Tuesday, January 27, 2015

27th January (Tuesday),2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA ice E_Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Ghana Trade Ministry Rules Out Total Rice Import Ban

Jan 26, 2015
Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150126ghanarice.jpgGhana's Ministry of Trade and Industry ruled out a total rice import ban saying the decision would violate the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, according to local sources.The Ministry responded to the call by the Small Scale Rice Dealers Association of Ghana (SSIRDA- GH) to ensure an outright ban on rice importation or reconsider ban on inland rice importation to protect the interests of small scale rice traders from large foreign traders. The report quoted the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry as saying that the government is currently focussing on achieving self-sufficiency in rice production as Ghana imports nearly 70% of its consumption needs. He also noted that the government is striving to enhance the quality of rice production.
Ghana imposed ban on inland rice importation in November 2013 and said it would allow rice imports only through the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), and Tema and Takoradi ports to restrict rice smuggling and ensure that imported rice is levied with the proper import duties and taxes.
The National Coordinator of SSRIDA-GH noted that the current ban on inland rice importation is severely impacting small scale rice traders and is favoring major players in the industry. It is particularly encouraging foreign traders to dominate the local rice industry as small traders do not have sufficient capital base to carry out their businesses through air or sea.Ghana's annual rice import bill stood at $306 million in 2013 and the government is planning to increase rice production by about 20% per annum over the next four years to make Ghana self-sufficient in rice.
According to the USDA, Ghana’s rice production is estimated at about 330,000 tons (milled basis) in MY 2014-15 (October - September). The U.S. agency expects Ghana to import 620,000 tons of rice during the year to meet consumption needs of around one million tons of rice.

Oryza Overnight Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Tumble to New Lows Overnight and Remain Below $11.000/cwt This Morning

Jan 26, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Mar delivery are currently listed 8 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) lower at $10.925 per cwt (about $241 per ton) during early floor trading in Chicago. The other grains are seen mostly lower: soybeans are currently seen 0.1% lower, wheat is listed about 0.3% lower and corn is currently noted about 0.8% lower.U.S. stocks fell on Monday, with telecommunications leading the drop, as investors considered the results from Greek elections and winter weather in the East Coast. In Greece, the anti-austerity Syriza party won 149 out of a 300 possible seats in Parliament.
 In New York, officials urged residents to remain indoors with blizzard conditions forecast. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.2%, as did the S&P 500. The Nasdaq fell 0.3%.U.S. stocks mainly fell on Friday, with the S&P 500 halting a four-session winning run, as investors considered economic data, energy costs and a reduced 2014 earnings estimate from United Parcel Service. Gold is currently trading about 0.9% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 0.7% lower,  and the U.S. dollar is currently trading about 0.1% higher at 8:30am Chicago time.
Global Rice Quotes
January 27th, 2015

Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade           415-425           ↔
Vietnam 5% broken     360-370           ↔
India 5% broken          395-405           ↔
Pakistan 5% broken     360-370           ↔
Cambodia 5% broken 435-445           ↔
U.S. 4% broken           495-505           ↔
Uruguay 5% broken    NQ       ↔
Argentina 5% broken   NQ       ↔

Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken 365-375           ↔
Vietnam 25% broken   335-345           ↔
Pakistan 25% broken   320-330           ↔
Cambodia 25% broken            420-430           ↔
India 25% broken        360-370           ↔
U.S. 15% broken         485-495           ↔

Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd             410-420           ↑
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd      400-410           ↔
India parboiled 5% broken stxd           390-400           ↔
U.S. parboiled 4% broken       550-560           ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken     570-580           ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken             NQ       ↔

Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%           920-930           ↔
Vietnam Jasmine         470-480           ↔
India basmati 2% broken         NQ       ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken    NQ       ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails 795-805           ↔

Thailand A1 Super       320-330           ↔
Vietnam 100% broken             310-320           ↔
Pakistan 100% broken stxd     290-300           ↔
Cambodia A1 Super    345-355           ↔
India 100% broken stxd          295-305           ↓
Egypt medium grain brokens   NQ       ↔
U.S. pet food   405-415           ↔
Brazil half grain           NQ       ↔
All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel, oryza.com

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Close Below $11.000/cwt as Selloff Continues amid Lack of Demand

Jan 26, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Mar delivery settled 12.5 cents per cwt (about $3 per ton) lower at $10.885 per cwt (about $240 per ton). Rough rice futures slipped further, closing below $11.000 per cwt (about $242 per ton) for the first time and have confirmed the bearish setup noted on Friday. Today’s move adds further negativity to the market and likely signals a continuation lower in coming sessions. Nearby support is noted at the day’s low of $10.810 per cwt (about $238 per ton), a level that traders will keep an eye on during tomorrow’s trading session. A close lower will likely see prices continue the current trend of reduced prices. The other grains finished the day with mixed results today; Soybeans closed about 1.1% higher at $9.8350 per bushel; wheat finished about 1.8% lower at $5.2050 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 0.7% lower at $3.8400 per bushel.
U.S. stocks wavered on Monday, with an advance by energy companies neutralizing declines in technology as investors mulled results from Greek elections and winter weather on the East Coast. In Greece, the anti-austerity Syriza party won 149 out of a 300 possible seats in Parliament. In New York, officials urged residents to remain indoors with blizzard conditions forecast. The New York Stock Exchange said it planned to run on a normal schedule. After falling more than 100 points, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was lately off 33.08 points, or 0.2%, at 17,640.52. The S&P 500 held steady at 2,052.11, with energy the best performing and technology the worst of its 10 major industry groups. The Nasdaq gained 3.08 points, or 0.1%, to 4,760.93. Gold is trading about 1% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 0.3% higher, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.1% lower at about  1:00pm Chicago time.
Friday, there were 731 contracts traded, down from 800 contracts traded on Thursday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Friday increased by 150 contracts to 8,896.

Japanese Rice Variety Becomes Popular in China

Jan 26, 2015
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150126japanrice.jpgReports that nearly 16.1% of soil in China is contaminated by heavy metals like Cadmium are inculcating fears among the Chinese to use their locally produced rice, as it is also feared to be contaminated with the metal, which is proven to damage liver and kidneys.Officials from the Guangdong Province, supposed to be one of the rich rice growing regions in the country, found that 44% of the rice samples grown in this region contained excessive levels of Cadmium, according to local source.
Pollutants from factories are said to contaminate soil and water of many agricultural lands in China. Nearly 16.1% of soil in China is contaminated, according to a 2014 study by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.Consumers have also been complaining of Chinese farmers using more pesticides to increase yields. This they say has been leaving pesticide residues leading to many health problems.
Chinese are of late preferring Japanese grown rice as a safer alternative to locally grown rice. They told local sources that Japanese rice is not polluted with heavy metals like Chinese rice and Japanese farmers use less of pesticides compared to their Chinese counterparts. Especially, Echizen rice variety that is considered to be free of lead, cadmium, mercury, pesticides and other chemicals and is grown with water from pure sources, has become more popular among the Chinese.
However, this variety of Japanese rice is sold at much higher prices compared to the locally grown Chinese rice and is found in very few stores and super markets, according to local sources. They say Japanese rice sold at around 74 Yuan (around $12) per kilogram while Chinese rice is sold at around 7.5 Yuan per kilogram (around $1.2).
Therefore Chinese rice producers are encouraged to use the seeds of Echizen rice variety in their fields to meet the rising demand, according to the Zhejiang Xinxie Yueguang Agricultural Science and Technology.China is the largest rice consumer and importer in the world. The Asian nation imported around 2.244 million tons of rice in the first eleven months of 2014 (January - November), down about 1% from around 2.267 million tons imported during the same period last year, according to data from China Customs General Administration.

Stunning New Movie: “The Songs of Rice” by Thai Film Maker

Jan 26, 2015
As ubiquitous as rice is on tables around the globe, there have been few movies made about the simple grain.The latest film about rice, The Songs of Rice (“Pleng Khong Kao”) by Thai filmmaker Uruphong Raksasad, just might be one of the best, with its stunning visual images, vivid sound design, and simplistic approach.  Critics agree: it won the Fipresci Award at last year’s International Film Festival in Rotterdam.The third agricultural film from Uruphong (the first two, Stories from the North (2007) and Agrarian Utopia (2010) also feature impressive camerawork and celebrate rural Thailand), The Songs of Rice takes the viewer on a poetic tour of rice-growing villages in Thailand.  But its focus isn’t so much the rice as it is the traditions, spirituality, and livelihoods of people who live in these rice regions. 
Uruphong filmed up and down the countryside, visiting places like Chon Buri, Hat Yai, Amnat Charoen, Roi Et, and Loei to capture powerful images of people playing traditional instruments, preparing somtum-and-sticky-rice, and dancing and singing with delight.One of the most stunning visual sequences in the film features the bang-fai (rocket) festival in Yasothon, where the viewer sees homemade rockets set off into the sky.  Because Uruphong omits any textual signifiers, this scene melds seamlessly with the ones before and after it, so that the hula-hooping granny, buffalo-driven beauty queen, and singing villagers all blur together to create an impressionistic audiovisual collage that reflects the culture of this rice-region. 
Once the viewer has freed him- or herself from expectations of a narrative, it’s easy to sit back and appreciate the visual celebration Uruphong created.  And that’s what this film is – an audiovisual celebration of rice, an oft taken for granted crop whose connection with Thai life is political, cultural, and spiritual, and this film serves as an attempt to remind people that the simplest things in life are also often the most beautiful.

Senegal Imports 871,100 Tons of Rice First Eleven Months of 2014; Up 6% from last year

Jan 26, 2015
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150126sengalrice.jpgSenegal has imported around 871,100 tons of rice in the first eleven months (January - November) 2014, up about 6% from around 821,300 tons imported during the same period in 2013, according to data from the Dakar-based Economic Analysis and Forecasts Branch (DEPEE).In November 2014, Senegal imported around 81,200 tons of rice, down about 3% from around 84,100 tons imported in October 2014.
The West African country is a net importer of rice and imports about 80% of its annual rice consumption needs. The government, like other West African governments, is keen on increasing local rice production in the country and reduce the volume of imports. It imports rice from India, Thailand and Vietnam.India's Export Import Bank (Exim Bank) as till date extended financial assistance to the extent of about $269.36 million to the Senegal government through its Letter of Credit (LoC) mechanism to support various export and development projects.  USDA estimates Senegal to produce around 289,000 tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (October - September) and import around 1.15 million tons to meet the consumption needs of around 1.45 million tons during the year.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Prices Continue to Slide amid Limited Demand and Increased Selling Interest

Jan 26, 2015
The U.S. cash market continues to weaken in the face of limited demand and increased selling interest, especially for nearby shipment.Analysts note that many sellers are looking to move their rice before they get ready for planting next year’s crop; however, they are finding it difficult to get bids as most buyers are well-covered.Many are now just hoping that prices will stabilize if the U.S. is awarded at least a portion of the latest Iraqi tender. We expect to have the results from that tender on Thursday, January 29.

U.S. State Department Urged to Promote Rice Exports to Iraq

Jan 26, 2015
U.S. farmers and members of the Mississippi Congressional Delegation urged the Secretary of State to assist the U.S. rice farmers and exporters in enhancing rice exports to Iraq, which have been declining in recent times, Bloomberg quoted local media reports.U.S. farmers, Senators and Mississippi State Representatives submitted a letter to the State Secretary ahead of a new tender for 30,000 tons of rice to be floated by the Iraqi Grain Board (IGB).
The letter stated that the IGB had been rejecting the U.S. rice in recent times and preferring to buy high-priced rice from other origins. It also noted that the IGB has been rejecting the U.S. bids despite offering competitive bids, adding that the IGB had provided no explanation for their decision. They cited the recent instance where the IGB purchased 170,000 tons of rice from Thailand (80,000 tons), Uruguay (60,000) and Brazil (30,000) and rejected bids from the U.S. despite offering bids lower by about $24 per ton compared to the bids offered by Thailand, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
It urged the State Department to convince the IGB officials to buy U.S. rice, including that from Mississippi, for protecting the interests of the U.S. farmers as well as the U.S. rice sector."The State Department has a responsibility to ensure our farmers are not shut out of important markets for their products. I urge the Administration to engage with the Iraqi government to help reopen its doors to high-quality, affordable American-made rice," a Mississippi State representative was quoted as saying. He noted that the State Department has an obligation to seek fairness on the behalf of American rice producers.The Mississippi state produced about 616,892 tons of rice worth $174 million in 2014, up about 514,077 tons worth $145 million tons produced in 2013.According to the USDA, milled rice production in the U.S. is expected to increase to around 7 (around 10 million tons, basis paddy) in MY 2014-15 (August - July), export about 3.3 million tons of rice and import about 699,000 tons.

Vietnam Adopts New Rice Cultivation Methods to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Jan 26, 2015
The Institute for Agricultural Environment (IAE) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is promote new and efficient rice farming techniques that will allow the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from wet rice production by 15-20% by 2020, according to local sources.
Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150126vietricefields.jpgThe IAE and the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have launched a project on "Reduced Methane Emissions in Wet Rice Cultivation in Vietnam". Speaking at a conference held as part of the first phase of the Project (October 2014 - June 2016) on January 23, 2014, the Director of the IAE stated that the Institute is planning to promote the use of System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which is a proven method to increase productivity, quality and economic effectiveness. It also reduces the use of pesticides and nitrogenous fertilizers.
However, some speakers pointed out some problems related with the implementation of SRI in Vietnam. Conditions such as unfavorable terrain in most rice growing regions, fragmented rice fields and a lack of coordination between irrigation staff and farmers are likely to pose challenges to SRI implementation.The IAE Director also noted that the Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) method has already been introduced in several rice growing regions under the first phase of the project on reducing Methane in wet rice cultivation.The project coordinator noted that efficient irrigation methods can help effective implementation of AWD and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions more effectively. He added that the Institute is currently in the process of gathering data on land and infrastructure in each province in order to prepare a water-efficient irrigation map, which can show which lands are suitable for implementing AWD as all lands are not suitable for implementing this technology.The second phase of the project is likely to consider more technologies, said the speakers.

Thai Commerce Ministry and Exporters to Jointly Promote Rice Exports to New Prospective Markets

Jan 26, 2015
Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150126thaijasminerice.jpgThai Commerce Ministry and the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) are planning to carry out business missions to potential new rice import markets such as Iran, Iraq and other Middle East nations as part of efforts to promote Thai rice exports amid fears that falling oil prices would affect the purchasing power of major importers and consequently their purchases of Thai rice, according to local sources.The TREA President was quoted as saying that Thailand needs to aggressively push its rice exports to potential new importers to maintain its pace of exports. Increasing global rice supplies as well as stiffening competition with other rice exporters, including India, Vietnam and Pakistan, are also said to be posing challenges to Thailand, which is planning to export about 11 million tons of rice this year.
The TREA President noted that falling oil prices may prompt major rice importing countries such as Nigeria, which depend on oil exports, to cut down on their imports. This short fall has to be compensated by sales to newer markets, according to him.The Commerce Minister will reportedly visit Hong Kong, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Italy and Indonesia to promote Thai rice. The Commerce Ministry and the TREA is planning to particularly promote rice exports to Iran, which suspended imports from Thailand in 2013 following a defaulted contract with a private Thai rice exporter. He told local sources, they would make of the current situation to again revive rice trade with the Middle East nation.
The TREA President noted that they are expecting Thai rice export prices to be steady this year. Currently, export prices of Thai 5% rice stand at around $410 per ton compared to around $370 per ton of Viet 5% rice, around $400 per ton of India 5% rice, around $365 per ton of Pakistan 5% rice and around $415 per ton of Myanmar 5% rice.Thailand exported around 10.8 million tons of rice in 2014, up about 64% from around 6.6 million tons in 2013. 

Vietnam Rice Sellers Lower Their Quotes Today; Other Asia Rice Quotes Unchanged

Jan 26, 2015
Vietnam rice sellers lowered most of their quotes by about $5 per ton today. Thailand and Pakistan rice sellers kept their quotes mostly unchanged. India rice sellers are out today due to national holiday.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is quoted at around $405 - $415 per ton, about $45 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $360 - $370 per ton, down about $5 per ton from Friday. India 5% rice was last quoted at around $395 - $405 per ton, about $35 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice quoted at around $360 - $370 per ton.
25% Broken Rice 
Thailand 25% rice is quoted at around $365 - $375 per ton, about $30 per ton premium on Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $335- $345 per ton, down about $5 per ton from Friday. India 25% rice was last quoted at around $360 - $370, about $40 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice quoted at around $320 - $330 per ton.
Parboiled Rice
Thailand parboiled rice is quoted at around $405 - $415 per ton. India parboiled rice was last quoted at around $390 - $400 per ton, about $10 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice quoted at around $400 - $410 per ton.
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, is quoted at around $320 - $330 per ton, about $10 per ton premium on Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $310 - $320 per ton, down about $5 per ton from Friday. India's 100% broken rice was last shown at around $300 - $310 per ton,  about $10 per ton premium on Pakistan broken sortexed rice quoted at around $290 - $300 per ton.

Vietnam Exports About 65,780 Tons Rice During January 1 – 22, 2015

Description: Description: http://oryza.com/sites/default/files/field/image/150126vietriceexports.jpgJan 26, 2015
Vietnam exported about 65,780 tons of rice in January 1  - 22, 2015, down about 79% from about 307,255 tons of rice exported in full month of January 2014 and down about 86% from about 472,575 tons of rice exported in December 2014, according to data from the Vietnam Food Association (VFA). Average rice export price so far in this year stands at about $468 per ton (FOB), up about 13% per ton from same time last year and down about 2% from last month .Vietnam exported about 6.316 million tons of rice in 2014, according to the VFA.

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26th January (Monday),2015 Daily Global Rice E_Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

NE’s rice beer has therapeutic value’


GUWAHATI: The humble rice beer, which is brewed in many ethnic households across the northeast, has been found to have many nutritional values including antioxidant properties that may be beneficial in fighting several diseases.Researchers from the Jorhat-based College of Home Science (CHS)'s department of food and nutrition, Assam Agricultural University (AAU) and the Tamil Nadu-based Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT) have found antioxidant activity in rice beer samples in the laboratory.
The research on rice beer samples was carried out by Deep Jyoti Bhuyan and Mridula Saikia Barooah of the CHS's department of food and nutrition, Sudipta Sankar Bora of AAU and K Singaravadivel of IICPT."The antioxidant activity in the rice beer samples was most likely caused by the presence of phenolic acids, polyphenols and flavonoids from various indigenous herbs used in the preparation of the starter culture cake. These compounds are known to inhibit the oxidative mechanism that are responsible for many disorders and diseases in humans such as infections, diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer's diseases, AIDS and so on," their research paper stated.
The researchers have pointed out that besides being consumed as a beverage by different tribes in the region, rice beer is also traditionally used for therapeutic purposes. They highlighted some traditional therapeutic use of rice beer by the Karbi community of Assam, which uses the brew called Hor Acho to cure dysentery and pharyngitis."If Japan's traditional brew sake could become popular internationally, the northeast's particular variety of rice beer has all the potential to become a value-added beverage. That is why we made a scientific intervention on the traditional rice beer of the northeast so that we could find out its nutritional and therapeutic properties. We need to carry out more scientific studies on it for further value-addition," Barooah said.
Different tribes have their own names and tradition of brewing rice beer, which has an important role in their socio-cultural lives. The northeast has over 150 tribes and 200 sub-tribes, each of them having unique traditions of making rice beer. The preparation of the rice beer is an intricate and sophisticated process handed down through the generations. Usually, it is the women of the tribe who are involved in making the rice beer.
Nigeria: Rice Import Duty Debtors Must Pay - Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan has approved N16 billion to be deployed for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's 2015 dry season farming.Announced this at AgriFest 2015 exhibition of Made-in-Nigeria agricultural produce at the Eagle Square, Abuja, on Friday, the President expressed appreciation to Nigerian farmers for taking up the opportunities provided by his administration's agriculture reforms, which have boosted food production in the country."Great farmers of Nigeria, you can rely on me as the farmers' President. Be assured of my support at all times.

"To further boost your efforts to produce more food for our country, I am pleased to announce here today, the release of N26 billion towards the 2015 Dry Season Farming Programme," he said.The Federal Government launched a National Dry Season Farming Programme in 2012 to facilitate all-year round food cultivation and production.The President directed the ministry to provide annual financial support to further spur the famous traditional fishing competition and festival in Argungu in Kebbi State and promote fishing eco-tourism.He declared that Nigeria "is producing more food than ever before. Our national food production has grown by 21 million metric tons within the past three years. Our food import bill declined from N1.1 trillion in 2009 to N634 billion in 2013 and continues to decline.
"He disclosed that with government's support to private refineries to process crude palm oil in the country, Nigeria hopes to become self-sufficient in palm oil by next year.According to him, "Over N45 billion in private sector investments in new oil palm plantations are ongoing. We expect 70,000 hectares of new plantations to allow Nigeria to become self-sufficient in palm oil production by 2016."He noted that over six million rice farmers have received improved rice seed varieties, thus boosting domestic rice production by an additional seven million metric tons, adding that he would not allow rice importers owing the government to go scot-free."High quality Nigerian rice is now competing favourably with imported rice in the markets.
"Our rice millers have taken advantage of these new opportunities, and the number of integrated rice mills has expanded from one, at the beginning of this administration, to 24 today."I eat Nigerian rice and can tell you that it is better than imported rice. Nigeria, our dear country, will not be held hostage by rice importers. There will be no sacred cows under my watch. All those owing Nigeria on rice import duties must pay."The President pledged that his administration would "continue to support our livestock herders with improvement in grazing facilities, watering points, establishment of ranches, stock routes and provision of veterinary services."We will continue to work hard to end cattle rustling and rebuild trust and cooperation between farmers and herders.
"Jonathan thanked the private sector agribusiness leaders, who are working to boost agro-processing and add value to all the produce in the agricultural sector to the tune of about N900 billion.His words: "I celebrate the efforts of the financial institutions, from banks to micro-finance institutions that have now begun to lend more to farmers and agribusinesses."Our development partners have seen the turnaround in the agriculture sector and are actively supporting the sector. Over N900 billion ($5 billion) of private investments have come into the sector in the last three years."Selected Nigerian farmers, rice producers, seedling dealers and other agro-allied operators on the occasion gave testimonies of their improved production and conditions of services.The President toured exhibition stands at the fair grounds featuring only Nigerian-made agricultural produce.
Hunt for new rice markets a priority
THE NATION January 26, 2015 1:00 am
THE Thai Rice Exporters Association will join forces with the Commerce Ministry for a business mission to potential new rice-import markets such as Iran, Iraq, and other Middle East countries. The move will be a bid to increase rice sales this year in the face of fears that falling oil prices will affect the purchasing power of major importers of Thai rice.TREA president Charoen Laothamatas said the association was scheduled to join many trade missions with the Ministry of Commerce because Thailand needed to aggressively promote its rice plans and activities to "knock on the doors" of potential new importers.
"Due to the lowering oil price, some major import countries such as Nigeria and other countries in Africa, where their incomes have relied mainly on the oil price, could be affected and cause a lower order for rice," he said."The ministry and the association thus have plans to promote more rice sales to other potential markets such as Iran, Iraq, and other countries in the Middle East to encourage them to buy Thai rice."Charoen said that Iran and Iraq used to be major Thai rice importers, but they suspended imports for a few years due to a defaulted contract with a private exporter. Now was a good time to boost the confidence of those countries, he added.
Under the Commerce Ministry plan, Commerce Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya will visit Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Italy, and Indonesia. Charoen said that rice exports this year should be as high as last year - up to 11 million tonnes - due to high demand in the world market and drought problems in some rice-producing countries.He said the price of Thai rice was expected to be steady this year. The price has climbed slightly over the past few months due to the strengthening baht. At the moment, the export price of rice is quoted at US$405-$410 (Bt13,200-Bt13,350) for 5 per cent white rice, while Vietnamese rice is quoted $370 per tonne.
Pakistani businessmen invited to invest in Afghanistan
our correspondent
Sunday, January 25, 2015
From Print Edition
KARACHI: Pakistani investors can set up their industrial units in Afghan tax-free zones that would help them penetrate in the Afghan market along with gaining access to the Central Asian Republics, said Janan Mosazai, ambassador of Afghanistan.
Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Saturday, the ambassador said the Afghan government is ready to offer additional facilities to Pakistani investors as compared to investors from other countries with a view to further strengthen economic and trade ties between the two countries.Pakistan and Afghanistan must work jointly to deal with common issues of terrorism, illiteracy, poverty, water shortages, energy crisis and infrastructure development, etc, he said.
The ambassador asked the Karachi Chamber to organise a delegation’s visit to Afghanistan to explore trade and investment opportunities.Identifying various sectors for undertaking joint ventures, he said the business communities of the two countries can undertake joint ventures in agriculture, education, construction, mining, precious stones, natural resources and other important sectors of the economy.“There is also a huge potential in Afghanistan for Pakistani rice exporters who cannot only export rice to Afghanistan, but also to the Central Asian Republics through Afghanistan,” he said.Mosazai stressed the need to develop highways, railways and air links between two countries.“Various memorandums of understanding and agreements had already been signed in this regard, now it is high time to implement all these projects,” he said.
Earlier, KCCI President Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra said the local industry of Pakistan suffers badly due to misuse of Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. In order to effectively deal with the situation, he proposed the duties and taxes on imported goods arriving at the Pakistani ports for Afghanistan should be collected on behalf of the government of Afghanistan by Pakistan Customs and transmitted to the Afghan government upon evidence of transit goods reaching their declared destination, which would surely help deal with the smuggling and misuse of APTTA. 
PRICES of crops like onion, cotton, paddy and sugarcane are depressed in Sindh, while farmers continue their outcry against the government, urging it either to regulate prices or subsidise farm inputs.
Crop prices have recorded a decline, starting from last year’s kharif to the current rabi season. To make matters worse, cane-growers are being paid less than the officially notified rate, as millers insist they can’t afford to buy the crop at official rate.Fluctuations in commodity prices cannot be isolated from the subsidy and free-market mechanisms, since multiple factors govern the agriculture sector. Unless the underlying issues in farming are addressed, the price distortion will not go away.Theoretically, a free market idea sounds good. But price distortion is usually linked with the working of the free market.
 The developed world, including countries like the US and Japan and those in the EU provide huge subsidy to their farm sector. This lends credence to the fact that they lack comparative advantage and remain uncompetitive.On the other hand, Pakistani farmers not only have the potential to get higher per acre yields, but also the comparative advantage.Subsidy, say stakeholders, is opposed by the developed world, but it subsidises its own farm sector.Presently, India’s export of agri commodities to Pakistan is the main cause of the low prices here. This is more a case of institutional support and an enabling marketing environment in Pakistan rather than that of subsidy.
 There is a strong need to curb the exploitation of farmers by the market.India is a case in point. It subsidises agriculture despite being part of the WTO. Some reports put the annual amount of subsidy at 100bn Indian rupees.The cotton season has just concluded in Pakistan, with farmers not getting a fair price — a fact admitted by the Economic Coordination Committee. On the other hand, India decided to procure 10m bales this season to keep its minimum support price (MSP) intact in the larger interest of farmers.Out of 10m, about 5m bales have already procured, says Mahesh Kumar, former chairman of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCA), while referring to cotton market reports.
The Indian government is ready to buy 15m bales to support farmers, if needed.“Comparatively, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) lifted only 88,000 bales across Pakistan, despite the ECC’s decision to buy 1m bales at Rs3,000 per 40kg for seed cotton producers. Procurement has closed now after having lasted for just 11 days.”This is one example of the government’s indecisiveness or inaction, and translates into monetary losses for the farmers. So, growers remain reluctant to modernise farms or use vital farm inputs. The cost of inputs continues to rise unchecked, defeating the idea of subsidy or support price, and benefitting input-suppliers.With poor investment, farmers don’t get the desired productivity and find it hard to compete internationally. Access to free market is not unhindered either.
According to Mahmood Nawaz Shah, a progressive farmer, China slapped a quota on cotton imports this year to stabilise prices domestically.India gives huge subsidy and developed countries create inefficient producers by artificially reducing the cost of production. “The European and American markets deny access to Pakistani textile products at the pretext of regulatory duties. With tariff or non-tariff barriers, can we think that the market is free and offers a level playing field to everyone?”
The Sindh government remains indifferent to the farmers’ plight. After the 18th amendment, agriculture became a provincial subject, but the province has yet to build capacity to deliver. For instance, paddy growers get Rs800-900 per 40kg, which they used to get years ago. The Sindh government, this year, proposed the price of Rs1,000 for irri-6, but didn’t officially notify the price. Nabi Bux Sathio, general secretary of the Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA), argues that the government doesn’t ensure administrative protection for the growers. And it doesn’t even exercise its authority to ban the cultivation of rice in cotton-growing area.Resultantly, the surplus rice production depresses prices. “The cultivation of rice in the cotton zone not only results in a surplus, but causes water-logging and affects cotton production. Same is the case with sugarcane, as the government looks the other way. We lack institutional support so we suffer financially.
” Urea prices, he says, remain beyond the reach of an average small grower. It was Rs560 per bag in 2008 and now stands at Rs1,855. Urea was imported for Rs35bn in 2013-14, but never reached small farmers, he says. “Urea factories increase their prices, saying they are not getting gas and the government claims that 75pc of their gas needs are met. This shows that the regulatory environment is non-existent.”Besides, the government lacks the required storage capacity for the surplus output. Sindh can’t procure wheat beyond 1.3m tonnes for want of storage. And it hires private facilities to hold this 1.3m tonnes. Ad-hocism mars policymaking, which affects producers.
Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, January 26th , 2015

Japan proposes boosting imports of US rice

Nikkei Asian ReviewSunday, Jan 25, 2015


The minimum access quota for tax-free rice imports is 770,000 tons, Japan currently imports just over 10 thousand tones of US rice.
TOKYO - Japan has proposed a plan to add US rice imports to the Japan-US trade negotiations. This is a key to making progress on the overall Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, government sources said.The Japanese government will likely increase the tariff-free quota for imported rice and import more than 10 thousand tons of additional rice from the US, according to sources.The US has also ceased its request that Japan ease its strict standards imposed on car imports, according to sources.
These moves will likely help the two countries to reach an agreement in spring, adding momentum to the conclusion of all TPP negotiations among the 12 member countries.Japanese delegates, including the Ambassador in charge of Economic Diplomacy Takeo Mori, will meet with the US Trade Representative's acting deputy Wendy Cutler and others in Washington to work out details, starting Wednesday.
Read the full article here.

Palay prices still declining, says statistics agency

Ronnel W. Domingo

10:00 PM | Monday, January 26th, 2015

THE SLIDE in the farmgate prices of palay persists, with a kilo fetching P18.63 as of the third week of January, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).PSA monitoring showed  that the average price of paddy rice had fallen by P3.24 a kilo since peaking at P21.87 in June for the non-fancy varieties.The price for rice in the husk is still above the National Food Authority’s (NFA) procurement budget per kilo. NFA now relies almost exclusively on importation of milled rice to maintain its inventory at required level.Mandated to ensure stable supply and price of the staple grain, NFA buys palay at a basic rate of only P17.

 Including fees for delivery and drying, the NFA’s effective buying rate is P17.70 a kilo.According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Philippines is expected to again import 1.8 million tons of milled rice this year amid projections that growth in domestic production will be insignificant if not nil.This would mean the Philippines—in particular the NFA—will have to depend again on large volumes of imports in order to meet consumer demand as well as maintain stockpiles, the FAO added.As of Dec. 1, the nation’s stock of milled rice swelled for the third consecutive month, gaining two days to be enough for 87 days of consumption.

The supply grew to 3.03 million tons from 2.95 million tons in the previous month amid the harvest season for the year’s main crop.Latest data from the PSA show that the NFA’s inventory climbed to 490,000 tons, 96 percent of which is imported.The NFA’s stock was good for 14 days of consumption, one day short of the agency’s mandate of keeping at least 15-days’ supply.

Thai Junta Unloading Mountain of Rice Amid World Surplus

By Supunnabul Suwannakij  Jan 26, 2015 10:55 PM PT  
Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg
In a government building outside Bangkok, along the murky Chao Phraya River,Thailand’s ruling junta is preparing to unload a mountain of rice on an already oversupplied world. And there’s more on the way.The biggest exporter stockpiled 17.8 million metric tons after former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra spent $27 billion since 2011 buying at above-market prices to aid farmers. The move threatened the nation’s credit rating and helped fan months of protests. She was ousted in May by military leaders, who now plan to auction the grain over two years, with 1 million tons set for sale at the Department of Foreign Trade on Jan. 29.
With global output poised to be near last year’s record, Thailand will ship more this year than any country ever, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. The staple for half the world plunged to a four-year low in Chicago, helping cut food costs that the United Nations says are the lowest since 2010.
“We have plenty of rice,” said Mamadou Ciss, who’s traded the grain since 1984 and is president of Alliance Commodities (Suisse) SA in Geneva. “Thailand still has huge stocks available, compared with world trade. Anything more than 10 million tons will take time to clear. Prices will stay weak.”
Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg
Global reserves are 30 percent above a 10-year average, UN Food & Agriculture Organization data show. Production for 2014-2015 in the U.S., the fifth-largest exporter, is seen rising by the most in a decade, expanding global grain inventories already at all-time highs following record global harvests of wheat, corn and soy.

Buying Spree

The Thai buying spree from November 2011 to February 2014 filled more than 1,000 warehouses and left inventories equal to about 42 percent of what the world’s importers bought in 2014. Exports from the country will surge 9.7 percent to a record 11.3 million tons this year, USDA data show.Protest groups that opposed Yingluck’s government say the rice-buying program was part of a pattern of corruption by politicians allied with her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed as prime minister in a 2006 coup. Since Thaksin’s ouster, the country has been divided between supporters of the Shinawatra family, mostly farmers in the north and northeast, and opponents who are mostly urban and middle-class.Yingluck was impeached on Jan. 23 for failing to heed warnings about the spiraling cost of rice subsidies, which the FAO said were unsustainable. She also faces criminal prosecution. Yingluck denies the corruption charges and defends the subsidies, saying they raised wages for the millions of farmers who voted for her party in the 2011 elections and boosted economic growth.
Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

Every Election

Junta leader Prayuth Chan-Ocha is seeking to clear the warehouses without torpedoing the market, saying on Jan. 26 the government wants to accelerate sales to reduce inventory costs while ensuring prices are acceptable. Since government buying began, Thai 5 percent broken rice, an Asia benchmark, tumbled 35 percent from a three-year high of $647 a ton in 2011 to $420 on Jan. 21.
On theChicago Board of Trade, futures reached $10.81 per 100 pounds on Jan. 26, the lowest since 2010, and traded at $11.035 on Tuesday.The government may get unexpected help from a dry spell that’s reducing output. In the central basin north of Bangkok, irrigation officials shut the taps after reservoir levels fell to a 15-year low. Farmers are growing the smaller of two annual harvests that normally accounts for a quarter of production. The lack of water may cut output 31 percent to 6.7 million tons, the lowest in a decade, government data show.

‘Welcome Development’

“The reduction in production this season would be a welcome development for the Thai government, whose priority is now to get rid of the surpluses,” said Concepcion Calpe, a senior economist at the Rome-based FAO.Kwanchai Mahachuenjai, a 54-year-old farmer in Ayutthaya, said he cut planting almost in half to 120 rai (47.4 acres) because he’s getting less water. Yields will drop to 300 to 400 kilograms per rai from 700 to 800 kilograms, he said.

A decline in the quality of the stockpiles also may limit the impact of sales on prices, which reflect food-grade grain. An audit in 2014 found about 80 percent was substandard and almost 4 percent was poor quality, destined for non-food uses.Most is still food-grade quality and can be sold as long as it’s kept dry and fumigated, said Somkiat Makcayathorn, secretary-general of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

While the government doesn’t want to buy rice, it plans other support. About 40 billion baht ($1.2 billion) has been earmarked for payments to the poorest farmers, and officials are encouraging the growing of other crops, including sugar.For now, the government is focused on unloading 10 million tons this year and 7.8 million tons in 2016. This week’s auction will be the biggest amount since 2004, said Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general at Department of Foreign Trade.“It’s good timing to sell because of low supply ahead of second-crop harvests,” Somkiat said. “Prices will stay under pressure until the government clears the huge inventories.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Supunnabul Suwannakij in Bangkok atssuwannakij@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net Jake Lloyd-Smith, Steve Stroth

Yingluck will be arrested if she tries to flee: NACC

 The Nation

January 26, 2015 1:00 am
Former PM faces IndIctment from attorney general over rIce scheme, while EC probes her spending on trip prior to election last year
Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who now faces criminal charges over the rice-pledging scheme, could be arrested if she shows any intention of leaving the country to avoid the court trial, the anti-graft body said yesterday.Impeachment by the junta-installed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Friday was not the end of her troubles because the Office of the Attorney General has decided to indict her in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders in connection with the rice-pledging scheme.
The Election Commission is also looking at evidence to decide whether or not she used state funds and resources for a political campaign ahead of the February 2 election last year, which was the subject of major street protests.National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) secretary-general Sansern Polajiak said the public prosecutor has one month to write and submit a criminal writ to the Supreme Court.After drafting of the writ is completed, prosecutors have to coordinate with the NACC to inform Yingluck that she has to report to the Attorney General on the day the suit is filed at the court.
If Yingluck fails to turn up, the Attorney General will ask the NACC to fetch her. If it looks like she intends to flee the country, the NACC would ask the police to issue a warrant for her arrest. However, Sansern said he believed the former PM was ready to stand trial to fight the charges.Former Pheu Thai Party MP Amnuay Khlangpha said the party would not protest over the prosecution of Yingluck on criminal charges or her impeachment because the party wanted peace and stability. He believed Yingluck would not flee the country because she has already announced her intention to fight the charges in accordance with justice procedures.
While some have said they see Yingluck's impeachment as a chance to open the door for an amnesty and reconciliation, Amnuay believes it would be "extremely appropriate" to issue an amnesty law."Reconciliation is just 'lip service' without amnesty. These two must go hand in hand," Amnuay said.National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman Winthai Suvari said Yingluck's prosecution was a separate matter that had nothing to do with reconciliation. The NLA voted freely without any influence from the NCPO.He said Yingluck must still observe the NCPO's rules and seek permission if she wants to travel abroad, which she has not made done since she was impeached and indicted on criminal charges over the rice-pledging scheme.
Winthai said there were no political "undercurrents" that might spark a new round of political conflict after Yingluck's impeachment. There had been only comments from people with different political attitudes.Former education minister Chaturon Chaisang posted on his Facebook page that Yingluck's impeachment was not carried out democratically and the intent was to get the Shinawatra family out of politics.He foresaw more "ill intentions" of the May 22 coup, such as hitting the strength of Pheu Thai Party, reducing the role and power of elected parties, allowing an unelected prime minister, senators and independent agencies, and increasing the authority of the Constitutional Court.

"I am not instigating protests but the voice of the people is always meaningful and once the collective voice gets louder, it would be strong enough to suspend disaster to democracy,'' he said.Pheu Thai's acting deputy spokesman Anusorn Iam-saard denied reports that Yingluck would hold a press conference at different places over her impeachment. He said Yingluck would prove her innocence through the justice system.He said the party hopes that once democracy returns to the country, justice will prevail. "What happened [with her impeachment] is the torment that must be kept in our heart.
We will wait till the day the election comes," he said.Inquiries into Yingluck's activities are not over yet. Election Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen said the EC sub-panel had not completed its probe into the allegation that Yingluck used state funds and resources while campaigning in the North and Northeast prior to the February 2 election. He said five panel committees would tentatively finish their probe before the end of January but he had no idea if they could wrap up the probe as expected, as he could not interfere.

Hunt for new rice markets a priority

 ECONOMIC 2015/01/26 11:31:23HePingSiJie.comPETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAITHE NATION January 26, 2015 1:00 am
THE Thai Rice Exporters Association will join forces with the Commerce Ministry for a business mission to potential new rice-import markets such as Iran, Iraq, and other Middle East countries. The move will be a bid to increase rice sales this year in the face of fears that falling oil prices will affect the purchasing power of major importers of Thai rice.

TREA president Charoen Laothamatas said the association was scheduled to join many trade missions with the Ministry of Commerce because Thailand needed to aggressively promote its rice plans and activities to “knock on the doors” of potential new importers.“Due to the lowering oil price, some major import countries such as Nigeria and other countries in Africa, where their incomes have relied mainly on the oil price, could be affected and cause a lower order for rice,” he said.“The ministry and the association thus have plans to promote more rice sales to other potential markets such as Iran, Iraq, and other countries in the Middle East to encourage them to buy Thai rice.”Charoen said that Iran and Iraq used to be major Thai rice importers, but they suspended imports for a few years due to a defaulted contract with a private exporter. Now was a good time to boost the confidence of those countries, he added.

Under the Commerce Ministry plan, Commerce Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya will visit Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Italy, and Indonesia. Charoen said that rice exports this year should be as high as last year – up to 11 million tonnes – due to high demand in the world market and drought problems in some rice-producing countries.e said the price of Thai rice was expected to be steady this year. The price has climbed slightly over the past few months due to the strengthening baht.At the moment, the export price of rice is quoted at US$405-$410 (Bt13,200-Bt13,350) for 5 per cent white rice, while Vietnamese rice is quoted $370 per tonne.

Thailand: Financial losses from rice pledging scheme likely to exceed estimated 682 billion baht, says Finance Ministry

Financial losses incurred from rice subsidy schemes dating back to 2004 are likely to exceed the estimated 682 billion baht, says the Finance Ministry, the Bangkok Post reports.If rising depreciation and missing milled rice from warehouses are taken into account, the combined losses will be higher than the recent estimate, finance permanent secretary Rungson Sriworasat said on January 21.

The subcommittee overseeing accounting affairs of all rice subsidy schemes earlier estimated losses from buying 84 million tonnes of milled rice in the 15 schemes from 2004-14 amounted to 682 billion baht, with the Yingluck Shinawatra government's programme alone accounting for 518 billion.But that estimate did not take into account depreciation or missing rice from warehouses inspected by a team working for PM's Office Minister ML Panadda Diskul.According to the inspection of 17 million tonnes of milled rice bought under the previous government's scheme, only 2.19 million tonnes were deemed of standard quality and classified as Grade A rice.

Some 14.4 million tonnes were judged to be substandard Grade B, while the rest was classified as Grade C because it was either rotten or had been registered incorrectly.The rice-pledging scheme was a major policy that helped to sweep Ms Yingluck to power in the 2011 general election.However, its guaranteed purchase of every single grain at a pledging price of 40-50% above marketprices incurred a substantial cost to taxpayers.Thailand also lost its crown as the world's biggest rice exporter, as the scheme, which ran for five crops, encouraged farmers to grow low-quality rice that normally took less time to cultivate.

The joint committee of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Office of the Attorney-General on Tuesday agreed to press criminal charges against Ms Yingluck for alleged dereliction of duty in overseeing the rice scheme and causing massive damage to the state.The NACC also recommended that former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, his ex-deputy Poom Sarapol and 19 others be indicted for graft for their roles in government-to-government rice sales.
Manas Jamveha, director-general of the Comptroller-General's Department, said his department, which is responsible for seeking compensation from those alleged to have caused damage to the state, was awaiting the Commerce Ministry's report."Damaged state agencies must submit a summary report of the charge to verify all information," he said."They must set up a committee to launch the probe again before arranging the report."

Unending Controversy About Nigeria’s Rice Policy

Saturday, 24 January 2015 17:28
Written by Joke Falaju, Abuja

Stakeholders Seek Investigation Of Quota Regime 
THE backward integration policy of the Federal Government in the rice value chain for some time have been generating heated debate in the media, with some investors accusing government of granting import waiver to stakeholders who do not have investment in the rice sector.    Of concern to them is the granting of arbitrary waiver and import quota to investors still planning to invest locally, at the expense of some others already having rice farms and mill factories in Nigeria. For instance, whereas Elephant Group, which has a planned investment, got an investor allocation of 61,770, Ebony Agro with two functional rice mill got an Existing Miller Allocation of 15,000mt without getting allocation as an investor.
Also, MIKAP rice got an allocation of 82,897mt as an investor and existing miller, while Stine Rice, an investor with existing rice mill, got allocation of 30,000mt.   Although a group of rice millers told The Guardian that the policy is the best any government can venture into to encourage local investors at the expense of stiff competition from foreign products, many of them have faulted the manner by which the policy is being implemented.    But President Goodluck Jonathan, during the AgriFest  2015 Celebration of Nigeria’s Agriculture, held at Eagles Square, Abuja on Friday, read the riot act, insisting that “all those owing Nigeria on rice import duties must pay.
” “Nigeria, our dear country, will not be held hostage by rice importers. There will be no sacred cows under my watch. All those owing Nigeria on rice import duties must pay,” said Mr. President. According to him, “high quality Nigerian rice is now competing favourably with imported rice in the markets. Our rice millers have taken advantage of these new opportunities, and the number of integrated rice mills has expanded from 1 (one) at the beginning of this administration, to 24 today. And they are all here today. I celebrate you all. I eat Nigerian rice and can tell you it is better than imported rice.
”  In his opening speech, Minister of Agriculture,  Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said: “We have here today over 20,000 farmers and agribusinesses from the 36 states of Nigeria and the FCT. Today, they are here to celebrate the achievements of your Agricultural Transformation Agenda.  The agricultural transformation agenda has turned around the lives and destinies of millions of farmers.
‘Farmers from across the country daily besiege my office asking to have an opportunity to thank the President who has done so much for them. If I were to request for appointments for the delegations that daily want to meet you, your calendar for two years cannot accommodate them,” Adesina said.    Co-chairman of the rice investor Group, Mr. Tunji Owoeye, took sides with government, stating that the view being expressed by some stakeholders are unfair to government officials, who have worked hard to midwife the policy.Indeed, the government had come up with the new rice policy as part of its efforts to ensure self-sufficiency in production, and to protect local investors, to the point they can reasonably stand on their feet.
The policy was developed based on what is produced presently against the obvious shortfalls. Supposedly, the policy should encourage local investors against those whose core interest was importing and selling locally without the mind of contributing to the national dream of self-sufficiency; but some stakeholders allege that ‘portfolio investors” without clear investments on ground are truncating the policy by reselling their quotas. 
 The Nigeria Rice Investor Group had explained that the quota allocation given to both existing rice miller and investors in equity was based on the supply gap of import grade rice of 1.5million metric tonnes, “existing millers and others with expressed interest submitted Domestic Rice Production Plan (DPP) and based on the submissions, a total of 1.3million metric tones of rice import quota was issued to 25 qualifying millers at the preferential levy of 20 percent and duty of 10 percent. The remaining 0.2 million metric tonnes of rice imports was given at a higher levy and duty of 10 percent.    To the group, government should be commended for its transparency, “This is the first time that the government is so transparent in allocation of quota in this industry, because they ensure that nobody is shut out, farmers, millers, traders and outgrowers (smallholder farmers) have all being considered”.
Owoeye said that the government had contacted them as an association to provide a list of their investments in the rice value chain. “We contacted all our members to send details of their investment to the government, which they all complied with; and, based on this list, allocations were given. If government had wanted to sweep the allocation of quota under the carpet they wouldn’t have contacted the association.”   He, however, agreed that some quota beneficiaries are trading their slots to interested buyers at 60 to 80 percent levy having got the same at 20 percent.
He said it implied that 60 percent levy is lower than what is charged as penalty, otherwise why would anyone pay above that to buy from those who got the waiver.  “It may not be the best policy, but we moved from a static position to a position where investors were encouraged, and government came up with the criteria for assessing and qualification to be part of the investment concession. Government had looked at four areas in assessing investment in local rice value chain. They looked at Domestic Rice Production Plan, Paddy Purchase Outlook –from paddy Application Center, Paddy Purchase from out-grower scheme and farmers purchase and ownership of milling facility. 
Owoeye submitted that it was not possible for any investor without veritable production plan to benefit from quota allocation, as the ministry has a team that goes to verify this fact, in terms of production, rice farming, milling capacity and outgrowers scheme.   Chairman Mikap Rice and former Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Andoaka, said before the administration of President Jonathan came on board, the issue of quota was not made public, as nobody knew how it was being distributed.
“But this government changed; and now, local rice millers are getting the quota. So people who monopolised it feel that something is wrong.” He alleged that it was the cabal (the big-time rice importers) that are faulting government’s action.  He said he was not going to speak as if he is taking sides with the government on the new rice policy, but maintained that no government in recent times have given attention to agriculture like the current administration is doing, “because I am a direct beneficiary of the transformation in that sector, I started a small mill and in less than five years I have expanded to 8.5 tonnes because of the support have received from the government. 
On the Rice Quota, he said he never knew what it was all about. “I was surprised when I got a call from the Ministry of Agriculture that, based on what the Minister saw in my factory and Ashi Rice owned by the Governor of Benue State, we should come over and get the rice quota. I never lobbied for it, even when I was in government, it never happened. I am the Secretary of the Rice Millers Association, many of our members have confirmed to have gotten the quota. We simply went to the registry and were given the quota. Anybody who doubts this level of transparency has other things in mind,” he noted.   Meanwhile, another rice investor commended the backward integration policy, but faulted the manner in which the policy was being implemented.
He noted that government applied the backward integration policy in an effort to stop cement importation and today, Nigeria has not only attained self-sufficiency in cement production but will soon become a net exporter.”    He said: “During the period, government did not allow investors to import finished goods; it had to be the unfinished ones, so that it is brought to their factory and processed, and gradually importation of cement was reduced. That was the same advice we gave to the minister to discourage importation of finished rice and then encourage importation of brown rice so that it is milled and packaged in the country. However, the reverse is the case.” 
He expressed the fear that, with the way government is going about the implementation of the policy, local rice millers may be forced out of business, because they may not be able to compete favourably with the foreign rice, thereby discouraging many of the farmers from growing paddy, which would in turn affect plans to attain self sufficiency in rice production.   It would be noted that presently there is glut in the rice market, as it is flooded with foreign rice. Distributors would rather buy cheaper foreign rice at N6500, as against the local rice which gets to the market at the price of N8,700.
The rice investor disclosed that due to late release of the quota allocation, and the removal of the embargo placed on rice importation, many of the investors went ahead to import rice at 30 percent duty, having seen that they qualify for quota allocation, thereby flooding the market with over 1.2million mt of rice. He lamented that because of the present glut in the rice market, many local millers have stopped production, because there is no market for their produce.  On the way out of the crisis,  the investor said the Federal Government should do all it can to end smuggling, as foreign rice still makes its way into the Nigerian market through the Cotonou/Seme borders. He also called for proper management of the import regime and the quota allocation. 
The source urged government to provide mechanisation and irrigation facilities, as well as planting materials for rice farmers across the country. He said with the glut in paddy rice in the north, there is still less production in the Southeast, as rice farming is still being done with hoe and cutlass; and, since there are no irrigation facilities, rice farming is done once a year.     Chairman of Stine rice, Akai Egwuomwu, noted that the policy was a good one that could ensure self  sufficiency in rice production.
 However, government need to look into the manner in which it was being implemented, especially in the area of granting waivers. He said waivers should not be given randomly, rather government should anchor it on the milling capacity of  the so-called investors.  He lamented that government was giving preferential treatment to investor, who had planned investment against some others that have been in the business for the past four years. He said:  “A miller spend not less that N2billion in establishing a mill, and after spending so much money, it would be unfair if government do not give them consideration.”  
 He also advised that waiver should be given for brown rice as this would further strengthen the capacity of the local millers.  A representative of one of the rice farms, told The Guardian that there is no truth in the claim that they are owing the Federal Government, as the minister cannot retroactively impose a quota in December 2014 and request payment of excess duties for importations made when quota was not in place and then want to impose penalty on them.He said: “There are about 10-11 of them who imported beyond the allotted quota and their names were not mentioned.
The importation we did was based on our level of investment in the rice value chain. We have an existing investment of $100million.”    He said though the government mean very well, the way quotas are being given to people without established mills, as against those with established mills, needs to be checked.    He further observed that there is an existing production gap of 3million metric tonnes, with government only giving concession of 1.3million mt. He wondered what would happen to the remaining gap of 1.7million metric tonnes.  
 On the way out of the crisis, he said there is the need for the Ministry of Agriculture, Finance, Trade and Investment, National Planning to do a thorough investigation of the quota regime and also streamline the method in which it is being granted, and ensure that it is not done randomly.     He, however, frowned at the granting of waiver to import brown rice, saying it would affect paddy production.

Small scale rice dealers slam Trade Ministry
The Small Scale Rice Dealers Association of Ghana (SSRIDA-GH) has said the assertion by Ministry of Trade and Industry that the total ban of rice importation is detrimental to the state is not nationalistic.The media report attributed to Mr Ibrahim Murtala, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry said Ghana’s rice self sufficiency is about 30 per cent and government consider as a high priority to see the country productivity high.He, however, said a total ban on rice importation is not the ideal thing to do and would also be in violation of World Trade Organisation regulations.
Mr Murtala said the country must also improve the quality and quantity of rice production.The Minister was reacting to a call by SSRIDA-GH to Ministry of Trade and Industry to ensure an outright ban of rice importation.It said the ban on inland rice importation is not only having negative impact on the traders but also discriminatory and in favour of the major players in the industry.A statement issued by Yaw Korang, National Coordinator of SSRIDA-GH said given monopoly of large scale importation of the commodity to foreigners is unfair, and so if government finds it untenable for small-scale rice dealers to be in business then an outright ban would be necessary .

“The ban as it stands now is pushing poor Ghanaians out of business and helping foreign traders to thrive,” the statement.The statement said the ministry on October 14, 2013 served a notice of ban on inland importation of rice stating that with effect from November 1, 2013, all imports of rice shall be done through only the Kotoka International Airport, Tema and Takoradi Ports.“This directive gave SSRIDA-GH only two weeks ultimatum to fold up our trading business through the border. As petty traders, our capital base would not allow us to do our business through the air or by the sea. The directive also came at a time when we had made orders with loans for goods for the Christmas festivity.
“We humbly wish to state that our business is only a threat to the monopoly being practiced by foreign rice importers, whose activities are a threat to the nation`s economy because they do the importation under the cover of warehousing and sell their products for high prices in dollar equivalence before paying their revenue and sometimes run-off without paying.We do our business in the CFA-FRANC and pay our duty into the consolidated fund at the borders before we are allowed to bring our goods into the country to sell.The statement asked Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the sector Minister to review the ban on inland importation of rice or prohibit the trade in Ghana.
However another statement by the SSRIDA-Ghana says the 500 million dollars spent annually to import rice is a drain to the national economy and could be used to step up the productivity of the crop.It said great rice producing nations like Thailand dreamt big and were nationalistic enough to go great length to achieve the feat.The statement said: “Nigeria was able to do it and now local rice is in high demand in the West African nation.”It said for the Ministry to say that total ban of rice importation is not feasible is “too simplistic, unpatriotic and uninspiring. It can be done if we embrace the challenge”, the statement said.
Source with thanks:http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/business/artikel.php?ID=343839
Nigeria: Agriculture Will Soon Overtake Oil - Adesina
By Christiana Nwaogu

The minister of agriculture and rural development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has boasted that the agricultural sector would topple the nation's oil sector in no distant time.According to him, this is feasible because the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) which is a brainchild of President Goodluck Jonathan's Transformation Agenda, is geared towards ushering in agricultural sector-led economic growth.Speaking on the AGRIFEST 2015, an international Agriculture Exhibition organised by his ministry to aid the sector in achieving green revolution, Adesina said that as the price of crude oil plummets, he is convinced that agriculture will be the new mainstay of the nation's economy.

The minister reeled out the achievements of his ministry to include the recent disbursement of N122million grant to 27 Nagropreneurs across the six geo-political zones as a measure of boosting agricultural production and also promoting its newly established project, the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP).Noting that Nigeria's greater future for inclusive growth lies in agriculture, he said food production had risen massively and as a nation, Nigeria has produced additional 21 metric tons of food within the last three years.Adesina listed other milestones of the ministry under him to include the establishment of Marketing Corporation, nationwide census of farmers and supply of subsidised fertilisers to 14million farmers.

Explaining that the elaborate event is aimed at creating a distinct platform that will further boost the country's agriculture, he added that it will also keep Nigerians abreast of the latest evolution in technologies and food production.Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan commended the minister at the event, saying agriculture is now the lifeline for Nigeria.He said, "As crude oil prices decline, we must create new wealth from the richness of our soils, the vastness of our rivers and the abundance of our cheap labour. We will produce more, and we will industrialise the agricultural sector."When I appointed Dr Akinwumi Adesina as the minister of agriculture, I charged him to turn agriculture around. My vision was clear - turn agriculture away from being a sector for managing poverty to one for creating wealth. We now see agriculture as a business, not as a development programme".

Noting that the rice revolution is taking place across the country, the president said while high quality Nigerian rice is now competing favourably with imported rice in the markets, rice importers cannot hold the country hostage.He said, "Nigeria, our dear country will not be held hostage by rice importers. There will be no sacred cows under my watch. All those owing Nigeria on rice import duties must pay.""Rice farmers across the country have a new lease of life, due to the transformation taking place in the sector.

Over 6 million rice farmers have received improved rice seed varieties, boosting domestic rice production by an additional 7 million metric tons.""Our rice millers have taken advantage of these new opportunities, and the number of integrated rice mills has expanded from 1 (one) at the beginning of this administration, to 24 today. And they are all here today. I celebrate you all. I eat Nigerian rice and can tell you it is better than imported rice".
California Rice Commission, Rice Farmers Hold Annual Grower Meetings       
 West coast info session

A -- More than 200 growers attended the California Rice Commission's (CRC) annual grower meetings last week.  USA Rice Federation Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely attended the meetings and met with growers and industry representatives from around the region to discuss California specific initiatives and issues. George Soares, with the law firm Kahn, Soares and Conway, gave a presentation on the state's political outlook, including a discussion of the ongoing water availability issues, the California water bond, and the statewide political climate. 

Randy Russell, long time consultant for CRC, discussed farm policy and the political atmosphere in Washington as it relates to agriculture.  Russell highlighted issues for rice farmers to be aware of in the new Congress, including budget and debt ceiling issues, trade, and tax reform.  Finally, Jeff Yasui, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency in Davis, California, talked about new and existing crop insurance policies."With the political landscape shifting beneath our feet, these face-to-face meetings are invaluable," said Mosely.  "Excellent information was provided and I think everyone came away more prepared to tackle challenges ahead."
 Contact:  Evan Spencer (703) 236-1476
Source with thanks:USA Rice Federation

Japanese rice: the new, safe luxury food in China

By By Alexandra Harney and Yuka Obayashi | Reuters – Sun, 25 Jan, 2015
By Alexandra Harney and Yuka Obayashi
SHANGHAI/TOKYO (Reuters) - First it was European infant formula, then New Zealand milk. Now Chinese consumers are adding Japanese rice to the list of everyday foods they will bring in from abroad at luxury-good prices because they fear the local alternatives aren't safe.The volume of rice imported from Japan remains small - 160 tonnes last year, according to Japan's National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations.
But that is more than triple the total in 2013, a trend that illustrates Chinese consumers' dwindling confidence in the safety of the country's own agricultural produce."Chinese rice farmers use pesticides," said a seller identified as Ying Ying, who started offering Japanese rice on the Taobao online marketplace last August. "Japanese rice isn't polluted by heavy metals."Pollution from industrialization has exacted a heavy toll on China's soil and water. In May 2013, officials in Guangdong province in southern China said 44 percent of rice samples contained excessive levels of the metal cadmium.
A study by the Ministry of Environmental Protection last April estimated that 16.1 percent of China's soil was contaminated. In parts of the country, soil pollution is so bad that some rice farmers refuse to eat what they grow.After the cadmium revelations, some Chinese consumers began to see rice from Thailand as an affordable and safe substitute.In contrast, Japanese rice is neither cheap nor easy to find in China. Japanese rice imported by Chinese grain trader COFCO sells for 74 Chinese yuan ($12) a kg on PinStore, an online supermarket run by Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp.
 Domestic rice sells there for as little as 7.5 yuan per kg.As demand grows, Chinese consumers are increasingly turning to online platforms such as Taobao, run by Alibaba, to buy rice directly from individuals in Japan.One person seems to have paid as much as 1,499 yuan ($241) for five kg, according to Taobao.
Steep prices, though, are no deterrent for some."Much tastier than Chinese rice. Worth every cent - great texture and taste," one delighted buyer wrote on Taobao.To meet demand, some Chinese producers now say they use Japanese seeds and promote their rice as a safer alternative to purely domestic strains.Zhejiang Xinxie Yueguang Agricultural Science and Technology says its Echizen brand rice is safe and grown with "water from pure sources and strict quality control". The packaging says the rice is a Japanese variety.
But Echizen rice is grown in Changxing county, a hub of lead-acid battery production in eastern Zhejiang province. Battery production can be highly polluting.Li Jun, general manager at Zhejiang Xinxie Yueguang, insisted the company's rice had passed tests for lead, cadmium, mercury, pesticides and other chemicals by state inspectors.The company had also found other areas to grow rice where there was less concern about pollution, Li said.The Chinese eat around 120 million tonnes of rice a year and the country imported more than 2.2 million in the first 11 months of 2014, including 1.2 million tonnes from Vietnam and 626,000 tonnes from Thailand, customs data shows.
Japan is a small rice exporter - just 3,777 tonnes in January to November 2014, according to agriculture ministry data - but it is looking to boost shipments to Asian countries as part of a wider push to export more agricultural products.However, if the trend to China looks encouraging, any further increase through normal export channels may be slow: the Chinese authorities have given just one Japanese rice mill clearance to send polished rice.Others have begun an application process but that has stalled. Some would-be suppliers have been waiting for three years, a Japanese government official said.
($1 = 6.2275 Chinese yuan)
(This version of the story corrects paragraph 2 to make clear the reference is to imports from Japan)
(Additional reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Alan Raybould)

Efficient rice farming to curb emissions
New water- and cost-efficient farming techniques will allow Vietnam to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in wet rice production by 15 to 20 percent by 2020, said Mai Van Trinh, Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Institute for Agricultural Environment.Trinh was speaking at a recent conference on the first phase of the Project on Reduced CH4 Emissions in Wet Rice Cultivation in Vietnam , jointly held by his institute and the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute in Hanoi .
To achieve the target, the ministry will use the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a plan in which farmers will increase productivity, quality and economic effectiveness, while reducing pesticides and nitrogenous fertilisers, he said.In addition to these measures, the ministry will also encourage farmers to use green production methods. The sector will also apply Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in cultivation, which means using techniques that consume less fertilisers and water, employing better land preparation techniques and reducing methane emissions.
Another technology mentioned at the conference was Alternative Wetting Drying (AWD)."Actually, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in rice growing, the institute has tried AWD while implementing a project on reducing CH4 emissions in wet rice cultivation," Trinh said, adding that AWD is no longer strange to rice growers in Vietnam, as it has already been incorporated in several other programmes, including SRI.Vu Duong Quynh, the project coordinator, said a major challenge with SRI is water management. Most problems are caused by the unfavourable terrain in many areas, fragmented rice fields and a lack of cooperation between irrigation staff and farmers.

This is especially troublesome considering the fact that efficient irrigation is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.To overcome these difficulties, Quynh said that in its first phase, from October 2014 to June 2016, the project intends to collect lessons learnt from efficient irrigation models and to gather data on land and infrastructure in each province, to make a water-efficient irrigation map."When looking at this map, one can read out which province can apply AWD, as not all types of land are suitable for this technology," Quynh said. In the second phase, the project will incorporate other technologies.
Tags:rice farming to curb emissions

CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Preliminary):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for January 26

Net Change

March 2015
- $0.125
May 2015
- $0.125
July 2015
- $0.120
September 2015
- $0.120
November 2015
- $0.120
January 2016
- $0.120
March 2016
- $0.120


source with thanks:USA Rice Federation

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