Agriculture news from week 1, 2021

New Zeland

NZ-grown papaya tested as possible dengue treatment

New Zealand-grown papaya is being studied to find out if an extract from its leaves could be an effective treatment for dengue fever.

The first extracts from the leaves of the fruit grown at a Northland research orchard are now part of a clinical study at universities in the UK and in Asia.

The project is spearheaded by Queenstown based company Fuller Young International.


Read More here

LIC delivers world-leading genetic wealth to New Zealand dairy farmers

Thanks to the foresight of the LIC board and its farmer shareholders, three decades of research and investment focusing on increasing the rate of genetic improvement in New Zealand dairy animals is paying off resulting in markedly increased productivity and health traits for dairy cows, and better returns for dairy farmers.

LIC Board Chair Murray King says the investment of more than $78 million over the past 26 years has built substantial genetic wealth for the New Zealand dairy industry.

Read more here

Farming company adapts sanitation technology to fight the spread of COVID-19

Palmerston North’s Saflex Pumps primarily uses a spray technology to keep the teats of dairy cows clean before milking to reduce mastitis.

But co-founder Mark Bell Booth said the same technology – along with an automated fly spray – inspired the design of a new system which can sanitise indoor areas to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

A dry fog machine pumped sanitiser in microns smaller than the size of a human hair into a closed room, he said.

Read More here…

New Zealand-made cheeses could face renaming under new EU rules

This creamy cheese has been in development at Whitestone for the last two years, using a unique mould strain found in North Otago.

“When we talk about it, it’s like that style of a gorgonzola, but we’re calling it Oamaru blue because it’s here from Oamaru,” says Simon Berry, managing director of Whitestone Cheese and spokesperson for New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association.

Developing unique varieties is set to become more important. The European Union wants to ban other countries from using ‘their’ cheese names in local products.

Read More here…

Scale of hardship for orchardists still emerging after Boxing Day hail

Motueka orchardists hit by a freak hail storm on Boxing Day are still figuring out the scope of the financial damage it caused.

The hail caused massive damage to orchards in and around Motueka, in some cases completely wiping out some fruit growers’ crops.

In the aftermath, MP for West Coast-Tasman and Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has been in Motueka to inspect the damage first-hand.

The platform is a secure space where buyers and sellers can trade seamlessly, while also improving access for smaller growers to international markets, chief executive Alex Guilleux said.

Read More here…


Favourable farmgate fertiliser prices “here to stay”

Plentiful global fertiliser supplies along with a stable currency outlook are giving Australian farmers confidence affordable fertiliser prices will continue in the year ahead.

Agribusiness specialist Rabobank has released its latest semi-annual Global Fertiliser Outlook which notes that while global fertiliser prices have stepped back from 10-year lows during the second half of 2020, this newly-found price strength was expected to tail off during the second half of this year.

Read more here

Industry positive about the pulse market

PULSES are on a comeback across Western Australia as the industry moves to put past market shocks and agronomic challenges behind it.

From the dizzying heights of 1999 where 2.1 million hectares of pulses were produced in WA, this dropped to 600,000ha in 2010 and 340,000 this year, according to the Grains Industry Association of WA.

Anthracnose and Ascochyta blight in chickpeas was largely responsible for the downturn.

Read more here

Lots of work needed to digest big crop

Organisation (WTO) over its imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties of more than 80 per cent on Australian barley is unlikely to yield any quick result, with growers heading into 2021 with a ‘business as usual’ approach.

The choice to take the matter to the WTO was announced by Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham after extensive consultation with the grains industry.

“While Australia respects China’s right, as with any nation, to undertake domestic investigations into anti-dumping matters, we do not agree with China’s decision to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Australian barley,” Mr Birmingham said.

Read more here

Lack of premiums irks growers

2020 finished with a flourish. The end of year rally pushed Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures to contract highs, and to multi-year highs not seen since 2014.

The Australian dollar also surged to be above 77 US cents at year’s end. While that capped the prices in $A terms, it was enough to push the $A value of March CBOT futures back above $A305 a tonne, and to its best level since November 11.

Read more here

Sorghum sinks with improved weather

Good December rain and continued storms in the first week of 2021 have seen sorghum prices tumble.

Delivered Darling Downs sorghum prices climbed above $330 a tonne in early December as dry weather threatened summer crop production but has since plunged $40 as the season has improved.

Parts of the Darling Downs received upwards of 100 millimetres of rain during December with more storms expected later this week.

Read more here…

South America

Argentina suspends corn export sales until March; farmers’ surprised and furious

Argentina will suspend sales of corn for export until Feb. 28, the agriculture ministry said on Wednesday, announcing the surprise move as part of the government’s effort to ensure ample domestic food supplies.

The move by the world’s No. 3 corn supplier was a sign of tightening global food supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This decision is based on the need to ensure the supply of grain for the sectors that use it as a raw material for the production of animal protein such as pork, chicken, eggs, milk and cattle, where corn represents a significant component of production costs,” the statement said.

Read more here

China Approved 10 Fruits for Import in 2020 Amid Slowing Import Growth

According to an announcement from China’s General Administration of Customs, China granted import permission for 10 new fruit items in 2020, representing a slight decrease from the previous year. The approved fruit items include Argentinian and Chilean citrusBrazilian melonsCambodian mangosDominican avocadosIndonesian dragon fruitU.S. avocadosblueberries and nectarines; and Zambian blueberries. However, owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic, both the rate of approval for new fruit imports and the number of fruit imports in general have been declining. According to data from China Customs, imports of fresh fruits, dried fruits and nuts between January and October of 2020 totaled 5.51 million metric tons, a year-on-year decrease of 10.5%.

Read More here

Argentina causing grain market turmoil

The crippling strike by Argentina’s port-side oilseed workers was finally resolved midway through last week, allowing production at the country’s soybean crush facilities to return to normal and a resumption of port loading operations along the Parana River.

The soybean crush facilities in Argentina’s main grains hub of Rosario lay idol for 20 days and exports were paralysed after the unions representing oilseed workers and grain inspectors called a strike on December 9.

They were demanding better wages to compensate their members for the country’s high inflation rate, particularly for those who continued to work through the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here

Why the South American soybean crop is more important than you think

Harvest will soon begin on Brazil’s soybean crop. There are big dynamics at play in South America this year that will likely impact U.S. soy growers.

Brazilian soybean stocks continue to be scarce after exporting the majority of its supplies to China earlier last year. China only bought 100.7 million bushels of Brazilian soybeans in November 2020, down 29% from the previous year.

Read more here

Food Updates

Growers seek new ways to combat seed set

Growing scrutiny around the use of glyphosate in farming systems has prompted a leading agronomist to encourage growers to look at alternative ways of reducing seed set prior to harvest.

Paul McIntosh is WeedSmart’s northern extension officer and said there are currently five herbicides registered for late season use in a variety of crops.

“Glyphosate and diquat (or Reglone) are registered for use in wheat and barley in some states, canola, chickpea, lentil, faba bean, field pea, mungbean and soybean,” he said.

Read more here

Lab-grown meat officially on the menu

Lab grown meat has been sold in a restaurant for the first time in Singapore, after it was approved in a world first last month.

Cultured meat company Eat Just has announced that it will become the world’s first company to have its lab-grown meat served in a restaurant.

Eat Just is a food technology company that produces meat and egg substitutes, and recently became the first company to gain approval to sell its lab-grown chicken product, GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken, in Singapore. Incidentally, Singapore became the world’s first government to approve lab-grown meat for public consumption back in early December 2020.

Read more here

The making of a superfood? The key relationship at the heart of kefir

Research teams from around the world have been investigating how kefir is made and how can it be made more appealing for consumers.

New research from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Cambridge University’s Patil group and collaborators, published in Nature Microbiology, has revealed the complex microbiological relationship central to the production of kefir.

Kefir is one of the world’s oldest fermented food products and considered by the research team to be a ‘superfood‘ with many purported health benefits, including improved digestion and lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Read more here

Poultry to be culled in Northern Ireland after bird flu is detected

More than 30,000 birds are to be culled and a strict control zone set up following a suspected outbreak of bird flu in County Antrim.

Strict disease control measures have been rolled out in parts of Northern Ireland after a suspected outbreak of bird flu, which, among other actions, includes the culling of more than 30,000 poultry.

Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Dr Robert Huey has also implemented a Temporary Control Zone around the town of Clough, County Antrim. This restricts how birds can be moved within the area, as well as ensuring detailed records are kept of who handles poultry and eggs and how the birds are housed etc.

Read more here