Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 358
Posted on: November 10th, 2017

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

This week’s quote of the week comes from Plenty’s CEO Matt Barnard, the vertical farming start-up which is currently at the centre of the largest ag-tech investment in history as it received USD200 million of funding in July.

“Relative to conventional agriculture, Plenty says that it can get as much as 350 times the produce out of a given acre of land, using 1 percent as much water…It is the most efficient [form of agriculture] in terms of the amount of productive capacity per dollar spent. Period.”

U.S. IMPOSES FINAL DUTIES ON CANADIAN SOFTWOOD TIMBER

The U.S. Commerce Department, accusing Canada of unfairly subsidizing and dumping softwood lumber in the United States, on Thursday set final duties on imports and Canada said it would appeal the decision, which comes during tense NAFTA trade talks.

The duties would impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties affecting about $5.66 billion worth of imports of the key building material, the department said.

The combined final duty rates range from about 10 percent to nearly 24 percent, lower than a preliminary range of about 17 percent to 31 percent.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced what he called the “unjust and punitive” final measures while acknowledging they could have been worse.

“We are, I guess, pleased that they are not as bad as they were before but they still represent a burden on forestry workers and communities all across this country,” he told reporters in Brampton, Ontario. “We will continue to work with the American administration to resolve this in a negotiated way.” The U.S. Commerce Department said exporters from Canada have sold softwood lumber in the U.S. market at 3.20 percent to 8.89 percent less than fair value, and that Canada was providing unfair subsidies at rates of 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent.

DRONES, CLONES AND CHOCOLATE COULD BE THE ANSWER FOR PALM OIL PLANTER

One of this year’s best-performing Malaysian palm oil plantation companies is looking to drones, clones and even other crops to overcome challenges from labour shortages and price volatility.

“We started mitigating that risk two years ago – we went all out for mechanization,” said Peter Benjamin, chief executive officer of United Malacca Bhd. “That has helped us cushion all these labour issues. It also helped us a lot as far as the recovery of the crop is concerned.”

Palm oil companies in Malaysia, the world’s second-biggest grower, have been grappling with a tepid rebound in production from the 2015-16 El Nino as well as an industrywide shortage of skilled plantation workers. Futures rallied 15 percent this half on lower-than-expected supplies. Output in most of Malaysia probably peaked in July while production growth is also slowing in Indonesia, according to Godrej International Ltd. director Dorab Mistry.

A lack of plantation workers means fruit can’t be harvested on time, lowering extraction rates and oil quality. United Malacca uses mechanical grabbers to collect fruit bunches, a typically laborious task in hot and humid conditions. It’s also mechanized fertilizer and herbicide application while drones are used for aerial surveillance. The company is also boosting output through clones and hybrid varieties that yield more oil, Benjamin said. It’s planted about 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) in Indonesia with clones and will plant another 6,000 hectares with clones and hybrids over the next three years. While the program is initially expensive, “the higher yield and oil extraction rate offsets whatever cost you put in the beginning. The payback is faster,” Benjamin said.

 

CHART OF THE WEEK

This week’s chart of the week comes from Bloomberg’s Florida Orange Crop Plunges to 71-Year Low After Hurricane Irma as the USDA releases its first post-storm forecast, with Florida, the largest U.S. producer’s orange production down an expected 21 percent.

 

 

 

JOKE OF THE WEEK

 

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