Let me begin by thanking all of our esteemed members, partners, and stakeholders for the fruitful collaborations in the past year.

For this issue of the TFNet Newsfeed, let's take a quick look at some of the notable activities we conducted in 2017. We continued to facilitate international cooperation in production, consumption, logistics, market, and trade in the global tropical fruit sector.

TFNet will continue to work together with its members and stakeholders to meet our goals in each focus area identified in the TFNet Strategic Plan (2015-2020).

I wish everyone a fruitful new year! May you and your family have a blessed 2018!

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Mohd Desa Hassim

(To read Dr. Desa's New Year message in full, please visit the TFNet Website)

  JANUARY - FEBRUARY          

Study visit to Thailand held for the Malaysian Government

TFNet organized a study visit on "Technology Acquisition on Agricultural Machinery and Postharvest Technology in Thailand" on 31 Jan - 4 Feb 2017.


TFNet CEO pays courtesy visits in Bangladesh

Dr. Desa Hassim, CEO of TFNet paid courtesy visits to Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP), Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), and Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).

  MARCH - APRIL          

TFNet CEO presents paper entitled "Enhancing Agricultural Exports" during the 2018 Malaysian Budget Discourse

Dr. Desa Hassim, TFNet CEO, was invited by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance on 10-12 April 2017 as a speaker during the 2018 Budget Discourse held in Putrajaya.


Study visit to Vietnam visit held for Malaysian government officers

Eleven officers from different government agencies in Malaysia visited the rice production areas and research centers in Mekong Delta, Vietnam on 10 March - 2 April 2017.

  MAY - JUNE          

TFNet CEO invited as guest speaker in KRI’s Brown Bag Seminar series

On 18 May 2017, guest speaker Dr. Mohd Desa Hassim, CEO of International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNet), presented at the second Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) Brown Bag Seminar on a topic titled “Malaysia: Current Scenario and Way Forward for the Fruit Industry”.


FEATURE: The Global Banana Ruckus – Face off with the Fusarium Wilt

The global banana industry, valued at $36 billion is facing its greatest enemy in the form of the Banana Fusarium Wilt disease, colloquially known as the ‘Panama disease’. The destructive fungus infects the roots of banana plants causing the wilting of its leaves. 

  JULY - AUGUST          

Week-long international workshop on jackfruit launches in India

The International Workshop on Production, Value Addition, and Marketing of Jackfruit was launched on 9 August 2017 in the Regional Agricultural Research Station, Ambalavayal, Wayanad, Kerala, India. The 6-day-long festival aims to increase the awareness of jackfruit as a potential commercial fruit crop in Kerala.


TFNet joins ICAAS 2017

TFNet joined the International Conference on Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sarawak (ICAAS 2017) from the 21st -22nd August 2017. Aside from displaying during the exhibition, CEO Dr. Desa Hassim presented during one of the sessions.


TFNet joins Village Development Forum in Indonesia

TFNet CEO presented on "Tropical Fruits for Rural Development" during the Village Development Forum in Jararta, Indonesia on 23rd August 2017.


TFNet wins 1st and 2nd prize in photo competition

See the award-winning photos during the International Workshop on Production, Value Addition, and Marketing of Jackfruit on 9-14 August 2017.


TFNet joins Malaysia’s “Largest Mango Tree Planting” activity

4000 mango seedlings of the Harumanis variety were planted by 2000 people at the same time on Sept 19, setting the record for “Largest Mango Tree Planting” on the Malaysia Book of Records (MBOR).


TFNet joins AgriMalaysia 2017

Agri Malaysia 2017 was an international exhibition organized by Expoglobe and One International Exhibition held on 22-24 September 2017 at the Setia City Convention Center, Shah Alam, Malaysia.


International Workshop on Digital Marketing for Women Entrepreneurs held in Melaka, Malaysia

The International Workshop on Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Agri-Food Business through Tropical Fruit Value Chain: Transitioning from Traditional to Digital Marketing was held from the 3rd to 5th October 2017.


Fiji hosts International Symposium on Tropical Fruits

The 2017 International Symposium on Tropical Fruits (ISTF2017) was held in Tanoa International Hotel, Nadi, Fiji on 23-25 October 2017, organized by the Fijian Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNet), and Fiji Institute of Agricultural Sciences (FIAS), with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


ISTF2017 field trip showcases Fiji’s growing tropical fruit industry

A one-day field trip was organized by the Fijian Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) on October 25 for the delegates of the 2017 International Symposium on Tropical Fruits (ISTF).


TFNet holds 11th BOT meeting in Fiji

The Eleventh Board of Trustees (BOT) Session of the International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNet) was held in Nadi, Fiji on 26 October 2017, a day after the International Symposium on Tropical Fruits (ISTF2017).


TFNet CEO guests in the 25th Philippine National Fruit Symposium

The 25th Philippine National Fruit Symposium was organized by the PhilFruits Association at the Aziza Paradise Hotel in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on 7-10 November 2017.


TFNet CEO presents keynote paper during the Food and Society International Conference 2017

Held at Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur from 18th to 19th November 2017, the Food and Society International Conference 2017 was organized by the Asia-Pacific Food Studies Network, the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), and the National University of Malaysia (UKM).

      AUSTRALIA: GM banana shows promise against deadly fungus strain  
  Scientists in Australia have created golden-orange-fleshed bananas rich in pro-vitamin A that could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children who die from a deficiency of this vitamin every year.     A field trial in Australia has shown that genetically modified banana trees can resist the deadly fungus that causes Panama disease, which has devastated banana crops in Asia, Africa, and Australia and is a major threat for banana growers in the Americas.  
  ECUADOR: Ministry and banana producers establish a road map FAO: Handbook to improve safety in banana farming sector launched  
  The first Banana Technical Table, led by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Ruben Flores, established a twelve-point road map to benefit the sector.     The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Government of Ecuador launched a practical guide for workers in the banana sector – the most exported fresh fruit in the world, both by volume and by economic value – to promote healthier and safer work conditions.  
  USA: The return of an heirloom watermelon CHINA/VIETNAM: Firms ink watermelon trade deals  
  Not only is the Bradford Watermelon about the sweetest, juiciest watermelon you’ve probably never heard of, let alone eaten … its backstory is pretty juicy, too. Enterprises in Vietnam and China have signed principle contracts on watermelon trade in 2018 and the following years at a conference held in the central province of Quang Ngai on December 6.  
  INDIA: Watermelon price shoots up as yield falls USA: Watermelons look towards a strong 2017  
  The price of the fruit has also risen sharply this season. The fruit which was being sold at ₹50 (USD 0.79) apiece last year was now being sold at ₹75 (USD 1.18) apiece. As we head into the summer season, watermelon supply and consumption are both expected to be strong for 2017.  
  R&D: Sun’s role in mitigating fungal disease of mango fruit     INDIA: Export of mangoes set to Australia  
  Mango fruits play host to some economically damaging fungal diseases, especially during ripening and storage; but mango growers and suppliers have a new ray of hope…in the form of sunlight.     Australians can expect to see mangoes from India popping up in the markets soon, with a number of Indian businesses working hard to export fruit this season.  
  INFO: These mangoes are wild, but maybe you can tame them before they disappear     CHINA buys Myanmar’s entire mango export  
  There is a wide diversity of wild mango (Mangifera) species that bear edible fruit. They are related to the mango we all know and love, Mangifera indica, but they are not the same.     China is buying up almost all of Myanmar’s mangoes produced this year, said U Nay Lin Maung Maung, chair of the Myanmar Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association in the Mandalay Region.  
  PHILIPPINES: Del Monte streamlining operations in US     USA: Pink pineapples hit Instagram months after FDA approval  
  Fresh from a $200-million fundraising, Campos family-led Del Monte Pacific Ltd. (DMPL) plans to streamline its operations in the United States, improve margins by exiting the nonbranded manufacturing business and focusing on its branded consumer business.     Del Monte Fresh Produce plans to produce and distribute a pink flesh pineapple after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it last December.  
  CHINA: Pineapples imports from Costa Rica to commence     CANADA: Aloha! Meet the Ontario man who created pineapple pizza  
  China wants to include Costa Rican pineapples in their market. The news was announced by the Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Trade about the new agreement with China.     In a fit of fancy over half a century ago, Sam Panopoulos and his brother tossed some canned pineapple onto a pizza in their southwestern Ontario restaurant. Little did he know he would be inventing one of the most popular – and divisive and debated – pizzas in the world.  
  AUSTRALIA: High tech map of avocado, macadamia and mango orchards helps disaster response     UK: M&S selling stoneless avocado that could cut out risk of injuries  
  For the first time, Australia’s mango, macadamia, and avocado crops have been mapped. It’s a move that authorities say will change the way government and industry deals with natural disaster responses and disease outbreaks.     The so-called cocktail avocado is 5cm-8cm (2in-3in) in length and has a smooth, edible skin, meaning it can be sliced or eaten whole.  
  MEXICO: In avocado country, Mexicans not afraid of Trump tariff threats     NEW ZEALAND: World avocado prices double after reduced harvests  
  Avocado farmers in the rolling hillsides of Mexico’s Michoacan state are not worried for now by U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to tear up a trade deal which could make the favorite snack of Super Bowl viewers more expensive.   Avocado prices have risen to a record due to surging global demand and reduced harvests from major producers Mexico, Peru and California.  
  OTHER FRUITS            
  MALAYSIA: The fruit that smells like gym socks is skyrocketing in China     FIJI: New Green Pearl guava is sweet, crisp, and nutritious  
  The value of China’s fresh imports of durian fruit has climbed an average of 26 percent a year over the past decade, reaching USD 1.1 billion in 2016, according to United Nations data. Thailand dominates that market, but Malaysian politicians are counting on durian diplomacy to expand access beyond frozen fruit pulp.      On 25 September 2017, The Fijian Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with Taiwan Technical Mission introduced the Green Pearl guava variety to the local market.   
  R&D: Jackfruit seeds could help ease looming cocoa bean shortage     INDIA: Whatever happened to the plan to jazz up jackfruit?  
  Chocolate lovers could soon have a harder time satisfying their sweet tooth. Worldwide demand for this mouth-watering treat is outstripping the production of cocoa beans, its primary ingredient.     In 2017, the market for jackfruit is surging. The market for jackfruit in the USA are people on the paleo diet, vegans and gluten-free folks. It is a meat substitute and also a grain substitute, suitable for curries.  
  VIETNAM: Dragonfruit exports expand     R&D: Mangosteens could be the cure to TB, say NUS researchers  
  Vietnamese dragonfruit is entering new international markets, as its export network reaches 40 countries.     A natural compound found in mangosteens could be the answer to provide a new drug in the fight against tuberculosis (TB), according to a study by researchers from National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine).  
  INDIA: High-yielding variety of tamarind identified     INDIA: Impetus to custard apple cultivation  
  The scientists at the Horticulture Research Station here have identified a variety of tamarind with a red coloured pulp which could help the farmers of the State and especially those of the Rayalaseema districts.     Even as the production of custard apple is gradually declining due to the shrinking forest cover and fast-paced industrialisation in the coal belt areas of the district, the Horticulture Department has drawn up an ambitious plan to promote custard apple cultivation in the tribal sub-plan (TSP) mandals.