Monday, December 08, 2014

8th December,2014 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Rice can help treat cholera better: Study

 FPJ Bureau 

London : Replacing glucose with rice powder in the oral rehydration therapy for cholera can reduce toxicity by almost 75 per cent, a new study has found, reports PTI.The main treatment for cholera involves oral rehydration therapy where the patient drinks water mixed with salts and glucose.Although proven to be enormously effective, there are concerns that the glucose content might actually worsen the disease, researchers said.
Scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland have shown that glucose increases the toxicity of the cholera bacterium, whereas replacing glucose with starch can reduce its toxicity by almost 75 per cent.The usual treatment for cholera involves feeding the patient water mixed with electrolyte salts and glucose. The idea is to replace the patient’s lost fluids and essential salts, while the glucose acts as a source of carbon and helps the intestine to absorb the salts more efficiently.The patient continues the therapy until the infection has ran its course. Up to half of cholera patients would die without treatment, but oral rehydration therapy has been shown to lower the deaths to around 1 per cent, ‘Medicalxpress’ reported.
However, there are concerns that using glucose in the rehydration mixture can actually exacerbate the disease.The problem is that the infecting bacterium also consumes glucose, and that increases the expression of its genes that make it toxic.Melanie Blokesch and Andrea Rinaldo at EPFL correlated data from a recent cholera outbreak in Haiti with the effectiveness of oral rehydration therapy. Blokesch’s lab grew the cholera bacterium with different sugars (eg glucose, sucrose) and starch from potatoes and rice to see how each would affect the cholera toxin genes.Scientists found that both the activity of the genes, as well as the production of the cholera toxin itself were increased when the bacterium was fed with glucose, but they were considerably decreased when it was fed with starch from rice.The research was published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Long dry spell expected to dampen rice production

Ronnel W. Domingo

 2:36 AM | Monday, December 8th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–The probability that the El Niño weather disturbance will occur in the near future has climbed back up to 70 percent, but a “strong” event is not expected, according to a United Nations agency.In its latest market monitoring report, the Agriculture Market Information System (AMIS) said the global rice supply situation would remain “generally favorable,” although the rice production forecast for 2014 still indicated a decline from that of 2013.The AMIS, which is administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization, attributes the expected decline—by 2 million tons to 496 million tons—to contracting output in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Last month, expectations of a long, dry spell that could dampen food production were pegged at a 50-percent chance.Citing information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), the AMIS noted that atmospheric and sea surface conditions pointed to a 70-percent probability that the El Niño could last until January.The criteria for an actual El Niño, however, have not been met “because the conditions have not been in place long enough, and certain atmospheric features have not yet appeared,” the AMIS said.

“A strong event is not expected, in any case.”Still, the agency noted that the IRI forecast indicated an increased chance of below-average precipitation in Southeast Asia.Rice farmers in the Philippines are currently in the latter stage of harvest. But food security authorities have raised their concerns over the possible effects of Typhoon “Ruby” on agricultural production.According to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, some 12,000 bags of seeds are now ready for distribution, and the department has started to make preparations for what has been described to be the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year.“We advise farmers, whose crops are ready, to harvest quickly before Ruby arrives,” Alcala said on Friday. “We want to minimize the effect of this typhoon.

”A total of 691,692 hectares planted to palay, and 303,542 hectares planted to corn are ready for harvest, he said.In the Eastern Visayas alone, Alcala added, a total of 3,800 bags of certified seeds and 8,300 bags of hybrid seeds—all from the Philippine Rice Research Institute—have been made ready for quick replanting.Overall, the Department of Agriculture has prepared a buffer stock of seeds totaling 78,479 bags for rice, and 17,554 for corn. It has also issued directives for the relocation of livestock and other farm animals from high-risk areas.

source with thanks: 

The monthly report of the International Cotton Advisory Committee has pointed out a 6pc loss in cotton consumption because of persistent energy crisis in Pakistan, while persistent low cotton prices are forcing farmers to shift to other competing crops with better returns.
Coupled with this cotton crisis is the problematic rice surplus, particularly of basmati, and the agri business picture worsens for everyone — from farmers to traders to industry.What makes the situation even more frustrating is the government’s failure to tackle the long-standing, underlying and aggravating problems of cotton growers. Instead, when the cotton rates fell much below the cost of production, the government, asked the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to lift 1m bales off the market and help stabilise the falling prices.The procurement is currently stuck at 390,000 bales and markets rates have not improved. The TCP has stopped receiving samples for procurement.
For the rice crisis, the government announced a compensation plan for the basmati farmers, modalities of which were to be decided later on. Its revenue department has no data about who sows basmati and who does not. Without such precise data, how would it dole out compensation — cash or kind? No one really knows; at least in Punjab, where basmati is sown. Thus, neither the nature of subsidy is decided yet nor the list of recipients has yet been finalised.

What makes the situation more frustrating is the government’s failure to tackle the long standing, underlying and aggravating problems of cotton growers

One needs to imagine that had the electricity problem not dented consumption by 6pc, the total increase could have been close to 10pc and disposal of cotton much quicker and consistent, improving domestic rates.The ministry of commerce still hopes that the consumption would increase by 2pc to hit a figure of 2.3m bales.Similarly, had the government institutions planned better for rice and arrested the declining trend, it would not have needed to come up with any subsidy plan.The cotton price for farmers has been a persistent problem, which the government had ignored for long. The farmers responded by decreasing acreage under the crop.
For the last few years, the area under crop has dropped by almost 1m acres. With the power crisis deepening each year, the industry is unable, or unwilling, to buy crop produced even from that reduced area. It is the industry’s crisis, which has now attracted official attention, not the farmers’ plight. Though both are interlinked, the government prefers industry.Even now, the government is concentrating on one-off solutions; subsidy for basmati farmers and inducting TCP for cotton growers. Instead, it should focus on business cycles.The textile industry needs power at affordable rates. There is no way the government cannot provide it, even during these crises. With the entire industry needing around 3,000MW — out of total demand of 24,000MW — and some solution has to be found with better management.
For basmati, the government has the option of concentrating on the Gulf, Middle Eastern and neighbouring states, where basmati rice is in huge demand. The European Union pays premier price for it. The only thing both these commodities need is better domestic planning — on sustained and efficient level.
Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, December 8th , 2014

Iran, Sindh govt to enhance bilateral trade

December 07, 2014

KARACHI: Iran and the Sindh government agreed to enhance bilateral investment and trade volume and bring chambers of commerce and industry of Karachi and Tehran closer.Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah talking to Ambassador of Islamic Republic of Iran, Rasool Islami, said Sindh was growing comparatively good quality of rice and it could enhance its volume of export to Iran in exchange of importing energy to meet the province’s requirements.The chief minister said that Sindh has good potential of investment especially in energy sector and invited Iranian investors to avail opportunities for which the provincial government would provide land and other facilities to them.

He said that Sindh has wind corridors from 40 to 45 kilometres where Iran-Pak Wind Power Limited was already working to establish 50 megawatts wind power project but the government was eager to allot more land to other Iranian investors for more investments in wind energy sector. “We should further cooperate to bring progress in economic and social sectors in the interest of people of the both sides,” he said.Iranian Ambassador Rasool Islami said he and people of his country considered people of Pakistan and especially Sindh as their brothers.

He said due to similarities in religion, culture and literature, people of Iran like Allama Iqbal while the people of Pakistan/Sindh like poets/writers of Iran. He said Iranian companies were more inclined to invest in Sindh, whereas Iranian traders were interested to import Pakistani rice, wheat and meat.He said that the Iranian government would encourage their investors to do business with Pakistan. The ambassador said that trade volume between the two countries would be enhanced and hoped by virtue of their and good relations they could achieve a lot

SP okays half-rice ordinance
An ordinance ordering food chains, restaurants, hotels, pension houses, inns, canteens, steakhouses, eateries, carinderias and all other food businesses in Bacolod City to serve only half orders of rice, was passed by the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod on third and final reading Wednesday.The ordinance authored by Councilor El Cid Familiaran said that globally, the prices of rice continue to surge, which, in effect creates shortage. Foreign news reports state that, among the countries hit by rice shortage are Bangladesh and China.The ordinance said analysts have concluded that the causes of shortages and high prices of rice vary from country to country and include natural disasters or adverse weather patterns; high cost of fuel that adds to transport costs, hoarding and smuggling and indiscriminate conversion of agricultural lands.

Due to its limited lands for rice production, the Philippines relies on rice imports from other Asian countries, particularly, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan. In 2008, it was reported that the country had 4.2 million hectares of land devoted to rice production, however only 1.4 million hectares of which are irrigated, it said.Among the doable and proactive measures is to prevent cooked ‘rice wastage’ that is prevalent in the different restaurants and food businesses in the city.The International Rice Research Institute reported that the country wastes at least P23 million worth of rice per day or P8 billion worth of rice a year, it added.

The ordinance provides penalties to establishment owners who refuse to serve half order of cooked rice ranging from P1,000 for the first violation, P2,000 for the second violation and P3,000 for the third offense, and P4,000 following each successive offenses.*CGS

 Rice exports: Is Vietnam subsidizing foreign consumers?

VietNamNet Bridge – Reviewing the effectiveness of rice exports and solutions to improve the position and role of farmers is the subject in the recent research "Structure of the rice industry and the interests of small producers" by the Agricultural Alliance.
Export more rice?

Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh - Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a member of the research team – said that Vietnam’s policy to export more rice may not be a wise strategy.According to Thanh, state food companies still dominate the export market as Vinafood corporations 1 and 2 accounted for more than 40% of total rice exports of Vietnam in 2013. Rice exports are subsidised in the input stage so the more Vietnam exports rice, the more it subsidizes foreign users, Thanh said.

He explained that when townspeople pay taxes, the taxes are used to directly support farmers through the construction of road and irrigation works. This expense is not included in the sale price of rice so when rice is sold to townsmen, it is no problem because it should be seen as the townsmen subsidizing the rice price. However, when rice is exported, that expense cannot be regained when Vietnam is competing with low prices.The findings also indicate that rice production in Vietnam remains at medium quality and low price.

 For the same rice variety, Thailand usually sells it at the highest price and Vietnam at the lowest price. For example, in July 2012, Thailand exported rice at $592 per ton compared to $415 per ton for Vietnam.Therefore, Thanh recommended that Vietnam’s agriculture in general and rice industry in particular should focus on the domestic market instead of foreign ones. Then Vietnam will move the labor force from agriculture to industry because if farmers are stuck with land and agriculture, they will hardly be able to improve their living standards.

Lessons from Thailand
The market structure characteristics of Vietnam rice is described as a chain with various stages of production, starting from farmers who sell paddy in the fields to traders. Traders purchase the paddy and then sell it to the millers and then rice exporters. Farmers who have no storage and lack of capital have to sell rice to traders at low prices and often take the highest risk.To deal with this situation, Dao The Anh, deputy director of the Institute for Food Plants, said that the role of cooperatives and farmers' organizations is very important.

Dr. Nguyen Van Giap of the Institute for Rural Strategy and Policy, said in Thailand the milling systems were invested in the 1940s and they still work very well today, so the competitiveness of Thai rice is better than Vietnam. Thailand's rice production chain has only three stages: production, millers and exporters.Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, Deputy Director of the Institute for Economic Management, said: "To implement an agricultural revolution, Vietnam must have a scale advantage, a value chain and capital-technology absorbing organizations, and finally, these organizations must serve the rights of farmers. The idea on institutional reform of agriculture was mentioned in a speech delivered by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in early 2014."

Rice exports hit over 6 million tonnes in 11 months

Vietnam earned nearly 3 billion USD from exporting more than 6 million tonnes of rice in the first 11 months of 2014, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).The association reported that at present, the prices of dried unhusked rice in the Mekong Delta region range from VND5,450 to VND5,750 per kg.Rice with five-percent broken grains is sold at VND7,100-VND7,200 per kg while that with 25-percent broken grains, VND6,850 to VND6,950 per kg.

This year, the country expects to export 6.5 to 7 million tonnes of rice, worth about $3 billion, revealed the VFA.Traditional export markets for Vietnamese rice include Singapore, mainland China, Hong Kong and Cote d'Ivoire, as well as Algeria and Indonesia.The association also predicted that 2015 will be a tough year for Vietnam's rice exporters in the face of fierce competition from their Thai rivals because Thailand has concentrated on recovering traditional rice markets in Africa and expanding its markets in Asia, especially the Philippines, Indonesia and China.
Lan Anh

 Farming nearly mechanised

Farmers bag more crops; come new jobs, go old ones
Sohel Parvez
FAREWELL TO TRADITIONAL FARMING. Machines are fast replacing labour-intensive agricultural tools. In the recently shot pictures, a farmer is using a power tiller to plough his land in Keraniganj near Dhaka. Photo: Anisur Rahman

Gone are the days when farmers had to put in backbreaking labour and depend fully on animals to prepare land and thresh harvested crops. Farmers now thresh more than 90 percent of their grain crops by machines and till nearly 90 percent of cultivable land by power tillers and tractors -- a transition that took place over the last two and a half decades.This has enabled growers to produce more crops in a year and bag more produce with lower production cost, according to experts at agro-research institutions and Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU).
Aware of the benefits of mechanised farming, more and more farmers are now using machines for harvesting, seeding and planting."It has become a big boon for our farming. Using power tillers, we can prepare land quicker than we do by using animals. Use of machines has reduced our time for tilling and given us scope to grow more crops," said ASM Sisnabi Mandal of Dinajpur district, a major crop zone in the northwest.The 40-year-old farmer grew only two rice crops -- Aman and Boro-- in a year on his 10-acre farmland when he had to depend on bulls or buffaloes for land preparation. Now by using power tiller, he gets one additional crop every year.
A group of labourers, carrying a handheld plough and a ladder are looking for work in Narsingdi. Photo: Anisur Rahman
"Now I grow potato or mustard after harvesting Aman rice. It is possible because less time is required for land preparation by using machines," he said.Sisnabi is one of the tens of thousands of farmers in the country who are reaping the advantage of using modern tools in farming.
No official estimate on agricultural mechanisation is available. But various publications and studies show that use of machines have grown since the 90s."Mechanised farm practices expanded fast mostly for private initiatives augmented by policy support from the government," said Monjurul Alam, professor of Farm Power and Machinery at the BAU.Power tillers and tractors were used to prepare nearly 70 percent of land four to five years ago; their use accelerated in the last five to six years, he said.Faced with labour scarcity and spiralling wages, farmers switched to farm machinery, thanks to the emergence of rental services for tilling, irrigation and other farm operations."Farm wages rose rapidly in the past decade and a half due to a shift of labour to non-farm sectors. As a result, farmers have switched to mechanisation," said Economist Mahabub Hossain, former director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.

Use of mechanised instruments in farming helping farmers lower production cost as a machine in many cases can do the job of a hundred men. The photo on top shows farmers using a transplanter to plant rice seedlings onto a paddy field. File Photo
Nearly 20,000 power tillers and tractors are added every year for farming purposes, according to a 2012 International Development Enterprise estimate, commissioned by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre.
Supported by the government's scheme of subsidised sale of farm machinery in the recent years and private sector's increased marketing and sales drives, modern tools like power tillers, rice reapers, combined harvesters and transplanting machines are now easily available to help end the centuries-old drudgery.
"If the current trend continues, there will be a huge progress in the next five to seven years in areas lagging behind in terms of mechanisation," said Monjurul, who conducted a study on value chain in agri-machinery in Bangladesh.
Mechanisation of land preparation has contributed to timely cultivation and thus increased cropping intensity (the number of crops grown on a piece of land in a year; one crop a year means intensity 100 percent), reduced yield losses and wastage. As a result, total production of food, supported by an increased use of improved seeds, fertiliser use and commercial farming, has risen, according to analysts.Increasing demand for agricultural machinery has also created thousands of jobs, facilitated development of the rural non-farm sector and spurred growth of farm machinery and spare parts industries.It has also boosted establishment of workshops for repair and maintenance services.

A reaper mounted on a tractor is harvesting rice. File Photo
Besides being imported, threshers, maize shellers, spare parts of power tillers, diesel engines and centrifugal pumps are also made locally. The annual market for farm machinery and spare parts stands at around Tk 10,000 crore and it is growing, according to stakeholders.Mahabub said a positive effect of mechanised farming is a reduction in the turnaround time to grow crops. "It has a positive impact on cropping intensity."
Cropping intensity rose to 191 percent in 2012-13, up from 168 percent in 1988-89 when farm machinery imports were liberalised and the standardisation requirement was withdrawn for shortage of draught animals after the 1988 floods.Total food grain production rose to 3.55 crore tonnes in 2013-14 fiscal year, from 1.66 crore tonnes in FY 1988-89, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Monjurul said mechanisation was the main factor behind increased cropping intensity in the last one decade and spiral in overall food production.The cost of production has also come down, said Mahabub.Farmer Sisnabi said use of power tillers has reduced tilling cost of half acre to Tk 1,000 from Tk 1,400 needed if animals are used.Referring to a study, ATM Ziauddin, professor of Farm Power and Machinery at the BAU, in an article said that farmers make extra gains by using power tillers for land preparation. They gain Tk 3,003 more per hectare by using power tillers instead of animals in Boro season and Tk 1,019 in Aman season.
Farmers separating the grain from rice plants using a threshing machine. File Photo
Use of machines has also cut down the cost of threshing.
Sisnabi said it would cost him Tk 1,200 for manually threshing rice output of half acre of land. Now he can do this by spending half the amount."Crop wastage has also decreased in mechanised threshing. We could not collect all grains from plant through manual threshing. Now, we get almost the whole," he said.Shoeb Hassan, chief scientific officer of farm power division of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, said delayed plantation causes yield losses, but mechanised tilling has facilitated timeliness of operations.He said more than 90 percent of grain crops are now threshed by using machines.
Traditional means of threshing causes over 10 percent loss of crops, while mechanisation has brought down threshing losses to 5 percent, he added."Mechanisation is the only option for timely crop production. To increase production and cropping intensity, it has become essential to mechanise certain farm operations," according to a recent publication by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute.However, progress in mechanised harvesting remains slow in the absence of harvesters suitable to fragmented pieces of land.
"Smaller harvesting machines are needed. Efforts should be made to see whether it is possible to introduce the smaller ones," said economist Mahabub.Farmer Sisnabi said machines have relieved them of many hassles and tension and enabled them to do farm-related jobs timely. They now do not have to wait for labourers.He said he is not familiar with harvesters as the technology is yet to expand in his locality.  "Power tillers have become suitable for us. If any other machine is found convenient for us and do not affect our land and environment, we will adopt that as well."

Boosting exports: Paris gets taste of traditional Pakistani rice

Published: December 6, 2014

Rice export from Pakistan to France was worth $31.72 million during January-September 2014. STOCK IMAGE
Pakistan’s embassy in Paris organised a rice exhibition in its premises on Thursday in an effort to promote the country’s rice in the European nation.
The show was also aimed at facilitating meetings between Pakistani exporters and French importers for promoting rice export. Rice export from Pakistan to France was worth $31.72 million during January-September 2014, most of which was consumed by the ethnic market.It was expected that the exhibition would help increase rice export, said a message received from Paris on Friday.A number of French importers were invited to participate and meet Pakistani exporters, who were invited to Paris especially for the event.The embassy coordinated their meetings in order to have detailed discussions on business proposals.Services of a top French chef Alian Stril were acquired to serve Basmati rice. He prepared three different French dishes while traditional Pakistani dishes like Biryani, Zarda and Kheer made by Pakistani cooks were also presented. 

Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th,  2014.
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ICCI for focusing on China to improve trade, exports

ISLAMABAD (APP): ICCI on Friday called for developing strategic partnerships with China to improve trade and exports of Pakistan. “The govt should reprioritize its traditional approach of looking towards Western countries”, Acting President, ICCI M.Shakeel Munir said in a statement here Friday. He said “We should be more focused towards China as it offered immense opportunities of promoting Pakistan’s commercial and economic interests.” He said that bilateral trade between India and China had surpassed US$ 65b during 2013 while Pakistan’s trade with China was hovering around $ 10-12 billion despite the fact that there was huge potential to improve it,according to press release issued by ICCI.
He said both countries had signed a Free Trade Agreement in November 2006 in addition to finalizing almost 358 Joint Agreements, MoUs, Joint Declarations and arrangements covering almost every sector of economy, but necessary measures could not be taken to fully materialize these mechanisms due to which the two-way trade was still far below the desired level.He said Pakistan enjoyed huge export potential to China due to the advantages in agriculture, minerals, chemical, textiles and leather products.
Besides, Pakistan has comparative advantage of oil seeds, fruits, base metals, plastic goods and perfumery and stressed that government should accelerate efforts to facilitate entrepreneurs in promoting trade with China.Shakeel Munir said the global economic power was shifting towards Asia led by China and it was the right time for Pakistan to reorient its economic strategies to enhance cooperation with China, which would yield beneficial outcomes for its economy.

He said Pakistan should encourage and facilitate its private sector in establishing joint ventures with Chinese counterparts in energy, textile, agro farming, food processing, pharmaceutical, engineering goods and other areas of potential cooperation.He said China could also help Pakistan in developing and modernizing its SMEs sector.He said that in evolving international Political dynamics,China’s rise as a major global power, it was important for Pakistan to reassess and review the strengths and challenges of its relationship with China in order to move forward in a positive manner.

Exhibition held in Paris to  promote rice export

ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan embassy in Paris has organized a rice exhibition at its premises on Thursday and facilitated meetings between Pakistani exporters and French importers for promoting the rice export to the French market. The import of rice from Pakistan to France was worth $ 31.72 million during January-September 2014, most of which was consumed by ethnic market. It is expected that the exhibition will help increase the rice export, said a message received from Paris on Friday.
A number of French importers were invited to participate and meet some Pakistani rice exporters who were invited to Paris especially for this event. The embassy coordinated their meetings to have detailed discussion over their business proposals.The services of a top French chef Alian STRIL was acquired to serve the Basmati made French dishes on the occasion. He prepared three different French dishes made of Basmati rice while traditional Pakistani rice dishes like Biryani, Zarda and Kheer made by Pakistani cooks were also presented. The guests took keen interest in the exhibition and were impressed by the quality, aroma and taste of rice.Different varieties of Basmati and other rice were also put on display.A signer presented classical and folk songs to entertain the participants. 

Mamnoon hails EU’s role for strengthening democracy in Pakistan

December 06, 2014
ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday hailed the role of European Union for strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan.The president was talking to Member of the European Parliament and Vice President of Parliamentary Development Committee, Nirj Deva, who called on him here at Awan-e-Sadr.

He said that Pakistan valued its relations with the European Union and wanted to further strengthen it.He said the five-year engagement plan between Pakistan and European Union in 2012 had provided new avenues of cooperation in various fields.He said that Pakistan wanted good relations with its neighbours and international community and had special importance in its foreign policy with its relations with Afghanistan, India, China and Iran.The president said that Pakistan started a new phase of its relations with Afghanistan and wanted serious, durable and result-oriented talks with India on all issues including Kashmir.
The President told Nirj Deva that Pakistan supported the UN Security Council efforts for resolution of the Palestine issue.He said that Pakistan had started military operation Zarb-e-Azb for elimination of terrorists in FATA, which was going on successfully, adding that the government was taking all steps for rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced People (IDPs).
The president said the member countries of the European Union were playing important role in investment field and the UK, Germany, Italy and Holland were the greatest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan.He said the trade volume between Pakistan and the EU was $11 billion, which needed further boost. He said the inclusion of Pakistan in GSP plus would be proved significant for managing economic difficulties and creating job opportunities.Meanwhile,  President Mamnoon Hussain while talking to Speaker of Iranian Parliament Dr Ali Larijani, who called on him here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr said Pakistan wanted to have good relations with every country of the world, but the ties with neighbouring countries and the Muslim world formed the basis of its foreign policy.
The President said Pakistan desired peace at borders with all the neighbouring countries and also wanted to resolve all issues with India through meaningful and constructive dialogue.He said the resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions will not only promote peace in the region but also help boost development in the region.Referring to his recent meetings with the Afghan leadership, the President said particularly his meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani remained very productive.
He was happy to note that a new era of Pak-Afghan relations had started.The president said since Pakistan and Iran were facing the common challenge of terrorism, the two countries will have to make joint efforts to tackle this menace.President Mamnoon said that ongoing operation against the militants and extremists in tribal areas would soon meet its logical end and ensure peace in the region.He said regional peace would help Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran to work for betterment of the region.President Mamnoon said Pakistan was determined to complete the project of gas pipeline with Iran.
He stressed cooperation with Iran in different fields including trade and defence and added that Iran could benefit from the Pakistani defence equipment.Speaker of Iranian Parliament Dr Ali Larijani emphasized the need for prudence to deal with the problems in the Muslim countries.He said that Iran wants to increase trade volume with Pakistan and expressed interest in the import of rice from Pakistan. The Iranian Speaker lauded Pakistan’s efforts and vigilance to protect its geographical borders and hoped that Pakistan would soon overcome all its issues.

He said any unwanted third party should not be allowed to interfere in this regard.
President Mamnoon and the Iranian Speaker called for opening the branches of their banks on reciprocal basis and added that it would enhance their bilateral relations.Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq and higher officials of the Aiwan-e-Sadr were presen

The nation

 Course recipes
Stuff the turkey and try something different instead
Roast poussins with blood orange and coriander seeds. Food stylists: David Gatenby, Nico Ghirlando. Prop Stylist: Sue Rowlands. Photograph: Hugh Johnson for the Guardian

Roast poussins with blood orange and coriander seeds

I prefer serving several smaller birds at the Christmas table, rather than one enormous one that presides over its minion side dishes. There’s something more attractive and less daunting about a table where the dishes are on an equal footing. Blood oranges look fantastic here, if you can get them, but use regular oranges if that’s all you can find. Serves four.
4 poussins (about 500g each)
200ml blood orange juice (about as much as you’d get from 3-4 oranges), plus 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 2cm-wide wedges
2½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
40g muscovado sugar, plus ¼ tsp extra for the oranges
2 large cinnamon sticks, broken in half
2 red chillies, cut in half lengthways but with stems intact and seeds in
3 tbsp olive oil
4 bay leaves
20g thyme sprigs
Salt and black pepper
2 blood oranges (or 1 large regular orange), topped, tailed and cut into 5mm rounds
1 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
3 tbsp coriander seeds
Put the poussins in a large bowl with all the other ingredients apart from the extra quarter-teaspoon of sugar, the orange slices, ghee and coriander seeds. Add a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, mix well and leave to marinate for at least two hours, and preferably overnight, stirring a few times to make sure that everything stays well coated.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Take a large, high-sided baking tray (about 40cm long x 30cm wide x 5cm deep) and line with baking parchment. Put the poussins breast-side up on the paper, spacing them evenly apart. Pour the marinade around the poussins, then sprinkle with a third of a teaspoon of salt. Cover tightly with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and raise the heat to 220C/425F/gas mark 7.

Take off the foil (keep it for later), baste the birds and add the orange slices to the tray, spreading them around between the birds. Roast, uncovered, for another 35 minutes, until the poussins are cooked through and browned. Lift the birds and orange slices out of the tray and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Return the poussins to the tray to rest, and cover with the foil to keep warm.
Put the marinade on a medium-high heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, to reduce until about 150ml of liquid is left in the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, spread out the orange slices on a small parchment-lined oven tray, sprinkle with the reserved sugar and return to the oven for 10 minutes, until starting to caramelise, then remove and set aside.
Put the poussins on a large platter, pour over the thickened marinade and arrange the orange slices in between the birds.
Put a small frying pan on a medium-high heat and add the ghee. Once melted, add the coriander seeds and fry for a minute, until golden-brown and aromatic, then spoon over the poussins and serve at once.

Persian vine leaf and saffron rice tart

Persian vine leaf and saffron rice tart. Photograph: Hugh Johnson/Guardian
If ever a dish could be a present – all wrapped up and filled with hidden jewels – this would be it. You can prepare the whole thing a day in advance, too: just take it up to the point where it’s ready to go in the oven, then cover and leave in the fridge overnight. With thanks toRamael Scully, our head chef at Nopi and a man of many culinary gifts. Serves six.
40g raisins
40g barberries
40g almonds, skin on and lightly crushed with the flat of a large knife
40g shelled pistachios, lightly crushed with the flat of a large knife
250g vine leaves (or about 40 large leaves, either from a jar or fresh, if you can get them)
75ml olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
2 small parsnips, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tsp ground coriander
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp caster sugar
600ml vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
¼ tsp saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water
200g basmati rice
240g Greek yoghurt
Put the raisins and barberries in a small bowl, pour over 150ml of hot water, set aside to soak for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Spread out the almonds and pistachios on a roasting tray and bake for 15 minutes, until crunchy, then remove and set aside.
Separate and rinse the vine leaves (take care, because they are very delicate and rip easily), then lay them in a medium saucepan. Add cold water to cover, bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, cut off and discard the tough stalks and spread out the leaves on a clean tea towel to dry.
Put three tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, and over a medium heat sweat the onion for five to six minutes, stirring from time to time, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for two minutes, stirring once or twice, then stir in the carrot and parsnip and cook for a minute longer.
Add all the ground spices, as well as the coriander seeds, sugar, 150ml of the stock, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for two minutes, until the stock has reduced a little and coated the vegetables, then pour in the remaining stock, the saffron and its soaking water, and the rice.
Turn up the heat to high, stir well and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer very slowly, covered, for 10 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite. Remove the pan from the heat, stir through the fruit and nuts, and set aside.
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Brush a tablespoon of oil in a large, wide (29cm or so)ovenproof sauté pan or skillet. Lay half of the vine leaves, one at a time and shiny side down, around the inside edge of the pan, so that they are slightly overlapping and their tips hang over the edge of the pan. Continue working inwards until the entire base of the pan is covered with vine leaves, then tip in the rice mix.
Level out the rice as best you can, then draw the overhanging parts of the vine leaves over the rice. Now cover the rice with the other half of the vine leaves, laying them out shiny side up and in overlapping circles, until the rice is completely covered and all the leaves are used up. Press down firmly to flatten the leaves and compress the cake, and brush the top with the remaining oil.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes, until hot throughout and the vine leaves on top are dark and crisp. Remove from the oven and set it aside to rest and cool for 10 minutes.
Carefully invert the tart on to a plate, then place your serving plate over the parcel and invert again – the idea is to serve the tart crisp side up. Serve warm, with a bowl of yoghurt alongside.

Whole roast sea bass with soy and ginger

Whole roast sea bass with soy and ginger. Photograph: Hugh Johnson/Guardian
Fish is a popular Christmas Day tradition in the southern hemisphere, which to my mind makes sense if you want to indulge in all the various vegetables and side dishes, and not exhaust a limited appetite with heavy meat. This particular alternative is as festive-looking as it gets. Thanks to Helen Goh. Serves four.
1 whole sea bass (about 1kg, and 45cm long), scaled, gutted and rinsed
Coarse sea salt
10 spring onions, trimmed
1 small medium white cabbage, cut in half, core cut out, and leaves separated one by one
3.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1 chilli (red looks prettier), deseeded and julienned
100ml groundnut oil
10g coriander leaves
For the sauce
100ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock, if you prefer)
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (failing that, use dry sherry instead)
3½ tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
Put all the sauce ingredients in a small pan, put on a high heat and, once boiling, cook for a minute, swirling the pan slightly so the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Cut five 0.5cm deep and 8cm long diagonal slits on both sides of the fish. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt evenly over one side of the fish and rub in; repeat on the other side with another teaspoon of salt.
Cut eight of the spring onions into 5cm lengths and set aside in a small bowl; finely slice the remaining two onions and set those aside in a separate bowl.
Line a large, high-sided 30cm x 40cm baking tray with baking parchment and spread the cabbage and larger spring onion pieces on top. Lay the fish diagonally in the tray (this helps give it a bit of extra room), then sprinkle over the ginger. Pour the sauce over the fish and cover the tray tightly with foil.
Roast for 40 minutes, basting twice, until the fish is cooked through. To make sure it’s done, gently insert a knife into one of the slits and check that the flesh comes away from the bones and is no longer transparent. Sprinkle over the reserved finely sliced spring onion and the chilli, and set aside.
Pour the oil into a small pan and place on a high heat for about two minutes, until it starts to smoke. Very carefully pour this evenly over the fish, so that it starts to crisp the skin and vegetables.
You can serve the fish at the table in its baking tray, or arrange the cabbage leaves and chunks of spring onion on a larger platter – you’ll need to pull them out from under the fish – and carefully lift out the fish to sit on top. Pour over the cooking sauce and serve at once, with coriander scattered on top.

Beef stifado with fennel orzo

Beef stifado with fennel orzo. Photograph: Hugh Johnson/Guardian
SStifado is often a one-pot dish in which the starch element is cooked with the meat. Here, however, I’ve made the orzo as an independent, flavour-filled dish to be served alongside (if you want to simplify things, just boil the orzo and serve it plain alongside the beef and sauce); it also works very well as a veggie side dish. Serves six.
1.5kg beef brisket
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp whole cardamom pods, lightly bashed with the flat of a knife
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
400ml red wine
200ml ouzo (or raki)
100ml red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
20g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
For the fennel orzo
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium fennel, trimmed and cut into 1cm dice
2 large sticks celery, cut into 1cm dice
1 tbsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
250g orzo
30g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
15g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
Heat the oven to 160C/320F/gas mark 2½. Sprinkle the brisket on both sides with a teaspoon salt and set aside.
Put a large pan for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of oil and, once hot, add the brisket. Sear for 10 minutes, turning halfway through so it browns all over, then remove from the pan and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, tip in the onion and fry on a medium-high heat for six to seven minutes, stirring a few times, until soft and golden. Add the spices, stir for a minute, then add the tomato paste and cook for minute more. Pour in the wine and ouzo, and cook on a medium-high heat for five minutes. Return the meat to the pan with the vinegar, sugar and enough water just to cover (you’ll need about a litre and a half), bring to a boil, cover first with a circle of parchment paper and then the lid, and transfer to the oven. Cook for four hours, until the meat can be easily pulled apart but is still holding its shape. Carefully lift out the meat into a large bowl and set aside.
Strain the liquid, discarding the whole spices, then measure out 300ml of the cooking liquor into a jug and tip the rest back into the pan. Put the pan on a high heat and boil for roughly 30 minutes, until you have 300ml of thick sauce left. Remove from the heat, return the brisket to the pot, cover and set aside somewhere warm.
To make the orzo, in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, heat the olive oil on a medium-high flame. Once hot, add the onion, fennel, celery, fennel seeds, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Fry for 12 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until the vegetables are soft and caramelised. Stir in the orzo, the jug of reserved stock and 300ml water, lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer for 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is cooked through but still has a little bite (some brands of orzo take longer to cook and need more liquid, so if yours is still uncooked after 12 minutes, you may need to add up to 150ml or so of water and cook for a further 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir through the herbs.
Carve the brisket and divide between the plates, then pile up the orzo alongside. Pour the sauce on top, sprinkle with parsley, orange zest and garlic, and serve.

Seared venison with mustard and sour cherries

Seared venison with mustard and sour cherries. Photograph: Hugh Johnson/Guardian
You can prepare everything in advance for this sweet, sour and creamy celebration, up to the stage when the venison gets warmed up in the sauce. Once ready to serve, make sure you heat up the sauce very gently, so it doesn’t split, and add the venison for a final two minutes only. A mix of white basmati and black wild rice is a lovely accompaniment. Serves four.
100ml red-wine vinegar
100g dried sour (or morello) cherries
2 endives, quartered lengthways
Salt and black pepper
60ml olive oil
1 tbsp plain flour
500g venison steaks, cut into 1cm x 5cm strips
200ml port
20g unsalted butter
3 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs
150g creme fraiche
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp English mustard powder
15g parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Put the vinegar in a small saucepan on a high heat, bring to a boil and stir in the cherries. Remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes.  
Cut out and discard the core of each endive quarter, taking care to leave the leaves attached to each other, then put in a bowl and sprinkle with an eighth of a teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. 
Add a tablespoon of oil to a large sauté pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, sear the endive quarters for four to five minutes, turning once, until golden-brown all over. Transfer the endives to a plate and set aside.
Put the flour in a medium bowl with half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Add the venison slices, toss to coat and shake off any excess.
Return the sauté pan to a medium-high heat with a tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add a quarter of the venison slices and sear for two to three minutes, turning once, so the meat browns all over, then transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining venison, adding more oil if you need to. Once all the venison is browned, deglaze the hot pan with port, cook for a couple of minutes to reduce by half, then tip into the meat bowl.
Wipe clean the pan and add a tablespoon of oil and the butter. Lower the heat to medium and add the shallots, chilli and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes, until the shallots have softened and are starting to caramelise, then add the cherries and vinegar, and cook for three to four minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Add the creme fraiche, both mustards, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for two to three minutes, then return the meat and endive to the pan, stir in the parsley, heat through for two minutes and serve.
• Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

 Gary Ralston's restaurant review: Usha's, Byres Road, Glasgow

GARY reckons the spice is right but the seating is tight as he dines on fine street food in the city's West End.

Phil Dye 
Stuffed Paneer Shimla Mirch

ONCE upon a time, street food with a touch of glamour could only be sampled at Partick Cross when a bag of chips came wrapped in Showbiz Sam’s column.Sam is still pounding the beat on Sunset Boulevard, researching the questions to which Record readers demand, Frank Sinatra’s old man wasn’t born in Glenboig and Sydney Devine didn’t duet with Bono on the original Band Aid.But it’s more Bollywood than Hollywood when you walk into Usha’s and find scenes from Indian cinema on the flat screen.Usha’s is a vegetarian restaurant inspired by the snack stalls of India’s major cities and has been winning rave reviews among readers since opening six months ago, despite occupying a site with a worse record for closures than the road over the Rest And Be Thankful.
But a word to the wise – if they offer you the booth that has been fitted into the former entrance, ask to be seated elsewhere.

Phil Dye 

Okra Dopiaza, Palak paneer and Aubergine Bharta
Sure, the picture window offers first-class views but you’ll find yourself tighter for space than the buses turning off Byres Road towards the Kelvin Hall.We raised the issue, although only at the end of the meal, by which time our legs were hanging to the one side like Gourock.

Our waitress, otherwise on the ball, said she would have moved us sooner – the place wasn’t so busy – but we were obviously a better prime site advertisement for passing trade, even as plates and pots piled up and our elbows were tucked tighter to our ribs.
The quality of the cooking was the evening’s saving grace, the menu put together with the help of top Indian chef Sameer Shegal. He worked at The Dorchester and has cooked veggie feasts for Madonna, who was so impressed she re-worked two songs – Crazy For Aloo and La Isla Bhoonita.

A third of Indians are vegetarians and my wee sis Laura, who doesn’t eat meat, was drooling as she scanned the menu.Usha’s offer a range of tempting taster starters and it was the street dish section that caught our eye. We put our faith in the knowledge of the waitress, which paid off big style. She chose superbly as we mixed and matched a selection of dhosa masala, papri and samosa chaat and fresh, crispy poppadoms with freshly spiced onions.
Phil Dye 

The dhosa masala was a long rice crepe, stuffed with lentils and complemented by a selection of chutneys. The vegetable stew was pretty much melt in your mouth. My sister’s boyfriend, Hec, kicked me under the table and won the fight for most of the samosa – bursting with spicy potatoes and peas, with the fiery tang offset by a cooling mint yogurt.

Laura lapped up her papri chaat of boiled potatoes, chickpeas and chilli and it was a strong undercard to a marvellous roast Indian vegetable biryani for her main course. It was packed with flavours – paneer (Indian cheese), okra, aubergine and tinda, a pumpkin-style veg, all sauteed with spices and accompanied with basmati rice. The veg was delicately sliced and evenly introduced, a far cry from the chunky potatoes and cumbersome cauliflower florets that so often dominated veggie options in our curry houses.

Hec had the stuffed tandoori mushrooms, filled with spiced potatoes. My paneer jaipuri was a taster pot of mixed peppers, onions and mushrooms with those roasted chunks of cheese, supplemented by a superb naan of garlic and coriander – almost like an Italian focaccia.

We skipped dessert – a restaurant offering food of this quality must do better than serving up cheap, pre-packed ice creams and sundaes.
Still, it’s worth another go – maybe a case of Play It Again, with Sam, when our Hollywood hotshot is in town.
Do you have a restaurant recommendation? Contact Gary at or via twitter @garyshotplate