Wednesday, March 18, 2015

18th March (Wednesday) ,2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E_Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Offers Firm while Buyer's Stay Sidelined
Mar 17, 2015
The U.S. cash market was slightly firmer today with offers increasing in tandem with the futures market however most buyers were reluctant to increase their bids.
Most buyers are still purchasing hand to mouth as they have been all marketing year which has served them well however some analysts expect buyers to look for coverage ahead of the March 31st USDA prospective planting report.
Pakistan Rice Sellers Lower Some of Their Quotes Today; Other Asia Rice Quotes Unchanged
Mar 17, 2015
Pakistan rice sellers lowered their quotes for parboiled rice by about $5 per ton to around $380 - $390 per ton today. Other Asia  rice sellers kept their quotes mostly unchanged today.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $385 - $395 per ton, about a $20 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice  shown at around $365 - $375 per ton. India 5% rice is indicated at around $390 - $400 per ton, about a $45 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $345 - $355 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice is shown at around $370 - $380 per ton, about a $30 per ton premium on Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $340- $350 per ton. India 25% rice is indicated at around $360 - $370, about a $50 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $310 - $320 per ton.
Parboiled Rice
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $385 - $395 per ton. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $380 - $390 per ton, on par with Pakistan parboiled rice shown at around $380 - $390 per ton, down about $5 per ton from yesterday.
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, is indicated at around $320 - $330 per ton, about a $15 per ton premium on Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $305 - $315 per ton. India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $275 - $285 per ton, about a $5 per ton discount to Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $280 - $290 per ton.
Morocco Tenders to Purchase Short Grain Rice
Mar 17, 2015
The government of Morocco is seeking to purchase small short and round rice in tender, according to a notice on its government website.
The tender documents can be sent to the concerned authority in accordance with Article 19 of Decree No. 2.12.349 of 08 Jumada I 1434 released on March 20, 2013. They can also be handed over to the President of the tender commission at the beginning of the session and before opening of bids.
Closing date for tender is April 17, 2015. Bidding will take place at the Office of the Regional Director of Sale, Government of Morocco.
The provisional bond should be worth 3,564 Dirham (around $353.34), according to the notice.
Thailand Attorney General Files Criminal Charges Against Former Commerce Minister
Mar 17, 2015

Thailand's Office of Attorney General (OAG) filed criminal charges against the former Commerce Minister and 20 state officials and employees of private firms for alleged corruption in government-to-government (G2G) deals with two Chinese firms, according to Reuters.The OAG submitted charges against the 21 individuals, including the former Commerce Minister, in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders, the Deputy Spokesman of the OAG was quoted as saying. The court will reprotedly decide on April 20, 2015 whether to accept the case. If found guilty, the former Commerce Minister could face maximum sentence of life prison and a fine of around 3.52 billion baht (around $106.96 million).
The move comes after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) recommended prosecution of the 21 individuals in court after finding that they falsified G2G deals for about 1.2 million tons of rice with two Chinese companies. The NACC reportedly stated that the deal never happened and the rice was sold locally to Thai companies.Thailand's National Legislative Assembly (NLA) impeached the former PM on January 23, 2015 for encouraging corruption in the controversial rice pledging scheme introduced by her government in October 2011. She is also facing criminal charges for alleged negligence in overseeing the rice pledging scheme, which brought losses to the extent of 600 billion baht (around $18 billion) to the government. The Supreme Court is to decide on March 19, 2015 whether to pursue the criminal case against the former PM.aa
Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Turn Higher despite Bearish Day for Other U.S. Grains
Mar 17, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for May delivery settled 10 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) higher at $10.625 per cwt (about $234 per ton). The other grains closed sharply lower, with wheat retracing the majority of yesterday’s gains is it was weighed down by spillover selling pressure from neighboring trading pits; Soybeans closed about 1.5% lower at $9.5450 per bushel; wheat finished about 2% lower at $5.0350 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 2.1% lower at $3.7100 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded mostly lower on Tuesday as investors focused on the Federal Open Market Committee's two-day meeting, which could shed light on the timing of an interest rate hike. The FOMC meeting kicks off Tuesday, with its highly anticipated statement and press conference expected on Wednesday afternoon. Investors are looking at whether or not "patient" remains in the statement as an indication of when short-term interest rates might go up. U.S. stocks jumped more than 1% on Monday, following three weeks of decline in the Dow and S&P 500, as investors positioned themselves ahead of the Fed meeting and options expirations.
The Dow Jones industrial average briefly slumped more than 180 points before trading about 114 points lower, or 0.64%, at 17,862. The S&P 500 fell 8 points, or 0.36%, at 2,073, with materials leading nine sectors lower and information technology the only sector in the green. Analysts are watching to see if the index holds above the 2050-2055 range, slightly below the 50-day moving average. The Nasdaq fell 0.33 points, or 0.01%, at 4,929. Gold is trading about 0.5% lower, crude oil is seen trading unchanged, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading marginally lower at about  1:00pm Chicago time.Monday, there were 458 contracts traded, up from 270 contracts traded on Friday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Monday decreased by 88 contracts to 8,890.
Jhumka Basmati - India's New Rain and Pest Tolerant Basmati Rice Variety
Mar 17, 2015

A farmer in India's northern state Uttar Pradesh has developed a new variety of basmati rice through organic farming using seeds brought by his ancestors from Pakistan, according to local sources.The new variety 'Jhumka Basmati' can withstand heavy rain as its roots are strong and do not bend to the gusts of strong winds that accompany rain, the farmer told local sources. He also noted that since it is grown through organic methods using organic green manure,  its stem and roots are stronger. The seeds thus produced are rich in nutrition, he said. It is also pest-free said the farmer.He added that chemicals used for growing rice usually remain in the upper layer of the soil and does not allow roots to penetrate deep into the soil. He noted that chemical fertilizers increase the yield but weakens the root inside the soil.
The new variety matures in 110 days and produces an yield of about 14 quintal per acre (around 3.5 tons per hectare).
The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) has applied for the patent of 'Jhumka Basmati'.  rice. The variety will be introduced to other famers in the region once the patent formalities are completed, said the farmer.
Global Rice Quotes
March 18th, 2015
Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade 400-410
Vietnam 5% broken 365-375
India 5% broken 390-400
Pakistan 5% broken 345-355
Myanmar 5% broken 415-425
Cambodia 5% broken 425-435
U.S. 4% broken 480-490
Uruguay 5% broken 580-590
Argentina 5% broken 570-580
Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken 370-380
Vietnam 25% broken 340-350
Pakistan 25% broken 310-320
Cambodia 25% broken 410-420
India 25% broken 360-370
U.S. 15% broken 470-480
Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd 385-395
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd 380-390
India parboiled 5% broken stxd 380-390
U.S. parboiled 4% broken 555-565
Brazil parboiled 5% broken 570-580
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken NQ
Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92% 890-900
Vietnam Jasmine 455-465
India basmati 2% broken NQ
Pakistan basmati 2% broken NQ
Cambodia Phka Mails 790-800
Thailand A1 Super 320-330
Vietnam 100% broken 315-325
Pakistan 100% broken stxd 280-290
Cambodia A1 Super 345-355
India 100% broken stxd 275-285
Egypt medium grain brokens NQ
U.S. pet food 380-390
Brazil half grain NQ
All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel,

Oryza Overnight Recap – Chicago Rough Rice Futures Little Changed Overnight as Market Continues to Trade in Sideways Range
Mar 17, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for May delivery are currently listed 1 cent per cwt (about $0.22 per ton) higher at $10.535 per cwt (about $232 per ton) during early floor trading in Chicago. The other grains are seen trading lower this morning: soybeans are currently seen about 0.6% lower, wheat is listed about 1.2% lower and corn is currently noted about 1.1% lower.
U.S. stocks opened lower on Tuesday as investors eyed weak housing data ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee's two-day meeting. The FOMC meeting kicks off Tuesday, with its highly anticipated statement and press conference expected on Wednesday afternoon. Investors are looking at whether or not "patient" remains in the statement as an indication of when short-term interest rates might go up. The U.S. dollar continued to ease, falling more than 1 percent in early trade, while the euro edged above $1.06. The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield fell to trade near 2.05%.Crude oil traded lower but held slightly above 6-year lows touched on Monday. Brent struggled to hold above $53 a barrel. Gold is currently trading about 0.8% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 1.2% lower,  and the U.S. dollar is currently trading about 0.2% lower at 8:00am Chicago time.
Indonesia Rice Prices May Have Peaked in February, Suggests USDA Report
Mar 17, 2015
USDA Post reports that inadequate stocks and delayed harvesting pushed up Indonesia rice prices into February but Bulog action and anticipation for the upcoming harvest have reduced prices in March, suggesting prices may have peaked for the near-term.Indonesian wholesale prices increased by about 22% m/m to around Rp. 11,500 per kilogram (around $892 per ton)  on February 26, 2014 from around Rp.9,400 per kilogram (around $729 per ton) on February 1, 2015; and retail prices increased by about 6% m/m to around Rp.11,400 per kilogram (around $885 per ton) during the same period.
The Post attributes the price hike to inadequate stocks caused due to delayed harvests. Harvest of 2015 first main crop was delayed from February to mid-March or April 2015, due to delayed plantings. The daily inflow of rice stocks to Cipinang wholesale market declined to around 2,000 tons in February from around 2,500 - 3,000 tons in September 2014 - January 2015 due to delayed harvests, says the Post.
The government also delayed the distribution of Raskin rice to February and March 2015 from November and December 2014 due to flooding, which caused widespread losses in parts of Java. Raskin consumers had to buy rice in the open market in November and December 2014. Prices have been impacted due to this as well.
Now, Bulog has decided to distribute a total of 300,000 tons of rice in key markets to control price hikes. It has decided to sell Bulog rice at around Rp.7,400 per kilogram (around $574 per ton) in Java and at around Rp.7,500 per kilogram (around $582 per ton) outside Java. Bulog also distributed 174,000 of Raskin rice from January 1 to February 24, 2015.
Bulog's operations seem to have effect on prices, says USDA. March price data shows that the price of medium quality rice has declined to around Rp.10,450 per kilogram (around $811 per ton). The Post expects prices to come down further with the arrival of March crop.
India Hybrid Rice Acreage Reaches 2.5 Million Hectares in 2014, Says Junior Agriculture Minister
Mar 17, 2015
India's hybrid rice acreage has reached around 2.5 million hectares in 2014, about 250 times from a mere 10,000 hectares in 1995, local sources quoted the Minister of State for Agriculture Minister as saying. Currently, the hybrid rice acreage accounts for about 5.6% of the total rice area of about 45 million hectares in the country.The Minister apprised the Parliament today that last nine years have seen a tremendous growth in hybrid rice plantings especially due to increasing popularity of hybrid rice in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
He also informed the Parliament members that the bacterial blight resistant variety 'Improved Samba Mahsuri' developed by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) has was received well and the area under the variety is currently about 90,000 hectares in Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The Minister also noted that the government has not fixed any target for increasing acreage of hybrid rice in the country. However, he said the government would continue with various crop development programs such as National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
The government of India, in its second advance estimates for major crops, has estimated India's rice production for 2014-15 marketing year (October 2014 - September 2015) at around 103.04 million tons, down about 3% from an estimated 106.65 million tons in 2013-14. It estimates around 88.02 million tons from kharif rice crop and around 15.02 million tons for rabi rice crop.
 EU Rice Exports Increase Sharply YTD in 2014-15
Mar 17, 2015

Rice exports from the European Union (EU) nations have increased sharply during September 1, 2014 - March 10, 2015, according to the data provided by the EU. Most of the increase has been in the Japonica rice exports so far in the crop year 2014-15 (September - August), according to the EU data.
The EU has exported around 145,713 tons (milled equivalent) of rice in September 1, 2014 - March 10, 2015, up about 40% from around 104,384 tons exported during the same period last crop year. While Japonica milled equivalent varieties constituted about 125,303 tons, Indica milled equivalent varieties accounted for about 20,140 tons.
The EU nations exported around 119,274 tons of milled Japonica varieties in September 1, 2014 - March 10, 2015, up about 37% from around 87,273 tons exported last year. The EU exported around 19,609 tons of Indica varieties during September 1, 2014 - March 10, 2015 period, up about 14% from around 17,131 tons exported last year.
However, increase in the exports of half milled rice have been very less during the stated period, according to the EU data. The EU nations exported around 341 tons of half milled Japonica rice varieties in September 1, 2014 - March 10, 2015, slightly up from around 338 tons exported during the same period last year. Exports of half-milled Indica rice varieties declined about 34% to around 53 tons during the stated period from around 80 tons exported last year.

Husked rice exports have almost doubled to around 8185 tons during September 1, 2014 - March 10, 2015 from around 4,045 tons during the same period last year.
Italy remained the largest rice exporter so far in the crop year 2014-15 followed by Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania, France and the U.K.
Costa Rica to Maintain Fixed Prices for Rice, Says USDA
Mar 17, 2015

The government of Costa Rica has decided to continue with its longstanding policy of fixing producer and consumer prices for rice for increasing rice production in the country as well as to ensure that the government does not violate WTO commitments, according to USDA Post.
The Post reports that the government of Costa Rica has published an Executive Decree #38884-MEIC on February 27, 2015, according to which it has set the producer price of dry and clean paddy rice at around colones 22,130 per 73.6 kilograms bag (around $557 per ton), down about 2% from around colones 22,582 per 73.6 kilograms bag (around $576 per ton) last year.
The decree also set the minimum and maximum price for different types of rice, either locally produced or imported. The minimum and maximum prices of the highest selling variety 80/20 (80% whole grain and 20% broken grain) rice at around $1.168 per kilogram and around $1.174 per kilogram respectively. The prices are effective from June 8, 2015, and trader or miller is not expected to violate the decree and according to the Post.
The regulation is in line with the government's intention to bring down prices of rice to consumer, increase local paddy rice production by about 25% to around 5 million tons over the next four years, as well as to narrow the gap between the locally produced rice and imported rice. However, the decree does not stipulate a time frame for the continuation of the fixed price policy. The government has also recently increased the import duty on milled rice from 35% to 62.06% to encourage local production.
The decree is also aimed that ensuring that the government does not violate its minimum market access (MMA) import commitments with the WTO.
USDA estimates Costa Rica to produce around 223,000 tons of paddy rice (around 145,000 tons, basis milled) and import around 100,000 tons in MY 2014-15 (October - September).
Brazil Paddy Rice Index Declines about 1% from Last Week
Mar 17, 2015
The Brazilian paddy rice index maintained by CEPEA reached around 35.75 real per 50 kilograms as of March 16, 2015, down about 0.75% from around 36.02 real per 50 kilograms recorded on March 09, 2015.In terms of USD per ton, the index reached around $222 per ton on March 16, 2015, down about 5% from around $232 per ton recorded on March 9, 2015.

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17th March (Tuesday) , 2015 Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Managing Asean rice reserves

New Straits Times (Malaysia)
STABILISING Asean rice markets is a crucial concern for averting crises, such as the 2007-08 global rice crisis. The current strategy towards this is by growing the size of rice reserves in the Asean-Plus-Three Emergency Rice Reserve (Apterr), although Apterr has been critiqued for its small size relative to total demand and low utilisation. A look into the stabilisation policies in currency markets show that more important than size is the way the reserves are used to incentivise actors towards behaviours that reduce risk exposure.
As such, the limited reserves in Apterr can be used for encouraging behaviours such as increasing transparency/reporting, increasing partner diversification, addressing structural imbalances in agricultural production and consumption within countries.Rice, as a commodity, is subject to unstable marketdynamics.
For instance, chance events, such as a drought in India's wheatmarket combined with panic reactions by both exporters and importers, triggered world rice prices to soar in 2007-08.This developed into a crisis when Thailand and Vietnam, major exporting countries, closed their export gates following India's lead.This left rice importing countries unable to purchase the needed amounts to meet their own demand.Structurally, risks of the recent crisis recurring are high since the top five exporters (India, Thailand, Vietnam, the United States and Pakistan) occupy 81 per cent of global rice trade, as reported by the International Rice Research Institute.Production shortfalls in any of the five countries are likely to cause panic.
Worse still, is if they engage in strategic behaviour of holding stocks to drive prices up (in fact, a rice cartel was proposed by Thailand in 2012).Lastly, countries hardly provide accurate data on how much stocks they have, making it harder to assess risk.To address instability in the rice market, the 10 Asean countries plus China, Japan and South Korea developed the Asean-Plus-Three Emergency Rice Reserve (Apterr), a multilateral institution that holds rice reserves contributed by member countries for use during crises. The attention given in the media is often to the low amount of reserves relative to demand.Asean reports show that compared to an Asean demand of half a million tonnes of rice per day, Apterr is small as its overall size is only at 787,000 tonnes (enough to cover a day and a half of consumption).
Overall recommendations for Apterr have focused on increasing accumulation and accessibility of its reserves for crises.Of the total reserves, 87,000 tonnes come from all 10 Asean countries combined, while the rest are sourced from the "Plus Three" countries (Japan, Korea, China), leading to calls for increasing contributions by Asean countries.Relatedly, it has been critiqued for its low utilisation rate: member countries prefer to have country-to-country rice purchases because the Apterr's mechanism poses the risk that the needed rice/funds are not delivered soon enough.For instance, it requires a time-consuming process of crisis declarations by countries in need and approvals by member countries. However, the approach to rice market stabilisation through the Apterr may be insufficient from the standards of currency market stabilisation. Rice and currency markets are comparable for a few reasons:
Firstly, they both deal with priced commodities, the latter being priced based on the exchange rate. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was set up after World War 2 for the purpose of stabilising exchange rates.Similar to the Apterr, the IMF also has a system of holding reserves and releasing them for stabilisation purposes though it has committed to doing things differently, learning from the 2007-08 global financial crisis.The IMF has moved on from issues of size and utilisation. A key insight to be learned from its practices in currency market stabilisation is its shift from crisis resolution to crisis prevention.
What the IMF will be doing differently is its use of reserves to influence countries towards reducing risk, by tailoring the criteria for accessing reserves.Firstly, data adequacy is a key criterion for which country receives funds, and how much of it a country can tap.Next, these criteria also include behavioural adjustments which would reduce structural instabilities in the countries concerned, in the areas of external position and market access, fiscal policy, monetary policy and financial sector soundness. In sum, the use of reserves is only a last resort for the IMF while most of its work focuses on stabilising the structures of economies so that they will have no need for the said emergency mechanism in the first place.
Applying this to rice market stabilisation, the criteria for release of rice reserves can be tailored towards incentivising countries to reduce their vulnerability to risk, individually.Firstly, net-importing countries can be incentivised to prioritise rice production so that they can reduce external dependence, and to spread their risk by diversifying into other export partners.Strategic indicators may be drawn from current food security databases, including the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Food Security Index, or Syngenta's Rice Bowl Index.Next, Apterr can also adopt the data adequacy criterion used by IMF to reward countries for reporting country data on rice stocks held.
This would allow it to perform effective surveillance in countries, which in turn would feed into better recommendations for reducing long-term structural risks.Learning from stabilisation practices in currency markets, Apterr reserves should be used not simply as a buffer for crisis purposes. Instead, they should be tapped for incentivising countries towards reducing overall systemic risk.In this regard, it would not be the size of Apterr, but its potential for reducing overall risk, which should be the focus in the next Apterr meeting this year.The writer is an associate research fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore


Paradigm shifting’ rice method receives award

3/17/2015 - by World Grain Staff
SINGAPORE — Cornell University’s System of Rice Intensification (SRI) production method, which can increase rice yields by 20% to 50%, received an award from Olam International, the company announced on March 17.
Description: International Prize for Innovation in Food Security was awarded by an international jury panel to Professor Norman Uphoff and the SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice) at the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture in Montpellier, France.Launched in partnership with leading scientific organization Agropolis Fondation to celebrate Olam’s 25th anniversary, the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security recognizes an outstanding innovation for its impact on the availability, affordability, accessibility or adequacy of food.
SRI-Rice, which is housed at Cornell University in New York, U.S., has been promoting research and facilitating knowledge-sharing on the System of Rice Intensification, a climate-smart methodology with outstanding results for rice production that is surprisingly counter-intuitive.Capitalizing on biological processes, on the genetic potential of the crop, and on plant-soil-microbial interactions, the system requires 80% to 90% fewer rice seeds, up to 50% less water and in many instances no fertilizer.
Yields are then boosted by 20% to 50% (and often by much more), with farmers’ costs subsequently reduced by 10% to 20%.SRI methods include alternately drying and wetting the rice field rather than the usual practice of continuous flooding, adding organic matter to soil for their improvement, and instead of planting  the standard of approximately 130 plants per square meter, about 16 single, very young seedlings are planted with much wider spacing. These carefully designed planting and growing practices produce deep-rooted rice plants with a greater amount and diversity of soil organisms.
The healthier, more robust plants are better able to withstand the stresses of drought, flooding, storm damage, and pests and diseases.SRI is now being promoted by governments in China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam, where two-thirds of the world’s rice is produced. Use of SRI practices is increasing the yields of over 10 million smallholder farmers by an average of 1.67 tonnes per hectare, while simultaneously reducing their costs and lowering water requirements.
“The innovation behind SRI is fascinating because it disrupts common notions of rice farming, and such disruption is essential if we are to feed 9 billion people by 2050. Grown by 200 million small-scale farmers, rice is the world’s staple diet, so I am delighted that Olam is helping to scale up practices so clearly proven to increase yields, thereby reducing the pressure on precious arable land and water,” said Sunny Verghese, co-founder, group managing director and chief executive officer.
 “On top of this, there are no costs to the farmer which provides three benefits: firstly, communities have increased access to vital calories without paying more; secondly they can improve their livelihoods by selling the surplus and lastly, through that surplus they are supporting global food security needs.“As we celebrate our 25 years in the agricultural sector, I am proud that this anniversary prize should be awarded to SRI-RICE, a team that has ‘transcended boundaries’ – the meaning of Olam. And with our own 10,000 hectare rice farm and smallholder program in Nigeria we will certainly be exploring this research further.”In addition to the promotion of the new methodologies, SRI-Rice provides technical assistance to development and research programs, advancing knowledge on SRI and acting as a global hub for the international SRI community.
“The SRI-Rice team stood out for the demonstrable impact their research and outreach on paradigm-shifting methodologies is having in over 55 rice-growing countries globally,” said Pascal Kosuth, director of Agropolis Foundation and jury member for the Olam prize. “Professor Uphoff and the SRI-Rice team at Cornell University are working with a vast global network to build a body of scientific evidence demonstrating that significant yields can be achieved from the same land by simply better understanding the natural synergies between plants, soils, water, nutrients, soil organisms and climate.
”“Along with the rest of the SRI-Rice team and the hundreds of colleagues all around the world who have made SRI a reality on the ground, I am honored to receive this award from Olam, one of the world’s largest agribusinesses and a team that knows very well the importance of agricultural science to ensuring food security,” said Uphoff, in receiving the award. “However, this award must be dedicated to the memory of Père Henri Laulanie, whose ideas and observations working with impoverished farmers in Madagascar some 30 years ago provided the basis for all SRI research.
“Scaling up SRI and its derived System of Crop Intensification (SCI) is a matter of changing mindsets, habits and practices, and the recognition Olam has bestowed on us with this award marks a milestone in terms of support from the private sector. The Olam Prize money will be used to support further research, particularly around how SRI management methods can reduce methane gas emissions – essential in the fight against climate change – as well as on the role of soil microbes in the uptake of nutrients.”With a prize value of $50,000, the Olam prize was judged by an international panel of experts in conjunction with the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prizes.

PhilRice develops 25 new heat-tolerant rice varieties

March 17, 2015 8:54 pm

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has developed 25 new heat-tolerant varieties that can stand the impact of harsh climate change and other extreme weather conditions such as the El Nino phenomenon.Dr. Norvie Manigbas, lead researcher, said the development of rice varieties with high temperature tolerance was intended to address effects of climate change in areas where 90 to 95 percent of the population depend on rice.He said PhilRice was able to identify the new breeding lines after rigorous selection for high temperature tolerance using conventional method and marker-assisted selection.

“We established breeding nurseries in high temperature prone areas in Cagayan and Nueva Ecija to screen and select breeding materials under field conditions,” Manigbas said.Rice grows optimally between 20-35°C and becomes increasingly sensitive to increasing temperatures especially during flowering. In 2010, Manigbas and his team developed new rice genotypes that can tolerate and adapt to high temperatures at 37-39°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.Manigbas said planting was done on staggered basis so that flowering, or reproductive stage of all test entries, will coincide with the highest temperature during the growing season.
“PhilRice 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 said.Manigbas said 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.With his co-researchers — Luvina Madrid, Corazon Cardenas, Evelyn Ladia, and Ferdinand Enriquez — Manigbas targets the promising line to be released as a new heat-tolerant rice variety in 2016-2017.Their research won the bronze medal in the Gold AFMA Best R&D Paper Award.

Golden rice is a humanitarian effort: Moore

Description: Grain of salt: Leader of the 'Allow Golden Rice Now' campaign Patrick Moore addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. - RAMESH SHARMA
Grain of salt: Leader of the 'Allow Golden Rice Now' campaign Patrick Moore addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. - RAMESH SHARMA
Campaign leader claims it will address Vitamin A deficiency in developing nations
The ‘Allow Golden Rice Now’ campaign led by former Greenpeace member Patrick Moore made its way here on Monday after similar events in Manila and Dhaka.It aims to promote ‘golden rice’, a genetically-modified variant containing beta-carotene, that the technology’s proponents claim will address the problem of Vitamin A deficiency in the developing world.Interestingly, it’s touted as an “entirely humanitarian” endeavour with public research being funded by donor organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Helen Keller Foundation and USAID, among others. Hence, Moore told BusinessLine, fears of corporate monopolisation were unfounded and merely rumours spread by anti-GMO organisations such as Greenpeace.“There’s nothing in it for the companies, not one is considering making money from Golden Rice,” he said.
Syngenta’s role
When asked about the agri-business giant Syngenta’s role in the Golden Rice Project, Moore stated that the corporation had helped develop an improved version called ‘Golden Rice 2’ (GR-2) using a maize gene instead of the one from daffodils.The new version, introduced in 2005, apparently produces 23 times more beta-carotene than its predecessor.“It was a charitable act that made Golden Rice better and the technology has been given to others. GR-2 will be given away free in developing nations where there’s a Vitamin A deficiency issue, a royalty will only be charged in industralised nations,” he added.
Moore stated that the distribution model, using The Philippines as an example, involved public research institutes such as the International Rice Research Institute in Manila (IRRI, where trials have been conducted over the last decade) and its partner institutions disbursing seeds to farmers for free once Golden Rice is fully developed.The farmers would grow it and be able to sell the seeds with no reason to charge more than they would for regular rice since there was no royalty required to be paid.
Complex system
“It’s not true that there are no corporate interests at work, Syngenta has a patent on Golden Rice but has permitted others to work with it. The company can retain control if it wants to,” said Rajesh Krishnan of the Coalition for a GM-Free India, and feared that field trials would contaminate other rice varieties.“Preservation of genetic diversity is one of the biggest problems because India is one of the centres of origin and diversity of rice,” he added.“Syngenta still owns the patent but there are plenty of contracts and sub-contracts which are difficult to unravel. The larger point is that it isn’t even ready for the market yet.
Excessive Vitamin-A has its problems and the efficacy of the project can be questioned since a wholesome diet with minerals and fat cannot be achieved by Golden Rice,” said Sreedevi Lakshmi Kutty of the Save Our Rice Campaign.The IRRI has claimed limited success with multilevel trials, it is believed that yields have not been adequate either, she added. Currently, Golden Rice is still under development and is being evaluated at the IRRI and can only be provided to farmers if it gets regulatory approval.“I don’t see approvals in The Philippines coming through soon, we hope that this can be taken to India, Bangladesh and Indonesia,” said Moore.
(This article was published on March 16, 2015)

Hybrid Rice

Delhi  ,March 17, 2015 Last Updated at 14:20 IST
Government of India has not fixed any target for increasing acreage of hybrid rice in the country. However, efforts are being made to promote cultivation of hybrid rice through various crop development programmes such as National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). From the initial level of 10,000 hectares in 1995, area under hybrid reached one million hectare in 2006. It has picked up during the last nine years, mainly because of increasing popularity of hybrid rice in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and area under hybrid rice has exceeded to 2.5 million hectares during 2014, which is about 5.6% of the total rice area in the country. 
Although, there are reports of incidence of bacterial infection, but no report about huge loss to paddy crop have been received from state governments of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) have jointly developed bacterial blight resistant variety 'Improved Samba Mahsuri' which variety was notified and released for cultivation in 2008. The variety has so far spread to an area of 90,000 ha in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This information was given by the Minister of State for Agriculture Sh.Mohanbhai Kundaria in Lok Sabha today. 

Govt to introduce cold-tolerant Boro
Dhaka Tribune
Abu Bakar Siddique
The government plans to introduce a coldtolerant variety of Boro paddy to avoid crop damage by erratic weather.This particular variety, tolerant to cold conditions both at the seedling and reproductive stages, can be introduced within two years, said Dr Jibon Krishna Biswas, director general of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).“We are now running trials, and once we get successful results, we will apply for its commercial release.
”He said the government had been trying to develop crop varieties tolerant of extreme climatic events to ensure steady food production.As a part of that initiative, BRRI has been working on cold-tolerant Boro because a large number of rice farmers suffer significant losses every year as none of the existing varieties can cope with extreme cold. Though a winter crop, Boro is often affected by cold-related diseases at the seedling and reproductive stages.Paddy farmers in haor (wetland) areas usually face more problems than do others, as they only cultivate Boro and start the cultivation process in January – a month ahead of the rest of the country.
“Since January is the coldest month in Bangladesh, the haor farmers often have to tackle cold-related diseases affecting their crops. They will be particularly benefited by this new paddy variety,” the BRRI DG told the Dhaka Tribune.The BRRI previously developed another cold-tolerant Boro variety named BRRI 36, but its cold tolerance is very low.Boro is the most produced paddy in the country accounting for a production of almost 19 million tonnes out of 34.6 million tonnes produced in Bangladesh in 2013-14.The BRRI also released two saline tolerant varieties and two submergence tolerant varieties of paddy in 2010, and in 2012 the state-run rice research organisation released two drought tolerant varieties.In addition to these varieties, the BRRI also released eight more varieties between 2009 and 2013 which are currently being popularised among farmers. 

Japan Cuts Food Self-Sufficiency Target as Trade Deals Expand


(Bloomberg) -- Japan, which imports about 60 percent of its food, cut its self-sufficiency target as the government expands free-trade agreements for economic growth, lowering tariffs on meat and dairy.The largest Asian buyer of corn, beef and pork lowered the rate to 45 percent by March 2026, the Agriculture Ministry said in an e-mailed report Tuesday. The target, which is reviewed by the government every five years, was reduced from 50 percent set in 2010.The country reached a free-trade agreement last year with Australia and began cutting tariffs on the third-biggest beef exporter in January in line with the bilateral accord to halve duties on frozen meat by 2032. Japan is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the U.S. and 10 other nations as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expands trade-promotion deals.

“We need to make our self-sufficiency target more feasible as the gap between the previous goal and the reality is widening,” Takashi Amou, a director of the ministry’s policy planning division, told reporters in Tokyo.The production target for food rice was cut to 7.52 million metric tons for the year through March 31, 2026 from 8.59 million tons last fiscal year as Japanese consumption shrank and domestic stockpiles stayed near an 11-year high, the ministry said in the report. The government wants farmers to produce feed rice as an alternative to imported corn and wheat, it said.The feed-rice output goal was set at 1.1 million tons for the fiscal year 2025-2026, a 10-fold increase from output last fiscal year, according to the ministry.Japan is the world’s largest importer of corn, buying 15 million tons last year. The U.S. was the biggest supplier to the country with 12.6 million tons, followed by Brazil with 1.3 million tons and Ukraine with 900,749 tons, according to data from the ministry.
To contact the reporter on this story: Aya Takada in Tokyo at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ramsey Al-Rikabi Jarrett Banks, Sungwoo Park


Riceland’s Harris visits Cuba with rice industry group

All the Cuban officials discussed opportunities in the market for imports of a wide variety of ag products including inputs and equipment. They also discussed in depth the problems created by the U.S. embargo and the roadblock it created that prevented consistent business and a closer ongoing relationship between industries in the nations

By USA Rice Federation
Posted Mar. 17, 2015 at 10:41 AM 

HAVANA, Cuba —
Description: Terry Harris (left) on tour with Cuban farm co-op officials.Missouri rice farmer Rance Daniels and Riceland Foods Senior Vice President of Marketing and Risk Management Terry Harris represented the U.S. rice industry on a recent trip with more than 90 people involved in agriculture and education visiting Cuba. The group, traveling as the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), included two former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture, Mike Espy and John Block, and the First Lady of Missouri Georgeanne Nixon.The group met on Monday morning with the Minister of Foreign Investment, Mr. José Luis Padrone, director of international relations for the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Juan José León Vega, and in the afternoon with Rafael Rivacoba, director of international relations for the state sugar enterprise, and Leonardo Chairing, director of international relations for the National Association of Small Farmers.
All the Cuban officials discussed opportunities in the market for imports of a wide variety of ag products including inputs and equipment. They also discussed in depth the problems created by the U.S. embargo and the roadblock it created that prevented consistent business and a closer ongoing relationship between industries in the nations.That evening the group attended a reception at the residence of the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, hosted by the Missouri First Lady. Tuesday the delegation split into six groups to visit various segments of the ag industry including sugar production; aquaculture; cattle production; fruits, grains and vegetables; tobacco and sorghum; and rice.Daniels and Harris went on the rice tour, meeting with the board of directors of a farm cooperative that farmed more than 7,000 acres of rice. They also toured two rice mills and a rice drying and storage facility. 
There was a detailed discussion between the Cuban and U.S. farmers about farm practices, pricing, problems and opportunities."I found it very interesting in talking with the Cuban farmers the practices we have in common, but also how different some of them are," Daniels reflected. "They were definitely intrigued with the size of our planting and harvesting equipment. I also feel renewed trade with Cuba is a great opportunity for us to expand our rice export markets, but it will also be a way for us to share some of our technology with the Cuban farmers to help improve their productivity.
"The meeting ended after a meeting with the president of Alimport, the state agency that imports almost all foodstuffs into the country, a follow up discussion with the Cuban officials who had previously met with the group and capped by comments by both the former Secretaries of Agriculture."I felt the trip was very beneficial from both the U.S. and Cuban perspectives," said Harris. "It allowed a good exchange of information, ideas and goals that could benefit both nations and create opportunities for bilateral trade. As expressed by both Secretary Block and Secretary Espy, Cuba holds incredible potential for increased commerce in goods and technology, but the embargo remains a stumbling block that we must remove to make this opportunity a reality."

El Nino conditions rising, says Australia Met

Pacific cyclones have increased chances for such an eventuality to 50% by mid-year
Description: Australian Bureau of Meteorology suspects that ‘unusual conditions’ in tropical Pacific during the past fortnight may increase the chance of El Nino this year. But it also observed that model outlooks spanning the traditional transition period of February to May generally have lower accuracy than outlooks made at other times of year.El Nino is a condition in which tropical and adjoining east Pacific warms up relative to the west, taking away storm-building, clouding and rains from Asia to the South America coast.
El Niño watch
This is normally expected to leave an impact on the Asian summer, including the monsoon, though there is no direct cause-effect relationship.The bureau’s tracker is now locked at an ‘El Nino watch.’This indicates that there is about a 50 per cent chance of El Nino forming in 2015 – double the normal likelihood of an event. This is due to the warmer-than-average sub-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, the bureau said in an update.
Pacific cyclones
International models surveyed by it indicate that central and eastern tropical Pacific will warm to El Nino thresholds by mid-year.The bureau recalled that in the western Pacific, super cyclone Pam and tropical storm Bavi had straddled the equator, producing one of the strongest reversals in the trade winds in recent years.El Nino happens when weakening trade winds (east to west, which sometimes even reverse direction) allow the warmer water from the western Pacific to flow toward the east.A reversal of winds has taken place in the wake of the cyclones.This flattens out the sea level, builds up warm surface water off the coast of South America, and increases temperatures in east Pacific.
Warm anomaly
This change is expected to increase the already warm sub-surface temperatures currently observed in the tropical Pacific Ocean.It may in turn raise tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures in the coming months.However, the bureau said that it is too early yet to say whether the reversal in the trade winds is a short term fluctuation or the beginning of a sustained trend.International models surveyed have strengthened their outlooks for the likelihood of El Nino, it said.All eight models are suggesting ocean temperatures will exceed El Nino thresholds by mid-year.
(This article was published on March 17, 2015)



SoCal offering to pay its highest price ever for water

LA Observed   Mar 17 08:47am
Kevin Roderick: With this drought year starting to look like the worst yet, the MetropolitanWater District is offering rich deals and Northern California rice farmers are selling.

German company helps farmers fight rice blast disease

Selasa, 17 Maret 2015 21:54 WIB |
Jombang, E Java (ANTARA News) - German chemical company BASF organized the Rice Innovation Experience Tour in Carangrejo village, Kesamben sub-district, Jombang district, East Java province, to introduce its new fungicidal product to 350 farmers."BASF has spent 250 million euros to conduct research and development in a bid to create a product that can help to fight the rice blast disease and increase the yield of rice," BASFs Crop Protection Business Area Manager for Southeast Asia Leon van Mullekom stated here on Tuesday.
Rice blast is one of the most destructive diseases affecting the rice crop and is caused by the fungus "Magnaporthe grisea," which can destroy rice plants."Innovations in rice-growing techniques and pesticides will contribute to higher rice yields and quality," noted Leon.According to Leon, Indonesian farmers are able to produce about 4.7 tons of rice per hectare, while farmers in Vietnam and China harvest 5.6 and 6.5 tons of rice per hectare, respectively.The Jombang district administration, Indonesian rice experts, and BASF gathered for a Rice Innovation Tour in Carangrejo village, Jombang district, East Java.
The event was organized to explore ways through which innovation can boost rice yields and quality, while simultaneously being safe for the environment and improving the livelihood of the local farmers.BASF chose Jombang as a location to introduce its new and innovative product as it is one of the highest rice-producing districts in East Java, along with Banyuwangi, Ngawi, and Lamongan.Nearly 60 percent of the total population in Jombang work as farmers, with nearly half of the total land in the area used as rice fields.
"This event is expected to help Jombang achieve the target of producing 436,207 tons of rice in 2015," Vice Regent of Jombang Munjidah Wahab affirmed.In January 2015, Jombang has harvested seven thousand tons of rice. Earlier in 2014, Jombang managed to achieve a surplus production of 145 thousand tons of rice."Rat, brown planthoppers, and rice blast disease are the main constraints hindering farmers productivity. Innovation is expected to increase the productivity of farmers," Munjidah added.(*)

Arkansas Rice Depot needs your help!
On Thursday, April 2, we’re participating in ArkansasGives, a one-day online giving event. When you make a donation to Arkansas Rice Depot on April 2, you can help us qualify for bonus dollars and cash prizes that will make your donation stretch farther.
How you can help:
·  Sign up for a callback. Only gifts made on April 2 through ArkansasGives will count towards the Arkansas Rice Depot grand total; therefore, we will be set up at Rice Depot from 8 am – 8 pm on April 2 to assist you with your donation. Sign up for a call to remind you to make your donation count!    
·  Donate! We have set a goal to raise $25,000 through this event, but we will need your help! OnApril 2, visit to make a donation to Arkansas Rice Depot between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ArkansasGives requires gifts to be made via credit card (including American Express, Visa, Discover and MasterCard and debit cards that bear the Visa or MasterCard symbol). The minimum gift required by the Arkansas Community Foundation is $25, but since $30 will feed a child for a month, we are asking a minimum gift of $30.
·  Challenge 6 friends to donate. This is going to be a really fun and easy way to help with our fundraising efforts for 2015 as well as a perfect opportunity to introduce us to your friends that might be interested in hunger relief. Forward this email to include your friends and family in this challenge!
We couldn't fulfill our mission to improve the lives of hungry Arkansans without you! If you have any questions feel free to contact me at or (501) 565-8855 ext 102.

Serving the hungry with you,
Description: Brandi SIgnature 
Brandi Johnston, Director of Developmen

Genetically modified food in China: time to reap what scientists sow?

Genetically modified food is a field in which China is globally competitive, but researchers say government hesitation is slowing growth

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 5:11am

UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 7:52am


Description: Henry WongAngel or demon, transgenic crops have become one of the "frontier technologies" that China is determined to embrace.In contrast to China's usual modesty in academic matters, mainland scientists claim that genetically modified organisms, utilising recombinant DNA technology, i s among the few fields in which China can claim to be globally competitive.Genetically modified rice, in particular, is the achievement that China should be most proud of, they say. But they fear the government's persistent hesitation to commercialise their successes could make China's GM quest lose momentum.


A quarter of the world's top research papers on rice have been written by Chinese researchers, said Yan Jianbing, a corn genomics researcher at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan ."Agricultural biotechnology is one of the few technologies in which China is on an equal footing with the world's best," said Yan, who works at the university's laboratory of crop genetic improvement, a key GMO research facility designated by the central government.With vast funding and a big team, China was ready to bring to market an insect-resistant transgenic rice it developed on its own a decade ago, said Zhu Zhen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Bureau of Life Sciences and Biotechnology.

But the government has chosen so far not to commercialise its GMO expertise as the technology remains controversial around the world and has triggered fierce debate at home."Public opinion remains unfavourable for the technology, and even now, the prospect for commercialisation is unclear," Zhu said.China pumped vast funds into GMO research when global studying of the subject started in the mid-1980s, and kept pace with international research all the time, he noted.China was the first country to commercialise transgenics in the early 1990s with the introduction of virus-resistant tobacco.In the mid-1990s, China was behind only the US in planting transgenic crops, with 1.1 million hectares of such crops, or 39 per cent of the world's total, being sown in 1996.


 But progress slowed considerably as controversy arose at home and abroad.In the past decade, many talented researchers returned from overseas to become the pillar of China's GM research effort, Zhu said. Today, his main fear is that the government's sluggishness to commercialise these accomplishments is frustrating ambitious young scientists."It's important to maintain an advantage in research, but to keep the technology from being commercialised means it won't be rewarded by the market. This will only make our research lose momentum," said Zhu, who is also the deputy director-general of the Chinese Society of Biotechnology. "The market will not wait," he said.


"There is good stuff overseas too."According to the non-profit international organisation, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a record 181.5 million hectares of GM crops were grown globally in 2014.The United States planted most, while China ranked sixth with 3.9 million hectares.Yan Jianbing said China had invested greatly in research and building a solid base of expertise.A handful of genetically modified 'Golden Rice'. GM research was designated by the government as one of 16 major areas in which it was aiming for major breakthroughs by 2020, according to a national scientific research plan in 2008.The China Business News cited a leading scientist as saying that from 2006 to 2020 about 20 billion yuan would be devoted to GM research.


Yan was optimistic that China could keep up the good work as long as the government maintained its investment, but shared Zhu's concern that China lagged others in applying the technology. "GM research, especially its application, needs to be driven by corporations, but for now the central government is doing the job, which is inconsistent with economics," he said.Dr Alan McHughen, a geneticist at the University of California, Riverside, said the healthiest approach to research was to have vigorous involvement by the public and private sectors. The public sector should concentrate on the underlying technologies, while the private sector would adapt the results of public researchers to develop commercial products for the good of society.


"In this respect, China is well organised and strategic in using public funding support to encourage GM research in China to improve crops of highest importance to the country, instead of simply adopting GM crops developed elsewhere," he said.Calling China "one of the world leaders in GM agriculture", he said the country would increase agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability with such public support.William Niebur, vice-president of DuPont for crop genetics research, also saw a promising Chinese GM market.He noted that faced with an urbanising population and natural resource constraints, China had begun to move away from extensive management methods driven by large output goals and excessive agricultural input Description:"In the future, improving agricultural competitiveness will be achieved by promoting technological innovation in agriculture and mandating environmentally sustainable development," he said."As the world's most populous nation and the largest grain consumer, China has stepped up efforts to ensure its food safety and security, as well as integrating new agricultural technologies to increase land productivity."But much concern remains as views on GM agriculture vary greatly among ordinary people and even government officials.


In the government's first policy directive this year, issued earlier this month, authorities called for improvements in safety management and public education on GM crops."After the frequent reports of illegal planting and circulation of GM crops in the past decade due to slack supervision, the authorities have apparently started to realise it's a serious problem," said Fang Lifeng, formerly a biosafety campaigner for environment group Greenpeace and now an independent observer."It was the first time public education was brought up in the document, which actually started in the second half of last year," he said.Led by the Ministry of Agriculture, various departments have increased their propaganda about GM technology to create a favourable environment for the commercialisation of GM crops."So I expect more publicity machines are going to voice support for GM research in the future," said Fang.This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Time to reap what scientists sow?


PhilRice develops 25 new heat-tolerant rice varieties

March 17, 2015 8:54 pm

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has developed 25 new heat-tolerant varieties that can stand the impact of harsh climate change and other extreme weather conditions such as the El Nino phenomenon.Dr. Norvie Manigbas, lead researcher, said the development of rice varieties with high temperature tolerance was intended to address effects of climate change in areas where 90 to 95 percent of the population depend on rice.He said PhilRice was able to identify the new breeding lines after rigorous selection for high temperature tolerance using conventional method and marker-assisted selection.
“We established breeding nurseries in high temperature prone areas in Cagayan and Nueva Ecija to screen and select breeding materials under field conditions,” Manigbas said.Rice grows optimally between 20-35°C and becomes increasingly sensitive to increasing temperatures especially during flowering. In 2010, Manigbas and his team developed new rice genotypes that can tolerate and adapt to high temperatures at 37-39°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.

Manigbas said planting was done on staggered basis so that flowering, or reproductive stage of all test entries, will coincide with the highest temperature during the growing season.“PhilRice 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 said.Manigbas said 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.With his co-researchers — Luvina Madrid, Corazon Cardenas, Evelyn Ladia, and Ferdinand Enriquez — Manigbas targets the promising line to be released as a new heat-tolerant rice variety in 2016-2017.Their research won the bronze medal in the Gold AFMA Best R&D Paper Award.

N sees success in seizing HK rice market from Thailand

Wichit Chaitrong
The Nation March 18, 2015 1:00 am
Vietnam has gained a substantial share of Hong Kong's rice market at the expense of Thailand, resulting from fierce competition over the past 10 years.Back in 2004, Thailand controlled almost 90 per cent of that city's rice market, by sending about 275,000 tonnes to Hong Kong. But its market share plunged to about 45 per cent in 2013 and then slightly recovered to 48 per cent last year, according to Hong Kong's Trade and Industry Department. Vietnam's rice sales in Hong Kong started from almost nothing - 0.3 per cent of the market in 2004 - but its share jumped to 42 per cent in 2013 before dropping slightly to 40 per cent last year.
"It will be very difficult for Thailand to regain 90 per cent," Fong Ngai, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office for Asean, said yesterday during an interview on NOW26 TV. Thailand's market share in the first month of this year was up to 65.1 per cent versus Vietnam's 26.3 per cent and Cambodia's 0.3 per cent. However, that might not be the trend for the whole year. Vietnam made a very smart move. It started by selling to restaurants and caterers. Now it can sell to consumers. "Before we saw only Thai rice on the shelves of supermarkets. Now we Description: see Vietnamese rice," Fong said. Recently Cambodia also made a successfully market entry. In the near future, Myanmar and other Asean members will likely join the fray. Hong Kong's rice market - 320,000 tonnes last year - is dominated by fragrant rice, followed by white rice. hareon Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, is pessimistic about the market outlook: "We will not be able to recapture our 90-per-cent market share in Hong Kong, because of our higher price.
" Thai fragrant rice is quoted at about US$1,000 per tonne against Vietnam's $500 and Cambodia's $600. Rice-subsidy schemes perpetuated by previous governments are to blame, Charoen claimed. "The governments wanted higher prices and it led to a loss of our overseas market share," he said. The previous governments did not recognise that the market price is very important, while on the quality front, Vietnam and other Asean rice exporters have quickly upgraded their products, he added. The association forecasts Thai rice shipments abroad to reach about 10 million to 11 million tonnes this year compared with 11 million tonnes last year

More people here sticking with Japanese rice

My PaperTuesday, Mar 17, 2015
The short-grained stickiness of Japanese rice has become more popular here despite costing more, with consumption more than doubling since 2011.Last year, Singapore residents consumed 1,359 tonnes of rice from Japan, up from 602 tonnes in 2011, figures from state trade promotion arm International Enterprise Singapore showed.Singapore is the second-largest importer of Japanese rice in the world after Hong Kong, going by data from the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Japan (MAFFJ).People here ate eight times as much Japanese rice as the amount exported to China and 26 times that in Malaysia.
Industry players point to increasing affluence, the booming number of Japanese restaurants and the growing number of Japanese expatriates in Singapore as reasons for the increase.Others said the recent surge in the prices of Thai rice, leading to falling demand here, led to more consumers switching sources."The gap in prices between Japanese rice and Thai rice narrowed a little. When that happened, some consumers switched and didn't switch back," said Andrew Tan, 35, chairman of the Singapore General Rice Importers Association.At Meidi-ya Supermarket, a 5kg bag of Royal Umbrella Thai rice costs $18.95; and a 2kg bag of Niigata Uonuma rice from Japan costs $21.However, he also pointed out that the rapid rise in figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, given that they started from a low base.
Singapore consumed a total of 325,860 tonnes of rice last year, with Japanese imports making up less than 1 per cent.Akira Karasawa, MAFFJ's director general of crop production, said the greater consumption of Japanese rice in Singapore could be due to the presence of more Japanese expatriates and restaurants here, as well as the affluence of Singaporeans.The Japanese ministry has launched the This Is Japan Quality logo, which is tagged onto all Japanese rice products here. It has a QR code that links to a website with information about the merits of Japanese rice.Supermarkets are also seeing brisk sales.
At Giant, demand for Japanese rice has grown each year since 2011, with its spokesman reporting "high single-digit percentage growth" year-on-year. FairPrice saw 50 per cent growth last year from 2013 of its house brand FairPrice Japonica Rice.Jane Wong, 36, started buying more Japanese rice last year to make Japanese meals for her four children to take to school because "it is healthier", she said. She added that she usually makes sushi for them.However, replacing the Vietnamese rice they eat for their daily meals with Japanese rice is not an option for now. "The price is still too high," she said.

Houses stalled over paddy issue again
Times of India  
 Patna: BJP members on Monday stalled the proceedings of first half of both the Houses of state legislature over slow paddy procurement in the state. The opposition members trooped into the well of both the Houses demanding a debate on the issue as was promised by CM Nitish Kumar on March 12. They demanded a high-level probe into the alleged scam in paddy procurement.Rejecting the pleas of ministers Vijay Kumar Choudhary and Shrawan Kumar in the assembly that the government was ready for discussion and BJP should raise it as per the rules, leader of opposition Nand Kishore Yadav said had the government been serious, it would have tagged the cooperatives issue (administrative body of PACSs for paddy procurement) instead of panchayati raj with the debate on the 3rd supplementary budget.
He requested Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary to accept the adjournment notice by BJP members. But, the Speaker rejected the notice."The CM's fast on land acquisition bill was to divert the attention of farmers who are angry with the government as PACSs (primary agriculture cooperative societies) have stopped buying paddy because they lack storage facility as the FCI godowns were already full," Yadav told the media after the House adjournment, adding only 12.5 lakh tonnes of paddy had been procured so far against the target of 30 lakh tonnes by March 31. He said the government was benefiting middlemen at the cost of 76% farmers who had to sell their paddy at a throwaway price to brokers
."Only 8.98 lakh tonnes of paddy could be procured through PACSs and 3.5 lakh tonnes through the state food corporation against the target of 24 lakh tonnes and 6 lakh tonnes respectively by the two agencies," Yadav said, adding the CM was evading the issue as the government would be in the dock as it had no defence for poor paddy procurement in the state.Sasaram MLA Jawahar Prasad said farmers in his area, known as rice bowl of the state, were on the verge of starvation because they were unable to sell their paddy. Now, rabbi buying season has arrived. BJP MLA Prem Kumar gave an adjournment notice, which the Speaker rejected.Mahishi MLA Abdul Gafoor, through a call attention notice, demanded opening of a bank branch as there was none in a radius of five kilometres of Bhelahi village under Mahishi block.
In Council, BJP member Satyendra Narain Kushwaha moved an adjournment notice. Mangal Pandey, Nawal Kishore Yadav, Rajnish Kumar, Sanjay Mayukh, Lal Babu Prasad and Kushwaha trooped into the well and started shouting antigovernment slogans.Leader of opposition in the Upper House Sushil Kumar Modi said the government has not paid farmers the bonus of Rs 300 per quintal of paddy procured as announced by it. Modi also demanded a CBI inquiry into the rampant corruption in the state food corporation.
Crop Insurance Briefings Shed Light on Complex Programs    
Don't snatch it away
WASHINGTON, DC -- Anticipating attacks from the far left and far right, the Senate and House Agriculture Committees last week hosted Crop Insurance 101 briefings where producer and crop insurance industry representatives were on hand to educate staff on the history, issues, and complexities of the programs.
 USA Rice Federation joined a broad coalition of commodity groups that helped promote the briefings that were widely attended by Congressional staff.The current success of the federal crop insurance program reflects Congressional effort to provide availability and affordability, thus improving actuarial performance, raising farm coverage, promoting farm financial stability, and avoiding costly ad hoc disaster assistance.
The House briefing included presentations from Dr. Keith Collins with National Crop Insurance Services, Christy Seyfert who offered a company perspective on behalf of Rural Community Insurance Services, Tom Sell on behalf of the Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Sam Willett with the National Corn Growers Association for producer perspective, and Brandon Willis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Administrator for Risk Management Agency. "These briefings were timely as both Chambers release budget proposals this week which could open the door for harmful amendments that aim to undermine the farm safety net," said USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely who attended the House briefing.
 "Agriculture interests will need to stick together to fight off potential amendments."Matt Schertz, the policy director for the House Agriculture Committee said, "With fewer voices representing rural America in Congress, it is important to educate Congressional staff on issues vital to farmers and ranchers.  We appreciate the efforts of USA Rice and other members of the Crop Insurance Working Group for taking the time to explain just how essential crop insurance is to our agricultural producers."
 Contact:  Julie Vieburg (703) 236-1467
Conservation Stewardship Program Renewal Deadline March 31  
NRCS Chief Jason Weller (l) talks conservation projects with Mississippi producer Buddy Allen during last month's USA Rice Government Affairs Conference
WASHINGTON, DC -- Eligible agricultural producers and forest landowners who wish to renew expiring Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contracts must have their renewals completed by Tuesday, March 31, 2015.  The renewal process is optional but benefits CSP participants with expiring contracts because it is non-competitive. In order to renew, an agricultural producer or forest landowner must meet the minimum criteria established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Contract renewal also offers these agricultural producers and forest landowners an opportunity to add new conservation activities to meet their conservation goals and protect the natural resources on their farms, forests or ranches.The 2014 Farm Bill includes an expanded conservation activity list that offers producers more options to address natural resource challenges.  New conservation activities include cover crops, intensive rotational grazing and wildlife-friendly fencing.NRCS Chief Jason Weller said, "CSP producers are established conservation leaders who work hard at enhancing natural resources on private lands.  This contract renewal period will provide greater opportunities for these conservation stewards to voluntarily do even more to improve water, air and soil quality and enhance wildlife habitat on their operations."
 Contact:  Ben Mosely (703) 236-1471
CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures 
CME Group (Prelim):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for March 17
Net Change

May 2015
+ $0.100
July 2015
+ $0.095
September 2015
+ $0.090
November 2015
+ $0.080
January 2016
+ $0.085
March 2016
+ $0.085
May 2016
+ $0.085

Dick Bell: Leader in U.S. rice and ‘effective public servant’

Mar 16, 2015by Hembree Brandon in Farm Press Blog
Although Dick Bell was a “Yankee” by birth (Illinois), and he never really lost his accent during his decades in Arkansas, he was the consummate southern gentleman: gracious, soft-spoken, always showing a keen interest in those with whom he interacted.The Agricultural Council of Arkansas’ Twitter post last Friday evening characterized Dick Bell quite elegantly: “Great man, great intellect, great leader.
”Dick’s death last week brought to a close a life of much accomplishment, not just for the rice industry — where for almost three decades he led Riceland Foods as the world’s largest rice miller and one of the region’s largest processors of soybeans — but in the broader arena of national and international agricultural policy.Although he worked for years in bureaucratic circles — as an agricultural economist with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, as an assistant agricultural attaché in Ottawa and Brussels, as ag attaché for the American Embassy in Dublin, and as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for International Affairs and Commodity Programs — he was as un-bureaucratic as you could ask for.
He had a knowledge of agricultural policy and economics that bordered on encyclopedic, and could more than hold his own with members of Congress or Capitol Hill leaders, but he had a marvelous (and enviable) knack for distilling the brain-numbing minutiae of government programs and policy into language the average man could comprehend.Although Dick was a “Yankee” by birth (Illinois), and he never really lost his accent during his decades in Arkansas, he was the consummate southern gentleman: gracious, soft-spoken, always showing a keen interest in those with whom he interacted.
I crossed paths with him often over the years, at one meeting or another, and he invariably would make it a point to come and chat with me and other members of the media, and no matter which of our Farm Press editors was covering his comments, he would, a twinkle in his eyes, manage to work in a reference during his talk to something we’d written, as if he followed our scribblings religiously. He further endeared himself to those of the media by always making himself available when we needed information or cogent comments about ag policy or markets. Much has been written about Dick’s careers with USDA/FAS, with Riceland Foods, and later, after his retirement, as Arkansas’ first Agriculture Secretary.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who appointed him to that post, said following his death, “With his vast knowledge of the entire agricultural landscape, and the respect he earned from everyone in the agri-world, there was no one I could think of who was better suited for the job. He was a hard-working, conscientious, and effective public servant.”In an era when government and government service are often reviled, Dick would, I think, have liked that label: effective public servant.U.S. rice and U.S. agriculture are the better for his lifetime of service, and on his passing can remember with gratitude his many contributions.
A Google Hangout in Celebration of National Ag Day
Posted by Rachael Dubinsky, USDA Office of Communications, on March 16, 2015 at 11:20 AM
Join Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden on Wednesday March 18 at 2 p.m. for a Google Hangout with Dr. Linda Young, Chief Mathematical Statistician and Director of Research and Development of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and Marji Guyler-Alaniz, photographer and founder of FARMHER as we celebrate women farmers and ranchers on National Ag Day. You can tune in at Census of Agriculture counts nearly one million women working on America’s farms and ranches. These statistics are crucial for our understanding of women in agriculture.  However,  they only tell a fraction of the story.
They might not capture women who are working the farm although the property is in someone else’s name.  They might not reflect the younger women who are just getting started in farming, or the older generation of women who are ready to transition their land to the next generation.The discussion will be about how women are represented in agriculture – both in statistics and in images.  We will talk about USDA efforts to collect better statistics about women in agriculture to reflect the work women are doing on the farm, and learn about photography projects documenting farmers.  We will also be taking your questions.  Use #womeninag to join the conversation about women in agriculture.
You can also send your questions in advance to month, Deputy Secretary Harden announced the Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network as a place for women in agriculture to support and engage women across all areas of agriculture and to connect women with shared backgrounds, interests, and professional goals. Since then, we’ve heard from hundreds of diverse women who are counting themselves as part of America’s agricultural community.March is also Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, USDA has been interviewing women leaders across the agricultural sector. Read the first two stories on the USDA Blog and stay tuned for more throughout the month of March. You can join the network and join the conversation about the many diverse faces of #womeninag.

Drought descends over rice fields
Water pumps in an irrigation canal provide water for farmland in Tambon Sanamklee of Suphan Buri's Muang district. (Photo by Thanarak Khunton)
With the searing heat and drought extending over large swaths of farmland in Suphan Buri, many local farmers see no hope of growing off-season rice crops to sustain their income.Along irrigation canals in several districts, water pumps are lined up side by side to siphon water into small, feeder canals, where water will be stored for farm use in the next two months.But there is no telling if the water supply will be enough to last them that long.Farmers are uncertain whether irrigation authorities would open sluice gates to release more water in the near future as the drought appears to be more severe and it arrived earlier than communities expected.
"Farmers in Nong Yasai and nearby districts knew in advance they might not be able to grow off-season rice two years in a row," Kraison Kaewruang, the 42-year-old village headman of Moo 5 in Nong Yasai district's tambon Nong Pho.Mr Kraison said not much rain fell this year over the Kra Seaw dam, one of the main water sources.Even if market sales fetched 10,000 baht per tonne, the risk of planting rice and seeing it wilt from drought is simply too much of a gamble, he said."The irrigation authorities wouldn't supply us with water for sure.
''Farmers already have a hard time earning a living because they cannot grow rice year round, yet constantly shoulder their daily living expenses, Mr Kraison said.Now, growers may have to refrain from working the fields for the next nine months.They hope the water released from the Kra Seaw dam will be enough to feed livestock or quick-growing crops, which can be eaten or sold on the side to supplement their income, he said.Mr Kraison said the drought would hit 4,800 rai of sugar cane and rice farms belonging to 156 households in his village. He said rice and sugar cane need at least four rounds of irrigation water per season — now a pipe dream as the dam is being rapidly depleted of water.Some growers, he said, are forced to dig wells to get water for their farms. According to Mr Kraison, an idea was earlier floated that water should be siphoned from the main Srinagarind dam to Doembang Nangbuat and Nong Yasai districts for agricultural use.
It was eventually scrapped as the pipe has to go through a natural World Heritage site where any man-made construction is banned, he said.Wilaiwan Robkob, a 37-year-old sugar cane grower in tambon Thap Luang of Nong Yasai district, said the drought is particularly severe this year.She and her neighbours, who own 100 rai of land between them, spent tens of thousands of baht installing pipes to draw water from an irrigation canal several hundred metres away. The pipe installation is necessary because the irrigation system does not reach his farm, he said. Sugar cane is also affected by drought although it needs less water than rice to grow.The drought leaves the canes thin and lowers their market value."It's even hard now to find water for bathing. Drinking water has to be drawn from our underground water system, which is not ideal," said Ms Wilaiwan.Pratuan Masomphan, a 42-year-old resident of tambon Talingchan of Muang district, and dozens of his neighbours grapple with siphoning water from the irrigation canal onto their land to feed livestock. The water stock could run out before May, he said. This is despite the fact that irrigation authorities released water from the Chao Phraya dam to Khlong Makham Thao in Suphan Buri for two days. "We wouldn't dare grow rice even if the price had gone up," said Mr Pratuan."Some people took the risk last year and went broke because there just wasn't enough water," he added.
Mr Pratuan said the tambon administration and irrigation officers are rationing water to prevent community conflicts. But Pathum Ruennarong, 76, and his wife Prang Srisamran, 79, in tambon Phlapphla of Song Phi Nong district, took the risk and grew rice.They said they did not know what else to do. Luckily, their 50-rai rice field leased from a Bangkok landlord is close to a reservoir, though they also worry about the supply as they fear they will run out before they get a chance to harvest."Water must be pumped into the rice field every 15 days. We're afraid it may not be enough until harvesting time in May," Mrs Prang said.Farmers expect yields to drop by 40% this year.Prices have hit an all-time low, between 6,500-7,000 baht per tonne, while leasing land costs up to 2,500 baht per rai."If the prices stay this low, we are in for very meagre profits or even losses," Mrs Prang said.

Courtesy:The Bangkok Post
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