China inflation concerns in full spate.

Wheat, in particular, felt pressure from the US harvest and the announcements of Russia’s return to grain exports.

However, latest data showed investors returning to farm commodity market, with the total net long position held by managed money – a proxy for speculators – rising by more than 100,000 contracts in the week to July 19, its highest since February.

On US Commodities’ assessment, "speculators last week had the largest investment in 18 commodities in a year".

And, at Barclays Capital, Sudakshina Unnikrishnan said that the data "showed that tactical investors held a largely positive view on agricultural commodities, reducing positive exposure only to cocoa and coffee".–3400.html

Agricultural sector focuses on climate change


The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) will spend nearly 9.5 billion VND (430,000 USD) implementing a national programme on climate change in 2011 in order to ensure sustainable agricultural production and national food security.

The programme will assess the level of climate change, build climate change and rising sea level scenarios and implement scientific and technological projects on climate change along with introducing policies to support crop restructure in eco-agricultural areas.

The programme also aims to improve public awareness of climate change and train human resources for the sector.

In addition, projects relating to climate change response will focus on studying and carrying out mitigation and adaptability measures in the direction of saving water and energy, and limiting emissions in cultivation and animal husbandry.

The MARD said it is building an emission reduction project in the agricultural sector by 2020 with a target of cutting down 20 percent of gas emissions.

It is completing plans to ease the consequences of natural disasters, climate change and rising sea levels as well as mapping out a pilot project on greenhouse effect reduction in agro-forestry in Binh Dinh and Binh Thuan provinces and Can Tho city.

The ministry also suggested the government and ministries increase investment in the agricultural sector’s climate change response activities in order to reduce damages and strengthen disaster prevention capacity.

Agricultural sector to cut rice output losses

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The agricultural sector aims to reduce rice production losses from 12 per cent currently down to 5-6 per cent by 2020. There are also plans to increase export value by 20-25 per cent.

These targets were announced by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Cao Duc Phat at a conference to look at ways to increase the added value in agricultural production last week in Ha Noi.

Phat said that the Government would supply 40,000 modern rice dryers to farmers in the Cuu Long (Mekong )Delta, where currently only 10,000 are in use. He said the Government would also help to renovate rice storage facilities and by 2013, make it possible to store 100,000 tonnes of rice in the Hong (Red River) Delta and 4 million tonnes in the Mekong Delta, almost triple the current capacity. Ports used specifically for rice exports would also be built while agricultural production processing centres would be developed to accompany wholesale markets and cut out unnecessary fees, Phat added.

He urged enterprises to actively look for ways to give added value to their produce, and search for steady, reliable partners, rather than deal sporadically with small, random businesses.

Enterprises should also try to minimise risks by taking preventive measures to avoid epidemics and cope with the consequences of natural disasters, he said.

Vu Trong Binh, director of the Agriculture Development Centre under MARD said in order to increase value, enterprises should concentrate on building a professional brand and developing brand recognition.

High input fees were also an issue because Viet Nam depended on imports, while export infrastructure remained poor, according to Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, director of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Centre under MARD. He also suggested that improved transport infrastructure in the form of large ports and railways would aid the Mekong Delta.

The agricultural sector has grown rapidly over the last 20 years, with rice exports reaching a record US$3 billion while coffee exports hit $2 billion last year. Despite this, many farmers still had poor living conditions, so increasing added value was imperative, said the minister.

Agricultural sector aims to boost added value


The agricultural sector plans to raise the added value of its products by at least 20 percent in the next decade.

The target is set as the volume and value of exports of Vietnamese farm produce increase constantly in the recent years, but farmers’ income did not increase in correlation.

Additionally, 90 percent of the country’s exports are raw farm produce, including low quality staples with prices 5-10 percent lower than those of similar produce of other countries.

According to Bui Chi Buu, Director of the Southern Agricultural Science and Technology Institute, processed products earn values some 10-fold higher than raw products. For example, o­ne kilo of packed processed tra or basa (pangasius) fillets is sold for over 10 USD, while the same raw fish quantity is valued at o­nly 1 USD.

The export of pepper is another example, with turnover registering big surge while the volume remained almost unchanged thanks to a three-time increase in the amount of processed pepper for export.

He added that the country could earn an additional 100 million USD from coffee exports if its products were of better quality. In fact, Vietnam ships abroad between 900,000-1 million tonnes of coffee a year, earning about 1.8 billion-2 billion USD.

The sector has focused investment o­n its processing industry and improving production methods to raise the quality of farm produce, considering those as urgent tasks in the future.

The project to raise the added value of agricultural products includes a series of measures to improve technology, including increasing mechanisation in the Mekong Delta, the major region for key farm produce, to 60 percent and building the system of post harvest and warehouse to reduce losses of rice to 5-6 percent.

In 2011, the sector plans to complete the planning of safe tea, vegetable and fruit areas in cities and provinces nationwide with a half of production establishments in these areas and 30 percent of their products meeting the Certification for Vietnam Good Agricultural Practice (VietGAP).

Joining those efforts, the Ministry of Industry and Trade approved a plan to develop an industry to manufacture agricultural, forestry and fisheries equipment with a total investment capital of over 20 trillion VND

Agricultural sector urged to boost exports


Domestic agricultural producers must boost exports to help reduce the country’s trade deficit, said economist Pham Do Chi.

Chi said if the sector did not increase production and foreign sales, the country’s trade deficit would reach US$15 billion this year.

According to the General Statistics Office, in the first four months of this year, the country’s trade deficit reached about $5 billion, up nearly 6 per cent against the same period last year. There were $4 billion worth of imports from mainland China alone.

Chi said the quality of Vietnam’s rice this year was better than that exported by Thailand to Hong Kong. Furthermore, Vietnamese rice was cheaper, he said.

Chi added that Vietnamese rice had taken an increasing slice of the Hong Kong market and was making in-roads into the coastal areas of mainland China where incomes were relatively high. He suggested Vietnamese producers focus o­n exporting white rice to this market. He said lower quality rice should be exported to the Philippines, India and Africa.

According to the Agromonitor agency, in March this year, Vietnam exported 60,000 tonnes of rice to China. It said Chinese firms were looking to purchase more competitively priced rice from Vietnam. However, he said Vietnamese firms had encountered payment problems with exports to China.

Chi said exports should be supported by banks. In addition, more research o­n demand in China should be conducted, he added.

However, Dr Tran Du Lich from the National Advisory Council for Monetary and Financial Policies said that though exports had increased they should be considered in terms of output requirements and the selling price.

Vietnam’s farm produce was mostly exported to its neighbours. About 80 per cent of Vietnamese dragon fruits was exported to China alone. However, he said it was important to diversify exports to ensure price stability.

Japan and South Korea were also major importers of Vietnamese agricultural products. Pham Hai Long, general director of Agrex Sai Gon Foodstuffs Joint Stock Company, said the three main reasons for the popularity of Vietnamese agricultural exports were taste, cleanliness and attractiveness. Meanwhile, seafood enterprises have been now checking radioactivity levels in raw materials for processing.

Long said orders at his company in the first two months of this year had increased by 30-40 per cent. Helping to boost exports was the country’s favourable climate, he added.

Long said upheaval in the global economy and natural disasters had helped to boost exports to neighbouring markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that in March, 45,000 tonnes of rice were exported to the Philippines.

In the first quarter of this year, rice exports increased by 500,000 tonnes compared with the first three months of last year.

Temasek to invest $55m into HAG’s rubber sector

images (2) Singapore-based Temasek Group and Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group Joint Stock Co (HAG) have recently signed a principle deal whereby Temasek will invest $55 million in HAG’s rubber industry.

Two signatories are discussing terms of a detailed contract which is expected to be finished in June, Vo Truong Son, HAG’s deputy general director in charge of Finance said.

In the future, Temasek will become a shareholder of Rubber Corp, one of five member corporations of HAG. Along with the $55 million investment in convertible bonds issued in August 2010 by HAG, total amount of money Temasek invested in HAG’s subsidiaries so far has been $110 million.