Monday, June 15, 2015

15th June (Monday),2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by RiceplusMagazine

Chinese Researchers Develop Rice Strain That Increases Yield and Nitrogen Use Efficiency

Jun 12, 2015
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology in Beijing have developed a new rice strain by cloning a gene called NRT1 (nitrogen booster gene) from indica rice into the japonica's gene structure, according to South China Morning Post.The new strain increases yield as well as nitrogen use efficiency in the rice plants. It requires only half of the fertilizer normally required by the traditional Japonica varieties.Farmers growing japonica varieties in the northern provinces resort to heavy use of fertilizers because the rice plants absorb nitride from soil and water at a very slow rate. However, such high use of fertilizers has led to severe pollution of the soil, water and air in most of the China's northern provinces.
Moreover, when nitric oxides are released in to the atmosphere, they undergo a series of petrochemical reactions that transform them into harmful material called 'smog'. Farmers have been reluctant to cut down the use of fertilizers despite several warnings as plants need nitride in order to grow healthy.On the other hand, Indica rice variety, which is mostly grown in southern China provinces as well as in India, Thailand and the Philippines, can absorb nitrogen more easily than the Japonica variety. But it cannot survive in the cold climate.Therefore the scientists have used nitrogen booster gene from the Indica variety and cloned into the Japonica variety to get the best results. The study is published in the latest edition of the Nature Genetics journal.The researchers noted that the discovery represents an important milestone for the “green super rice project," an international effort to develop new species of rice to meet the growing global demand for food resources.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Prices Continue to Weaken amid Weak Demand and Burdensome Stocks

Jun 12, 2015
The U.S. cash market was slightly weaker again today as seller’s grow more concerned about the bearish USDA WASDE report and the lack of export demand heading into new crop.Analysts note that many of those with old crop rice left to sell will only have a couple more months to make room for new crop and many will have to sell below their target price unless there is a substantial increase in demand which has yet to be seen.

Indian Basmati Rice Exports May Pick Up Only After October, Say Exporters

Jun 12, 2015
Indian rice exporters are expecting Iran to begin issuance of rice import permits after Ramadan in July, according to local sources. However, they say Indian basmati shipments to the Middle East nation may not pick up until October as stocks would be sufficient until then. Iran banned rice imports in last November citing adequate stocks.They also say the Iranian government requires Indian millers and exporters to register with the Tehran's Health and Medical Education Ministry. The process of registration has to be initiated by importers by furnishing a list of intended exporters. The process may take a while say exporters. So far, very few exporters are registered with the Iranian Ministry, according to the Executive Director of the All India Rice Exporters' Association (AIREA). Currently, the basmati export prices have fallen to around $1,000 per ton from around $1,400 - $1,500 per ton during the same time last year. The Executive Director of the AIREA told local sources that prices are lower because of a higher production in FY 2014-15. Basmati rice production increased by about 35% to around 8.1 million tons in 2014-15 from around 6 million in 2013-14.Exporters are expecting prices to further fall due to an expected increase in basmati acreage this year as well. Basmati acreage in 2015-16 is expected to increase about 5% from around 2.1 million hectares last year.According to data from the All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA), India exported around 900,000 tons of rice to Iran in FY 2014-15, down about 36% from around 1.4 million tons exported last year. 

India 2015-16 Main Paddy Rice Sowing Picks Up Amid El Nino Threat

Jun 12, 2015

Planting for India 2015-16 Kharif (main) rice crop (June - December) which began on May 8, 2015 is picking up fast and stands at around 471,000 hectares as of June 12, 2015; up about 4% from around 452,000 hectares planted during the same period last year, and up about 36% from last week’s 346,000 hectares, according to preliminary data released by the Indian Agriculture Ministry.The total Kharif crop sown area stands at 7.51 million hectares as on June 12, 2015, down about 9% from around 8.227 million hectares during the same period last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry.A likely drought-inducing El Nino this year is expected to lower production prospects this year.
In its second forecast for 2015, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has its estimate for this year's monsoon rains to 88% of normal, from a previous estimate of 93% due to reports of a strengthening El Nino. It is expecting rainfall to be 85% of the normal in the states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The IMD expects the El Nino pattern to reach to moderate to a strong one during the monsoon season.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.

Myanmar Seeks to Strike a Trade-Off Between Rice Exports and Prices

Jun 12, 2015
Economics says as exports increase, domestic prices increase thereby affecting the purchasing power of local consumers. If we relate the same principle to Myanmar rice exports and prices, we understand that Myanmar, which was once a leading producer and exporter of rice, is finding ways to balance the export and price scenario.Myanmar's rice exports have been increasing for the last few years, though most of them are targeted to China through the country's northern borders. The imports were considered as illegal by the Chinese authorities. Recently, rice trade between Myanmar and China has been legalized through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). According to the MOU, Myanmar will export 100,000 tons of rice this year to China legally.Though the south-east Asian nation is overtly depending on China to increase its rice exports, it is also exploring other markets such as African markets and is keen on reaching a 3 million ton rice export target shortly. Authorities are expecting Myanmar to export 2 million tons of rice in FY 2015-16 (April - March).
Myanmar's rice exports have been increasing consistently for the last three years, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Myanmar exported about 1.7 million tons of rice in FY 2014-15, about 1.2 million tons of rice in FY 2013-14 and about 1.4 million tons of rice in FY 2012-13.As Myanmar is trying to ramp up its rice exports, the domestic rice prices are said to be increasing considerably. The General Secretary of the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) says a balance should be struck between exports and domestic consumption.An official with the Myanmar Rice Industry Association (MRIA) noted that when domestic prices increase, farmers would benefit as paddy prices also tend to increase. But imposing price controls would deter benefits to farmers. He noted that instead of imposing price controls, other means of adjusting local rice prices should be sought.
He says the government could consider importing cheap rice from Thailand or any other country for domestic consumption. This would separate exports and domestic consumption and local prices would be relatively unaffected by increasing exports. He reminds that currently, Thailand is attempting to sell off its buffer rice stocks accumulated from the rice pledging scheme introduced by the previous government.USDA estimates Myanmar to produce 20 million tons of paddy rice (around 12.8 million tons, milled basis) and export around 2 million tons of rice in MY 2015-16 (January - December 2015).

Oryza Overnight Recap – Chicago Rough Rice Futures Little Changed as Market Lacks Direction

Jun 12, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Jul delivery are currently seen trading 1 cent per cwt (about $0.22 per ton) lower at $9.785 per cwt (about $216 per ton) during early floor trading in Chicago. The other grains are seen trading mixed this morning; soybeans are currently seen trading slightly lower, wheat is listed about 0.5% higher and corn is currently noted about 0.6% lower.U.S. stocks opened lower on Friday as negative news out of Greece weighed on sentiment and investors kept an eye on bond yields. The Dow Jones industrial average quickly lost 100 points in the open.
 The standoff between Greece and its creditors worsened on Thursday after the International Monetary Fund walked out on talks with Athens, citing "major differences" over how to save the country from bankruptcy. The news pressured stocks, with European and U.S. equities closing with mild gains. European stocks traded lower on Friday, with the German DAX off 1%. The ATHEX Composite traded about 5% lower. Senior European Union officials have formally discussed for the first time a possible Greek debt default as negotiations between Athens and its creditors have stalled ahead of an end-month repayment deadline, several officials told Reuters.
The Producer Price Index increased 0.5% for May, topping expectations for 0.4%. The gain was the largest since May 2012. The ex-food and energy read was 0.1%. Later in the morning the Michigan consumer sentiment figure for this month is due. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened down 77 points, or 0.43%, at 17,963. The S&P 500 traded down 9 points, or 0.41%, at 2,100. The Nasdaq opened down 24 points, or 0.48%, at 5,058. Gold is currently trading about 0.1% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 0.9% lower,  and the U.S. dollar is currently trading about 0.3% higher at 9:00am Chicago time.

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Tumble in Afternoon Trading, Add to Losses for the Week

Jun 12, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Jul delivery settled 11.5 cents per cwt (about $3 per ton) lower at $9.680 per cwt (about $213 per ton). The other grains continued with mixed results; Soybeans closed unchanged at $9.4000 per bushel; wheat finished about 0.1% lower at $5.0375 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 1% lower at $3.5300 per bushel.U.S. stocks traded lower on Friday as uncertainty over Greece weighed on sentiment and investors kept an eye on bond yields ahead of next week's Federal Reserve meeting. Stocks trimmed losses amid a Reuters report that the Greek government is ready to submit counter-proposals and that Athens and its creditors are closer than ever to a deal, a Greek official said.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also spoke on the telephone with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker about the next steps in negotiations. The official added Greece expects a deal by June 18 when the euro group of regional finance ministers meets, Reuters said. The standoff between Greece and its creditors worsened on Thursday after the International Monetary Fund walked out on talks with Athens, citing "major differences" over how to save the country from bankruptcy. The news pressured stocks, with European and U.S. equities closing with mild gains. Senior European Union officials have formally discussed for the first time a possible Greek debt default as negotiations between Athens and its creditors have stalled ahead of an end-month repayment deadline, several officials told Reuters.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down 143 points, or 0.80%, at 17,895. The S&P 500 traded down 14 points, or 0.66%, at 2,095, with energy leading all 10 sectors lower. The Nasdaq traded down 29 points, or 0.56%, at 5,054. Gold is trading about 0.1% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 1.3% lower, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading nearly even at about  2:00pm Chicago time.Thursday, there were 964 contracts traded, down from 1,048 contracts traded on Wednesday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Thursday decreased by 134 contracts to 11,898

Oryza Weekly Recap: Philippines Planning for More Imports This Month

Jun 12, 2015
The Oryza White Rice Index (WRI), a weighted average of global white rice export quotes, ended the week at about $403 per ton, down about $2 per ton from a week ago, down about $4 per ton from a month ago and down about $60 per ton from a year ago.
In its June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates reports, the USDA forecasts the U.S. MY 2015-16 all rice beginning stocks to increase to around 2.06 million tons, up about 43% from last year and up about 6% from last month’s forecasts. It forecasts the U.S. 2015-16 all rice exports to increase to around 4.99 million tons, up about 5% from last year's 4.76 million tons and up about 1.8% from last month's forecast of around 4.9 million tons. The USDA forecasts the U.S. MY 2015-16 all rice imports to increase to around 1.13 million tons, up about 4% from around 1.09 million tons last year and up about 1.18% from its last month's forecasts of 1.11 million tons. However, the USDA has kept its forecasts for U.S. all rice production unchanged from last month.
Thailand 5% broken rice is today shown at about $360 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week ago, down about $15 per ton from a month ago and down about $25 per ton from a year ago.
Thailand’s rice exports declined sharply in April after increasing continuously for three months.  Thailand has exported about 700,011 tons of rice in April, down about 11% from March and down about 5% from April 2014.
Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce will allow potential bidders to inspect the quality of the stockpiled rice before the third auction scheduled for June 16.
In efforts to reduce rice stocks in the country as quickly as possible, the government is considering selling stockpiled rice directly to consumers.
The USDA Post forecasts Thailand to export about 11 million tons of rice in 2015, with exports accelerating in the second half of the year due to an increase in the sales of G2G contracts.
Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order has decided to sell stockpiled rice at affordable prices to low-income earners in efforts to clear the deteriorating government rice stocks as soon as possible.
Thailand’s Royal Irrigation Department has advised farmers to delay in-season/main season (April-January) rice planting due to persisting drought conditions and depleted water reserves.
India 5% broken rice is today shown at about $380 per ton, Unchanged from a week ago, up about $5 per ton from month ago, and down about $60 per ton from a year ago.
Rice stocks in India’s central pool as of June 1 were around 22.485 million tons, down about 20% from the same period last year.  Month-over-month, rice stocks are slightly up.
Vietnam 5% broken rice is today shown at about $355 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago and down about $55 per ton from a year ago.
Vietnam exported about 2.081 million tons of rice in the first five months of calendar year 2015, a decrease of about 11% from the same time last year.  Average rice export price so far this year is about $420 per ton (FOB), down about 3% per ton from the same time last year.
Vietnam exported about 71,993 tons of rice to Africa in April, over two times more than the amount exported in March but down about 29% from April 2014.  The increase is attributed to export promotion strategies implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Pakistan 5% broken rice is today shown at about $385 per ton, down about $15 per ton from a week ago, down about $10 per ton from a month ago and down about $65 per ton from a year ago.
Pakistan basmati rice prices have declined for the third consecutive month in May 2015 after increasing continuously for two months, according to the UN’s FAO.
A former Provincial Minister who is now the President of the Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum has urged the Pakistan government to bail out the sinking rice sector, which is facing losses due to higher production costs and reduced export demand.
Pakistan is targeting to produce 6.9 million tons of milled rice in 2015-16, according to a SUPARCO-FAO report.
Pakistan rice exporters plan to increase rice exports to Iran in efforts to meet the export target of 3.5 million tons this year.
Central & South America
Brazil 5% broken rice is today shown at about $550 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago and down about $115 per ton from a year ago.
Rice stocks in Brazil stood at around 128,119 tons in May, down about 4% from April and down about 77% from May 2014, according to Conab.
In the first five months of 2015, Brazil has exported about 482,926 tons of rice, according to the Rice Institute of Rio Grande do Sul.  In May, Brazil exported about 171,567 tons of rice, about 3.5 times more than in April 2015.
The Brazilian paddy rice index maintained by CEPEA reached around 33.18 real per 50 kilograms as of June 8, 2015, down about 3% from around 34.25 real per 50 kilograms recorded on June 1, 2015.
In terms of USD per ton, the index reached around $213 per ton on June 8, 2015, down about 1.3% from around $215.5 per ton recorded on June 1, 2015.
In the first three months of 2015, Argentina exported around 92,512 tons, down about 25% from the same period in 2014.
Five percent 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.
U.S. 4% broken rice is today shown at about $470 per ton, unchanged from a week ago, down about $15 per ton from a  month ago and down about $110 per ton from a year ago.
Other Markets
In the beginning of this week, the Philippines reportedly was considering private rice imports this month under the WTO minimum access volume rule after failing to secure government-to-government contracts for the requisite 250,000 tons last week.  Rice imports under the MAV quota aren’t typically considered until the third quarter.
In May, rice stocks in the Philippines increased for the second consecutive month after declining for three consecutive months.
The Philippines Statistics Authority forecasts the Philippines 2015 second quarter (April-June) production to decline by about 4.3% to around 3.898 million tons from last year’s 4.073 million tons, due to a decline in harvest area prompted by a dry spell and insufficient water supply as well as incidence of pests and diseases in some growing areas.
Following this report, the National Food Authority (NFA) of the Philippines is planning to purchase the additional 250,000 tons of rice, it is still authorized to import this year in case of production uncertainties due to drought-inducing El Nino weather pattern, in government-to-government (G2G) deals. Meanwhile, the NFA is also reportedly considering conducting G2G rebidding for the remaining 100,000 tons from the June 5 tender on June 16. 
In the first five months of 2015 Cambodia’s rice exports increased about 64% from the same period last year, with the country exporting about 243,025 tons of rice.
The government of Indonesia has replaced the state logistics agency Chief with the former Bank Rakyat Indonesia Director for not being able to meet the government rice procurement target of about 3.2 million tons.
Italian paddy quotes showed diverse trends as on June 9, 2015, with prices of Japonica varieties increasing and Indica prices declining or remaining stable compared to quotations on May 26, 2015. Since June 2 was a public holiday, no quotations were available as on that date. Italy's paddy market is still buying Japonica varieties from the 2014 crop (September - August). Nearly 90% of the 2014 crop has been sold out and about 141,970 tons of the last year's crop are still available.
Paddy rice production in Australia in MY 2014-15 (April-March) is estimated to decline to around 720,000 tons, down about 11% from MY 2013-14.
In Bangladesh, a new high-yielding and early maturity rice variety known as 'Soru balam' or BRRI-dhan 63 introduced by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) is understood to gain popularity among Boro rice farmers.
Myanmar is seriously planning to ramp up its rice exports but increased exports are leading to high domestic prices. Therefore the government is seeking means to balance the export and price scenario.
South Korea and the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) will jointly work towards developing the rice value chain in the West African countries as part of efforts to help them increase their national rice production. Both South Korea and the FAO have agreed to implement a project called “Capacity Development and Experience Sharing for Sustainable Value Chain Development in Africa through South-South Cooperation” in West African countries.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology in Beijing have developed a new rice strain by cloning a gene called NRT1 (nitrogen booster gene) from indica rice into the japonica's gene structure, according to South China Morning Post.

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

Jun 12, 2015
sellers increased their quotes for 25% broken rice by about $10 per ton to around $345-$355 per ton today. Other Asia rice sellers kept their quotes mostly unchanged.                                                          
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $355 - $365 per ton, about a $5 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $350 - $360 per ton. India 5% rice is indicated at around $375 - $385 per ton, about a $5 per ton discount to Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $380 - $390 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice is shown at around $340 - $350 per ton, about a $10 per ton premium on Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $330- $340 per ton. India 25% rice is indicated at around $360 - $370, about $15 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $345 - $355 per ton, up about a $10 per ton from yesterday.
Parboiled Rice
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $360 - $370 per ton. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $355 - $365 per ton, about a $55 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice shown at around $410 - $420 per ton.
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, is indicated at around $315 - $325 per ton, on par with Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $315 - $325 per ton. India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $280 - $290 per ton, about a $15 per ton discount to  Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $295 - $305 per ton.

New High-Yielding, Early Maturity Rice Variety Gains Popularity in Bangladesh

Jun 12, 2015
The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has developed a new high-yielding and early maturity rice variety known as 'Soru balam' or BRRI-dhan 63, according to local sources.The new rice variety, which is a hybrid between the BRRI dhan-28 and Iranian rice Amul-23, yields about 7 to 7.5 tons per hectare and can be harvested within 145-148 days, seven days earlier than compared to other hybrid varieties such as BRRI dhan-28 and BRRI dhan-29 varieties.Some farmers who used this variety in the 2015 Boro season have told local sources that they achieved an yield of 8 tons per hectare in 148 days. They also noted that the grain in fine, tall and non-aromatic and can be exported as well as sold at a higher price in the market.BRRI dhan-63 was originally introduced in 2013 and has been tried in the 2014 and 2015 Boro seasons. Officials expressed hope that more number of farmers may adopt the new variety in the next Boro season given its success rate. The Chief Agronomist of BRRI's breeding department noted that the new variety is expected to replace BRRI dhan-26, BRRI dhan-28 and BRRI dhan-29 in next Boro season.
Bangladesh produced around 34.449 million tons of rice, basis milled, in FY 2013-14 (July - June), up about 2.7% from around 33.833 million tons produced in FY 2012-13, according to DAE data.USDA estimates Bangladesh’s MY 2015-16 (July 2014 – June 2015) milled rice production to slightly increase to about 35 million tons from an estimated 34.5 million tons in MY 2014-15. It estimates Bangladesh to import 1.1 million tons of rice in 2015.  

South Korea and FAO to Develop Rice Value Chain in West Africa

Jun 12, 2015
South Korea and the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) will jointly work towards developing the rice value chain in the West African countries as part of efforts to help them increase their national rice production, according to local sources.Both South Korea and the FAO have agreed to implement a project called “Capacity Development and Experience Sharing for Sustainable Value Chain Development in Africa through South-South Cooperation” in West African countries.South-South Cooperation (SSC) is a cost-effective means of sharing knowledge and resources among various entities. Asian countries, which have developed a reasonably good level of rice production systems can share their experiences with the African nations and help them develop their rice production systems as well.South Korea has agreed to provide about 42 million to support the project in three countries in West Africa and the FAO will facilitate the implementation of the project through its Regional Office in Africa. The project will focus on developing the rice value chain by increasing production and productivity, adding value, enhancing quality and improving market access. It aims to create more modern and profitable agricultural sector through the design and implementation of evidence-based agriculture and rural development approaches, policies and programs for rice in these countries, according to the Director of South-South Cooperation and Resource Mobilization Division of the FAO. 

Philippines Plans to Import Additional 250,000 Tons of Rice Through G2G Negotiations

Jun 12, 2015
The National Food Authority (NFA) of the Philippines is planning to purchase the additional 250,000 tons of rice, it is still authorized to import this year in case of production uncertainties due to drought-inducing El Nino weather pattern, in government-to-government (G2G) deals, according to BusinessworldOnline.The NFA Public Affairs Director told reporters that the agency is planning to import the remaining volume of rice in G2G deals through negotiated procurement.
He noted that Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, which hold bilateral agreements with the Philippines, have been invited for G2G negotiations next week.The official also noted that the NFA is also reportedly considering to conduct G2G rebidding for the remaining 100,000 tons from the June 5 tender on June 16. Though the NFA invited tenders from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia for 250,000 tons, it imported only 150,000 tons from Vietnam. Thailand backed out from the tender as the price offered by the NFA was deemed to be too low. Cambodia did not participate in the bid. He added that Vietnam is required to ship about 60% of the 150,000 tons before July 15 and the remaining before August 15.
The decision reportedly follows the Philippine Statistics Authority's (PSA) forecasts that the Philippines's 2015 second quarter (April - June) production to decline by about 4.3% to around 3.898 million tons from last year's 4.073 million tons and about 0.1% from its April forecast of around 3.902 million tons due to a decline in harvest area prompted by dry spell and insufficient water supply as well as incidence of pests and diseases in some rice growing areas.Last month, the PSA forecasted paddy production in the first half of 2015 (January - June) at around 8.27 million tons, down about 1.32% from around 8.38 million tons last year.Last week, the NFA told that it is planning to import 805,200 tons of rice through private importers under the WTO minimum access volume (MAV) rule at 35% duty. Imports over and above the MAV quota attract a 50% duty.

The NFA is likely to open the applications for MAV any time this month and traders are expected to deliver rice between September and October. Earlier this year, the Philippines imported 500,000 tons of rice from Vietnam and Thailand this year to curb price increases and boost buffer stocks during the lean season (July - September). Last year, the NFA imported more than 1.8 million tons of rice (including 1.5 million tons of 2014 imports and 300,000 tons of 2013 residual imports) in 2014 to replenish rice stocks and control price hikes.USDA estimates Philippines MY 2015-16 (July - June) paddy rice production at around 19.683 million tons (around 12.4 million tons, basis milled), slightly up from around 19.365 million tons (around 12.2 million tons, basis milled) produced in the previous year. It estimates the Philippines to import 1.7 million tons of rice in 2015.

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15th June (Monday),2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by RiceplusMagazine

Arsenic and old rice, keeping the pair apart

Description: 060815_Rice_KRG0060Rice is the most widely consumed staple food, accounting for 20 percent of the world’s dietary energy supply.So recent studies that purport to show high levels of the known human carcinogen arsenic in both domestic and international crops – as well as foods that contain rice – have raised health concerns and even some warnings to avoid the grain altogether.Whether the levels of arsenic found in rice poses an actual health risk to U.S. consumers remains the subject of intense debate among scientists, regulators and the food industry.

But a team of University of Delaware researchers say they have isolated a strain of bacteria that could someday render that argument moot.“Our work is still in the early stages, but what we’ve already seen this bug do is very exciting and very promising,” said Harsh Bais, an associate professor of plant and soil science at UD’s Delaware Biotechnology Institute. “The best part is that this is a microbe that is already present in rice paddy fields, so we know it is safe.”Bais and five other university scientists published a research paper last week that shows the bacteria they call EA106 is capable of reducing arsenic uptake in two species of rice plants by 80 to 90 percent.The bacteria is able to accomplish the task by forming what is essentially an iron shield around the roots of the plants, which effectively holds arsenic at bay.“Arsenic has very unique chemistry and it competes with iron all the time,” Bais said.

“The bacteria that we isolated actually moves iron through the soil, so by getting high concentrations to colonize around the roots, it creates an iron plaque that creates a physical impediment that blocks the arsenic from reaching the plants.”The research team isolated the bacteria from soil samples taken from rice fields in California. The group was then able to use a large drum to coat rice seeds with the microbe before growing the plants in a controlled environment.“It’s not a very high-tech process,” Bais said. “But that’s a good thing because it means this could be a very low-cost method that can be replicated by rice farmers around the world.”An international agriculture company already has an option to license the bacteria and develop it on a commercial scale, Bais said.But before that can happen, the team of researchers must complete additional studies to show the bacteria will be universally effective.
“So far, what we’ve been able to show is a reduction of arsenic in the shoots, which is important because that straw is used as livestock feed, which can be another source for arsenic to get into the food chain,” Bais said. “Now, we need to prove this method will keep arsenic out of the actual grain and that it can be used across a wide variety of rice species.”Arsenic is a colorless, odorless and tasteless element that is naturally present in soil and groundwater, as well as pesticides, animal feed additives and other products.

High levels of arsenic contamination in groundwater is an acute issue in South America and Southeast Asia, which produces most of the world’s rice – a crop that requires large amounts of water and also absorbs arsenic more readily than other grains.Short-term exposure to high doses can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, while long-term exposure can result in higher risk of cancer, liver and kidney damage and other health issues, according to the American Cancer Society.A 2012 report released by Consumer Reports found “worrisome” levels of arsenic in rice sold in the United States. Higher levels were detected in brown rice, but white rice produced in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas – which account for three-quarters of domestic production – showed higher concentrations than similar products grown elsewhere, according to the report.Arsenic also was found in products made with rice, including cereal, pasta and baby foods.
The USA Rice Federation, which represents producers, millers and allied businesses, insists there is no evidence of any health risks related to rice.“There are no scientific studies that have linked U.S. rice consumption to adverse health effects, nor have arsenic-related health effects been reported among populations with high rice consumption,” the organization’s website states.After analyzing 1,300 samples of rice and rice products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that arsenic levels “were too low to cause any immediate or short-term adverse health effects.

”The agency recommends eating a variety of grains. It has not set a maximum level of arsenic for rice and foods that contain the grain.“There is a lot of scaremongering out there and outcry over what people know and what they don’t know,” Bais said. “One thing is certain, and that is arsenic is a toxic element. The goal of our research is to find a cost-effective way to eliminate it from rice altogether.”

Contact Scott Goss at (302) 324-2281, or on Twitter @ScottGossDel.

PHL reissues tender for 100,000-MT rice imports

THE NATIONAL Food Authority (NFA) said yesterday it has reissued a tender to import an additional 100,000 metric tons (MT) of rice as it seeks to boost its buffer stock ahead of the lean harvest season in the country beginning July.

The tender is again open only to the governments of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, with sealed bids to be opened on June 16, the NFA said in a statement.It comes after June 5 bidding that saw the NFA agreeing to buy 150,000 MT of rice, with Vietnam winning the deal against Thailand. Cambodia did not submit a bid. The NFA had planned to import as much as 250,000 MT of 25% broken white rice via the June 5 tender, but the initial price offers were higher than its budget. Vietnam had agreed to revise its bid but for only 150,000 MT while Thailand had backed out in the second round of bidding.Vietnam, the Philippines’ traditional main supplier, last week cut its export price floor for 25% broken rice by 2.9% to $340/MT amid a lack of fresh buying demand.Dry weather brought by the current El Niño weather episode has prompted the Philippines, one of the world’s top rice importers, to further cut its estimated output of the staple grain in the second quarter. The NFA already has government approval to buy another 250,000 MT later this year if drought brought on by El Niño hurts its harvest. -- Reuters

Pangasinan traders sell rice at a loss

Philippine Daily Inquirer

06:42 AM June 15th, 2015

Description: FARMERS harvest and thresh palay on a farm in Rosales, Pangasinan province. Rice trading has become a losing venture in the eastern part of the province because prices have gone down since January this year. WILLIE LOMIBAO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

Farmers harvest and thresh palay on a farm in Rosales, Pangasinan province. Rice trading has become a losing venture in the eastern part of the province because prices have gone down since January this year. WILLIE LOMIBAO/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

ROSALES, Pangasinan—Rice traders and millers from eastern Pangasinan are selling their stocks at a loss just to dispose of their warehouse supplies.The market supply had been stable but rice prices had plunged way below the amount traders spent to buy their stocks, according to Ramon Cuaresma, National Food Authority (NFA) manager for eastern Pangasinan.“They really have a problem,” Cuaresma said, because most traders and millers bought palay at P22 to P23.50 a kilo during the peak of harvest from September to December last year.But prices plummeted to P18 to P19 per kilo in January.
“Even NFA is not meeting its distribution targets as the consumers prefer the commercial rice over NFA rice, although the quality is almost the same,” he said.He cited a rice mill owner from San Jacinto town, who has 200,000 bags of palay in his warehouse. “He is slowly selling even at losing prices just so he could turn the palay into cash,” he said.Another miller from Tayug town has more than 100,000 bags of palay.Roger Tan, a rice mill owner from Rosales town, said there are more than 10 big millers and 30 small millers in eastern Pangasinan.Big traders have warehouses that can store up to 1,000 bags while small traders have facilities that house up to 500 bags.

“We have 15,000 bags of palay which I bought at P22 to P23.50 a kilo. These now cost P19 a kilo. We are losing P3 to P4 each kilo,” Tan said.“We should be selling milled rice at P2,000 per 50-kilo bag. But with the drop of prices, [sales are] down to P1,500 to P1,600 per bag,” he said.He said some traders decided to wait a little longer for a slight increase in prices before they dispose of their stocks. “It’s up to fate. We just hope to recoup our capital,” he said.But traders have another problem: Stocked palay has turned into “laon” (old grains). Fresh grains can last until six months.Laon are grain stocks that are eight months old and would require more water when cooked. But consumers shun laon rice and prefer the newly harvested kind, so the prices drop further, Tan said.

Traders are also wary about the arrival of imported rice next month.Cuaresma said shipments of NFA rice from Vietnam are scheduled to arrive on July 15, part of the 150,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam and the 250,000 metric tons to be imported by NFA this year.Cuaresma said he had not been informed as to how much volume would be allocated to Pangasinan, which has NFA offices in Binalonan town (with a stock of 140,000 bags as of June 11) and in Lingayen town (200,000 bags).Because of the low market costs, however, private importers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, Cuaresma said.“Perhaps if they won’t lose, they would import. Otherwise, if the prices are higher abroad than the local prices and there is sufficient supply, they wouldn’t import,” he said.–Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

Low price for summer paddy makes Pilibhit farmers fume

   PILIBHIT: Farmers who have suffered crop damage caused by untimely rain and hailstorm in March are now facing a slump in the summer paddy market. Unprecedented low prices of summer paddy this year has come as a blow to farmers who are cannot recover even cost of production. While farmers are terming this as an outcome of monopolistic trade practices, paddy traders claim it is a fallout of curbs imposed on export of rice to Gulf countries. On their part, rice millers say they cannot store summer paddy for long due to its low sustainability. Subodh Chandra Barul from Kanja Harraiya village, Dharmendra Singh of Pachpeda village, Indarjeet Singh, a resident of village Jara Koti and Prem Pal Singh Gangwar, belonging to Bilsanda, are among those farmers who had sowed summer paddy this year.
They said harvesting of summer paddy was in progress. However, they said summer paddy was selling at as low as Rs 750 to Rs 800 a quintal at Krashi Utpadan Mandi Samiti, which is Rs 450 to Rs 500 less than its usual selling price.. They alleged that because the administration was not reviewing the marketing trends of summer paddy, the paddy traders were calling the shots. They said the administrative and marketing officials outright declined to monitor the monopolistic trade practices of paddy traders, stating that the summer paddy was not recommended for the Tarai region.
The farmers said because this crop was not a part of government's procurement system, they were being openly harassed by traders. When asked about the reason of low market price of summer paddy this year, former president of Grain Traders' Association Vijay Pal Singh said the present union government had restricted export of rice to Gulf countries. Due to this barrier, the rice stock which had been processed out of normal paddy crop, which is grown in July and is harvested in October, was available in abundance in the market.
As the market price fluctuates in accordance with the gap in supply and demand, the already available stock of rice did not leave any room for summer paddy prices to go up, he added. Ashwini Agrawal, a rice miller, told TOI that the rate of summer paddy was bound to remain low due to its increased moisture percentage. He said this crop was not sustainable if stored for a long period in expectation of price hike. Rice processed from summer paddy was susceptible to discolouring if stored for more than two months. 

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RDA seeks rice board’s revival

June 15, 2015


The Rice Dealers Association (RDA) has called upon the Federal government to revive Rice Board to steer out rice trade from crisis and earn precious foreign exchange for the country. 
Addressing a press conference, Rice Dealers Association (RDA) Punjab president Haji Sheikh Muhammad Ishaq said that superior-quality rice of Pakistan used to export and earn billion of rupees as foreign exchange every year in the past. But due to abolition of Rice Board and unrealistic policies, the rice stock of last two years has been rotting in warehouses owing to which rice rates in the current season has plummet to the prices of paddy. This scenario has caused multiple problems for all the stakeholders and inflicted huge financial losses on cultivators, rice dealers, millers and exporters alike, he regretted.

He urged the government to ensure export of coarse rice to China and Super Basmati to Iran. He further said that rice millers were unable to even pay mark-up to banks. He called upon the government to take appropriate steps for the export of rice to save dealers/millers/exporters from further losses. He also demanded prompt support prices for different verities of paddy so as to provide incentives to the paddy growers. CITIZENS OPPOSE BAZAAR: The TMA and District Administration have decided to arrange Ramazan Bazaar in front of TMA Office near Fawara Chowk. Scores of local, political, social and commercial organisations have disapproved the decision to arrange Ramazan Bazaar in one of the busiest roads near Fawara Chowk and have called upon the authorities to review its decision for smooth flow of traffic on this busiest road. They suggested to arrange the Ramazan Bazar in old Sabzi Mandi which were lying deserted and is a safe place for the proposed bazaar.

Healthy meals in a hurry: We put three food delivery services to the test (+graphic)

1:00 PM Saturday Jun 13, 2015
Cook-at-home food delivery services are expanding as middle-class households look for healthy meals in a hurry. Consumer affairs reporter Susan Strongman checks out the options.
Description: Petrina Morunga (right) and Hannah Edwards with their son Paul Morunga-Edwards, 7, preparing a Farro Food Kit meal. Photo / Dean Purcell

Petrina Morunga (right) and Hannah Edwards with their son Paul Morunga-Edwards, 7, preparing a Farro Food Kit meal. Photo / Dean Purcell

Call it the television celebrity chef effect or the steady rise of online food shopping - or maybe both. Whatever the reason, cook-at-home food delivery services are booming as time-poor Kiwis try to save themselves a trip to the supermarket or time planning what to cook for dinner each night.The market has jumped from almost nothing a few years ago to 70,000 households who last month ordered gourmet meals, recipes and ingredients for home delivery, according to Nielsen's Consumer Media Index Survey. That's about 4 per cent of all households, and the figure is expected to grow.But are the meals easy to cook, good to eat and affordable for the average shopper on a budget?

The Herald trialled three services from Farro Foodkits, My Food Bag and FoodBox - asking a family of four to judge meals based on affordability, time, easiness and flavour - before talking to experts about why the services are on the increase, and whether they're a healthy option for busy families.

The first, Farro Foodkits, is a spin-off of its parent company, upmarket supermarket Farro Fresh. Ingredients to cook individual meals - like "northern Chinese roasted spiced lamb with coriander tomato salsa, pita bread and greens" - are ordered online and delivered on the customer's day of choice.My Food Bag enables the consumers to order four or five days' worth of food. Ingredients are delivered weekly with recipes to cook dinner meals, like "pan-fried fish with pea and lemon risotto".Both businesses launched in the last two years, and are affiliated with celebrity chefs. My Food Bag - which has grown to more than 18,000 subscribers in two years and is worth an estimated $15 million (the other two would not give out customer numbers) - is fronted by former MasterChef winner and nutritionist Nadia Lim. Farro Foodkits provides new recipes designed by MasterChef judge Ray McVinnie, who now works as a food consultant for the Herald's Bite magazine.
Another, slightly different service - - was established in 2009. The company allows users to order boxes of food like fruit and vegetables, meats and other goods, online, and tailor them to their tastes. Meals are not set and still need to be planned, but Foodbox allows consumers to avoid much of their grocery shopping.Professor of nutrition at the AUT University Elaine Rush, said all of the options were fairly well priced, healthy, and took a lot of the thinking out of preparing meals."If you can afford it, and it means you have more time to spend with your family, then do it. If you're stuck in traffic and you get home and you've got a healthy meal organised, what a stress relief," she said.
It was also positive that the meals taught people to cook. "These meals are certainly creative recipes that are taking people out of their comfort zones. And unlike takeaways, you know what's in them."Though the Farro Food Kits and My Food Bag services trialled only provided dinner meals, she said they could be stretched - and sometimes leftovers could be eaten for lunch the following day.The downside, said Rush, was that home food services like these were not affordable for many Kiwi families.She said at the other end of the scale, organisations like Pacific Heartbeat helped families buy groceries to feed a family of six with three meals a day for $25 a day - something they were finding more difficult every time, because of rising costs."It's the reality of the amount of money that many families do have to spend on food.
"Home food delivery services can look expensive when compared to regular meal budgets. Based on Otago University nutrition department's annual food basket survey for last year, the weekly cost of feeding the Weekend Herald's trial family - two adult women, and two children - would be $191 for all meals in the "basic" category (most commonly eaten fruits and vegetables; meat, fish and poultry; and dairy and cereals).The cost rises to $254 in the "moderate" category (a variety of meats, fish, fruits and vegetables and some convenience foods) and $305 in the "liberal" category (convenience and imported foods, out of season fruits and vegetables, higher priced cuts of meat and some specialty foods).In comparison, for five dinner meals only, Farro Food Kits cost $262 and My Food Bag $162.50.
Foodbox was $146 for a week's supply of meat, fruit and vegetables (though our trial family felt they should have bought more fruit and vegetables).The family were able to eat left-overs from some of the meals for lunch the next day and snacked on fruit from the Foodbox during the day.New Zealand is following a trend well established in other countries, where cook-at-home food delivery services have become almost commonplace in recent years. Company Hello Fresh, which launched in Britain in 2012, is now available in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Australia and the United States.

Hello Fresh's founder, English lawyer-turned-cook Patrick Drake, told The Guardian the rise of the celebrity chef had opened up the opportunity for companies like his.Dr Vicki Little, who began her career in advertising and corporate marketing but now teaches marketing at the University of Auckland, said the companies took on the "running around and thinking" part of organising a meal, and seemed to have done well for that reason.Having recently returned to New Zealand after four years in Asia, she said she was astonished by how much Kiwis had embraced cook-at-home food delivery services that were ordered online.
"When I left New Zealand it was just online shopping and a desultory nod to convenience through the likes of [Grey Lynn delicatessen] Ripe, however now it seems we feel we're up against it time-wise, and must produce gourmet quality meals from our designer kitchens."She said for that reason, the companies seemed to have done well.She said different services would appeal to different people depending on their food skills, propensity to cook and the size of the meals and, most mportantly, their cost. "Social equity has worsened big time in the past four years. Putting it bluntly, at one end we have people having posh food delivered to their door, and at the other end we have hungry, malnourished children. It's just not right."My Food Bag's chief executive, Cecilia Robinson, said the popularity of these services was due to a number of factors.

"Consumers are time-poor, but conscious about wanting to feed themselves and their families a healthy and delicious diet. In conjunction with this, the online food segment is only in its infancy and therefore growth in the category is natural."Farro Fresh spokeswoman Bridget Munn said the services reflected a "360-degree turn" to a focus on "caring about what we put into our bodies and wanting our families to eat really great quality, healthy meals free of nasty and hidden ingredients".
Foodbox's Peter Smith said the increase in his business' patronage since it started in 2009 was partly to do with a changing attitude to shopping online. When the the business was established, online payment platforms were new to New Zealand, and iPads didn't exist. "The idea of buying something online was a bit scary back then - but we've seen a fundamental shift in people's behaviour."He said customers also liked the convenience of having fresh food and other groceries delivered to their doors, and they liked the surprise of getting different things each week. "If you go into the supermarket you tend to buy the same things over and over."


Family puts food kits to the test

The Morunga-Edwards family live at their home in Mt Wellington. Hannah Edwards, 41, works as a librarian in Otahuhu and Petrina Morunga, 40, is a full-time mother. They have two boys - Paul, 7, who goes to Sylvia Park School and John, 3, who goes to Te Arapeta Kohanga Reo in Panmure. Petrina cooks dinner and the family have a healthy and varied diet - making meals from scratch and avoiding processed foods.Although they've always eaten a lot of fruit and vegetables, many which are grown in their garden, they started eating even more when Petrina was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2013.Hannah said the family typically spent $200 to $300 a week on groceries - most of which was food. She also often did an extra shop at the weekend.
The Weekend Herald organised for the Morunga-Edwards family to test out three cook-at-home food delivery services over three weeks, during which time Petrina kept a diary, noting how they rated by taste, portion size, time to cook and easiness. The family also noted whether they'd use the service again, and whether it was affordable for them.

Rice exporters urge SBP to extend EFS performance period

June 12, 2015

Rice exporters have urged the State Bank of Pakistan for extension in Export Finance Scheme (EFS) performance period as Pakistani basmati rice exports have experienced a sharp decline of 20 percent in fiscal year 2014-2015 in term of value compared to last year. Jawed Ali Ghori, former chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) said that cheaper varieties from India have flooded the traditional Middle Eastern export markets of Pakistan creating a crisis like situation in the Basmati rice industry of Pakistan.

As a result Pakistani exporters who are already in trouble are going to face severe penalties from SBP for not meeting the export performance criteria of EFS Part II by the deadline of June 30, 2015. reviously, during the crisis, the SBP has relaxed the export performance criteria for textile exporters in certain years in order to facilitate the exporters. Rice exporters are also asking similar relief measure from the SBP for their industry, he added. e said the SBP has been very proactive in supporting exporters by reducing the rate on the EFS borrowing throughout the year, and added that however, "any relief that we got from these measures will surely be removed by the penalty of the SBP for not exporting double value of the amount of borrowing". Rice exporters have urged the SBP to extend the shipment performance period by 90 days till September 30, 2015, Ghori said. 

Newton Fund UK-China-Philippines-Thailand-Vietnam call for collaborative research proposals in rice research


Description: Visit Natural Environment Research Council websiteDescription: Newton Fund

Call status: Open
Application deadline: 13 August 2015, 4pm GMT


The UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), in collaboration with the:
·         UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
·         Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS)
·         Thailand National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA)
·         Thailand Agricultural Research and Development Agency (Public Organisation) (ARDA)
·         Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development and Department of Science and Technology (PCAARRD DOST)
·         Philippine Rice Research Institute, Department of Agriculture Philippines (DA PhilRice)
·         International Cooperation Department Ministry of Science and Technology Vietnam (MOST)
are pleased to announce a call for collaborative proposals. The purpose of this call is to build on the combined strengths of academic research groups within China, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and the UK to work together on collaborative interdisciplinary research that will underpin the long-term sustainable production of rice.


Applicants are invited to submit bilateral or multilateral collaborative research proposals comprising eligible researchers from the UK, China, Thailand, the Philippines or Vietnam. All proposals will be required to have a UK Principal Investigator, in addition to a Principal Investigator from one or more of the partner countries.
The funders aim to support innovative basic, strategic or applied research that will contribute to and underpin long-term sustainable production of rice, including an understanding that rice production sits alongside the provision of other ecosystem services. Proposals of up to three years in duration will be encouraged to address the following challenges in rice:
·         Greater resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses
·         Improved resource use efficiency (including Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Water)
·         Improved quality of rice (including nutritional enhancement and grain quality)
·         Novel research tool and technology development supporting the above areas (including systems biology, bioinformatics, screening and characterisation of germplasm for gene and trait discovery)
In addition to the challenges listed above, proposals will also be welcomed in the following areas and countries:
·         Improved photosynthetic efficiency in rice (China, Thailand, UK)
·         Environmentally sustainable rice cultivation systems (Thailand, Philippines, UK)
·         Utilisation of rice by-products (Philippines, Vietnam, UK)
·         Sustainably increasing the genetic yield potential of rice (China, UK)
The participating agencies wish to develop and strengthen transnational collaborations across the countries involved and to support collaborations which will have a real impact in this field. Applicants must successfully demonstrate the sustainability of the collaboration and the potential impact of the activities proposed.
Before beginning to develop their proposal, applicants should ensure they read the guidance notes in the application downloads below.


Up to £6.5M from BBSRC and NERC has been earmarked for this call with matched funding from partner agencies in China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It is anticipated that that the funding on the UK side will be divided equally between the four partner countries.
Projects should be up to a maximum duration of three years and we envisage funding a number of projects with each country under this call.
For further information about the amount of funding available for each country see the country annexes section of the guidance notes in application downloads below.


Eligibility to apply is determined by national eligibility rules and the nature of the resources requested must also adhere to national guidelines. For further information and detailed eligibility see the guidance notes in application downloads below.
For UK academics, standard BBSRC and NERC eligibility criteria apply.

The Newton Fund

The UK contribution will be funded from the Newton Fund. The Newton Fund is an initiative intended to strengthen research and innovation partnerships between the UK and emerging knowledge economies. It will deliver £375M of funding over the course of five years.
The Newton Fund requires that the funding be awarded to research projects that are of relevance to the partner countries. All applications under this call must be compliant with the RCUK Newton guidelines.

Assessment criteria

To be funded, proposals must be internationally competitive and at a standard equivalent to that normally expected to be supported by each funding organisation.
Key assessment criteria for the applications include:
·         Scientific rationale: novelty, importance and timeliness of the proposed research
·         Design and feasibility of the proposed methodology
·         Added value to existing research on the topic of the proposal
·         Significance and impact of the research
·         Research partnership development: including strength and clarity of the collaboration and opportunities provided
·         Appropriateness of the project structure proposed (including governance, arrangements for data management and sharing and management of intellectual property)
·         Added value of the joint research partnership
·         Potential for the collaboration to build capacity in partner countries
·         Value for money
For further information about the assessment process see the guidance notes in application downloads below.

How to apply

Full applications must be submitted by the UK Principal Investigator to BBSRC via the Je-S application system (see related links) by Thursday 13 August 2015, 4pm (GMT). Applicants wishing to apply to the call must use the specific case for support template associated with this call (see application downloads below).
UK applications will be submitted to and processed by BBSRC. For further information about the submission process and documentation required for each country see the guidance notes in application downloads below.

Rice mills owners to initiate nationwide protest

June 14, 2015


Description: Pakistan Rice Mills Association has announced nationwide protest to draw attention of the authorities to the plight of collapsing sector linked to thousands of jobs and two billion dollars of annual exports.Rice millers have decided to stop purchasing paddy from growers and lock the mills putting thousands of jobs and billions of bank loans in jeopardy.President Pakistan Rice Mills Association Mukhtar Ahmed Khan Baloch said this while talking to Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President Pakistan Economy Watch.He said that an emergency meeting of three thousand owners of rice mills has been summoned at Kamonki where plan for sit-in in front of the Parliament and other details would be finalised.

Baloch said that authorities have turned a deaf ear to the plight of this sector as they are focused on welfare of exporters only putting interests of planters and growers on the back burner.Government needs to bail out sinking rice sector responsible for over two billion dollars of exports, largest outside textiles, otherwise country may lose export market to neighbouring country.He said that Pakistan is fourth largest exporter of rice and millions of jobs are linked to that critical sector which merits full attention of the policy makers.
Baloch said that situation is turning against Pakistan and in favour of India which has introduced its own brand lacking aroma but increased in length. Indian rice is cheaper due to hidden subsidies which has resulting in lost Iranian and Middle Eastern markets.He said that some 3000 rice mills are facing problems while those 1000 are on the brink that have failed to sell rice in last two years.

At the occasion, Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that exporters are not cooperating with millers to cope with the problem while government is ignoring the critical issue.He said that the steps taken for rice sector in the budget are insufficient, adding that TCP should buy rice from millers for export, their mark-up should be waived and rice mills should be declared sick industry.

Waiting for monsoon eagerly, and with hope
14 Jun, 2015
Shihab Sarkar

The heavy showers on Thursday (June 11), a day after media reports quoted weather people as saying this year's monsoon would not see much rain, accompanied welcome signs. Thursday's late-morning downpour in the city was preceded by another spell of showers the previous noon. It was followed by moderate showers the next day. All this seemed auspicious, making people hope for a full monsoon. After weeks of unbearable heat that parched the country, the post-shower cool has brought noticeable relief to the people in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. There is something worrying in the forecast of the weather people. That there will be less-than-expected rain this year has reasons to make people brace for the times of aridity.

 Monsoon comprises the cultivation and harvesting periods of some major crops, including paddy. ollowing the bumper yields of paddy, the spectre of inadequate rain and crop failure may prompt shocks for farmers. The annual rainfall intensity has weakened in the country over the decades.  With the grand blast of Thursday's pre-monsoon showers in Dhaka belying glum predictions, people look forward to a monsoon with sufficient rains.The forecast of lesser rain this year stems mainly from the rise in temperature of the Pacific Ocean waters. This has been caused by the erratically strong behaviour of the El Nino phenomenon in this ocean. It is in this area where the water-soaked winds and clouds of South Asian monsoon originate, and blow towards the sub-continent after crossing the Bay of Bengal. Thanks to the impact of El Nino, and the rise in Pacific water's temperature this year, the direction of the monsoon clouds is changing unpredictably. US-based meteorological experts have also predicted a belated and weak monsoon for South Asia this year.
 All this is a corollary to global warming.The El Nino impact has been active in Bangladesh for quite a long time. This is by a stroke of luck that the country has not undergone recently the spell of a prolonged drought. Owing to the incidence of reduced rain, many regions in South Asia have lately had to cope with the drought scourge. However, drought-like conditions have prevailed in parts of Bangladesh in the past few years. As a country dependent on agriculture, monsoon means a lot for Bangladesh. A time was when a little variation in rain frequency would leave adverse impact on the country's agri-production. The country has long become used to cultivating crop strains tolerant to different types of agri-related stresses. In line with this, the farmers have, since 2011, been producing rice tolerant to drought, submergence, salinity etc. It is the drought-tolerant rice, especially, that has saved scores of our farmers from the curse of dry monsoons in the recent past.
As International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has observed, "Drought is the most widespread and damaging of all environmental stresses, affecting 23 million hectares of rain-fed rice in South and Southeast Asia."Coming to Bangladesh, in 2010 the country witnessed the lowest rainfall in its previous 15 years, a change experts have blamed on the impact of global climate change. To be specific, drought affected about 100,000 hectares of the Barind and northern districts in July-September, 2010. The normal rice varieties in Bangladesh wither and die after 10-12 days if water is not available to the land. The drought-tolerant rice is said to have been tested successfully in these extreme conditions.Despite the monsoon woes associated with our urban life, the season has a dominant place in the nation's rural ethos. The very essence of life in Bangladesh comes to many of its fruitions during full-blown monsoons. Rains define life in this land, as do the rivers. Here monsoon shapes some basic areas of life ranging from cultural heritage to the arts. And an aborted monsoon has always been bad news for the country's agriculture.


DNAnexus Powers Research and Analysis of Rice Genomes to Help Feed World’s Population
JUNE 13, 2015 10:57 PM EDT                      
DNAnexus Inc. announced today that its groundbreaking cloud-based genome informatics and data management platform is powering the 3000 Rice Genomes Project (3K RGP). The project is a partnership between the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and BGI in China and their numerous collaborators globally, who are attempting to solve one critical question: how can we continue to feed the growing human population?
Rice is a diet staple for half the world’s population. It is estimated that production of this grain must increase by at least 25% by 2030 to keep pace with population growth. Researchers are using genomics to identify critical genetic differences between strains of rice for nutrition, climate tolerance, and disease resistance – differences that can be utilized in the paddy field in upcoming years to breed rice varieties that can support global demands.The 3K RGP has analyzed 3,000 rice genomes, generating more than 100 TB of data that was processed on 37,000 CPU cores concurrently. Using DNAnexus, the team completed the mapping and variant calling more than 200 times faster and without incurring additional costs in purchasing and maintaining compute infrastructure. 3K RGP investigators are located across the globe in 10 countries, and they are able to access results and collaborate in real time, without the costs of shipping these datasets on physical storage.
 The result has been hundreds of new genetic markers, each a potential pathway to improving outcomes for rice production. The genes linked to valuable traits can help breed new rice varieties that have improved yield, higher nutritional value, or greater tolerance to pests, diseases, and drought.According to Robert S. Zeigler, Director General of IRRI, “Humans have been improving rice over thousands of years. Using this new knowledge of the rice genome, public interest research organizations can further improve rice yields, the nutritional content of rice, as well as the rice plant’s resistance to the negative effects of climate change, pests, and disease.”


Soil fungus leads to higher rice weevil populations

By Bruce Schultz, L  SU gCenter 

Rice water weevil.A fungus in soil has shown a surprising connection with the main insect pest of rice, the rice water weevil, according to an LSU AgCenter entomologist. Mike Stout, speaking at the Evangeline Parish Rice and Soybean Field Day on June 9, said the fungus, called mycorrhizae, is fo  und on plant roots and helps a rice plant with the uptake of potassium and phosphorus.He said a doctoral student, Lina Bernaola, is conducting a study of rice plants inoculated with the fungus. So far, the inoculation has resulted in larger populations of rice water weevils. “We were surprised to see a negative impact making rice more susceptible to insects,” Stout said.He said seed treatments work well against the weevil larvae that feed on the roots of rice plants. All rice varieties are susceptible to weevil infestations, he said, so work is being done to develop varietal resistance.Stout said the heavy rains appear to have made no difference in insect populations so far.
Description: Rice water weevil.
“This has been a pretty typical year for insects.”Dustin Harrell, LSU AgCenter rice specialist, said rainfall totals at the LSU AgCenter Rice Research Station at Crowley have already reached the average of 26 inches between March 1 and July 31.Harrell said the heavy rains have caused problems for getting crops planted and fertilized on time.He said if fertilizer that must be applied on a flooded field will not benefit from a nitrogen stabilizer such as Agrotain.Harrell said leaf blast has been found on Jupiter and CL151 varieties. He said sheath blight will be developing, and a fungicide is recommended when panicles in the plant boot grow to 4 inches.Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter rice breeder, said work on the new Provisia rice technology is progressing with the possibility of a 7-acre seed increase in Puerto Rico later this year.He said the herbicide-resistant Provisia system will give farmers additional help at controlling the red rice weed and provide control of weedy rice that is resistant to NewPath herbicide as a result of outcrossing between Clearfield rice and red rice plants.

Linscombe said this is the 14th year he has conducted his variety trial at the Bieber Farm where part of the June 9 field day was held. He said the plots’ late planting will provide an idea of how Description: Pangasinan traders sell rice at a lossthe varieties perform when they are planted under less than ideal conditions.Linscombe said a new medium-grain line, 1402008, is showing potential for acceptance by Kellogg’s.Hybrid breeding continues, he said. “I feel confident that in a short period of time, we’re going to be talking about the first hybrid coming out of Crowley.”Eric Webster, LSU AgCenter weed scientist, said his research includes eight new products for testing.He said combining herbicides in a tank is more efficient, but some chemicals used on research plots at the Northeast Research Station near St. Joseph have been incompatible. He said it’s possible Description:  “TINAWON,” a variety of Ifugao indigenous rice is planted only once a year at paddies in  Nagacadan rice terraces of Barangay Nagacadan in Ifugao’s Kiangan town. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON that water from that area has caused problems, and he will use water from Crowley to mix herbicides for the St. Joseph area and water from St. Joseph for a test at the Rice Research Station to see if any differences occur.Ron Levy, LSU AgCenter soybean specialist, said his research will include irrigation this year with projects in Evangeline and Calcasieu parishes. Soil moisture sensors will be used to help determine when soil needs irrigation, he said, and they can help reduce the amount of water needed.He said the critical time for soybeans to get moisture is in the R-3 and R-5 stages.Boyd Padgett, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist, said no Cercospora blight has shown up yet, but soybean rust is being found in coastal areas. Farmers should consult varieties’ disease ratings and use crop rotation. Reduced tillage can leave plant debris that holds pathogens, he said.

30 more highland rice types found

12:10 AM June 13th, 2015
Pangasinan traders sell rice at a loss
Mindanao community projects hurdle obstacles
Bohol village tagged ‘Watermelon Country’
Aquino: 1 of 3 Iloilo dams to be finished by 2016
Laoag welcomes Chinese tourists

TINAWON,” a variety of Ifugao indigenous rice is planted only once a year at paddies in Nagacadan rice terraces of Barangay Nagacadan in Ifugao’s Kiangan town. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON
BAGUIO CITY—Researchers developing a rice gene bank for the country have found 30 more varieties of highland grains, three of which are nearly extinct and would need to be preserved immediately.Over 300 indigenous rice varieties have been genetically examined, documented and preserved by a team deployed by the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute, said Cameron Odsey, DA Cordillera assistant director for research, during a June 11 news conference.Of the 30 highland varieties that have not been previously documented and collected, 16 are common to Mt. Province, Odsey said.
 Nearly extinct’
He said three of these varieties are extremely rare and classified as “nearly extinct.” This meant that researchers would need to preserve as much genetic material of the “near extinct” rice so it could be reproduced in the future, he said.He did not identify these upland rice varieties pending the completion of the gene bank project. But he said the sustenance and preservation of these varieties have become a government priority.Rice consumers abroad have put a high premium on organic grains grown only in upland farms. Heirloom rice varieties like the Kalinga “unoy” and Ifugao “tinawon” grown on rice terraces are considered too exotic and expensive, Odsey said.Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

USA Rice Attends Field to Market Plenary Session           
Jeff Durand
From Durand's field to your market

WASHINGTON, DC-- Field to Market held its latest Plenary Session here this week with USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited serving as co-sponsors. During the meeting, the future of the organization was discussed.    Specifically, attendees examined the proposed business model that will move the organization forward with a modest financial and staff growth while expanding its influence in the area of sustainability. The Plenary kicked off with growers sharing ideas from each of their respective commodities on innovative conservation and sustainability practices.Louisiana rice grower Jeff Durand spoke on behalf of the rice industry and gave advice on how to successfully integrate conservation practices on the farm. Durand also shared his experiences with conservation efforts used in his operation including the unique relationship between rice fields and migratory birds.
"We have to make sure practices being put forward are well researched and can turn a profit," he said.Field to Market is also moving forward with a rice-specific Fieldprint Calculator and a greenhouse gas metric for rice field outputs.   USA Rice is a voting member of Field to Market and has several rice industry experts participating on many of the organization's workgroups. USA Rice plans to continue to be actively engaged with Field to Market as it's rice-specific metrics come to fruition.

Contact: Steve Hensley (703) 236-144

CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   

CME Group (Prelim):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for June 12

Net Change

July 2015
- $0.115
September 2015
- $0.125
November 2015
 - $0.125
January 2016
 - $0.125
March 2016
- $0.125
May 2016
- $0.125
July 2016
- $0.125

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