Monday, April 27, 2015

27th April (Monday) , 2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E_Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

FAO Estimates Malaysia 2014-15 Rice Imports to Increase to 1.1 Million Tons

Description: Description: 24, 2015

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates Malaysia 2014-15 (July - June) rice imports to increase to 1.1 million tons due to strong consumption demand and the government's efforts to replenish stocks. In 2014, Malaysia's rice imports increased about 24% y/y from their below-average level in 2013.It estimates Malaysia's total cereal imports, including rice, to increase about 6% to around 6.4 million from around 5.99 million tons last year.The FAO estimates Malaysia's 2015 paddy rice production at around 2.6 million tons (around 1.69 million tons, basis milled
), slightly above last year's production of about 2.5 million tons (around 1.62 million tons, basis milled) due to favorable weather conditions and continued government support to the rice sector, including subsidies for agricultural inputs.USDA estimates Malaysia to produce about 2.769 million tons of paddy (around 1.8 million tons, basis milled) and import around one million tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (January 2015 - December 2015)

FAO Forecasts Laos 2015 Paddy Rice Production to Increase 3% y/y to 3.4 Million Tons

Apr 24, 2015
The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has forecasted Laos 2015 paddy rice production to increase about 3% y/y to around 3.4 million tons (around 2.1 million tons, basis milled) from an estimated 3.3 million tons (around 2 million tons, basis milled) last year.
Planting of the 2015 main (wet) season paddy crop (May - December) will begin in mid-May and will continue till July.According to USDA, usually Laos imports around 10,000 tons or rice to meet the local annual consumption demand of around 1.58 million tons. However, this year, FAO forecasts Laos to be self-sufficiency in rice production without the need to import rice.
Laos is in fact aiming to increase rice production by around one million tons and become an exporter of rice by 2015.USDA estimates Laos' MY 2013-14 (January 2014 - December 2014) paddy rice production to increase about 5.8% to around 2.46 million tons (around 1.55 million tons, basis milled) from an estimated 2.325 million tons (around 1.465 million tons, basis milled) in MY 2012-13. It estimates Laos to import around 10,000 tons of rice in 2014, unchanged from last year.

IGC Estimates 2015 Global Rice Trade at 41.4 Million Tons; Slightly Down from Last year

Apr 24, 2015

Description: Description: International Grains Council (IGC) forecasts 2015 global rice trade at around 41.4 million tons, down about 4% from around 43 million tons in 2014 as a reduction in imports to Far Eastern countries are likely to fall by 6% y/y to around 12.9 million tons. Shipments to South Asian markets such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are expected to decline this year. However, shipments to traditional buyers, including Indonesia and the Philippines, are likely to be significant. The IGC expects China to remain largest importer in 2015 with about 3.9 million tons.
On the exports side, the IGC estimates Thailand to export around 11 million tons of rice and Vietnam to export 6.1 million tons of rice in 2015. However, it expects India's exports to fall by about 21% y/y to around 8.8 million tons amid falling supplies and stiff competition from Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan.
The IGC estimates 2014-15 global rice production at around 474 million tons, slightly down from around 476 million tons in 2013-14 due to an expected decline in major rice exporting countries, including India and Thailand. It expects India's rice production to decline 3.5% y/y to around 103 million tons. The IGC is expecting lower output in Thailand (at around 19 million tons) due to a decline in output from off-season crop. However, the IGC is estimating U.S. production to increase about 16% to around 7.1 million tons.
It expects global rice consumption in 2014-15 to increase to around 483 million tons, up about 1% from around 479 million tons in 2013-14 due to expected increased consumption in Asian countries including India and China as well as Sub-Saharan African countries.The Council expects global rice ending stocks in 2014-15 to decline to about 8% to around 100 million tons from around 109 million tons in the previous year. It expects inventories of major rice exporters to decline to around 30 million tons, down 20% from around 39.4 million tons last year mainly due to higher stock depletion in India and Thailand.

Bangladesh Food Ministry Seeks Import Duty on Rice Amid Falling Domestic Prices

Apr 24, 2015
Bangladesh Food Ministry has sought for the imposition of duty on rice imports in the wake of increasing rice imports and falling domestic paddy and rice prices, according to local sources.The Ministry reportedly sent a letter to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) last fortnight seeking import duty on rice in order to ensure fair price to farmers. It apprised the NBR that the price of rice in the domestic market was declining for last couple of months due to increasing imports from India.Currently, the government of Bangladesh imposes no duty on imports of coarse and medium quality rice, but imposes a duty of 5% on aromatic rice imports, according to local sources. Some farmers' associations are demanding for immediate imposition of duty as boro harvesting would reach its peaks shortly.
Bangladesh's private sector imported about 1.29 million tons of rice in July 1, 2014 - April 21, 2015, nearly 3.5 times more than 374,560 tons of rice imported in the entire 2013-14 fiscal year (July - June) and highest in the last four years since 2010-11, according to data from the Ministry of Food. The Ministry shows that the government has so far not imported any rice in this fiscal despite setting a target to import about 200,000 tons of rice in the fiscal year 2014-15 to replenish falling stocks in the country.

Farmers are deprived of decent prices during the ongoing Boro (January - May) harvest. They are expecting an output of around 18.9 million tons from the 2015 Boro crop, which accounts for 55% of the country’s total production. Prices normally decline during the harvest time but this time increasing imports are putting more downward pressure on the prices, say millers. According to local sources, prices of medium quality rice in India stood at about Tk 24.5-25.2 per kilogram (around $314-$323 per ton) in March 2015 compared to Tk 27 per kilogram (around $346 per ton) of the same quality rice in Dhaka. Due to this price differential, traders have been preferring to import medium-quality rice variety "Swarna" from India at low prices and selling at high prices locally. However, farmers and millers are forced to lower their prices to compete with imported rice.
The government's procurement of Boro rice from May 1, 2015 is likely to provide a cushion to farmers against falling prices. The government is planning to procure one million tons of 2015 Boro paddy and 100,000 tons of Boro rice between May 1, 2015 and August 31, 2015. It has fixed the procurement price for paddy at Tk 22 per kilogram (around $283 per ton) and that for rice at Tk 32 per kilogram (around $412 per ton).Bangladesh produced around 34.449 million tons of rice, basis milled, in FY 2013-14 (July - June), up about 2.7% from around 33.833 million tons produced in FY 2012-13, according to the Agriculture Ministry. 

India 2014-15 Rabi Rice Planting Reaches 4.066 Million Hectares as of April 24, 2015; Down 9% from Last Year

Apr 24, 2015
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Planting for India 2014-15 rabi (secondary) rice crop (November - May) has reached around 4.066 million hectares as of April 24, 2015; down about 9% from around 4.485 million hectares planted during the same period last year, according to preliminary data released by the Indian Agriculture Ministry.The decline is reportedly due to untimely rains in some part of the rabi rice growing areas.
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, according to a statement from the Agriculture Ministry. It estimates around 88.02 million tons from kharif rice crop and around 15.02 million tons from rabi rice crop.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Prices Look Steady ahead of Iraqi Tender

Apr 24, 2015

The U.S. cash market was unchanged today with very little trading to report as most sellers remain unconcerned about falling bids and limited demand despite burdensome stocks.Analysts note that the prospect of the U.S. being awarded a piece of the latest Iraqi tender has some in the industry hopeful that it would lead to firming prices.  However, as of now, most believe that the chance is no better than 50/50.

India Develops New Protein-Rich Rice Using High-Yielding Local Variety “Naveen”

Description: Description: 24, 2015

The Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) has developed a protein-rich rice variety by crossing a protein-rich germplasm with a high-yielding local rice variety called "Naveen", according to local sources.The Director of the CRRI told local sources that the new variety has 10.5% protein content, which is about 3% higher than that found in normal varieties. He noted that the new variety is high-yielding as well as tolerant to certain diseases. He added that the scientists are planning to increase the protein content as well as yield of the new variety by cross breeding it with high-yielding varieties. Presently, the new variety yields about 5.5 tons per hectare and is well-suited to grow in the Indian eastern states, said the CRRI Director. 
The CRRI Director also noted that normally farmers are not that inclined to adopt such new varieties as the yield provided by them is very low. He added that the institute is planning to carry out an awareness drive to encourage the farmers to adopt the new protein-rich variety. He expressed confidence that farmers would be easily convinced as "Naveen" rice variety was quite popular among farmers in eastern states.The new variety, which is yet to get a name, is cleared by the Variety Identification Committee under the Ministry of Agriculture. The CRRI is planning to release the new variety for cultivation within the next two months.The CRRI is also working towards developing flood and saline-resistant rice varieties as well. So far, the institute developed 115 rice varieties, according to the CRRI Director.

Weekly Recap: Oryza White Rice Index Continues to Weaken

Apr 24, 2015
Description: Description: oryza white rice index
The Oryza White Rice Index (WRI), a weighted average of global white rice export quotes, ended the week at about $409 per ton, down about $1 per ton from a week ago, down about $7 per ton from a month ago and down about $43 per ton from a year ago.The International Grains Council (IGC) forecasts 2015 global rice trade at around 41.4 million tons, down about 4% from around 43 million tons in 2014 as a reduction in imports to Far Eastern countries are likely to fall by 6% y/y to around 12.9 million tons. Shipments to South Asian markets such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are expected to decline this year. However, shipments to traditional buyers, including Indonesia and the Philippines, are likely to be significant. The IGC expects China to remain largest importer in 2015 with about 3.9 million tons. On the exports side, the IGC estimates Thailand to export around 11 million tons of rice and Vietnam to export 6.1 million tons of rice in 2015. However, it expects India's exports to fall by about 21% y/y to around 8.8 million tons amid falling supplies and stiff competition from Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan. The IGC estimates 2014-15 global rice production at around 474 million tons, slightly down from around 476 million tons in 2013-14 due to an expected decline in major rice exporting countries, including India and Thailand.
Thailand 5% broken rice is today shown at about $385 per ton, unchanged from a week ago, down about $5 per ton from a month ago, and up about $5 per ton from a year ago.A panel of Thailand’s Supreme Court Judges has decided to accept the case filed by the Office of the Attorney General against the former Commerce Minister and 20 other individuals for their alleged corruption in G2G rice deals with two Chinese companies.  The first trial will commence on June 29.
The Commerce Minister reports that Thailand exported about 2.7 million tons of rice during January-mid-April, but exports may decline 1% y/y amid still competitions and falling prices.  Thailand is targeting to export about 10 million tons of rice in 2015.
Vietnam 5% broken rice is today shown at about $360 per ton, unchanged from a week ago, down about $5 per ton from a month ago and down about $30 per ton from a year ago.During the period January 1- April 13, Vietnam exported about 1.144 million tons of rice, down about 35% from the first four months of 2014.  Average rice export price so far this year is about $413 per ton (FOB), down about 5% per ton from April 2014.The UN’s FAO has forecasted Vietnam’s 2015 rice exports to remain at last year’s below-average level of 6.5 million tons.
India 5% broken rice is today shown at about $375 per ton, unchanged from a week ago, down about $20 per ton from a month ago and down about $50 per ton from a year ago.In the first eleven months of FY 2014-15 (April-March), India exported about 10.81 million tons of rice (basmati and non-basmati), an increase of about 8.5% from the same period in FY 2013-14.The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has forecasted India’s 2015 rice exports to decline about 18% from last year to around 9.3 million tons.
Planting for India 2014-15 rabi (secondary) rice crop (November - May) has reached around 4.066 million hectares as of April 24, 2015; down about 9% from around 4.485 million hectares planted during the same period last year, according to preliminary data released by the Indian Agriculture Ministry.The Central Rice Research Institute has developed a protein-rich rice variety which is also high-yielding and tolerant to certain diseases.
The Food Ministry of Bangladesh is seeking the imposition of duty on rice imports due to increasing rice imports and falling domestic paddy and rice prices. Separately, the government of Bangladesh will provide $3.9 million to about 210,000 rice farmers in 48 districts to help them increase the output from the ongoing Aus cropping season (February-August).
Pakistan 5% broken rice is today shown at about $375 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week ago, up about $10 per ton from a month ago and down about $40 per ton from a year ago.Pakistan’s total exports (including basmati and non-basmati) increased sharply in March 2015, after declining in January and February.  Pakistan exported about 472,357 tons of rice in March 2015.The UN’s FAO estimate Pakistan’s FY 2014-15 (July-June) paddy rice production will decline about 19% from last year to 8.437 million tons.
Central & South America
Brazil 5% broken rice is today shown at about $550 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago and down about $115 per ton from a year ago.
Five percent broken rice from Uruguay and Argentina is today shown at about $565 per ton, down about $10 per ton from a week ago, down about $15 per ton from a month ago and down about $60 per ton from a year ago.
U.S. 4% broken rice is today shown at about $485 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago and down about $100 per ton from a year ago.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has awarded the inventors of the golden rice project with the 2015 Patents for Humanity award on nutrition.
Rice farmers in the state of California are facing water shortages that may reduce production in 2015, following a previous reduction in 2014.
The U.S. cash market was mostly unchanged this week despite weakness in the futures market.
Chicago rough rice futures for May delivery remained low this week, opening at $9.955 per cwt (about $219 per ton) on Monday morning and gaining slightly to reach a high of $10.155 per cwt (about $224 per ton) on Wednesday before continuing a downward slide toward the end of the week.  They closed the week at $9.985 per cwt (about $220 per ton).
Other Markets
Cambodia 5% broken rice is today shown at about $435 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week ago, up about $5 per ton from a month ago and down about $5 per ton from a year ago.
Average domestic rice prices in the Philippines showed diverse trends in March, with retail prices of both well-milled rice (WMR) and regular-milled rice (RMR) declining and wholesale prices of WMR and RMR increasing.
The Philippines first quarter paddy rice output is likely to be below the government forecast of 4.59 million tons due to unfavorable weather conditions, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics. The Philippines plans to import rice from Myanmar, India, and Pakistan to fulfill the increased demand following a recent cyclone. Myanmar is expected to export around 2 million tons of rice in FY 2015-16 (April - March), up about 11% from around 1.8 million tons exported in FY 2013-14, the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) was quoted as saying.
During the first three months of 2015, Madagascar imported about 200,000 tons of rice in efforts to compensate for a likely loss of expected output from cyclones that hit the major rice producing regions since January this year.
The UN’s FAO has forecasted China’s 2015 rice imports at around 2.7 million tons, similar to last year’s above-average levels.
The government of Italy has allowed the temporary use of three kinds of herbicides to control weeds in rice fields during the crop year 2014-15 (September-August).
The government of South Korea has decided to provide the increased direct subsidies to rice farmers from this year instead of its initial plan of providing them from 2017. Separately, South Korea’s state-run Agro Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (KAFTC) has purchased 72,000 tons of non-glutinous brown rice of U.S. and Chinese origins for delivery between August and September. Meanwhile, the government of South Korea plans to procure 77,000 tons of locally produced rice in May to prevent prices from falling as supplies increase.
The government of Indonesia plans to buy low quality rice from farmers in attempts to stabilize rice prices.
Rice growers in Australia are confident they may produce 700,000 tons of paddy rice in 2015 due to favorable weather conditions.
The UN’s FAO says rice imports for Timor-Leste in 2014-15 may double from last year to over 130,000 tons as a result of reduced output in 2013 and strong domestic demand.
Despite efforts to reach 60% rice-sufficiency by 2015, Brunei has achieved only 4% so far, according to local sources.
Syria’s state-purchasing agency has advanced the deadline for an international tender seeking to buy about 6,360 tons of long-grain white rice to May 4 from May 18.
The UN’s FAO forecasts Laos 2015 paddy rice production will increase about 3% from last year to 3.4 million tons.
The UN’s FAO estimates Malaysia’s 2014-15 (July-June) rice imports will increase to 1.1 million tons due to strong consumption demand and the government’s efforts to replenish stocks.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development has earmarked around N1.5 billion to boost rice and cassava production in Nigeria in 2015.

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Dip Back Below $10.000 per cwt as Bearishness in Neighboring Grains Pits Weigh on Prices

Apr 24, 2015

Chicago rough rice futures for May delivery settled 8 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) lower at $9.980 per cwt (about $220 per ton). The other grains finished the day sharply lower led by a steep decline in wheat; Soybeans closed about 0.9% lower at $9.7075 per bushel; wheat finished about 2.5% lower at $4.8850 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 1.7% lower at $3.6450 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded mostly higher on Friday on continued momentum from Thursday's high levels as investors cheered major earnings reports. The Nasdaq held gains after opening more than 30 points higher, and the S&P touched a new intraday high, while the Dow attempted to shake off a decline as its top-weighted stocks lagged. The Nasdaq Composite outperformed the other major indices on Thursday to set an all-time closing record, topping the previous high of 5,048.62 set in March 2000. While the Dow Jones industrial average still has about 1% before surpassing its record close, the S&P 500 could set a record close. Durable goods, ex-transportation, fell 0.2%, below expectations for a slight gain but less than February's 1.3% decline.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded up 30 points, or 0.16%, at 18,086. The S&P 500 traded up 6 points, or 0.29%, at 2,119, with consumer discretionary leading six sectors higher and energy the greatest decliner. The Nasdaq traded up 38 points, or 0.74%, at 5,093, above the closing high set on Thursday but still below its record intraday high of 5,132.52 touched during the tech bubble in March 2000. Gold is trading about 1.4% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 1.4% lower, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.3% lower at about  1:00pm Chicago time.Thursday, there were 1,920 contracts traded, down from 1,962 contracts traded on Wednesday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Thursday decreased by 33 contracts to 11,250.

South Korea Plans to Procure 77,000 Tons of Locally Produced Rice to Stabilize Prices

Apr 24, 2015
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The government of South Korea is planning to procure 77,000 tons of locally produced rice in May this year to prevent prices from falling due to increasing supplies, Reuters quoted a ruling party Committee as saying.A statement released today noted that supply of rice has exceeded demand and has been impacting prices significantly. South Korea produced around 4.24 million tons of rice in 2014 over and above the government's projected 4.18 million tons as well as above the demand of around 4 million tons. The domestic price of rice declined to around 159,300 won per 80 kilograms (around $1,848 per ton) in April 2015, down about 6% from around 169,468 won per 80 kilograms (around $1,967 per ton) last year.
The government had opened the rice import market from January this year and proposed to impose a tariff of 513% on imports over and above the mandatory rice imports of around 408,700 tons under WTO minimum market agreement (MMA) rules. The WTO is yet to approve the government's proposal regarding the tariff.   Declining consumption of rice and the obligation to import 408,700 tons of rice under the WTO rules have also been contributing to oversupplies in the market, according to the Agriculture Ministry.USDA estimates South Korea's milled rice production at around 4.24 million tons in MY 2014-15 (November - October), slightly up from an estimated 4.23 million tons in MY 2013-14.

It estimates South Korea to import around 410,000 tons of rice in MY 2014-15, up about 31% from 313,000 tons imported in MY 2013-14. USDA estimates South Korea’s 2014-15 domestic consumption for rice to decline to around 4.45 million tons from around 4.46 million tons in 2013-14.

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27th April (Monday) , 2015 Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Duty on rice import
 The unsavoury situation over the import of rice has got a new twist following an ongoing move to discourage the entry of the main staple from outside by levying customs duty on it. The ministry of food thus reportedly wants actions in this connection from the ministry of finance, ahead of the rice procurement drive scheduled to start from the first day of the next month. The procurement drives are launched after the harvests of Aman and Boro every year with a view to giving 'price support' to the farmers.
The move to impose duty on imported rice has come in the wake of its substantial import -- nearly 1.3 million tonnes -- until April 15 of this fiscal year (FY) compared to that of 0.37 million tonnes imported throughout the last fiscal. However, there has been no import of the item by the government this FY. The ministry of food considers that it is imperative to levy duty on import of rice to avoid any rice price-crunch in the domestic market. The trend about falling prices was witnessed following every rice harvest until a few seasons back. The ministry of finance, it is understood, would look at the proposal of the ministry of food favourably since it found the higher level of rice import from neighbouring India in recent months to be somewhat abnormal.
The main reason behind the private traders' importing Indian rice in large volumes is, reportedly, the 'clearance' sale of the commodity after every three-month period that was put into effect by the Indians. Local importers have already filled up their godowns with the low-priced Indian rice. Against this backdrop, the move has come to levy duty on import of rice, ahead of the official rice procurement drive, which is primarily meant to benefit the farmers through a minimum level of price support. However, there have been raging debates over the real outcome of the government's procurement drive and the corrupt practices ingrained in it. Allegations have it that the drive benefits the rice millers and middle men more than the growers.
In most cases the rice growers do not otherwise get what can be termed a fair return. But even after bumper harvests during last few seasons, the prices of different varieties of rice had not recoded any fall and maintained a steady level. That trend is unlikely to change course this time too. Moreover, international prices of rice and inputs such as oil and fertilizers have been on the lower side for many months. So, prior to taking any decision relating to the duty on import of rice, the government should examine the pros and cons of its actions. It could be that instead of benefiting the rice growers, any hasty action might destabilise domestic rice prices and help those importers who have already built up large stocks with the cheap Indian rice.
Vietnam plans to generate power from rice husks
VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam plans to develop 20 power plants that will operate on rice husks. 

Construction of the first thermal rice husk-run power plant has started on a 9-hectare land plot in Long My District of the southern province of Hau Giang. The project is estimated to cost $31 million.The development of the project shows that Vietnam has paid higher attention to the development of clean energy from agricultural waste products such as rice husks, sawdust and bagasse (also known as biomass fuel).This will play an important role in Vietnam’s power development strategy in the future, because Vietnam, as an agricultural economy, puts out a big volume of agricultural waste products every year. If it can take full advantage of the waste products, it will be able to spend less money on fossil fuel and therefore ensure the national power security.

Energy from rice husks

The thermal power plant is one of 20 rice husk-run power plants to be built nationwide. In Mekong River Delta, called Vietnam’s “rice granary”, such plants would be built in five provinces of An Giang, Kien Giang, Hau Giang, Dong Thap and Can Tho with the total capacity of 200 MW.It is expected that 200 tons of rice husk will be consumed a day. The waste to be generated by the plants will be used to make high-quality cement and electrically insulated materials.Scientists have every reason to build rice-husk power plants in Mekong River Delta. The largest rice cultivation area churns out 5 million tons of rice husks every year.
At present, rice husks go to the environment, canals and rivers, thus causing pollution. However, once the thermal power plants become operational, the rice husks will be collected for fuel at the power plants, which will help save money, generate more power for the national grid and create more jobs for locals.In fact, several thermal power plants using agricultural waste products have been built, including the Lam Son 12.5 MW power plant utilizing the waste from the sugar refinery process.However, scientists affirmed that the thermal power plant in Hau Giang province is the largest one so far.
Rice husks, bagasse and sawdust all can be used as an alternative fuel for fossil fuel in industrial production. As for industrial boilers, the use of sawdust instead of coal would help save 50 percent of the production cost. Meanwhile, the figure could be up to 70 percent if using sawdust instead of FO. A report of HAWA, the HCM City wooden fine arts enterprises, showed that Vietnam would be able to cut 1,000 liters of FO of imports for every 2.5 tons of sawdust it uses as fuel.


The story of a salt-affected village
M. G. Neogi
 Increased salinity in dry season in the coastal belt is changing the areas which, once upon a time, were suitable for growing rice. The entire coastal areas are now severely affected by the intrusion of salinity into arable land, especially in dry season. Farmers were unable to reap a good harvest in Boro season because of high salinity intrusion into their cropland which is increasing day by day. Since then, farm households in the coastal belt are passing bad days, as most of them are subsistence farmers.
Around 0.74 million hectares of land were cultivated in the coastal region, out of which around 0.38 million hectares are now salt-affected. A survey indicates that out of 0.38 million hectares of affected land, around 0.33 million hectares are affected by salt up to 10-12 dS/meter (deciSiemes per meter) while the condition is worse in the remaining areas. Earlier, farmers used to cultivate rice in both dry (Boro) and wet (aman) seasons and get a very good yield. But now-a-days, they have given up Boro cultivation because of increased salinity in dry season and severe scarcity of salt-free irrigation water. As a result, around 0.3 million hectares of land in the coastal region remain fallow now during the Boro season.
To overcome this adverse situation, the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA), under a joint collaboration with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), have developed four salt-tolerant rice varieties for Boro season. BINA developed Binadhan-8 and Binadhan-10 while BRRI developed BRRI dhan47 and BRRI dhan55. All these four varieties have the capacity to fight salinity condition up to 10-12 dS/meter. These varieties have yield potential of five to seven tons per hectare under normal conditions in non-saline areas while the yield will be around three to five tonnes per hectare in saline-prone areas, depending on the degree of salinity.
In 2012-13, the STRASA-USAID-IRRI project established a number of demonstration trials and distributed small seed packets of these four salt-tolerant rice varieties to the farmers through the agricultural extension department and local partner NGOs as well as local private seed producers.
Here is a case study on salt-tolerant rice varieties at Sreefalkathi village of Ishwaripur union under Shyamnagar upazila of Sathkhira district which is one of the worst Aila-affected areas. Around five hundred farm families reside in the village where rice farming is the only source of their livelihood. Most of the villagers have some land and they cultivate now only one crop in a year, which is aman rice, in monsoon. But before Aila, farmers used to cultivate at least two crops in a year including Boro rice in dry season and earn a reasonable income from agriculture. Since Aila their lands have become too salty and they do not get reasonable harvests in Boro season.
Each year, during dry season (November to May), salinity increases in the soil of this village. A white film of salt covers paddy fields in such areas. This means that the soil contains salt. BRRI and BINA scientists predicted that the increasing trend of this white film will turn the area's landscape into barren lands in the near future. Nakshikantha, a partner NGO of IRRI, provided training to the Sreefalkathi farmers on "cultivation, seed production and seed preservation of salt-tolerant rice varieties" through government local agricultural extension officials, while the NGO provided seeds of salt-tolerant rice variety of Binadhan-8, Binadhan-10 and BRRI dhan47.
During growing stage of rice plant, it was found that the number of tillers was less in their traditional (non-salt tolerant) rice variety, compared to salt-tolerant rice variety. Also at the flowering stage, it was observed that a significant number of panicles of non-salt tolerant rice plants are becoming white with partial empty grains which resulted in poor yield. The same scenario was observed in last couple of years when farmers failed to get a good harvest. Rice scientists confirmed that these are happening due to increased salinity.In the adjacent plot, where a farmer cultivated newly-developed salt tolerant rice varieties like Binadhan-8, Binadhan-10 and BRRI dhan47 no such symptoms were  found and showed a very good performance. At the end of the season, the good yield made the farmers jubilant.

The average yield of these demonstration farmers was around four tonnes per hectare which was quite satisfactory in salt-affected areas. This encouraged the entire farmers' community to go for Boro rice cultivation again with these salt-tolerant rice varieties. The demonstration farmers have saved seeds for their own use while many farmers have taken seeds from them for the next season. Arafat Hossain of this village, who cultivated Binadhan-8, is now happy to see the outstanding performance of this variety, as rice could once again grow on his "salty land". He harvested  more than four tonnes per hectare. The project personnel and local elites requested the demonstration farmers not to consume the seeds of salt-tolerant rice variety this year, but to sell and distribute these to their neighbours, relatives and other farmers.
IRRI is not providing any input to this village now, but just a follow-up along with partner NGOs and local government agricultural officials. A reasonable number of farm families of Sreefalkathi, who have irrigation facilities, now cultivate Binadhan-8 and Binadhan-10 varieties. These newly-developed salt-tolerant rice varieties have started reaching the farmers' community through farmer-to-farmer seed distribution at the community level and the NGO is coordinating the activity.
Dr. A. N. Singh of IRRI India recently visited Sreefalkathi village. During his visit, it was found that rice crops from non-salt tolerant varieties like BRRI were totally or partially damaged due to increased salinity intrusion, but the newly-developed salt-tolerant varieties in the adjacent field grew very well. Farmers of Sreefalkathi are now very happy to receive these two varieties which can grow easily in their 10-12 dS/meter "salty" land.
It is now confirmed that suitable salt-tolerant rice varieties are now available in the country. If it is possible to bring fallow land in the coastal region under rice cultivation in Boro season by using salt-tolerant rice varieties, then it will be possible to harvest at least one million tonne extra rice.
Dr. M. G. Neogi is Consultant of International Rice Research Institute.

PhilRice taps rice farms to get into agritourism

April 24, 2015 10:02 pm
by James Konstantin Galvez Reporter

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is tapping the potential of agriculture as a tourist attraction, showcasing conventional and cutting-edge technologies on rice farming, a senior official said on Friday.Visitors and farmers learn about new technologies in PhilRice’s Future Rice Program farm such as nutrient diagnostic tools, Rice Crop Manager App and other devices, said Roger Barroga, Future Rice Program leader.He said the farm in Munoz, Nueva Ecija uses clean and renewable energy, including solar-powered water pump and biogas digester that provides alternative fuel from animal wastes.
The farm also showcases hybrid rice varieties such as Mestiso 19 and 20, rarely seen collection of traditional varieties, aromatic rice, submergence tolerant varieties, farmers’ varieties called ‘double diamond,’ and Korean varieties. Vegetables are also grown in land and in floating gardens.“Our objective is to prepare the Filipino farmers and extension workers for future rice farming scenarios and train them on clean, green, practical, and smart rice farming,” said Barroga said.

The 5-hectare farm site provides education, exposure, and experience to rice farmers and extension workers through training, site visits, and agricultural events.“This year, in cooperation with the Project IPaD (Improving Technology Promotion and Delivery through Capability Enhancement of Next-Gen Rice Extension Professionals and Other Intermediaries), we developed a portion of the farm as a rice boot camp and hosted the season-long training of 25 AgRiDoc or the new breed of extension workers. The rice boot camp included plots for rice production,” Barroga said.The farm is about five hours drive from Metro Manila. A visit to the farm offers agricultural adventures such as rice rice planting, harvesting, and recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and kayaking.

The EU has approved the first GMO crops since 2013

APR. 24, 2015, 10:18 AM
Erik De Castro / ReutersA scientist shows genetically modified "Golden Rice" (R) and ordinary rice at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna south of Manila, August 14, 2013.

Next generation GMOs include cancer-fighting pink pineapples and heart-healthy purple tomatoes

Genetically modified apples are coming to your supermarket

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union cleared the import of 10 new types of genetically modified crops and two more kinds of cut flowers on Friday, its first authorizations in more than a year after a review of its blocked approval process.The European Commission said it had authorized 10 new types of maize, soybeans, cotton and oilseed rape as either human food or animal feed for 10 years.
In practice, the crops produced by Monsanto, BASF and Bayer CropScience will principally be used as feed.It also extended by 10 years the use of seven other crops already in use produced by Bayer, Monsanto, Dupont's Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences.Widely grown in the Americas and Asia, GM crops have divided opinion in Europe. Some green groups say they are worried about the environmental impact of crops, question whether they are healthy for humans and say they lead to corporate control of the food chain. Producers say research shows the crops are safe.
The approvals will be added to the existing list of 58 GM crops authorized in the European Union. The genetic modifications mainly offer protection against pests or resistance to herbicides.Two carnations, developed by Suntory Holdings [SUNTH.UL], have also been approved for import.The approvals, the first since November 2013, follow a proposal to change the rules on GM approval, allowing individual countries to restrict or prohibit GM imports even after they have been approved by the bloc as a whole.That proposal has angered both pro- and anti-GM camps.
The former, such as the United States government, has said it amounts to a trade restriction and a hindrance to talks towards a planned EU-U.S. free trade deal.The latter say the change does not provide the legal grounds for national governments to opt out and will in practice lead to a flood of new approvals.Greenpeace said Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had broken a promise to change rules that force GM crops onto the EU market even if a majority of countries opposed them."Today he opened the flood gates to a new wave of GM crops only to please U.S. biotech corporations and trade negotiators," it said.
Industry body EuropaBio said the authorizations were a step in the right direction and would benefit European livestock farmers after a standstill over a year and a half. It said a further 40 applications still pending for genetically modified organisms should be processed without delay.Friday's approval only covers imports, not cultivation. Only one GM crop is currently grown in Europe: Monsanto's maize MON810 in Spain and Portugal.

Marquette Scientist Takes Rooftop Rice Experiment to Farm Field

 SUSAN BENCE  APR 24, 2015
Michael Schläppi at his rooftop paddy system before spring planting began. Schläppi studied in his native Switzerland before hopping the Atlantic to do postdoctoral work.
Most of the world’s rice production occurs oceans away from the United States. In 2011, molecular biologist Michael Schläppi dove into rice research hoping to grow the grain in Wisconsin.According Schläppi, 80 percent of the rice Americans consume is grown in a handful of states, especially Arkansas and California. “But I think it would be wise to think about, with climate change or the drought in California, (is) maybe they won’t be able to grow rice anymore,” he says.Of course wild rice grows in Wisconsin, but it’s a distant relative. The real thing originated around the Yangtze and Pearl Rivers of China.The Marquette University scientist challenged himself to uncover varieties able to cope with Wisconsin’s climate.

One of Schläppi's climate-controlled chambers.
A long, narrow room at the university serves as Schläppi’s greenhouse. It holds special climate controlled growth chambers and is filled with rice at various stages of development.“The main thing that I’m testing whether they flower here, set seeds and the seeds can be harvested on time before winter, before it gets to cold," he says. "And also, measure what the actual yield is."He has experimented with more than 200 rice varieties, from Australia to Uzbekistan to South America. Each possesses unique colors and characteristics.Schläppi uncovered a Russian line he thought would have the best results in Wisconsin. It’s known as Krasnodarky 3352.

On the roof of the Wehr Life Sciences building on Marquette's campus, Schläppi built a dozen rice paddies. They are raised beds, blanketed with swimming pool liner and filled soil.“Two weeks ago, I started germination inside, which will be put into the paddy today and flooded," he explains.“It’s the third year I've planted this time of year – mid April. The rice doesn’t like it, but it can make it,” Schläppi says. "That’s what I’m testing, I’m stress-testing the lines."
The rice project at Alice's Garden
Last summer, he partnered with Alice's arden's Fieldhands and Foodways Project.  Schläppi planted rice lines from Africa in two paddy systems.Schläppi is now preparing to plant rice in a field north of Milwaukee. It’s Fondy Farm, a cooperative of small-scale farmers who sell their produce on the city’s North Side. Many of the farmers are Hmong."I’m renting an acre of land there, so my students will help me prepare fields," he says. Schläppi will flood a portion of his parcel to mimic traditional lowland rice farming.
“What we want to test is to take a couple of seeds, put them into the soil. That’s what the Hmong are proposing, because that’s what they did in their traditional way. Just make holes, put the seeds, then you have to irrigate it, you have to weed it, of course, and then see what kind of yield we get,” Schläppi says.Schläppi has more than a scientific interest in developing the perfect rice for Wisconsin's climate; he respects the ancient traditions of growing rice in community.“To grow rice you really need the community, especially if it is paddy-driven, water resources you have to manage as a village. You help everyone plant, one family one week, the next week another family, you all pitch in. For the harvest the same,” Schläppi says.

FPCCI reviews Pakistan-Malaysia bilateral trade

April 26, 2015
A Meeting of the Board of Directors Pak-Malaysia Business Council of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) was held on 23rd April, 2015 at Federation House, which was chaired by M. Bashir Janmohammed, Chairman of the Council and was attended, on special invitation, by S. M. Muneer, Chief Executive Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). The Meeting was also attended by Rahim Janoo, Senior Vice President, FPCCI, Zubair Tufail and Akram Rajput, former Vice Presidents of the Federation besides Syed Nasir Ali Mirza, Asst. Secretary General, FPCCI and notable businessmen/members of the Council. The position of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Malaysia was reviewed in detail. The problems being faced by Pakistani exporters and the ways and means to resolve them were deliberated.
It was decided that in order to overcome the imbalance in trade between Pakistan and Malaysia, exports from Pakistan to Malaysia, particularly of non-traditional items besides traditional items, needs to be promoted. It was particularly noted that Malaysian's quota for export of Rice from Pakistan should be increased, to a minimum of 200,000 Tons per annum, since Malaysian annual requirements of Rice is about one Million Tons. It was decided to take up the matter at higher level with Malaysian Government through TDAP and Ministry of Commerce. The Council noted that there were certain issues regarding Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Malaysia about Duties and permits, which need to be resolved. It was therefore decided to seek suggestions from the business community for removal of anomalies and problems in context with FTA, in a fortnight's time, for take up the matter with the Government. 
The Council noted that big hindrance for exports of Fruits, particularly Mangoes and perishable Vegetables to Malaysia in commercial quantities is non-availability of adequate air flights directly to Malaysia and there was need to increase frequency of PIA flights to Kuala Lumpur, to overcome exporters difficulties, due to limited air freight/space. The Council further noted that one of the major constraint in import of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) from Malaysia is the imposition of Export Duty on CPO by Malaysian Government, as a result of which, the volume of imports of Palm Oil products in the current year from Malaysia has come down to about 27% and the remaining 73% import is being made from Indonesia. The Chairman, Pak-Malaysia Business Council had already put in his best efforts for elimination of Malaysian Export Duty.-PR 

GR Poses Threat to Bio-diversity: Dr Deb

By Express News Service
Published: 26th April 2015 06:06 AM
Last Updated: 26th April 2015 08:31 AM
Renowned seed conservationist Dr Debal Deb delivering a lecture at Renewal Centre in Kochi on Saturday | Express

KOCHI:Questioning the Green Revolution (GR) is like blasphemy in mainstream agricultural discourses. But, plant scientist-turned farmer Dr Debal Deb, an atheist by choice and seed conservationist by vocation, dares to question the very basics of the Green Revolution, and rips down the tall claims of its proponents.Delivering a lecture on ‘A Journey Towards Ecotopia,’ at the Renewal Centre here on Saturday, Dr Deb held the Green Revolution (GR) responsible for destruction of the rich bio-diversity and extinction of rare ethnic seed varieties that were far better than the high-yielding seeds popularised by agricultural scientists. Claiming that the Green Revolution was a big lie, Dr Deb said statistics proved that the contribution of the high-yielding rice varieties introduced by the proponents of the GR had only a limited influence on increasing production.
“The area of irrigated land increased by more than 60 per cent between 1965 and 2010, and the area under cultivation expanded exponentially. Also, the farmers tried many crops every year, contributing to the increase in production. Meanwhile, the use of high-yielding crop varieties was limited to just 17 per cent of the total cultivated land,” Dr Deb said, refuting the claims of ‘high yield’ by modern rice breeds.Calling rice research in India a sham, Dr Deb, who cultivates more than 1,120 ethnic rice varieties in his farm at Niyamgiri in Odisha, said that Indian research organisations had not come up with a stable rice variety, despite sixty years of research, that increased production in upland, rainfed lowland and coastal salinated farms.
“At the same time, ethnic rice varieties that are tolerant to adverse conditions were deliberately ignored,” he added.
“We have 150 varieties of seeds in my farms that are tolerant to adverse conditions like draught, flood and salinity. Among the twenty rice varieties that are tolerant to flood, one rice variety grows up to 20 feet above flood waters,” said Dr Deb, who established the seed bank named ‘Vrihi’.Dr Deb also questioned the claims that the GR resulted in self-sufficiency in rice production. “Surplus rice production comes at a big cost.  We imported seeds, pumps, fertilisers and pesticides from abroad. We have also begun to import mustard oil, among other things, which we used to export. It is like a ‘lassi’ (curd) vendor claiming self sufficiency. Of course, he makes the curd himself, but buys milk and sugar from the market,” Dr Deb added.

College grads energize PH rice farming

Anselmo Roque

Inquirer Central Luzon5:49 AM | Sunday, April 26th, 2015

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ— Visit any rice farm in the country and chances are you will find middle-age or older men working the fields, either sowing rice seeds, harvesting grain or preparing land for the next planting cycle. These farmers have been portrayed in news reports as poor and unschooled, but the results of surveys done by researchers of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) starting 1996 have shown otherwise.
The new Filipino farmer is educated and younger, age between 40 and 59.While the results of three PhilRice surveys (1996-1997, 2001-2002 and 2006-2007) showed that more than half of the 2,000 farmers covered by the study had elementary education (from 57 percent in 1996-1997 down to 54 percent in 2006-2007), between 13 and 15 percent (260 to 300) had college education.
Like father, like son
Among them is Glen Mandac of San Mateo, Isabela province, who finished veterinary science and medicine at Central Luzon State University and passed the board examination for veterinarians.Instead of seeking employment, Mandac went into rice farming. Today, at 47, he is tending his 3-hectare farm along with raising hogs and native chickens and managing his 50 rambutan trees.His son is in a ladder-type course in agriculture and is planning to go into rice farming, too.Jonathan Gamilla, 27, a resident of Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija province, went into rice farming after earning a degree in agriculture.He worked on the land his father, Angelito, had given him. The property was acquired by the family through farming.Like his father, Gamilla is producing rice and rice seeds.“If not for rice farming, we could not have attained a comfortable life today,” he said.
This changing face of the Filipino farmer has been presented in the paper “An overview of the socioeconomic changes among Filipino rice farmers and their households,” released recently.The results were compiled by researchers Ronnel Malasa, Marlon Velayo and Sergio Francisco of the Socio-Economic Division (SED) of PhilRice.Jesusa Cabling-Beltran, SED head, said the surveys were carried out in five-year intervals in 30 major rice-producing provinces.
2011-2012 survey
The surveys involved 2,000 farmers or their heirs and successors. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics helped conduct the surveys.Analysis of the results of the fourth survey, covering 2011-2012, has yet to be finished by the researchers.“For the educated farmers, we surmised that they decided to engage in rice farming because they knew it is a profitable enterprise,” the researchers said. “They have a higher gross income compared with their counterparts with lower educational attainment.”The average income advantage of farmers with college education is 40 percent, they said.In the 2006-2007 survey, the following incomes for two cropping seasons and classified by educational attainment of rice farmers were recorded: elementary school, P53,908.11; secondary school, P74,085.02; and college, P99,643.79.
Graying farmers
The researchers also said Filipino farmers are “graying” and they do not encourage their children to become their successors and take farm work.“The mean age of the Filipino farmer is 54. Over a 10-year period, those in the age bracket 40-59 increased by 7 percent and those 60 and above, by 2 percent,” they said.Pampanga province has the highest mean age of farmers at 61.The oldest farmer was found in Quezon province, who was 94, while two farmers in Nueva Ecija were 91.But the researchers said this should not be a problem as far as farm labor is concerned.A new force that provides labor in rice production has appeared, they said. It is composed mostly of young people hired by older farmers and other farm operators as “kasugpong,” or farmers paid on a percentage basis.“The farmers or farm operators with permanent hired laborers increased from 4 percent to 13 percent,” the study said. “This new force enabled them to rent land in order to expand their rice farms.”Reports said the kasugpong get 10 percent from the gross harvest as their share or payment. Their number is reportedly increasing.Many respondents said remittances of their relatives working abroad had become a major source of capital.
The wet season yield in irrigated farms increased from 3.57 metric tons per hectare in 1996-1997 to 4.14 MT/ha in 2006-2007.For nonirrigated farms, the yield increased from 2.84 MT/ha in 1996-1997 to 3.08 MT/ha in 2006-2007.For the dry season cropping, the average yield in irrigated farms was 3.66 MT/ha in 1996-1997 and 4.21 MT/ha in 2006-2007.For nonirrigated lands, the yield was 2.38 MT/ha in 1996-1997 and 2.85 MT/ha in 2006-2007.
Incomes drastically improved
Rice-based farm households’ (RBFH) average gross income increased from P41,826.75 to P67,194.08 over 10 years, representing an increase of 61 percent.Noticeable among many farm households are their other sources of income, which implied that they diversified their income-sources.They increased their incomes from P68,974.85 in 1996-1997 to P78,925.59 in 2001-2002 and to P127,799.95 in 2006-2007.“The socioeconomic status of RBFH has dramatically improved considering that 60 percent of them are living above the poverty level in the 2006-2007 survey,” the researchers said.PhilRice records showed that 2 million families are engaged in rice farming and about three-fourths of farm household revenue come from rice farming and related farmer, according to PhilRice data, feeds 37 Filipinos, up from 28 in 1980. By 2040, each farmer is targeted to feed 57 Filipinos, considering the country’s population growth.
Getting out of poverty
The increasing yield makes farmers stick to rice production and attract professionals to join them, the researchers said.It helps that the Department of Agriculture is allocating a large chunk of its budget in the rice program, they said.Farm mechanization is also easing the burden of farm work, which used to be dominated by the draft power of the carabao.“Definitely, there are handsome benefits to rice farming,” the researchers said. “With some more yield increases and income diversification, it can give enough push to make farmers break away from poverty over time.”

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