Monday, June 22, 2015

22nd June,2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Nepal Plans to Launch Three-Year Paddy Mission to Boost Production, Cut Down Imports

Jun 19, 2015
The government of Nepal plans to launch the first paddy mission from the fiscal year 2015-16 (August 2015 – July 2016) to boost output and help the country become self-sufficient in rice production, according to local sources.A three-year time frame has been set to implement the mission in about 670,000 hectares in 13 Tarai districts. The total planned area will be divided into five cluster areas—Jhapa, Sunsari and Morang; Bara, Sarlahi and Parsa; Rupandehi and Kapilvastu; Dang, Banke and Bardia and Kailali Kanchanpur.
The government aims to increase the average yield to around 3.43 tons per hectare in the first year (i.e, 2015-16) from the current 3.17 tons, and further increase to 3.57 tons per hectare and 3.66 tons per hectare in the subsequent two years respectively. It also aims to increase the paddy output from the current 4.78 million tons to around 4.94 million tons, 5.22 million tons and 5.4 million tons respectively in the three years.
The Nepalese government is planning to reduce the imports to around 277,000 tons in the first year, 96,000 in the second year and become self-reliant in rice or be able to export about 10,000 tons of rice in the third year. Currently, Nepal currently imports about 530,000 tons of rice annually.It has allocated around Rs.100 million (around $983,478) for the three-year project, but the actual requirement for the project has to be assessed, the Assistant Spokesperson of the Ministry of Agricultural Development was quoted. He noted that the targets are not too ambitious and can be achieved. He added that the government is also planning to launch “chaite dhan” scheme under which it would plant paddy from mid-March to mid-April, in areas where there are irrigation facilities.
The official also noted that the government would support farmers by providing improved varieties of paddy seeds and subsidies on farm machinery, irrigation and other tools in the selected areas. It would also train farmers in these areas.The Agriculture Ministry estimates Paddy production in 2014-15 to decline about 5.71% to around 4.78 million tons from around 5.04 million tons in 2013-14 due to a late monsoon and untimely rainfall.USDA estimates Nepal’s MY 2014-15 (October 2014 – September 2015) paddy rice production to decline to about 4.655 million tons (around 3.1 million tons, basis milled) from an estimated 5 million tons (around 3.36 million tons, basis milled) in MY 2013-14. It estimates Nepal to import around 350,000 tons of rice in 2015.

Oryza Global Weather Outlook

Jun 19, 2015
In China, heavy rain is expected across South-eastern and South of the Yangtze River, North-western Guangxi and Southern Gansu on Friday. Thereafter, heavy rain is expected  across eastern Southwest China, northern South of the Yangtze River during the next two days.
Light rain is expected across Thailand during next two days. Thereafter, isolated heavy rain is expected in many parts of Thailand during Monday to Wednesday.
Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected across Vietnam on Friday and Saturday.
Heavy rain is expected across west coast in India from Friday to Sunday. Light rain showers are also expected across plains of northwest India, east and northeast adjoining central India on Monday and Tuesday.
Weather is expected to remain dry in Pakistan during the next two days.
In Bangladesh, light rain is likely to occur at a few places over Rangpur, Chittagong & Sylhet divisions and at one or two places over Rajshahi, Dhaka, Khulna & Barisal  divisions with moderately heavy falls at places over Sylhet division.
Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected across Indonesia on Friday and Saturday.
In the U.S., scattered showers are expected across the north and west portion of Delta during today and tomorrow.

Oryza Weekly: Increased Demand from Philippines, On El Niño Concerns, May Push Up Global Rice Prices

Jun 19, 2015
The Oryza White Rice Index (WRI), a weighted average of global white rice export quotes, ended the week at about $398 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week ago, down about $8 per ton from a month ago and down about $62 per ton from a year ago.The USDA forecasts 2015-16 global milled rice production to reach a record high of 481.7 million tons due to higher acreage (a record 161.8 million hectares).  The USDA forecasts global rice trade to decline in 2016 to about 42.4 million tons, down about 2% from 2015.
The National Food Authority Council of the Philippines has decided to import 100,000 tons of 25% long-grain white rice from Vietnam at a higher price than its reference prices of $408.14 after receiving higher bids twice in the June 16 G2G tender. The tender was originally planned for 250,000 tons and the NFA imported 150,000 tons of rice from Vietnam under government-to-government (G2G) tender.
The NFA has approved private traders to import up to 805,200 tons of 25% well-milled rice under the WTO minimum access volume to maintain buffer stocks and avoid potential price spikes amid fears of an impending El Nino weather pattern.
The agency is authorized to import another 250,000 tons if the El Nino weather pattern intensifies.A high demand from the Philippines is expected to push up the global rice prices, which have been subdued since the beginning of this year due to increased supplies and lower demand.
Thailand 5% broken rice is today shown at about $365 per ton, up about $5 per ton from a week ago, down about $10 per ton from a month ago and down about $20 per ton from a year ago.
Thailand’s Public Warehouse Organization (PWO) has declared about 650,000 tons of rice as rotten, which is not fit for human and animal consumption or for ethanol production.  The rice can, however, be used as fuel in electricity generation.
Domestic paddy prices are expected to increase by about 10% to 8,500 baht per ton (around $253) due to reduced supplies from the main crop as well as potential impact of the El Nino, Bloomberg quoted the Deputy Secretary General of the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) as saying. The OAE is reportedly expecting the paddy output from the 2015 main crop (which accounts for about 70% of the total output) to drop by 600,000 tons or about 2% to around 26.5 million tons, from around 27.1 million tons from last year. The government has been instructing famers in 22 provinces of the Central region to delay planting until July for the main rice crop due to lesser water levels in the reservoirs of the Cho Phraya river basin. It has decided to cut water supplies to more than half of the rice land in the region.
Thailand’s third auction for about 1.06 million tons of rice this year has attracted less interest than the first two auctions.
India 5% broken rice is today shown at about $370 per ton, down about $10 per ton from a week ago, down about $5 per ton from month ago, and down about $70 per ton from a year ago.
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 833,000 hectares as of June 19, 2015; up about 1.6% from around 820,000 hectares planted during the same period last year, and up about 77% from last week’s 471,000 hectares, according to preliminary data released by the Indian Agriculture Ministry.
According to Bloomberg, India received 11% above normal rainfall as on June 17, providing required support to the kharif rice and other crop plantings.
The government of India approved a proposal to raise the minimum support price of paddy for the 2015-16 kharif marketing season.  The new price is about 3.6% higher, bringing it to about $220 per ton.
Vietnam 5% broken rice is today shown at about $350 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week and a month ago and down about $50 per ton from a year ago.
In the period January 1-June 11, Vietnam exported about 2.123 million tons of rice, down about 29.6% from the first half of 2014.  Average rice export price so far this year stands at around $421 per ton (FOB), down about 2.3% per ton from the same time last year.
Pakistan 5% broken rice is today shown at about $380 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week ago, down about $20 per ton from a month ago and down about $65 per ton from a year ago.
Pakistan has exported around 3.71 million tons of rice (around 458,995 tons of basmati and around 3.25 million tons of non-basmati) in the first eleven months of FY 2014-15 (July 2014 - June 2015), up about 6% from around 3.49 million tons (around 613,655 tons of basmati and around 2.88 million tons of non-basmati) exported during the same period in FY 2013-14.
The Rice Dealers Association in Pakistan is urging the government to revive the Rice Board in order to address various problems faced by the country’s rice sector. The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has also urged the government to set up a rice development board, which can address all the issues related to the rice sector
The government of Pakistan is planning to enact a Geographical Indication Law (GI Law) to bring international distinction to indigenous Pakistan products, including basmati rice.
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.
Brazil’s Conab has forecasted the country’s 2014-15 paddy rice production at around 12.544 million tons, up about 3.5% from 2013-14.
The Brazilian paddy rice index maintained by CEPEA reached around 33.71 real per 50 kilograms as of June 15, 2015, up about 1.6% from around 33.18 real per 50 kilograms recorded on June 8, 2015.
In terms of USD per ton, the index reached around $217 per ton on June 15, 2015, up about 2% from around $213 per ton recorded on June 8, 2015.
The government of Guyana is preparing for bilateral talks with the government of Venezuela to extend the oil-for-rice PetroCaribe deal, which will expire this year.  Under this deal, Venezuela buys rice from Guyana and sells oil to Guyana.
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 $455 per ton, down about $15 per ton from a week ago, down about $20 per ton from a  month ago and down about $125 per ton from a year ago.
Other Markets
The European Union is considering importing aromatic rice from Myanmar as the demand for aromatic rice in the region is increasing.
The European Farmers’ Union COPA is opposing a mid-term review of the current EU Common Agricultural Policy, which was approved in 2014 and is valid until 2020.
The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) has confirmed that the country has sufficient rice stocks to meet the local demand and the rising rice prices are not because of shortage of stocks. The recent increase in local rice prices is attributed to increased exports and appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the kyat.
Iraq has invited international tenders to purchase about 30,000 tons of rice from the U.S., Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and India, with bids due June 28.
The government of Indonesia aims to procure 2 million tons of rice from local farmers during the dry season (June-mid-December). It has issued a new regulation on basic commodities prices, which allows the government to anticipate price hikes of certain commodities such as rice, whose prices peak during the festive seasons
The government of China is taking steps to enhance its grain storage capacity to about 95% of the total grain output by 2020 in order to ensure grain supply and safety.
North Korea is experiencing its worst drought conditions in a century and about 30% of its paddy rice acreage has dried up as a result. Representatives from the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) who visited North Korea to assess the impact of a reported drought on the country's crop production estimated the country's 2015 paddy production to decline about 12% to around 2.3 million tons from around 2.6 million tons in 2014.
The boro paddy and rice (January-May) procurement drive in Bangladesh has not provided the expected respite to farmers in terms of prices.  The government is reportedly procuring milled rice from millers rather than paddy from farmers. It has already procured around 313,000 tons of milled rice from the millers. Due to this stance by the government, farmers are at a loss as they are not receiving the government set price of $283 per ton, and are forced to sell to millers and traders at much lower prices. Traders and miller s on the other hand are not offering decent prices to farmers as the market is flooded with low quality rice imports from India.
The government of Nepal has planned to launch the first paddy mission from the fiscal year 2015-16 (August 2015 – July 2016) to boost output and help the country become self-sufficient in rice production and cut down imports.
The UN’s FAO estimates Madagascar’s 2015 paddy rice production will be below-average due to erratic rainfall and dry conditions.
The UN’s FAO has agreed to support the rice sector in Zambia under its technical cooperation program.

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures End Week on Bearish Note as Negative Grains Exert Downward Pressure

Jun 19, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Jul delivery settled 9.5 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) higher at $9.720 per cwt (about $214 per ton). Rough rice futures erased yesterday’s gains and once again moved lower, adding to losses sustained earlier in the week. The market remains range bound and will technically remain so until either support at $9.400 per cwt (about $207 per ton) is breached or resistance at $10.000 per cwt (about $220 per ton) is taken out. The other grains finished the day mostly lower, with wheat being the only contract to manage to finish with a slight gain; Soybeans closed about 0.6% lower at $9.7150 per bushel; wheat finished about 0.1% higher at $4.8850 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 1.3% lower at $3.5325 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded mildly lower on Friday following the Nasdaq's record close as investors eyed developments in the Greece debt talks. At an emergency summit on Monday, euro zone officials are expected to discuss how to handle a Greek default if no new Greek reform proposals arrive, Reuters reported.
Athens has said without further aid, it will be unable to make a 1.5 billion euro ($1.7 billion) debt payment to the International Monetary Fund due on June 30. Meanwhile, large deposit outflows from Greece have raised concerns that Athens may have to implement capital controls. The European Central Bank expanded emergency funding for Greek banks as savers pulled out 1.2 billion euros in a single day on Friday, bankers said in a Reuters report, but Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insisted the nation's future in the euro was secure. Friday also marks quarterly expirations, which will likely add some volatility. The major averages remain on track for weekly gains of about 1% or more. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down 57 points or 0.31%, at 18,058. The S&P 500 traded down 7 points, or 0.33%, at 2,114, with energy leading seven sectors lower and health care leading advancers. The Nasdaq traded down 17 points, or 0.30%, at 5,119. Gold is trading nearly flat, crude oil is seen trading about 2.1% lower, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading at about even at about  1:00pm Chicago time.Thursday, there were 1,632 contracts traded, down from 2,137 contracts traded on Wednesday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Thursday decreased by 331 contracts to 10,453

Government of Thailand Expects Domestic Paddy Prices to Increase About 10% Due to Drought

Jun 19, 2015
The domestic prices of paddy are expected to increase by about 10% to 8,500 baht per ton (around $253) due to lesser supplies from the main crop as well as potential impact of the El Nino, Bloomberg quoted the Deputy Secretary General of the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE).The OAE is reportedly expecting the paddy output from the 2015 main crop (which accounts for about 70% of the total output) may drop by 600,000 tons or about 2% to around 26.5 million tons, from around 27.1 million tons from last year. The government has been instructing famers in 22 provinces of the Central region to delay planting until July for the main rice crop due to lesser water levels in the reservoirs of the Cho Phraya river basin. It has decided to cut water supplies to more than half of the rice land in the region.
Of the 1.184 million hectares of rice land in the region, about note that about 4 million rai (around 640,000 hectares) is reportedly unaffected by the reduction in water supplies.However, farmers in the affected regions are not happy with the government's instructions since some of them had already invested in land preparation and other initial work. The Leader of the Farmers Association noted that since agriculture is livelihood for many of the farmers. He demanded a compensation of about 3,000 baht per rai (around $557 per hectare) for farmers in the affected 22 provinces, as well as a three-year debt moratorium including interest as farmers will not be able to earn sufficiently if they are not allowed to grow crops.
Some farmers are also planning to go ahead with their plans and take a risk.USDA estimates Thailand to produce 28.4 million tons of paddy rice (around 18.75 million tons, milled basis) and export around 11 million tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (January - December 2015).

Indonesia Issues New Regulation on Basic Commodities Prices

Jun 19, 2015
The government of Indonesia has issued a new regulation on basic commodities prices, which allows the government to anticipate price hikes of certain commodities such as rice, whose prices peak during the festive seasons, according to local sources.The regulation will allow the government to ensure adequate supplies and regulate the prices of key commodities such as rice, soy, red chilli, shallots, sugar, cooking oil and flour, as well as livestock including meat, chicken, eggs and fish, in certain situations where price fluctuations are expected to occur.
It was signed by the President on June 15 in order to ensure adequate supplies during the festive month of Idul Fitri as well as curb price fluctuations, a Presidential Communications team member was quoted as saying. Usually demand surges considerably during the month of Ramadhan.
"This regulation gives the authority to the government to set special prices ahead of, on, or after religious holidays or during periods of price volatility," said the official. The government is currently waiting for the price ceiling regulation from the Finance Ministry. The Trade Ministry is expected to deal with the technical aspects of the regulation implementation, said the official.  It also bans stockpiling of these commodities in times of scarcity and price fluctuations.Owing to price hikes of important commodities, Indonesia's annual inflation rate increased to a five-month high of 7.15% in May.
 Average rice prices have also been increasing since September 2014 and have reached record levels in March 2015. However, since April, prices reversed direction due to the government intervention as well as increased supplies from the 2015 main season rice crop. In June 2015, average rice prices stood at around 9.894 million Rupiah (around $740) per ton, up about 12% from their year ago levels.Some analysts noted that the policy is good from the customer point of view as it aims at  maintaining price stability, but seems to be a hugely interventionist policy from the businesses point of view.Meanwhile, the Head of Distribution and Stockpile at Agriculture Ministry's Food Sufficiency agency told local sources that Indonesia may have about 10.9 million tons of rice surplus in 2015 according to Bloomberg. He also noted that current rice stocks would be sufficient for the June-July period of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.
Indonesia's new President who took over in October this year is keen on achieving self-sufficiency in basic food items such as rice, corn and sugar over the next four years. He is particularly keen on avoiding rice imports. So far, the government has not imported any rice this year. But analysts say less stocks and lower production due to El Nino weather pattern could prompt the government to import rice in the second half of the year.USDA estimates Indonesia to produce around 36.3 million tons of rice, basis milled (around 57.17 million tons, basis paddy), and import around 1.25 million tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (October - September).

FAO Estimates North Korea’s 2015 Rice Production to Decline 12% y/y to 2.3 Million Tons Due to Drought

Jun 19, 2015
Representatives from the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) who visited North Korea to assess the impact of a reported drought on the country's crop production estimated the country's 2015 paddy production to decline about 12% to around 2.3 million tons from around 2.6 million tons in 2014, according to Reuters.Based on preliminary information gathered from the government and farmers, the FAO noted that there is a "severe contraction" in the supply of rice seeds in the country.
They noted that drought conditions coupled with inefficient management of irrigation canals and other farm infrastructure has been worsening the crop production scenario.The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported earlier this week that North Korea is experiencing worst drought conditions in a century and about 30% of the country's rice land has dried up. According to the agency, water level of reservoirs is very low and rivers and streams are also drying up.
Official sources have predicted that the production of rice would decline by about 20% of the average production if the shortage of water continues till July.USDA estimates North Korea's 2015 milled rice production at around 1.7 million tons, down about 10% from around 1.88 million tons in 2014.In May this year, the FAO reported that food insecurity in North Korea is high and number of hungry people in the country has more than doubled to around 10.5 million between 1990 and 2014.

K-Pop Fans Donate Rice

Jun 19, 2015
Fans of K-pop (Korean pop) band 2AM recently used rice to show their appreciation for singer and musical actor Jo Kwon.  Kwon is starring in a new musical called Chess, and his fans sent out many sacks of rice to donate in celebration of the premiere of the play, which starts June 19.  The sacks of rice were sent to the Sejong Center Grand Theater in Seoul, where the play will be showing.
Kwon showed his approval of the act by uploading a photo of the donated rice to his Instagram account.This isn’t the first time K-pop fans have used rice donations to show their gratitude for the musicians – fans of band Big Bang rounded up 12.7 tons of rice donations in 2012, and fans of Super Junior-M donated 1.3 tons of rice earlier this year.  These “fan-rice towers” are common in Korea, where fans donate rice to their favorite musicians who then donate the rice to charitable institutions.
Image Source: Instagram, @kwon_jo

Pakistan Rice Exports Continue to Decline for Second Consecutive Month in May 2015

Jun 19, 2015

Pakistan's total exports declined sharply in May 2015, continuing to decline for the second consecutive month after increasing about 33% m/m in March 2015.Pakistan exported around 263,044 tons of rice (including basmati and non-basmati) in May 2015, down about 27% from around 360,446 tons exported in April 2015, according to provisional data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). In terms of value, Pakistan's rice export earnings declined about 16% to around $152 million in May 2015 from around $180 million earned in April 2015.
Year-on-year, Pakistan’s exports increased about 11% from around 236,843 tons exported in May 2014. In terms of value, they declined about 7% from around $163 million in May 2014.Pakistan exported around 30,944 tons of basmati rice in May 2015, down about 10% from around 34,568 tons exported in April 2015, and down about 57% from around 72,573 tons exported in May 2014. In terms of value, Pakistan's basmati rice exports earned $38.3 million in May 2015, down about 10% from around $42.5 million earned in April 2015, and down about 57% from around $88 million earned in May 2014.
Pakistan exported around 232,100 tons of non-basmati rice in May 2015, down about 29% from around 325,878 tons exported in May 2015 and up about 41% from around 164,270 tons in May 2014. In terms of value, Pakistan's non-basmati rice exports earned $114 million in May 2015, down about 17% from around $137.5 million earned in April 2015, and up about 53% from around $74.63 million earned in May 2014.

Pakistan has exported around 3.71 million tons of rice (around 458,995 tons of basmati and around 3.25 million tons of non-basmati) in the first eleven months of FY 2014-15 (July 2014 - June 2015), up about 6% from around 3.49 million tons (around 613,655 tons of basmati and around 2.88 million tons of non-basmati) exported during the same period in FY 2013-14. In terms of value, Pakistan's exports earned around $1,902 million (around $487 million from basmati and around $1,415 million from non-basmati) in July 2014 - May 2015, down about 5.5% from around $2,013 million (around $703 million from basmati and around $1,310 million from non-basmati) earned during the same period in 2013-14.

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22nd June,2015 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Tidbits: Kool-Aid gelatin dessert; jasmine and basmati rice

Hamilton Spectator
Mr. Tidbit has seen some strange things, but he doesn't recall ever seeing a product and a new virtually identical competing product coming from the same company.But that's the case with new Kool-Aid gelatin dessert. It's made by the Kraft Foods Group, which also makes Jell-O. The Kool-Aid box carries the iconic Kool-Aid pitcher, but otherwise there is almost no difference between the 3-ounce packages, and when Mr. Tidbit and two of his little friends tried the grape version of each, they found no apparent difference in Flavour. Both desserts even had the identical amethyst colour. (Mr. Tidbit would have called it "purple," but his little friends are much more graphics-oriented.)
There is one difference, though: Where Mr. Tidbit found them, the box of Jell-O sold for 67 cents; the Kool-Aid gelatin was 73 cents. That's 9 per cent more.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Tidbit discussed his somewhat delayed discovery of Uncle Ben's new basmati rice and jasmine rice, which cook in 10 minutes (and Uncle Ben's two-serving Ready Rice versions of basmati and jasmine rice, which microwave in 90 seconds and are so old that the packages don't even say "new"). He marvelled that the once-exotic rices had begun turning up as brand-name staples.Since then, he discovered that he had still failed to notice several other related brand-name products, not one of which apparently is new. There's Uncle Ben's Ready Rice brown basmati rice, and entries from two other rice purveyors:
Success Rice sells jasmine and basmati rice in 14-ounce boxes (eight boil-in-bag servings) at essentially the same per-ounce price as the Uncle Ben's 10-minute products.And there's Minute Rice jasmine rice in a two-pack of single-serving microwave tubs. Where he found it, it's a little cheaper than the Uncle Ben's microwave products. But all the microwave rices are much more expensive per serving than any of the rices that require you to get out a pan. Serving sizes are inconsistent, but the cost of a serving of one of the microwaved aromatic rices is roughly triple that of one of the you-boil-it versions.Minute Rice apparently also sells boil-in-the bag jasmine and basmati rices, but Mr. Tidbit hasn't found them on the shelf anywhere. Yet.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

GI law yet to be finalised after 15 years


ISLAMABAD: A draft law on geographical indications (GIs) is lying with the government for the last 15 years, and has yet to be finalised.Pakistan may lose ownership rights of hybrid variety of super basmati rice if it fails to finalise the law promptly, sources said.The sources further added that the country has yet to enact the law to register the super basmati as local GI which will provide our policymakers legal grounds to contest the issue of super basmati with India at an international forum.The proposed law could also provide protection not only to rice, but also to other products, like apricot, Peshawari chappal, Multani halva, Hala’s ajrak, Sargodha’s kinno, Kasuri methi, Sindhri mango, Dir’s chakoo (knife), wild mushrooms of Swat, Neeli Ravi buffalo, Chaman grapes, etc.
The law will enhance visibility of several Pakistani export items in the international market as it will protect the ownership rights of goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess a quality, reputation or other characteristic.Geographical Indications are place names (in some countries also words associated with a place) used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products.It is a concept of international trade which associates certain product to a specific location, thus identifying its originality and uniqueness. Such an indication to any product distinguishes it from the rest of same kind thus bringing premium to its price.The draft GI law has since been vetted many times by the relevant authorities, but no action had been taken in this regard, said a source.
On Thursday, Commerce Minis­ter Khurram Dastagir Khan directed the officials of his ministry to initiate coordination with relevant stakeholders immediately which include Intellectual Property Organisation Pakistan (IPOP), Ministry of National Food Security and Research, relevant provincial departments and the private sector.The minister admitted that some spade-work was done on the GIs law by the previous governments during the last decade, but it was not brought to its logical conclusion.The government had established IPOP for legislation of similar kinds of laws to provide protection to the local products in the international market.WTO members need to give protection to GIs under Article 22-24 of the TRIPs agreement.
Unless Pakistan provides GI protection to its goods by its law, Islamabad could not obtain GI protection for its goods in other countries that have the GI law.The separate law would make Pakistan capable of filing such applications in other countries to protect its various GIs in those countries.It was also proposed to set up a GI registry at Lahore or Karachi and appointment of an officer of the government as registrar, besides sub-registrars and assistant registrars as necessary for its prime office and sub-offices.According to an official statement, commerce minister said that his ministry will enact a new GIs law to bring distinction to indigenous Pakistani products.
Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2015

Philippines plans to preserve highland rice varieties
300 ‘heirloom rice varieties’ were farmed in northern Cordillera region
Manila: The Philippine government and non-government organisations have joined hands to preserve, nurture and market highland rice varieties from the northern Cordillera region for the health conscious, sources said, adding efforts include finding more varieties and reviving nearly extinct ones to make organic rice more affordable.Some 300 “heirloom rice varieties” were organically farmed using pre-hispanic tradition in the northern Cordillera region which is comprised of Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, and the Mountain province.Fourteen more highland varieties found in some parts of the 2,000-year-old rice terraces in Kalinga and Apayao, and 16 more in the Mountain province (three of which were categorised as nearly extinct), were documented after years of research, said Cameron Odsey, research assistant director of the agriculture department in the Cordillera Region.
“The great plan now is to preserve almost extinct varieties for future generations,” said Odsey. He did not discount the project’s value to a growing population of health conscious Filipinos in search of organically grown rice that could save them from diabetes.The project will be undertaken by the agriculture department, the 29-year-old Philippine Rice Research Institute, the 55-year-old International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), IRRI’s International Rice Genebank, and several non-government organisations, one of which is the Heirloom Rice Project.Rice lovers were alarmed when a 2009 survey showed that the planting of indigenous varieties in the Cordillera region declined; that northern Luzon’s upland farmers have shifted to foreign varieties with highland adaptability, and higher yield in shorter period.
“There was a great fear this would result in loss of bio-diversity that dictates the Cordillera mountain’s agricultural cropping patterns, loss of watershed, and deterioration of highland farming that has enhanced tourism attraction in the north,” said Dr Casiana Vera, IRRI’s scientist and head of Heirloom.Her group began after Mary Hensley, United States’ Peace Corps volunteer, and Victoria Garcia, a Filipino community worker, jointly marketed Cordillera’s organically grown rice varieties in 2004. Heirloom’s aim included conserving Cordillera’s traditionally grown rice varieties which drew support from local and national government agencies, including public and private institutions.
Some of Cordillera’s organically grown rice varieties are farmed in the world-famous 2,000-year-old rice terraces of Batad, Bangaan, and Nagacadan in Banaue; the Mayoyao rice terraces in Ifugao; the Hapag Rice Terraces in Hungduan; and the Kiangan Rice Terraces in Kiangan,Four organically grown rice varieties from the Cordillera region are now brand names among Manila and lowland’s health conscious consumers. They include Kalinga’s unoy; Kiangan’s julungan and nagacadan; and Mayoyao’s white and red tinawon varieties.“But they are also very expensive. They should be more affordable for everybody’s health,” said a Metro Manila’s retailer.

El Nino 'unlikely to affect rice supply'

A worker piles rice up to two storeys high at a warehouse in Pasir Panjang. It is compulsory for importers to store rice at warehouses like this one. In times of shortage or emergency, the stockpile can last up to three months.
Photo: ST
Rice importers here are not losing sleep over El Nino, despite warnings from climatologists.Forecasts in recent weeks of the strengthening El Nino - a dry weather pattern - warn of droughts and disrupted rice harvests across the Asia-Pacific.Japan's weather bureau even predicted that the dry spell could be as bad, or even worse than that in 2009, when some rice exporting countries had to ban exports to satisfy domestic demand.The price of Thai fragrant rice, which importers say is the most popular type here, cost about US$1,400 (S$1,860) a tonne in 2009.Rice importers, who now pay about US$1,000 a tonne for Thai fragrant rice, told The Straits Times they are better placed to weather the storm now.Mr Lim Ek Kwong, operations manager of major rice importer See Hoy Chan, said it now imports rice from about 15 suppliers in four countries - Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.
In 2009, it imported rice only from five suppliers in Thailand."If one country closes its doors to us, we can now still get rice from elsewhere," he said, adding that Thailand still has large stockpiles of rice that will help mitigate the price increases. He has seen no change in prices and supplies in recent times.Managing director of Chye Choon Foods, Mr Jimmy Soh, said: "So far, it is hearsay. We have asked suppliers to let us know if something happens."Supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice said prices remained stable and were, in fact, lowered last year. A 5kg bag of FairPrice Fragrant Rice had cost $6.90 since 2011, but was reduced to $6.50 in January last year, said Mrs Mui-Kok Kah Wei, its senior director of purchasing and merchandising.As a major rice importer in Singapore, NTUC FairPrice stockpiles more than three months of supply at any time, she added.Sheng Siong supermarket also said that prices of rice are stable, but it is monitoring the situation closely.When contacted, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said Singapore has "a food import diversification policy to safeguard against any food supply disruptions".
"Apart from our top three import sources, Thailand, India and Vietnam, there is also sufficient supply from other countries including Myanmar, Pakistan and Cambodia," said an MTI spokesman. "There has been no noticeable impact on the quantity and prices of our rice imports so far."The latest figures from IE Singapore show that 361,930 tonnes of rice were imported in 2011, rising steadily to hit 498,633 tonnes last year, or a rise of 38 per cent.The past few years had seen a change in the main supply source of rice to Singapore. In 2013, India, for the first time, overtook Thailand as the Republic's biggest rice supplier.Last year, 37.4 per cent of total rice imports came from India, and 32.3 per cent were from Thailand. In 2009, Thai rice consumed here accounted for 62.1 per cent of total imports.

There should be an agricultural diversification programme for small farmers in the rice industry

Dear Editor,

The rice industry has gone from strength to strength, in terms of acres under cultivation and yield per acre, now averaging two tons per acre, that is, 32 bags at 140 lbs per bag per crop, due mainly to higher yielding varieties produced at the Burma Rice Research Station, and improved cultivation and husbandry practices. However, the industry has been slow to respond to acquiring markets for the increased production.As a result of new technology, drying and milling systems have improved, resulting in better recoveries from paddy to rice.

A lot is being said now of monies that are owed by millers to farmers, by the Guyana Rice Development Board to the millers and by farmers to input suppliers, but nothing is mentioned of monies owed by millers to commercial banks, and the pressure the millers are under to dispose of the paddy in a timely manner, so as to pay the farmers.The problem of millers owing the farmers could have been non- existent, if the money that was made available to Guyana (about $3 billion) by the European Union for the rice industry, was put in a revolving fund as in Suriname, rather than in the Consolidated Fund after the first year.

Because of the rapid increase in production, those looking for markets have been caught with their pants down. This is bearing in mind, that Guyana exports about 75 per cent of its production, while only 4 per cent of world’s production is traded.The entry of Venezuela, although offering a higher price than Europe and the Caribbean, has caused some serious confusion in the rice industry, as they are only purchasing about 40 per cent of the production. All farmers on the other hand, are asking for prices based on the Venezuelan price, which is not possible.A lot of numbers have been thrown around in relation to the price of a bag of paddy, some very ridiculous, resulting in more confusion.

Return on investments:

The commercial banks are offering 3 to 4 per cent per annum on fixed deposits. The return on investment for most businesses, is considered good, at 20 per cent per year.

It costs a farmer about $65,000 to produce two tons per acre per crop. Therefore, the total cost per acre per year (2 crops) equal $130,000. If the farmer were to make 20 per cent on his investment, he would expect $130,000 plus $26,000 equalling $156,000.Considering 32 bags per crop equals 64 bags per year, the price per bag should be $156,000/64 equalling $2,437, which can be easily sustained by the Caribbean and European markets, which are readily available.An additional $200 per bag on paddy can be available to the farmer, if cost savings can be considered in the areas of the levy to the GRDB, charges at the export ports, etc.

Assuming a farmer will live relatively comfortably on $80,000 per month, that is, $960,000 per year, with him earning $26,000 per acre per year, he will need to cultivate $960,000/ $26,000 which is equal to 36.9 acres. The majority of farmers in the rice industry are way below this acreage, resulting in constant complaining, which is justified.So the big question is whether it is an industry problem or a social problem, seeing that the farmers have no other means of income.Obviously, it is not possible to make 36.9 acres available to all the farmers in the rice industry.

This is where a new ADP (Export Agriculture Diversification Pro-gramme) should kick in, and encourage the farmers with a small acreage to concentrate on other crops, which will result in them earning 20 per cent or more on their investment.The average price for paddy is $3,000 per bag presently, resulting in the farmer earning $192,000 per acre, resulting in an excess of $62,000 per year that is a return on investment of 48 per cent.

Yours faithfully,
Beni Sankar


PhilRice develops technology for cheaper land preparation

June 19, 2015 8:19 pm

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has developed an innovative technology that reduces the cost of land preparation for irrigated areas and mitigates the impacts of climate change at the same time.The Reduced Tillage Technology (RTT) is an alternative system of land preparation for irrigated areas where plowing is not applied.RTT is a collaborative project of PhilRice, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Regional Field Office of the Department of Agriculture in Central Luzon, and participating local government units.Ruben Miranda, the leader of a study team that oversaw the implementation of RTT, said the technology was developed due to the pressing need to look for new ways of doing land preparation as it comprises about 19 percent of the total labor cost in rice production.He said RTT was first piloted in 2012 in Talavera and the Science City of Muñoz, both in Nueva Ecija.
In RTT, rice stubbles, weeds, and the scattered rice straws are pressed two to three times using the hand tractor’s paddy wheels attached with riding-type leveler or by drop down-spiked tooth harrow.The pressing is done at a five- to seven-day interval.

After the final leveling, crop establishment is done either by transplanting, by direct seeding using the drumseeder, or by manual broadcasting.After the success of its initial implementation, 14 more towns in Pangasinan, Pampanga and Ilocos Sur were added as demonstration sites.“Yield increase relative to using the conventional tillage method and savings generated on land preparation were the parameters used in measuring the success of the study,” Miranda said.He said that for three consecutive seasons, the average yields of the demonstration sites were relatively higher at 5.35 tons per hectare compared to 4.92 tons/ha for conventional tillage.In addition, farmers saved P3,380/ha per season.“Savings can be attributed to the faster operation time and lesser fuel consumption. In RTT, farmers can save more than five hours per hectare in their farming operations. Savings on fuel is up to 50 percent or 14 liters/ha lesser than in conventional tillage,” Miranda said.

Besides the savings and ease of land preparation, RTT also mitigates impacts of climate change.“The reduced diesel consumption and scattering of rice straws which are usually burned by farmers resulted in lesser methane and carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere,” Miranda said.

Economist Advises FG Against Huge Spending On Rice Importation

Prof. Akpan Ekpo, Director General, West African Institute of Financial and Economic Management, has advised the Federal Government against spending so much foreign exchange on the importation of rice.Ekpo gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday, saying such expenditure would deplete that national reserve.“For us to be spending so much foreign exchange in this dwindling oil revenue to import rice from Thailand does not make any economic sense.“This is because we have stockpiles of rice by our farmers producing quality rice across all the states.“For us to conserve our foreign reserve, we can use some of the foreign exchange to buy machines and help improve the farmers to produce more.

“Is it not yet time for the CBN to stop rice importers from accessing the interbank market and conserve the country’s very limited foreign exchange? ‘’
  Ekpo said that continued rice importation was not necessary “in view of the fact that the rice produced in the country right now is of the highest global quality and there is still plenty of land for more cultivation’’.He advised the government to support local production of rice and gradually stop importation.He said at present supporting local production involved getting adequate machinery and ensuring that the products enjoyed patronage among Nigerians.He said that at the moment many rice farmers still found it difficult to transport their products for consumers to buy and suggested that transportation facilities be improved to develop the rice sector.
He said that the situation in some rice producing states, such as Kebbi, was disturbing.“In the last harvest season, farmers attained very high yields of about seven tonnes per hectare, whereas the average yield is about 4.5 tonnes per hectare.“In the absence of off-takers for this bumper harvest, the state government indicated that it had invested N800 million to purchase over 180, 000 tonnes of rice for storage from local farmers,” Ekpo said.He said the government intervened to encourage the formers to continue working considering that Kebbi was the only one among nearly 20 states that could grow rice in commercial quantity.Ekpo said that in Jega and Yola-Augie only 20 per cent of 500,000 hectares of land available for rice cultivation was being used.“While we await the findings of the CBN staff and stakeholders visits to other states, the results from Kebbi State alone make it difficult to understand why the country is still depleting her foreign exchange reserves for importation of rice.’’ (NAN)

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 22nd June,2015 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine Min denies rumors of bad Thai rice to be sold in markets
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BANGKOK, 22 June 2015 (NNT) – The Ministry of Commerce has denied rumors that it will sell low quality rice for domestic consumption.
Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) Director General Duangporn Rodphaya responded to rumors that the government was considering supplying low quality grains to the animal feed industry and ethanol manufacturers. She said the government will only release good quality rice for human and animal consumption.
The DITP Director General added that only low quality grains will be sold to industries that do not produce human or animal food.
The amount of rice released will also be determined by the rice supply expected to be produced during the rainy season. The Ministry of Commerce has assured rice farmers that the release of government stock will not affect the market price.

Power cuts back as paddy season peaks

Farmers get promised 8-hr supply
Patiala, June 20
Unscheduled power cuts are being imposed in various cities since power withdrawal from the grid exceeded the scheduled withdrawal.
The demand for power is high due to rising temperatures and the ongoing paddy season. Officials of Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd hope for relief with the onset of the monsoon in the next few days.
They confirmed that the power supply had increased by more than 600 lakh units from 1,644 lakh units to 2,250 lakh units a day in the last five days.
The power supply in state has increased by more than 600 lakh units from 1,644 lakh units to 2,250 lakh units a day in the past five days.
The maximum hourly power demand met on last Sunday was 8,119 MW, which has now increased to 10,490 MW. As per daily report of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Punjab is withdrawing 1,170 lakh units against the scheduled 1,179 lakh units to maintain the grid stability as per norms.
“In case of excess withdrawal, power cuts are immediately imposed to keep balance. We are hopeful that rain in the next few days will help improve the situation,” said a PSPCL official.
The maximum demand expected by the CEA in August is 11,900 MW, but it seems that the demand is expected to cross this limit in the coming days.
Farmers, meanwhile, have expressed satisfaction that they are getting the promised eight-hour power for running tube wells for irrigating their paddy fields.
At present, all thermal units except the one at Ropar are running at full capacity along with three units in the private sector.
The total thermal generation on Friday was 911 lakh units. This included 408 lakh units from Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo thermal plants. The Ropar thermal plant generated 212 lakh units and Lehra Mohabbat 200 lakh units.
Will bring privilege motion against Dy CM: Jakhar   
Chandigarh: The Congress Legislature Party would bring a privilege motion against Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal in the next Assembly session for "misleading" the state on the issue of power. "In July last year, Sukhbir had claimed to make Punjab a power-surplus state within a fortnight. But even after a year, people are at the receiving end in the absence of regular power supply," said Jakhar. — TNS


Jun 20 2015 6:52AM

Description: Delayed rice-planting season expected to affect Thai GDP growth
Delayed rice-planting season expected to affect Thai GDP growth. Picture: Getty Images
A delayed wet-season planting is expected to weigh on Thailand’s weakening economic growth, agricultural officials said.
Planting is being postponed by one month in 22 provinces on the central Chao Phraya River basin, accounting for more than a third of all rice grown in the country.
“We are now surveying the area to determine the effect of drought to the agricultural economy,” Lersuk Rewtrakoonpaibul of the national Office of Agricultural Economics said.
The water level at a major reservoir feeding the Chao Phraya River is at only 8.4 per cent of its full capacity, and the rainy season is predicted to be light due to the El Nino climate phenomenon.
The central bank on Friday also cut this year’s gross domestic product growth projection to 3 per cent, from 3.8, due to weaker exports and domestic demand.
Thailand is one of the world’s top rice producers, accounting for 22per cent of global rice exports.
Description: Description:

            Cambodia priced out of Filipino rice tender again

Mon, 22 June 2015
Cambodia has lost a 100,000-tonne Filipino rice bid to Vietnam, on account of a higher costs as compared to regional competitors, marking the fourth time the Kingdom has failed to win a rice tender issued by the Philippines.
The Philippines National Food Authority last week awarded the tender to Vietnam Southern Food Corp based on its offer of $416.85 per tonne, a little higher than the reference price of $408.15 per tonne set during the tender, according to the Philippine Star.
Thailand’s offer was marginally higher than Vietnam’s, $417 per tonne, but Cambodia’s final bid of $455.50 per tonne was way above the reserve price. All three countries were asked to revise their initial bids after they were deemed too high by the Philippines.
Sok Puthyvuth, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said that despite being costlier than neighbouring countries, $455 a tonne left exporters with little or no profit and was the best price they could offer given the circumstances.
“The problem is our paddy rice is already expensive when collected for milling, and the cost of processing to export was higher than that in neighboring countries,” Puthyvuth said.
CRF committees, he said, are working to bring down processing and transportation costs and hoped to be more competitive during the next bid.
“We are looking at short-term solutions, like cutting down service costs in the value chain, such as port fees, and in the long term to increase efficiency in rice processing among the millers and rice productivity among the farmers,” he said.
High production prices and the poor quality of agro-inputs, such as fertilisers and insecticides, affected Cambodia’s competitiveness, said Srey Chanthy, an independent economist. He added that high energy costs and use of outdated technology at processing plants also impacted rice prices.
“There is need for a mechanism that supports, facilitates and improves the whole value chain of Cambodia’s rice sector,” he said.
But as long as Cambodia could make up for these low margins with higher profits from other high value export destinations, Chanthy said, it was worth bidding for future Filipino tenders.
The 100,000 tonne bid comes weeks after 150,000 tonnes was also procured from Vietnam on June 6 for $416.8 per tonne, taking the average cost of the entire 250,000 tonnes to $412.8, according to the Philippine Star.
Ken Ratha, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, could not be reached for comment yesterday.


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Govt to redesign rice-for-poor
Fadli, The Jakarta Post, Batam | Archipelago | Sun, June 21 2015, 9:31 PM
Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said on Sunday that the government would redesign its rice-for-the-poor (Raskin) program following a recommendation from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which has detected irregularities in the implementation of the program.
Playing down reports that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would completely remove the Raskin allocations, the minister asserted that the government aimed to only reorganize the program, which has been running for 17 years.
“Tomorrow [Monday], President Jokowi and Vice President Jusuf Kalla will lead a limited Cabinet meeting to formulate the reorganization of the Raskin program for 2016. Currently, we receive too many reports of rice that is unsuitable for consumption or rice that contains gravel, and improper rice distribution. This redesign is based on a recommendation from the KPK,” said Khofifah on the sidelines of her visit to a State Logistics Agency (Bulog) warehouse in Batam on Sunday.
The minister denied, however, that the antigraft body’s recommendation followed indications of corruption in the program, claiming the irregularities were related more to the amount and quality of rice distributed.
“I haven’t yet seen any indication [of corruption] that would lead the KPK to issue this recommendation,” said Khofifah.
The minister added that the government had allocated Rp 18.9 trillion (US$1.4 billion) for the 2015 Raskin program. The Social Affairs Ministry has the authority over budgetary allocations for the program, while Bulog is assigned to distribute the rice to local administrations, which in turn distribute it to the public.
“By redesigning the program, we will correct its implementation. Rice for the poor must be suitable for consumption. It should be distributed to targeted beneficiaries in proper amounts and in a timely manner,” said Khofifah.
In 2016, she said, the Raskin program’s funding would involve local administrations from the provincial to the regency levels, allowing the program’s budget to be spread more evenly. (ebf)(++++)

Drought may cut N. Korea's 2015 rice harvest by 12 pct: FAO

Published : 2015-06-20 16:07
Updated : 2015-06-20 16:07
A severe drought may reduce North Korea's rice harvest by 12 percent this year from a year earlier, a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. showed Saturday, warning of the worsening food shortage in the communist country.

The recent FAO report put North Korea's rice production at an estimated 2.3 million tons for this year, compared with the country's rice harvest of 2.6 million tons a year earlier.

The estimated production may be less than the average amount of rice produced annually over the past five years, it added.

About one-fourth of North Korea's total 544,000 hectares of rice paddies are being affected by the drought, the report also noted.

The drought may also eat into the country's production of double crop products, like potato, wheat and barley, according to the report, which put the estimated amount to 277,000 tons this year.

North Korea's North Hwanghae province, which accounts for a majority of crop production, is sustaining severe damage from the drought, the report said.

The North's Korean Central News Agency reported earlier this week that the country has been suffering from the worst drought in 100 years, raising concerns about food shortages. (Yonhap)



Written by Bettie Johnson/
 Published: 22 June 2015
Monrovia - Rice is Liberia’s staple food but the production of the essential commodity has not been prioritized by the government resulting in more importation of what is consumed as local farmers lack the capacity to produce sufficient food to feed the country. At a three-day conference exchange of System Rice intensification between Anglophone Countries, the chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Fofi Bimba disclosed that the government of Liberia spent over two hundred million on the purchasing of rice in the country.

“Rice, I called it a wonder crop; it is Liberia’s staple food and we spent over US$200 million dollars yearly buying rice from all places including Bangladesh”, he stated. The Lofa County lawmaker said it was frustrating that Liberia will be buying rice from Bangladesh, a country that has over 10 million populations and has less space to live than Liberia.

“As for me I go around to the stores, I went to SWAT, UCI and all I see is labels of rice production all from foreign countries and I really feel bad”, the lawmaker expressed. He continued:” These countries that are exporting rice do not have a land space but they plant rice and this is disgraceful to this nation.” Representative Bimba called on the three branches of Government to collaborate in building the capacities of farmers to produce more rice to feed the nation.

“We in Government, the Judiciary, Legislature, Executive, we need to have a deliberate agenda that will enable us to produce more rice to feed ourselves and we must be deliberate about it”, the lawmaker suggested.” The House chairperson on Agriculture further commended CHAP and FED for empowering farmers in producing rice. He recalled that farmers have been trained to plant rice but they lack empowerment from the Government stating that the Liberian Government lacks interest in farming.

“We are still teaching farmers to plant rice; when will they produce rice for the country in increasing the yield of rice, we need to target our production and support the agencies that will move from planning to production if not we will be doing left-right like in the army”, he added. Rep. Bimba added: “Producing more rice will reduce importation, rice farming is very expensive so we need our Government to provide subsidies for rice farmers as it is done all over the world”.

He continued: “If you buy the rice you will help to subsidize the farmers, we need to be determined to plant and produce rice for this country making sure you empower the people bit and pieces, remember one who feeds a nation controls the economy, the laws and controls your entire activities and events.” For his part, the head of CHAP (Community of Hope Agriculture Project) Rev. Robert Bimba said the importance of the conference is geared toward showing the good things that Liberia has done in the SRI program.

“It was very successful, we are happy for the level we have reached and now we have thousands of farmers that have started rice production, there is increase of yield in the production, increasing production, we are using the available varieties in the country, the SRI is not a rice but a method that is used to make any kind of seed rice to grow perfectly.”

Meanwhile, the coordinator of West African Agricultural Productivity program (WAAPP), Cyrus Saygbe said the program is experimenting to increase rice production. “Today, we try to upscale a technology that has been adapted by Liberia, this technology was adapted from Mali and it is System of Rice intensification, wherein we used a little bit of water, little bit of fertilizer to get more rice from a hectare”, said Saygbe.

He disclosed that the conventional method used to give them 1 to 2 metric tons per hectares but since the establishment of the SRI, farmers are now boosting 4.5 metric tons to 5 metric tons per hectares.

Central region farmers dare not protest

  • 20 Jun 2015 at 15:59 5,126 viewed23 comments
A farmer checks water for his rice fields in Ayutthaya. (Photo by Sunthorn Pongpao)
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AYUTTHAYA/CHAI NAT — Resigned to their fate, farmers ordered to delay or suspend rice planting say they will not protest or demand relief or compensation from the government for fear of being arrested.
Agriculture Minister Pitipong Phuengboon Na Ayudhaya confirmed earlier this week that the military government would not compensate central region farmers who had been asked not to grow a second crop because of a severe water shortage.
He said the government had no budget for the purpose, adding that the ban might be lifted if normal levels of rain returned by late July.
He also said that the amount of water in northern dams was not enough for farmland irrigation. As a result, farmers in the central region are under a lot of pressure.
"We don't know what to do. We're struggling already to live from hand to mouth. Yet we can't protest as we could be arrested. We're on our last legs now," said Kwanchai Mahachuenjai, vice-president of the Central Region Farmers Club.
"We dare not protest because we fear the law," he said at his farm in Ayutthaya on Saturday. "If there's anything we can still ask, it's that if the government can't give us any compensation, at the very least it should suspend our debts for three years with no interest and find us new borrowing sources so those of us with some assets can borrow more."
The Agriculture Ministry said last week that reservoirs currently held only enough water to irrigate the 3.4 million rai of paddy fields already planted in the main rice bowl of the Chao Phraya River basin.
Farmers holding another 4 million rai in 22 provinces have been asked to delay planting until normal levels of rainfall return, expected around late July. Even then, a second crop would be out of the question, authorities have said.
Water levels at the country's major dams are critically low as rain has been below average so far this season, according to Thai Rath Online.
At the Pasak Jolasid Dam in Lop Buri, water was at a historically low level of 80.76 million cubic metres, or 8.4% of its capacity on Friday.
The discharge rate has been reduced to 1.2 million cu m per day from 4 million under normal circumstances, and strictly for consumption and not farming.
At the Chao Phraya Dam in Chai Nat, the discharge rate was increased by five cubic metres per second to 75 cu m/s to push back salty water at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. The water level above the dam was 5 centimetres lower.
If there is no rain north of the dam, the remaining water will last for 30 days, officials said.
Farmers in Chai Nat are feeling the brunt of the dry conditions, which have affected both those who have already started growing rice and those who haven't, since most owe money to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and farm cooperatives.
Pisit Kratkrayang, 51, a farmer in Muang district, said that when the Royal Irrigation Department announced that it would bring water to his area on May 1, he started ploughing in the hope of earning enough income from the crop to repay what he owed the BAAC.
"My rice is now a month old. If the irrigation water stops coming, we'll be in deep trouble," he said.
"We're already indebted for not being able to grow the second crop. If we can't farm the main crop, we'd like the government to compensate use at the rate of 2,500 baht a rai of the actual farmed fields."
Narong Narod, 64, also in Muang district, said he too was running out of options.
"My rice fields are at the end of an irrigation canal and there have been no signs that any water will come," he said.
"The government has asked us to suspend growing rice since the 2014 main crop and I have had to borrow several tens of thousands of baht from cooperatives. Now we are being asked to suspend farming again and I don't know how I can repay my debts.
"Please compensate us and suspend our debts. Please feel sympathetic toward us. Would government officials be able to live if their salaries were suspended for a full year?" he asked rhetorically.
"Compensation and debt suspension might help but personally, I don't want it. I'd rather have water to farm my land."
A barren rice field in Chai Nat. (Photo by Chudate Seehawong)
This watergate in Ayutthaya no longer has anything to hold back.