Tuesday, July 28, 2015

28th July (Tuesday), 2015Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

The Trans-Pacific Partnership issues in-depth
 7/26/15 6:16 PM EDT
There are hundreds if not thousands of issues to resolve within the nearly 30 chapters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, which would cover more than 40 percent of world economic output. Here are some that have received the most attention:
Autos — The United States has a 2.5 percent tariff on cars and 25 percent tariff on trucks; Japan has no tariffs on vehicles. However, the American Automobile Policy Council, which represents Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, says regulatory and tax hurdles effectively make Japan the most protected and closed automotive market in the world. U.S. negotiators have secured a commitment to phase out the 25 percent tariff on trucks over the longest period allowed for any product in the TPP — a way to counter any move by Japan to put long phase-outs of import tariffs on sensitive agricultural products. But for the past two years they have also been engaged in a negotiation aimed at dismantling “non-tariff barriers” that Japan has erected to U.S. auto exports. Japanese automakers produce all of the trucks and 71 percent of the vehicles they sell in the United States at their plants in North America. They argue Detroit-based automakers only have themselves to blame for their lack of success in Japan by offering cars larger than most Japanese consumers prefer. Meanwhile, both U.S. and Japanese automakers have interests in Malaysia, a booming auto market with significant restrictions on imports.
Story Continued Below
Currency — The White House beat back an effort in Congress to put a provision to require enforceable rules against currency manipulation in a bill to fast-track the passage of trade agreements. Still, the legislation makes addressing the concern a principal U.S. negotiating objective — the first time that has been done. If the TPP fails to include a meaningful currency provision, the pact could be subject to a disapproval resolution stripping away its “fast track” protections, making it open for amendment and subject to filibuster in the Senate. Ohio Sens. Rob Portman, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, have been out front in calling for enforceable currency rules, as have Democratic lawmakers from Michigan such as Rep. Sander Levin and Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
Dairy — A complicated four-way dance is going on in the dairy negotiations, and right now everyone is waiting for Canada to make its move. U.S. dairy producers were opposed to the agreement when it only included New Zealand, the world’s largest dairy producer, but came around when Canada and Japan, two substantial dairy markets, joined the negotiations. Now, as trade officials head to Maui, it looks like Japan is prepared to strike a deal on dairy products, although some concerns over access to its butter market remain. But so far, Canada has not put a meaningful dairy market offer on the table, leaving U.S. producers to fear they could lose more from the final agreement than they gain. That’s a problem for congressional approval because, as one lobbyist observed, “every senator has a cow in their state.”
Geographical Indications — Many common names for cheese, such as parmesan and asiago, originated in Europe, and in recent free trade agreements, the European Union has tried to lock up rights to use the names for its own producers. The U.S. dairy industry fears that could hurt its exports and wants safeguards against that practice in the TPP. However, some countries such as Canada, which is currently part of the TPP talks, and South Korea, which could join in a second tranche, have already signed free trade pacts with the EU that contain protections for geographic indications.
Government Procurement — Many countries restrict access to their public works contracts, reasoning that domestic firms should be the main beneficiaries of taxpayer-funded projects. The United States allows some “Buy American” preferences for its own companies but generally has an open market and has pushed for more access to foreign government procurement through its free trade agreements. The issue is a sensitive one for Malaysia, which has had government procurement preferences to help ethnic Malays since 1969 and previously walked away from free trade talks with the United States over the issue. Many members of Congress from steel-producing states do not want to see any weakening of Buy American provisions under TPP, while Canada has sought more access to U.S. state and municipal projects funded by federal dollars.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement — Opponents of free trade agreements often point to the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism as one of their concerns. The provisions allows companies to sue host governments for actions that damage their investment. Critics say it undermines the right of governments to regulate in the public interest, while proponents say it is a necessary protection against discriminatory and arbitrary government action. Australia refused to include an ISDS provision its 2005 free trade pact with the United States, possibly because the United States refused to provide more access for Australian sugar. Australia more recently said it would consider the issue on a case-by-case basis and included ISDS in its free trade pact with South Korea but not with Japan, both of which it concluded in 2014. The United State has ISDS in all of its free trade pacts except the one with Australia.
Labor and Environment — Labor groups have been some of the harshest critics of free trade agreements, arguing they keep wages low in the United States by encouraging companies to move production overseas in search of a cheaper workforce. Environmental advocates worry about damage to critical natural resources as result of increased trade. Neither group has been assuaged by the administration’s promises that the TPP will be the “most progressive” trade agreement in history. While final details are still secret, the pact is expected to contain enforceable labor and environmental provisions. However, some lawmakers have urged that countries such as Vietnam be required to comply with labor and environmental provisions of the pact before receiving any of its market access benefits.
Pharmaceuticals — This issue pits Washington’s desire to provide profit incentives for American pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs against critics who say overly restrictive patent and clinical test data protections drive up the price of generic medicines and potentially limit the ability of countries to define their own national intellectual property standards. Recent U.S. free trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, Panama and South Korea have provided five years of “data exclusivity” for patent holders. Another protection, known as patent linkage, was made voluntary for the three Latin American countries but mandatory for South Korea. It requires regulators to check for potential patent violations before approving a new generic drug for manufacturing. The United States has been pushing for 12 years of data protection for “biologic” drugs, the same as contained in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, but is alone on that position. Both Canada and Japan provide eight years of data protection for biologics in their own laws while five years is the norm for many other countries. The advocacy group Médecins Sans Frontières has warned 12 years of data exclusivity for biologics would “limit access to medicines for at least half a billion people,” but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch has pushed hard for the lengthy term.
Pork — When Japan sought to exclude a long list of “sacrosanct” agricultural commodities from complete tariff elimination under the pact, no one screamed their opposition louder than the National Pork Producers Council. A year later, the group’s efforts seem to have to worked, and the pork industry appears largely satisfied with the Japanese market access package as final negotiations near, although officials have some remaining concerns that they say need to be addressed in Maui. U.S. pork producers are also excited about the deal with Vietnam, a fast-growing country of 90 million people where rising incomes are expected to boost meat consumption in future years. Iowa and North Carolina are the top pork-producing states, but production is spread throughout the Midwest and reaches as far south as Texas.
Rice — Japanese consumers eat more than 130 pounds of rice each year, about four times U.S. levels, but very little comes from outside the country. Because rice cultivation is so closely associated with the national identity, the government uses a combination of strict quotas and high tariffs to ensure picturesque rice paddies remain in the Japanese landscape. U.S. rice producers still hope for expanded export opportunities, but if the United States is stingy with Australia on sugar it’s harder to press Japan on rice. Arkansas is the biggest rice producing state, with sizeable production in Louisiana, Texas and California.
State-owned enterprises — Companies directly or indirectly owned by governments play an increasingly large role in international trade and often are dominant players in their own markets. Japan Post, a state-owned conglomerate that operates a wide variety of businesses, including post offices, banks and an insurance division, ranks 23rd on Fortune magazine’s list of the 500 largest companies in the world. SOEs are responsible for an estimated 40 percent of Vietnam’s economic output and also play major roles in Malaysia and Singapore’s economies. TPP countries appeared to have largely agreed on a set of rules to “level the playing field” between state-owned and private firms, but a debate continues over which SOEs would be excluded from the disciplines.
Sugar — The U.S. government supports domestic sugar prices by restricting imports but typically has given free-trade partners some additional access to the United States. Not so with Australia, which got nothing on sugar in the free trade deal it struck in 2004. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has hinted the U.S. would provide some additional access this time around but in a way that would not jeopardize the sugar program, which benefits sugarcane farmers in Florida and Louisiana and sugarbeet growers in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington.
Tobacco — With U.S. cigarette consumption continuing to fall, American tobacco companies are eager for new markets to sell their cancer sticks, coffin nails or lung busters, as they are known on the street. Many anti-smoking groups argue tobacco should not even be included in free trade agreements, while farm and business groups counter that excluding any legal product sets a bad precedent. The issue gained prominence after Philip Morris used a bilateral investment treaty between Hong Kong and Australia to sue for damages stemming from Australia’s “plain packaging” law, which replaced familiar cigarette trademarks with graphic images of cancer victims. U.S. trade officials proposed to address the issue within the TPP by agreeing that measures taken to protect human, animal or plant life or health would not violate the agreement as long as they not disguised trade barriers. Washington also proposed requiring any TPP country to first consult with its TPP partners before challenging any tobacco control measure as a violation of the trade pact. Neither anti-smoking nor business groups were happy with the compromise. Malaysia countered with a proposal that would exempt tobacco-control measures from being challenged under TPP.
Textiles and Footwear — The United States imported $82 billion worth of apparel in 2014, including about $30 billion from China. Vietnam was second with more than $9 billion in sales to the United States and would be in a good position to grab market share from China under TPP pact because of tariff elimination. However, strict “rules-of-origin” are expected to limit Vietnam’s gains by requiring that any clothing be wholly assembled within the TPP countries to qualify for duty-free treatment under that pact. That means Vietnam could not import fabric from a third country, such as China, and use it to make clothing that qualifies for duty-free treatment. Some exceptions to that rule, in terms of a list of apparel products that are in “short supply” in the United States, are expected. Still, a significant loosening of the so-called “yarn forward” rule of origin poses problems for clothing manufacturers in TPP countries Peru and Mexico, who have adapted to the standard. Meanwhile, Boston-based shoe manufacturer New Balance also is worried about increased imports from Vietnam under the pact and has fought to maintain duties on a number of products lines it assembles at its facilities in Maine.

New molecule found in common rice disease could help in fight against HIV, ANU biologist says
Updated yesterday at 1:45pm
A new molecule discovered in a common rice disease could help in the battle against HIV, biologists have said.A team of international researchers found a new molecule seen in rice disease, bacterial leaf blight, has similar molecular mechanisms to that of HIV.Researchers found the rice plant's immune system is triggered by a molecule called RaxX, which is secreted by the disease.The disease is detrimental to rice crops across the globe, with half of the world's population reliant on the grain for food security.Bacterial leaf blight can destroy up to 80 per cent of a crop in some countries if it develops early.It is a little bit like a flu shot, each flu shot has a mixture which would most likely protect you to the next season flu and similarly these farms can grow rice plants which would most likely be resistant to the bacteria in the field.
Australian National University's Dr Benjamin Schwessinger
Australian National University researcher Dr Benjamin Schwessinger said the discovery may give insight into human health, as the "chemistry is similar to that of HIV entering human cells".He said the chemical properties of RaxX, a tyrosine-sulfated protein, have a wider significance than just rice diseases."Several major human diseases, for example HIV, involve tyrosine-sulfated proteins. The sulfation stabilises the molecules but its role in binding and cell entry is not precisely understood," he said."The new understanding could lead to the development of novel methods to block such diseases."Dr Schwessinger said the molecule "has never been seen before", and could boost crop yields and lead to more disease-resistant types of rice."We've realised that the type of molecule plays an important role in the immune response of rice plants," he said.
"The plant transfers water and nutrients into vessels and the bacteria normally clogs those up which leads to the death of the plant."It will now be much easier to develop containment strategies against the disease and breed more robust rice plants."
Some strains of rice are naturally resistant to the disease, which has given the team a clue as to what was affecting the plants.The team discovered the rice plant's XA21 immune system was triggered when the RaxX molecule was secreted by the leaf blight bacterium Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo).The team generated mutants of Xoo that did not produce RaxX and tested whether they triggered the rice immune response, which allowed them to isolate the Xoo gene that was creating the RaxX molecule.Dr Schwessinger said the modified proteins have a similar make-up to the HIV cells, however any application was "far off"."The proteins we recognised were modified and similar modifications were required for HIV to enter the human cells," he said."So if we look to future research of the molecular mechanism ... it could lead to insight to its application to HIV."
Dr Schwessinger said he hoped the research could help rice immunity and methods to produce more food in regions where it is needed."It is a little bit like a flu shot, each flu shot has a mixture which would most likely protect you to the next season flu and similarly these farms can grow rice plants which would most Description: Rice croplikely be resistant to the bacteria in the field," he said.The research has been published in the journal Science Advances.Topics: science-and-technologyaids-and-hivhealthcanberra-2600act
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Negotiators inch towards historic trade deal
Shawn Donnan, World Trade Editor
If the 12 trade ministers gathering at a beachside hotel and spa on the Hawaiian island of Maui this week to put the finishing touches on the Trans-Pacific Partnership live up to the confidence of their negotiators, the agreement could finally be sealed at the end of this week.For five long years negotiators from the US and other Pacific Rim economies have been labouring away at the fine details of a trade agreement of more than 700 pages and 29 chapters.
The TPP, which with the US and Japan includes two of the world’s three biggest economies, covers 40 per cent of the global economy. In scale alone it would be the biggest trade agreement the world has seen in two decades and the biggest regional agreement ever struck. As the economic backbone of US President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia and his strategic response to the rise of China it also has geopolitical ambition.Optimism that a deal can be finalised has grown in recent weeks after the US Congress handed the so-called “fast-track” authority the president needs to guarantee he can smooth the way through the legislature for the TPP.
The consensus view is that other countries have been withholding their final and best offers on any number of issues until that legislation, which restricts Congress to simple up or down votes on trade agreements, passed. Without it they faced the risk of any deal struck by the Obama administration being ripped up by the legislature.
But can the US and its partners really seal the deal?
Negotiators say they are within a whisker of a final agreement and quietly confident of an announcement when the ministerial meetings conclude on Friday. The US and Japan, the two biggest players, have all but completed their own bilateral deal over market access for everything from auto parts to beef and rice. The Obama administration is so confident it has notified Congress it expects this TPP ministerial meeting to be the last.Yet there remain enough sticky issues that ministers may still go home disappointed and have to reconvene in the heat of August for another attempt.Li Keqiang pushes for China-Europe investment treaty

China’s premier Li Keqiang has criticised investment flows between the EU and China as “hardly satisfactory” and made a strong appeal for the early conclusion of a bilateral treaty that would give Chinese companies a smoother path to acquiring European counterparts. 
“We are at the point where we can nearly touch the goal line, but the last stretch of any negotiation is always the most difficult,” Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, told his ministers on Friday.Inside the negotiating room the biggest remaining hurdles are to do with intellectual property and the patent protections afforded to new pharmaceuticals. Officials have also been working to adjust a controversial provision that allows investors to sue member countries for compensation and, critics say, circumvent local courts and potentially hinder governments’ ability to regulate.The most immediate threats to an agreement may be political, however.
Canada is under intense pressure to open up its highly protected dairy industry to outside competition from countries such as New Zealand, home to Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy company. But the Canadian government of Stephen Harper, which is facing elections in October and eager to avoid a political hit, has yet to even offer a proposal.*
That has prompted some in the US in particular to argue that Canada may have to drop out of the TPP. In a letter to the Canadian ambassador in Washington on Friday, US senators Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, two of the architects of the recently passed fast-track legislation, said their “support for a final TPP agreement that includes Canada is contingent on Canada’s ability to meet the TPP’s high standards.”We are at the point where we can nearly touch the goal line, but the last stretch of any negotiation is always the most difficult
- Shinzo Abe, Japanese prime minister
The Canadian government responded that it would not bow to any public bullying or what it has dubbed “negotiating via the media”.Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, is also facing a political scandal at home, and negotiators from other countries worry that his government may be too weak to make concessions on sensitive issues over state-owned enterprises and the country’s preferential labour laws for ethnic Malays.Even if a deal is struck in Maui this week it will have to be signed off by the 12 countries’ leaders and their various parliaments.But all of that will be moot if this week the gathering trade ministers do not live up to their billing.
*The article has been amended from the original to make clear that it is the Canadian government facing election
Vietnam's Jan-July rice exports dip 3 pct y/y-farm ministry
Mon Jul 27, 2015 3:49am GMT
HANOI, July 27 (Reuters) - Rice exports from Vietnam, the world's third-largest exporter of the grain after India and Thailand, are estimated to have eased 3.1 percent in the first seven months of 2015 from a year ago to 3.72 million tonnes, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.Revenue from the grain exports in the January-July period will reach an estimated $1.59 billion, down 8.3 percent from a year ago, the ministry said in a monthly report.Vietnam, could ship 5.91 million tonnes of the grain this year, down 6.5 percent from 2014, the Vietnam Food Association said, below the 6.3 million tonnes forecast by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Martin Petty)
 Rice sector wary of EU-Vietnam deal
Mon, 27 July 2015
As Vietnam and the European Union reach the final stages of negotiating a bilateral trade agreement, giving Cambodia’s neighbour zero-duty exports to the economic bloc, local rice millers and exporters have expressed concerns that the deal could hurt the Kingdom’s rice exports.Under the proposed EU-Vietnam Bilateral Free Trade Agreement (EU-V BFTA), the EU may import around 76,000 tonnes of rice, mostly husked and milled, from Vietnam at zero per cent duty, according to Oryza, an industry publication.Song Saran, president of Amru Rice (Cambodia), said he was concerned if the EU-V BFTA went ahead, as it would be a big crisis for the country’s rice industry.
“If it is materialises, Cambodia would face a big challenge to compete with Vietnam and it will lose certain market share,” Saran said.“In the short-term, it will limit growth in rice production and exports, as well as the investment needed to improve the sector,” he added.Currently, the European Union (EU) imports rice and other products duty-free from least developed countries under the Everything But Arms policy.Of the rice exports to the EU under this policy, Cambodia accounts for 22 per cent and Myanmar three per cent.If Cambodia needs to maintain or increase the 250,000 tonnes its exports to the EU, Saran said it will have to improve its production capacity and logistical services to remain competitive.
 “To get more volume, we need better expanding our dryer, warehouse, and reserve funds to purchase the rice paddy during the harvest, “he said, “Farmers should improve paddy production yield and quality.”To do so, Saran said, it require the government should provide financing to boost stocks of paddy for export with low interest, building the warehouse and dryer machines, reducing cost for farmers in rice farming, accessing the direct market among farmers and rice millers, and coordinating the cost reduction on transportation among trucking companies and exporters to explore the cost effective and reduce transportation fee.
According to David Vann, former senior advisor to Cambodia Rice Federation, starting this October the EU will import 10,000 tonnes of rice duty-free from Vietnam.“That is just the start and once the 10,000 tonnes quota is achieved, they would renew and would add more tonnage subsequently.

”Given the size of Cambodia’s exports to the EU – which is 60 per cent or 172,000 tonnes according to the Ministry of Agriculture – Vann said that it would be advisable to expedite diversification to other markets.Independent economist Srey Chanthy said that despite tough competition from Vietnam, Cambodia could increase focus on the niche market of fragrant rice – a variety that is not grown in Vietnam currently.“Cambodia should also double efforts to diversify to other Asian markets, like China and Malaysia, and Africa, which remains a much untapped destination,” he said. “That would drive us to be less dependent on the EU market.”IMAGE:A man unloads a bag of rice at an export warehouse in Phnom Penh earlier this month.Vireak Maihttp://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/rice-sector-wary-eu-vietnam-deal

Farmers in Phrae begin rice cultivation as a little rain resumes
Monday, 27 July 2015By  NNT
Description: http://www.pattayamail.com/images/news/2015-pic/July/27-07-10Far1.jpgDescription: http://www.pattayamail.com/images/news/2015-pic/July/27-07-10Far2.jpgDescription: http://www.pattayamail.com/images/news/2015-pic/July/27-07-10Far3.jpgPHRAE, 26 July 2015 - Farmers in the northern province of Phrae have begun rice cultivation after scattered showers were seen all over the area in the past several days, bringing in more water to agricultural lands and the Yom River. Water record at Huai Sak Station on the Yom River in Song District showed a height of 1.18 meters on Sunday (26 Jul) with the flowing speed of 14.42 cubic meters per second. Mae Yom Reservoir under the Mae Yom Water Distribution and Maintenance Project, with its longest concrete reservoir in Thailand, is receiving 16.5 cubic meters of water per second. Phrae Governor Sak Somboonto says that the drought disaster in the province has ended but it is still under the effect of an ongoing dry spell. Due to rain suspensions, 91,780 people in 37,200 households living in 62 subdistricts in eight districts have been affected. The shortage of rain has threatened 4,770 rai of corn plantations, 4,960 rai of rice plantations, and 100 rai of garden crops. A preliminary survey of the damage included 4.15 million baht loss of income.
Auction date for inferior rice stock postponed
July 27, 2015 1:45 pm
Commerce Ministry has delayed the auction date for inferior rice in its stockpile, from the end of this month to next month, allowing more time for officials to conduct a thorough survey and separate quality grains from inferior ones.Commerce Minister General Chatchai Sarikanya, he has ordered ministry officials, academics, the National Farmers Council, surveyors, rice sellers, and the Thailand Development Research Institute to inspect silos where government’s rice has been stored.These officials are to thoroughly inspect 1.29 million tons of the supposedly low quality rice in the ministry’s stockpile as well as estimating the cost of improving the grains for various purposes.
After the examination, the officials would determine whether the rice should be sold in smaller portions or as an entire silo. They would also separate inferior grains from the rice to be sold for public consumption.Auction winners have been told to strictly use these grains for particular purposes, the Minister said, adding that his ministry would later conduct follow-up inspections to make sure that the low-quality rice would not be sold for public consumption.Chatchai also disclosed that the auction of around 400-500,000 tons of quality grains scheduled for next week would go ahead as planned.

 Jul 27, 2015 |  Thaver
President of the Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) Zulfikar Thaver and committee members invited the officials of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) at Unisame house to seek their guidance and endorsement for final submission of proposals for rapid promotion and development of the micro, small to medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform (MoPD&R) at the SME Round Table Conference scheduled for 29th July 2015 at Islamabad.
The UNISAME chief welcomed Haroon Ahmed Khan general manager (GM), Muslim Raza deputy GM and Uzair Muhammad manager SMEDA and explained in details the requirements of the MSMEs mainly access to finance, allotment of land, technical help, uninterrupted supply of energy and raw materials and marketing support and last but not the least protection against miscreants and corruption. He said UNISAME is dispatching its proposals to Dr Faheem ul Islam member MoPD&R and copy to Prof Ahsan Iqbal federal minister for planning development and reform simultaneously for his consideration.
Thaver highlighted the features of the SME Policy which envisaged each and every aspect of SME promotion and development. It is a comprehensive plan for SME promotion and development on modern lines with scientific approach.The SME policy was prepared with the help of the stakeholders and covered the issues of finance, technical support for product
up gradation, modernization and standardization.The access to finance and facilitating the MSMEs sector are widely discussed and strengthening of banking. insurance and leasing systems are discussed thoroughly in the SME policy.For technical support the policy promised the setting up of an SME institute.The SME policy has emphasized the need for SME Export house, SME Fund, Venture Capital, Credit Guarantee and an SME specific bank.
The policy even promised an office for SME Ombudsman for redress of grievances.Thaver urged the MoPD&R to implement the SME policy in letter and spirit and also study the World Bank report prepared by Dr Salman Shah and his team for strengthening SMEDA to increase its scope and out reach.Secondly he stressed the need to facilitate the sector by making doing of business easy by removing all impediments and simplifying procedures, implementation of one window operation, availability of information centers at SMEDA offices, reduction of duties on raw and packing materials, promotion of innovative and import substitution industries, incentives for new entrants, subsidizing solar, wind and biomass devices for alternate energy and duty free imports of second hand tyres for alternate fuel.
Thaver emphasized the need to provide personnel and funds to SMEDA for projects for agro based industries.UNISAME participants pinpointed the need for increasing the limits of micro finance banks from Rs 500000 to 1 million to enable them finance the small entrepreneurs who are not financed by the commercial banks.Secondly the members also requested for removal of withholding tax (WHT) on banking transactions on non filers and requested for at least one years time to enable the non filers to become filers. The WHT on profits on bank savings account is also high and the members complained of double taxation, first on profits and then on withdrawal of profits which is unfair and unjust.Basically UNISAME members had their reservations on WHT itself which they said is against the norms of taxation and cannot be imposed in this manner.
Of course income tax is acceptable because it is on income but WHT on withdrawals is unfair because many a times it is not related to income and cannot be charged in this manner on each and every transaction.Haroon Ahmed Khan GM SMEDA said the sector deserves priority being the majority sector and the backbone of the economy and he would make his best efforts to impress upon the government to give priority to the sector.Muslim Raza Dy GM said he endorsed the demands of UNISAME for global marketing support for SME wares and work on war footings for the establishment of the SME Export House to inform, educate and promote SME products on the internet through SME galleries.Uzair Muhammad said SMEDA would sharpen its training tools for the sector and conduct training courses in Information technology, energy preservation and accounting systems.

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Agri economy may nosedive
Priti Nath Jha, TNN | Jul 26, 2015, 10.36PM IST
MUZAFFARPUR: State's agriculture economy may nosedive with farmers not receiving remunerative prices of their produce in absence of sufficient number of agriculture processing plants and drought conditions looming large on the one hand and non-payment of about Rs 365 crore from existing 11 sugar factories in the state going into gradual deficit on account of glut in sugar market, on the other. Fast changing climatic conditions have already damaged litchi and mango crops in the state and the prospect of a good kharif too has been marred by scanty rainfall. Director, state agriculture department, Dharmendra Singh, acknowledged that the rainfall during the current month is nearly 60% less than normal rain in the state.
Although, it is too early to say that Bihar is facing drought, farming has been definitely affected in rain-fed areas, he added. Informed sources said Bihar produces nearly 80 lakh tones of paddy every year, on an average. But only 8 lakh tonnes of paddy is being consumed by state's own rice mills. Producers have sold out their paddy only at Rs 800 per quintal to traders who have sent the entire stock to good quality rice mills outside Bihar. Definitely, there are rice hullers in every locality of the state being operated either with diesel or electricity but even villagers prefer to eat polished and branded rice produced by outside rice mills than that produced by local hullers. 

Madagascar to increase rice yield using Chinese hybrid rice
July 26, 2015
ANTANANARIVO: Like other rice farmers in Madagascar, 19-year old Patrick Razanakoto is hopeful of increasing his rice yield after using Chinese hybrid rice seeds.“I decided to use hybrid rice when I saw my neighbour’s yield,” Razanakoto told Xinhua in his hometown of Ambatondrazaka, 268 km northeast of Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo.“Before, I was only cultivating one hectare of land and harvesting less than two tons of rice. But I decided to increase the piece of farmland by renting additional three hectares and I now expect to harvest at least four tons of rice per hectare after I started using hybrid rice seeds,” the young farmer said.Razanakoto says “a better future for his family” is what has motivated him to increase his production.
”“My dream in life is to be rich like everybody else. After some years, my priority is to have my own land,” he said, adding that he would not wish to see his child suffering like him and wanted him to study and become a doctor.Razanakoto has rented three hectares from Matagri, a company that popularizes Chinese hybrid rice dubbed Weichu-903. It rents land to farmers in Ambatondrazaka, gives them seeds and fertilizers and also buys their paddy.According to Andre Ranaivoson, the head of Matagri, the company deals with two categories of farmers, with the first category comprising farmers with their own piece of land and the second comprising those who are facilitated with everything, starting with land.“We give them seeds, equipments and money.
After the harvest, both parties calculate their cost of production and deduct it from the profits,” Ranaivoson said.He said whereas one hectare of land will require 26 kg of hybrid seeds, it can produce between 8 to 12 tons of hybrid rice after 152 days of cultivation.Ambatondrazaka Regional Director of Agricultural Development Samuel Rakotondrabe told Xinhua the region has four varieties of rice among which Weichu-903 is the most appreciated by the farmers currently for its yields and taste.Rakotondrabe said during the 2014-2015 farming season, only 135 hectares of land in Ambatondrazaka were placed under hybrid rice cultivation.
A local chief, Jean Yves Ranaivonirina, told Xinhua Madagascar will no longer experience food insecurity challenges if all the 100,000 hectares of arable land in Ambatondrazaka, the country’s breadbasket, can be placed under hybrid rice.He noted that besides its good taste, the Weichu-903 rice variety could be cultivated at any time of the year, it has a higher yield and fetches more money on the market than the other rice varieties. A kilo of its paddy is one third more expecnsive than other rice varieties.Rice is the staple food in Madagascar. According to statistics from the National Instute of Statistics (INSTAT), most Malagasy households eat rice three times a day while a Malagasy consumes an average of 114 kg of rice per year.INSTAT notes that the country currently produces only 5.9 million tons of rice per year, which is below the required quantity for 22 million Madagascans. The low production has been attributed to use of poor quality seeds, lack of proper farming equipments and shortage of fertilizer. 

USA Rice, Members, Iraqi Trade Minister Talk Markets
Presenting market realities
AMMAN, JORDAN -- In a continued effort to keep U.S. rice competitive in the Iraqi market, USA Rice members met last week with the Iraqi Trade Minister and his staff to discuss requirements and expectations surrounding that country's public tender process.  Iraq imports
approximately 1.4 million MT of rice annually and the Iraqi Grain Boardpurchases nearly all imports via a public tendering process.
 The past year has seen both positive trade results, including a recent sale of 60,000 MT of U.S. long grain rice, but also frustration when U.S. tenders fail even while we remain price competitive vis-à-vis other South American origins.The meeting with the Trade Minister was intended to better understand the tendering process and the rationale for certain requirements contained in the tender documents.  In addition to USA Rice members and staff, USDA/FAS Minister Counselor for Iraq Ron Verdonk attended the meeting.  USDA and the U.S. Department of State have been extremely engaged and helpful to the U.S. rice industry as we try to gain reliable and consistent access to the Iraqi rice market.
 The U.S. team also reiterated a long-standing invitation for the Trade Minister and members of the Grain Board to visit rice country in the United States this summer.  The Minister has indicated that he will try to schedule a visit before September and USA Rice will develop an appropriate itinerary to accommodate the Minister's schedule.
 Contact:  Jim Guinn (703) 236-1474
Biting into Canada's Ethnic Communities                  
Chef Nick Liu
TORONTO, CANADA -- In an effort to make inroads with Canada's multicultural society, USA Rice is focusing recent promotion efforts here on a particular target market -- Chinese Canadians. USA Rice launched a media campaign aimed at this typically white rice consumer group to increase awareness, consumption, and sales of brown rice.  USA Rice educational materials were translated into Chinese, along with four Asian recipes developed by one of Toronto's hottest culinary stars, Chef Nick Liu. "Creating brown rice recipes for this campaign was a natural fit for me," said Chef Liu.  "I embraced the recipe development, adopting the same culinary approach I use for my restaurant's menu creations, which draws upon both my Chinese heritage and Canadian upbringing.  I combine Asian flavors with local ingredients to create delicious recipes where brown rice is a natural fit."The recipes and brown rice information were featured in nearly 50 articles and garnered three million media impressions in Chinese publications.  A recent grocery store audit here revealed that T&T, a popular Chinese supermarket, offers more than 35 products featuring U.S.-grown rice, six of which are brown rice.
 Contact:  Sarah Moran (703) 236-1457
Crop Progress:   2015 Crop 51 Percent Headed   
WASHINGTON, DC -- Fifty-one percent of the nation's 2015 rice acreage is headed, according to today's U.S. Department of Agriculture's Crop Progress Report

Rice Headed, Selected States 
Week Ending
 July 26, 2014  
July 19, 2015  
July 26, 2015
2010-2014 average
Six States

CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Preliminary):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for July 27
Net Change

September 2015
- $0.085
November 2015
- $0.085
January 2016
- $0.085
March 2016
- $0.085
May 2016
- $0.090
July 2016
- $0.090
September 2016
- $0.090

Good rainfall expands crop planting by 26%
By ET Bureau | 27 Jul, 2015, 04.40AM IST
Description: Rainfall in the past 24 hours was 45% more than average, reducing the total deficit since June 1 to only 5%, data from the IMD showed.Rainfall in the past 24 hours was 45% more than average, reducing the total deficit since June 1 to only 5%, data from the IMD showed.ET SPECIAL:
NEW DELHI: Heavy monsoon showers drenched crops in agriculturally significant central and northwestern India, bringing the season's total rainfall one percentage point closer to normal after four days of torrential rains. Rainfall in the past 24 hours was 45% more than average, reducing the total deficit since June 1 to only 5%, data from the India Meteorological Department showed. The weather office has predicted very heavy showers in parts of the country in the days ahead, which is likely to further reduce the rain deficit of the season. Unexpectedly good rainfall has encouraged farmers to expand the area under cultivation by 26% compared with last year, with strong gains in pulses and oilseeds. This is expected to reduce India's dependence on imports.

The weather office had forecast a 12% deficit in rainfall this season, particularly in July and August. While June rainfall was 16% more than normal, the monsoon dipped sharply in early July before it gained momentum again in the past week. Rainfall in the past seven days has been close to normal or higher, which will help paddy, oilseed, coarse grain, cotton and other crops. Parts of western India where crops were drying up due to weak rainfall received strong monsoon showers in the past week, helping the crops recover.

Economists and analysts say that going by current trends, this year's kharif production is likely to be higher than last year. This will reduce fears of food inflation, a key consideration for the Reserve Bank of India's approach towards interest rates. Numerical forecast models of the weather office indicate that rainfall is expected to remain higher than normal for the following week, which should further increase crop planting. Gujarat, western Madhya Pradesh and parts of west Rajasthan along with Jammu and Kashmir received heavy rainfall in the past few days.
However, southern India as well as the northeast saw muted rainfall in the past day. Rainfall in southern India has been 15% below the longterm average since the start of the monsoon season on June 1. North-west India, on the other hand has a 10% surplus rainfall, which should boost output because the region includes the key grain-producing states of Punjab and Haryana. Rainfall in West Bengal, a major rice producing region, has also progressed well, while it has picked up significantly in western Uttar Pradesh, which is also a major agricultural region, after a shaky start in June.
Nigeria: Dangote to Produce One Million Tonnes of Rice in Five Years
By Mohammed Shosanya
Lagos — President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has said that there is no going back on his plan to invest heavily in rice farming in five states in order to reduce the importation of commodity into Nigeria.Dangote, who spoke at a series of town hall sensitisation meetings between the management of Dangote Rice Farming Ltd and officials of the Jigawa State government and communities on the rice project, said he hopes to use the same as platform to become the leader in rice farming in the world and also boost the Nigerian economy, encourage self-sustainability and import substitution in rice.
The management team led by Alhaji Mohammed Bello who represented Dangote, said the company was set to reduce rice importation by investing to become the largest farmer in the world by 2020 with excess of 150,000 hectares of land spread around three to five states.A statement by the company quoted Bello as saying that Dangote Rice Farming Ltd will produce and sell one million tonnes of high quality parboiled rice within the next five years and at the same time support and develop other Nigerian rice farmers through an out-grower plan that will generate employment.He said state of the art equipment worth millions of dollars meant for the take-off of the rice project were being expected on a location in Kaffin Hausa local government area of Jigawa State.

Rice imports drop by 53% as prices rise
JULY 26, 2015 : IFE ADEDAPO 

Bags of rice
Description: Bags of riceThe volume of rice being imported into the country has dropped by 53 per cent in the last one month just as the price of the commodity has increased by over 20 per cent in the market, following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to place rice among 41 items not valid for foreign exchange. The CBN had last month warned banks and bureau de change operators against making available foreign exchange to importers of rice and 40 other items in a bid to conserve the hard earned forex and boost the production of those products.Already, the decision is beginning to take a heavy toll on the importers of the affected items and the general business environment.
In the case of rice, statistics from the Nigerian Ports Authority’s daily shipping position obtained on Friday revealed that out of 37 ships expected to berth at the seaport terminals between July 9 and August 1, rice was not included.The ships carrying other food commodities and other products are expected to berth at the APM Terminals, Apapa Bulk Terminal, GDNL, ENL, Lister, among other port terminals.It was gathered that since the beginning of the month, only one ship carrying about 34,000 metric tonnes of rice had berthed on July 2 at the ENL/GDNL Terminal.
But in May, the Lagos ports received a total of 71,630 metric tonnes of rice. The 34,000MT of rice for July, therefore, shows a decline of 52.5 per cent.Our correspondent gathered that rice importers were finding it difficult to import the product due to high cost of buying dollars at the parallel market for business.The value of naira had been depreciating for the past one month. And as of Thursday, the value of naira to dollar stood at N244.The Afrinvest Research, in its foreign exchange market review of the past week, stated that importers of items banned from accessing foreign exchange at the official market had continued to scramble for hard currency in the parallel market.It said, “We anticipate that the foreign exchange policies in Nigeria will affect local manufacturing companies that depend on the importation of some of the listed items for raw materials.
 This may further have some impact on growth rate and inflation in the third quarter of 2015.”In its circular released on the June 23, the CBN explained that the move was to encourage the local production of the goods and sustain the stability of the forex market.The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had threatened to sanction banks that flouted the directive and provided foreign exchange to importers of the banned products.Findings by SUNDAY PUNCH from various markets in Lagos and other parts of the country on Friday showed that the price of rice had continued to rise with a 50kg bag of the product selling for a minimum of N8,500, compared with N7,000 it was being sold at the beginning of the year.
A trader at Daleko Market, a major rice market in Lagos, Mrs. Folashade Adeleke, said that the price of the food commodity had increased due to the persistent clampdown by the Nigeria Customs Service on smugglers from the land borders.She said, “The Cotonou rice, which is smuggled into the country, is always cheaper and importers are forced to reduce their price in order to compete effectively. But since the border has been closed and customs officers are seizing the smuggled rice, the price of the product keeps increasing.”Adeleke said although she was aware about the existence of locally produced paddy rice, only Ofada rice had been widely accepted and currently being sold in the market.
The immediate Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, was reported to have said that local brands such as upland rice, lowland rice and fadama rice were available in Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Kogi states.The Food and Agricultural Organisation had predicted that Nigeria’s rice purchases would drop by 3.3 per cent from three million metric tonnes in 2014 to 2.9 million metric tonnes in 2015.

California rice farmers put water rights to work for environment
July 25, 2015 Updated: July 25, 2015 9:10pm

Photo: Michael Macor / Michael Macor / The Chronicle
Description: Top: Water from the Sacramento River flows in irrigation canals on the Davis Ranches in Colusa, which have some of the state’s oldest water rights. Photo: Michael Macor / Michael Macor / The Chronicle / ONLINE_YESTop: Water from the Sacramento River flows in irrigation canals on the Davis Ranches in Colusa, which have some of the state’s oldest water rights.COLUSA — Don Bransford drove one recent day past rice fields stretching to the horizon, over a water-filled slough and into the gravel parking lot of a historic 1894 brick ranch house once owned by a Sacramento Valley farming pioneer.To continue reading this story, you will need to be a digital subscriber to SFChronicle.com.
Rice, milk and cars stand in way of historic trade pact
Top trade officials from 12 countries scattered around the Asia-Pacific region will descend on the island of Maui for a week of meetings starting Friday.
27/7/15, 11:46 AM CET
Updated 27/7/15, 3:35 PM CET

The Obama administration is closer than ever on a breakthrough on the biggest trade deal in world history. But years of delicate negotiating could be undone by Canadian milk. Or Japanese rice. Or U.S. pharmaceutical patents.Top trade officials from 12 countries scattered around the Asia-Pacific region have descended on the island of Maui for a week of meetings, where they will sit in hotel conference rooms negotiating a free trade zone that would cover about 40 percent of world economic output.And while they could leave with a breakthrough deal, the talks could just as easily be blown up by petty and not-so-petty grievances over everything from cheese labels to auto tariffs.The administration sees the Trans Pacific Partnership as a major part of President Barack Obama’s legacy, and his top trade representative, Michael Froman has visited four countries and met with most of the others in Washington, D.C., over the past several weeks urging them to be prepared to close the deal.

The Republican Congress has already given Obama special trade promotion authority, which would allow him to push through the deal with a simple majority vote.But time is short, and there’s no guarantee of an agreement.Canada wants to protect its dairy and poultry producers and Japan, its rice farmers. American drug companies want other countries to adopt strong U.S. protections on a blockbuster new class of medicines called biologics, and U.S. automakers oppose giving Japan more market access. Canada and Malaysia are particular concerns because of difficult domestic politics that could make it more difficult for them to close in Maui, even if other countries are ready.If talks slip into next year, election-year politics could destroy any momentum and relegate the pact to another administration.“I think there’s limited time to try to conclude a deal,” said Tami Overby, senior vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “I think there is a political drop-dead date.

I don’t know what that date is and I won’t speculate on it. … But I do think there is one out there, and I think probably the administration is very focused on that and has worked backward.”The breathless pace is possible only because of the so-called “fast-track” bill, strongly opposed by most Democrats, labor, environmental and health-care activists who are critical of the trade deal.“The administration has indicated they want to wrap up negotiations in this round,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a staunch opponent of the agreement, told reporters. “My colleagues and I are here to say that is altogether too fast a schedule. … The agreement itself is riddled with problems. Congress, industry, advocates still have enormous concerns which the administration has done little or nothing to resolve.”Timelines built into the new trade promotion authority law require Obama to give Congress 90 days’ notice before signing any trade deal and to make the agreement public 60 days before signing. So the transpacific pact must be completed soon for Congress to vote on it before Christmas, the administration’s best-case scenario.
Still, U.S. trade officials have never closed a deal quite as complex as the TPP, which aims to establish the rules of trade for the 21st century and anchor the United States securely in the fastest-growing economic region of the world rather than cede it to an ever-more-dominant China.“It’s going to be some of the most interesting negotiations in diplomatic history,” said John Corrigan, who tracks the talks for the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, a group of companies active in the Southeast Asia region. “Certainly the most important trade deal in global commercial history, the most complex and the most forward-looking.

The proposed pact would update the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico and expand it to nine other countries that range widely in terms of economic development and political systems but share a desire for closer trade ties: These include two that fought bitter wars against the United States in the 20th century — Japan and Vietnam — as well as Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.Even before the deal’s details have been released, the TPP has stirred NAFTA-sized opposition, with labor, environmental and other activist groups preparing to fight the agreement, which could be headed to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote by the end of this year or early 2016 — just as the presidential primary season is getting underway.

Obama has promised the TPP will be the “most progressive trade deal in history” in terms of raising labor and environmental standards, especially in less-developed TPP countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Mexico. But opponents are skeptical it will make much of difference in those areas and say it will simply encourage more jobs to move overseas.“The ‘most progressive trade agreement’ isn’t much of a standard in our point of view,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told POLITICO this week. “It can be better than the others, but still not good enough. … Bad trade agreements lower wages. Bad trade agreements take jobs away.”Meanwhile, Congress is closely watching the final negotiations, demanding a pact that opens markets and expands protections for U.S. intellectual property while not harming politically important constituencies.

“I think [Froman] understands the hot spots for the people who support opening up markets and where he needs to go in order to get votes,” Rep. Pat Tiberi, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Trade Subcommittee. “I think he clearly understands that he can’t just come back with whatever” and win congressional approval.The final agreement could have 30 chapters covering an almost uncountable number of issues in areas including tariffs on farm products and manufactured goods, barriers to cross-border services trade, labor and environmental protections and the controversial intersection of drug patents and access to medicines. That’s bigger and more comprehensive than NAFTA, which had 22chapters, and the more recent U.S.-South Korea pact, which had 24.
Scientists discover rice plant's immune system trigger
Researchers say their discovery could help doctors better combat human diseases, too.
By Brooks Hays   |   July 27, 2015 at 12:02 PM
Description: Comments Description: share with facebookDescription: http://www.upi.com/img/clear.gifA new discovery could boost rice production, the world's most important grain crop. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI 
Description: http://cdnph.upi.com/sv/b/upi/UPI-8401438007966/2015/1/9606808d41ca7da4566e6b3a0b219170/Scientists-discover-rice-plants-immune-system-trigger.jpgACTON, Australia, July 27 (UPI) -- Researchers in Australia have isolated the molecule that alerts rice plants to the presence of bacterial leaf blight. The bacteria-secreted molecule, called RaxX, triggers the plant to turn on its immune system."We've discovered a new molecule that's never been seen before," Benjamin Schwessinger, an agricultural researcher at the Australian National University, said in a press release. "We've realised that this type of molecule plays an important role in the immune response of rice plants.
"Researchers confirmed the importance of molecule after studying the behavior of plants that have naturally developed more successful defenses against the disease. They found that the rice plant's XA21 immune system had evolved to recognize the disease's presence by seeking out the RaxX molecule.To confirm their work, researchers developed leaf blight bacteria mutants that failed to produce the key molecule. When exposed to previously resistant rice, the plants were unable to fend off the bacteria. Scientists were then able to isolate the gene that produces RaxX, a tyrosine-sulfated protein."It will now be much easier to develop containment strategies against the disease and breed more robust rice plants," Schwessinger said.
Rice makes up more than a fifth of the world's diet, feeding millions. Bolstering the crop against disease outbreaks could save rice growers millions, and better secure sources of nutrition for impoverished eaters.But researchers say their discovery could help doctors better combat human diseases, too."Several major human diseases, for example HIV, involve tyrosine sulfated proteins. The sulfation stabilises the molecules but its role in binding and cell entry is not precisely understood," Schwessinger said. "The new understanding could lead to the development of novel methods to block such diseases."The new findings were published in the journal Science Advances.
Agri export outlook not bright for India
Competing countries’ depreciating currencies put them in an advantageous position even as India refuses to adopt tech advances in agriculture
By: Tejinder Narang | July 27, 2015 12:24 AM
The trend of a rise in agri and allied exports in the last five years has reversed—such exports fell by 8.5%, from $33 billion in 2014 to $30.1 last year—though the decline has been somewhat stemmed by higher beef and meat products exports, up by $500 million. It simultaneously reflects policy paralysis in the Indian agriculture sector as well as the redundancy that has set in for most processes due to the march of technology. Is this tumble because of the global fall in prices of commodities, almost by 20-25%? No, not fully.
Globally, the demand for agri-commodities continues to expand. But India has lost ground in many traditional markets to competing economies such as Brazil, Argentina, France, Russia and Ukraine.The depreciation of currencies of many rival countries, the poor yield of Indian agriculture, inflexibility due to the government’s tight control of the sector, etc, are some factors for this dismal performance. The fall in exports of major agri items has been precipitous, to the extent of 50% in some cases.
The continuing fall in crude oil prices due to the conflict in West Asia, the inevitable entry of Iran and the ample US-shale oil output is likely to trigger price compression of ethanol and other bio-fuels, which in turn will cause a reduction of consumption of corn and soya. That trend will continue to aggravate, causing values of agri-commodities like wheat, sugar, oil meals and vegetable oils, to bottom out.Add to this mix the currency depreciation scenario in many countries. Thanks to the Greek crisis, the euro is already weak and will continue to remain so or weaken further—even a dollar-euro parity (1:1) is being speculated. The Russia-Ukraine conflict and the falling crude values create more their respective currencies. Brazil’s real will fall further as it struggles to ensure export consistency of its humongous crops of soya and corn to service the weakening power of China. These factors portend India will remain out-priced in near future.
In the short-term, a downward bias will prevail internationally for agri-commodity prices, unless there are major droughts or environmental issues. Even under relatively volatile conditions, the world will produce more agri-commodities with the improvement  in sowing/ harvesting/ irrigation/ fertiliser technologies and the growing usage of GM seeds. To meet the competition owing to global changes and turbulence, India has to introspect on its macropolicy for agriculture. The motto has to be “more crop per drop”, and that ethos concerns each unit of power, fertiliser and technological investment.
Description: Gr12However, the current scenario lends itself to diverse views. Do we need to focus wheat and rice production which is tied to dedicated procurement for 7%-8% farmers? Should we keep importing about 14 million tonnes of edible oil, with annual increments of 1 million tonnes?  Are we to continue with the import of pulses, given our demand stands at 5-6 million tonnes with outlook of only increasing? Should we to shed our aggression in oil meals export, where the decline is 52% in FY15, over FY 14? Can we afford to keep our soy output unchanged at the 10-11 million tonnes we have been seeing for the past 5 years? Should our maize/corn production remain at 23-24 million tonnes while Brazil’s output has jumped to 80 million tonnes from 50 million tonnes in the last five years? Is the government-controlled pricing of sugarcane, irrespective of market forces, sustainable? Will more yield per hectare spur exports?
Should we continue to impose custom duties on items which are cheaper abroad to protect our domestic inefficiencies and outdated policies? India has become a high-cost agri market. Even Pakistan and Bangladesh, that hitherto sourced oil meals from India, have shifted to oil meals of South American origins despite the logistical disadvantage.Green revolutions have happened when India either kept pace with world’s scientific developments or adapted them.The introduction of high-yielding varieties of Mexican wheat seeds, as per Norman Borlaug, the renowned American scientist, with increased use of fertiliser and irrigation technologies, was responsible for average yields hooting up to 3 tonnes/hectare from less than 1 tonne. Hybridisation of paddy by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, led by scientist VP Singh, enabled India to improve the quality and yield of basmati rice. Lower yields mean sub-optimal use of land, labour, inputs and other natural resources. Reduced output is responsible for lower income and lower economic growth, leading to stress in the economy.
There appears to be congenital apathy in India for GM crops, which are now widely grown in the US and South America. China is the largest importer (74 million tonnes) of GM soyabeans. But India keeps thwarting agricultural progress by stalling on introduction of GM crops. This supports vested interests in agricultural, industrial and political circles. Why is a fair cost-benefit analysis not being carried out for GM crops? Can we stand as an isolated island when it comes to modern agricultural practices? If some modifications in the policy are to be introduced for induction of GM crops, let these be deliberated upon. On the one hand, we are one of the biggest consumers of imported GMO soy oil and cotton seed oil. On the other, we still don’t permit these crops to be planted in our country. Is this pure hypocrisy?
As the economy grow, we will need more corn, soy, pulses, wheat, rice, edible oils, sugar, etc. Unless we don’t come up with the right blend of policy, we may soon turn importers rather than be a producer and exporter.
First Published on July 27, 2015 12:20 am
New GM rice can cut greenhouse emission: Scientists
Contributed by TYLER OWEN on July 27, 2015 at 8:57 am
Indian labourers plant rice paddy cuttings in a field on the outskirts of Amritsar on June 16, 2015 … With less carbon in the roots, there is less raw material for the microbes to work on, the researchers explain. As a result, the world’s rice paddies emit between 25 million and 100 million metric tons of methane every year.In order to reduce the greenhouse effect buildup and offer more food to the world, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has engineered a “high-starch low-methane-emission rice” capable of producing a strong yield in an ecologically friendlier manner, by making the roots smaller and grain bigger. They also took measurements of starch content in the plants’ stems, roots, and seeds. It was especially effective during the summer, he says, when it cut methane emissions to 0.3 percent, compared to 10 percent of the control rice plants’ emissions.
The decrease in emissions was lesser in the autumn though the researchers say the GMO rice still reduced the methane output by 50-percent. The longest part, though, will be breeding a new variety of rice that is the same as the GMO rice, but that can be sent to farmers to be planted and harvested.Moreover there are still biological and environmental concerns regarding the possibility of genetically engineered strain spreading in the wild, as GM rice has not been approved for commercial cultivations anywhere in the world. Without more trials, Bodelier wrote, it’s hard to know how the genetic modification impacts the rice cultivar’s long-term chances for survival.
The reduction in carbon going into the soil, then, means there is less for microbes to convert into methane.In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bruce Linquist, a plant scientist at the University of California at Davis, echoed Bodelier’s sentiment.But rice? This grain is so important to human nutrition that it is second only to corn in its volume of production.Even if further trials prove the efficacy of the modified rice, it faces huge hurdles in order to become commercially viable.Modifying the genetic makeup of the rice was fairly simple. Golden rice – a genetically modified strain of rice that contains beta carotene to combat malnutrition in developing countries – was ready for full-scale use in 2002, but has faced staunch opposition that has kept it from market for over a decade.
They maintain that have found a solution to the growing-population-climate-change conundrum, however. The rice plant itself acts as a conduit, transmitting methane from the soil into the atmosphere. Yet it turns out to be one of the chief sources of methane emissions on the planet, according to a study published July 22 in the journal Nature.Scientist new rice variety with starchier grains
Scientist new rice variety with starchier grains – FreeDistrict

Breakthrough discovery for lowering arsenic in rice

By Jenny EagleJenny EAGLE
Related tags: Rice, Processing, Food Standards Authority
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have made a breakthrough discovery in lowering levels of arsenic in rice.
Paddy rice is the carbohydrate staple of half the world yet it is the main source of exposure to the class-one, non-threshold carcinogen inorganic arsenic (Asi). International and national bodies are in the process of setting standards for inorganic arsenic in rice due to the fact sub-populations are exposed to levels that are associated with negative health consequences.

US legal standards

The UN WHO has just set, in 2014, advisory levels of Asi in polished (i.e. white) rice grain at 0.2 mg/kg, while the European Union and the US is in the process of setting legal standards for inorganic arsenic in rice based products.As part of the study, researchers at Queen’s tested two methods of percolating technology, one where the cooking water was recycled through condensing boiling-water steam and passing the distilled hot water through the grain in a lab setting, and one where tap water was used to cook the rice in an off-the-shelf coffee percolator . Both approaches proved effective, with up to 85% of arsenic removed from a variety of different rice types and brands, including wholegrain and white.The scientists concluded a shop-bought coffee percolator is the best method for removing the carcinogen, inorganic arsenic, from all types of rice, including white and wholegrain.
Andy Meharg, professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, Queen's Institute for Global Food Security said the breakthrough discovery is significant as offers an alternative to decreasing inorganic arsenic in the diet.
In our research we rethought the method of rice cooking to optimise the removal of inorganic arsenic and we discovered by using percolating technology, where cooking water is continually passed through rice in a constant flow, we could maximise removal of arsenic,” he said.

Heart disease, diabetes & nervous system damage

Chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic can cause a range of health problems including developmental problems, heart disease, diabetes and nervous system damage.
However, most worrying are lung and bladder cancers. This breakthrough is the latest example of the commitment of researchers at Queen’s to changing lives and advancing knowledge that will have a lasting impact around the globe.”
Queen’s is now seeking a patent for the development of a bespoke rice cooker based on a percolation system.Rice has, typically, 10 times more inorganic arsenic than other foods and according to the European Food Standards Authority, people who eat a lot of rice, as is the case in many parts of the developing world, are exposed to worrying concentrations. Children and infants are of particular concern as they eat, relatively, three times more rice than adults – baby rice being a popular food for weaning – and their organs are still developing.Market rice was purchased from major UK retailers in the city of Belfast, or purchased online through UK retailers. Of the 41 samples tested in the study, two were generically labeled as being from the EU, 11 from Spain, six from Italy, five from Thailand, five from France, two from Egypt, one from Japan, one from Australia, one from Lebanon, one from Pakistan, one from Turkey and five from the USA; with 13 being unpolished (wholegrain) and the rest polished.

Description: This Cooking Method Helps Get Rid of Arsenic in RiceThis Cooking Method Helps Get Rid of Arsenic in Rice

Cooking rice in this surprising household appliance could significantly cut down on the staple’s arsenic levels.(Image via AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

High levels of arsenic in rice shouldn’t scare you away, scientists say, because they’ve found a way to flush most of the toxin, the journal Nature notes. Researchers for the study in Plos One acquired 41 rice samples from at least a dozen countries and dumped them into either a lab-built contraption that condensed steam and produced fresh, distilled hot water or into a regular old coffee percolator with a filter, where the hot water dripped onto the uncooked rice (and then back out of the rice). 

The results: The coffee percolator-cooked rice got rid of half its arsenic, while the steam device got rid of up to 85% in some cases, depending on whether white rice or whole-grain rice was used, per the study. These findings could affect countries that consume lots of rice and even infants who eat rice-based cereals, as high arsenic levels in food have been tied to cancer.  The way rice is produced contributes to why the product can have up to 10 times the arsenic levels of other foods: The water present in the flooded paddies where rice is grown can shake up inorganic arsenic found in the soil and infiltrate the plants, UPI reports.

The study’s leader notes this technique is simply a short-term fix for people who don’t want to wait for longer-term solutions like revamping rice-growing processes and cultivating strains that contain low levels of arsenic, perNature. He also doesn’t expect everyone to start firing up their coffee machines whenever they want to make jambalaya—he’s really hoping this method may lead to better rice-cookers down the road. “We just took something that’s in everybody’s kitchen and applied it to show a principle,” he tells the journal. (Arsenic has been found in water, apple juice, and even beer.)


Scientists create starchier, low-methane rice

At the other end of the plants, the grain was starchier than conventional rice, increasing the food yield of the plants. And the new rice variety emitted less than 10% of the methane of conventional rice, they reported.Rice paddies are the largest single source of methane linked to human activity, with organic dump yards and cattle belch producing the rest.“The altered allocation resulted in an increased biomass and starch content in the seeds and stems, and suppressed methanogenesis, possibly through a reduction in root exudates”, the team concluded. Though methane lives for a very short time in atmosphere that carbon dioxide (CO2), the most abundant greenhouse gas, it absorbs and radiates more heat from the earth’s surface. In 2002, a study noted that the rice plants, which carried more grains tend to emit less methane.
In an essay in Nature that accompanied the study’s publication, Paul Bodelier, a researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology who was not directly involved with the study, called the findings “a tremendous opportunity for more-sustainable rice cultivation”, but cautioned that large-scale trials are necessary before moving forward with full-scale commerical use.The decrease in emissions was lesser in the autumn though the researchers say the GMO rice still reduced the methane output by 50-percent. This could be because more carbon going into rice grains left less carbon to go elsewhere.It is estimated global rice production puts between 25 million and 100 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere each year. Carbon that is unused usually gets released into the soil, which escapes into the atmostphere as methane.
Description: kham-reutersIn an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bruce Linquist, a plant scientist at the University of California at Davis, echoed Bodelier’s sentiment. Far fewer methane-producing bacteria hugged the roots of the new rice.But the fact that this rice is genetically modified could prove to be a sticking point in introducing it to farmers and the general population.Charles Rice of Kansas State University in Manhattan recently contributed to a 2014 IPCC report on mitigating climate change.There is some concern, however, about the environmental impact of genetically modified foods.
But attempts to reduce emissions from paddies have focused on changes in farming practices, which can be onerous and expensive. Since the low-methane strain of rice isn’t bred to be herbicide or pesticide resistant, this most likely won’t be an issue with this particular strain – though the way that its root-system interacts with microbes in the soil is something to
Rwanda: Locals to Use Rice Husks for Energy
By Michel Nkurunziza
Government will soon start generating energy from rice husks as part of push to absorb greenhouse gases and as a strategy to fight deforestation.The 'Rice husks to power project' is being implemented in Nyagatare District to produce green energy.Bright Ntare, the programme manager of National Climate Fund (FONERWA), said the project is among 17 climate change adaptation projects under implementation in the country.Speaking on the sidelines of the South-South meeting in Kigali last Thursday, convened to discuss financing climate compatible development, Ntare said the projects are being funded by FONERWA at a tune of Rwf22 billion.
The three-day meeting drew experts from Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Peru and Rwanda to discuss different funding alternatives for projects initiated to mitigate effects of climate change in developing countries.It was organised by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) in collaboration with Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).Participants said green technologies by private investors need funding to avail renewable energy in rural areas.
Ntare said the 'Rice husks power project', whose implementation started last year, could be ready in two months.Ankush Chhabria, the managing director of Novel Renewable Energy, (the implementing firm), said the produced energy will be connected to national grid.The pilot project will produce 70 kilowatt per hour and could be rolled out to other areas of the country next year, he explained."When the husks are left in the soil by farmers and rice millers, they emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that contribute to climate change but once the power machinery is completed in two months... .the ash from the processing will be distributed to farmers as a fertiliser," Chhabria said.

The company has signed a contract with rice millers for the distribution of husks. Under the technology, husks are burnt in well-constructed facilities and machinery that finally store the gas into clean energy for use.A part from funding public institutions, FONERWA also gives innovation grants and credit line funds that focus on research and technologies to private sector investors.Ellie Marsh, who works with global development advisors from Switzerland, noted that there is need to create opportunities for private sector, build investors' confidence and foster public participation into adaptation mechanisms to develop such technologies in developing countries.She also stressed that implementation and sustainability level of the climate plans needs to be strengthened. http://allafrica.com/stories/201507270515.html

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