Monday, May 25, 2015

25th May (Monday),2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E_Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Myanmar Launches National Strategic Plan to Increase Rice Acreage and Production

May 22, 2015
The government of Myanmar has launched a national strategic plan to increase rice acreage and production across the country, according to local sources.According to the plan, the government is aiming to increase paddy rice acreage to around 7.7 million hectares and increase yield to around 4.1 tons per hectare. It is aiming to increase milled rice production to around 15.9 million tons and export around 6 million tons by 2030.Myanmar has exported around 1.7 million tons of rice in the fiscal year 2014-15 (April - March), up about 40% from around 1.2 million tons exported in 2013-14.
The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) has expressed confidence that the country would export about 2 million tons of rice in the fiscal year 2015-16 (April - March). The government is also keen on increasing rice exports to around 3 million tons over the next few years and has prioritized rice in its National Export Strategy (NES). 
USDA estimates Myanmar to produce 19.688 million tons of paddy rice (around 12.6 million tons, milled basis) and export around 1.85 million tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (January - December 2015). It estimates the area harvested under paddy at 7 million hectares and yield at around 2.8 tons per hectare.

Vietnam Rice Sellers Increase Some of Their Quotes Today; Other Asia Rice Quotes Unchanged

May 22, 2015
Vietnam rice sellers increased their quotes for 100% broken rice by about $5 per ton to around $310 - $320 per ton today. Other Asia rice sellers kept their quotes mostly unchanged.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $370 - $380 per ton, about a $20 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $350 - $360 per ton. India 5% rice is indicated at around $370 - $380 per ton, about a $35 per ton discount to Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $405 - $415 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, about a $15 per ton discount to Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $360 - $370 per ton.
Parboiled Rice
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $370 - $380 per ton. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $360 - $370 per ton, about a $45 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice shown at around $405 - $415 per ton.
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, is indicated at around $315 - $325 per ton, about a $5 per ton premium on Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $310 - $320 per ton, up about a $5 per ton from yesterday. India 100% broken rice is shown at around $270 - $280 per ton,  about a $35 per ton discount to Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $305 - $315 per ton.

Description: 2015-16 Kharif Rice Sowing Underway, 268,000 Hectares Planted as of May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015

Planting for India 2015-16 Kharif (main) rice crop (June - December) has begun and stands at around 268,000 hectares as of May 22, 2015; up about 18% from around 228,000 hectares planted during the same period last year, according to preliminary data released by the Indian Agriculture Ministry.The government of India, in its third advance estimates for major crops, has estimated India's rice production for 2014-15 marketing year (October 2014 - September 2015) at around 102.54 million tons, down about 4% from an estimated 106.65 million tons in 2013-14, according to a statement from the agriculture Ministry.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Prices Hold despite Drop in Futures

May 22, 2015
The U.S. cash market held steady today despite weakness in the futures market as sellers continue to hold out for better prices despite burdensome stocks and limited demand.Analysts insist that farmers are going to wait as long as they possibly can before selling at the levels they are seeing trade as it is below their cost of production. 

Weekly Recap: The Philippines Set to Import More Rice Amid Fears of El Nino

May 22, 2015
The Oryza White Rice Index (WRI), a weighted average of global white rice export quotes, ended the week at about $407 per ton, down about $1 per ton from a week ago, down about $2 per ton from a month ago and down about $48 per ton from a year ago.
The decline is mainly due to a decline in Pakistan Rice Prices.
Thailand 5% broken rice is today shown at about $375 per ton, unchanged from a week, down  about $10 per ton from a month ago and up about $5 per ton from a year ago.
The government of Thailand has decided to sell 2 million tons of rice from government stockpiles over the next two months.
Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has pleaded innocence in corruption charges from the controversial rice pledging scheme.
The Thai Commerce Ministry claims that nearly 11 million tons of the 16 million tons of stockpiled rice are substandard. 
Description: Description: Prime Minister has called for high-standard rice mills in the country in order to ensure top quality rice that can compete at the global level.  The Prime Minister has laid out specific strategies to increase the competitiveness of Thai rice globally, including the restructuring of rice production management.
India 5% broken rice is today shown at about $375 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago, and down about $55 per ton from a year ago.
India's main season (Kharif) rice planting has reached at about 268,000 hectares as on March 22, 2015, up about 17.5% from same time in last year, according to the data from India's Ministry of Agriculture.
Vietnam 5% broken rice is today shown at about $355 per ton, unchanged from a week ago, down about $5 per ton from a month ago and down about $50 per ton from a year ago.
During the period January 1 to May 14, Vietnam exported about 1.686 million tons of rice.  Average rice export price so far this year stands at around $419 per ton (FOB), down about 3% per ton from the same period last year.
Rice farmers in the Mekong Delta have been urged to speed up summer-autumn crop harvest in order to avoid losses from the drought and salinity intrusion.
Pakistan 5% broken rice is today shown at about $410 per ton, down about $10 per ton from a week, up about $30 per ton from a month ago, and down about $15 per ton from a year ago.
The Ministry of Commerce has noted that a decline in the average unit price of non-basmati rice, the appreciation of the Pakistan rupee against the U.S. dollar and the euro, and an increased cost of production and lack of adequate research and development in the country have contributed to a decline in Pakistan’s rice exports so far in FY 2014-15 (July-June).
Pakistan’s total exports, including basmati and non-basmati, declined about 24% m/m in April after increasing in March.  In April, Pakistan exported about 360,446 tons of rice.
The Philippines President has reportedly approved the National Food Authority (NFA) to import 250,000 tons of rice to boost buffer stocks during the lean season (July - September) amid fears of an impending El Nino weather pattern.
The FAO forecasts the Philippines 2015 rice imports to remain at last year's level of around 1.8 million tons reflecting the government's efforts to stabilize domestic rice prices and restore public stocks.
Cambodia is hoping to increase its 2015-16 (May 2015 - April 2016) rice export quota to China to around 200,000 tons from the current 100,000 tons.
A team of Chinese trade delegation led by the Vice Minister of Commerce is visiting Cambodia next week to discuss trade cooperation between the two nations and the Commerce Ministry is likely discuss about increasing the rice export quota with the visiting delegation.
Central & South America
5% broken rice from Uruguay and Argentina is today shown at about $565 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago, and down about $60 per ton from a year ago.
The Brazilian paddy rice index maintained by CEPEA reached around 35.04 real per 50 kilograms as of May 18, 2015, down about 1% from around 35.36 real per 50 kilograms recorded on May 11, 2015.
In terms of USD per ton, the index reached around $232.52 per ton on May 18, 2015, down about 2% from around $237.12 per ton recorded on May 11, 2015.
U.S. 4% broken rice is today shown at about $470 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week and a month ago, and down about $115 per ton from a year ago.
With the drought in California causing tighter rice supplies, U.S. southern states such as Arkansas and Louisiana are looking to shift from growing long-grain rice to medium-grain production.
Other Markets
The European Union’s rice imports from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of Asia under the Everything But Arms Agreement (EBA) have reached about 204,512 tons in the first eight months of the crop year 2014-15 (September-August), an increase of about 12% from the same period last year.
Rice millers from Italy and Spain will meet with European Commission officials to discuss increasing rice imports from LDCs.
A new study published in the Nature Communications Journal finds that El Nino and its effects may reduce global crop harvest of rice and other crops by 0.8 - 4%.
The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) claims that Tanzania is capable of fulfilling the rice needs of the entire EAC region, but that the government, rice growers, and exporters do not recognize the country’s export potential.
The government of Malaysia plans to make paddy planting more attractive, especially for youth, in terms of ensuring higher income and returns.
The Myanmar Rice Federation expects Myanmar to export 2 million tons of rice in FY 2015-16 (April-March), an increase of about 18% from last year, due to increased demand from China, Africa, and Europe. Under a National Strategic Plan, the government is aiming to increase paddy rice acreage to around 7.7 million hectares and increase yield to around 4.1 tons per hectare. It is aiming to increase milled rice production to around 15.9 million tons and export around 6 million tons by 2030.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates Indonesia’s rice imports to decline about 25% in 2015-16 due to a favorable outlook for 2015 aggregate rice production. However, analysts say that the effects of the El Nino weather pattern may force Indonesia to import more rice this year.
Rice farmers in Bangladesh are concerned that the imposition of a 10% import duty on rice imports has increased Boro (January-May) paddy prices by about 20%, but it has not benefited the rice farmers, according to local sources.
The UN’s FAO estimates South Korea will import 460,000 tons of rice in marketing year 2014-15 (October-September).

FAO Estimates Philippines to Import 1.8 Million Tons of Rice in 2015 Amid El Nino Fears

May 22, 2015
The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has forecasted the Philippines 2015 rice imports to remain at last year's level of around 1.8 million tons reflecting the government's efforts to stabilize domestic rice prices and restore public stocks. Also an impending drought-inducing El Nino weather pattern may also force the country to import more rice this year. El Nino is feared to result in reduced yields due to below-average rainfall.
Though, reports from the main meteorological and oceanic institutions conformed the onset of a weak to moderate El Nino event, uncertainty about the intensity still persists. However, government support to the sector in the form expansion of irrigated area, improved seeds and higher fertilizers is likely to maintain pace of production.The FAO forecasts Philippines 2015 paddy rice production at around 19.76 million tons (around 12.39 million tons, basis milled), up about 4% from an estimated 19 million tons (around 11.91 million tons, basis milled). Planting of the 2015 main season rice crop, accounting for about 55% of annual production, is currently underway and will continue till mid-July. Lower-than average rainfall in early April has most likely delayed planting operations.
Description: to the FAO, the average retail prices of regular and well-milled rice varieties
continued to decline in May 2015 for the eighth consecutive month after continuously increasing since last October, due to increased supplies from the 2014 main season harvest.USDA estimates the Philippines to import around 1.6 million tons of milled rice in 2015, up about 33% from an estimated 1.2 million tons in 2014. USDA estimates the South-East Asian nation to produce around 19.365 million tons of paddy (around 12.2 million tons, basis milled) in MY 2014-15 (July - June), up about 3% from an estimated 18.82 million tons (around 11.86 million tons, basis milled) in MY 2013-14.

Download/View On-Line the above News in pdf format,just click the following link

25th May (Monday),Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

By Manny Galvez (The Philippine Star) | 
SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija, Philippines – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study.Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines.
The Ballatinaw lines exhibited over 40 percent grain fertility under high temperature conditions and yielded between six to 6.7 tons per hectare during the testing, followed by PSB Rc72H with six to 6.2 tons per hectare and Azucena lines with 2.7 to 4.3 tons per hectare – all better than their original parent stock.The Ballatinaw lines also showed good milling potential with 66.8 percent to 70 percent recovery, in contrast with PSB Rc72H with only 59.3 percent to 63.7 percent recovery.The study, marked by a series of field and laboratory heat stress screening, was co-authored by Lenie Pautin, Rustom Braceros, Dindo Tabanao and Arnel Pocsedio.It was presented under the plant breeding and genetics category during the 23rd Federation of Crop Science Societies of the Philippines, Inc. Scientific Conference in Clark Freeport, Pampanga from May 11 to 16.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Padolina said that screening promising lines that exhibit tolerance to drought and heat stress will pave way to the development of new varieties that address climate change in the country’s major rice-growing areas.She said that normally, rice grows at temperatures between 20°C to 35°C and it is at its most sensitive during the booting and flowering stages. Thus, even dry spells for a short duration will result in substantial yield loss.
Padolina said her team started the series of screenings in 2012 where 817 mutant lines were initially screened for drought stress and leaf blast, and later for heat stress.In biology, especially genetics, a mutant is an organism or a new genetic character arising or resulting from an instance of mutation , which is a base-pair sequence change within the DNA  of a gene or chromosome  of an organism .The natural occurrence of genetic mutations is integral to the process of evolution . The study of mutants is an integral part of biology because by understanding the effect that a mutation in a gene has, it is possible to establish the normal function of that gene.Mutant lines are valuable genetic variations for crop improvement. They are the results of induced mutation where their major traits, for instance plant height and resistance to biotic and stresses, were altered.
Padolina said that in this study, promising lines were identified: two from Ballatinaw and Azucena; three from modern varieties PSB Rc72H, PSB Rc4, and IR58; and one from Nipponbare.She added that promising lines were exposed to temperatures ranging from 21.1°C to 34.4°C at field trials, and 34°C to 38°C at screenhouse trials for three consecutive seasons to test and validate their grain fertility and pollen viability.

DRR Rice Museum features traditional wisdom and scientific breakthroughs

Written by B. Mishra.
In India, rice has been grown since time immemorial. Here, the rice grain has always been considered sacred. The spirit of the Divine is believed to reside in each rice grain. Rice is a symbol of fertility and being used in worship wherein grains are offered to God.Rice is the essence, a way of life and it is blended with festivals, traditions, rituals, and each walk of life of the rice farmers. It is seen in music (particularly folk songs), poems, art, and sculpture. Large parts of folklore have become interwoven with rice culture. For more than half of humanity, rice is life, providing its nurturing energy. Indeed, many consider the crop as the root of civilization.As a rice researcher for nearly four decades and as project director of the Directorate of Rice Research (DRR) for 5 years, I realized the need for establishing a rice museum that depicted a combination of traditional wisdom and the major breakthroughs of science and technology in breeding (release of Sub1 varieties and hybrids), management practices (direct seeding and aerobic rice), pest and disease management, crop resource management (agronomy), postharvest technology, engineering, biotechnology, and genomics.
Description: RT14 2DRR1
Description: RT14 2DRR3
An integral and crucial part of the DRR Rice Museum is a mural painting that gives a panoramic view of the various operations of traditional and science-based rice farming. It depicts the different rice ecosystems—irrigated, upland, shallow lowland, semi-deep water, deep water, and floating rice. It also shows seed production plots and hill rice.The mural illustrates how rice farmers’ lives are governed and regulated by the seasonal rhythms of rice growing— sowing, planting, fertilizing, weeding, irrigating, harvesting, threshing, and hulling. Their lives from birth to death are bound to rice.As the staff and collaborators of the DRR celebrate its 50th anniversary, the DRR Rice Museum is observing its 10th year of operation, having opened its doors on 31 March 2005. The panoramic mural, particularly, has been a solemn place for staff and visitors to pause in the museum—to take some quiet time to reflect on the importance and significance of India’s rich and diverse rice culture.
Description: RT14 2DRR2
Dr. Mishra was project director for the DRR, 2000-05. During his time, 144 inbred rice varieties and 9 hybrids suited for different rice ecologies were released. He facilitated the development of hybrid rice in India, which is now planted on around 2.4 million hectares. He coordinated the largest AICRIP network on rice up to that time, having 47 funded projects and more than 90 cooperating centers with nearly 500 rice scientists.

What kind of rice do consumers want?

Written by Marie Claire Custodio, Neale Paguirigan, Alice Laborte, Jhoanne Ynion, and Matty Demont.
 Description: RT14 2map
About a third of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in South Asia. By 2035, about 194 million tons (source: IRRI Global Rice ModelGlobal Rice Model [2014]) of rice will be needed to feed South Asians, about 40% of which will be consumed in urban areas. Income growth, urbanization, and other socioeconomic transformations have affected consumption and preferences for food including rice. To understand the current rice preferences and have a basis for projections of future demand for rice quality, we interviewed 1,900 rice consumers in 11 major cities in East and South India and Bangladesh.This is part of an on-going study by the Market Research Team at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to understand market demand for rice quality traits and characteristics, and to contribute to the development of product profiles for a more targeted rice breeding program at IRRI and its national partners.Our preliminary results are presented here.
 Description: RT14 2 map2 Description: RT14 2 map3
Description: RT14 2 map4a
Dr. Laborte is a scientist and GIS specialist in the Social Sciences Division (SSD). Dr. Demont is a senior economist and leader of the SSD market and value chain research team, which includes Ms. Custodio, senior associate scientist; Ms. Ynion, assistant scientist; and Mr. Paguirigan, GIS and database management specialist.

Agri research key to inclusive growth

Rolando T. Dy

11:00 PM | Sunday, May 24th, 2015

CONSIDER the following exotic names: Aromatic coconut, giant santol, guapple, monthong durian, honey jackfruit J33, PB360 rubber, cacao UF18, and MG/MD pineapple. They are preferred clones of agriculture crops. They did not come from nowhere.Products of investments in research and development (R&D), many of these are found in the Philippines, but their origins are from other countries: Aromatic coconut, giant santol and monthong are from Thailand; jackfruit J33 and PB360 rubber are from Malaysia; cacao UF18 is from Costa Rica; and MD and MG pineapple are from Hawaii.R&D is about improving yields, attaining better quality, shortening immaturity periods, lengthening shelf life, reducing costs, developing new clones or varieties, and achieving pest and disease resistance.
It improves the food supply and nutrition, creates jobs and increases farmers’ incomes. These effects result in more inclusive growth as more benefit from increased production, especially the poor.Various studies have shown that R&D can impact productivity and food supply significantly.Peter Hazel, an international expert on R&D, asserted that the breeding of improved rice and wheat varieties, combined with the expanded use of inputs, irrigation, and supportive public policies, led to dramatic yield and production increases in Asia beginning in the late 1960s. In 20 years, cereal production doubled and per capita income increased by 190 percent, improving the livelihood of an estimated 1.8 billion people in rural Asia.Li Xin and Yuan, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) researchers, cited the efforts of plant scientists, seed producers, extension agents and farmers, making China the first country to develop and commercialize hybrid rice.

With yields that exceed other varieties by 15 to 31 percent, hybrid rice has allowed China to feed an additional 60 million people a year, while reducing the land allocated to rice production by 14 percent since 1978. Hybrid rice is cultivated on 63 percent of land in China.Another IFPRI report claimed that zero-tillage cultivation techniques among Argentine farmers contributed to a significant increase in the global supply of soybean. Zero-tillage is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil. The use of zero-tillage, along with the introduction of soybean varieties, improved soil fertility by reversing decades of erosion and created some 200,000 new agricultural jobs.Still another IFPRI report in 2009 claimed that the genetic improvement of tilapia (GIFT) served as a launching pad for finfish genetic improvement around the world. Based on selective breeding, GIFT succeeded in producing tilapia that grows faster with a high survival rate, thus increasing fish yields dramatically. Between 1990 and 2007, tilapia production in the Philippines expanded by 186 percent, while production costs fell by up to 35 percent.
In the Philippines, R&D appears to have weak support in the halls of government and lawmakers due to its long gestation and limited public visibility.“Government investment during the last 40 years has been consistently below the minimum level recommended by the World Bank for developing countries to sustain agriculture growth, which is 1 percent of the gross value added (GVA) in agriculture,” said Dr. Eliseo Ponce, a noted agriculture policy expert. “As a consequence, research programs have suffered from low budget which, in turn, resulted in deteriorating R&D infrastructure, especially critical upstream laboratories, and an inadequate cadre of highly trained researchers. This has been exacerbated by the inability of the country to develop a unified or highly integrated agriculture and fisheries research system. In the Asean countries, the Philippines has perhaps the most fragmented system.”Exceptions are the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the Philippine Carabao Center, as well as the private but now heavily underfunded Philippine Sugar Research Institute. They have developed new technologies to enhance rice, carabao milk and sugarcane productivity.
By contrast, there is limited (or none at all) research program for coconut (the largest crop in farm area), rubber, coffee, cacao, jackfruit and banana. The private sector has greatly contributed to bringing in new clones and technologies to the Philippines: Cavendish bananas from Central America, pineapples from Hawaii, rubber from Malaysia, and palm oil from Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and Thailand.There are research institutions in the world which the Philippines can emulate:
Brazil. Since 1973, the Brazilian Agriculture Research Corp. (Embrapa) has generated over 9,000 technologies for agriculture, reduced production costs, and increased food supply. It is the leading center for tropical agriculture research in the world.Embrapa has 38 research centers and is present in almost all states, each with its own ecological conditions. It has over 2,000 area researchers, 1,600 of whom having doctoral degrees. It coordinates the national agricultural research system, which includes most public and private entities involved in agricultural research in the country.
Malaysia. The pioneering work of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM) has had an impact on the local natural rubber industry and those of other countries. Quality planting materials determine the profitability of rubber plantation. RRIM produced many clones, such as RRIM 600, RRIM 928, RRIM 3001, PB 260, and PB 350. Some have found their way to the Philippines. In addition, the Malaysian Agriculture Research Development Institute has made significant progress in tropical fruits, such that the lowly star fruit (balimbing) is now a major tropical export.Thailand.
The Rubber Research Institute of Thailand, with headquarters in Bangkok, operates five research centers to address different agro-ecological zones. It has developed two productive rubber clones, RRIT 251 and RRIT 408. The country is the world’s leading natural rubber exporter. It is also a leading player in sugar, cassava, processed fruits, shrimp and chicken meat.Vietnam. The Western Highlands of Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute (Wasi) is an agency under the Vietnam Agricultural Science Institute. Wasi, established in 1997, is a consolidation of the coffee research institute, mulberry research center, and related scientific research offices, such as pepper and macadamia. Wasi has developed coffee hybrids with maximum farmer’s yield of up to 4 kilograms of beans per tree. Vietnam is the world’s leading robusta and pepper supplier.“Agriculture research does not happen overnight. In order to have a long-term impact, there must be sustained budget support to develop and continuously upgrade its laboratories especially for upstream and strategic research and scientific personnel,” Ponce said.Development of R&D human resources means educating the most promising young Filipino scientists in the best universities in the world.
There must also be opportunities for researchers to undertake postdoctoral studies abroad. For tree crops, the Philippines is not there in the league. The coconut research program of PCA is not at par, in terms of investment and human resources, with other dedicated institutes or research centers.IFPRI found that the Philippines had one of the largest agricultural research systems in Asia in 2002. However, in terms of agricultural research spending, the Philippines ranks behind Asian countries such as Malaysia. Public agricultural R&D in the Philippines is heavily reliant on government sources for support.
In 2002, the Philippine government provided more than 85 percent of funding to the government agencies.In 2013, the agriculture GVA reached P1,297 billion. At 1 percent, the calculated agriculture R&D budget could have been P13 billion. In 2012, according to the Bureau of Agriculture Research, the government R&D budget was P1.5 billion. Due to low investment, the country needs to tap other countries that have succeeded in making technological advances. This had been shown in the adoption of zero-tillage cultivation. Another way is to acquire good plant varieties from more advanced countries through closer bilateral and multilateral collaborations.
“The challenge is that, on top of increasing the R&D budget, there is the lack of focus of many Philippine R&D institutions, particularly the proliferating state college and universities. They have to be rationalized, to achieve the critical mass of cadre of researchers,” said Fermin Adriano, a noted political economist.Agriculture research has a very high rate of social return. An estimate of the median of the rate of return is 48 percent a year for research, according to IFPRI. A hurdle rate of 15 percent is good enough.Agricultural research has proven itself effective at increasing farm productivity, enhancing product quality, and reducing costs, along with providing spillovers in manufacturing and services. The resulting job creation is part of the outcome of inclusive growth.
The Philippines certainly needs a coherent research agenda in the next 20 years.(This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is vice chair of MAP agribusiness and countryside development committee, and executive director of Center for Food and AgriBusiness of University of Asia & the Pacific.
Feedback at <> and <>. For previous articles, please visit <>)
Description:   GUWAHATI, May 24 – Bao-dhan (deep water paddy), being cultivated since time immemorial, may be an alternative option for the State’s farmers.
This variety of paddy has unique tolerance to stress, which is not possible for any other paddy variety. The seedlings can withstand drought-like conditions. During May-September, which is the rainy season (flood season in Assam), this paddy shows the unique ability to grow rapidly with the rising water level.Floods in Assam mostly affect rice, the major staple food in the State. But the government has not taken any major steps to control flood over the decades
Every year farmers lose lakhs of hectares of paddy due to floods.Paddy is widely cultivated across the length and breadth of Assam.In respect of nutrition, the bao paddy has high nutritive value. A study led by Prof AK Handique and his team of researchers from the Department of Bio-technology has shown that bao-dhan contains high levels of carbohydrates, crude protein and lipids. The result of a similar study carried out by Prof KK Baruah was the same, though the studies were carried out independently.
The findings were published in an acclaimed international journal Oryza, which is published by the Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack.However, unlike other rice varieties such as Joha, Sali, Masuri, Lahi and other high-yielding varieties (HYV), bao-dhan yield is low, but maintenance-free and takes a long time (March to November) to ripen.Most varieties of bao-dhan are red and hence called ‘red rice’. This redness is due to a naturally occurring compound called Anthocyanin, which gives a red hue to this rice variety.This paddy can prevent diseases like cancer, coronary heart disease, various diseases of bone and bone joints, age-related health problems, etc.It was Prof Handique’s research team who for the first time studied and reported the presence of Anthocyanin in ‘red rice’ from Assam as early as 2008. The study, published in India Journal of Plant Physiology, was widely acclaimed by the scientific community associated with rice research.
Category: News
Published on Monday, 25 May 2015 04:00
Written by Musa Abdullahi Krishi
...Stallion, others owe N22bn duty

Twenty five billion naira in lost revenue was recorded by the Federation Account between May and December last year due to importers’ clever manipulation of the Federal Government’s preferential tariff policy on rice imports, Daily Trust learnt from authoritative National Assembly sources in Abuja yesterday. Also, leading rice importers owe the treasury nearly N22billion in unpaid import duties with Stallion/Popular Foods leading the way with N15 billion in unpaid duties, the sources said.

 Daily Trust learnt that some of the affected companies do not want to pay the import duties and are putting pressure on top officials of the outgoing Jonathan administration to prevail on the Nigeria Customs Service to waive the amounts payable by them.Earlier this month, an ad hoc House of Representatives committee led by held public hearings over the government’s messy rice import policy at which different government agencies gave conflicting accounts of the policy’s effectiveness. 

Daily Trust learnt that the summary of the problem is that the dual rice import tariff policy approved by President Goodluck Jonathan mid last year allowed rice traders that are not granted concessionary tariffs to collude with rice millers that were so granted concessions in order to evade payment of the higher tariff. This the traders did by importing parboiled rice in the name of rice millers, thereby paying concessionary duty instead of the higher one.Loophole
The loophole that allowed this manipulation was contained in the 2014-2017 Fiscal Policy Measures on Rice issued by Coordinating Minister of the Economy [CME] Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on July 8, 2014.

She said Jonathan approved the new policy “in an effort to encourage investment in the rice value chain through backward integration.” The policy provided that “the importation of husked brown rice, semi milled or wholly milled rice by investors with rice milling capacity and verifiable backward integration programs shall attract 10% duty with 20% levy.” On the other hand, it provided that “the importation of husked brown rice, semi milled and wholly milled rice by other rice traders shall attract 10% duty and 20% levy.” The problem with this policy, the source said, was that while rice millers were given a preferential import tariff, they were not restricted to the importation of husked brown or even semi-milled rice which they must then further process in their mills. Instead, they were also permitted to import wholly milled rice which requires no local value addition.
The fears were soon borne out because last September, the Nigeria Customs Service [NCS] warned CME Okonjo-Iweala that rice traders were colluding with the millers to import wholly milled rice at the preferential tariff rate, thereby leading to loss of billions of naira in revenue. Similarly, the millers were engaging in wholesale imports of wholly milled rice, thereby defeating the purpose of the concessionary tariff granted to them. In several memos to the government, including one sent to President Goodluck Jonathan in December, NCS urged a review of the policy but Agriculture Minister Adewunmi Adesina insisted that the policy was on track and opposed any changes.preferential tariff 

While Adesina insisted that the preferential tariff rate granted to the millers was based on quotas shared after a national rice supply gap was calculated by a committee, the Customs complained that a list of the approved quotas was not made available to it until late December. By then, the millers and traders had engaged in indiscriminate imports of rice. The policy however called for the charging of higher tariff rates to any miller that exceeded its allotted import quota. As at May this year eight rice millers had exceeded their import quota even under the preferential tariff rate. They include Olam that exceeded its quota by 110,000 tonnes and has N3.5 billion in excess duties to pay; Stallion/Popular Foods [N15.5 billion in excess duties for importing 564,000 tonnes of rice above its quota] and BUA, with N1.5 billion excess duties to pay.
Millan Nigeria Limited also has to pay an excess duty of billion. Sources told Daily Trust that while the poorly worked out concessionary policy has already cost the treasury more than N25 billion, it stands to lose another N22 billion due to the unwillingness of some major rice importers to pay duties on rice they imported above their allotted quotas. They are hoping to induce the outgoing government to revise the national rice supply gap and raise their quotas so as to wipe out the duties they owe for excess imports. The source said, “The government cannot afford to lose this money at a time when it is facing a huge revenue shortfall due to the fall in oil prices, yet some people are bent on circumventing the payment. The rice import policy must also be reviewed by the incoming administration to eliminate this loophole which has been duly exploited by unscrupulous elements to sabotage the economy.”
The troubling abundance
Shamsul Huq Zahid
The production of Boro rice this year has surpassed all past records. The plentiful production is a piece of welcome news for the policymakers. But it has in a way brought miseries to millions of farmers and others involved in its processing and marketing. The prices of paddy have come down to such a low level that farmers are reluctant to dispose of their stock. Apparently, they have decided to wait for some more time with the hope of a turnaround in the price situation. But the hope of better price could prove to be elusive.In the meanwhile, the small and marginal farmers who cannot afford to hold on to their stocks have already become victims of the falling prices of paddy.
They have disposed of a large part of their small stocks to meet other necessities and repay the money they had borrowed to finance the cost of production of Boro rice. Such an unpalatable experience, however, is nothing new. On a number of occasions in the recent past, they had to sell their produce at prices that were well below the cost of production.  The import of a substantial volume of rice by the private sector traders at cheap prices from neighbouring India is largely blamed for the slump in paddy prices during the peak harvest time of Boro rice this year.The government food silos in India are usually required to sell off old food stocks after every three years. The silos dispose of mainly the poor quality stocks at cheaper rates.The inflow of a large quantity of rice procured at cheaper prices in recent months has left an impact on the overall rice price situation.
Aware of the possible impact of the supply glut of rice on local rice harvests, the government started actively considering the withdrawal of the duty exemption on rice and imposition of duty afresh. But for reasons best known to the decision makers, it took a long time to levy duty on rice import. The delay in decision making had allowed enough time to the traders to continue their import of rice at cheaper rates. By the time the government decided to withdraw the tax exemption facility, the storages of the private importers were filled up with imported rice. So, they don't have any appetite for the locally produced coarse variety of rice, which has led to the slump in paddy prices at major paddy procurement centres. Reports coming from these centres provide a dismal picture. The current price level of paddy, on an average, is equivalent to 60 to 70 per cent of the cost of production of the same at the growers' level. So, the farmers find no incentive to bring their produce to the major rural procurement centres.
Thus, the reduced supply of paddy has resulted in the slowdown in activities in the procurement centres and rice milling facilities. Many rice growers are now pinning their hopes on the government's procurement drive that started from May 01 last and will end on August 31. But the rice producers can hardly make use of the government procurement drive mainly because the government is more interested in the procurement of rice, not paddy. This season, the directorate of food will procure only 100,000 metric tonnes of paddy as against the procurement target of 935,000 tonnes of rice.
The directorate usually buys rice from the rice millers. So, the farmers have very limited scope to benefit from the official procurement drive.Moreover, irregularities, financial or otherwise, are rampant in the government's food procurement programmes. The rice importers or exporters, it is alleged, get information from officials concerned as soon as any move is initiated with regard to imposition of duty, procurement prices, etc.
The rush of private importers for importing rice in large quantities could also be linked to the leaking of information about the imposition of duty on rice import.  The quality of the rice procured by the food officials at the field level remains a concern. It is alleged that millers, in collusion with food officials, supply poor quality rice to the food department's silos. The possibility of supplying the rice imported at cheaper prices from India to the government under the ongoing procurement drive cannot be ruled out. Anything is possible in the government's procurement of goods and services in this country. One can cite lots of stories about such irregularities.
The government leaders speak about the achievement of the country in food production with great satisfaction. But they should find ways to keep the growers of the main staple happy by ensuring fair prices of their produce. Otherwise, if this kind of distortion in price continues, the feeling of satisfaction at bountiful production may not last long.
NFA backs anti-smuggling bills
National Food Authority Administrator Renan Dalisay expressed strong support to Senate Bills 2082 and 2765 that declare smuggling as a form of economic sabotage, the agency's website said.At a joint committee hearing of the Committees on Agriculture and Food, Ways and Means, and Human Rights, Dalisay said smuggling destabilizes the entire supply chain of rice since rice is a highly agricultural political commodity.
“If smuggling sets in, our government will be at loss. Aside from that if we have under import, rice prices will increase and if it is over import, farm gate prices will decrease,” Dalisay said.The NFA is the only government agency that issues import permits to rice importers, the absence of which presupposes that the imported commodities are smuggled. Data obtained from the Philippine Navy Western Command revealed that from 2013 to the present, naval forces in Mindanao have intercepted P542 Million worth of smuggled rice or 301,138 bags of 50kg or 15,000 MT in Zamboanga alone.
Recently, Dalisay, who was appointed head of the NFA in November, met with Bureau of Customs Commissioner Bert Lina, with Secretary Francis Pangilinan of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, to discuss ways of strengthening government forces to curb smuggling. He said the NFA cannot do this alone and needs the help of the BoC. During the meeting, the BoC and the NFA agreed to maintain close coordination to eradicate smuggling.  Dalisay is also encouraging the public to report to NFA immediately any suspicious illegal activities. “We want to involve the public in our efforts to keep things in order. Your assistance will be treated strictly with utmost confidentiality,” Dalisay said.

Much abuse in national rice subsidy scheme

MP SPEAKS A few days ago, I had asked the agriculture deputy minister whether the ministry would review the ST15 percent national rice subsidy programme.
This follows the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) recent recommendation to suspend the national rice subsidy programme for having failed to achieve its objectives in benefiting the poor.

In April, the PAC had called for the national rice subsidy programme to be suspended after it found that there were no standard operating procedures (SOP) or guidelines in the sale and distribution of the subsidised ST15 rice to low income earners and the poor.The purpose of this rice subsidy scheme was to produce ST15 percent (ST15) broken rice, to ensure that low income groups and the poor would have sufficient supply of the subsidised ST15 rice at a controlled retail price of between RM1.65 to RM1.80 per kg. In 2014, our government allocated RM528 million in its budget for the ST15 national rice subsidy programme. By year-end 2015, our government would have spent in excess of RM3.9 billion for the entire programme since its introduction in 2008.

The deputy minister’s answer in Parliament - that businesses of rice millers, wholesalers and retailers would be adversely affected if the national rice subsidy programme is stopped - totally fails to address PAC’s concern that subsidised rice is not reaching the intended target of low income groups in Malaysia. The deputy minister also could not give me a straight answer on whether the agricultural ministry has data on actual amounts of ST15 rice sold by wholesalers to retailers on a monthly and yearly basis, after I had pointed out to him that the agriculture minister had failed to answer this exact question in my written question asked in the last Parliament sitting.Since its inception, the national rice subsidy programme has been plagued with allegations of government mismanagement, corruption and abuse in its implementation.

Corruption allegations

There have been allegations of corrupt officials in the agricultural ministry demanding bribes to give quotas to wholesalers to buy and sell ST15 rice, and complaints of widespread practice of unscrupulous wholesalers mixing ST15 rice and selling the rice off as higher grade (ST5 and ST10) rice for profit.Additionally, there is no effective government control and supervision of retailers in the sale of the subsidised rice to ensure that only the targeted low income groups can buy ST15 rice.

There is a clear and urgent need to review and revamp the implementation of the national rice subsidy programme in its current form, failing which hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money will be wasted each year without benefiting the poor, as the subsidy program was originally intended to achieve.As such, I fully support the PAC's call to Malaysia’s auditor general to conduct an audit of the rice subsidy scheme. I urge the auditor general to focus their audit on the following areas:

i)      Whether the selection process of ST15 rice wholesalers has been carried out in a fair, transparent and proper manner;

ii)     Whether the government has implemented effective enforcement mechanisms to stop abuse of wholesalers mixing ST15 rice and selling off the rice as a different grade of rice to fetch higher prices;

iii)    Whether the government has implemented effective measures to monitor and control wholesalers and retailers nationwide - to ensure that ST15 rice is only sold to the targeted low income group and the poor.

GOOI HSIAO LEUNG is MP for, Alor Setar and PKR supreme council member.

Lack of focus on R&D hurts progress potential: minister

Description: Dastgir Khan noted that Pakistan&rsquo;s ranking in the GCI slid from 128 in 2013-14 to 129 in 2014-15.&mdash;APP/File
Dastgir Khan noted that Pakistan’s ranking in the GCI slid from 128 in 2013-14 to 129 in 2014-15.—APP/FileISLAMABAD: In an age where knowledge-based economies are viewed as the recipe for progress, Pakistan has failed to invest in research and development of new technologies, which, in the government’s own words, has led to its fall in the Global Competi-tiveness Index (GCI).
The index assesses the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens. This, in turn, depends on how productively a country uses available resources.In the recently concluded session of the National Assembly, a report presented by Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan noted that Pakistan’s ranking in the GCI slid from 128 in 2013-14 to 129 in 2014-15. The report also detailed a number of factors that may have caused this decline.The key factor the minister highlighted was years of negligence by successive governments in the field of research and development.
 To substantiate, the minister used the example of Pakistan losing out to India with regards to its traditional rice exports.“India has developed many basmati and basmati-like varieties during the last few years, whereas Pakistan has failed to develop any variety in the last 30. Consequently, traditional basmati rice markets are being gradually grabbed by India, who have high-yielding basmati varieties,” the minister said.Research and development has traditionally been a low priority area, both in the public and private sectors. For instance, the minister said, there had been no efforts to develop new, high-yielding varieties of cotton or rice.Talking to Dawn, eminent scientist and educationist Pervez Hoodbhoy said that over the years, the county unfortunately couldn’t develop a real research and development culture. “Merely producing PhDs and investing in equipment will not serve the purpose, we need to inculcate a scientific approach among our researchers.
”Presenting other causes which led to a $34 billion rise in the country’s import bill over the July 2014 —March 2015 period, which led to a trade deficit of $16.1 billion, the minister said that there had been a global decline in prices of cotton and rice.These commodities have decisive importance among the country’s s exports and the decrease in prices has adversely affected exports.The average unit price of non-basmati rice, which constitutes 70 per cent of Pakistan’s rice exports by value, declined by 2 per cent. Similarly, the average unit price of cotton and yarn have declined by 78 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2015

Artificial rice unlikely to enter Sarawak market, says authority

Posted on May 23, 2015, Saturday
KUCHING: The state’s Padi and Rice Division under Agriculture and Agro Based Industry Ministry (MOA) has assured all that there is little possibility for the controversial artificial rice entering the local market.According to division’s director Ismail Sahari, the state has not been importing rice from China over the past 20 years; thus it is very unlikely for the fake grains to be sold here.“At the moment, we have not received reports or complaints on the discovery of artificial rice in our market,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

He also said rice importers were required to have approved permits (AP), adding that the constant close monitoring of the grade and quality of rice brought into the state would ensure that the supply comply with the nation’s food safety and quality standards.According to Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan are currently the main rice exporters to Sarawak.

Heading: Division to work closely with ministry on rice import

“We will still be monitoring the market and working closely with the KPDNKK (Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry), despite that we have not been importing rice from China,” Ismail said, adding that his division’s headquarters in Putrajaya had issued directives to all divisions nationwide requiring them to remain vigilant and continue with their monitoring efforts.State KPDNKK director Dato Stanley Tan, when contacted, also said his side had yet to hear any complaint on the sale of artificial rice in Sarawak.“We will also be keeping tabs on the sale of rice and monitor our (consumer) complaints hotline.”Meanwhile, a source close to the ministry said the whole artificial rice issue could not be verified as information based on news reports was rather sketchy.

According to the source, rice is a very cheap commodity in China, which is able to produce a yearly output of around 130 million tonnes – for both local consumption and export market.“This questions the logic as to why someone would produce artificial rice. The production cost, which includes that for polishing the grains, would be very high and will affect its selling price,” the source said.The controversial issue had been making headlines across Asean, in which it stated that it was possible to manufacture artificial rice by mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and synthetic resin or plastic together. It is said that the target markets are countries with large rural population such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam.Apparently, the reports also highlighted the danger of the fake grains to the human digestive system.An online news portal explained that the artificial rice would remain solid even after being boiled for hours, while the resin used to mold the ‘grain’ would emit the smell of burnt plastics whenever it got heated.
A press statement from the Health Ministry (MOH) said it would continue to monitor the situation closely.“We would duly update the public if there’re new findings concerning food safety,” said the ministry’s director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. At the same time, he advised consumers who were suspicious of the authenticity of rice in the market to notify the ministry via the nearest Health Office, or by accessing the Food Safety and Quality (FSQ) Division on

The Nino strikes

Saturday, May 23, 2015

WITH a mild El Nino still upon us, the Department of Agriculture in Davao Region had already reported that rice and corn farmers have already incurred a total of P55.96 million in losses.As of April 21, DA 11 El Nino focal person Herna Palma reported that the total area affected by El Nino in the region for rice is placed at 1,427.81 hectares (ha.) destroying 933.81 ha. and damaging 494 ha. while 591.64 ha. total area affected for corn with 138.25 ha. destroyed and 453.59 ha. damaged.She said that total losses in term of production for rice are at 3,674.75 metric tons (MT) and 828.47 MT for corn amounting to P51.16 million and P4.79 million respectively.For both corn and rice combined, total losses are at 4,503.22 MT or P55.96 million which, said Palma may still increase by the middle of the year as it has been predicted to be the peak of the dry spell.

As El Nino phenomenon continues in the region farmers have also been affected with some pests and diseases are which are arising during the hot months.Included in one of the most rampant pests during these months according to Department Palma, in a separate interview, include rats and black bugs which mainly affect rice and corn fields.In a copy of the “Field Guide” booklet by DA’s Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), rats have been identified under the “most harmful” organisms as they cause extensive damage to seedlings on the early and transplanting stage and they also cut tillers (stem and leaves) and eat portions of developing panicles (terminal shoot of a plant that produces grain). According to PhilRice, rats live one year or longer wherein females can produce and wean 24 offspring in one year.

Rats can reduce yield base on their number on the field.For black bugs, they also attack crops during seedling to flowering stages; adults and nymphs are said to suck plant sap at the base of stems and move up the plant and suck the sap of the tillers at night. Black bug infestation during the growing stage can result to deadhearts (dead rice tillers) and severe infestations causes young plants to die and make the field appear burnt. According to PhilRice, this damage is because black bug’s saliva is toxic.Other than pests, PhilRice, in another “Field Guide” booklet, had identified sheath blight which is a type of disease that develops due to high temperature. This disease can be found on the leaf sheaths that look like oval grey spots with black brown margins and the base portion of the leaves. Sheath blight is said to affect plants during heading and at maturity stages. Other factors contributing to its development and severity include high nitrogen fertilizer, close plant spacing, and high humidity.
For other crops, DA 11 had also recently discovered a “highly specialized bacteria” which affects cassava farmers in the region.DA XI Cassava Focal Person, Leorence J. Nasol, in an interview, said that the phytoplasma disease attacks the different parts of the plant which makes it hard to control.The disease, according to Nasol, can only be seen once it has already infected the plant which can only be eradicated after harvest by soaking the stalks to be planted in streptomycin sulfate for six hours and burning the surface of the affected land area in order to disinfect it.Nasol explained that phytoplasma disease is not a new disease; however, as the cassava plantations are growing big in the region these diseases are slowly being seen.

She added that the disease may have come from Bukidnon because their planting materials came from there.There are currently 2,000 hectares of cassava planted in the region.In Davao Region, Nasol said that most cassava plantations affected were in Compostela Province and Tagum City in Davao del Norte wherein the cassava varieties being attacked are KU 50, Lakan 1 and Rayun 72. Native varieties of cassava like the ones planted in Tamugan have not been affected by the disease.

Assistance to farmers
As El Nino had already affected the region, Palma said that they had allocated around P22.22 million to serve as assistance fund for farmers which could still increase if they have additional funds.The budget, according to her, covered 6,923 bags of corn seeds, 4,200 bags of certified rice seeds, 1,130 bags of registered rice seeds, 10,000 packs of eight-in-one vegetable seeds, and drugs and biologics for livestock."If El Niño will end, we will give this to them," said Palma referring to the farmers.For the cassava farmers, Nasol said that they are set to give out 2,200 packs of streptomycin sulfate which can cover up to 200 hectares to those affected by phytoplasma disease around June this year.

Other assistance for this year, according to Nasol, will be giving treated cassava stalks to farmers per province in the region covering 10 hectares per province under their Cassava Seeds Pieces Production Program. She said that under the program the harvest of the cassava will be given to the farmers wherein in return they will give back 500 bundles of stalk which will be given to other interested farmers.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 24, 2015

Scientists develop zinc enriched rice to fight malnutrition

 May 23,2015, 10.41 AM  IST | | PTI
Scientists here have developed a high zinc-enriched variety of rice that is expected to play a crucial role in fighting malnutrition in tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh where nearly seven lakh children are still malnourished.

Description: new paddy seed, called ‘Chhattisgarh Zinc Rice-1’, the first zinc bio-fortified rice variety in India, was launched by State Variety Release Committee, the authority for official release of new varieties of seeds, in March and its production is likely to begin from the next kharif season. Similarly, researchers from Indira Gandhi Agriculture University, Raipur, led by Girish Chandel, have rolled out two varieties of high zinc rice, of which one has been released..
“We focused on increasing our crop production since the inception of the Green Revolution. In the process, we managed to yield high production, but the quality of crop did not improve,” Prof. Chandel said. In 2000, the Centre, along with, health organisations in a survey found that 60-70 per cent of population was suffering from malnutrition because of deficiency of micro-nutrients, particularly iron, zinc and Vitamin A.
Following this, the government decided to come out with a research programme to improve the variety of three staple crops — rice, wheat and maize — in different states, he said. Under the programme, Chhattisgarh decided to work on the quality aspect and took up ‘Rice Bio Fortification Research Project’.“Currently, we have 100 kg seeds of this variety and we are further planning to multiply it in 10 acres. By December, we will distribute it to 5,000 farmers across the state,” he said.

30% rural students in need of nutritious meals: Study

HYDERABAD: Almost 30% school students in the rural areas of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are deprived of nutritious meals. This was unearthed by a team from Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) that recently undertook an international project to research on child poverty.Titled 'Young Lives', the project studied the eating habits of almost 3,000 children from various districts, including Anantapur, Mahbubnagar and Karimnagar.
While on the upside, it revealed that the enrolment of students has significantly improved from 89% in 2006 to 97% in 2013, it also inferred that one-third of these students were served no micronutrients in their daily meals thanks to the poor quality of mid-day meals served in these areas.Incidentally, as per official data, about 55 lakh students in AP and Telangana 'the highest in the country' are dependent on the mid-day meal scheme. The scheme, records suggest, covers students from Classes I to X in 77,631 schools in the two states. In Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Visakhapatnam alone, two lakh students are beneficiaries of the scheme.But is it reaching every student? And in what way?
 These are the questions that the study brought to the fore. In fact, data collated by the CESS team -- that covers an eight-year span between 2006 and 2013 'suggests that nutrition levels have improved only by a marginal 4% during this period."Children were found to be not receiving micronutrients in proper quantities. The diet lacked protein intake," said F Galab, principle investigator of the project. "Although the scheme has been implemented in most of these areas, the composition of the food served is not up to mark. It is not enough to curb malnutrition. The government should contemplate providing two meals with more protein content," he added.The mid-day meal menu ideally comprises vegetables, grains and pulses apart from oil and fat components. However, nutritionists fear this is not enough for the development of children.
 "Proteins are extremely important since they build muscles. Feeding them two boiled eggs, two glasses of milk, leafy vegetables and two fruits a day may improve their health," said M Gayathri, clinical dietician at Apollo Hospitals, Hyderguda.The state education department also admits that malnutrition persists in rural areas. "We serve mid-day meal once a day for 220 days a year. For the rest of the days, children are with their parents and they don't get sufficient proteins at home. Meals provided under the scheme have more carbohydrates than proteins since they are meant only to curb classroom hunger," said T Chiranjeevulu, state project director for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan. "The government has, however, recently started giving eggs and super fine basmati rice to students to address the issue of malnourishment," he added.
Times of India 

Asian countries told to build up rice stocks soon 

Linda Yulisman, The Jakarta Post, Bangkok, Thailand | Business | Mon, May 25 2015, 7:49 AM
Business News
Asian countries need to build up rice stocks as global supply may shrink due to growing demand from major buyers like China and India, which will eventually push up prices, according to global research house The Rice Trader.“China is still not on the pace to meet [annual purchase of] 4.5 million tons this year, but they will make it. The fact that they now only have 2.2 million tons suggests that they will buy aggressively,” said Jeremy Zwinger, the president and CEO of the California-based research institute.China, now the world’s-biggest rice buyer, imported 4 million tons of rice last year, up from 3.2 million tons in 2013, according to data from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The country’s rice imports in 2014 set a new record for a fourth consecutive year.

The dramatic increase rice demand from the world’s most populous nation began in 2007, when imports increased to more than seven times the average of the previous five years.The Rice Trader also expects Indian rice stocks to jump to nearly 10 million tons this year. As of early May, India’s rice stocks had plunged by 22 percent to 22.23 million tons from the previous year, according to statistics from Food Corporation of India (FCI) issued recently. Rice Trader data from five rice exporting countries — Thailand, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and the US — shows that overseas shipment sin 2014 reached historically high levels at 34.67 million tons, up 12.4 percent from 2013.The potential of a long drought caused by El Niño would be another factor to watch, as it might pose a significant threat to production, Zwinger noted.

Scientists have warned that the world is on track for another year of record-setting heat, with temperatures having hit a new high in the first four months of this year. Australia’s weather bureau has already declared the major event of El Niño, which is caused by a reversal of trade winds in the Pacific, causing ocean temperatures to rise.Apart from bringing unseasonably dry conditions to Australia and India over the next several months, forecasters have also said El Niño could trigger famine in West Africa. Zwinger said that over the next several months rice prices would stay at a low level on abundant supplies from rice-producing countries, particularly Thailand.In the first two months of this year, Thai rice exports totaled 1.34 million tons, and if the trend is maintained, the country’s rice exports will reach 8.04 million tons, still much lower than 10.97 million tons exported in 2014, according to The Rice Trader.
Within such a buyer’s market, Zwinger recommended Asian countries, including China, Indonesia, and the Philippines, to buy overseas, as the situation might change into a seller’s market immediately, describing the current situation as a“transition” moment.“The price now is very acceptable, especially with the risk that the oil price will go back [up, the risks of weather we keep seeing and the fact we had many years of lower production,” he said during Thai Rice Convention recently.As of May 15, rice prices from key suppliers followed a downward trend from the past year. Thai’s 100 percent grade B rice price, for example, dipped by 3.75 percent to US$385 per ton, and India’s 5 percent broken rice price declined by 12.05 percent to $365 per ton, according to data compiled by The Rice Trader. Indonesia’s state-owned logistics firm Bulog finance director Iryanto Hutagaol, however, said the government had no immediate plan to import rice, as at present, rice stocks at Bulog warehouses was sufficient, while production was good. Indonesia, the world’s third-largest rice consumer, has delayed the planting season, which will extend the harvest season into June from the normal end period in April.

Southeast Asia’s ‘harmless harvest’

Riza Bernabe and Maya Quirino, Bangkok | Opinion | Mon, May 25 2015, 6:30 AM

Opinion News

Poor small-scale farmers are the world’s biggest risk takers. Imagine a poor farmer who owns a small plot of land. She buys seeds with cash she borrows from a trader and must find a way to manage pests without killing her vegetables. She must guess when and when not to plant because weather patterns are no longer predictable. She farms even if she knows her produce will compete and probably lose to cheaper ones imported from state-subsidized industrial mono-crop farms elsewhere. In her 50s to 60s (the average age of farmers), she gambles season after season, because agriculture is the livelihood — and the life — she knows.  Southeast Asia is home to poor small-scale farmers like her who, despite hardship, prop up the region’s agriculture sector. Agriculture contributes significantly to the gross domestic product (GDP) and provides employment to the labor force of several countries in the region. 

However, Oxfam’s new report, Harmless Harvest argues that climate change is undermining the viability of agriculture in the region and putting many small-scale farmers’ and fisherfolks’ livelihoods at risk. The report found that increasing temperatures are linked to declining rice yields. According to the International Rice Research Institute, rice yields drop as much as 10 percent for every 1 percent rise in temperature. Citing a study by NK Redfern et al presented at a FAO/OECD workshop in Italy, in 2012, the report found that in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam, rainfall has been below average since 2009, resulting in droughts, which are correlated to lower yields and increased pest and plant disease infestation. Where irrigation facilities are woefully few, this trend is a cause for concern.

Rising sea levels also cause saltwater to seep into water sources and agricultural lands in Indonesia and Vietnam, affecting rice and food production, a study of the Asian Development Bank found. Extreme weather events, which show up more and more on the doorstep of Southeast Asia, are the bane of agriculture. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that in Cambodia, intense floods and droughts accounted for 90 percent of rice production losses from 1996 to 2001. In 2013, super typhoon Haiyan decimated more than 30 million coconut trees, on which hundreds of thousands of poor families in central Philippines depend for their livelihood. 
On the flip side, agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is also on the rise. According to the IPCC, agriculture accounts for 14 percent of total GHGs, the same level of emissions from the industry and transport sectors. Large-scale industrial agriculture is responsible for these agricultural emissions. Against this background, what can the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) do to make small-scale farmers and agriculture become resilient to climate change? Bet on sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology. Sustainable agriculture practices include crop diversification, composting, responsible water management, and rehabilitation of degraded soils.
Agro-ecology’s virtues include recycling biomass to enhance the soil’s nutrients, managing water more efficiently, intercropping, and using heirloom seeds. Agro-ecology upholds the symbiotic interaction between plants, insects, animals, soil, and the surroundings to maintain a flourishing ecosystem. 

Both sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology put a premium on small-scale farmers’ welfare and livelihood. Sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology practices are, in effect, also ways to adapt to climate change and mitigate its impact. Those practices will help farmers grow food in a changing climate (climate adaptation) without further emitting GHGs (climate mitigation). For agriculture to thrive in a looming climate crisis, ASEAN must shift to sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology, which can be expressed concretely in a number of ways. First, ASEAN must duplicate sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology practices across the region. One such program is Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI), which optimizes harvests without depleting soil nutrients, and uses rice varieties that can withstand floods or droughts. SRI is already gaining ground in Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Women, who are also food producers, must be included in these programs.

Women are often mistakenly not counted as economic actors, and are therefore left out of development projects. Second, ASEAN should look at forming a centralized knowledge hub for adaptation and mitigation which will allow member states to share and access information such as climate impacts on agriculture and good practices of agricultural adaptation. Third, ASEAN should study the creation of an ASEAN fund for adaptation and mitigation. Damages to agriculture wrought by disasters cost billions of dollars. Early warning systems and localized weather forecasting and climate data collection would save many a harvest from being submerged. Finally, national governments in ASEAN must incentivize small-scale farmers to continue or adopt sustainable and agro-ecological farming practices. The stakes are too high for small-scale farmers in the age of climate change. ASEAN must bet on poor farmers and sustainable agriculture and agro-ecology for the region to deal with certain risk. 

Riza Bernabe is the policy coordinator and Maya Quirino, the media, advocacy and communications lead, of Oxfam’s GROW campaign in East Asia.

Download/View On-Line the above News in pdf format,just click the following link