Monday, May 04, 2015

4th May (Monday) ,201(5 DailyExclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Government of Pakistan Fixes 2015 Milled Rice Production Target at 7 Million Tons

May 01, 2015

Pakistan's Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) has set new production targets for this year's rice, sugarcane and maize crops, according to local sources.For rice, the FCA has fixed a target of 7 million tons, basis milled, (around 10.35 million tons, basis paddy) from an area of around 2.8 million hectares. It aims to produce 68 million tons of sugarcane and 4.6 million tons of maize this year.Speaking at a conference after the FCA meeting, the Minister for National Food Security and Research told local sources that the volume of irrigated water would be adequate in all area except in some areas of Sindh. The Met Office also reported that water levels in all reservoirs and expressed confidence that rainfall would be normal in all parts of the country.
The Minister noted that last year the availability of certified seeds had increased during the Kharif sowing season. A representative of the State Bank added that the allocation of institutional credit also increased substantially last year.
USDA estimates Pakistan's MY 2014-15 (November - October) milled rice production to increase about 3% to around 6.9 million tons (around 10.35 million tons, basis paddy) from around 6.7 million tons (around 10.05 million tons, basis paddy) in MY 2013-14.  However, the National Space Agency of Pakistan (SUPARCO) and UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO have estimated Pakistan FY 2014-15 (July - June) milled rice production to decline about 19% to around 5.65 million tons (around 8.437 million tons, basis paddy) from around 6.72 million tons (around 10.04 million tons, basis paddy) produced last year.

Weekly Recap: Oryza White Rice Index Slips amid May Day Holiday

May 01, 2015
The Oryza White Rice Index (WRI), a weighted index of global rice export quotes, ended the week at $408 per ton, down $1 per ton from week ago, down $3 per ton from a month ago, and down $42 per ton from a year earlier. News this week was slow amid holidays across the world. 
Thailand 5% broken rice ended the week around $385 per ton, unchanged from last week, but down $5 per ton from a month ago and up $10 per ton from a year prior.
The government of Thailand has approved a 460 million baht (about $14 million) rice protection program for 2015.
Vietnam 5% broken rice was today indicated around $360 per ton, unchanged from last week, but down about $5 per ton from a month ago and down about $30 per ton from a year ago.
The Vietnam Food Association has cut the floor price of the lower quality 25% broken rice exports to around $340 per ton, down about 3%, due to subdued demand for Vietnamese rice.
Authorities in China have reportedly tightened control over unofficial rice imports from Vietnam.
Vietnam plans to build thermal power plants using rice husks.
India 5% broken rice finished this week shown around $365 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week earlier, down about $10 per ton from a month earlier, and down about $35 per ton from a year earlier.
India exported about 11.65 million tons of rice in FY 2014-15 (April-March), up about 8% from the same period in FY 2013-14.
India’s 2014-15 rabi rice crop (November-May) stands at around 4.066 million hectares as of May 1, down about 9% from the same period last year.
The government is promoting climate smart rice varieties in order to boost production and consequently farmers’ income in drought and flood prone states.
Pakistan 5% broken rice ended the week quoted around $380 per ton, up around $5 per ton from a week earlier and up about $25 per ton from a month earlier but down about $40 per ton from this time last year.
The government of Pakistan has set a new production target of 7 million tons for 2015.
Central & South America
Brazil 5% broken rice is today shown about $565 per ton, unchanged from week ago, down about $10 per ton from a month ago, and down $60 per ton from a year ago.   
Argentina and Uruguay 5% broken rice ended the week quoted around $550 per ton unchanged from the week and month earlier but down around a whopping $115 per ton from a year ago.
A former Central Bank Co-Director says that Colombia’s rice import barriers have increased domestic rice prices and inflation rates.
U.S. 4% broken rice is today shown around $485 per ton, about unchanged from a week and a month ago, but down around $100 per ton from this time last year.
The U.S. cash market weakened late this week after it was reported that the Iraqi Grain Board delayed announcing any winners in their latest tender.
Chicago rough rice futures for July delivery saw a boost on Wednesday and Thursday but dropped again after the IGB announcement.  After opening at $10.145 per cwt (about $224 per ton) on Tuesday, they reached a high of $10.475 per cwt (about $231 per ton) on Wednesday but dropped on Friday to close at $10.200 per cwt (about $225 per ton).
Other Markets
Cambodia 5% broken rice ended the week around $435 per ton, unchanged from last week, but down around $5 per ton from a month ago and down about $5 per ton from this time last year.
The National Board of Revenue in Bangladesh will likely impose duty on rice imports in efforts to help stabilize domestic prices. Separately, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics estimates milled rice output from the Aman (July-December) and Aus (February-August) crops to increase significantly in financial year 2014-15.
Bhutan plans to provide farmers with newer varieties of rice that are high yielding and short duration in efforts to boost rice production in the country.
The Agriculture Minister of South Korea has said the government will exclude rice from the Trans Pacific Partnership list of tariff concessions. Meanwhile, South Korea’s state-run Agro Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (KAFTC) has purchased 15,000 tons of non-glutinous brown rice of U.S. and Australian origins.
Rice planting in Nepal may suffer after the recent 7.8 Mw earthquake, as Nepal typically starts planting its rice crop in May and June.

India 2014-15 Rabi Rice Planting Reaches 4.066 Million Hectares as of May 1, 2015; Down 9% from Last Year

May 01, 2015

Planting for India 2014-15 rabi (secondary) rice crop (November - May) stands at around 4.066 million hectares as of May 1, 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, basis milled, from rabi crop at around 15.02 million tons and around 88.02 million tons from kharif crop, according to a statement from the Agriculture Ministry. It estimates total 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.

Government of Thailand Approves $14 Million Rice Protection Program for 2015

May 01, 2015

The Thai cabinet has approved a 460 million baht (around $14 million) rice protection program for the 2015 production season, according to local sources.The Finance Minister told local sources that the Ministry is expecting about 1.5 million rice farmers to participate in the program compared to about 800,000 farmers last year. He also noted that the Ministry is planning to issue 10 and 20 year bond notes worth 300 billion baht (around $9.2 billion) and the funds received from the bond issuance would be used to repay the debt obligations of the rice pledging scheme and other government programs.
Separately, the former Commerce Minister, the former Deputy Commerce Minister and the former Department of Foreign Trade Director-General were reportedly absent at the questioning session by the Thai National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Thursday. They reportedly sent a letter to the NLA saying they intended to be silent until their trial in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office-Holders, which is scheduled for June 29, 2015. They noted in the letter that they are concerned that their answers before the legislators would affect their court trial.The NLA reportedly began impeachment hearing against the three accused for their alleged corruption in government-to-government (G2G) rice deals with two Chinese companies on April 23, 2015. 

India Rice Sellers Increase Some Quotes Today; Other Asian Rice Quotes Unchanged

May 01, 2015
Indian rice sellers increased their quotes for 25% broken rice by about $5 per ton to around $275 - $285 per ton today. Other Asian rice sellers kept their quotes unchanged from yesterday. Vietnam and Thailand rice sellers are out today on account of a public holiday.
5% Broken Rice
India 5% rice is indicated at around $365 - $375 per ton, a $10 per ton discount to Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $375 - $385 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
India 25% rice is indicated at around $340 - $350, about a $10 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $330 - $340 per ton.
Parboiled Rice
India parboiled rice is indicated at around $360 - $370 per ton, about a $25 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice shown at around $385 - $395 per ton.
100% Broken Rice
India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $275- $285 per ton,  about a $10 per ton discount to Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $285 - $295 per ton

Oryza Overnight Recap – Chicago Rough Rice Futures Remain Under Pressure Following Yesterday’s Round of Warehouse Receipt Registrations

May 01, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Jul delivery are currently seen 8 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) lower at $10.215 per cwt (about $225 per ton) during early floor trading in Chicago. The other grains are seen trading mostly lower: soybeans are currently seen about 0.4% lower, wheat is listed about 0.4% higher and corn is currently noted 0.8% lower.U.S. stocks traded higher on Friday, rebounding from Thursday's selloff, as investors kept an eye on higher Treasury yields and economic reports. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped more than 100 points soon after the open as all the major indices recovered the prior day's losses.
The key monthly jobs report for April comes out next Friday morning and will indicate whether or not the first quarter slowdown could continue into the rest of the year. On Thursday, weekly jobless claims came in at 262,000, a 15-year low. The major indices closed below their 50-day moving average, with biotechs sending the Nasdaq down 82.22 points, or 1.6%, recovering slightly from a 2% dip. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 1.1%. Expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector weakened in April as growth in output and new orders fell, according financial data firm Markit. The report said the final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 54.1 in April from 55.7 in March.
The preliminary read was 54.2. On the back of disappointing first-quarter GDP data, the manufacturing ISM index at 10.00 a.m. ET. The report is expected to show a modest rise to 52 in April that would follow five consecutive months of weakening. In Europe, U.K. equities wobbled as the majority of European markets, and many international markets, were closed for the International Workers' Day holiday. Gold is currently trading about 0.9% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 1% lower,  and the U.S. dollar is currently trading about 0.2% higher at 9:00am Chicago time.

Seed Research and Development Facility to be built in Arkansas, a Major U.S. Rice Producing State

May 01, 2015
Plans are underway to build a 8.6 million new facility for rice, soybean, and wheat seed research in Arkansas, a major U.S. rice producing state.  The goal of the facility will be to provide collaboration among scientists and researchers to develop high-yielding quality seeds.Construction of the seed foundation facility will begin this summer in Stuttgart, Arkansas and construction is estimated to be complete in 12 months.

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Continue to Soften as Market Weighs Huge Supplies and Lack of Demand

May 01, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Jul delivery settled 9 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) lower at $10.205 per cwt (about $225 per ton). The other grains finished the day flat to lower; Soybeans closed about 1.2% lower at $9.6475 per bushel; wheat finished unchanged at $4.7400 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 0.8% lower at $3.5975 per bushel.U.S. stocks traded higher on Friday, recovering from Thursday's selloff, as investors kept an eye on higher Treasury yields and economic reports.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 150 points. The major indices recovered the prior day's losses, with the Nasdaq outperforming. The key monthly jobs report for April comes out next Friday morning and will indicate whether or not the first quarter slowdown could continue into the rest of the year. Stocks are still negative for the week, with the Nasdaq tracking a 2% decline and the S&P and Dow a little less than one percent lower for the week. On Thursday, weekly jobless claims came in at 262,000, a 15-year low. The major indices closed below their 50-day moving average, with biotechs sending the Nasdaq down 82.22 points, or 1.6%, recovering slightly from a 2% dip.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 1.1%.On the back of disappointing first-quarter GDP data, April's manufacturing ISM index missed slightly, coming in at 51.5, unchanged from the previous month. The report was expected to show a modest rise to 52 that would follow five consecutive months of weakening. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded up 119 points, or 0.67%, at 17,958. The S&P 500 traded up 13 points, or 0.66%, at 2,099, with materials leading seven sectors higher and telecommunications the greatest decliner. The Nasdaq traded up 35 points, or 0.71%, at 4,976. Gold is trading about 0.7% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 1.5% lower, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.7% higher at about  1:00pm Chicago time.
Thursday, there were 951 contracts traded, down from 951 contracts traded on Wednesday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Thursday decreased by 609 contracts to 10,769.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Muted Market as Farmers Rush to Plant Crops

May 01, 2015
The U.S. cash market was muted today as farmers work day and night, taking advantage of the good weather to get their crops in the ground before another round of wet weather moves through the U.S. Mid-South late next week.Analysts expect farmers in Arkansas to plant a considerable amount of rice this weekend, dissuading fears that there will be a significant decrease in rice acreage due to delayed planting caused by unseasonably wet weather.

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4th May,2015 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Imports up for neighbours as rice consumption increases

Published: Saturday May 2, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday May 2, 2015 MYT 8:10:01 AM
PEOPLE in Singapore are eating more rice, and grains from Malaysia, Cambodia and Pakistan are seeing a huge growth in demand.Latest figures from Interprise Enterprise Singapore – the government agency driving the republic’s external economy – show that 361,930 tonnes of rice were imported in 2011, rising steadily to hit 498,633 tonnes last year, or a rise of 38%.Importers point to growing awareness of healthy eating as the main reason for the increase.“It’s healthier to eat rice ... or rice noodles like mee hoon than, say, fast food,” said Lim Ek Kwong, operations manager of major rice importer See Hoy Chan.
The recent influx of foreigners from rice-eating nations such as India and China may also have fuelled the demand, said importers. There are also more types of rice available now.The past few years had seen a change in the main supply source.In 2013, India, for the first time, overtook Thailand – famous for its premium grade jasmine rice – as the biggest rice supplier to Singapore. Last year, 37.4% of the total rice imports came from India, and 32.3% were from Thailand. Vietnam (22.6%) took the No. 3 spot.Other countries that supply rice to Singapore included Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar and Pakistan.
While they accounted for less than 5% of the total rice imports last year, three of them saw huge growth increases.Demand for rice from Malaysia and Cambodia jumped 11 times and nine times, respectively, while demand for Pakistani rice tripled.Rice importers said the quality of non-Thai rice has improved over the years.
They “have improved their polishing and dehusking technology”, said Lim.Prices also play a part. At FairPrice supermarkets, for instance, a 10kg bag of housebrand jasmine fragrant rice from Vietnam costs S$15.50 (RM41.80) while a similar bag of housebrand Thai fragrant rice and white rice blend costs S$18.60 (RM50.17). About 70% of rice sold at FairPrice is from Thailand, down from 95% in 2007.Lim said restaurants have turned to white rice from Vietnam, Cambodia and India as they cost less than the Thai variety.
Andrew Tan, chairman of the Singapore General Rice Importers Association, said the shift to non-Thai rice began in 2011. That year, the Thai government started buying rice from farmers at above-market rates, building a stockpile at home. This reduced the amount of rice available for export and led to higher prices.People are also eating more rice because there are now more varieties available. Mui-Kok Kah Wei, FairPrice’s senior director of purchasing and merchandising, said the supermarket chain’s range now includes varieties like calrose, red unpolished rice and multi-grain rice.Basmati and ponni rice are also gaining popularity.
Telemarketer Amutha Chetty, 44, said her family eats only ponni rice from India. “We used to eat some Thai rice but we don’t anymore. (It is) more expensive.”But teacher Sarah Lim, 53, is sticking to her Thai rice. “It is so ingrained in me that Thai rice is better ... I won’t change to rice from elsewhere even if it is cheaper,” she said. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Network
Tags / Keywords: Regional, regional

Vietnam rice boom puts pressure on farmers

Rice farmer Nguyen Hien Thien is so busy growing his crops that he has never even visited Can Tho, a town only a few kilometres from his farm in the southern Mekong Delta."When I was a child, we grew one crop of rice per year -- now it's three. It's a lot of work," 60-year-old Thien, who's been farming since childhood, told AFP.Experts say Vietnam's drive to become one of the world's leading rice exporters is pushing farmers in the fertile delta region to the brink, with mounting costs to the environment.
The communist country is already the world's second largest exporter of the staple grain. But intensive rice cultivation, particularly the shift to producing three crops a year, is taking its toll on farmers and the ecosystem."Politicians want to be the world's number one or two rice exporter. As a scientist, I want to see more being done to protect farmers and the environment," said Vietnamese rice expert Vo Tong Xuan.A major famine in 1945 and food shortages in the post-war years led to the government adopting a "rice first" policy.This now generates far more of the crop than needed to feed Vietnam's 90 million population and has spawned a thriving export industry.Rice yields have nearly quadrupled since the 1970s, official figures show, thanks to high-yield strains and the construction of a network of dykes that today allow farmers to grow up to three crops per year.
The amount of land under cultivation in the Mekong Delta has also expanded and quotas are in place to prevent farmers from switching to other crops.But experts question who really benefits.According to Xuan, farmers don't reap the rewards of the three crop system -- the rice is low quality and they spend more on pesticides and fertilisers, which become less effective year by year.He argues the delta would be better off if farmers cultivated a more diverse range of crops, from coconuts to prawns, with just the most suitable land used to grow rice.The country should consider abandoning the third crop and focus on improving quality and branding to sell Vietnamese rice at higher prices, he said.
Currently, the bulk of Vietnam's rice is exported at cut-price costs on government-to-government contracts through large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like the Southern Food Corporation, known as Vinafood 2."Over the last five years, the trend is towards lower-quality rice," admitted Le Huu Trang, deputy office manager at the firm.Some argue that such SOEs have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as they earn lucrative kickbacks from the huge contracts.But even as salt water intrusion, drought and flooding increase in the delta -- to say nothing of agricultural chemical pollution -- it is also hard to convince farmers to change."The prevailing mindset is to grow three crops... we have to explain two crops is better," said Nguyen Tuan Hiep from the Co Do Agriculture company.
Over the last 20 years, Co Do -- which is state-run but a flagship model of how the industry could evolve -- has identified the best rice-growing land in the delta and helped farmers expand their farms.They now work with 2,500 families on 5,900 hectares of land, enough for each family to make a living -- typically the average rice farm in the delta spans less than one hectare.
The firm invests heavily in high-quality seeds and improving irrigation, while also advising farmers on the best chemicals to use."Two crops is more sustainable long term -- the soil is not degraded, the environment isn't polluted, and value of the rice increases," Hiep said.Climate change is another factor threatening the delta, according to the World Bank Group's vice president and special envoy for climate change Rachel Kyte."This is really ground zero for some of the most difficult adaptation, planning challenges that any country in the world has," she said.
Ultimately, Vietnam has tough choices to make, including whether to help people transition from a rice-based economy to aquaculture or other crops, Kyte added.The environmental costs of maintaining Vietnam's current level of rice production are also rising.The system of dykes, which blocks flood water, is preventing soil nutrients from flowing freely and over time "soil fertility will fade", said Tran Ngoc Thac, deputy director of Vietnam's Rice Research Institute.Scientists there are busy trying to breed new strains of rice that require fewer fertilisers and can survive in extreme weather."If farmers don't change, if we can't find a suitable new rice strain, pollution will continue and incomes will drop," Thac said, adding these measures were essential to save the delta.

PARC introduces 11 new high-yielding rice varieties

The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) approved 11 new high-yielding rice varieties including seven hybrid and four open-pollinated seed for cultivation in various ecologies.The Variety Evaluation Committee (VEC) on Rice was held here at PARC headquarters under the Chairmanship of Member Plant Sciences Division Dr Muhammad Shahid Masood.In total, 19 rice varieties were presented before the VEC including 14 hybrid and five OP varieties, out of which 11 were approved and eight were rejected due to Bacterial-Leaf-Blight (BLB) disease susceptibility and poor grain quality performance. The approved varieties have been recommended to the National Seed Council.
Details show that the hybrid varieties approved by the VEC have yield potential up to 92 mound per acre whereas the OP rice varieties have potential to produce much yield than the existing IRRI-6 and KSK-133 varieties.The OP varieties have been developed from the Green Super Rice (GSR) germ-plasm provided by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Philippines to PARC and National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE). These OP varieties have high yield potential and also submergence, salinity and water stress tolerance characters.
“With the addition of new recommended hybrids of rice in the national system of the country, it is expected that there will be a significant improvement in rice production in Pakistan,” VET Chairman Dr M Shahid Masood said.He appreciated the role of stakeholders for taking interest in rice research and development and working in close collaboration with the public sector.
The VEC meeting, among others, was attended by 20 technical members of the committee from National Agriculture Research System (NARS) of the country including rice breeders, agronomists, entomologists, pathologists, seed experts, policy-makers, private seed companies’ representatives and provincial seed cooperation representatives.It is pertinent to mention here that the VEC on wheat recently released four new rust resistant wheat varieties including a bio-fortified variety having 50 percent Zinc (Zn) contents.
The bio-fortified variety is the first-ever such introduction in the list of recommended varieties for farmers’ choice in any agro-ecology.Meanwhile, Chairman PARC Dr Iftikhar Ahmad lauded the efforts of the scientists and other stakeholders for introducing new rice varieties.“I expect that the introduction of new rice varieties would not only produce promising crop yield but would also help farmers to raise their incomes to improve their livelihood and ultimately play role in building of overall economy of the country,” he remarked.

PARC approves 11 new high-yielding rice varieties for cultivation
The approved varieties include seven hybrid and four open-pollinated seed.
Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has approved eleven new high-yielding rice varieties for cultivation in various ecologies.The approval was made at the meeting of Variety Evaluation Committee on Rice held in Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Member Plant Sciences Division, Dr Muhammad Shahid Masood.
The approved varieties include seven hybrid and four open-pollinated seed.In total, nineteen rice varieties were presented before the Committee out of which 11 were approved and eight rejected due to Bacterial-Leaf-Blight disease susceptibility and poor grain quality performance. The approved varieties have been recommended to National Seed Council.Details show the hybrid varieties approved by the Committee have yield potential up to 92 mounds per acre whereas the Open-Pollinated rice varieties have potential to produce much yield than the existing IRRI-6 and KSK-133 varieties.

News  by Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME)

The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has invited the attention of federal commerce minister Khurram Dastagir to the closure of rice processing units and urged him to save the traditional export oriented industry from collapse by doing some out of box thinking and implementing the decision before the planting season of all varieties of rice.President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said rice exports business is only in the hands of a few big rice exporters and the SME unit owners have been eliminated. More than 1000 units have closed down due to lack of business. The lethargy of the government is damaging the age old industry which is next to textiles and employs a large number of people.
He said in Sindh the parboiling units have proved to be dead investment and the par boilers of paddy are now sitting hand on hand.Although Thaver identified the crisis to a worldwide low cycle of commodities and said our main competitor India excels in parboil rice and offers it at lower than our price but in white rice Pakistan is competing India due to lower prices and better quality. However we cannot afford to close our parboil units and need to revive the parboil rice industry especially in Sindh.
He said despite the fact that Pakistani rice is more tasty and inherits superiority we are unable to take benefit due to no support from government for farm inputs.The SME rice exporters have urged the government to examine the setback and study each and every aspect from irrigation methods, fertilizers, seeds, supply chain, cost of cultivation, pesticides and storage and last but not the least logistics.The SME rice exporters demanded level playing field and lamented that the Quality Review Committee (QRC) is not closed yet despite the fact that its futility is confirmed it is a bothersome pre- shipment inspection cell and a mockery of international pre shipment inspection and it is surprising as to why the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) is tolerating it and why the MINCOM realizing its demerits is giving it extension. MINCOM even directed the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to begin the process of closing it but the SMEs fail to understand why it has not been closed and what is the reason for the slackness and who is interested in its continuity.
This defective preshipment inspection cell( QRC) not equipped nor qualified nor eligible was basically formed to protect the basmati rice purity but now the rice business is mostly of 386, 1121 and its blending with basmati and the purity is not expected nor practiced. In fact blending is now treated as a skill and 1121 is more expensive than basmati.UNISAME expects the MINCOM to address the issues of the rice industry and urged it to seek help from the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) to revive the industry on modern lines with paddy drying systems, storage systems and to make value addition by making rice milk and other high value products from rice both for exports and the domestic market

Posted Date: 3rd May, 2015 Last updated at 18:25 PST

Folate biofortified rice could reduce birth defects: study

Rice could soon be genetically modified to add folic acid to our diets. (CHAIWATPHOTOS /

Published Saturday, May 2, 2015 10:15AM EDT 
Bolstering rice with a gene to produce more folate -- or vitamin B9 -- could ward off birth defects, according to a new study.An estimated 50 to 70 per cent of all neural tube defects occur due to maternal folate deficiency, according to the Belgian research team.The researchers suggest their folate biofortified rice (FBR) would be consumed in regions that lack the vitamin such as Balrampur, India and Shanxi, China. In a paper on the product, the research team used the standard metric of the World Health Organization called the Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY).According to them, the DALY reflects the sum of Years of Life Lost (YLL), a measure of premature mortality, in addition to the Years Lost due to Disability (YLD), which accounts for both morbidity and mortality for those with health problems.
By the team's count, folate biofortification could eliminate between 29 and 111 DALYs per year in Balrampur per 1,000 births and between 47 and 104 DALYs in Shanxi.In China and India, between 16,000 and 18,000 babies are born per year with neural tube defects, say the researchers, whose study was published in the International Journal of Biotechnology.This accounts for 12 per cent of the global estimated number of 300,000 babies born with neural tube defects per year.The idea of fortifying food with folic acid isn't new. Yet around the world, women are not taking enough folic acid and one study says that two-thirds of U.K. women bypass recommended pre-pregnancy doses.According to the paper, 1,000 pregnancies affected by spina bifida occur in the U.K. per year.The Center for Disease Control in the U.S. recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) of folic acid daily

$2 million will benefit ultra-modern Foundation Seed Facility

The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has directed $2 million to help construct an innovative Seed Foundation Facility at the state’s Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. The facility will assist scientists and researchers to bring new higher yielding, high quality rice varieties to market so Arkansas farmers can profitably grow rice that meets worldwide demand. 
Posted: Saturday, May 2, 2015 8:00 am
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board has directed $2 million to help construct an innovative Seed Foundation Facility at the state’s Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart. The facility will assist scientists and researchers to bring new higher yielding, high quality rice varieties to market so Arkansas farmers can profitably grow rice that meets worldwide demand.


FBR : Fifth mini-budget in five months, higher taxes imposed on oil

05/01/2015 | 12:29am US/Eastern
In an unprecedented move, the federal government in its desperation to generate tax revenues on Thursday introduced a fifth mini-budget in as many months and imposed additional ad hoc taxes on petroleum products, which would have the combined effect of raising prices by as much as 4.5% on such items.Through the new measures, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet raised the general sales tax on high speed diesel (HSD) from 32% to 34%. Sales tax on petrol, kerosene, light diesel oil (LDO) and high-octane blended component (HOBC) increased from 18% to 20%, said one official at the Federal Board of Revenue.
 In addition, the government approved a 2% 'regulatory duty' on crude oil, petrol, and furnace oil. It also approved a 2.5% regulatory duty on HSD. These duties are in addition to the 5% it already imposed on furnace oil to recoup revenue losses from lower global oil prices.The move appears to be motivated by the government's upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for the release of the next loan tranche of over $500 million which are due to start on Friday (today).
The government has historically relied on the energy sector for over 25% of its total revenues. With global oil prices dropping, the finance ministry claims it needs to raise rates to keep its revenues steady. However, some analysts believe that the government has levied more in additional taxes than it would have lost had tax rates remained constant.The net effect of the four mini-budgets prior to Thursday's move is close to Rs101 billion in additional revenues for the government, while Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has acknowledged that the net effect of lower oil prices on tax revenues was only Rs68 billion.
Sources in FBR told The Express Tribune that the tax machinery was crumbling due to increasingly unchecked corruption a reason that the government does not admit to publicly. Iftikhar Vohra, the president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry said last week that theFBR was settling tax notices in exchange for Rs50,000 to Rs300,000 in bribes. The FBR did not deny the allegations.
The FBR insists that the increase in GST rates and regulatory duties would generate only Rs10 billion revenues in the remaining two months of the fiscal year. However, the tax body has in the past used misleading information even when testifying before Parliament on the matter of mini-budgets.Dar had told Parliament that four mini budgets would generate only Rs48 billion in additional taxes. However, in a report to the IMF the government said that these additional measures would generate revenues equal to 0.35% of Gross Domestic Product or Rs101 billion.The move would further deny the benefits of falling global oil to domestic consumers. There will also be an increase in the cost of electricity generation.
In the earlier mini budgets, the government increased the standard 17% GST rate on petroleum products, levied regulatory duties on steel products and scrap metal, introduced a regulatory duty on mobile phone, levied an additional 5% regulatory duty on furnace oil, increased the withholding tax on non-filer contractors, service providers, and importers. It also increased import duty on luxury items.
Ramazan Package
The ECC also approved Rs1.5 billion Ramazan package as compared to the Rs1.4 billion approved last year. The Finance Division would provide upfront payment of Rs1 billion to the Utility Stores Corporation to buy the items before Ramazan. These include flour, sugar, ghee, oil, pulses including dal channa, dal moong, dal mash, dal masoor, white gram, baisen, dates, basmati rice, sela rice, broken rice, squashes and syrups (900 ml bottle), black tea, milk, and spices.
PIA fleet payments
The ECC approved the release of the remaining $36 million for the induction of 15 aircraft on a dry lease in the fleet of the state-ownedPakistan International Airlines. In its December 6, 2014 meeting, the ECC had approved in principle, an amount of $52 million and provided the first tranche of $16.4 million for these aircraft. The PIA has arranged to acquire ten A-320 and five ATR-72 aircraft on dry lease.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2015.
The post Fifth mini-budget in five months, higher taxes imposed on oil appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Rural stress affects farmers even in prosperous states

Greater adoption of cash crops combined with a collapse in the prices of agri-commodities has led farmers to the brink in major agricultural areas
Mayank Mishra  |  New Delhi  
May 2, 2015 Last Updated at 22:50 IST
According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data, nearly 64 per cent of all farmer suicides in the country in 2013 took place in the four states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, raising the question: why is rural stress resulting in farmer suicides in these relatively prosperous states?

NCRB started collecting profession-wise suicide data in 1995. Under the category of self-employed (farming/agriculture), the bureau reported 10,462 suicides in 2013. Maharashtra tops the list, accounting for about a third of these, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.Not all suicides take place because of economic stress. However, relatively higher incidence of suicide among farmers compared to non-farmers in most of the years for which data are available does indicate livelihood concerns associated with agricultural economy, say experts.Greater adoption of cash crops in these relatively prosperous regions could be one of the reasons for acute rural stress in such states.
"The pricing of agricultural commodities has been the biggest source of worry. My experience with the cotton growers is that they are forced to sell their produce below the cost of produce," says Sharad Nimbalkar, noted agriculture expert and former vice-chancellor of Akola-based Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth in Maharashtra.Take the case of cotton, which has been a source of anxiety for farmers in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh (now bifurcated into the two states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh). Nimbalkar says that the cost of production for every acre of cotton is Rs 14,000-15,000. But at current market price, a farmer can expect at best a price of Rs 12,000-13,000 per acre, he adds.
What has worsened the situation is the volatility in prices of some agri-commodities. According to the Cotton Corporation of India data, the average annual price of J-34 variety spiked from Rs 3,115 a quintal to Rs 5,571 the following year and collapsed subsequently. In fact, in the past year itself, wholesale prices of cotton have fallen by 11 per cent in Maharashtra and nearly 13 per cent in Andhra Pradesh. Incidentally, the number of farmers killing themselves declined during 2006-2010 but increased subsequently in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, thus indicating a direct correlation between the price of cotton and incidence of farmer suicide.
The price of other cash crops like soyabean, rubber and basmati rice too has seen big fluctuation in recent years. "A combination of factors has exacerbated rural distress in recent years," argues Ajay Jakhar, chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj. "The collapse in the prices of agri-commodities is definitely one. Unseasonal rain has added to the hopelessness. What is needed is timely compensation to farmers."The extent of rural distress in recent years can also be understood in terms of differences in the rates of suicide of farmers and non-farmers. A 2014 study by Srijit Mishra of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) shows that between 1998 and 2010, suicide death per 100,000 people among male farmers was always higher than among male non-farmers at the all-India level.
The situation was particularly bad from 2001 to 2006, after which the two rates began to converge.However, it has been a different scenario in the case of prosperous states such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The rate of suicide of male farmers in relation to that of male non-farmers has been at an elevated level throughout. About Kerala, the report says: "What is intriguing it that the difference between farmers and non-farmers suicide rates in Kerala is among the highest across states and the suicide rate for male farmers is 3.1 to 6.5 times greater than the suicide rate for male non-farmers.
" On Maharashtra, the IGIDR study observes: "With not much fluctuation in the suicide rate for non-farmers, it implies that the suicide rate for farmers has increased till 2006 and then again from 2010."Experts point out that another factor behind rural distress has been the rise in input cost of farming. "My own experience is that input cost increases 15-25 per cent every year. It is mostly on the higher side in the case of cash crops," says Amol Totey, executive president of Orange Growers' Association. "In this scenario, if the price of produce drops for 2-3 years, it pushes farmers into a debt trap." He adds, "With banks showing unwillingness to restructure loans, farmers are pushed to the brink.
"However, if one looks at the cost of labour, one of the key inputs for farming, data suggest a negative correlation between the rates of farmer suicide and growth in real rural wages. According to government estimates, "Nominal farm wages grew at only 1.8 per cent per annum from 2001-02 to 2006-07 and at a high 17.5 per cent per annum during 2007-08 to 2011-12." While the first period with minimum wage growth was characterised by acute rural distress manifested in higher rates of farmer suic
ide, the latter period was relatively better.With a fall in average size of landholding and consequent fall in the number of cultivators, it is likely that many farmers double up as agriculture labour for additional income. And a dip in rural wage growth in the last few years may have added to the woes of such small and marginal farmers.

New targets set for rice, sugarcane crops

The Newspaper's Reporter — Published May 01, 2015 06:20am
 ISLAMABAD: The Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) on Thursday set the fresh production targets for sugarcane and rice crops.The target for sugarcane was fixed at 68 million tonnes from an area of 1.40m hectares as compared to last year’s production of 63.9m tonnes.The target for rice is 7m tonnes from an area of 2.8m hectares, whereas for the maize crop, the target is 4.6m tonnes.
The representatives of provincial agricultural departments urged the federal government to ensure adequate supply of urea and phosphate fertilisers during the season.Speaking at a news conference after the FCA meeting, Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan stated that production of main crops, including rice, cotton, sugarcane and potatoes had increased. It had helped the government stabilise prices of essential commodities. He was of the view that farmers took a hit due to falling global prices of rice and cotton.
As far as irrigation water is concerned, the meeting was informed that availability of water would be satisfactory except for some areas of Sindh.The Met Office reported the IRSA data that water levels in the reservoirs were better as compared to last year. Additionally, the Met Office was optimistic about prospects of rains in all parts of the country.
The committee was informed that the availability of certified seeds had increased during the Kharif sowing season. The representative of State Bank informed the meeting that allocation of institutional credit for agriculture has substantially increased. Wheat production has been estimated at 25.03m tonnes from an area of 9.17m hectares. The revised estimates have reduced the production target from 25.48m tonnes in view of slight damage to wheat crop owing to freak weather conditions.The current production of gram crops has been estimated at 4.2m tonnes. The committee also reviewed production achievements of other crops, such as maize, chillies and pulses.
Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2015

Rice Importers Take on Customs over N20bn Import Duty Payment

04 May 2015

Rice importers have taken on the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) over its resolve to collect the N20 billion import duty they allegedly evaded paying into the coffers of the federal government.Following the reluctance of the rice importers to pay the import duty, the Customs High Command had issued a public notice in selected national newspapers giving the importers or their agents an ultimatum to pay on or before April 14, 2015.Apparently seeing the ultimatum as an empty threat, the rice importers treated the public notice with levity.Two weeks after the expiration of the ultimatum as contained in the public notice, the importers did not pay the import duty and they were not arrested by NCS or any other security agency.
THISDAY checks revealed that the importers resolve to ignore the ultimatum to pay the import duty, even as they dared NCS based on superior advice from those backing them.Impeccable sources close to the importers and their agents said they took the decision to ignore the public notice due to the fact that the Customs High Command presently lacked what it takes to sanction them.“As far as rice importers are concerned, they regard NCS as a toothless bull dog. This is because most of them know their way in the system from the presidency to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Trade and Investments, and Agriculture. In fact, as we speak, they are pushing for the procurement of a waiver. Once they get the waiver, it will make nonsense of the N20 billion import duty NCS has been demanding from them all these while,” the source said.
According to the source who preferred anonymity, the rice importers are adopting a multi-layered approach to ensure that they obtain the waiver. They strongly believe the Ministry of Agriculture lacked the statutory powers to grant such waivers. That is why they are not restricting their pursuit of the waiver to that ministry alone. Besides, the importers are banking on the fact of the imminent change in government, as they strongly believe that the out-going administration of President Goodluck Jonathan may not be keen in pursuing them to recover the money.  
It was gathered that while some of the rice importers may be willing to pay the N20 billion import duty, they want to buy time with the belief that the in-coming government of Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) give them opportunity to re-negotiate the amount and the payment terms after it takes the reins of power on May 29, 2015.“We are still working at raising the money. We have invested heavily and the commodity is not even selling as much as we had expected. So, what is the rush, in paying the excess duty? Look, we will pay. But I do not envisage my company paying everything. Is this not Nigeria?” one of the affected importers said.
While no one was willing to speak publicly on the matter, a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Abuja confirmed that some rice importers were granted waivers not long ago just as some others are still being processed.One of those granted waiver by the ministry is a seasoned rice grower and importer, Olam Nigeria Limited.
According to documents obtained by THISDAY, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, in the waiver dated April 13, 2015, said he was glad that domestic rice production was already on the increase, thereby resulting in  a reduction of rice import requirements of the country. Given, Olam Nigeria’s massive rice production and milling investment in Nigeria, being the largest single existing investor in the sub-sector over the last two years with existing investments over $120,000,000, the ministry is willing to reduce the amount owed by 50 per cent to 54,000 MT to be applied to 2015 allocations.

In response to inquiries, Public Relations Officer (PRO), NCS Headquarters, Abuja, Alhaji Adewale Adeniyi, said the position of NCS on import duty collection had not changed.Adewale, a Deputy Comptroller (DC), maintained that NCS would not fail to apply severe sanctions if the importers failed to pay the statutory fees.According to him, “We are committed to a total recovery of the duty payable on excess importation of rice. We have the government backing on this. The President (Jonathan) has given us the mandate to recover fully, the duty on excess importation on rice and management has no reason whatsoever to shirk its responsibility in this regard. It is revenue that is due, from any excess importation; and we have President Jonathan’s backing to make this recovery.So, despite their foot dragging, they cannot escape paying it. I can assure on that.”

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