Tuesday, August 04, 2015

4th August (Tuesday),2015 Daily Exclusvie ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

USDA Post Forecasts India MY 2014-15 Rice Exports to Reach Record 11.7 Million Tons Due to Stable Prices, Strong Export Demand

Aug 03, 2015
USDA Post forecasts India's MY 2014-15 (October - September) 11.7 million tons, up about 15% from the previous year and about 15% from USDA's official estimates of around 10.2 million tons. 
The Post reportedly based its forecasts on the continued higher than anticipated exports in the second half of the marketing year. It says stable domestic prices coupled with continued strong demand for export demand have fueled Indian rice exports since the beginning of the marketing year.
According to the available preliminary data, India exported around 9 million tons of rice as of June 30, 2015, about 1.6 million tons higher compared to rice exported during the same period last year. Middle East, Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka accounted for most of the exports during the 9-month period. However, it anticipates exports in MY 2015-16 to decline to around 10 million tons due to anticipated tighter domestic supplies.
Above average rains have been supporting the planting process of the India main rice crop. According to the government data, Total area planting to India's 2015-16 Kharif (main) rice crop (June - December) stood at around 22.8 million hectares as of July 31, 2015, up about 6% from around 21.5 million hectares planted during the same time last year.
Planting of long-grain Basmati rice in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, as well as rice in coastal Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu will continue until the end of August or early September. The Post expects basmati area to decline this year due to relatively weak prices last year. 
Assuming normal rainfall levels during August, Post continues to forecast MY 2015-16 production at 104 million tons from an acreage of 44 million hectares. However, deficient rains in August and September may lower the current forecast, while sufficient and well distributed rains during the next two months may improve the production prospects, says the Post.
The government of India procures around 31.6 million tons of rice in KMS 2014-15 (October - September) compared to around 31.3 million tons last year. The Post expects Indian government to procure around 32 million tons of rice during the marketing year against a target of around 35.109 million tons. 
The Post reports that domestic prices have eased since June 2015 due to sufficient supplies from rabi (winter planted) rice harvest and weak domestic demand. Satisfactory planting of MY 2015-16 rice crop is likely to keep prices steady in the next couple of months according to the Post. However, price movement during MY 2015-16 will depend on the harvest prospects of the upcoming crop and international price movement, says the Post.

USDA Post Forecasts Australia MY 2015-16 Rice Exports to Decline Sharply Due to Low Production

Aug 03, 2015
USDA Post estimates Australia MY 2015-16 (March - February) rice exports to decline about 25% to around 300,000 tons from around 400,000 tons last year due to an expected decline in production following water shortages. Normally, in a non-drought year, Australia exports nearly 80% of the nation's rice output. 
However, the Post estimates MY 2015-16 imports to remain stable at 150,000 tons.
Australia mostly imports fragrant rice varieties such as basmati rice and Jasmine rice from South Asia and Southeast Asia. The following table shows the details of imports of rice into Australia:
The Post forecasts Australia MY 2015-16 production to decline about 4% y/y to around 500,000 tons due to water constraints. However, the Post's forecasts are above USDA official forecasts at 425,000 tons. It expects harvested area in New South Wales (NSW) to remain stable while that in Queensland is expected to increase. 
Though the Bureau of Meteorology expects average summer rainfall, actual access to water
entitlements will not be apparent until mid-October during the rice planting season. Last year, rice growers could access only 40% of their entitlement because of demand from other quota holders with more assured access.  
Australia mostly grows medium gain rice along with some short grain Japonica varieties, and imports long grain varieties. The Australian rice market is supplied with both domestic production of medium grain rice and with imports of all types if rice, mainly from Thailand, India and Pakistan. According to the Post, demand for rice in Australia is comparatively mature and stable. 
The Australian rice market is highly regulated and rice can be grown on approved soils such as heavy, clay soil that minimizes seepage into water tables, and only one-third of each farm can be planted with rice to better allocate available water.
Global Rice Quotes
August 4th, 2015

Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade   375-385                ↔
Vietnam 5% broken        335-345                ↔
India 5% broken               385-395                ↔
Pakistan 5% broken        345-355                ↔
Myanmar 5% broken      400-410                ↔
Cambodia 5% broken     425-435                ↔
U.S. 4% broken                 470-480                ↔
Uruguay 5% broken        535-545                ↔
Argentina 5% broken     530-540                ↔

Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken      350-360                ↔
Vietnam 25% broken      325-335                ↔
Pakistan 25% broken      315-325                ↔
Cambodia 25% broken   410-420                ↔
India 25% broken             350-360                ↔
U.S. 15% broken               445-455                ↔

Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd     375-385                ↔
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd          415-425                ↔
India parboiled 5% broken stxd                 375-385                ↔
U.S. parboiled 4% broken             555-565                ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken          545-555                ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken    NQ         ↔

Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%   860-870                ↔
Vietnam Jasmine             485-495                ↔
India basmati 2% broken              NQ         ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken       NQ         ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails     835-845                ↔

Thailand A1 Super            320-320                ↔
Vietnam 100% broken   310-320                ↔
Pakistan 100% broken stxd          285-295                ↔
Cambodia A1 Super        350-360                ↔
India 100% broken stxd                 305-315                ↔
Egypt medium grain brokens      NQ         ↔
U.S. pet food     325-335                ↔
Brazil half grain NQ         ↔
All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel, oryza.com

Myanmar Plans to Temporarily Suspend Rice Exports to Stabilize Prices During Floods

Aug 03, 2015
Myanmar rice exporters have decided to suspend rice exports until September 15, 2015, as part of efforts to avoid price hikes during floods, Bangkok Post quoted the Vice-Chairman of the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).
The MRF official noted that the exports would be suspended until rice from the ongoing crop is harvested at the end of the rainy season in September. "This will help stabilize the rice price as rice is the primary food for Myanmar people, and the price always rises in such time of troubles," he was quoted as saying.
According to local sources, rice prices have increased sharply in some flooded area such as Chin and Rakhine and the MRF and other rice trader groups are planning to send rice to flood-affected areas later this week.  
Last week, the Secretary-General of the MRF noted that exports are unlikely to be affected by floods. However, the temporary suspension of exports is understood to be useful to ensure food security in the country as well as to curb price hikes. 
According to  the UN's FAO, average wholesale rice prices in Myanmar have reversed in July 2015 after increasing for past seven months. The increase was attributed to increased exports and falling stocks in the country. However, the government clarified that stocks in the country were adequate to meet the domestic demand.
The MRF expects a paddy output of around 14 million tons (around 8.96 million tons, basis milled) in 2015. The government has been targeting to export around 2 million tons of rice this year after exporting about 1.8 million tons of rice in FY 2014-15. 
USDA estimates Myanmar to produce 20 million tons of paddy rice (around 12.8 million tons, milled basis) and export around 2 million tons of rice in MY 2015-16 (January - December 2015). 

Italian Farmers to Adopt Sustainable Rice Growing Methods to Overcome High Temperatures, Water Problems

Aug 03, 2015
The Italian rice sector is facing severe problems with highest temperatures being recorded in this July. Local sources say this July has been the warmest of the last century with temperatures nearly 6 degrees higher than the average of the last thirty years. Added to the high temperatures, lack of significant amount of rain for last one-and-half years has led to a decline in availability of water for irrigation purposes.
  Especially low water levels in the rivers Po and Dora Baltea which bring water to the Channel Cavour is a major cause of concern. The Channel Cavour, which is 85 kilomerters long, mainly distributes water from the area of Turin to the rice growing plains. Despite falling water levels in the Channel Cavour, sufficient levels in Lake Maggiore have been providing a respite to the rice growing sector by guaranteeing irrigation. Levels in Lake Maggiore have been above 1.25 meters above zero hydrometric until first week of July. However, lack of rains are expected to deplete water levels in the lake.
Not only rice sector other agricutural crops are also at risk. Therefore, on last Thursday, July 30, 2015, the trade unions of all agricutural provinces in Novara,Vercelli and Pavia, including Coldiretti and Cia Confragricoltura gathered at the headquarters of Irrigation Consortium Est Sesia (East of Sesia river) to discuss about the grave situation. They have reportedly agreed to start adopting newer rice growing methods such as dry seeding to sustain rice production.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Prices Slip Slightly with Futures Dip

Aug 03, 2015
The U.S. cash market was slightly weaker today with more sellers showing up to the market given the drop in the futures market. Most farmers have are still hoping to net $11.11 per cwt fob farm (about $245 per ton) although buyer interest is roughly $1.00 per cwt (about $22 per ton) below that level.
In the meantime, the USDA estimates that as of Aug 2nd,  63% of the crop had headed which was 6% ahead of this time last year and 4% ahead of the previous 5-year average. As of now, the USDA estimates that 65% of the rice crop in Arkansas had headed compared to , 25% in California, 94% in Louisiana, 81% in Mississippi, 58% in Missouri, and 84% in Texas.
The USDA estimates that 70% percent of the crop in good to excellent condition, which was 1% better than last week and 1% worse than this time last year. As of now, the USDA estimates that 73% of the crop in Arkansas is in good to excellent condition compared to, 80% in California, 59% in Louisiana, 74% in Mississippi, 61% in Missouri, and 53% in Texas.

Private Players to Support India's Rice Procurement Process in KMS 2015-16

Aug 03, 2015
The government of India is planning to involve private players in the rice procurement process for the 2015-16 kharif marketing season (October - September) in some states in order to address inadequate storage facilities, according to the Economic Times.
Based on the recommendations of the high-level committee of the state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI), the Union Food Ministry has reportedly finalized the procurement policy for the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam. According to the policy, the Ministry seeks to take support of private players in these states.
A Union Food Ministry official noted that though these five states contibute to around 40% of the country's rice production, procurement in these states in very minimal. 
Since Bihar and West Bengal have a decentralized procurement policy (DCP), they would be permitted to engage private players either independently or on behalf of state agencies. In DCP states, FCI is not involved in procurement. States procure food grains on their own and supply to the PDS. Any surplus grains left out would be transferred to the Central Pool. However, in non- DCP states, normally FCI carries out the procurement process. But it can engage private players if needed. They will be selected through tenders.
The government of India is planning to procure around 30 million tons of rice in the 2015-16 kharif marketing season (October 2015 - September 2016). It is planning to procure around 2.7 million tons from Uttar Pradesh, 2 million tons from Bihar, 1.8 million tons from West Bengal, 300,000 tons from Jharkhand and 50,000 tons from Assam in KMS 2015-16.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI), the nodal agency for food grain procurement and distribution has procured around 31.518 million tons of rice as of July 15, 2015 in KMS 2014-15 (October 2014 - September 2015), down about 1% from last year, according to data by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution. The Indian government is targeting to procure 35.109 million tons of rice during the KMS 2014-15.     

Delayed Harvests and Procurement May Prompt Indonesia to Consider Rice Imports in 2015, Says USDA Post

Aug 03, 2015
The government of Indonesia (GOI) requires the state logistics agency Bulog to maintain a minimum secure stock level of 2 million tons by the end of the year. In order to boost domestic procurement, the GOT reorganized the Bulog in early June 2015. Accordingly, the Bulog's domestic procurement target has been set at 4 million tons (instead of normal 3.2 million tons) in line with the statistic agency's expected production increase.
In Indonesia, typically, first paddy crop cycle commences between October to February, followed by second paddy crop cycle between March to June, and third paddy crop cycle between July to October. However, in MY 2014-15, planting for first crop was delayed until mid-December due to water shortages and consequently due to delay in first harvest, Bulog began domestic procurement only in March 2015. The second and third harvests are also likely to be delayed consequently.
As of June 2015, Bulog procured only 1.5 million tons, down from 1.7 million tons it procured last year. In order to meet its procurement target, Bulog needs to procure about 2 million tons from farmers during the second harvest period (July-August 2015). Post notes that this target is quite ambitious as Bulog could procure only 1.2 millon tons last year under better weather conditions. 
The Post expects that at the current government prices (HPP), Bulog may find it difficult to meet its procurement target as inflation and the delayed harvests may push paddy prices above the HPP. Farmers may find it more lucrative to sell to private traders. Therefore, the Post says even if Bulog tries to meet its procurement target, the GOI may have to consider imports to maintain Bulog's stocks at their prescribed levels.
The Post is waiting for the government's estimations on the second harvest. Meanwhile, a moderate to strong El Nino is likely to hit Indonesia in November 2015, when the planting for 2015-16 first crop begins.
The BPS forecasts Indonesia's MY 2014-15 paddy rice production to reach a record 6.7% y/y increase to around 75.6 million tons from a total harvested area of around 14.4 million hectares. The government is keen on achieving self-sufficiency in rice production over the next three years and is planning to avoid imports this year.   

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Fall in Afternoon Trading as Market Faces Technical Resistance and as Grains Turn Negative

Aug 03, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Sep delivery settled 12 cents per cwt (about $3 per ton) lower at $11.395 per cwt (about $251 per ton). The other grains finished the day lower; Soybeans closed about 0.5% lower at $9.3525 per bushel; wheat finished about 0.1% lower at $4.9900 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 1.3% lower at $3.7625 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded lower on Monday, the first day of trade for August, as investors eyed economic data amid a renewed decline in oil and overseas news. Sharp declines in oil weighed heavily on stocks as U.S. and Chinese economic data indicated slowing demand. The energy sector fell more than 1.5% as the greatest decliner in the S&P 500. The ISM manufacturing data missed expectations, coming in at 52.7 versus the 53.5 forecast. The data was scheduled to be released at 10:00 a.m. but reports surfaced before the opening bell. In Europe, the Athens stock exchange opened nearly 23% lower after reopening for the first time in five weeks, recovering some earlier losses to trade around 16% lower in the close.
Asian stocks closed lower amid falling energy prices and a two-year low on the final read for the Caixin China purchasing manager's index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down 164 points, or 0.93%, at 17,526. The S&P 500 traded down 13 points, or 0.61%, at 2,091, with energy leading nine sectors lower and utilities the only advancer. The Nasdaq traded down 31 points, or 0.60%, at 5,097. Gold is trading about 0.8% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 4.1% lower, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading at about 0.1% higher at about  1:45pm Chicago time.
Friday, there were 1,553 contracts traded, down from 1,775 contracts traded on Thursday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Friday decreased by 24 contracts to 8,815.

Thailand Rice Sellers Lower Some of Their Quotes Today; Other Asia Rice Quotes Unchanged

Aug 03, 2015
Thailand rice sellers lowered their quotes for high quality rice, 100%B grade, by about $5 per ton to around $375-$385 per ton today. Other Asia rice sellers kept their quotes mostly unchanged.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $365 - $375 per ton, about $30 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $335 - $345 per ton. India 5% rice is indicated at around $385 - $395 per ton, about $40 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $345 - $355 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice is shown at around $350 - $360 per ton, about $25 per ton premium on Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $325- $335 per ton.
India 25% rice is indicated at around $350 - $360, about $35 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $315 - $325 per ton.
Parboiled Rice
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $380 - $390 per ton. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $375- $385 per ton, about $40 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice was last  shown at around $415 - $425 per ton.
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, is indicated at around $320 - $330 per ton, about $10 per ton from premium on Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $310 - $320 per ton. India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $305 - $315 per ton, about $20 per ton premium on Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $285 - $295 per ton.

USDA Post Estimates Argentina MY 2014-15 Rice Exports to Decline on Low Production, Stiff competition

Aug 03, 2015
USDA Post estimates Argentina MY 2014-15 (April 2015 - March 2016) rice exports at around 450,000 tons, down about 3% from last year and down about 24% from USDA's official estimates of around 590,000 tons due to an expected decline in production. The Post reports that traders are facing difficulties in selling Argentine rice abroad because of high local prices and stiff competition from Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and the U.S. For example, Paraguay lately has displaced Argentine rice from Brazil and Bolivia.
Argentina's paddy rice production in 2014-15 is estimated to be the lowest in 6 years. USDA Post estimates Argentina's MY 2014-15 paddy production at around 1.25 million tons, down about 12% from last year and down about 22% from USDA's official estimates of around 1.615 million tons due to an expected decline in harvested area. 
The Post estimates Argentina's MY 2014-15 paddy harvested area at around 205,000 hectares, down about 9% from last year and down about 15% from USDA's official estimates of around 242,000 tons. The decline in acreage is due to very tight returns (in many cases negative), low farm prices, and large unsold stocks. Planting for main season begins in October-November. Expected rainy and cloudy spring season is expected to negatively impact yields.  

USDA Forecasts Bangladesh MY 2015-16 Rice Imports to Decline Sharply on High Domestic Supplies, Import Duty

Aug 03, 2015

USDA Post estimates Bangladesh MY 2015-16 rice imports at around 600,000 tons, down about 51% from an estimated 1.22 million tons last year due to expected high domestic suppleis and the 10% duty on rice imports that was imposed in May this year to curb cheap Indian rice imports that generally constitute the largest proportion of the import market. USDA Post estimates Bangladesh's MY 2015-16 total rice acreage and production at around 11.8 million hectares and 34.8 million tons. Assuming a normal monsoon, the Post expects Aman rice seedling production to progress as scheduled.The Post reports that the government procured around 942,932 tons of rice from the domestic market in FY 2014-15 (July-June) and as on July 21, 2015, the government rice stocks stood at around 1.09 million tons. The government planned to procure one million tons of Boro milled rice and 100,000 tons of Boro paddy rice between May 1 - August 31, 2015. The Post reports that high imports of cheaper rice and strong domestic production have led to an increase in domestic supplies and consequently low prices. The following figure shows rice prices in Dhaka and Gazipur. While the government is planning to continue to allow aromatic/fragrant rice exports, it is still not permitting exports of non-fragrant rice. However, it recently permitted for the export of non-fragrant rice to Sri Lanka. 

3rd August (Monday),2015 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Study: Modified Rice Sharpley Curtails Methane Emissions

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 9:51am
Andy Szal, Digital Reporter
Rice engineered with genes from barley could substantially cut the amount of methane released during rice production, according to research by Swedish scientists.Conventional rice grown in flooded paddies secretes carbohydrates that feed bacteria, which in turn produce methane — a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.Scientists worry that those methane emissions could be problematic as the world attempts to address climate change. Rice is a staple food for millions and could be critical to feeding a growing global population.The study published in the journal Nature, however, found that the modified rice produced less than 10 percent of the methane from conventional plants in a laboratory and in field tests.

Researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences transferred the barley genes in an effort to produce starchier crops while generating smaller roots that contribute to methane emissions.Scientists said more research is necessary to evaluate the results from entire rice paddies, but a Dutch microbial ecologist wrote in Nature that the study "represents a tremendous opportunity for more-sustainable rice cultivation."Despite its promise, the modified crop would need to overcome ongoing concerns about GMOs among governments and consumers alike. Modified rice currently is not sold anywhere across the globe.


Judge Decides on GM Rice Retraction

Ethical breaches in a study on the benefits of so-called “golden rice” lead to the paper being pulled from the literature.

By Kerry Grens | August 3, 2015
Description: Description: http://www.the-scientist.com/images/Nutshell/August2015/golden%20rice%20full.jpgWIKIMEDIA, INTERNATIONAL RICE RESEARCH INSTITUTEA Massachusetts judge has ruled in favor of a journal’s decision to retract a paper on a type of genetically modified rice. The study’s lead author, Guangwen Tang of Tufts University, previously asked for an injuction against the publisher, who yanked the study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition because the researchers did not comply with certain ethical guidelines.

According to the retraction notice, posted online July 29, “The authors are unable to provide sufficient evidence that the study had been reviewed and approved by a local ethics committee in China in a manner fully consistent with NIH [National Institutes of Health] guidelines.”Tang and her colleagues tested how well a genetically modified rice, called golden rice, could provide children with β-carotene. They found that the rice was just as good as a β-carotene supplement and better than spinach.According to a Tufts spokesperson who spoke with Retraction Watch, no one is questioning the validity of the data. The problem instead lies in how the study was conducted—in particular, a lack evidence that all participants gave full consent. Tufts investigated the situation in 2012.

“There was no evidence found of falsification or fabrication of the data that underlie the study’s primary findings,” according to the spokesperson. “Those reviews did, however, determine that the research had not been conducted in full compliance with Tufts research policies and federal research regulations.”The Clerk of the Massachusetts Superior Court last month (July 17) posted a notice, which Retraction Watch subsequently shared, about Tang’s denied request. “The requested order would be an unconstitutional Prior restraint on speech as well as an unconstitutional order compelling speech.”According to ScienceInsider, “Adrian Dubock, executive secretary of the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board in Switzerland disputes that there were any ethical irregularities and argues that the retraction is not warranted.”


Wild Beauty: Winning Ecology Photos Feature Sunbirds and Zebras

by Elizabeth Palermo, Associate Editor   |   August 03, 2015 07:05am ET
 The winning photos from a recent ecology photo contest prove that Mother Nature is always ready for her close-up.In one photo, a small bird sucks nectar from an exotic flower. In another, a zebra munches vividly colored grass. And yet another photo captures a tiny beetle displaying its impressively shaped antennae. These are just a few of the snapshots taken by ecologists all over the world and submitted to this year's BioMed Central (BMC) Ecology Image Competition.
The winners of the annual contest were recently announced online. Only researchers affiliated with a university or other research institution were eligible to submit photos, and the portraits had to fit into one of five categories related to ecology, or the study of how living things interact with one another and their environments. This year, the journal BMC Ecology invited a guest judge to select an overall winner for the contest. Ana Porzecanski, director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, helped decide which photo would nab a cash prize of $400 and land a spot on the BMC Ecology website, as well as its print publication.

Description: Description: Description: bmc photos, waterlilies in madagascarThe journal's editors chose the contest winners in each of the five ecology-related entry categories, which were: behavioral and physiological ecology; conservation ecology and biodiversity research; community, population and macroecology; landscape ecology and ecosystems; and theoretical ecology and models.The award for best overall photo went to Mohamed Shebi, an ecologist in the Department of Plant Protection at Suez Canal University in Egypt. His photo of a Palestinian sunbird sucking nectar from a thistle plant impressed Porzecanski, who told BMC the image was "truly gorgeous" and that it represented a part of the world (Saudi Arabia) that is "underappreciated in terms of its biodiversity."It was hard for the judges to pick just one runner-up for the overall best-picture category — so they picked two. One of the winning photos was taken at a garbage heap in Guwahati, India, the last refuge for greater adjutant storks, the world's most endangered stork species.

The photo, taken by Dhritiman Das of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment in India, depicts humans and storks foraging for resources right alongside one another, amidst heaping piles of debris.The other runner-up was a photo taken at Cipó National Park in southeast Brazil. The photograph shows a small carpenter ant sucking nutrient-rich nectar from a Coccoloba cereifera, a rare shrub that is a favorite food of leaf-loving animals. The ant's presence on the leaves of this shrub keeps hungry herbivores at bay, demonstrating a unique, symbiotic relationship between insect and plant, said the photographer, Daniel Wisbech Carstensen, a researcher in the Department of Botany at I-UNSESP in Brazil.BMC's competition yielded many other stunning images, as well. A beautiful beetle with magnificently arching antenna took first prize in the behavioral and physiological ecology category. The insect's impressive headgear helps it sniff out a mate, according to the man who took the photo, Bernardo Segura from the Universidad de Chile.

Other winning images included a tray full of different varieties of rice. Pritesh S. Roy from the Central Rice Research Institute, in India, took the photo to draw attention to the fact that many traditional varieties of rice are being lost because of a lack of research attention. The novel traits and genes that some rice varieties possess could help ecologists develop better crop-improvement programs, Roy told BMC.Two adorable baboons also made the cut in the "Editor's pick" category. The photo, taken by Catherine Markham, an anthropologist at Stony Brook University in New York, shows one juvenile baboon eating while a fellow baboon checks out the snack. A solitary zebra won first prize in the community, population and macroecology category. In that photo, the animal stands, munching grass, near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Taken by Julia Spaet of the Red Sea Research Center in Saudi Arabia, the photo depicts the relationships among the zebra, the grass and the climate.
Image: Waterlilies offer an interesting contrast to Baobab trees in Madagascar.
Credit: Kathryn M. Everson

AP millers promise normal supply of rice

Rice mill operators from Andhra Pradesh (AP) under the banner of the East Godavari District Rice Millers Association held talks with open market wholesale rice traders from the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Alappuzha here on Monday. Association leaders said the talks were aimed at instilling confidence in the traders that there would be normal supplies from AP during the Onam season.The association had decided to stop supplies to Consumerfed and Supplyco since the State government owned dues of more than Rs.100 crore to the millers of AP. But after meeting Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Sunday, the association decided to resume supply to Supplyco, but not to Consumerfed.

Special Correspondent
12,000 Small Farmers Trained – Engro Foundation Takes A Far-reaching Approach
12,000 Small Farmers Trained – Engro Foundation Takes A Far-reaching Approach | PakistanTribe.comKARACHI – Engro Foundation, the CSR arm of Engro Corporation, along with Engro Eximp Agriproducts, the Company’s rice processing business, has successfully concluded its System Productivity Innovative Rice Trainings (SPIRiT) project. The project was a first of its kind training program that has successfully introduced innovative and more effective rice-wheat farming techniques and technologies to smallholder farmers in five districts of Punjab.The project was supported by the TVET Reform Support Programme, which is funded by the European Union, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
This Programme has been commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.Using teams of agri-experts, trainers and mobilizers, the SPIRiT project trained 10,782 farmers & 1,644 agri-farm support persons in the areas of resource and water conservation, plant population management, improved harvesting & best crop management practices in the rice–wheat cropping system over a period of 20-months, from December 2013 to July 2015. The Project areas comprised of 40-50 villages in each selected pocket of Sheikhupura (Mureedke & Khanqah Dogran), Gujranwala/ Sialkot (Qilla Deedar Singh & Madiala Tigga) and Mandi Baha Uddin (Gojra). 
Teams worked with farmers in the field throughout the whole life cycle of both these major crops while conducting individual contact activities like farm visits and mass contact activities such as seminars, farmer meetings, demonstrations, group discussions, field days and briefings along with literature distribution
Description: Description: http://www.pakistantribe.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Agriculture-in-Pakistan.jpg. Farmers were introduced to innovative techniques such as Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR), Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD), Optimum Plant Population Management (OPPM), Zero-tillage Wheat Sowing and Quality Harvesting of Paddy. Another important component was to upgrade & install Rice-Harvesting Kits in the combine harvesters being used in the target area.  The project distributed 200 uniquely designed quality rice-harvesting kits that can be installed in the combine harvesters, facilitating quality harvesting of paddy with minimum harvesting losses. Other innovations introduced by the project on an unprecedented scale in Pakistan were the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) and Zero-tillage Wheat Sowing technologies.
To develop an enabling environment for sustainable proliferation and adoption of SPIRiT Project concepts even after the closure of the Project, 525 early adopter farmers were intensively trained to become anchors of the innovative farming techniques within their communities and continue training their fellow farmers.SPIRiT on-field training program has enabled smallholder rice farmers to boost productivity by 8%-15% per acre per rice season, while conserving 25%-35% water and agricultural resources along with other benefits like skill enhancement, improvement in farmers’ income & livelihoods. However, millions of rice farmers across Pakistan are still utilizing ineffective and outdated methods. The SPIRiT project concept holds huge potential to improve livelihoods and food security.

Indonesia bracing for worse impact of El Nino

 3 Agustus 2015 08:22 WIB |
Pewarta: Ahmad Wijaya

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The weather phenomenon El Nino has started to take toll in some parts of Indonesia. Harvest failures were already reported in a number of areas such as Lebak in Banten and haze from forest and bush fires caused breathing difficulty in Riau and Jambi Provinces. The worst is yet to come in October this year, the authorities said. "Strong El Nino could cause lengthy drought, harvest failure, forest and bush fires and outbreak of dengue, although it could also cause good fish harvest in certain areas," head of the Meteorology and Geophysics office Andi Eka Sakya said in a meeting headed by the coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Indroyono Soesilo here on July 28.
Worrisome warnings have been issued by US, Japanese and Australian meteorology or weather forecasting agencies as well Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics office.President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has also expressed concern with the unseen climatic monster to food security.The president called a special meeting of related cabinet ministers to address the problem. "We must take the threat seriously," the president said at the limited cabinet meeting attended by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, senior cabinet ministers, the national military chief Gen.Gatot Nurmantyo and police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti.Jokowi said El Nino is getting stronger between August and December causing drought in wide areas.
"Drought already hits Java, Sulawesi, Lampung, Bali, East Nusa Tenggara beginning in May," he said.
 The president asked his ministers to find way to avert worse impact of El Nino or mitigate the damage. "This afternoon we are discussing and trying to find a way out especially to deal with the hot spots and potential forest and bush fires," he said.
He said the government has to protect the livelihood of farmers, fishermen. The National Disaster Control Agency (BNPB) recorded drought has hit at least 102 regencies all over the country.BNPB spokesman BNPB Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said those areas had a deficit of 20 billion cubic meters of water."Currently drought has hit 102 regencies in 16 provinces all over Indonesia," Sutopo said.The 16 provinces include Banten, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, Bengkulu, Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, South Sumatra, South Sulawesi, Lampung, Riau, South Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and Bali. "The hardest hit are Central Java, West Java, East Java, Lampung, South Sumatra and Bali," he added. Extreme dry season has also dam, aged crops over at least 111,000 hectares of farmlands and the impact is feared to hit wider areas, he said.
In fact the country already suffered the impact of drought for over a decade, he said. "A study by the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) in 2003 said every year, 92 regencies in Java suffer a deficit in water supply for a week up to 8 months," he said.Attempts to cope with the drought The agriculture ministry hopes to complete construction of 1,000 water reservoirs and cultivate 2.6 million hectares of rain fed rice fields with second crops. The Public Works Ministry said five of 16 major dams have been short of water, therefore, the ministry would use 760 water pumps for irrigation. The five dams include Keuliling in Aceh, Batutegi in Lampung, Saguling in West Java, Wonogiri in Central Java and Bening in East Java. Meanwhile, the Forestry and Environment Ministry is optimizing the use of water canons and retardant chemicals to extinguish forest and bush fires.
 Director General of Water Resources Mudjiadi said the government through the Public Works and Housing Ministry has taken steps to forestall worse impact of drought in various areas brought about by the weather phenomenon this year. He said water pumps have been made available for irrigation in areas where surface water has stopped flowing.He said efficiency would be improved in the use of water. Dam water would be prioritized for household consumption, irrigation and industry. "Fort the time being we stop using dam water for other purposes," he said. Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman said the damaged to rice fields inflicted by drought this year was less extensive than last year. In the period of October, 2013 to July 2014 drought caused 159,000 hectares of rice field without water as against only 57,000 hectares in the period of October 2014- July 2015. 
"That means we succeeded in saving 102,000 hectares of rice field from the threat of drought," Amran said. The minister said the government has made available Rp100 billion to build water reservoirs anticipating extreme dry season. The reservoirs would be built in areas where lengthy drought is more endemic, he said, adding there are around 200,000 hectares of farm lands prone to drought and 25,000 hectares of then often face crop failure. He said the government has set aside Rp880 billion to cope with El Nino inflicted damage this year.
The ministry has also asked governors, regents, city majors to use fund for special allocation of Rp2 trillion from the state budget to build water reservoirs. "We have expected the drought since early January and we have taken preparatory steps such as by building and improving irrigation systems and other infrastructure, distributing water and other farming tools," the minister said.Therefore, the government is confident that food security could remain safe, he said.Meanwhile, the state owned Board of Logistic has held 2.5 million tons of rice in stock, a provision against scarcity in supply.(*)

Trans-Pacific Trade Talks End Without Deal

Negotiations on a major trade deal have ended for now without agreement. At a news conference late Friday, however, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the 12 nations involved have made significant progress and are more confident than ever that a deal is within reach."After more than a week of productive meetings we've made significant progress and will continue to work on resolving a limited number of remaining issues, paving the way for the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations," Froman said.

Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been underway for years, and the deal was thought to be close to completion.This week, trade ministers gathered in Hawaii to move the complex deal forward. The TPP could cover 40 percent of the global economy. No date has been set for the next meeting on the agreement, but the trade ministers said work on resolving the problem areas will go forward. The issues are politically sensitive, including efforts to allow more imports of rice to Japan, more imports of sugar to the United States, greater access to Canada's dairy market, and expanding patent protection to a new class of promising drugs for 12 years.Previous trade agreements focused on cutting tariffs to encourage trade by making it cheaper.
Description: Description: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministers hold a press conference to discuss progress in the negotiations in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii on July 31, 2015. /Reuters
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministers hold a press conference to discuss progress in the negotiations in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii on July 31, 2015. /Reuters
Intellectual Property Issue

Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said Friday each nation's interests clashed over an intellectual property issue, preventing completion of a deal."The participating nations interests were at odds over the issue intellectual property and could not complete negotiations to come to a deal," Amari said in a separate news conference following the joint news conference a few hours before.He also said trade ministers shared a view that they will continue to make efforts toward an early agreement.

 "The participating nations share the belief that they will continue to work towards an agreement soon," Amari said, adding the next meeting could be by the end of the month."I feel that with one more meeting of the ministers we will be able to come to a conclusion on the talks," he added.TPP supporters said this proposed pact would harmonize rules and laws between trading partners to make it easier to sell goods and services around the world.Attorney Tim Brightbill, who litigates trade cases, said a well-constructed deal would be a "big positive" for all the countries involved. But he warned that a deal that does too little to help U.S. manufacturing and jobs would not be approved by Congress.

Other nations have other major goals, and their own approval process.

Keep Working

A researcher who monitors Asian economic, trade and political issues said if officials cannot get a deal done now, they will "kick the can down the road," and keep working.Charles Morrison, president of the East-West Center in Hawaii, said there is a lot of political will behind the talks and "nobody wants the deal to fail."The TPP has sparked demonstrations in some TPP nations and is controversial in the United States. The U.S. Congress saw a related trade issue pass by a narrow margin after a major political squabble.

Failure to seal the agreement is a setback for U.S. President Barack Obama. The pact is seen as the economic arm of the administration's pivot to Asia and an opportunity to balance out China's influence in the region.The Maui talks were also seen as the last chance to get a deal in time to pass the U.S. Congress this year, before 2016 presidential elections muddy the waters.

Some material for this report came from Reuters.
VOA News / Aug. 03, 2015 07:52 KST

El Niño spells more losses for rice farmers

 (The Philippine Star) | 
Description: Description: http://media.philstar.com/images/the-philippine-star/business/business-main/20150802/El-Nino-AP-4.jpg
The Philippines is currently experiencing mild El Niño. AP

MANILA, Philippines - Rice farmers whose fields are serviced by the Angat Dam are seen to sustain P3.82 billion worth of production losses in the succeeding quarters as a result of the prevailing dry spell that is expected to peak in the last quarter of the year, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), said.Despite the occurrence of rains, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) is keeping a reduced water allocation for Metro Manila and zero water allocation for irrigation to surrounding provinces until the water level in the reservoir reaches a secure level for irrigation, municipal and power needs.
NIA spokeswoman Filipina Bermudez said in areas serviced by Angat-Maasin River Irrigation System (AMRIS) – including Bulacan and Pampanga –  farmers would be foregoing a harvest of 225,000 metric tons (MT) in the succeeding quarters. This covers 49, 750 hectares.Farmers, she said, are still able to plant as monsoon rains provide water to fields.The reduced water allocation from Angat Dam for municipal use, however, is not likely to lead to water scarcity in Metro Manila, said NWRB executive director Sevillo David Jr.He said an allocation of 41 cubic meters per second would continue to be imposed until the end of the month, at least, when the board makes an assessment about the impact of the El Nino phenomenon on water supply in Metro Manila.Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Theboard also is also keeping a zero allocation for irrigation until then.“This water supply level that we are using can be managed until summer next year. But we need to supply water for irrigation so we are monitoring this,” he said.The NWRB slashed in June the water allocation for metro water concessionaires-Manila Water Co. (East Zone) and Maynilad Water Services (West Zone) – to the prevailing 41 cms from 43 cms in May after the water level in the Angat Dam fell below the critical level.
Protocol dictates that once the water supply in the dam – where Metro Manila obtains 90 percent of its water supply – falls below the critical level, supply to irrigation is immediately cut followed by supply for power if the water level continues to fall.Pagasa senior weather specialist Anthony Lucero said the rains experienced in Metro Manila may only last until September before a “stronger El Nino” is felt in the last three months of the year.The effects of the stronger El Nino, he said, may be felt until summer of next year.The water level in the Angat Dam is now placed around 180 meters. This is still 29.27 meters short of the normal water level of 210 meters. A water level below 180 meters is considered critical.
Under normal dam level conditions, NWRB’s allocation for agriculture ranges from 20 cms to 30 cms.“For now, we are still not within the comfortable level. We are reviewing the allocation for irrigation but for now, farmers still gain from the rains,” said David. “By the end of August, we think we can decide on what the allocation for the rest of the year will be.”The provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga depend mainly on rainwater for their agricultural lands but would need an irrigation allocation once the monsoon rains stop.David said the metro water concessionaires have committed to implement measures to manage the reduced water resource. The National Irrigation Administration (NIA), he said, has also come up with a contingency plan.“The concessionaires are ensuring that their facilities are in good operating condition to avoid downtime. More water reservoirs have also been constructed particularly in elevated areas. Standby facilities for supply augmentation such as deep wells are also being prepared and will be operated when needed,” said David.

Drought Leaves No Choice but to Import Rice

Posted On 03 Aug 2015
By : Leo Jegho
Description: Description: riceImport_beritasatuComIllustration of imported rice stocks being loaded for transport. (Photo source: beritasatu.com)


Jakarta, GIVnews.com – While President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo had repetitively expressed his resoluteness to stop rice imports, his government is facing a stark reality in which it may be forced to import the staple food.Following reports about wide-spreading droughts in the country, government officials will decide this week whether to import rice. The government had carefully monitored and studied the impacts of the current drought, said Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sofyan Djalil. “Until today we still have enough stocks. But, we will carry out further study next week before deciding whether or not we import rice. Until today, no,” Sofyan told reporters after a limited cabinet meeting at the State Palace last Friday (31/7) as reported by Detik.com.

The minister had shared that until year end, the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) must have minimum rice stock of 1.5 million tons. Lower stock may only force Bulog to import rice, he noted.“If we have got less, we import. It is not ‘haram’ (forbidden) because it goes with our need. We need (imports) because of El Nino,” Sofyan said.Sofyan’s remarks clearly echoed President Jokowi’s ambitious plan of stopping rice imports. Since last year’s presidential campaign and even after his election as president, Jokowi had declared his resoluteness to make Indonesia self-sufficient in rice.Minister Sofyan said last Friday the government had allocated Rp 3.5 trillion for this year’s reserve fund for food stock.

Meanwhile, Vice President Jusuf Kalla had in May informed about possible rice imports this year due to significant drop in domestic rice production. He mentioned drought and low quality rice seeds as the main factor behind low production.Also in May, as shared by Minister of Trade Rachmat Gobel, the government already prepared a permit for Bulog to import rice, notably in anticipation of this year’s Eid al-Fitr holidays, which fell on July 17. The permit, however, had not yet been finalized, according to Rachmat Gobel.Yet, on the day Minister Rachmat disclosed about rice import permit, President Jokowi said Indonesia no longer needed rice imports. “We need not import rice any more. We have to be able to fulfill our need for rice (with local product). How come we keep importing rice, corn … How come we import everything?” Jokowi said during his visit to Maluku as reported by CNN Indonesia.

Thailand and Vietnam were Indonesia’s largest rice suppliers in the past years.

111,000 Hectares Hit

Kompas daily reported that prolonged drought had hit about 111,000 hectares of rice fields across the country from January to July of this year. The 111,000 hectares were below the 200,000 hectares in the same period of last year, the newspaper quoted Minister of Agriculture Andi Amran Sulaiman as saying. He had shared this during a visit to Sidoarjo in East Java last Thursday (30/7).According to Amran, the government had taken more serious anticipatory measures so that only 111,000 hectares of rice fields had been affected as compared with last year. The measures included the reparation of irrigation ditches and the distribution of water pumps to farmers.

Still, there are fears that El Nino will continue until December 2015, which means more rice fields will be hit. Clean water scarcity in many regions will pose another serious problem.A prolonged drought will pose a big challenge to the government’s program of holding this December simultaneous regional elections (Pilkada) across the 9 provinces, 269 districts and 36 cities. These simultaneous elections will be the first of the total seven rounds until 2017. They aim to ensure more effective and more efficient democratic life in Indonesia

Government to rope in private players for kharif rice procurement


By PTI | 2 Aug, 2015, 12.48PM IST
The Union Food Ministry has prepared a policy acting on the recommendations of the high-level commitee of the state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Description: Description: Description: The Union Food Ministry has prepared a policy acting on the recommendations of the high-level committee of the state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI).NEW DELHI: Faced with inadequate storage facility, the Centre has decided to engage private players during the current kharif season for procurement of rice in Uttar Pradesh and four other eastern states. The Union Food Ministry has prepared a policy acting on the recommendations of the high-level committee of the state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI). Rice procurement for the 2015-16 kharif season would begin from October. And the government has kept a total procurement target of 30 million tonnes (MT) for the season.
 "The procurement policy has been finalised for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam. Private players will be roped in for rice procurement wherever necessary in these states," a senior Food Ministry official told PTI. These five states contribute over 40 per cent of the country's estimated total rice production of over 102 MT, but the procurement has been very "negligible", the official said. In 2014 kharif season, 5.13 MT of rice was procured in these states. Despite West Bengal being the top rice producing state at 15.1 MT, procurement here was only 1.80 MT in the said period.
 As per the proposed plan, the official said Bihar and West Bengal that follow a decentralised procurement policy (DCP) would be permitted to engage private players either independently or on behalf of the state agencies. In other non-DCP states, FCI would step up procurement operations at the minimum support price (MSP). "Where FCI and state governments are not able to open procurement centres, private agencies will be engaged," the official said, adding that private agencies would be selected via tenders. DCP states are those where FCI is not involved in procurement. States procure foodgrains on their own and supply to the PDS. The Centre, in turn, bears the difference in the margin between the issue price and the economic cost for the states. Any surplus food stocks after catering to the PDS is picked up by the central pool.
The north eastern states with inadequate infrastructure for procurement have traditionally not been on the FCI radar, even though farmers in the states are often compelled to sell their produce below the MSP. The FCI restructuring panel, headed by former food minister and veteran BJP leader Shanta Kumar, had in its report suggested the government to focus more on north-eastern states to ensure farmers in the states benefit from Centre's price support mechanism.

Indonesian drought will not cause rice shortage

Senin, 3 Agustus 2015 14:49 WIB
Pewarta: Andi Abdussalam
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The ongoing drought affecting various parts of Indonesia will not cause shortage of rice this year as the government has taken anticipatory steps to reduce its impacts on rice fields.Indonesia has set its rice production target for 2015 at 46.14 million tons while its annual rice requirement is only about 28.5 million tons. The Ministry of Agriculture has forecast that it will reduce the impact of drought on rice farms from 200 thousand hectares in 2014 to 100 thousand hectares this year. 
Hence, based on the five-ton rice production in every hectare of land, the drought this year will reduce rice production by only five thousand tons of the targeted 46.14 million tons. Of the 8.61 million hectares of rice fields in Indonesia, about 3.3 million hectares of rain-fed rice fields are prone to drought.However, Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman has made assurance that the current drought will not affect the rice production, which will remain adequate. The government has even managed to successfully save Rp2 trillion worth of rice this year until July this year.
Some 198 thousand hectares of land across Indonesia is hit by drought every year."Last year, the drought affected 200 thousand hectares of rice fields. It is forecast that it will affect only 100 thousand hectares this year. This means that we will save 100 thousand hectares," Minister Sulaiman noted in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), on Friday, July 31. He affirmed that during the period between October 2013 and July 2014, 159 thousand hectares of rice fields were affected by drought across the country, while during the same period this year, only 57 thousand hectares bore the brunt of the drought."Hence, we managed to save 102 thousand hectares of rice fields from the drought," he affirmed.If one hectare of paddy field could produce five tons of rice, the ministry has successfully saved 500 thousand tons of paddy worth Rp2 trillion, he pointed out.
Calculations made by the Ministry of Agriculture had previously revealed that the per capita consumption of rice in Indonesia is 124 kilograms per annum. Hence, the government based its rice production target on the per capita consumption of 124 kilograms.However, a joint assessment conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) and the Ministry of Trade showed that Indonesias per capita consumption of rice is only 114 kilograms per annum.National Development Planning Minister/Head of the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) Andrinof Chaniago stated last March that by taking the per capita rice consumption of 114 kilograms into account, the total annual rice consumption of Indonesians stood at 28 million tons.In 2014, the total production of dried unhulled rice reached 70 million tons, which was equivalent to about 43 million tons of rice.
This year, the Ministry of Agriculture has set itself a target of increasing the output by 3.84 million tons, with the total production of unhulled rice reaching 73.40 million tons, or equal to 46.14 million tons of rice.With the target of 46.14 million tons of rice, the impact of drought on rice production, which is forecast at five thousand tons, is insignificant.Therefore, Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman disagreed to reports that Indonesias rice production this year will significantly decline, as his ministry had taken anticipatory steps to overcome the impact of the dry spell.The Ministry of Agriculture will provide more than Rp884 billion for the procurement of supporting agricultural equipment to overcome the dry spell. It is developing agricultural irrigation infrastructure, dams, and water pumps.Besides providing 82 thousand water pumps, the government is also developing irrigation networks.
"So far, it has developed 1.3 million water channels across the country," the minister confirmed.Sulaiman pointed out that the government had set aside Rp2.2 trillion as funds to implement the program to build retention reservoirs and deep/shallow wells near rain-fed rice fields."The funds have been taken from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Special Allocation Fund scheme," the minister added.In East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), for instance, the government will develop seven dams for holding water during the rainy season and supplying it to the people during the dry spell.One of these reservoirs is the Raknamo Reservoir, some 35 kilometers east of Kupang city. It has been built to supply water to the urban areas and to irrigate around 841 hectares of farmlands in the district of Kupang."NTT has considerable water problems," President Joko Widodo stated while inspecting the development of the Raknamo Reservoir on Saturday (July 25).The Raknamo Reservoir is one of the seven dams to be built by the government in this region.

The seven reservoirs are Lambo Reservoir in Nagekeo district, Kolhua in Kupang city, Raknamo and Manikin in Kupang district, Rotiklot in Belu district, Temef in Timor Tengah Selatan district, and Napunggete in Sikka district.According to Chairisal Manu of the Directorate General of Natural Resources, Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing, the central government has set aside funding worth Rp6 trillion to develop six dams in NTT.According to data revealed until June 30, five of the 16 main dams in the country that had run short of water were the Keuliling Dam in Aceh, the Batutegi Dam in Lampung, the Saguling Dam in West Java, the Wonogiri Dam in Central Java, and the Bening Dam in East Java.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency official Sutopo Purwo Nugroho noted that the ongoing drought in several regions in Indonesia will peak in October or November.The drought is triggered by a moderate El Nino phenomenon, the impacts of which are felt in regions south of the equator. In Indonesia, it will affect West Sumatra, Bengkulu, Jambi, South Sumatra, Bangka-Belitung, Java, Bali, NTB, NTT, and Maluku.(*)

Golden Rice—a star among GMO foods—has a major study retracted
The golden child of the pro-GMO advocates just got a little tarnished.        (Reuters/Erik de Castro)

Deena Shanker
August 03, 2015

Golden Rice, often touted as a shining example of the benefits of genetic engineering, might not be as golden as originally thought.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has issued a retraction to a 2012 paper on Golden Rice because of insufficient evidence of consent from the parents of the children involved in the study, The Ecologist reports. And, perhaps more significantly, the retraction provides the opportunity to re-raise another question regarding the validity of the AJCN trial: The diets fed to the children in the trial were, according to critics, unrealistically high in fat. (Because vitamin A, the primary benefit of Golden Rice, is fat soluble, the body needs fat to absorb it.)

Golden Rice, first introduced in a 2000 study in Science, is genetically engineered rice that’s extra high in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. It was developed as a potential solution to vitamin A deficiencies in children around the world, especially those in highly populated, impoverished areas. In 2005, a paper in Nature Biotechnology introduced Golden Rice 2, which had 23-times more beta-carotene than its predecessor. In the 2012 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, the beta-carotene in Golden Rice 2 (now just Golden Rice) was found to be as effective as pure beta-carotene in a capsule, and even more effective than spinach in providing children with vitamin A.

 Golden Rice was the golden child of pro-GMO interests.Even though the private sector was involved in the development of Golden Rice, and companies including Syngenta and Monsanto have proprietary rights in it, they emphasize that they do not make money from the marketing or sale of Golden Rice, and the efforts are coordinated not by them, but by the International Rice Research Institute.Golden Rice’s real value to these companies is in publicity. Though there have been protests about its use from environmental groups like Greenpeace, the nutritional qualities of Golden Rice have overshadowed the complaints.

All that may now come into question if the study’s validity is challenged beyond the consent issue. The children in the trial ate meals that were 20% fat by calories, and included both pork and egg—foods not usually available in large quantities, if at all, to the target population of poor children. Without it, much of the vitamin will go to waste. (The AJCN did not include this critique in its decision to retract the paper.)
Syngenta did not immediately respond to request for comment. Monsanto directed inquiries to industry group BIO, which declined to comment.
TPP Ministerial Yields No Agreement      
No deal yet
MAUI, HI - Trade ministers from twelve countries met for several days here last week, but failed to reach agreement on the broad and far reaching Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.  USA Rice was present at the meeting to press for greater market access for U.S. rice and to protect existing U.S. rice markets.  Obstacles on agriculture market access, particularly dairy, sugar, and rice, as well as on auto trade, among key TPP players are behind the lack of agreement.
"Despite a reasonable and commercially viable U.S. negotiating position on rice market access to Japan, Japan is offering new access equivalent to less than one percent of Japan's market," said Michael Rue, a California rice farmer who attended the Ministerial. "Additionally, the government of Japan is seeking to continue a very heavy-handed management of imports that prevents direct access to Japan's consumers."
 Rue is also the chairman of USA Rice's Asia Trade Policy Subcommittee and believes the current deal is ultimately unacceptable to the U.S. rice industry.
 "We are also concerned about the competitive status of U.S. rice if under this agreement Vietnam achieves duty-free status for milled rice in Mexico," he said. "We will look at any agreement as a whole, but an agreement without meaningful improvement in the quantity and quality of market access for U.S. rice in Japan and preservation of existing market access overall is an agreement that we have no choice but to oppose." "We will redouble our efforts with administration officials and Congress to educate them on the critical importance of not settling for an agreement that provides substandard benefits for U.S. rice," said Bob Cummings, USA Rice COO who also attended the Ministerial. Cummings said another Ministerial could be planned for later this summer, and USA Rice would continue to participate to represent the U.S. industry.The twelve TPP participants are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
 Contact: Kristen Dayton (703) 236-1464
Crop Progress:   2015 Crop 63 Percent Headed   
WASHINGTON, DC -- Sixty-three 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
 August 2, 2014  
July 26, 2015  
August 2, 2015
2010-2014 average
Six States

CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Preliminary):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for August 3
Net Change

September 2015
- $0.120
November 2015
- $0.115
January 2016
- $0.115
March 2016
- $0.120
May 2016
- $0.120
July 2016
- $0.120
September 2016
- $0.120

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