Tuesday, May 05, 2015

5th May (Tuesday),2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

2015 Arkansas Rice Pocket Guide Now Available

May 04, 2015

Description: Description: Description: Arkansas pocket rice guideThe U.S. state of Arkansas is a major rice producer and a center for rice research and development. Agfax.com reports that the latest copy of the 2015 Rice Pocket Guide, published by the Division of Agriculture Research & Extension, under the University of Arkansas System, is now available.  The pocket guide includes information on: agronomics, soil fertility, weed control, disease management, insect management, and water management among other topics.
The 207 page pocket guide can be downloaded for free here:
Global Rice Quotes
May 5th, 2015

Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade   385-395                ↔
Vietnam 5% broken        355-365                ↔
India 5% broken               370-380                ↔
Pakistan 5% broken        375-385                ↔
Myanmar 5% broken      415-425                ↔
Cambodia 5% broken     430-440                ↔
U.S. 4% broken                 480-490                ↔
Uruguay 5% broken        565-575                ↔
Argentina 5% broken     555-565                ↔
Thailand 25% broken      350-360                ↔
Vietnam 25% broken      330-340                ↔
Pakistan 25% broken      330-340                ↔
Cambodia 25% broken   410-420                ↔
India 25% broken             345-355                ↔
U.S. 15% broken               470-480                ↔
Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd     380-390                ↔
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd          385-395                ↔
India parboiled 5% broken stxd                 360-370                ↔
U.S. parboiled 4% broken             555-565                ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken          570-580                ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken    NQ         ↔

Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%   885-895                ↔
Vietnam Jasmine             490-500                ↔
India basmati 2% broken              NQ         ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken       NQ         ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails     815-825                ↔

Thailand A1 Super            315-325                ↔
Vietnam 100% broken   300-310                ↔
Pakistan 100% broken stxd          285-295                ↔
Cambodia A1 Super        350-360                ↔
India 100% broken stxd                 270-280                ↔
Egypt medium grain brokens      NQ         ↔
U.S. pet food     370-380                ↔
Brazil half grain NQ         ↔

All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel, oryza.com

EU Rice Sales and Exports Recover, Making Trade Protection Less Likely

May 04, 2015
The decline of the euro against the dollar has made European rice more competitive, a bonus for the Italian rice growing sector."At the end of this month we could have with no paddy left in our warehouses", Giovanni Daghetta, head of European rice growers was quoted as saying. Up to the end of April the 82.9% of stock availability (1,412,329 tons out of 1,151,841 tons) has already been sold.  One year ago, at the same date, 71.3% of stocks (1,045,499 tons out of availability of 1,466,412 tons) was sold. 
The weaker euro against the U.S. dollar has made USD denominated rice prices more expensive so EU rice buyers have been incentivized to buy more European rice, including Italian rice, rather than importing rice from Asia. European rice exports appear to be growing as well; on April 21 data supplied from EU showed that 171,445 tons of rice (basis milled) have been sold abroad, a 21% increase over the 134,712 tons shipped by the same date of 2014.Later this week an EU delegation will visit Italy to meet with local rice millers and farmers at the Expo in Milan. Under the improved export figures, local sources say the safeguard clause against duty-free rice import from Less Developed Countries (LDCs) – such as Cambodia and Myanmar - seems very unlikely any time soon.

Italian Paddy Rice Prices Remain Firm, Supplies Limited

May 04, 2015
Italian farm gate paddy rice price indications are trending sideways from the previous week. Quotes are higher than in the same period last year, but slightly lower than two weeks ago.
Paddy rice availability is really low: more than 81% of crop 2014 and remaining stocks has already been sold. A local source says that by the end of May t there may be no more paddy rice available on the market.
Below are farm gate paddy quotations supplied by Milan Grain Exchange, as of April 28:
Arborio-Volano rice was shown at 695-725 euros (about $ 777-810) per ton, unchanged from the prior week.
Balilla, Centauro and similar varieties paddy price
s are firm at 415-430 euros (about $ 464-480) per ton, unchanged from the prior week.
Lido, Crono, Flipper and similar paddy varieties are unchanged at 360-375 euros (about $ 402-419) per ton, on both weeks.
Padano-Argo was shown at 550-650 euros (about $ 615-727) per ton, unchanged from the prior week.
Vialone Nano slightly is firm at 730-780 euros (about $ 816-872) unchanged from a week prior.
Thaibonnet and similar Indica varieties were indicated at 335-345 euros (about $ 374-385), unchanged from a week prior.Sant'Andrea  was quoted 560-610 euros (about $ 626-682) per ton on April 14, unchanged from a week prior; Carnaroli was fixed at 695-725 euros (about $ 777-810) per ton, unchanged from a week prior.
Baldo paddy prices went slightly down to 552-602 euros (about $ 617-673) per ton, unchanged from a week prior.Roma was firm at 580-61 euros (about $ 648-682) per ton, unchanged from a week earlier.  Selenio was shown at 405-430 euros (about $ 405-480) per ton, unchanged from a week prior.
Augusto was out at 400-415 euros (about $ 447-464) per ton, unchanged from the week before.
Loto and Nembo reached the same level of 400-415 euros (about $ 447-464) per ton, unchanged from a week prior.
Luna Cl, Dardo and similars quoted 360-380 euros (about $ 402-425) per ton, unchanged from a week prior.

Nigerian Rice Importers and Customs In Stand Off Over Unpaid Import Duties

May 04, 2015
Nigerian rice importers and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) are at a standoff over N20 billion (about $100 million) in unpaid rice import duties.  It’s very unlikely the duties will be paid, or certainly not paid in full, say locals. Importers have ignore the April 14 deadline the NCS set and have so far not been arrested by the NCS or any agency, according to local media. One major rice producer and importer expects a waiver, and locals say the company is likely to get it, since it invests in Nigerian rice production and milling. 
Other importers say they should be off the hook amid a change of government on May 29, 2015 when the in-coming government of Muhammadu Buhari is expected to give them the opportunity to re-negotiate the outstanding import duties.

India Rice Quotes Mixed Today; Other Asia Rice Quotes Unchanged

May 04, 2015
India rice sellers increased their quotes for 5% broken rice and 25% broken rice by about a $5 per ton each to about  $370 - $380 per ton and $345 - $355 per ton respectively and lowered their quotes for 100% broken rice by about a $5 per ton to about $270 - $280 per ton today. Other Asia rice sellers kept their quotes mostly unchanged.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $375 - $385 per ton about a $20 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice  shown at around $355 - $365 per ton.
India 5% rice is indicated at around $370 - $380 per ton, up about a $5 per ton from Friday and about a $5 per ton discount to Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $375 - $385 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice is shown at around $350 - $360 per ton, about a $20 per ton premium on Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $330- $340 per ton.
India 25% rice is indicated at around $345 - $355, up about a $5 per ton from Friday and about a $15 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $330 - $340 per ton.
Parboiled Rice
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $380 - $390 per ton.
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
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, is indicated at around $315 - $325 per ton, about a $15 per ton premium on Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $300 - $310 per ton.
India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $270 - $280 per ton,  down about a $5 per ton from Friday and about a $15 per ton discount to  Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $285 - $295 per ton.

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

May 04, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Jul delivery settled 10 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) lower at $10.105 per cwt (about $223 per ton). Rough rice futures erased overnight gains to close lower once again today as the bears continue to dominate price action and have now dragged the July future contract within striking distance of psychological support at $10.000 per cwt (about $220 per ton). Today’s action provides a negative forecast for tomorrow’s trade direction and indicates that the current downtrend will remain intact.
The other grains finished the day with mixed results; Soybeans closed about 1.2% higher at $9.7625 per bushel; wheat finished about 0.3% lower at $4.7275 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 0.3% lower at $3.5875 per bushel.U.S. stocks traded higher on Monday, following positive momentum from Europe, as investors looked ahead to a week of Federal Reserve speeches and economic data that could shed light on the timing of an interest rate hike. The S&P 500 attempted to hold above its closing high of 2,117.69, as utilities gained more than 1% to lead nearly all sectors higher. The Dow Jones industrial average briefly added 100 points and held above 18,000, about one percent away from its closing high.
Ahead of Friday's important jobs report for the month of April, factory orders for March showed a gain of 2.1%, the biggest increase in eight months and above expectations of a 1.9% increase. However, the underlying trend remained weak against the backdrop of a strong dollar. The first of several central bank policymakers to speak this week, Chicago Fed's Charles Evans said that hiking interest rates does not seem appropriate until next year due to the weak first quarter. His address came at the annual meeting of the Columbus Economic Development Board. San Francisco Fed President, John Williams, will speak later in the day on job creation at a separate event. Analysts also noted market optimism on potential for mergers and acquisitions. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 62 points, or 0.34%, at 18,086.
The S&P 500 traded up 7 points, or 0.36%, at 2,116, with utilities leading all sectors except materials higher. The Nasdaq traded up 20 points, or 0.40%, at 5,025. Gold is trading about 1.3% higher, crude oil is seen trading about 0.8% lower, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.1% higher at about  1:00pm Chicago time.Friday, there were 1,060 contracts traded, up from 951 contracts traded on Thursday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Friday increased by 5 contracts to 10,774.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Prices Unchanged with No Iraqi Grain Board Tender Results

May 04, 2015
The U.S. cash market was unchanged today after the Iraqi Grain Board failed to announce a winner on their latest white rice tender today leading some analysts believe that the chances of the U.S. being awarded on this tender to be slim to none.Sellers remain hard to come by at the current levels however some analysts believe that they should be getting nervous as weather forecasts for the next week show favorable planting conditions dissuading fears that acreage would decline due to delayed planting.
In the meantime, the USDA estimates that as of May 3rd, 61% of the US rice crop had been planted which is 6% ahead of this time last year but 1% behind the previous 5-year average. As of now, the USDA estimates that farmers have planted at 64% of their rice crop in Arkansas, 38% in California, 88% in Louisiana, 66% in Mississippi, 37% in Missouri, and 65% in Texas.The USDA also estimates that 37% of the crop has emerged which was on par with this this time last year but 8% behind of the previous 5-year average. As of now, the USDA estimates that 33% of the rice crop in Arkansas has emerged compared to , 15% in California, 80% in Louisiana, 37% in Mississippi, 6% in Missouri, and 63% in Texas. 

Oryza Overnight Recap – Chicago Rough Rice Futures Begin the Week on a Positive Note

May 04, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Jul delivery are currently seen 9.5 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) higher at $10.300 per cwt (about $227 per ton) during early floor trading in Chicago. The other grains are seen trading mixed: soybeans are currently seen about 0.6% higher, wheat is listed about 0.6% lower and corn is currently noted 0.5% lower.
U.S. stocks traded higher on Monday, following positive momentum from Europe, as investors looked ahead to a week of Federal Reserve speeches and economic data that could shed light on the timing of an interest rate hike. The S&P 500 traded above its closing high of 2,117.69, as all 10 sectors gained. The Dow Jones industrial average added 100 points and held above 18,100, about one percent away from its closing high. The Nasdaq Composite traded above 5,000. Analysts also noted market optimism on potential mergers and acquisitions. Ahead of Friday's important jobs report for the month of April, factory orders for March showed a gain of 2.1%, the biggest increase in eight months and above expectations of a 1.9% increase.

Later in the day, several central bank policymakers will speak, including a keynote address from Chicago Fed's Charles Evans at the annual meeting of the Columbus Economic Development Board. San Francisco Fed President, John Williams, will speak on job creation at a separate event. Asian and European shares traded marginally higher on Monday, although U.K. stock markets were closed for a public holiday. Markets were boosted after tepid manufacturing data from China raised hopes that Beijing would unveil further stimulus measures to boost the economy. Gold is currently trading about 1.2% higher, crude oil is seen trading about 0.8% lower,  and the U.S. dollar is currently trading about 0.1% higher at 9:00am Chicago time.

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

Thailand occupies more than 60% of rice market in Hong Kong

Thailand occupies more than 60% of rice market in Hong Kong

BANGKOK, 4 May 2015 (NNT) – The Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department imported 49,900 tons of rice from Thailand in the first quarter 2015, a 48.9% increase compared to the same period last year. The higher rice exports to Hong Kong brought Thailand’s rice exports to all markets to 62.2% in the first quarter 2015.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce Duangkamon Chiambut said the Hong Kong Trade and Industry imported 80,400 tons of rice during the first three months this year, increasing by 0.75%. Drop in Thai Hom Mali rice price and importers’ higher confidence in Thai rice were important factors which led to the first quarter growth, the spokesperson added. The strengthening of relations between the Thai government and Hong Kong rice importers also helped Thai rice exports achieved a growth target of higher than 60%, she said.In 2013, Thailand exported 6.6 million tons of rice, worth 4.42 billion USD, worldwide. In 2014, Thai rice exports were 10.9 million tons or 5.34 billion USD

PM calls for a halt to collusion

Tue, 5 May 2015
Prime Minister Hun Sen urged provincial governors yesterday to stop government officials from colluding with traders to fix agricultural commodity prices, giving farmers no choice but to sell their products at below-market rates. The PM’s call comes a day after the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries released an announcement stating that an investigation would be launched into the possible scheme.“Please look into the issue. Do not only wait for the Ministry of Commerce or the Agriculture Ministry [to take action],” he said speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of National Road 55 in Pursat province.“This is a serious case. If found to be the case, officials who are found plotting with traders will be punished,” he added.

The premier went on to say that prices for agricultural products should be determined by “free market mechanisms”.“Those who offer the highest price will get the products. Let the price be set by the free market,” he said.Chan Sophal, the governor of Battambang province, said there were no such cases of official involvement in price rigging schemes in his province.He said, however, that he would encourage rice millers to trade directly with farmers instead of having to go through traders.“Now I have talked to rice millers to be more open to buying paddy from farmers and giving them a good price instead of buying from traders.

”Big traders often block smaller brokers from competing with them, said Kan Vesna, a rice farmers’ representative in Battambang province, leaving fewer options to farmers who are often under pressure to sell because of outstanding loans.“It is good that the government is now trying to strengthen the local authorities’ capacity to tackle this issue, but we still need to wait and see how effective the implementation will be,” he said.“So far, there is not much action. It would be more effective if there was a hotline so farmers could report any irregularities to officials.”Middlemen dealing Cambodian agricultural commodities are mainly traders from neighbouring countries who round up goods from farmers to sell to buyers across the border, said David Van, senior adviser to the Cambodia Rice Federation.

“In this instance the middlemen are rich and even lend money to farmers to buy seeds and fertilisers to use, and in return buy back the crops from farmers at harvest time,” he said in an email yesterday.“The government has not been able to provide any assistance to alleviate the burden of access to loans or working capital for millers/exporters despite repeated pleas over the last few years.”Van added that provincial departments of ministries like the Ministry of Commerce should provide weekly updates on global market prices to farmers and traders so they do not fall prey to manipulation
A girl adds rice to a stockpile in the middle of a rice paddy in Battambang province earlier this year. Heng Chivoan


FG Rice Policy: Adesina Lacks Power To Waive Import Duty – Reps

The House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Rice Imports Quota and Duty Payments has said that the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has no power to grant duty waivers to rice importers under the current rice policy of the federal government.The committee chairman and deputy leader of the House, Hon. Leo Ogor, made the disclosure yesterday during on-going investigative public hearing being conducted by the Ad-hoc Committee on alleged fraud, abuses and non-payment of import duties by some rice importers and investors in the country.
The lawmakers also resolved to invite Adesina to appear before the public hearing to tell the committee what he knows about the flagrant violations of rice import quota and illegal waivers granted to some importers, who refused to pay import duties on their excess importations.The committee therefore questioned the powers of the minister to grant such waivers on the basis of encouraging investment and job creation when in actual sense, the practice is discouraging local investors who don’t even have the capacity to utilise their allotted quotas.“The minister lacks this power, he shouldn’t even deceive himself. He need to come and explain to us, Nigerians want to hear and rice millers want to hear,” Ogo said.
Earlier in his welcome address to declare the session open, Ogor stated that the public hearing was sequel to a resolution of the House. mandating the Ad-hoc Committee to investigate alleged fraud abuses, evasion of import duties by rice importers in the country.“The aim is to uncover fraud and expose the endemic corruption in the importation of rice with a view to stemming the tide and boost employment generation as well as strengthen the nation’s depleting foreign reserve.“The minister has no reason not to be here because the Ministry was duly served the invitation. I see no reason why people would be invited to a hearing that’s for the benefit of the people and will not turn up.
“You are a servant of the people just like we all are. What we are doing here is for the benefit of our nation’s economy. So, before the end of the hearing, we are hoping to see people from the Ministry come in, otherwise we might be forced to make some very strong pronouncements,” he declared.One of the concerned importers, Olams Nigeria Ltd, who has failed to pay duty accruals for exceeded importation quota to the tune of over N3.5billion, the company’s representative, Mr. Anil Nair, told the committee that as the largest farm owner on the African continent, it couldn’t have grown its business by disobeying the rules, insisting that there was no directive asking the company to pay import duties for exceeding its quota.
According to Nair, Olams will gladly pay what is due to it as import duty or levy if the government require it to do so, a development which confirmed that the minister actually waived such duties without due diligence.“Olams farm is the single largest farm on the continent of Africa with the capacity to import 243,747 tons of rice on 10% levi and 20% duty. If you look at all the rice value chain, we have made up to date payment of duties and levies as applicable for which we made presentation previously.“If we are asked to pay for the excess in importation, we will oblige and pay without any hesitation,”, Nair said.
The Customs delegation led by ACG Adeoye Ajade had told the Committee in a position paper that import duty defaulters were communicated to after the rice policy was reviewed in July, 2014.“Olam import was over 245.000 metric tons with excess quota amounting to over N3.5billion which is the duty liability arising from that importation.“Given the review of the policy, rice millers tried to make false declaration of duty values by under-declaring their actual import volume. So the policy review now came with dual rate of 10per cent duty raise and 20 per cent levy,” Ajade said.

No relief to rice consumers

The consumers of rice, the staple food of people in Telangana, are facing a paradoxical situation with no signs of any letup in its increasing price in the open market on one hand and the millers claiming that the wholesale prices in the international markets are heading southwards on the other.Against the claims of the Rice Millers’ Association of Telangana that the wholesale price of superfine quality rice in the State had been hovering around Rs. 30 per kg for the last seven years, its price in the open market witnessed a constant rise during the period.In the upward supermarkets the retail price of quality superfine variety rice is ranging from Rs. 47 to Rs. 52 per kg.

“The wholesale price of preferred varieties of rice is constantly ranging between Rs. 30 and Rs. 35. The fact that we have supplied 44,873 tonnes of superfine-old rice at Rs. 36 per kg and superfine-new rice of 1.29 lakh tonnes at Rs. 32.5 per kg to the State government so far for the purpose of welfare hostels and mid-day meal scheme buttresses our claims”, says president of the association G. Nagendra.

Govt. green signal
The rice millers succeeded in getting government nod recently for export of one-lakh tonnes of superfine varieties of rice – sale in the international markets or in other States in the country – on the premise that there were stocks of over 14 lakh tonnes rice available in the State and it was more than sufficient compared to the needs.“As the stocks of rice piled up with the millers, the impending milling of paddy being procured in rabi season adds to our woes as there is no demand for rice in the local markets”, reasoned association general secretary V. Mohan Reddy.Supporting the argument of Mr. Mohan Reddy, president of South India Rice Millers’ Association T. Devendar Reddy stated that average prices of rice in the international markets was less than the prices in the country by over Rs. 400 per quintal.
Behind the variation
Asked why there was so much variation in the price of preferred varieties of rice in the retail market in spite of lesser prices in the international market and availability of more than sufficient stocks in the State,Mr. Nagendra explained that it would depend on overhead costs involved, type of retailer and quality within the preferred varieties.“Superfine rice is available at the prices being quoted by me with the wholesale rice stores even in the cities like Hyderabad”, he argued.
Pakistan sets up Nepal earthquake relief fund at home and missions abroad

(PTI) / 3 May 2015

The Foreign Secretary said the Prime Minister has established an exclusive Relief Fund for Nepal.

Islamabad -  Pakistan has set up a special fund to collect donations for the victims of earthquake in Nepal and will airlift 20,000 tents and 20 tonnes rice for the battered country.Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry briefed media on Pakistan’s response to help Nepal after the quake on April 25 which has killed over 7,000 people.He said Pakistan was quickly responding to the needs of Nepal under the guidance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was constantly monitoring the situation in Nepal in the aftermath of the devastating Earthquake.Chaudhry said the Prime Minister has established an exclusive Relief Fund for Nepal.He said accounts under the Relief Fund will be opened within the country and in Pakistani Missions abroad and “Pakistanis at home and abroad would be mobilised to generously contribute to it”.
“In response to the Nepal government’s request, (Pakistan) Prime Minister has further approved provision of 20,000 tents and 20 tons rice. The part consignment was delivered yesterday (Saturday) by two C-130 aircrafts,” he said.He said Pakistan’S Prime Minister, who was on an official visit to the UK when the Earthquake struck Nepal spoke with his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala to offer all out assistance. 

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.

MyPlate Video Search is a Success  
Get healthy with Hamilton
ARLINGTON, VA -- Last week marked the end of the two-month Check Out MyPlate Video Search for kids, a MyPlate promotional activity launched by USA Rice and six other MyPlate National Strategic Partners to reach children and parents with healthy eating messages.  The video search received more than 10,000 unique visitors and generated more than 100 video entries from kids across the country.
 "We challenged kids to submit a video about how they eat healthy using MyPlate and get moving with their favorite physical activity,"  said Katie Maher, USA Rice's manager of domestic promotion. "This was the first time we hosted a promotion like this and we are very impressed with the engagement we received as well as the quality and creativity of the videos."
This month, all of the entries will be reviewed and judged by MyPlate and Let's Move!  There will be one Grand Prize winner ($1,000) and one Runner-Up ($300) for each age category: 2 - 10, 11 - 13, and 14 - 18.  Winners will be announced in early June.If you're looking for a good laugh or something to brighten your day, take a look at some of the video entries here.

Contact:  Deborah Willenborg (703) 236-1444

USA Rice Fuels a Local Charity Race 
Rice wins every time!
FALLS CHURCH, VA -- USA Rice participated in a charity race at a local high school here to help support the school's athletic program. More than 400 adults and children took part in the annual "Raider 5K Run" that raised an estimated $10,000 for the community.
 USA Rice used the new Think Rice logo on t-shirts all the runners received. In addition, staff was on-hand to pass out Think Rice-branded rice marshmallow treats to the finishers. "Not only was this a fun event on a beautiful spring day, but we literally reminded runners that they should 'Think Rice' -- it's a complex carbohydrate that helps fuel the body and is a great food for athletes," said Katie Maher, USA Rice's manager of domestic promotion who also ran the race.
 Contact:  Michael Klein (703) 236-1458
Crop Progress:   2015 Crop 61 Percent Planted 
WASHINGTON, DC -- Sixty-one percent of the nation's 2015 rice acreage is planted, according to today's U.S. Department of Agriculture's Crop Progress Report. 

Rice Planted, Selected States 
Week Ending
May 3,  2014   
April 26, 2015  
May 3, 2015 
2010-2014 average
Six States

CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Preliminary):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for May 4
Net Change

May 2015
- $0.100
July 2015
- $0.100
September 2015
- $0.100
November 2015
- $0.100
January 2016
- $0.100
March 2016
- $0.100
May 2016
- $0.100

Weighing in on the farm bill safety net: Part 2

May 4, 2015Forrest Laws  | Delta Farm Press
Greg Cole makes no secret of the fact he believes farmers, particularly those in the Mid-South, would have been better off from a safety net point of view if Congress had kept direct payments in the Agricultural Act of 2014.Cole, president and CEO of AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, has told several audiences “the loss of direct payments in the new farm bill will have a greater impact on farmers in the Mid-South than in any other part of the country,” a comment he repeated at the Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference in Memphis, Tenn.“You only get help when things are not so good,” said Cole, who spoke on his impressions of the signup for the new farm bill. “So if you trigger a payment, more than likely you’re already losing money on an overall basis. So that’s a fundamental shift.
”The new law ended direct payments, which Cole said creates a different dynamic in farm country. “Obviously, we liked direct payments. Producers liked them. They were easy to quantify; you knew how much they were. “You knew when you were going to get them. And for lenders, it was easy to make that link.” Cole says it appears most farmers in the area served by AgHeritage selected the Agricultural Risk Coverage or ARC program for corn and soybeans. Most rice producers chose Price Loss Coverage or the PLC program for their crop.“With the rapid decline in rice prices, it looks like if they did get signed up, there will be a pretty good payment for the 2014 crop,” said Cole. “Obviously, we want receive that until later at the end of the fall.Those who follow rice know it has joined other markets as a crop with an excess of supply and a rapid decline in price to about $4.50 per bushel after selling for $6 to $7 per bushel during the 2013-14 marketing year.
The new farm bill, on the other hand, offers a $6.30 per bushel reference price for PLC calculations for rice (minus any discounts and multiplying it by 85 percent of a grower’s base acres. But some observers may not have considered all the dynamics of the situation.“You may think that if I sell my rice for $4.50 per bushel, I’m going to get $6.30 because of the reference price,” says Cole. “But if the price of rice rises for the remainder of the year, you may not get a payment. So you basically just sold your rice for $4.50.” He suggested growers try to hedge against such developments by using co-op pools.Cole said he was somewhat surprised to see that sales of federal crop insurance coverage, which was supposed to be the underpinning of the new farm programs, did not increase in the Mid-South for the 2015 crop year.“In the Mid-South, we haven’t used crop insurance to the same level they have in the Midwest,” he said. “But I thought we have a lot more producers buying crop insurance. But in our area, in our part of the Mississippi Delta we haven’t seen that. Actually the sales are flat or down where I thought they would skyrocket.”
To read more about the Agricultural Act of 2014, visithttp://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=farmbill

What Latin America’s rice sector offers the world

Written by Adriana Varón Molina.

There is one occasion that Brazilian farmer Geovano Parcianello never misses. Every year, he travels 503 kilometers from his farm in the municipality of Alegrete to the city of Cachoeirinha, where the most important rice experiment station in the state of Rio Grande do Sul is located. Being there with a thousand other rice growers gives Mr. Parcianello an opportunity to find out about new varieties, disease control measures, and options for crop rotation—knowledge he can apply on his own 900 hectares of rice.

An international technology festival

This year, the “technology festival” organized by the Rice Institute of Rio Grande do Sul (IRGA) had an extra dimension. Not only did participants come from places such as Alegrete, Santiago, San Antonio, and Itaqui but they also came from 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Europe, and Asia, making the field day international. The foreign guests were among 460 participants at the XII International Conference on Rice in Latin America and the Caribbean, which took place in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, on 23-26 February 2015.
“Listening to presentations on topics such as genetics, crop improvement, agronomy, and climate change, and visiting the field plots opened our minds to what’s happening in the rice sector, not only in the region but in the whole world,” said Eliécer Araya, president of Costa Rica’s National Rice Corporation (Conarroz, its acronym in Spanish). “This also gave us an opportunity to further reinforce the knowledge network that strengthens us all.”
Taking LAC’s rice sector to new “horizons of competitiveness”—the slogan of the conference—is a central aim for organizations such as the Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR) and its 35 members, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), IRGA, and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). The regional alliance draws as well on support from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), CGIAR’s lead center for the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP)—which believes in the important role of this region in the coming decades to meet the rising global demand for rice.

A world-stage performance

High productivity (with some countries obtaining yield as high as 16 tons per hectare), extensive mechanization, the use of direct seeding, and excellent grain quality are among the key features of LAC’s production that are attracting world attention.“Latin America has enormous land resources and abundant water, and its rice production is technically advanced,” said Robert Zeigler, IRRI director general. “The challenge for this region is to analyze global markets carefully and design strategies that will enable production to meet demand.”
Joe Tohme, director of CIAT’s Agrobiodiversity Research Area, stressed the importance of regional integration through networks such as FLAR and the Consortium on Hybrid Rice for Latin America (HIAAL). “CIAT’s Rice Program helps countries across the region to strengthen their capacity and make production more competitive by using the genetic materials and agronomic practices that we and FLAR are developing,” Dr. Tohme said.“Strategic alliances are what can make us strong as a region,” said Flavio Breseghello, director general of Embrapa Rice and Beans. “The presence of Asian scientists in Latin America, thanks to GRiSP, makes them more aware of our strengths and us more aware of theirs. The good practices of each continent complement one another.”
National governments have a key role to play in building strategic alliances, explained Bas Bouman, GRiSP director. “The way forward is to strengthen national capacity, working side by side with governments and their programs, and devise strategies that enable countries in LAC to compete with the biggest rice producers in the world.”

Ingredients of a production miracle

“There’s little point in doing research without extension. The most important thing is transferring knowledge to producers—that’s the key,” said Carlos Pereira, former president of IRGA, who now works as an agronomist with the state’s Agricultural Secretariat.
IRGA, with its 75-year history, offers a good example of how the rice production chain can be strengthened. In 10 years, growers in Rio Grande do Sul managed to raise average rice yield by 50%. This production miracle resulted mostly from a training program created for 100 IRGA technicians and extension agents from private companies and farmer cooperatives.
“We reviewed the latest knowledge from different research centers—CIAT, IRGA, IRRI, and universities—and took it to the field by means of the technicians,” said Sergio Gindri, an IRGA researcher. “It was important to develop consistent messages on basic concepts, such as early weed control and the use of high-quality seed of improved varieties. But the route by which the Latin America and the Caribbean region reaches its goal of serving as a food basket for the world won’t be easy.”
“To position ourselves in international markets, we have to tackle basic issues such as seed quality, improved infrastructure for exports, and lower operating costs, with the aim of offering a higher quality product at a lower price,” said Eduardo Graterol, FLAR’s executive director. “The goal is to place surplus production in international markets, while ensuring that each country can supply enough rice for its own population.”
The sun-drenched international field day ended with a banquet for Mr. Parcianello and the rest of the 1,500 guests, who feasted on carreteiro, a typical dish of Rio Grande do Sul, in which rice, of course, is the main ingredient—just as it is in the daily diets of more than half of the global population.
Ms. Varón Molina is communications coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean at CIAT

Yield rises with WeRise

Written by Keiichi Hayashi, Anita Boling, and Tsutomu Ishimaru.
Unreliable weather can make or break rice farmers that rely on rainfall for water. Climate change makes it even harder to predict weather conditions, thus lowering the chances of recovering farmers’ investments in mitigating the impact of erratic rainfall patterns on their crops. To help solve this problem, a prototype weather rice-nutrient integrated decision support system (WeRise) came about. WeRise is a web application tool that integrates rice nutrients with weather data to provide farmers with weather and crop advisories.

Rice roulette

Growing rice in rainfed environments is like gambling. It is difficult for farmers to decide when to sow or transplant rice because they cannot predict the arrival of the monsoon. They also cannot foresee whether the season’s rainfall will be enough to sustain their crops. Even with sufficient rainfall at the beginning of the season, they have no guarantee the rain will continue. Obviously, too much or too little rainfall can lead to a poor harvest. The weather can also inflict damage during harvest time. If harvesting coincides with rains, farmers need plastic sheets to keep grains dry. The bottom line is that no one can tell how much of their investment can be recovered after a cropping season.
Optimal production can be achieved through good agricultural practices, which can be designed to fit the different types of rainy season. For example, a long-cycle rice variety should be chosen for long rainy seasons with sufficient rainfall. In areas where the rainy season is short, a short-cycle variety is suitable for coping when water is scarce. If the rainy season is long enough but rainfall is insufficient, a droughttolerant rice variety can be a good candidate.
When drought occurs, a short-cycle variety should be used to avoid water shortage at the critical stages of plant growth. However, these decisions are made at the start of the planting season. Farmers cannot change the variety of their choice after they have planted it.

Tailor-made weather and yield reports

WeRise is a product of collaboration between the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Japan on the project Climate Change Adaptation in Rainfed Rice Areas (CCARA). WeRise aims to improve the chances of farmers of having good rice yields even with unpredictable weather patterns. Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries funds CCARA.
WeRise provides crucial weather and grain yield advisories in the form of a narrative summary. This includes the start and end of the rainy season, the expected rainfall distribution and flooding or drought that might occur during the season, when to sow and transplant the crop, what variety is appropriate, and how to apply fertilizer efficiently. It also contains graphical outputs of rainfall, minimum and maximum temperatures, wind speed, vapor pressure, and solar radiation.
These sets of information are location-specific to subdistrict levels of countries in Southeast Asia. The seasonal weather predictions are based on the localized outputs of the Scale Interaction Experiment-Frontier (SINTEX-F) Research Center for Global Change developed byJapan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. SINTEX-F is designed to predict when the El Niño Southern Oscillation will occur, 1 to 24 months in advance. Thus, WeRise can provide farmers with predicted weather and yield information with enough lead time for them to prepare and decide what and when to plant.
WeRise can also predict yield based on recommended sowing and fertilizer application timings using the ORYZA crop modeling tool, which simulates the growth and development of rice as well as water under different conditions, including local weather. The grain yield advisory is also location-specific so that end-users can choose a subdistrict for this advisory.

From theory to field reality

In rainfed rice farming, the timing of sowing is crucial because good yield is linked to a sufficient water supply and good crop growth. Some farmers plant early while others are more cautious and start sowing late in the monsoon. Relying mostly on guesswork, farmers can have high or low yields as a result of coincidence; thus, they cannot obtain the same result in the following year.
In 2014, WeRise was tested in Indonesia to see whether it could minimize the effect of poor timing. Although many farmers started sowing rice after a downpour at the beginning of the rainy season, the WeRise team, following its weather prediction, planted rice much later.
A few weeks after the farmers planted, rainfall stopped. The young rice seedlings planted by the farmers suffered from water scarcity and some plants did not survive. The WeRise team, on the other hand, obtained significantly higher yield than the farmers who did not receive any weather advisory and relied on their instincts.

A user-friendly tool

WeRise is designed for agricultural extension agents and farmers who can access the Internet through smartphones or computers. Local millers and retailers of agricultural inputs are potential users who can be sources of information for farmers with no Internet access. WeRise is now available in English, Bahasa, and Lao, making information dissemination even simpler for small-scale rice farmers who are not tech-savvy.
The feedback from 53 research and extension workers in Indonesia, Lao PDR, and the Philippines has been positive. They found WeRise easy to use and understand. They also said that explaining the advisory to farmers was easy.“The information is more complete and it has graphs,” said Beby Noviani, an extension worker from Indonesia.Muhammad Jono, another Indonesian extension worker, summed up his experience with WeRise in one word: “simple.”

Raising farmers’ odds

With WeRise, rice farmers will be able to use their resources efficiently by choosing a suitable variety, avoiding a failure in crop establishment, and using an efficient fertilizer application. This can help reduce their risks and make rainfed rice farming better and more stable. By providing farmers with timely, accurate information, farmers can enjoy better harvests, which translate into higher earnings and more reliable profitability. Thus, WeRise could make rainfed rice farming attractive to young people by changing the perception that rainfed agriculture is an all-or-nothing occupation.
Drs. Hayashi and Ishimaru are seconded scientists from the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) working on the CCARA project. Dr. Hayashi is the project coordinator who leads the agronomy and soil science component. Dr. Ishimaru is a plant breeder who leads the genetics and breeding component. Dr. Boling is a former postdoctoral fellow of CCARA.

Thailand looks to export rice to China, ASEAN countries
English.news.cn   2014-07-28 16:11:54

BANGKOK, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Thailand is looking to release millions of tons of rice to China and a few Southeast Asian nations throughout the latter part of this year.According to Duangporn Rodphayathi, Thai Foreign Trade Department director general, a quantity of 900,000 tons of rice is yet to be delivered to China under a government-to-government dealing by which China had earlier agreed to buy a total of one million tons of Thai rice.However, a single volume of 100,000 tons has been delivered to China so far while the relatively huge volume of 900,000 tons is yet to follow under the bilateral rice dealing, the department chief said.A delegation of the department is scheduled to visit China on Thursday to negotiate the balance of the rice supply with COFCO Limited, a Chinese state firm, she added.
Meanwhile, Thailand will seek an increase in purchase volumes for Thai rice in neighboring Malaysia preferrably under government- to-government dealings while private Thai rice exporters will look to expand markets in the Philippines and Indonesia.In addition to the Foreign Trade Department's rice export plans, the private sector will play a stepped-up role in the expanding of Thai rice markets throughout the rest of this year, according to the department chief.Top Thai ruler Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha earlier instructed Thai authorities to look for ways and means to release quantities of rice currently stored up at rented warehouses under a rice subsidy program earlier implemented by a previous Yingluck Shinawatra government.He chaired a meeting of the Rice Administrative Policy Committee on Monday in a bid to streamline a substantial release of the rice to the world markets.
An average of 500 U.S. dollars had been offered for a ton of rice to farmers nationwide under the populist rice program only to see millions of tons stored up at warehouses without signs of being released in substantial volume.The previous government had rented more than 1,700 privately- owned warehouses in all parts of the country for the rice purchased from farmers since last year's harvest season.Former ministers under the Yingluck cabinet had earlier maintained that the Thai rice would have sold at a high price had it been stored in the warehouses for a period of time, waiting to be released to the world markets.
But a large quantity of the government's rice had been found rotten or stolen from the rented warehouses over the past several months, apparently prompting the ruling military to begin to release much of it from now.Gen. Prayuth earlier commented that such rice subsidy programs will no longer be implemented because it has been allegedly prone to corruption and incurred immense financial losses.Instead, the authorities will look to cut the costs of farmers' rice production, including those for fertilizers and pesticides, provide more financial aid for them and expand current rice markets and find new ones worldwide.Compared to the 500 U.S. dollars for a ton of rice purchased from farmers by the previous government, only about 283 U.S. dollars a ton will be offered by an upcoming interim government, according to an official of the Commerce Ministry.
The government claims success in new rice production policy
Saturday, 02 May 2015
BANGKOK, 1 May 2015 -The Thai government has successfully helped rice farmers produce more grains at a lower cost via a new program designed to improve rice growing efficiency.The government has claimed its new program provides full-cycle supervision to every stage of rice farming starting from production to grain quality control and market opportunities.Under the program, white rice farmers are able to increase the productivity per rai from 729 kilograms previously to 870 kilograms nowadays.
Their production costs have declined by around 3,000 baht per ton since the program was introduced.Jasmine rice growers have also seen their productivity increase with around 100 kilograms more of rice produced per rai and were able to save as much as 3,000 baht per ton in production capital.Farmers participating in the program have found that they can sell their grains at 30% higher than the market prices as many silo owners and buyers are joining in the program.

Nigeria: N21 Billion Rice Importation Tax Evasion - Reps Summon Okonjo-Iweala, Adesina

By Emman Ovuakporie

Abuja — MEMBERS of the House of Representatives have summoned the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adeshina and others over alleged N21billion rice importation tax evasion scam.Vanguard reliably gathered that the ministers and 25 rice importers are expected to explain to the lawmakers how over N21bn tax was evaded despite the provision of subsidy by the Federal Government to the importers.A source privy to this development who spoke to Vanguard in confidence said "the whole exercise was grossly abused by the importers and laced with fraud"."We'll unravel those government officials who aided these economic saboteurs and ensure that all the tax they cornered is returned to government coffers".

"The adhoc committee set up by the House will also ensure that they are speedily prosecuted".Asked whether the Nigeria Customs Service,NCS, was also summoned, the source said "yes they are the people that will as a matter of law make available all the necessary statistics at the hearing tomorrow.""We've also discovered that those who got subsidy were the ones that even evaded tax more than those that did not get a dime from government".Also asked how the N21bn was arrived at, he said "that was a simple, it was from all the import duty transactions carried out by the importers".


Vietnam rice boom puts pressure on farmers

AAP – Mon, May 4, 2015 1:01 PM AEST
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.

Rice Importers Take on Customs over N20bn Import Duty Payment

04 May 2015
By John Iwori

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.”

Organic rice from Thailand targets Mideast markets

Sittichai: Seeking to meet growing demand from the Middle East for healthy rice with halal certification. PICTURE: Arno Maierbrugger
By Arno Maierbrugger

Gulf Times Correspondent ,Bangkok

In a bid to diversify away from mass rice production and get better access to the lucrative market for organic food products, Thailand has set up a six-year strategy for organic agricultural production that includes penetration of international markets including the Middle East. Especially smaller and family farms are encouraged to grow and sell organic rice, as well as vegetables and fruits on their own and seek new market channels for it.Acknowledging that demand for organic rice is especially growing in Muslim countries – where it is appreciated as healthy food with low sugar content that goes nice with Arab dishes – organic farmers are increasingly seeking halal certification for their rice to get access to those markets.

One of these farmers is Sittichai Ruenpakdan, who runs the Family Hydro Farm in Thailand’s central Chai Nat province, an area where 90% of locals are engaged in agriculture and, in the past, the widespread and heavy use of chemical fertilisers in mass rice production has led to environmental and health problems. Sittichai, who lost his job as a human relations manager at a Thai company as it was closed down when the disastrous floods hit the country in 2011, has since built up a small but profitable family business and produces around 40 tonnes of organic rice a year which sells for a multiple of normal rice.“We are selling the rice through organic shops in Thailand, but we will also sell it to Saudi Arabia soon after we get the halal certification,” Sittichai told Gulf Times.
“Our target is to sell more of the organic rice to the Middle East, as well as to the Muslim South of Thailand,” he added.According to Anupa Panyadilok, head of the Learning and Development Center for the New Generation of Farmers in Chai Nat, around 60% of farmers in the area have already turned to organic farming.“This province has the aim to become Thailand’s largest organic rice-producing area,” she said. Organic rice in Thailand is grown and processed without the use of any synthetic chemicals as found, for example, in fertilisers, insecticides, preservatives, seed treatment or hormones. Currently, only specially selected high-quality jasmine rice is planted organically although other types of rice are also looked at as the number of health-conscious consumers is growing rapidly.

To that end, the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has worked out the National Organic Agriculture Strategies 2015-2021 to make Thai organic agriculture products better known in both local and international markets. The strategies aim at spreading knowledge and innovation in organic agriculture, developing organic agricultural production throughout the supply chain, expanding marketing and improving the standards of Thai agricultural products. Sales partnerships are also welcomed and could include foreign partners, namely for the Middle East markets.Such sales partnerships will be essential for the success of Thai organic rice as most farmers are struggling to find channels to sell the rice. In Sittichai’s case, he is relying on social networks, but will have to forge a sales partnership for the Middle East market.

In fact, organic agriculture has become a major policy theme in Thailand since 2001 when the administration of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra started agricultural development programmes to improve living conditions for the rural population. Organic farming was enlisted as an “important national agenda” to promote safe food and boost national export. Many government authorities have since initiated projects and activities centred around organic farming. In addition, farmers have joined hands in setting up organic agricultural learning centres and developing agro-tourism sites for visitors.

Gov't to purchase 77,000 tons of rice

2015/05/03 14:09
SEOUL, May 3 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government said Sunday it will buy 77,000 tons of locally produced rice to help stabilize local prices.With the latest purchase plan, the amount of fresh crop acquired by the government will reach 240,000 tons, equivalent to last year's excess rice harvests compared with demand, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The government decided to liberalize the rice market for the first time in its history in 2014.Apart from preventing an inflow of cheap rice imports, keeping the price of locally produced grain from falling has been a part of government efforts to protect local farmers.Last year, the government purchased 370,000 tons of the grain, with plans to buy 30,000 tons more, as part of plans to control prices.
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