Wednesday, August 05, 2015

5th August (Wednesday),2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

American Journal Challenges Validity of a Golden Rice Study

Aug 04, 2015
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) has challenged the validity of a 2012 study on Golden Rice, because of not receiving sufficient evidence on the results of the study, according to the Ecologist.The AJCN noted that since it did not receive sufficient evidence of consent from parents of the children who were involved in the children, it has issued a retraction to the paper.
 Experts say the study may also be questioned as the children in the trial were fed with diets that were unrealistically high in fat because the effectiveness of Vitamin A could be noticed only with high amount of fat. However, the AJCN has not considered this argument for retracting the study.
 Genetically modified golden rice is considered to be rich in beta carotene, which is useful in treating Vitamin A Deficiency in children. Environmentalists across the world have been opposing the cultivation and commercialization of golden rice due to its negative impact on environment. Currently the Indian Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is working to commercialize golden rice as soon as possible.

Drought Damages 19% of Rice Crop in 22 Central Thai Provinces, Says Deputy Prime Minister

Aug 04, 2015
Drought and water shortages have damaged around 1.5 million rai (around 240,000 hectares) of main rice crop, or around 19% of 8 million rai planted (around 1.28 million hectares) in nearly 22 provinces of Central Thailand, Bloomberg quoted the Deputy Prime Minister as saying. The main rice crop contributes to around 70% of the country's total rice outputThe Minister told reporters that farmers usually plant rice in around 57 million rai (around 9.12 million hectares) across Thailand between May and October citing data from the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE). 
He noted that the government would assist farmers after assessing the intensity of damage. Last month, the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) has estimated that the output from 2015 main rice crop to decline about 14% to around 23.3 million tons from around 27.1 million tons last year.  

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Continue Back-and-Forth Trading Pattern as Market Searches for Direction

Aug 04, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Sep delivery settled 6 cents per cwt (about $1 per ton) higher at $11.455 per cwt (about $253 per ton). The other grains finished the day with mixed results; Soybeans closed about 0.7% higher at $9.4225 per bushel; wheat finished about 1.1% lower at $4.9325 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 0.6% higher at $3.7875 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded mostly lower on Tuesday as investors eyed a continued sharp decline in Apple and a slight recovery in oil prices after the prior day's plunge. The major averages traded in a range, holding mildly lower after fluctuating around the flatline throughout the morning. The energy sector gave up early gains despite recovery in oil. Energy stocks fell 2% Monday, following a more than 3.5% drop in West Texas Intermediate crude futures and 4.5% decline in Brent futures, which fell below $50 per barrel for the first time since the end of January. On the data front, June factory orders figures showed an increase of 1.8%.
 On Wednesday, markets will be watching for the ADP employment report, which comes ahead of the labor report on Friday. In Europe, equities closed slightly lower as low commodity prices and energy stocks dented sentiment. In its second day of trading after reopening, the Greek stock market opened down over 4%, but pared losses to end roughly 1.2% lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded down 13 points, or 0.07%, at 17,583. The S&P 500 traded up 0.50 points, or 0.02%, at 2,098, with utilities leading four sectors lower and materials the greatest advancer. The Nasdaq traded up 2 points, or 0.04%, at 5,117. Gold is trading about 0.2% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 1.2% higher, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading at about 0.2% higher at about  1:00pm Chicago time.
Monday, there were 1,100 contracts traded, down from 1,553 contracts traded on Friday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Monday increased by 132 contracts to 8,947.

Oryza Overnight Recap – Chicago Rough Rice Futures Continue to Show Strength as Cash Market Appears to be Tightening

Aug 04, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Sep delivery are currently seen trading 3 cents per cwt (about $1 per ton) lower at $11.365 per cwt (about $251 per ton) during early floor trading in Chicago. The other grains are seen trading higher this morning; soybeans are currently seen trading about 0.8% higher, wheat is listed about 0.6% higher and corn is currently noted about 0.2% higher.
U.S. stocks traded in a range on Tuesday as investors watched Apple and eyed a slight recovery in oil prices after the prior day's sharp decline. The major averages briefly attempted mild gains soon after opening in the red. The energy sector gained half a percent to lead S&P 500 gains. Energy stocks fell 2 percent Monday, following a more than 3.5% drop in West Texas Intermediate crude futures and 4.5% decline in Brent futures, which fell below $50 per barrel for the first time since the end of January. Oil output by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reached the highest monthly level in recent history in July, and production could rise further if Iran achieves a plan to raise output by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) as soon as sanctions are lifted. On the data front, June factory orders figures are due at 10 a.m. ET. 

On Wednesday, markets will be watching for the ADP employment report, which comes ahead of the labor report on Friday. In Europe, equities traded mixed as slipping commodity prices and energy stocks dented sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded up 17 points, or 0.10%, at 17,614. The S&P 500 traded up 2 points, or 0.07%, at 2,099, with energy leading six sectors higher and utilities the greatest laggard. The Nasdaq traded down 1 point, or 0.02%, at 5,113. Gold is currently trading about 0.2% higher, crude oil is seen trading about 2.2% higher,  and the U.S. dollar is currently trading about 0.1% lower at 9:00am Chicago time.

Heavy Rains in East India Raise Concerns of Rice Price Hikes

Aug 04, 2015
Heavy rains in India's Eastern states of West Bengal, Odisha and Manipur have damaged several hectares of paddy fields raising concerns of lower production and higher prices, according to local sources.Over 200,000 hectares of paddy and vegetable fields have been damaged in West Bengal, and a flood-like situation in northern Odisha is likely to affect more paddy fields. A similar situation is persisting in Manipur as well.
The Director of the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) noted that the crop is not in a very bad position and damage could be reduced if fresh sowing can be undertaken in August using short-duration paddy seeds. However, he said if farmers opt for a next round of sowing after water recedes in the fields, there should be adequate rainfall for effective transplantation of seeds.The CRRI Director noted that price hikes may be ruled out for now since the government procurement is inadequate in some states and due to this, farmers are unable to sell their output.
Meanwhile, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a 16% deficit in the rainfall during the second half (August-September) of the monsoon season (June-September), according to local sources. It forecasts August to receive 10% deficit rainfall and a higher deficit in September. 
The Head of the long-range forecasting at IMD noted that India's north-west region may witness highest deficit of around 15% in rainfall in the remaining season while central, and eastern India are expected to receive heavy rains. 
The CRRI Director added that it is too early to decide whether the rainfall deficit will impact rice productivity. However, he noted that the government could assist farmers in areas that are more likely to be affected by a dry spell. According to data from the Agriculture Ministry, 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.
Global Rice Quotes
August 5th, 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,

Thailand Plans to Auction Over 660,000 Tons of Rice on August 11, 2015

Aug 04, 2015
The Thai Commerce Ministry is planning to auction over 660,000 tons of stockpiled rice on August 11, 2015, according to local sources.The Director-General of the Foreign Trade Department told local sources that a total of 668,000 tons comprising 11 types of rice would be auctioned on August 11. She note that the rice is currently stores in warehouses under the Public Warehouse Organization and the Marketing Organization for farmers. Bidders are supposed to submit documents on August 10 and the names of qualified bidders are schedule to be announced on the morning of August 11 before the bidding process begins. Qualified bidders can submit their bids until afternoon and the winners will be announced on the same day, according to Ministry sources. 
This is the fifth auction this year and ninth one after the military government took over in May 2014.The government sold around 3.88 million of rice raising around 40 billion baht (around $1.15 billion) from the first eight auctions. The military government is still holding around 15.11 million tons of rice in its stockpiles. It is planning to auction around 1.29 million tons of spoilt rice for industrial use in this month

Sri Lanka 2015 Yala Rice Crop Planting Reaches Record 497,552 Hectares

Aug 04, 2015
Planting for the ongoing 2015 secondary yala rice crop (March - September) in Sri Lanka has reached record 497,552 hectares as of the June 30, 2015, according to data released by the Socio Economics and Planning Centre of the Peradeniya Agriculture Department.The government website reports that planting for the ongoing yala crop is highest so far and it is up about 59% from last yala season and up about 22% from the five-year average. It also reports that the planting is about 95% of the target.
Planting has reportedly exceeded the targets in Ampara, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kilinochchi, Vavunia and Mahaweli H, B,C, L and Udawalawa.
Based on the planting pace, the government forecasts paddy output from the ongoing yala rice crop at around 1.91 million tons, up about 67% from last year and about 28% higher from average of last five yala seasons.Last month, the government of Sri Lanka planned to procure about 120,000 tons of paddy from the ongoing yala rice crop. Harvested paddy is expected to reach markets from early August.

The FAO forecasts Sri Lanka's total 2015 paddy output to increase about 21% to around 4.1 million tons (around 2.7 million tons, basis milled) from an estimated 3.4 million tons (around 2.3 million tons, basis milled) in 2014.USDA estimates Sri Lanka to produce around 2.85 million tons of rice, basis milled (around 4.19 million tons, basis paddy) and import around 550,000 tons in MY 2014-15 (October 2014 - September 2015).

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

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.


Crackdown On Rice Millers: Investors Accuse NCS Of Undermining Rule Of Law

In the face of the persistent crackdown by the Nigerian Customs Service on importers of rice into the country, and the continued shut down of their warehouses, the rice millers have accused the leadership of the NCS of undermining the spirit of the rule of law which the federal government promises to uphold.According to some of the investors who spoke with LEADERSHIP, the behaviour of the operatives of the NCS in sealing their warehouses without due process, “is a total affront to the gospel of the rule of law which the President Buhari administration promises to uphold.“The recent physical crackdown by officers of Nigerian Customs on companies allegedly owing excess duties levied after customs had cleared their goods for importation is believed to be an effort to paint the present Customs administration white and escape the cleansing brush of this administration.

“If the administration swallows the hook, it will spare the leadership and prolong its stay at the helms of affairs of the highly lucrative border agency. Or how else does one interpret this sudden crackdown by Customs, in the face of court orders restraining them from taking action against the companies until the various court cases instituted in this respect are vacated,” one of the investors told our correspondent.It will be recalled that early in the week of June 27, heavily armed men of the Nigerian Customs invaded premises of seven companies allegedly owing N23.6 billion on account of unpaid levies in respect of rice importation. Customs alleged that the companies had imported rice in excess of quotas granted them by the Federal Government in its Rice Policy circular.

They demanded payment of 40% levy on the deemed excess, imported between June and December 2014”.The source further said: “One would have asked if Customs officers had access to this policy paper ahead of the importation and admittance of the goods through our ports. One would have wanted to know if Customs was aware of the conditions of the incentives attached to these policy initiatives and the conditions under which the incentives could be availed. “Knowing how thorough our Customs men are, they would have scrutinized the policy document and referred it to their legal officers for advice before implementation. Based on their interpretation of the Rice policy circular, they accepted documents submitted by importers operating under this incentive programme at point of importation, and allowed their cargo be cleared by paying the prescribed 10% duty and 20% levy.

 They accepted this rate repeatedly for six months until December 2014, when the Federal Ministry of Agriculture woke from its slumber and remembered that it had failed to convene a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee as directed by the government or issued quotas to bona fide rice value chain operators as required by the directive. The inter-ministerial committee was saddled with the task of determining the supply shortfall in rice to be made up by importation and the allocation of quotas to bona fide investors.

Import Duty: Rice Importers Lament Clampdown

The ongoing dispute between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and big rice investors in the country reached a new level today with the NCS threatening to close down one of Nigeria’s foremost international hotels, The Intercontinental Hotels, Lagos.The NCS had threatened that it may shut down the hotel following the non-payment of retrospective duties by the hotel’s parent company, the Milan Group.This was disclosed earlier today by the national public relations officer of the NCS,Wale Adeniyi.

Findings revealed that the rice industry is perplexed with this latest move as they argue that it is against the rule of law for any action to be taken in any dispute before the decision of the judicial system. This is because some of the investors have already lodged their cases in court. Stakeholders, who commented on the development, said that the sealing of a global hospitality chain like The Intercontinental Hotels, Lagos, for no apparent legal non-compliance may not spell well for Nigeria’s image apart from the embarrassment and inconvenience for its guests.The NCS is demanding retrospective duties from the rice investors for imports pertaining to 2014 while the investors have claimed that the quota allocations did not comply with stipulated regulations issued only in December and were also biased against the bonafide investors.Following the confusion that trailed the 2014 quotas, the quotas for 2015 were also issued, cancelled and later reissued again.

 The implementation of the policy received a lot of criticism from the rice industry as the presidential directives were not complied with in the process.The affected rice investors, who had invested billions of naira in the rice value chain, have been catalysts in Nigeria’s recent initiatives to be self-sufficient in rice production.The immediate former minister of agriculture, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, had in August 2014, said that “our rice today, in terms of total value added to our local economy, in terms of gross value across all the states is N750billion since we started in 2012.”

India to host 2-day Global Rice Bran Oil Conference from August 7 at Mumbai

Tuesday, August 04, 2015 08:00 IST 
Our Bureau, Bengaluru

India is playing host to a two-day Global Rice Bran Oil Conference to be held in Mumbai on August 7 and 8, 2015.The event would be inaugurated by chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis and hosted by the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, an association of vegetable oil industry and trade.Industry and health experts from China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, India, and so on are congregating for the event. It will discuss position, promotion and prospect of rice bran oil as healthy oil in the world. This is the second such event after it was first hosted at China last year.The two-day event will focus on issues related to rice bran oil including its nutrition & health benefits, its patronisation by medical fraternity, regulatory issues, quality control and so on.

 The participants will include manufacturers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists. Rice Bran oil is obtained from the brown layer of rice, which constitutes about 5% of paddy and is enriched in oil to the extent of 10-25%. Research institutes in India and abroad have found rice bran oil a heart-friendly oil with unique properties beneficial for maintaining good health. It is the only cooking medium which has an ideal SFA/MUFA/PUFA ratio and EFA ratio which is closer to the recommended levels of WHO. 

A number of scientific studies have confirmed that using rice bran oil as a cooking medium could significantly reduce the bad cholesterol without adversely affecting the good cholesterol due to presence of a unique component in this oil know as “Oryzanol,” which is not found in any other vegetable oil.Globally, about 15 lakh tonne of rice bran oil is produced out of which India produces about 9.5 lakh tonne per annum used for human consumption as cooking  oil, blended oil and vanaspati.  Sharing details of the conference, Dr B V Mehta, executive director, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, mentioned that the event would further enhance the perception of rice bran oil as the healthiest cooking oil. 

“Thanks to its low cost, everyone can access safe and heart-friendly cooking oil. We look forward to learn from the experiences from different countries that would be shared during the conference” he added. Eminent world authorities on rice bran oil like Prof. Xuebing Xu of Wilmar R&D Centre, China; Prof. Dr Teruo Miyazawa of Tohuku University, Japan; Dr Tran Thanh Hoa of Cai Lan Oil & Fats Industries Vietnam; Prasert Setwipattanachal of Surin Bran Oil Company Limited, Thailand; and Fumi Tsuno, of Tsuno Foods Industrial Co. Ltd, Japan; are among the international leaders who would attend and present papers at the conference. The experts from India will include Dr V Prakash, distinguished scientist from CSIR; Dr B Sasikeran, former director, NIN, Hyderabad; Dr Shashank R Joshi, endocrine and metabolic physician; Dr V Chockalingam, leading cardiologist; Dr R B N Prasad, chief scientist & head, IICT; and Atul Chaturvedi, CEO, Adani Wilmar Ltd.


Over 2 lakh hectares land damaged in West Bengal rains

By Sutanuka Ghosal, ET Bureau | 4 Aug, 2015, 04.00AM IST

Heavy rains in July and early August have had a contrasting impact on farmers in eastern India this kharif season.KOLKATA: eavy rains in July and early August have had a contrasting impact on farmers in eastern India this kharif season. Rains brought much cheer to paddy farmers in Jharkhand as acreage is set to go up by 1 lakh hectares to 17 lakh hectares, but the downpour damaged crops over 2.1 lakh hectares of land in West Bengal comprising largely paddy and vegetables. Paddy crops in Odisha and Manipur have also been affected due to heavy rains. Rice traders said if production gets affected then retail prices might shoot up 10-15 per cent during the festive season.

 Trilochan Mohapatra, agricultural scientist and director of Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) said: "The downpour has been very heavy in a short span of time.There is a flood like situation in northern Odisha. The main concern is now the distribution of rains in August and September.Even if the farmers go in for next round of sowing after water recedes in fields, it should rain well in August for fresh transplantation of paddy saplings." ohapatra said there has been severe damage to standing paddy crop in certain pockets of West Bengal and Odisha due to heavy rains. "But right at this point, I cannot say that crop is in a bad position.The damage can be taken care of if fresh sowing can be undertaken in August. Short duration paddy seeds may be used to get the required crop," he said.

The CRRI director said prices should not go up as the procurement by government agencies is not enough. "We have seen that farmers are not able to sell their produce. So the question of price hike does not arise at all," he said. Senior West Bengal government officials said the flooding in Hooghly and Howrah districts has worsened and will deteriorate a bit further as the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) has released more water. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who monitored the flood situation overnight at the state secretariat Nabanna on Sunday, informed the media that besides 47 municipalities, 210 blocks and 9,691 villages were affected by the flood due to heavy rains triggered by Cyclone Komen.

"Crops in over 2.1 lakh hectares of land were destroyed across the state," she said. In Manipur too, six districts have been affected by floods and paddy and other crops have been damaged. However, the situation is completely different in Jharkhand.Mukund Variar, officer-in-charge of Central Rainfed Upland Rice Research Station, said more than half of the transplantation has been carried out and the rest will be over by August 15. The acreage is likely to increase to 17 lakh hectares this year from 16 lakh hectares last time round, he said. Jharkhand produces 37 lakh tonnes of rice a year

APEDA News from India

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The rice industry should diversify

Dear Editor,
 I would like to commend all those involved in putting together the National Rice Industry Conference. The feature address by the President and the presenters, covered most of the concerns in the industry, except its sustainability. The farming community was well represented and did air its concerns, mostly on timely payment by millers, ways of bringing down the cost of production and the paddy price for the coming crop. Unfortunately, no firm decision was made on any of the concerns, and no mention was made of the sustainability of the industry.
It was highlighted that the number of farmers is getting smaller and holdings are getting larger, obviously for a reason. Naturally, the bigger farmers are better equipped to have a greater return on investment, because of lower cost of production and higher yields. Lots of numbers have been thrown around for cost of production; however, I have decided to consider the numbers presented by Mr John Tracey, as they seem most realistic.
Consider $80,000 for cost of production of one acre, and the farmer gets 30 bags per acre and is paid $3,000 per bag. Then his profit per acre per crop is $10,000. For 2 crops per year it’s $20,000 per acre. The minimum wage in the public sector per month is $50,000 that is $600,000 per year. A farmer would have to cultivate a minimum of 30 acres of paddy before he could make this amount, on which it is impossible for the farmer, his wife and kids to support themselves.There are many farmers who cultivate much less than this acreage, resulting in lots of dissatisfied farmers. A farmer cultivating five acres will only earn $100,000 per year.
The problem is compounded by the fact that there is not any other form of employment available on a regular basis. Obviously, this is the root cause of the problem, but was still not addressed at the conference. The bottom line is that it’s not a rice industry issue, but a social issue and it is important that this issue is addressed urgently and a solution found.The best and only solution at this time is diversification, which will result in less acreage under paddy cultivation, resulting in less rice production, which might not be a bad idea, as we are very vulnerable because of having to market about 75% of our production, while only about 5% of world’s production is traded.
Mr Kuldip gave a thirty-two per cent for cost of labour, which is way too high, as the industry is relatively mechanised, and the farmer is left with lots of spare time, which can only be taken up by him doing another job.A farmer cultivating five acres of paddy, earning $100,000 per year, lives way below the poverty line. With diversification, he could work wonders by earning lots more in a year, and keeping himself beneficially occupied year round.
An ADP (Export Agriculture Diversification Programme) should be introduced and would involve three clusters: fruit and vegetables, livestock and aquaculture and aquaponics. This was implemented recently but failed miserably, mainly because of the non-involvement of stakeholders and the authority.This system can be implemented, both in the rice and sugar industries. Consider a rice farmer or a GuySuCo employee with five acres of land. There will be a mixture of livestock, fruits and vegetables and aquaculture /aquaponics, The mixture will be:
aquaculture /aquaponics… 2 acres to produce 5,000 fish per acre;
livestock… a combination of two dairy cows and six goats… zero grazing; fruits and vegetables… a mixture of cassava, sweet potatoes, black-eye, boulanger, tomato, pepper, sorrel, passion fruit, pumpkin, water melon, etc.The layout is very important, as the aquaponic system will be used to allow the farmer to utilise the water from the fish pond as a fertiliser and a source of moisture, resulting in a high-priced organic crop.It is assumed that the farmer and his family (when available) will work 6 days per week for six hours per day, earning $5,000 per day; that is $30,000 per week equal to $120,000 per month equal to $1,440,000 per year, as against $100,000 per year if he were cultivating paddy. He will also be occupied year round. At the end of the day he will also have lots more available from the sale of vegetables, milk, fish, and live animals (goats and cattle).
For the farmer to get started, the following will have to be done: He will have to fence the five acres; dig two ponds of one acre each; acquire fingerlings and feed. (The infrastructure for drainage and irrigation is already in place.)
He would acquire two dairy cows capable of producing two gallons of milk each per day and six goats (ewes, capable of reproducing, getting to 100 lbs at the end of one year and producing three births of two each in two years), utilising artificial insemination (AI) for both cattle and goats.He would also need gardening tools, planting materials and finance (fixed and variable). The farmer will expect some initial help from the government as it’s a new idea to be executed.
The five acres owned by the farmer, whether leased or transported has lots of value and can be held as security at a development bank, at an affordable interest rate. Owing to the nature of the different crops to be cultivated, after a couple of months the farmer could start receiving income providing the market is available.Where markets are concerned, it is very, very important that these are assured before the farmer goes into production.In respect of technology, the relevant agencies will have to become active: the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute, the Guyana Livestock Development Agency and the New Guyana Marketing Corporation.
 Yours faithfully,
Beni Sankar

Customs uninformed of QRC closure

The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) whilst appreciating the disbandment of the Quality Review Committee (QRC) by the Ministry of Commerce (MINCOM) has urged the ministry and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to inform the Customs immediately not to demand QRC certificate from basmati rice exporters in view of the disbandment of the so called rice inspection cell.President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has taken up the matter immediately after the closure/disbandment  of QRC  and problems being faced by REAP members at Karachi Port with MINCOM and requested them to take  immediate measures for  clearance of rice containers stuck up at Karachi Port. 

REAP has also requested MINCOM to issue Public Notice for awareness of general public and for the information of the concerned departments. Thaver regretted that MINCOM and TDAP should have informed the Customs simultaneously and could have avoided this predicament. Also REAP should have anticipated this awkward situation and requested MINCOM in good time when termination notice was served on the QRC staff and the decision to disband was made by MINCOM and TDAP.The SME basmati rice exporters have sought immediate notice of disbandment of QRC to the Customs and related departments to enable movement of rice cargo immediately to avoid delay in shipments and meeting deadline of contracts. 

It is very unfortunate that even in days of advanced communications there is lack of co-ordination amongst the state organizations and in the bargain the business community suffers. Even the policy gazettes reach the concerned organizations late. A system needs to be developed whereby the policy decisions are conveyed immediately online to the concerned.

Rice culture of the Cordilleras

Come election time in 2016, rice will be a prime topic in the national debates. Everybody will be talking about rice self sufficiency, food security and playing to the ears of more than 11 million Filipino farmers.But what is rice other than a staple food of Filipinos? Precisely because it is inherent in the Filipinos' daily life, it has also become embedded in our culture. Nowhere is this more evident than in the rice growing culture of the Cordilleras, which predates the Spanish colonial government.Rice cultivation in the Cordillera Administrative Region's six provinces--Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao and Mountain Province--is an ancient practice that predates the building of rice terraces by their ancestors, which scientists believe started around 2,000 years ago.

The rice terraces were built with crude and pre-historic tools made of wood, stone, metal and with farmers' bare hands. Carved out of an unforgiving mountainous terrain, their sheer determination still evokes awe in the engineering world.The rice terraces' system of forest, soil and water conservation has withstood the test of time, and they still dot the Cordilleras, providing work and nourishment to farmers.

Kebbi Government to access N5bn CBN loan to boost rice production

By Daily Post Staff on August 4, 2015

The Kebbi Government said it would support farmers to access N5billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to boost commercial rice production in the state.The permanent secretary in the State’s Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Yahaya Jega, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Birnin Kebbi on Tuesday.He said that farmers would be encouraged to obtain the loan through financial institutions that would not attract more than nine percent interest.Jega said the state had prepared 600,000 hectares of land to be utilised for rice farming across the state.“We would ensure that we produce enough rice for the country by supporting our farmers to expand the scope of their production,” he said.

He said solar energy would be introduced to power generators for irrigation farming, adding that the solar power would reduce the high cost of operating the generators with petrol.The permanent secretary said commercial rice millers had inspected the variety of the commodity produced in the state and had expressed satisfaction that commercial production would be viable.He said silos, marketing strategies and transportation would be provided to assist the farmers to expand their rice production.Jega said the agriculture would be transformed to attract the unemployed youth to engage in commercial farming.According to him, government is fully prepared to encourage mechanized farming, provide improved seedlings, extension services and fertiliser at low rates.



Millers and ryots keep their fingers crossed

Millers and farmers in the district are anxiously waiting for the State government’s decision on new paddy pronouncement policy as the Civil Supplies Corporation has convened a State-level joint collectors and civil supply officers meeting in Hyderabad on Wednesday to discuss possible alternate ways for its procurement in the wake of Centre’s decision to stop levy from October. Following the Centre’s decision, about 250 rice millers in the district are eager to know the government’s decision.Meanwhile, sources in the Civil Supplies Department told The Hindu that the government is set to follow Karnataka and Chhattisgarh model by involving private players in paddy procurement.
Earlier, the Food Corporation of India used to purchase 75 per cent of paddy milled at rice mills as levy to supply the same to BPL families, but the Centre had reduced the levy to 25 per cent on October 1, 2014, and from October it has decided to stop the total levy.

Record number of mills

Nalgonda district alone produces about 20 lakh metric tonnes in both the rabi and kharif seasons, and the district has the highest number of mills in the country. While farmers fear whether they would get MSP or not on their produce, the millers say that they might incur losses.Rice Millers Association chairman Dhana Mallaiah urged the State government to keep the interests of farmers and rice millers in mind while formulating a new policy.“Any decisions in haste may plunge both the farming sector and rice millers into a crisis,” he said

These Scientists Think Genetically Modified Rice Can Help Solve the Climate Crisis

August 4, 2015 |

VICE News is closely tracking global environmental change. Check out the Tipping Point blog here.

A new kind of genetically modified rice with a higher starch content could produce more food while at the same time reducing the methane, a greenhouse gas, that's emitted when it grows, the journal Nature reported.Researchers created the genetically modified rice, called SUSIBA2, by using a gene from barley. The barley gene influenced how carbon in the rice plant was distributed. Less carbon in the genetically modified plants went to the roots, which meant that methane-producing bacteria in the soil had fewer nutrients to consume.Compared to control rice, the genetically modified variety emitted anywhere from 10 percent to less than 1 percent of the methane that normally would have been emitted, depending on the plant's age when the measurement was taken.Christer Jansson, the director of plant sciences at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) in Washington and one of the study's authors, called the low-methane rice "very promising."

"Because if [it] can be scaled up to large-scale production in rice paddies in China, that could mean that a significant amount of methane that would otherwise have been released to the atmosphere, is not being released," he told VICE News.Watch "On the Line" with Environment Editor Robert S. Eshelman here: Methane is not the most abundant greenhouse gas — that's carbon dioxide — but it is a powerful one: the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over the course of a century methane can be 25 times as strong as carbon dioxide in its contribution to climate change."Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas," Scott Bridgham, a biology and environmental studies professor at the University of Oregon, told VICE News.

 He studies the methane emitted by wetlands, a prominent source of the gas.But methane is also released in significant amounts by anthropogenic sources like fossil fuels, landfills, ruminants like cows, and rice cultivation.According to data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, about 60 percent of all methane emissions come from those anthropogenic sources. Rice alone accounts for about 10 percent of the methane created by human activities."This study is following on something of a history of field experiments evaluating different kinds of rice varieties — in this case, transgenic [rice] — looking for ways to both increase food production, and reduce methane emissions," Elaine Matthews, a NASA scientist, told VICE News. "One thing it doesn't address is whether this kind of rice really has a chance of being really widely used to gain the methane advantage."The new genetically modified rice might not see widespread use for multiple reasons, she said. Those include cost, cultural preferences for different kinds of rice, and the fact that the rice industry is complex: The crop is cultivated on many small-scale farms.

David Schubert, a biochemist who works on drug development at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, is concerned about the safety of genetically modified crops."When you alter the gene expression in any organism you get a lot of changes that you can't predict," Schubert told VICE News.Kenneth Boote, a crop physiologist and professor at the University of Florida, said that he doesn't have any problem with genetically modified crops. But he remains skeptical of this new study, in part because he said increasing the amount of starch in the rice plant could actually reduce the rice's protein levels. He also questioned whether the new variety would actually reduce methane emissions, since the gas is also emitted after the rice is harvested and the stalks are left behind."I worry a little bit about potted plant experiments," Boote told VICE News.

Nonetheless, it's important to go after sources of greenhouse gas emissions like the methane that comes from rice production, says Jesse Lasky, a postdoctoral scientist at Columbia University who has researched crops, genetics, and climate change. "Especially if it's one where the goal of reducing emissions is coincident with increasing yield for a major crop," he told VICE News.The genetically modified rice has less massive roots than the control rice does. Lasky questioned how the plants might deal with an unexpected drought."The fact that these have smaller roots begs the question of how they might respond to environmental stressors like that," he said.Jansson from EMSL referred to the root question as "a very valid point." He explained that the genetically modified plants will be evaluated in China under a more substantive study, as well as undergo further research in his Washington laboratory.Columbia University's Lasky said as genetics becomes a more mature science, researchers in the field might be able to make a greater contribution to solving problems like how to reduce agricultural emissions."Climate change is this huge challenge that we're facing as a society, and so we want to really bring everything we can to bear on it," he said. 
Follow Rob Verger on Twitter: @robverger

3 ways GMO rice could improve world but tech hurdles and anti-GMO protests block way

Iida Ruishalme | August 4, 2015

Little did I know that rice, the innocent bag of grains sitting in my pantry, is warming the planet, inadvertently contributing to millions of deaths worldwide, and slowly poisoning me with arsenic. That’s what it says on many websites, with scary headlines like “Rice Growing Emits More Methane as Climate Warms” and “Toxin Found in Most U.S. Rice Causes Genetic Damage.”But I don’t want to contribute to fear-mongering, so let me be real: we don’t need to worry too much about the arsenic. Before I came to that conclusion, I did some reading about what arsenic wasdoing in my rice.

I learned that when the US Food and Drug Administration increased its testing of rice a few years ago, it found levels of arsenic at about 2.6 to 7.2 micrograms per serving. To put that in perspective, this value is well above the allowed limit for arsenic in water–at least in concentration. If one serving of water is considered, a cup of water would need to have less than 2.5 micrograms of arsenic. Of course we need more servings of water per day (let’s say 8 cups or 2 liters, max 20 micrograms), and most people don’t have 5 servings of rice per day (13 – 36 micrograms), so it’s all relative.FDA also assures that these levels are not a cause for worry in the US, headlines be damned. Some of the world’s poor, however, do live on nothing but rice (several servings per day if they are lucky); and if they are unlucky, they live in areas with naturally high levels of arsenic in the water.compounding the risks.

Clearly it would be good to find a permanent solution to lowering the levels of arsenic in such a basic staple. The stuff in high concentrations is a world renowned poison, after all.How does it get into the rice in the first place? The US Environmental Protection Agency tells us that sources of arsenic include erosion of natural deposits; runoff from orchards as well as runoff from glass and electronic production wastes. As FDA puts it, “arsenic is a naturally occurring contaminant, and because it’s in soil and water, it’s going to get into food”.Arsenic happens to get absorbed into rice particularly well, because its form on rice-fields (arsenate) resembles the form in which silicon is taken up by the rice plants. Silicon is used to build the sturdiness of its stems. Getting arsenic in its place is a problem for the plant too. Tough luck.

There’s cause for optimism. While learning about these surprising issues with rice, thankfully, I’ve been learning about even more surprising solutions to them. Promising research on this issue was published just last year (PDF), as reported here by The Scientist:Researchers based in Korea and Japan have shown that a rice transporter protein called OsABCC1 prevents arsenic from damaging plant tissues by sequestering the element in vacuoles. Because of this, potentially harmful arsenic remains in these cellular waste containers rather than building up in rice grains.That is great news! Science could help us truly not worry about arsenic in our rice. In the meantime, the message seems to be: eat a varied diet and you will be fine. So I will get on instead with the really bad problems with rice.

Rice, a climate culprit
Anthropogenic Methane emissions by source, from Global Methane Initiative

What problems? Like how the climate toll from rice cultivation is on par with cow farts, the leading source of methane gas release in the world.Take a look at the global methane emissions chart: contributions from rice cultivation are big enough to feature in the top four. The sum of methane leaks from all ruminant farm animals’ digestive systems’ (AKA Enteric Fermentation) is still by far the biggest anthropogenic source, since a cow emits a whooping 250-500 liters of methane per day. missions from oil and gas are a large second. But on the nearly shared 3rd and 4th places are all the world’s landfills and the cultivation of one single crop: rice.Why is this a problem? Methane, though emitted in much smaller amounts than carbon dioxide, and receiving far less attention, is in fact a potent greenhouse gas–30 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Wikipedia quotes IPCC on that:

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report determined that methane in the Earth’s atmosphere is an important greenhouse gas with a global warming potential of 34 compared to CO2 over a 100-year period (although accepted figures probably represent an underestimate[61][62]).

Methane emissions are no joke. I may have been clueless to the emission status of rice, but plant scientists sure aren’t. There was recently bignews about a paper in Nature describing a new variety of rice that eliminates more than 90 percent of those emissions. It quickly became my new favourite science victory. Climate change combating rice. Awesome. To better illustrate what an awesome impact the methane-reducing rice could have, I compiled the data into another infographic:

The potential of this discovery is mind-boggling. Comparing that to the yearly climate mitigation effect that GMO crops have at present, equivalent to closing down 7-8 coal fired power plants, it’s huge. This rice alone could do that ten times over, and twice again.So how does the rice do it? And why is so much methane emitted from rice cultivation in the first place? When we consider many other methane sources, like ruminant’s stomachs, or landfills (or compost for the matter; read more by scientist Steve Savage on the shocking carbon footprint of compost), the key are anaerobic methane producing bacteria, or methanogens.

Methane is a natural byproduct of the metabolism of bacteria at work in digesting plant material, called methanogenesis. These bacteria are why cows and other ruminants can live on such tough plant materials (grass stems and leaves) which are near useless to most other animals. These bacteria work at conditions where there is no oxygen, in fact, oxygen is largely fatal to them. This brings us to rice, or more specifically, flooded rice fields, or paddy fields. In the protective anaerobic environment – the drowned soils of these fields – methanogens are hard at work munching roots and other plant material, bubbling away with methane.Back in 2002, a paper looked at the issue of rice-field -derived methane more closely motivated by just this climate impact:

Microbial production in anoxic wetland rice soils is a major source of atmospheric CH4, the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas.The authors saw that during the wet season, the formation of spikelets – the flowering, grain-forming parts of the rice plants – was reduced, and the methane emissions were high. They got higher still, when they artificially blocked the plant’s ability to form spikelets. Why? When the plant could not store its starches in the developing rice grain, they went increasingly to the lower parts of the plant, the roots, and more starches became available for the bottom-dwelling methanogens. It seems that wetter years are bad in particular for spikelet formation, and simultaneously, with no risk of drying out and being exposed to oxygen, that’s when the methanogens feast and thrive (and the warmer the better).Nipp is the control, SUSIBA2-77 is the modified rice. The biomass profile is visibly skewed upwards.

This opens a win-win prospect for plant scientists –what better way to reduce the starch content of the roots (and thus emissions), than to promote the plants ability to store its goods in the grains – to improve its yields? Fromthe 2002 study:

The observed relationship between reduced grain filling and CH4 emission provides opportunities to mitigate CH4 emissions by optimizing rice productivity.Fast forward to today.  The big news: the SUSIBA2-rice is here, as presented in Nature. The new engineered rice promotes more biomass accumulation above ground, away from reach for the methane producing bacteria. This results in 90-99.7% lower methane emissions, while also increasing yields – up to 1.5 times as much seeds per plant in weight and 10 % higher starch content in the grains.If you look at their model below, they describe greater “sink strenght” in the seeds and stems. “Sink” describes a plant part that is a sugar sink to differentiate from the sugar sources – photosynthesis locations are the sources, storage compartments are sinks.

Higher starch content in the stems and the seeds, less in the roots for the bacteria to feed on
Optimistic news pieces are popping up left and right. So what are we waiting for? Let’s amp up large scale testing, put some public financing into this and make it an international project of climate mitigation. In a few years, or a decade, we could be growing vast paddies of climate combating rice.Well, not so fast. No matter how good the prospects, sometimes simply having a better solution is not good enough. It can be hard for people to follow the world of science, and when faced with a novelty, they may go instead with their gut reaction.

Why is rice contributing to so many deaths?

Maybe you caught that I never explained that third problem I listed–the part about “inadvertently contributing to millions of deaths worldwide” part. That problem illuminates this point very well and reminds us that changing the world is not just up to science. It’s also about impressions and politics.In Asia, many of the very poor depend on a diet of predominantly rice. That’s the cheapest and best food they can get. But rice lacks some vital ingredients, often leading to a serious vitamin A deficiency. Here is one concise summary of the global food security challenge:
Three billion people depend upon rice as their main source of food of which 10 percent are at risk for vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of infections such as measles and malaria. Severe deficiencies lead to corneal ulcers or blindness. According to the World Health Organization, VAD is the cause of 250,000 to 500,000 children going blind each year. Half of these children die within a year. Additionally in Asia and Africa, almost 600,000 vitamin A-deficient women die from childbirth-related causes.

This is no small matter. What makes it heart-wrenching is that we have a solution. Independent scientists in a Swiss University created a rice with beta-carotene–the vitamin A precursor well known from carrot. The rice has a yellow colour, and is called Golden Rice. It’s a non-profit project, and for more than 10 years, the scientists have wanted to give it to the farmers of the developing world to help alleviate disease and suffering (see Golden Rice opposition cost $2b and 1.4m ‘life years’ over 10 years in India alone).

But activists have sabotaged them out of not much else than fear and refusal to listen to scientific evidence. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace turned global food activist, characterizes Greenpeace’s vehement campaign against Golden Rice as a “crime against humanity.” (See also Sorry Greenpeace, Golden Rice is a Win for Nutrition and Health and GM plants present low risk–say scientists).

A safe more nutritious variety of rice could help prevent millions from death and disability. Another modification of rice could protect them from arsenic accumulation. A third revolutionary discovery could help the globe by combating climate change.We can make the world better with biotechnology. If people will let that happen.

Iida Ruishalme is a writer and a science communicator who holds a M.Sc. in Biology from Sweden. She is a contributor to both Genetic Literacy Project and She blogs over

at Thoughtscapism. Follow her on twitter: @Thoughtscapism or on her Facebook page.

This Genetically Modified Rice Could Make More Food and Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Swedish scientists are developing a high-yield GMO rice that pumps less methane into the atmosphere
August 4, 2015 | 05:14 PM By Joanna Fantozzi, Editor

Wikimeda: Angie from Sawara
Preventing hunger and saving the planet, one grain at a time.
Scientists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences are working on a genetically modified strain of rice that combines barley genes with rice genes.The result would be a high-yielding, starchy rice plant that produces less methane gases than regular rice paddies. This plant, which pumps much less gas into the atmosphere, could have an impact on the severity of the greenhouse effect.

According to Ars Technica, methane gas emissions are the natural result of humidity in rice paddies; the wetlands where rich is cultivated emit methane gas in low-oxygen conditions. It is estimated that more than 25 million metric tons of methane enter the atmosphere every year as a result of the demand for rice worldwide. TheIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. However, this new GMO rice could pose a solution: the Swedish rice produces 90 to 99 percent fewer emissions than traditional rice.The research development would provide “a tremendous opportunity for more-sustainable rice cultivation,” the researchers wrote in the accompanying essay.

USA Rice DailyWOTUS Unravels from the Inside    

WASHINGTON, DC - Last week the
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released more than 50 pages of documents, some labeled "litigation sensitive," in which the Army Corps of Engineers sometimes strongly disagreed with the U.S. EPA on the process of drafting the final Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.  The documents, that were not intended to be made public, tell a story of two agencies in disagreement over not only process, but the use of data, the definitions in the final rule, and the scientific and legal justifications for what EPA was doing. Some of the memos went so far as to seek removal of the Corp's logo from the final documents, as well as removing them as an "Author, co-author, or substantive contributor."  

Referring to specific points in the final rule, the memos stated that the "1,500 foot limitation is not supported by science or law" and the "4,000 foot bright line rule is not based on any principle of science, hydrology or law," rendering both therefore, "legally vulnerable." Perhaps more importantly, a Corps memo stated that the final rule was "Inconsistent with SWANCC and Rapanos," the two Supreme Court decisions on Clean Water Act regulations that the final WOTUS rule was supposed to clarify.

"These documents are pretty damaging to the Administration's notion that WOTUS is a good, common sense rule," said Ray Vester, an Arkansas rice farmer and chairman of USA Rice's Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Committee "We'll continue to address the rule's legitimacy, and these documents provide a convenient roadmap to do so."

USA Rice, Others Meet with FAS Administrator Karsting 

Betsy Ward and Phil Karsting at USA Rice's 2015 Government Affairs Conference in February
WASHINGTON, D.C. - This afternoon, USA Rice met with Phil Karsting, the Administrator of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), as part of a small group of agricultural commodity organizations all uniquely involved in providing in-kind food aid contributions. The meeting was a follow up to a hearing held in June by the House Committee on Agriculture that reviewed U.S. international food aid programs where Karsting and a counterpart with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) served as witnesses and provided testimony (see "House Ag Committee Pushes Back on Administration Efforts to Gut Food Aid Programs," USA Rice Daily June 24, 2015)

The U.S. rice industry has been a long-time participant of the USAID's Food for Peace program that has accounted for up to five percent of domestic production in recent years. The Food for Peace program celebrated its 60th anniversary last month, and USA Rice staff participated in a Capitol Hill event to mark the occasion. (see "U.S. Rice Recognized at Food for Peace Celebration," USA Rice Daily, July 22, 2015) 
"Today's group discussed how important U.S. commodities have been to the United States' food assistance portfolio in meeting the needs of the world's hungry," said Sarah Moran, director of international promotion for USA Rice who attended the meeting. "The agricultural community supports the flexibility currently found within the Farm Bill that includes both cash/vouchers and adequate amounts of in-kind commodities." Administrator Karsting echoed his support of the in-kind commodity contributions and said "we need to continue using U.S. commodities where it makes sense." In reference to the flexibility aspect of cash vouchers he acknowledged that his agency and USAID "need a full range of tools in our tool box."

CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Prelim):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for August 4
Net Change

September 2015
+ $0.060
November 2015
+ $0.050
January 2016
+ $0.060
March 2016
+ $0.080
May 2016
+ $0.080
July 2016
+ $0.080
September 2016
+ $0.080

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)
WRITTEN BYDeena 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 Ecologistreports. 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 Biotechnologyintroduced 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.

Myanmar appeals for international assistance for flood relief

Tue Aug 4, 2015 10:15am EDT,YANGON | 

Myanmar said on Tuesday it had appealed for international assistance to help provide food, temporary shelter and clothing for more than 210,000 people affected by widespread flooding following weeks of heavy monsoon rains.At least 47 people have died in the floods, according to the government.Myanmar's call for international aid stands in sharp contrast to stance taken when it was ruled by generals. The junta had refused outside help in the wake of a devastating cyclone in 2008, when 130,000 people perished in the disaster.While the quasi civilian government, which took power in 2011 and faces elections in November, is leading the relief effort, but the military is handling operations on the ground.

"We are cooperating and inviting international assistance. We have started contacting possible donor organizations and countries," Ye Htut, the Minister of Information and spokesman for the President's Office said.He said international assistance was also needed to relocate people and rebuild communities after the flood waters retreat. With a per capita GDP of $1,105, Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in East Asia and the Pacific.The Chinese Embassy in Yangon began providing relief supplies to stricken areas this week.The minister said that the flood waters have begun to recede in Rakhine state on the west coast, which suffered some of the worst flooding after being lashed by the tail of Cyclone Komen, which made landfall in Bangladesh late last week.
Areas northeast of the Rakhine state capital, Sittwe, including Mrauk U and Minbya, were particularly hard hit.Video footage shot by Reuters on Monday aboard a military helicopter in Rakhine showed hundreds of people rushing through muddy flood waters to collect air dropped supplies.Rakhine is home to around 140,000 displaced people, mainly Rohingya Muslims who live in squalid camps scattered across the state.

Emergency workers were still facing difficulties in Chin State on Tuesday after the rain caused landslides in the mountainous state that borders India and Bangladesh.Main roads running through the state remained impassible and attempts to access cities by helicopter were hampered by the relentless downpours, Ye Htut said.The state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, citing the Ministry of Education, said that more than 1,300 schools across the country had been shuttered due to the floods.Shwe Mann, the speaker of parliament, has also postponed the reconvening of parliament scheduled for Aug. 10, in what will be the final session before the country heads to the polls on Nov. 8.

Hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland have been inundated by the floods, with the U.N. warning that this could, "disrupt the planting season and impact long-term food security."
The Global New Light reported that the Myanmar Rice Federation would halt exports until mid-September in an effort to stabilize domestic rice prices and keep rice in country.

Govt decides to engage private players for rice procurement

India Infoline News Service | Mumbai | August 04, 2015 08:41 IST

While 40 per cent of the country's estimated total rice production of over 102 MT comes from these states, procurement has been minimal.

Private players would now be roped in by the government for procurement of rice in Uttar Pradesh and other eastern states - Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam, whenever required, due to the inadequate facility for storage, says a PTI report.While 40 per cent of the country's estimated total rice production of over 102 MT comes from these states, procurement has been minimal, said the report.Based on the recommendations of the high-level committee of the state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI), a policy has been prepared by the Union Food Ministry.

Total procurement target has been kept as 30 million tonnes (MT) by the government for the kharif season 2015-16 and rice procurement for the season would begin from October, says the report.In the mentioned states, 5.13 MT of rice was procured in 2014 kharif season. Despite West Bengal being the top rice producing state at 15.1 MT, procurement here was only 1.80 MT in the said period, in the season , mentioned the report.States following a decentralised procurement policy (DCP), Bihar and West Bengal, would be allowed to engage private players either on behalf of state agencies or independently, said the report.

Monsoon will remain weak in Aug-Sept: IMD


The LPA for the country as a whole for the second half of the monsoon is 43.5 cm

The India Meteorology Department (IMD) stuck to its South-West monsoon forecast at 88 per cent of the 50-year long period average (LPA) of 89 cm. This has raised El Nino concerns from ‘weak’ to ‘moderate’.
This can affect yields of kharif crop, with a cascading effect on inflation. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had highlighted the risk of rising inflation in the June monetary policy review.Food prices continue to be an issue with retail inflation touching 5.4 per cent in June, an eight-month high.The latest forecast from the ESSO-IMD-IITM model indicates 72 per cent probability of El Nino conditions becoming strong during the remaining part of the monsoon season, said an official statement.The El Nino phenomenon refers to the warming of Pacific Ocean waters which affects weather patterns globally. Its strengthening is likely to result in an 86 per cent probability of deficient rainfall, below the normal 94 per cent of LPA, for August and September.The Met Department has forecast rainfall for the two months to be at 84 per cent (with a deviation of +/- 8 per cent). Rainfall in August is expected at 90 per cent (+/- 9 per cent), as forecast earlier in June.The average rainfall for the second half is estimated at 43.5 cm, around 49 per cent of the seasonal rainfall, with variation coefficient of 15 per cent.

Could hit crop yields

“Sowing has progressed fairly well but a deficient monsoon could impact yields which may put pressure of prices of pulses, fruits and vegetables,” said DK Joshi, Chief Economist, Crisil. Sowing of kharif crops at the end of July had covered 76.43 million hectares (mha), up 8.7 per cent from the 70.34 mha sown during the corresponding period of the previous year.Between June 1 and August 3, the country received 45.03 cm of rainfall, 6 per cent lower than the normal 48.13 cm. The South, in particular, has been the worst hit with rainfall 22 per cent lower than the normal 39.82 cm.

(This article was published on August 3, 2015)


Manager - Research Infrastructure and Operations


Location: Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines

Reporting to the Deputy Director General (Research), the Research Infrastructure and Operations Manager provides leadership in research support through managing functions including the Seed Health Unit, Experiment Station, Glasshouse and Plant Growth Facilities, Analytical Services, Research Data and Records management, GM stewardship functions, and Occupational Health and Safety (within research operations).The position is located in Los Baňos and primarily focuses on research infrastructure and operations on that campus, but provides support to research leaders managing research support activities at IRRI hub and satellite sites globally.

The Research Infrastructure and Operations Manager will work closely with the senior research and site management teams to develop short, medium and long term plans for the development and rejuvenation of IRRI's research infrastructure and will contribute to the development of infrastructure funding proposals.IRRI’s research programs include basic and applied research on genetic resources, rice biotechnology and breeding, sustainable crop and natural resources management, climate change, postharvest technologies, socioeconomic and policy research, rice information and delivery of new technologies. IRRI’s research is implemented through collaboration with hundreds of public, private and civil society sector partners worldwide. This position is based at IRRI Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.Screening starts immediately as applications are received. Interested candidates should submit CV with a cover letter stating motivation to apply for the position. Candidates should apply online at (or via this direct link:


Anti-Golden Rice Activists Want To 'Save The Whales' But Let Children Go Blind

A 2012 article in the nutrition literature might have been the most momentous contribution to public health worldwide since Dr. Jonas Salk’s announcement of the successful trials of polio vaccine. The operative phrase is might have been, because intimidation, politics and especially the dishonest, anti-science efforts of NGOs to impugn the research have delayed the translation of its findings to life-saving interventions for millions of children. Why do anti-genetic engineering activists want to save the whales but let children go blind and die?

The article, by Professor Guangwen Tang of the Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy and her multinational colleagues, reported a feeding trial in China of a revolutionary, genetically engineered variety of rice. Some background is needed to understand why it’s so important and how it came to be developed. Ordinary rice–which itself has been extensively genetically modified over centuries–produces β-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the leaves but not in the grains, where the biosynthetic pathway is turned off during plant development. In “Golden Rice” (GR)–called that because of its golden color–two genes (one from corn, the other from a bacterium) have been inserted into the rice genome by precise molecular techniques of genetic engineering. That modification enables the carotenoid biosynthetic pathway to produce and accumulate β-carotene in the rice grains.

Beta-carotene-enhanced Golden Rice and white rice. (Credit: Golden Rice Humanitarian Board,
Beta-carotene-enhanced, genetically engineered Golden Rice; and white rice. (Credit: Golden Rice Humanitarian Board,

Since a prototype of GR was developed in the year 2000, new lines with ever-higher β-carotene content have been generated, and feeding studies in adult humans have demonstrated that GR is a good source of vitamin A. Why are vitamin A and its precursor, β-carotene, important? Vitamin A is critical for normal vision and also plays a central role in maintaining the integrity of the immune system. The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient, which causes 250,000 to 500,000 of them to go blind every year. Half die, often from diarrheal diseases or measles, within 12 months of losing their sight. This ongoing catastrophe is preventable. In theory, the most desirable remedy would be a varied and adequate diet, but this is not always achievable.

 The reasons are manifold, ranging from traditional preferences to geographical and economic limitations. GR varieties have the advantage of not creating new dependencies or displacing traditional foods. Moreover, they are sustainable because there is no need for public health infrastructure to provide repeated alternative interventions for fortification or supplementation. That gets us back to Professor Tang’s study. She and her colleagues fed GR, spinach, or pure β-carotene to 68 children aged six to eight in Hunan province. The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012, showed that “β-carotene in GR is as effective as pure β-carotene in oil and better than that in spinach at providing vitamin A to children.” A single serving of 100 to 150 grams (about a quarter pound) of cooked GR could provide about 60% of the daily requirement of vitamin A.

 This was groundbreaking, potentially life-saving research, but as so often happens, no good deed goes unpunished. The trial attracted the attention of activist NGOs, including Greenpeace, which claimed in a press release that the children had been used as “guinea pigs” without full and appropriate informed consent. It produced a furor, with Chinese news agencies inaccurately reporting that the researchers had conducted dangerous, unauthorized experiments on poor children, and within days Chinese police had interrogated the researchers and coerced statements disavowing the research. Because of the publicity, Tufts University conducted internal and external investigations.  An official statement released in September 2013 concluded:

These multiple reviews found no concerns related to the integrity of the study data, the accuracy of the research results or the safety of the research subjects. In fact, the study indicated that a single serving of the test product, Golden Rice, could provide greater than 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A in these children, which could significantly improve health outcomes if adopted as a dietary regimen (emphasis added). While the study data were validated and no health or safety concerns were identified, the research itself was found not to have been conducted in full compliance with [Tufts’ Institutional Review Board] policy or federal regulations. Reviews found insufficient evidence of appropriate reviews and approvals in China. They also identified concerns with the informed consent process, including inadequate explanation of the genetically-modified nature of Golden Rice.  The principal investigator also did not obtain IRB approval for some changes to study procedures before implementing the changes.

The appropriate response to these findings should have been a yawn. Institutional Review Boards know very well that minor glitches and deficiencies are common in clinical trials, especially when they are conducted abroad. Incredibly,  however, Tufts barred Professor Tang from human studies for two years, and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, where her article had been published, retracted the paper!  The journal cited several kinds of minor procedural deficiencies but none that posed any safety problems or challenged the validity of the conclusions of the study. Their rationale was decidedly unpersuasive; in fact, it was absurd. If, as is likely, these actions delay even further the regulatory approvals of Golden Rice—the first generation of which, as mentioned above, was developed 15 years ago—the blood of untold numbers of children will be on the hands of the editors of the journal, the Tufts University officials involved, and Greenpeace.  If there were a Nobel Prize for the Commission of Genocide, they could be co-recipients. A 2009 response from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (whose National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases partly funded the research) to a query from another extremist NGO about the Tang study (which had not yet been published) contained these noteworthy observations (all direct quotes):

Because vitamin A deficiency can lead to serious problems such as blindness and death, clinical research such as Dr. Tang’s is important to further define the functions of vitamin A and its metabolites and to identify the levels required to improve health and alleviate disease.
Many safeguards were built-in to ensure that the study was carefully planned and monitored to protect the children who participated. The application was first reviewed and approved by Institutional Review Boards (IRB) at both Tufts University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. Ensuring that adequate safeguards were in place for children who would be involved in the project, the reviews from both IRBs included human subject safety.

Furthermore, while the approval of U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture was not required to conduct the study, project investigators welcomed and received advice and counsel on safety, nutritional, and regulatory issues from both agencies.Throughout the entire project, [National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases] scientists reviewed required progress reports from Dr. Tang. Under an NIH-approved Data Safety Monitoring Plan, an independent, institutional safety officer monitored interim study data for any potential problems and reviewed participants’ translated, informed consent statements (emphasis added).
Anti-social actions by radical NGOs are neither new nor surprising, and genetically modified food has for years been a favorite target. Activists have chosen to ignore the scientific consensus about the safety of genetically engineered crops—a consensus that is the result of hundreds of risk-assessment experiments and vast real-world experience. In the United States alone, more than 90% of all corn, soybeans and sugar beets are genetically engineered, and during two decades of consumption around the world not a single health or environmental problem has been documented.

Anti-technology NGOs consider Golden Rice a critical target precisely because of its great potential to reduce morbidity and mortality among the poorest and most vulnerable. They regard it as a sort of Trojan horse that, when widely available, could persuade the public of the usefulness and safety of genetic engineering. Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace turned pro-biotechnology apostate, put it this way: “If Greenpeace admits that there is one good [genetically engineered] crop, then they would have to admit there might be other good [genetically engineered] crops and then they would be reduced to a rational discussion of the subject like the rest of us mere mortals.” To activists with pure hearts, vulnerable children who are going blind and dying unnecessarily are just collateral damage.

The Tang study on Golden Rice cannot just be swept aside into academic limbo. “Were this an emerging new drug with such life-saving potential, no public official would allow these important results to get buried so irresponsibly,” observes former senior U.S. government advisor John J. Cohrssen.  The study’s conclusions are valid and need to be acknowledged in public health policy. Tufts University, the several funders of the research and the public health community have a moral and ethical obligation to see that the Tang study is rehabilitated and that Golden Rice moves rapidly toward widespread availability.

Recipe: Brown rice with soy & ginger tofu & watercress
Kieran Scott
Basmati brown rice takes less time to cook than regular brown rice – great for a weeknight meal.
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Flash in the pan. Serves 4
250g firm tofu, diced 2cm
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1⁄4 cup dark soy sauce, plus extra to serve
2cm piece ginger, peeled, grated
1 1⁄2 cups brown basmati rice, washed well and drained
8-10 stems broccolini, trimmed, halved
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
200g watercress sprigs
1. Put the tofu in a bowl with the sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger. Set aside to marinate while the rice cooks.
2. Put the drained rice in a saucepan. Cover with 2cm cold water then bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.
3. After the rice has been cooking for 20 minutes, place a colander over the saucepan and steam the broccolini for 5 minutes or until bright green and tender. Reserve.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat then stir-fry the onion until crisp. Add the tofu and marinade and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until the tofu is hot.
5. Drain the rice, if necessary, then add to the wok, together with the peas and broccolini. Sprinkle with the vinegar then stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until warmed through and combined.
6. Remove from the heat and stir in the watercress. Serve in bowls, drizzled with extra soy sauce.

668,000 tonnes of rice for auction on Aug 11

4 Aug 2015 at 13:34 2,383 viewed3 comments
A total of 668,228 tonnes of stockpiled rice, comprising 11 types, will be offered for auction on Aug 11, as the Commerce Ministry tries to dispose of old grain inherited from the previous government. (Bangkok Post file photo)
More than 660,000 tonnes of rice will be put up for auction on Aug 11, from the huge stockpile accumulated under the rice pledging scheme of the previous government, the Commerce Ministry announced on Tuesday.
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said 11 types of rice totalling 668,228 tonnes would be offered to buyers. The rice is now kept in warehouses under the Public Warehouse Organisation and the Marketing Organisation for Farmers.The bidders have to submit documents on Aug 10. Bidders who qualified would be announced at 8.30am on Aug 11 and woud be able to submit bids until noon that day. The winners would be announced the same day.
As of June 30, the ministry had a total of 15.11 million tonnes of rice in the stockpile, in three categories.The first group comprised 9.15 million tonnes of edible rice -- 1.82 million tonnes of grade A and B rice, and 7.33 million tonnes of grade A and B rice mixed with grade C rice.The second group of 5.89 million tonnes of grade C rice comprised 4.6 million tonnes of degradable rice and 1.29 million tonnes of inedible rice which was crumbling to powder.The third category consisted of about 70,000 tonnes of rice which the ministry was still examining and grading. In early July, the ministry sold 1.148 million tonnes of rice for 12.08 billion baht. The ministry announced earlier that much of the rice to be auctioned would likely to bought for production of ethanol.  Ms Duangporn said the ministry had organised eight auctions of rice under the government led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, selling 3.88 million tonnes for a return of about 40.95 billion baht.

Myanmar traders suspend rice exports as floods hit

3 Aug 2015 at 21:20 2,216 viewed0 comments
A villager makes his way through flood waters in Min San village, Pwintbyu township, Minbu, Magway division, in Myanmar Monday. (AP photo)
-YANGON – Leading Myanmar rice exporters decided to temporarily suspend exports Monday in an effort to stop prices rising during heavy floods across the country, traders said.Traders decided at a meeting Monday to suspend exports until Sept 15, when rice is harvested at the end of the rainy season, said Soe Tun, vice chairman of Myanmar Rice Federation. "This will help stabilise the rice price as rice is the primary food for Myanmar people, and the price always rises in such time of troubles," Soe Tun said.

The price of rice had risen sharply in some flooded areas, including in the western states of Chin and Rakhine, local media reported.The MRF said it was planning to ship rice to flood-affected areas later this week, in corporation with other rice trader groups.Myanmar exported more than 1.7 million tonnes of rice in the fiscal year 2014-2015, worth nearly US$645 million, a figure 40% higher than the previous year, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.Myanmar aims to have an annual rice yield of over 14 million tonnes, including about 2 million tonnes of rice for export, according to MRF.

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