Tuesday, December 30, 2014

30th December(Tuesday),2014 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Bangladesh Receives China Support to Boost Rice Production

Dec 29, 2014
Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/141229bangladeshrice.jpgBangladesh will receive China’s support to boost rice production in the country under an agricultural cooperation agreement, according to local sources.Under the agreement, China has agreed to transfer the technology of its indigenous high-yielding rice variety to Bangladesh and will also set up a rice research center in Bangladesh.The decision was taken during the recent visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister to Dhaka, according to local sources. The Bangladesh Foreign Minister told local media sources that discussions with his Chinese counterpart have been successful and would help Bangladesh in increasing food production significantly. China agreeing to transfer technology of high-yield rice is "a big development," he said.
The China-Bangladesh collaboration also includes several other trade and bilateral issues.Bangladesh produced around 34.36 million tons of rice in 2013-14, up about 2% from around 33.76 million tons last year, according to data from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). USDA estimates Bangladesh to produce around 34.6 million tons of milled rice and import around 500,000 tons in MY 2014-15 (July – June).  

Italian Rice Farmers Prefer Re-use of Self Produced Seeds Over Certified Seeds

Dec 29, 2014
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/141229italyricefield.jpgItalian rice farmers are reportedly reducing the use of certified seeds for the last couple of years, according to the data from Nazionale Risi, the National agency for rice, the use of certified seeds in the crop year 2013-14 remained unchanged from the previous year despite an increase in the rice acreage. The data also shows that area for growing certified seeds in 2013-14 has declined by about 20% y/y due to reduction in the usage of certified seeds. Total area for seed production (including certified seeds and self-produced seeds) in Italy during the year stood at around 9,581 hectares. Italy produced 42,884 tons of seeds and exported around 8.470 tons during 2013-14. The European country also imported around 241 tons of rice seeds during the year.
Farmers are understood to be preferring the re-use of self-produced seeds to reduce production costs. However, analysts say though re-use of self-produced seeds reduce production costs, they may affect the quality of paddy output as they may need increased use of chemical fertilizers to reduce infections transmitted through the seeds. They also noted that with the use of such seeds, it becomes difficult to test for the absence of genetically modified (GM) contaminations.
Global Rice Quotes
December 29th, 2014

Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade   420-430                ↔
Vietnam 5% broken        380-390                ↓
India 5% broken               385-395                ↔
Pakistan 5% broken        375-385                ↑
Cambodia 5% broken     460-470                ↔
U.S. 4% broken                 510-520                ↔
Uruguay 5% broken        595-605                ↔
Argentina 5% broken     595-605                ↔

Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken      NQ         ↔
Vietnam 25% broken      350-360                ↔
Pakistan 25% broken      335-345                ↑
Cambodia 25% broken   435-445                ↔
India 25% broken             350-360                ↔
U.S. 15% broken               495-505                ↔

Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd     405-415                ↔
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd          405-415                ↑
India parboiled 5% broken stxd                 375-385                ↔
U.S. parboiled 4% broken             580-590                ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken          570-580                ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken    NQ         ↔

Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%   895-905                ↑
Vietnam Jasmine             510-520                ↓
India basmati 2% broken              NQ         ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken       NQ         ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails     805-815                ↔

Brokens
Thailand A1 Super            330-340                ↔
Vietnam 100% broken   330-340                ↔
Pakistan 100% broken stxd          300-310                ↔
Cambodia A1 Super        385-395                ↔
India 100% broken stxd                 295-305                ↔
Egypt medium grain brokens      NQ         ↔
U.S. pet food     390-400                ↔
Brazil half grain NQ         ↔
All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel, oryza.com

Oryza Overnight Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Future Sharply Lower this Morning as Buying Interest Disappears

Dec 29, 2014
Chicago rough rice futures for Jan delivery were trading 33.5 cents per cwt (about $7 per ton) lower at $11.830 per cwt (about $261 per ton) during early floor trading in Chicago. The other grains are seen trading mixed: soybeans are currently seen 0.4% higher, wheat is listed unchanged and corn is currently trading unchanged.U.S. stocks traded in a narrow range on Monday, amid some pressure on European stocks from Greece's failure to elect a president in a third round of elections. The Russell 2000 and the Dow Utility Average traded at new highs, up 4.84% and 31% for the year, respectively.
Both indices have led market gains since the S&P 500 closed at a 1.5-month low on Dec. 16. Oil prices edged higher on concerns about disruption to output from Libya. U.S. stock index futures signaled a softer open on Monday, with stocks in Europe trading lower after third-round elections in Greece failed to secure a new president. Volumes are expected to be light after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 posted record gains last week. The Dow advanced 1.4 percent in light volume on the week after consistent record closes, but uncertainty in Europe weighed on stocks amid the political turmoil in Greece. Gold is currently trading about 1.1% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 0.6% higher,  and the U.S. dollar is currently trading slightly lower at 10:10am Chicago time.

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Tumble as Iraq Passes on US Rice in Latest Tender Announcement

Dec 29, 2014
Chicago rough rice futures for Jan delivery settled 34.5 cents per cwt (about $8 per ton) lower at $11.820 per cwt (about $268 per ton). Rough rice futures tumbled on news that the Iraqi Grain Board has passed on US origin rice in its latest tender awards, instead turning to Brazil and Argentina in its latest round of buying. The US futures market immediately reacted to the negative news as prices once again slipped below $12.000 per cwt (about $265 per ton). The other grains closed mostly lower today; Soybeans closed about 0.5% lower at $10.4875 per bushel; wheat finished about 0.8% higher at $6.1550 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 0.5% lower at $4.1275 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded slightly higher on Monday, shaking off declining oil prices and earlier pressure from Greece's failure to elect a president. The Dow Jones Industrial Average held to the smallest trading range of December. The Russell 2000 and the Dow Utility Average traded near new highs, up about 4.7% and 31% for the year, respectively. Both indices have led market gains since the S&P 500 closed at a 1.5-month low on Dec. 16. On the S&P 500, the defensive utilities sector rose more than 1.20% to lead gains. After edging higher on concerns about disruption to output from Libya, WTI Crude hit $53.32 a barrel, the lowest since 2009.
 Low oil prices have hurt the energy-sensitive region of Texas, according to December figures from the Dallas Manufacturing Survey. The general business activity index fell to 4.1 from 10.5, the weakest level since March. With many traders on vacation between the Christmas and New Year's holidays, composite volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 1.3 billion in early afternoon trade. Earlier, stocks opened lower, following the lead of U.S. stock index futures, amid some pressure on European stocks from Greece's failure to elect a president in a third round of elections. Greek stocks fell as much as 11% on the news, paving the way for a snap election on January 25, 2015.
 The result did not come as a surprise, with many analysts saying prior to the vote that the Greek government needed a "miracle" to avoid a general election. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down 6 points, or 0.03%, to 18,047. The S&P 500 reversed opening losses to trade up 2.5 points, or 0.11%, at 2,091, with utilities leading gains in half of the sectors and telecommunications the greatest laggard. The Nasdaq traded down 1.3 points, or 0.03%, to 4,805. Gold is trading about 1.1% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 2.6% lower, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.2% higher at about  1:00pm Chicago time.Friday, there were 634 contracts traded, down from 672 contracts traded on Wednesday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Friday decreased by 218 contracts to 9,000.

Nigeria's New Rice Policy Criticized for Creating $216 Million Losses to Exchequer

Dec 29, 2014
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/141229nigeriarice.jpgExperts have slammed Nigeria's new rice policy of granting waivers and concessions to importers as part of efforts to bridge supply-gap of import-grade rice of around 1.5 million tons in the country, according to local sources. In order to encourage investment in the rice sector and support its rice self-sufficiency plan, the Federal government has decided to provide duty waivers to existing millers as well as new investors in the country. According to the new rice policy, existing millers and investors have been receiving a preferential levy of 20% and duty of 10% while other importers are required to pay a higher levy of 60% and 10% duty to the government. Accordingly, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has been allocating rice import quotas to various importers, millers and investors.
Experts say this policy has some flaws. First, investors who do not have a strong base in the country's rice sector have been applying for preferential import quotas. They noted that of the 28 beneficiaries so far, only 16 have invested in mills and the remaining 12 did not have investment in mills but have accounted for higher imports than those who really have mills. They also noted that most of the investors who got import allocations have been trading their quota, which they got at 20% levy, to other stakeholders between 60 - 80% levy. They have slammed the government for granting import quotas indiscriminately and creating losses to the extent of N20 billion (around $108 million) to the exchequer.They said the new policy of the government would encourage rice smuggling in the country leading to another N20 billion (around $108 million) losses.
However, the Agriculture Minister denied the experts' claims saying the Ministry has not been granting import quotas indiscriminately and they have been following a specific methodology to do so. He noted that that importers/millers/investors applying for preferential import levy are required to submit a  Domestic Rice Production Plan (DRPP) to prove that they have been working towards increasing rice production in the country.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Market Softens after IGB Passes on U.S. in Favor of South American Origin

Dec 29, 2014
The U.S. cash market was softer today, despite extremely limited buy/sell interest, after it was announced that the Iraqi Grain Board overlooked U.S. origin rice in favor of more expensive South American rice.It was reported that IGB purchased 40,000 MT of Brazilian rice at $669 per MT CIF Liner Out Umm Qasr as well as 30,000 MT of Argentine rice at $675 PMT CIF Free out where as the offer 75,000 MT at $624 PMT CIF Liner out and 30,000 MT at $647 CIF Free out.
With IGB passing on the U.S. offer, analysts expect prices to remain subdued until the U.S. is able to secure some more export business from either Iraq or Venezuela however at the moment no one in the industry is holding their breath.

Italy Exports 632,930 Tons of Rice in 2013-14; Down 6% from Previous Year

Dec 29, 2014

Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/141229italyrice.jpgItaly has exported around 632,930 tons of rice, basis milled, in the crop year 2013-14 (September 1, 2013 - October 31, 2014), down about 6.3% from around 675,434 tons exported in the crop year 2012-13, according to data from the Ente Nazionale Risi, the National agency for rice.Italy's rice exports to EU countries during 2013-14 accounted for around 524,604 tons, down about 5.6% from around 555,924 tons exported last year. Exports to non-producing EU countries declined about 7.6% y/y.
 Exports to non-rice producing countries declined by about 1%. Among rice producing countries, exports to France registered highest decline of about 11.1% y/y.Italy's rice exports to Non-EU countries during the year accounted for around 108,326 tons, down about 9.4% from around 119,510 tons exported during the previous year. While exports to European non-EU countries increased about 17.3% y/y, those to Asia, including Turkey and Syria, declined about 21.7% y/y. Exports to Africa, America and Oceania also witnessed a downward trend.

Thailand, Pakistan Rice Quotes Up Today; Vietnam Rice Quotes Down

Dec 29, 2014
Thailand rice sellers increased their quotes for Hommali rice by about $5 per ton to around $895- $905 per ton today. Vietnam rice sellers lowered their quotes for 5% broken rice and Jasmine rice by about $5 per ton and $15 per ton to around$380 - $390 per ton and around $510 - $520 per ton, respectively, today. Pakistan rice sellers increased most of their quotes.  India rice sellers kept their quotes unchanged today.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is quoted at around $405 - $415 per ton, about $25 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $380 - $390 per ton, down about $5 per ton from Friday. India 5% rice is quoted at around $385 - $395 per ton, about $10 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice quoted at around $375 - $385 per ton, up about $5 per ton from Friday.
25% Broken Rice 
Thailand 25% rice was last quoted at around $350 - $360 per ton, on par with Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $350 - $360 per ton.
India 25% rice is quoted at around $350 - $360, about $15 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice quoted at around $335 - $345 per ton, up about $5 per ton from Friday.
Parboiled Rice
Thailand parboiled rice is quoted at around $405 - $415 per ton.
India parboiled rice is quoted at around $375 - $385 per ton, about $30 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice quoted at around $405 - $415 per ton, up about $10 per ton from Friday.
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, is quoted at around $330 - $340 per ton, on par with Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $330 - $340 per ton. India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $295 - $305 per ton,  about $5 per ton discount to Pakistan broken sortexed rice quoted at around $300 - $310 per ton.

Vietnam Exports About 6.04 Million Tons Rice During January 1 – December 26, 2014

Dec 29, 2014
Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/141229vietnamriceexports.jpg
Vietnam exported around 6.036 million tons of rice during January 1 - December 26, 2014, down about 10% from around 6.71 million tons of rice exported in full year of 2013, according to data from the Vietnam Food Association (VFA). Average rice export price so far in this year stands at around $440 per ton (FOB), up about 1.6% per ton from about $433 per ton recorded same time last year.
During December 1- 26, 2014, Vietnam exported around 195,747 tons of rice, down about 64% from around 540,378 tons rice exported in full month of December 2013, and down about 60% from around 484,513 tons rice exported in full month of November 2014. Average export prices in so far in December stand at around $478 per ton, up about 5% from a year ago, and up about 3% per ton from a month ago.

Philippines Plans to Release New Heat-Tolerant Rice Varieties by 2017

Dec 29, 2014
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/141229philrice.jpgThe Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is developing new rice varieties that can endure high temperatures and provide high yields, according to a news release on its website.Normally, rice grows optimally between 20-35 degrees centigrade and becomes sensitive to increasing temperatures especially during the flowering stage and eventually, yields may be affected.
A team of researchers from PhilRice have been developing new rice genotypes that can tolerate and adapt to temperatures as high as 37-39 degrees centigrade under irrigated lowland conditions. They identified N22 (Nagina 22 from India), Dular (India), and Nipponbare (Japan) as donor parents and generated new high temperature tolerant breeding varieties using conventional breeding and molecular marker-assisted selection processes. The lead researcher of the project noted that they established breeding nurseries in high temperature regions under field conditions. They set the timing of planting such that the flowering stage coincided with the highest temperature during the growing season.  
They researchers identified twenty five new breeding lines which are tolerant to high temperatures. These breeding lines will be evaluated for other traits and depending on the results, they will be nominated to the National Cooperative Test for Multi-Environment testing, said the lead researcher of the project.He expressed confidence that a new heat-tolerant rice variety would be released in 2016-17. Developing rice varieties that can tolerate high temperatures is important part in dealing with climate change in rice growing areas, he added.

Separately, the Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to incorporate climate smart technologies in its programs to help local agriculture sector adapt to extreme weather conditions.The DA is currently testing the adaptability of three varieties of Green Super Rice, which is jointly developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the PhilRice, for different climatic conditions. Green Super Rice is developed by combining the superior traits of 250 rice varieties and hybrids for tolerating extreme weather/growing conditions such as drought, floods and low inputs, including zero pesticides and less fertilizers. The National Seed Industry Council has to certify thper Rice for commercial use.  

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29th December(Monday),2014 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

A wider avenue for farm exports


Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is taking personal interest in pushing up exports, feeling encouraged after a recent Pakistan-Russia inter-governmental committee meeting where several Russian companies showed interest in trading with Pakistan. He doesn’t want this opportunity to be missed.
The food and commerce ministries, on his instructions, are now busy in preparing a plan for boosting farm exports to Russia.“We should properly inform our traders that they can diversify their export destinations, taking advantage of the opportunities for agricultural exports to Russia”, Dar told officials of the two ministries in a meeting.Russian imports of food-related commodities were worth about $39bn in 2013, about $23.5bn of which was in categories affected by the Russian ban on exports primarily to the Western market. From the countries covered by the sanctions, Russia imported $17.2bn worth of food which it will now import from other countries. Russian food safety authorities had already banned the import of Polish fruit and vegetables prior to the ban.


A delegation visiting Moscow recently found Russian officials keenly interested in Pakistani commodities and willing to extend preferential treatment to our exporters



Pakistan’s current trade with Russia is about $550m which, given the existing potential, can be further enhanced. Pakistani potatoes and citrus fruits are already being exported. There is a big demand in Russia for seafood such as shrimps, prawns and shellfish and also for hard cheese and marbled beef. It may require special expertise to win space in the Russian market.In September, a 20-member delegation of Pakistan fruit, vegetables exporters Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) led by Waheed Ahmed visited Russia to explore the prospects of export of fruits and vegetables in the wake of ban on imports of such items from Europe.On return, they said they found Russian officials keenly interested in Pakistani commodities and were willing to extend preferential treatment to Pakistani exporters to have a sizable share in Russia’s $2bn fruit and vegetable market.
However, their hosts were more concerned about the quarantine standards of the Pakistan companies which, they pointed out, must meet Russian quarantine standards.However, one may note that the past record of trade ties between the two countries have not been enviable by any measure. About 15 years ago, seven trade companies had filed claims worth $76m with the Russian authorities on a trade dispute which remained unresolved. Early this year, the Russian government showed interest in resolving the dispute.
In January, the prime minister constituted a committee to resolve the matter. Similarly, Russians detected larvae of Khapra beetles in rice and the golden nematode pest in potato shipments in 2013. This led to curb on the import of some Pakistani farm products, including potatoes and rice. The ban on citrus fruit was, however, lifted in December 2013.The restrictions followed on grounds of alleged systematic violations of international and Russian Phytosanitary requirements. Pakistan had started supplying potatoes to the Russian market a few years ago. Before the ban, the country accounted for 10pc of Russia’s potato import, which reached 1.2m tonnes in 2010-2011. Russia itself produces 29m tonnes of potatoes every year. Pakistan also supplied about 28,000 tonnes of rice before the 2013 ban. According to Euromonitor International, the Russian rice market was estimated at $35.4bn.
Early this year, Russia and Pakistan signed a protocol for facilitating export of kinnow, rice and potato at a ceremony in the wake of visit of six-member Russian delegation which saw facilities and quality of Pakistani food products in various cities.Meanwhile, Ishaq Dar has directed the ministries of commerce and national food security to coordinate in identifying exportable food products, keeping in view whether surplus quantities and requisite quarantine arrangements were available. The minister observed that quality standards should be considered in advance to ensure the success of the export plan.
Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, December 29th, 2014
Source with thanks:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1153668/a-wider-avenue-for-farm-exports

Depressed commodity prices to impact agricultural growth

In this photo, women work in an agricultural field in Lahore. — AFP/FileEveryone is concerned about agricultural growth prospects during 2015. They cite three factors: poverty (as a majority of farmers are unable to invest in crops), the confusion about the federal and provincial governments’ jurisdictions, and climatic changes that make the production cycle uncertain.
The farmers have lost money on almost all major crops — cotton, rice, cane and wheat during 2014; in many cases they were not able to recover even cost of production if official estimated costs are something to go by.The cost of each maund of cotton was stated to be Rs3,200, which was sold at Rs2,500 per 40Kg; cane cost was Rs194 per maund, but fixed at Rs180; rice prices dropped by almost 50pc as compared to last year, and the federal government had to come up with a subsidy package to save farmers from total disaster.
For cotton growers, the government had to induct the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to support market price to some extent. Under these circumstances, the farmers have precious little to invest on next crops that dims prospects for 2015.

The farming community is caught between falling income and rising cost of inputs and it could define the prospects of agricultural growth during 2015.

The farmers’ ability to invest on inputs has always been a crucial factor, which seems to have been significantly lost. On the other hand, the cost of inputs — barring a temporary relief on diesel — keeps rising for a number of factors; cartelisation of the market and small players greed to reap windfall every season being prime factors.The urea position clarifies the point. Despite heavy imports, dealers are unwilling to bring prices down to official level and the Punjab government is currently readying to crackdown on urea black-marketing. It had already lodged a number of FIRs for pesticides overcharging.
The farming community is thus caught between falling income and rising cost of inputs and it could define the prospects of agricultural growth during 2015.This situation is afflicted by another factor; confusing mandates of federal and provincial institutions about which one is supposed to do what. The Eighteenth Amendment’s devolution is still to be absorbed by the provincial governments.The recent row on cane prices clarifies the point, where the provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh acted differently; causing social upheaval and the federation siding with the farmers. The vacuum in some other areas is even bigger. For example, the federation has a post Animal Husbandry Commissioner (commonly known as chief veterinarian) but it is lying vacant for the last one year.
Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has a post of a member, Animal Science, which has not been filled ever since the last one retired and the chief executive officer of the Federal Livestock Board is missing for the last two years.This vacuum at the federal level is yet to be institutionally filled by the federating units. On their part, what provinces are doing is best exemplified by Punjab; during the last few years, it has nominated around seven different committees on livestock with grossly overlapping mandate and memberships, creating utter confusion.
Without any institutional input, decision-making is hijacked by lobbies, which has managed to bring cane prices down for a week or so and made billions of rupees out it; they managed duty-free import of skimmed milk and started manufacturing milk at the cost of farmers. This confusion on mechanism, mandate and decision-making, in all probability, would continue during the next year and test agricultural abilities of the farmers and farming.To top them all is water scarcity, exacerbated by climatic changes and Pakistan’s inability to respond to it through a well thought-out planning and strategy. In a recent report, the State Bank of Pakistan had termed climate change not just a global debate, but a major threat to Pakistan; particularly, when it raises risks for food security.
Estimating that temperature might rise by another 0.6 to one Celsius by 2030, the central bank warned that the change may take down wheat production by 1.5-2.5pc and rice by 2-4pc by 2020. Vegetables and livestock would also have their list of risks.The University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, which has a full-fledged department on climatology, also sounded a similar warning when dividing the entire 21st century into three periods (up to 2040, 2070 and the rest), it says that the average day temperature would increase by 2.8 Celsius by 2040. Even more threatening is rise in the night temperature by 2.2 Celsius during the same period.Both these major problems and their solutions or ways fully documented.. In the last four years, the country has had three floods because of erratic weather behaviour and still reeling under its damage. This is the area that needs immediate and full attention of the government.
Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, December 29th, 2014

Source with thanks:http://www.dawn.com/news/1153670/depressed-commodity-prices-to-impact-agricultural-growth

 

ECC – a political tool for successive govts

Published: December 29, 2014
In one of the most objectionable decisions, the ECC sanctioned a subsidy of Rs10 per kg on sugar exports, which will eat up Rs6.5 billion from the national exchequer. PHOTO: FILE
ISLAMABAD: 
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet – a body set up to take economic and financial decisions – has become a political tool. It is utilised for extending benefits to selected groups, often by compromising the fundamentals of economics.
The tradition of using the ECC to dole out taxpayers’ money to vested interests reached a peak in the last year of the previous Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government. A few months before the elections, PPP’s finance minister regularly called ECC meetings and approved summaries on the directives of the then top man of the country.

With the change in government in June last year, hopes arose that the PML-N administration would discontinue the practice of using the treasury to offer benefits or stop utilising the ECC’s platform to reward its voters.From July 2013 to June 2014, the cabinet committee took decisions, which were by and large defendable. However, the trend reversed in the past six months, particularly after the start of protest rallies by the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
In the six months, the ECC provided over Rs38 billion worth of benefits to the agriculture sector. It also appeased the industrialists by promising gas and electricity supplies during winter in violation of the energy distribution policy and the priority list.However, in an effort to ensure transparency in decision-making, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar outlined measures, prominent among them were seeking the feedback of the ministries concerned before sending a summary to the ECC and highlighting the sources of funding if there was no allocation in the budget.Dar also gave directives that the ministries should submit their summaries well in advance along with necessary background information.Instructions flouted

But a critical look at the decisions taken by the ECC shows a clear violation. In a latest but one of the most objectionable decisions taken by the government, the ECC sanctioned a subsidy of Rs10 per kg on sugar exports including an inland freight subsidy of Rs2 per kg and cash subsidy of Rs8 per kg. The subsidy bill will eat up Rs6.5 billion from the national exchequer.
The clear beneficiaries will be the all-powerful sugar barons, who also represent the ruling party. The losers are the consumers who despite a fall in prices in the global market will be paying higher rates.In the international market, the sugar price is Rs39 per kg whereas in the domestic market it is in the range of Rs55 to Rs60 per kg.
The decision is also against the free market dynamics where supply and demand determine the price of a good.The ECC also imposed a 20% regulatory duty on the import of raw and beet sugar aimed at discouraging its cheap imports. Earlier, the cabinet committee endorsed a summary prepared to compensate the farmers of basmati rice with cash payments of Rs5,000 per acre. The government will bear a subsidy of Rs10 billion on this account, which has not been provided in the budget.The move came in the wake of a significant decline in rice prices this year and pressure from the agricultural lobby, led by the Minister for Food, National Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan.

The third decision that raised eyebrows was the provision of subsidy on agricultural tube wells. On a proposal of the Ministry of Water and Power, the ECC agreed on providing Rs10.35 per unit of electricity until June next year. On this account, the federal government will release Rs22 billion, again an allocation which has not been covered in the budget.
Provincial domain
Finance Minister Dar, who is also the ECC chairman, also approved the wheat support price at Rs1,300 per 40 kg for the 2014-15 crop. However, the determination of crop prices is a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.For cotton of base grade 3, the ECC set the support price at Rs3,000 per 40 kg in a bid to stabilise prices in the domestic market, which were going down after a plunge in the global market. In response to a summary sent by the Ministry of Textile Industry, the ECC agreed on ensuring electricity and gas supplies to the textile sector. This came at the cost of domestic consumers, who were facing continuous outages.
This all underscores the need for restoring the ECC’s credibility in order to ensure that markets are not manipulated for providing benefits to selected groups. At present, the committee looks like a representative body of different lobbies and the nation, particularly people, eventually suffers.

The writer is a staff correspondent
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th,  2014.
Source with thanks: The Express Tribune Pakistan

Analysts call for sustainable ways to help farmers, develop rice industry

Petchanet Pratruangkrai

The Nation December 30, 2014 1:00 am

Subsidies do nothing for long-term change, critics charge

"Give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you will feed him for a lifetime." This ancient proverb is certainly true and clearly reflects the failure of the Thai governments' rice-subsidy projects to help farmers for a decade, critics claim.Rice subsidies, whether the governments that implement them call them "pledging programmes" or "income guarantees", have never led to sustainable development, they charge. Instead, such schemes have caused huge financial burdens for the Kingdom and only improved farmers' incomes for short periods.

Thailand has spent between Bt40 billion and Bt80 billion per annum on rice subsidies during the past decade. Worse, a study by the Thailand Research and Development Institute (TDRI) suggested that spending on rice subsidies during the past two years would amount to as much as Bt750 billion.Unfortunately, that money rarely goes towards improving the efficiency of rice farming or its supply-chain industries. Politicians have only created short-term measures to satisfy farmers for a short time.

This year, after seizing power from the elected government with the claim that it would stop playing this game, the military regime fell into a similar trap - albeit only for the short term, the junta insists - of directly paying farmers Bt1,000 per rai, for a maximum of 15 rai (2.4 hectares) each. To ensure the rice price does not drop precipitously, the government has also budgeted for soft loans to millers and rice farmers, so that they do not need to accelerate rice sales during the harvest season.

But despite these populist measures, the market price of Thai rice is still low, under pressure from the enormous stockpiles in the government's warehouses. Farmers have still not been able to build rice barns and therefore cannot hold their produce for too long as its quality would deteriorate.Given these factors, it appears this is the right time for the government and the private sector to launch a long-term development plan for the rice industry.

Aat Pisanwanich, director of the International Trade Studies Centre of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said that with upcoming Asean seamless trade, sustainable long-term measures should be implemented to encourage Thai farmers to focus on quality rice production rather than only on price or relying on government support. "It is time to educate farmers to rely more on themselves by teaching them to develop rice quality, while the government can provide other support to facilitate rice production and marketing, and help develop the supply chain," Aat said.

Thai farmers must urgently improve productivity to ensure their competitiveness in the seamless market, he said. They must also decrease the cost of production and logistics, and diversify from commodities to high-value-added goods. The government should draw up a strategy to strengthen agricultural practices - one that not only promotes higher prices via intervention schemes, but also improvement in productivity.

Aat claimed Thailand's rice productivity was almost the lowest among Asean countries, while Thai farmers get the smallest incomes. For example, in this year's crop, the rice yield per rai is 457 kilograms in Thailand, 900kg in Vietnam, and 400kg in Myanmar. The cost of Thai rice production is Bt10,685 per rai, for Vietnam Bt4,071, and Myanmar Bt7,122, while income per rai for Thai farmers is Bt11,187, for Vietnamese Bt7,252, and Myanmar farmers Bt10,605. As a result, Thai farmers see only Bt502 per rai as profit, while Vietnamese farmers have Bt3,181 left, and Myanmar's get Bt3,485 per rai.

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of the TDRI, claimed the rice-pledging project had cost the Kingdom huge amounts of taxpayers' money, while it was not able to help farmers long-term. He said it was time that the government, private enterprise, farmers, and all involved created measures to help farmers in a more sustainable way rather than only handing out money.

 

Long-term rice strategy development

In fact, the military regime does have a "rice strategy", but it has not yet been implemented in any tangible measure.

Boonyarit Kalayanamit, director-general of the Commerce Ministry's Internal Trade Department, said the rice strategy was aimed at improving the production, marketing and quality of Thai rice, while somehow improving farmers' lives without intervening in the "market mechanism".

The strategy is meant to solve long-term problems from the production stage to marketing. The government will set up rice-plantation zones while also encouraging farmers to grow other economic crops on land that is not suitable for rice.Those strategies include creating fairness in rice trading, enhancing rice standards and the trading system, encouraging more rice consumption, increasing production efficiency, encouraging innovation in the rice industry, and developing the logistics system for rice.

Those measures sound nice, but they need implementation. The government needs to invest in these sustainable measures and encourage more farmers to be concerned with long-term development rather than short-term income.Pramoth Vanichanont, former president of the Thai Rice Millers Association, said all involved sectors, including government, academia, farmers and traders should forge closer ties to develop the rice industry. First, rice traders and farmers should focus on the upper-end market, because it has higher returns.

Of the global population, 20-30 per cent are classified as "upper class", and this group is expected to get larger in the next five years. This segment has high purchasing power and prefers high-quality products. Thailand, with its jasmine rice and other premium grades including Geographic Indication and high-nutrition rice such as "Riceberry" and "Seenil", must produce more of these types to serve this market.

At present, Vietnam can export up to 7 million tonnes of rice a year and Cambodia 2 million tonnes, while Myanmar is expected to increase its annual rice exports to 1.5 million tonnes. Most of this is lower-value white rice. Thailand must focus more on higher-quality rice, especially fragrant and high-nutrition grains, so that we can beat our rivals, he said.

Second, Thailand must develop better breeding techniques and increase yield per rai. The country has spent more than 30 years developing its long-grain rice. Pramoth said development time for quality strains must be shorted from between seven and 12 years to only three years, while increasing yield per rai, in order to serve higher demand inAsean and other markets.

Moreover, the government needs to invest more on research and development. The Vietnamese government has invested more than Bt4 billion in rice development over the past five years, while Thai rice farming has received only Bt100 million to Bt200 million a year for that purpose. To achieve the goal of maintaining Thailand's position as the world's biggest rice exporter and leader in rice-farming development, the government must place development of the crop on the national agenda, he said. It should allocate about Bt20 billion a year to develop better breeding techniques, increase yields, and develop an irrigation system.

At present, only 28 per cent of the 64 million rai devoted to growing rice is irrigated. Also, the government needs to support infrastructure development along the rice-industry supply chain. It should encourage farmers in cooperatives to build their own warehouses and concentrate on logistics. Prasith Boonchuey, president of the Thai Rice Farmers Association, claimed most farmers realised that they need long-term development and not just government handouts.

Thailand has spent huge amounts each year to shore up rice prices, but less on development than other countries. Nobody is against measures to help poor farmers improve their standards of living, but Prasith said the association acknowledged that subsidies were not sustainable. Now is a suitable period for the government to spend less on price intervention and focus on sustainable development to educate farmers and help them become self-reliant for the future.

Source with thanks:http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Analysts-call-for-sustainable-ways-to-help-farmers-30250939.html

 

Amira Nature Foods Ltd Announces $90 Million Contract with Repeat Customer

Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:19am EST
* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.
Amira Nature Foods Ltd Announces $90 Million Contract with Repeat Customer
Amira Nature Foods Ltd (the "Company") (NYSE: ANFI), a leading global provider of packaged Indian specialty rice, today announced that it entered into a $90 million contract to supply third party branded basmati rice to a key repeat customer in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (“EMEA”) region.“We are extremely pleased to expand our relationship with this customer in the EMEA region as we believe this illustrates Amira’s leading position in the industry,” stated Karan A Chanana, Amira’s Chairman.
 “The EMEA region continues to be a tremendous growth market for Amira’s basmati rice with strong consumption and demand in the market. As we enter into 2015, we look forward to executing on our additional opportunities for growth with both our Amira branded products and our third party branded products throughout the world.”
About Amira Nature Foods Ltd.
Founded in 1915, Amira has evolved into a leading global provider of branded packagedIndian specialty rice, with sales in over 60 countries today. The Company sells Basmati rice, which is a premium long-grain rice grown only in certain regions of the Indian sub-continent, under its flagship Amira brand as well as under other third party brands. Amira sells its products through a broad distribution network in both the developed and emerging markets. The Company’s global headquarters are in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and it also has offices in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Amira Nature Foods Ltd is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “ANFI.” For more information please visit www.amira.net.
Cautionary Note on Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal securities laws. These forward-looking statements generally can be identified by phrases such as that we or our members of management “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “foresee,” “forecast,” “estimate” or other words or phrases of similar import. Specifically, these statements include, among other things, statements that describe our expectations for the growth of our business, expansion into new geographic markets, maintaining and expanding our relationship with key retail partners, the financial impact of new sales contracts on our revenue, our plans to make significant capital expenditures, and other statements of management’s beliefs, intentions or goals.
 It is uncertain whether any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur, or if any of them do, what impact they will have on our results of operations, financial condition, or the price of our ordinary shares. These forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to our ability to penetrate and increase the acceptance of our products in new geographic markets; our ability to perform our agreements with customers and further develop our relationships with key retail partners; our ability to recognize revenue from our contracts; continued competitive pressures in the marketplace; our reliance on a few customers for a substantial part of our revenue; our ability to implement our plans, forecasts and other expectations with respect to our business and realize additional opportunities for growth; and the other risks and important factors contained and identified in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
All forward-looking statements attributable to us or to persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these risk factors. Since we operate in an emerging and evolving environment and new risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time, you should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Except as required under the securities laws of the United States, we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking or other statements herein to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Amira Nature Foods Ltd
Bruce Wacha, 201-960-0745
Chief Financial Officer
or
FTI Consulting
Beth Saunders, 212-850-5717


Source with thanks: Reuters

Summer crop drop may jack up rice import bills

 

KATHMANDU, DEC 28 - Drop in summer foodgrains this year is likely to shoot up country’s rice import bills and market prices.According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Nepal’s cereal imports are expected to rise to a record level of 571,800 tonnes this fiscal, up 10 percent year on year.The FAO said that most of this volume is rice, imports of which are anticipated at 500 000 tonnes, up 11 percent. The higher import is projected to reduced production of foodgrains and sustained demand. Maize imports in the 2014-15 are forecast to remain similar to the low level of 2013-14.
The Ministry of Agricultural Development has projected paddy output to drop 5.1 percent to 4.78 million tonnes this fiscal. Nepal will produced 258,435 tonnes less paddy compared to last year largely due to a late monsoon and untimely rainfall. The ministry said that expanding urban areas, land plotting for residential development and natural disasters were the other reasons behind the fall in output. More than 61,000 hectares of paddy fields have been left uncultivated, while another 23,900 hectares were damaged by floods and landslides this year.Contrary to the government estimates, the FAO has projected that Nepal’s paddy output is likely to drop 9 percent to 4.6 million tonnes this fiscal. 
The decrease is attributed to an estimated 6 percent contraction in area planted as a result of late and below-average monsoon rains which hindered sowing operations and reduced yields.Additional damages to the crop were caused by floods and landslides across Mid-western and Far-western regions following heavy rains in August, the FAO said.The ministry estimates that the country’s maize output, the second staple crop after paddy, is expected to fall 6 percent to 2.14 million tonnes. The figure represented a drop of 137,931 tonnes.

Balloning imports

The Nepal Rastra Bank statistics showed that rice import bills from India jumped 135 percent to Rs 4.70 billion in the first four months of 2014-15.  “As paddy output has been projected to drop, it will definitely exert pressure on the cereal import bills, particularly rice,” said Hem Raj Regmi, under-secretary and a chief statistician at the ministry.  “We have estimated that rice import would hover at 400,000 tonnes this year.”  According to him, eating habits or rice culture of Nepalis, who prefer consuming rice twice a day, has been putting pressure on the import bills every passing year.
There has been a massive import of Indian Basmati rice since some years, which indicated a growing middle class as well as disposable income due to a result of increased remittance inflow, Regmi said. Studies suggest a big chunk of remittances is used for food consumption, clothing and in luxury goods.The country imported cereal worth Rs 28.61 billion in the last fiscal, up from Rs 20.92 in the previous fiscal. Of the total cereal import, rice import amounted to Rs 12.37 billion, up from Rs 8.45 billion, the NRB statistics showed.

Posted on: 2014-12-28 07:13

PhilRice develops heat-tolerant rice varieties

By Ric Sapnu (The Philippine Star) | 

NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is developing rice varieties that can withstand intense heat brought by climate change.According to Norvie Manigbas, lead researcher at PhilRice, the institute has identified 25 new advanced breeding lines after rigorous selection for high temperature tolerance using conventional method and marker-assisted selection.Manigbas noted that the development of heat-tolerant rice varieties is important in addressing the adverse effects of climate change in rice growing areas on which 90 to 95 percent of the population depends.Rice grows optimally between 20°C-35°C but becomes sensitive to increasing temperatures especially during flowering, which eventually reduce yields.
In 2010, Manigbas and his team started to develop new rice genotypes that can tolerate and adapt to high temperatures at 37°C-39°C under irrigated lowland conditions.
They identified N22 (Nagina 22 from India), Dular (India), and Nipponbare (Japan) as donor parents and used conventional breeding and molecular marker-assisted selection to generate new high temperature tolerant breeding populations.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

“We established breeding nurseries in high temperature prone areas in Cagayan and Nueva Ecija to screen and select breeding materials under field conditions. Planting was done on staggered basis so that flowering, or reproductive stage, of all test entries would coincide with the highest temperature during the growing season. Thus, selection pressure for high temperature is enhanced,” Manigbas explained.“After that, we identified twenty-five new breeding lines tolerant and 16 of those had lower percent sterility compared with the tolerant checks and donor parent N22,” he added.The new lines will be evaluated further for other traits and if they passed, they can be nominated to the National Cooperative Test for Multi-Environment Testing.

Source with thanks: The Philippine Star
Myanmar's rice export earns over 300 mln USD in 9 months
Placard ENLARGE
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)
Myanmar's rice export earns over 300 mln USD in 9 months
YANGON, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar earned over 342 million U.S. dollars through exporting 914,969 tons of rice in the first nine months (April-Dec) of fiscal year 2014-15, local media reported Sunday.Of the rice export, 716,272 tons were sold through border trade.Myanmar's rice is mainly exported to China and other Asian countries and regions, as well as Russia and some European countries and African countries.One ton of Myanmar rice was priced at about 400 dollars last month.In addition to maritime trade, Myanmar also exported rice through border points which accounted for 70 percent of the total rice export volume.According to official statistics, the rice export earning during 2013-14 was 460 million dollars, a 15.4-percent drop from 544 million dollars in 2012-13.

Bangladesh starts exporting parboiled rice

Chittagong Bureau,  bdnews24.com
Published: 2014-12-27 20:13:13.0 BdST Updated: 2014-12-27 21:38:31.0 BdST
Bangladesh Shipping Corporation’s ship 'Kakali' has left for Sri Lanka from Chittagong Port with first consignment of 12,500 tons of parboiled rice.
2014-12-20 21:55:21.0
It left the 4th jetty of Chittagong Port for Colombo Port at 2pm on Saturday.Earlier in a press briefing, Director General of Directorate General of Food Sarwar Khan said the shipment was half of the 25,000 tons of parboiled rice Bangladesh agreed to export to the island country.Remaining shipment would be despatched on the first week of January, he said.Considering Bangladesh’s overall food demand, it would be safe to have a stock of 9-10 lakh metric tons of rice, he said.
“After maintaining the safety-level stock, we have been maintaining a surplus of about 400,000 metric tons of rice for the last four to five years,” Sarwar said.Bangladesh has an availability to export around 75,000 tons more rice now, he said.Sarwar also said India had proposed to import 30,000-40,000 tons rice from Bangladesh for its north-eastern states.“India will send a delegation to finalise the matter soon,” he added.
Answering a question if the export of rice would have a negative impact on Bangladesh’s market, he said, “We have started collecting rice of the Aman season so it will not impact the internal market.”Apart from Sarwar, Director (administration) of Directorate General of Food Tofazzal Hossain and Regional Controller of Food in Chittagong Abdul Aziz Molla were present in the port to send-off Kakali.
Source with thanks:www.bdnews24.com

Farmers celebrate bumper yields, but cry for fair prices

Sohel Parvez
Bangladesh saw increased food production and relatively stable prices of rice and vegetables for almost the entire 2014.Yields of boro rice, the principal crop, hit a record high at 1.90 crore tonnes, while production of potato, maize and wheat also increased, thanks to favourable weather conditions and the government's support, according to agriculturists.
Food and Agriculture Organisation said Bangladesh is likely to harvest 5.6 crore tonnes of paddy and wheat in the outgoing year, up 1.6 percent year-on-year.Agriculture officials said the harvest of aman is going on and the output from the second biggest crop is likely to be good even after recurrent floods in some growing regions."Floods inundated lands where water usually cannot reach. We hope it will facilitate higher yields.
Overall production will rise because of increased acreage of hybrid varieties," said an official of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).The DAE has set a target of 1.34 crore tonnes of aman rice this season, up from 1.30 crore tonnes last year.Also, good vegetable production enabled people, particularly in urban areas, to get different varieties of vegetables throughout the year.The supply of import-based cooking oil, sugar and wheat was also good and their prices fell gradually amid increased production and price cuts globally.
As a result, overall inflation came down. Food inflation, which was 9.09 percent in May, declined to 6.44 percent in November, much lower than 8.55 percent in the same month a year ago, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.  "Overall, it was quite a good year for agriculture, mainly due to favourable weather," said M Asaduzzaman, a professorial fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS)."We have seen attempts of diversification in farm production," he said.
THE CRY FOR FAIR PRICES
Despite increased production, many of the 1.48 crore farmers in Bangladesh were deprived of fair prices of their produce such as potato, maize, vegetables and jute. Factors such as last year's political turmoil, weak marketing infrastructure and falling jute exports were blamed.Also, high transport costs and extortion on highways continue to remain a major problem in ensuring fair prices, agriculturists and farmers said.
Farmers who grew rice received higher prices after the boro harvest. But spiralling rice imports, particularly from India, have dampened prices of paddy and rice in recent days.Rice imports between July and December 15 exceeded last year's total of 3.74 lakh tonnes. Total rice imports reached 4.44 lakh tonnes since July this year, according to the food ministry.Prices of potato, which fell below farmers' production costs for ample supply early this year, rebounded later amid increased exports and a storing facility, allowing growers to minimise past losses."Although potato prices declined early this year, a rise in prices later has benefitted me.
Yields and prices of boro rice were also good," said Md Wazed Ali Fakir, a small farmer in Joypurhat district in the north.Mohammed Motaleb, a farmer in Rangpur, said their production costs did not go up much in the outgoing year as the government did not increase prices of diesel and fertilisers."It allowed us to make some profit from boro rice. And at the current prices of aman, I will not incur losses. Overall, it was a good year for me," he said.However, Suruj Mia, a farmer from Faridpur, a major jute producing region, has complaints for losses he saw from jute cultivation this year.
"I could not even recover my production costs," he said.Babu Sarker, a small farmer at Shibganj, a vegetables hub in Bogra district, said he incurred losses by cultivating cauliflower."Prices of vegetables have fallen again this year although prices are high in Dhaka. Last year, I suffered losses for recurrent shutdowns and blockades," he said.He said wholesalers were offering them Tk 5-Tk 7 for a cauliflower at Mahastan, a wholesale market for vegetables in Bogra.
In Dhaka, the same was selling at Tk 12-Tk 18 at wholesale and Tk 15-Tk 25 at retail levels, according to Department of Agricultural Marketing.  The picture is the same for other vegetables as well."We feel uncomfortable when farmers ask us why we request them to grow more crops but cannot ensure fair prices for their produce," said an official of the DAE, asking not to be named.Every year, at the time of harvest, growers have to sell vegetables at throwaway prices in absence of specialised cold storages and proper transport facilities.Md Rafiqul Islam Mondal, executive chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, said production of most of the crops, including vegetables, was good in the outgoing year.
"But we are yet to ensure fair prices for farmers. It is a failure," he said.Asaduzzaman of BIDS said the marketing system and infrastructure for farm produce remain very weak. "The government should immediately pay attention to improving the marketing system. Otherwise, growth of agriculture will be uncertain," he said.Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said: "We are trying to develop infrastructure as much as possible. We are intervening sincerely, though on a limited scale."She said the government purchases rice and wheat so that their prices do not fall much. The private sector should come forward to establish cold warehouse facilities and introduce cold chain transports, she said.
On extortion on highways, she said the government is taking punitive steps to stop it. "We have initiatives to ensure an ideal situation. But it will take time to reach there," the minister said.On the global front, commodity prices are expected to remain weak for the remainder of 2014 and perhaps through much of 2015, said Commodity Markets Outlook by World Bank Group.
At the domestic level, bringing new and effective agricultural technologies, and above all, ensuring fair prices and giving incentives to growers will be the key to maintaining the buoyancy in farm production, analysts said. "Incentives for farmers may prove futile due to increased rice imports. As the oil prices have fallen in the global market, the government should reduce prices of diesel for irrigation. It will act as an incentive for growers," Asaduzzaman said.

Nigeria: Waivers, Smuggling, Others Threaten Nigeria's Rice Sector
 By Femi Adekoya
The Federal Government's backward integration plan for the rice industry may suffer a major setback if key issues of discretionary approval of waivers and unrealistic supply gap are not addressed.Indeed, the country may continue to lose at least N20 billion to smugglers of the commodity and another N20 billion to discretionary concessions and waivers, especially to non-committed stakeholders under the scheme.

With at least $183.6 million enjoyed in bonds, there are questions bordering on the sincerity of government under the backward integration plan, considering the fact that investors who have only expressed interests enjoy higher imports than those who have remain committed to the plan, especially now that some of them are already trading the import quotas at higher prices to interested importers.
Findings by The Guardian have shown that the Federal Government through the indiscriminate granting of waivers under the backward integration plan may be promoting activities of smugglers while putting the rice policy under threat.Documents obtained and investigations by The Guardian showed that indiscriminate approach of the Federal Government in granting waivers and import allocation quotas to investors who have no investments in the industry, either in form of paddy or rice milling may be a dysfunctional approach to the backward integration plan in the sector.
According to the list of beneficiaries of the preferential import quotas, quantities of rice imports approved and corresponding size of performance bond to be submitted shows that of the 28 beneficiaries, only 16 have mills, while the remaining 12 have no mills and account for higher imports than millers.Investigations also show that many of the investors who got import allocation quotas are already trading it to interested stakeholders at between 60 to 80 per cent levy having got the same at 20 per cent levy.

Specifically, documents obtained showed that investors who have only submitted expression of interests without commensurable form of investments in the sector, may be enjoying waivers amounting to at least N20 billion under the exercise.
For instance, allocation of rice import quotas under the new rice policy by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that a move to bridge the supply gap of import-grade rice of 1.5 million metric tonnes as determined by the Federal Government was designed to ensure that existing rice millers and new investors receive a preferential levy of 20 per cent and duty of 10 per cent while other importers pay a higher levy of 60 per cent and duty of 10 per cent.
In a letter from the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina to the Coordinating Minister of Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on the allocation of rice import quotas, Adesina noted that the criteria for allocation of quotas under a methodology which assigns weight to key criteria of self-sufficiency in rice production and milling in Nigeria include the submission and approval of a Domestic Rice Production Plan (DRPP) among others.
According to Adesina, a supply gap of import-grade rice was determined to be 1.5 million metric tonnes for 2014 while an inter-ministerial committee discussed the methodology for allocation of the import quotas.
"Subsequently, a letter was sent to existing rice millers and new investors, to submit a DRPP, and based on their submissions; a total of 1.3 million metric tonnes of rice import quotas was issued to 25 qualifying millers at the preferential levy of 20 per cent and duty of 10 per cent. The remainder 0.2 million metric tonnes of rice imports will be at the higher levy of 60 per cent and duty of 10 per cent for other rice importers", the letter read in part.
However, documents obtained showed that the supply gap estimate is unrealistic when compared to a total of 2.74 million metric tonnes of imported rice that made its way into the country in 2014 (representing a combination of rice imported into the country from Thailand and India and the smuggled commodity from neighbouring West African countries like Benin, Cameroun, Niger and Togo).
Nigeria: Osun State Bans Revenue in Cash
As from January 2015, the government of Osun State will no longer accept collection of cash for payment of fees, fines, charges and other forms of revenue collection in the state.The state, according to Governor Rauf Aregbesola, has concluded all arrangements to go digital in the collection of its revenue in order to erase all avenues through which revenue officials come in contacts with raw cash.

Aregbesola, according to a statement by his Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Semiu Okanlawon, dropped this hint when members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and representatives of all trade unions submitted a report of their effort at seeking alternative sources of revenue for the state in the face of the dwindling revenue from the federation account.
"I must announce this to all of you that as from next month (January), no revenue official will be allowed to come in contact with cash again. This is because we have decided to go digital in our revenue collection. So, be it school fees, fines, charges, and all other forms of payment in obligations to the government by the citizens, no cash will be collected again," Aregbesola told the representatives of the workers.
The governor, while explaining to the workers why his government has taken the bold step, said the government, at this critical time, must know what accrues to it and not only what is recorded by revenue collection officials.Aregbesola had earlier described as patriotic, selfless and commendable, the initiative by the workers in the state to confront the dwindling resources of the state arising from the persistent meagre allocation from the federal government, on their own volition, seeking fresh avenues of generating revenues to ensure economic survival of the state.
"I thank the entire workforce in the state for their sense of responsibility; for their exhibition of the Omoluabi ethos."I find it difficult to deprive any worker his or her income at the end of each month. So, for the workers to express their readiness to tolerate and absorb the delay in salary payment is the highest demonstration of understanding and patriotism. That sense of duty, patriotism and extreme sacrifice is appreciated."
"We will study this report very seriously and intimately and come up with our own white paper of the actions of government such that at the end of the day, you will come to appreciate the deep consideration we shall give to your suggestions," he was quoted as saying.Aregbesola regretted that the revenue crisis had created complications in the payment of salaries across the country saying, "either at the federal or at the state level, where is it that workers in this country are being paid as and when due? "We thought this situation will not last long. That was why we used our strategic reserve to augment salaries for one year. All our savings were spent on augmentation of salaries. Our commitment to the welfare of workers is incomparable."
Chairman of the NLC in the state, Saka Adesiyan, while explaining why the workers took the initiative, said it was more realistic for workers, having seen the true picture and bearing in mind the previous good disposition of the Aregbesola administration to workers' welfare, to embark on moves to find alternative ways of getting revenues to run the state.Adetunji Oladele of the Trade Union Congress, who read the highlights of the proposal by the workers before presenting the document to the governor, said the committee set up met all the 64 agencies in the state to seek their inputs into the proposal.
"We did that so that no agency will claim that they are not aware of the initiative. Everybody contributed. We made them understand that the economy of the state is going down to an extent that if we don't look inward on how to increase the Internally Generated Revenue, we might not be able to sustain ourselves.The TUC chairman expressed hoped that the government would have the needed political will to embark on some of the proposals in order to ensure adequate revenue for the state.
Brown rice more nutritious
Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:19 AM | Monday, December 29th, 2014

Let me express my appreciation of and gratitude for the excellent article titled “Redeeming the lost glory of brown rice” (Across the Nation, 12/3/14).I have noticed that brown rice is more expensive although it needs less processing. I have also noticed that there are many rice hybrids and GMO varieties being promoted.
As someone who worked to make rice-growing less polluting to our environment, I am concerned that hybrids often require a heavy chemical input, much of which runs off into our streams, rivers, lakes and ocean. When growing rice with integrated rice duck methods, we use azolla and/or duckweed to provide extra nitrogen for the rice via the ducks. Small fish can also be integrated if the water level is sufficient, and then both the ducks and the fish will eat the azolla and excrete the nitrogen and other nutrients into the water. Aside from consuming insects and adding to the nutrients in the water, the fish provide additional food and product for the farmer.
In the past I was told that this will not provide sufficient nutrients for hybrid varieties and that we should plant old varieties that do well with the natural fertilizers provided by the ducks (recycled snails, weeds and insects).Before I began my integrated rice duck project I visited both the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) and the Department of Agriculture. Scientists at Irri told me that too much rice is wasted through improper postproduction methods (such as drying palay on highways). A scientist at the DA told me that more rice is wasted by consumers.
The wasted rice, all in all, is more than what is needed for the countryĆ­s self-sufficiency in rice.Also, importing rice from abroad is detrimental to Filipino farmers as it inevitably lowers the price they get for their produce. Why not focus on eliminating waste rather than going to hybrid varieties that are likely to contaminate our water with chemical runoff?
One last point, the GMO “golden rice” mentioned in the article lacks some of the nutrients that are present in the rice bran—the bran is removed when rice is milled into the white rice that Filipinos prefer. I urge people to cook and enjoy brown rice, which still has the bran intact and is more filling and nutritious than the polished white rice. In fact, before I heard of the GMO golden rice, I was calling unpolished brown rice golden rice.I was surprised that all things brown are considered inferior here in the Philippines. In my homeland of California, tanning salons, lotions and ointments turn the white into golden brown, a most desirable color… and with rice a most delicious and nutritious one!
—ROWLAND LANE ANDERSON,
permaculturist at Tagpopongan Natural Farm, Veterans For Peace Mission to the Philippines, Davao City andersonlane47@yahoo.com

APNU questions $2.1B gov’t advance to rice millers


DECEMBER 29, 2014 · BY STAFF WRITER 
Main opposition APNU yesterday said that the government’s announcement on Christmas Eve that it was advancing $2.1B to millers so they could meet obligations to rice farmers is intended to mislead the public and divert attention from the hardships faced by growers.In a statement, APNU said that the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Leslie Ramsammy that the Government is advancing $2.1B to millers “is deliberately intended to mislead the Guyanese public and divert attention from the existing pressures that these farmers are facing on a daily basis.”It called on Ramsammy to explain the following:
If the farmers have delivered 600,000 tons of rice to the millers, valued at $42.0B, then the paddy price must have …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.


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