Friday, September 18, 2015

17th September,2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Italy Paddy Sales Sluggish in New Crop Year Due to Low Availability of Stocks

Sep 16, 2015
Italian paddy sales in the first week of the new crop year 2015-16 (September 1, 2015 - August 31, 2016) have remained sluggish due to low availability of stocks, according to local sources.
Around 25,421 tons of paddy were sold during September 1-8, 2015, down about 41.5% from around 43,459 tons sold during the same time last year. Since most the beginning stocks of 2014-15 crop year were exhausted, only a few available quantities from the last crop year were sold.
About 12,455 tons of Long A varieties, around 10,585 tons of Long B varieties, around 1,716 tons of round varieites and 665 tons of medium varieties are sold during the week.
Official quotations on Italian grain exchanges have not yet started, But as per unofficial quotations in Vercelli on September 15, round varieties were quoted at 30-32 euros (about $ 33.8-36 ) per ton; Long A varieties Augusti and Loto varieties were quoted at 30 euros (about $ 33.8 ) per ton, Sant'Andrea was quoted at 40 euros (about $ 45), and Volando and Carnaroli were quoted at 55-60 euros (about $ 61.9-67.6) per ton.

Pakistan Basmati Rice Export Prices Increase Slightly in August 2015

Sep 16, 2015
Pakistan basmati rice export prices have increased in August 2015 after declining continuously for three months, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).The increase can be attributed to an expected surge in basmati rice exports to Iran as the Middle East nation is understood to have agreed to lift of sanctions on rice imports from Pakistan. Also the exporters are lobbying for a rice-energy barter trade between the two nations. Last three months, prices declined due to expected higher production in the country.
In August 2015, Pakistan's basmati rice export prices have increased by about 2% to around $888 per ton from around $868 per ton in July 2015, and down about 38% from their year-ago levels of around $1,430 per ton. In terms of local currency, average Pakistan basmati rice prices in August 2015 increased by about 2% to around PKR 89,914 per ton from around PKR 87,759 per ton in July 2015, and down about 38% from around PKR 144,430 per ton in August 2014.
Average Pakistan basmati rice prices stood at around $918 per ton in the first eight months of 2015 (January - August), down about 33% from around $1,359 per ton recorded during the same period last year.
Average basmati rice prices increased between July and September 2014 and peaked to around $1,450 per ton in September 2014 due to fears of a fall in production as floods affected large area of basmati rice acreage in Punjab. However, the overall production of basmati rice has not been significantly affected by floods.
Currently, Pakistan basmati growers have been urging the government to provide adequate support to increase competitiveness of Pakistan's basmati rice in the global market.

Conab Estimates Brazil 2014-15 Paddy Rice Production to Increase Despite Fall in Acreage

Sep 16, 2015
Brazil’s National Grains Supply Company (Conab) has forecasted the country's 2014-15 paddy rice production at around 12.449 million tons (around 8.6 million tons, basis milled), up about 2.7% from around 12.121 million tons (around 8.24 million tons, basis milled) in 2013-14.
Conab has estimated Brazil's 2014-15 paddy rice acreage at around 2.295 million hectares, down about 3.3% from around 2.373 million hectares in 2013-14.
Most of the decline in acreage is expected in the North/Northeast region. Rice acreage in the North/Northeast regions is estimated at around 738,200 hectares, down 8.7% from around 808,400 hectares in 2013-14. On the other hand, paddy rice acreage in the key rice growing Centro-Sul (Center-South) region is projected at 1.557 million hectares in 2014-15, slightly down from around 1.565 million hectares in 2013-14.
Average rice yield in Brazil in 2014-15 is projected at around 5.4 tons per hectare, up about 5.7% from around 5.11 tons per hectare recorded in the previous year.
USDA estimates Brazil MY 2015-16 (April – March) paddy rice production at around 11.765 million tons (around 8 million tons, basis milled), down about 6% from an estimated 12.5 million tons (around 8.5 million tons, basis milled) in MY 2014-15. It estimates Brazil’s 2015-16 paddy rice acreage to decline slightly to around 2.3 million hectares. USDA estimates Brazil to export around one million tons of rice and import around 550,000 tons of rice in 2015.

Asian Rice Quotes Mixed Today

Sep 16, 2015
Thailand rice sellers lowered their quotes for parboiled rice by about $5 per ton to around $340-$350 per ton today. Vietnam rice sellers increased their quotes for 5% broken rice,  100% broken rice and Jasmine rice by about  $5 per ton each to around $325-$335 per ton, $305-$315 per ton and $450-$460 per ton respectively. India rice sellers lowered their quotes for parboiled rice by about $10 per ton to around $350-$360 per ton. Pakistan rice sellers lowered their quotes for 5% broken rice by about $5 per ton to around $310-$320 per ton.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $335 - $345 per ton, about $10 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $325 - $335 per ton, up about $5 per ton from yesterday. India 5% rice is indicated at around $375 - $385 per ton, about $65 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $310 - $320 per ton, down about $5 per ton from yesterday.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice is shown at around $325 - $335 per ton, about $5 per ton premium on Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $320- $330 per ton. India 25% rice is indicated at around $340 - $350 per ton, about $50 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $290 - $300 per ton.
Parboiled Rice
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $340 - $350 per ton, down about $5 per ton from yesterday. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $350- $360 per ton, down about $10 per ton from yesterday and about $65 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice last shown at around $415 - $425 per ton.                            
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, is indicated at around $305 - $315 per ton, on par with Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $305 - $315 per ton, up about $5 per ton from yesterday. India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $300 - $310 per ton, about $25 per ton premium on Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $275 - $285 per ton.

India Forecasts 2015-16 Kharif Rice Production to Decline Slightly from Last Year

Sep 16, 2015
The government of India forecasts 2015-16 kharif (June - December) rice production at around 90.6 million tons, slightly down from around 90.86 million tons in 2014-15.
Total rice planted area to the 2015-16 kharif rice crop stood at around 36.841 million hectares as of September 11, 2015, slightly up from around 36.651 million hectares planted during the same time last year. Planting operations have been so far satisfactory despite concerns of weaker rains in the monsoon season (June-September) due to an El Nino weather pattern.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecasted the El Nino pattern to reach to moderate to a strong one during the monsoon season (June – September). It has forecast a 16% deficit in the rainfall during the second half (August-September) of the monsoon season (June-September).
Concerns of a slight reduction in kharif rice output may push up both domestic and export prices in the next few months.
The government forecasts the total kharif food grain output at around 124.05 million tons.
The government estimates 2014-15 rice production to decline about 2% y/y to around 104.8 million tons due to below average rains during the kharif main rice crop planting process (June - September 2014) in many key rice growing areas and unseasonal rains and hailstorms during February and March 2015.

Italian Expo 2015 Highlights Rice Growing Cultures in Various Countries

Sep 16, 2015
Various rice growing countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Sierra Leone have exhibited their rice booths in the Italian rice expo, which is taking place in Milan.
A rice booth will demonstrate how rice grows, including how the water covers and protects the seedlings. It also conveys the feel of vastness, the colors and scents of rice fields to visitors. Anyone visiting the rice booths will have a chance to get a glimpse of rice growing cultures in various countries. They can also understand how the farmers in those countries changed their cultivation patterns with time.
Within the booths in the expo, visitors can experience a rural setting featuring different varieties of rice growing in fields. A kaleidoscopic effect is created with mirrors in the booths.

Oryza Afternoon Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Pull Back as Market Reassesses Fundamental Outlook

Sep 16, 2015
Chicago rough rice futures for Nov delivery settled 10.5 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) lower at $12.865 per cwt (about $284 per ton). The other grains finished the day in the red; Soybeans closed about 0.2% lower at $8.8725 per bushel; wheat finished about 1.3% lower at $4.8825 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 1.2% lower at $3.8600 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded higher Wednesday as investors eyed a jump in oil and the beginning of the Federal Reserve's key two-day meeting. The energy sector briefly rose more than 2.5% to lead S&P advancers. Weekly crude oil inventories unexpectedly fell, supporting further gains in oil prices. Crude earlier surged more than 5.5%, while brent was temporarily up more than 7% above $50 a barrel. The Federal Open Market Committee could raise short-term interest rates for the first time in nine years in its two-day meeting that began Wednesday. All eyes are on Thursday afternoon's expected statement and press conference. Wall Street is divided over whether the central bank will decide to raise rates. Stocks rallied more than 1% Tuesday, more than recouping Monday's mild losses.
 The Dow Jones industrial average joined the other major averages to end within 10% of its 52-week high, out of correction territory. Other analysts said the rally meant the Fed would hold off on tightening Thursday. European shares rose, with the STOXX Europe up nearly 1.5%. Asian stocks ended the session on a firm note. China's benchmark Shanghai Composite index staged a late-day rally to close almost 5% higher — adding to upbeat sentiment in global stock markets. In late-morning trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 92 points, or 0.56%, at 16,692. The S&P 500 traded up 11 points, or 0.58%, at 1,989, with energy leading seven sectors higher and health care, financials and telecommunications declining. The Nasdaq traded up 14 points, or 0.30%, at 4,875. Gold is trading about 1.5% higher, crude oil is seen trading about 4.6% higher, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.4% lower about  1:00pm Chicago time.
Tuesday, there were 417 contracts traded, down from 907 contracts traded on Monday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Tuesday increased by 442 contracts to 10,700.

ABARES Estimates Australia 2015-16 Paddy Rice Production to Decline Sharply on Low Acreage

Sep 16, 2015
Australia's paddy rice production in MY 2015-16 (April 2015 - March 2016) is estimated to decline to around 655,000 tons (around 517,450 tons, basis milled), down about 10% from an estimated 724,000 tons (around 570,380 tons, basis milled) in MY 2014-15, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).In its September crop outlook report, the ABARES attributes the decline in paddy rice production to a 7% y/y decline in planting area to around 65,000 hectares as well as a 7% y/y decline in average yield to around 10 tons per hectare.
Total summer crop production is estimated to have declined by 7% y/y in 2014–15 to 4.39 million tons, due to decline in production of all summer crops, including rice. The area planted to summer crops declined by 17% y/y to around 1.24 million hectares. Rice is grown in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
The weather report issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) on 27 August 2015 suggests that wetter than average conditions were more likely for most cropping regions in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia during September - November 2015. It expects close to average conditions across most cropping regions in Queensland. It is reported thatAugust rainfall was average to above average in most major summer cropping regions in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. This rainfall increased the level of upper layer soil moisture, encouraging crop planting.The BOM maintains that El Nino weather pattern is likely to bring average winter and spring rainfall in eastern Australia.

Government of Thailand Estimates Paddy Rice Production to Reach Lowest Level in 19 Years

Sep 16, 2015
The Thai Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) has estimated that Thailand's 2015-16 paddy rice production may plunge to the lowest level in 19 years due to the extending drought conditions and water shortages, according to Bloomberg.
The OAE told reporters that the Thai paddy rice production may fall to 22.98 million tons in 2015-16, down about 30% from around 32.62 million tons last year.
Farmers are likely to be restricted to plant rice between November 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016 due to water shortages, according to the Agriculture Minister. Cabinet is yet to make an official announcement regarding the same.
Lower production in Thailand and other Asian nations due to the drought inducing El Nino pattern is expected to tighten global rice supplies further impacting prices. “A potential fall in output could gradually boost prices by up to $20 a ton by the end of this year,” a Bangkok-based trader was quoted. Domestic prices may climb to 9,000 to 10,000 baht ($278) a ton from around 8,000 now," he added.
Meanwhile, Thailand has about 13.5 million tons in stocks and the government targets to export about 10 million tons of rice this year.

European Paddy, Rice Quotes Show Slight Movements in First Week of New Crop Year

Sep 16, 2015
European paddy quotes in the first week (September 1-8) of the crop year 2015-16 (September - August) showed some slight movements with opposite trends in different countries, according to the European quotations supplied by the European Union (EU) on May 12, 2015.
SPAIN - Japonica paddy remained firm at 288 euros (about $ 324 ) per ton on September 8. Indica paddy did not move from 283 euros (about $ 318) per ton. Milled Japonica rice quoted 586 euros (about $ 660) per ton on both weeks.                                     
PORTUGAL - Portuguese rice received no quotations.         
GREECE – On September 8, medium paddy variety received no quotations, while Long paddy remained unchanged at 470 euros (about $ 529) from last week. Indica paddy received no quotations.
ROMANIA - Japonica paddy prices were declined slightly to 318 euros (about $ 358) per ton from 324 euros (about $ 365) per ton on September 1. Indica paddy quotes were unchanged at 340 euros (about $ 383) per ton quoted on September 1,  As for milled rice, on September 8, Japonica quotes increased to 868 euros (about $ 978) per ton from 759 euros (about $ 855) per ton on September 1. Indica milled rice quoted increased to 858 euros (about $ 966) per ton on September 8, from 761 euros (about $ 857) per ton on September 1.   
BULGARIA - Japonica paddy quotations are firm at 294 euros (about $ 331) per ton. Japonica milled rice prices were unchanged at 872 euros (about $ 982) per ton.
FRANCE - On September 8, round milled rice declined to 550 euros (about $ 619) per ton from  560 euro (about $ 631) per ton on September 1, as well as Long B that declined from 590 euros (about $ 664) per ton on September 1 to 550 euros (about $ 619) per ton on September 8. Long A reached 560 euros (about $ 631) per ton on September 8 from 550 euro (about $ 619) per ton on September 1.

Indonesia May Import Rice if Needed, Says Vice-President

Sep 16, 2015
The government of Indonesia may decide to import rice this year if the impact of El Nino on rice production is severe, Bloomberg quoted the country's Vice-President as saying.
He told reporters that government needs to monitor the impact of El Nino on the country's food production. He also noted that the government should re-evaluate this year's 75 million tons paddy rice estimate amid extending drought conditions.
The government has so far not imported any rice this year. It is keen on achieving self-sufficiency in rice production and avoid imports this year. Even till recently, the government has been hopeful of achieving sufficient rice production. However, now the government is likely to take back its decision on imports.
Meanwhile, analysts are predicting that Indonesia may have to import about 1.6 million tons of rice this year to maintain stocks and stabilize prices.
USDA estimates Indonesia to produce around 36.3 million tons of rice, basis milled (around 57.17 million tons, basis paddy), and import around 1.25 million tons of rice in MY 2014-15 (October - September).

U.S. Rice Industry Opposes Emerging TPP Deal with Japan

Sep 16, 2015
The U.S. rice industry is opposing the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal with Japan and made it clear that they would not support the deal if their demands on tariff free higher quota and quality access to Japan's rice market are not met, according to Inside U.S. Trade.
The Chief Operating Officer of USA Rice told reporters that they are urging the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to negotiate a better deal for U.S. rice. The U.S. wants Japan to increase tariff free rice imports from the U.S. to 175,000 tons from the existing 50,000 tons, as well as provide quality access to its markets (U.S. producers want Japan to allow them to sell directly to consumers instead of the government agencies).
Japan has been reluctant to increase the quota to 175,000 is negotiating to close at 70,000-100,000  tons. Currently it restricts rice imports through a tariff-rate quota set at roughly 682,200 metric tons on a milled rice basis and the U.S. accounts for nearly half the imports. While imports within the quota are interest free, remaining are subject to a duty rate of 341 yen per kilogram, or around$3,400 per ton. Therefore the U.S. rice sector says it is unviable for them to ship rice outside the quota.
Meanwhile, the TPP countries are likely to hold their next meeting on the U.S. during the last week of September.

PM'S Agriculture Relief Package Does Not Cover Rice Export Sector, Says REAP Chairman

Sep 16, 2015
The Chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has expressed dissatisfaction that the agriculture relief package has not considered the demands of the rice exporters, according to local sources.
He noted that the Rs.5,000 per acre (around $120 per hectare) subsidy is not sufficient for basmati rice farmers. He also noted that the government has not mentioned an appropriate support price for super basmati, whose prices have been declining.
The REAP Chairman also pointed out that the PM  did not specify any loan waivers, or refund of withholding tax to millers and exporters. He noted that the government was also silent on the withdrawal of 3.5% withholding tax on local purchase of rice.
He also noted that no mention was made regarding research and development in the rice sector. He reiterated that the country's Rice Research Institutes have not provided new and quality basmati seed since last 15-20 years.
The Chairman urged the government to consider certain demands such as helping them deal with shipping companies which increase prices suddenly when new crop receives the market, refund of sales tax, enhancing the funds of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to support the rice exports.
He warned that if these issues are not addressed, rice export trade would witness an alarming decline and exporters have to struggle to survive.
Global Rice Quotes
September 16th, 2015
Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade   350-360                ↔
Vietnam 5% broken        325-335                ↑
India 5% broken               375-385                ↔
Pakistan 5% broken        310-320                ↓
Myanmar 5% broken      415-425                ↔
Cambodia 5% broken     420-430                ↔
U.S. 4% broken                 530-540                ↔
Uruguay 5% broken        535-545                ↔
Argentina 5% broken     530-540                ↔
Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken      325-335                ↔
Vietnam 25% broken      315-325                ↔
Pakistan 25% broken      290-300                ↔
Cambodia 25% broken   405-415                ↔
India 25% broken             340-350                ↔
U.S. 15% broken               500-510                ↔

Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd     340-350                ↓
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd          415-425                ↔
India parboiled 5% broken stxd                 350-360                ↓
U.S. parboiled 4% broken             570-580                ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken          545-555                ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken    NQ         ↔
Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%   810-820                ↔
Vietnam Jasmine             450-460                ↑
India basmati 2% broken              NQ         ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken       NQ         ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails     830-840                ↔
Thailand A1 Super            305-315                ↔
Vietnam 100% broken   305-315                ↑
Pakistan 100% broken stxd          275-285                ↔
Cambodia A1 Super        355-365                ↔
India 100% broken stxd                 300-310                ↔
Egypt medium grain brokens      NQ         ↔
U.S. pet food     335-345                ↔
Brazil half grain NQ         ↔

All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel,

USDA Estimates 2015 Global Rice Trade to Decline 2% y/y to 42.5 Million

Sep 16, 2015

In its September Rice Outlook report, USDA forecasts 2015 global rice trade at around 42.5 million tons, down 2% from an estimated 43.4 million tons in 2014, and unchanged from last month's forecast. USDA expects a 2 million ton or 18% decline y/y in 2015 Thai rice exports and weaker shipments from Egypt, but says an increase from other countries such as India, Pakistan and the U.S. may not fully compensate for fall in Thai exports.On the exports side, USDA raised projections for India rice exports based on shipment pace so far and larger supplies. It however lowered export forecast for Vietnam and the U.S. based on slow pace of sales. On the imports side, USDA lowered prospects only for Brazil based on shipment pace.

USDA estimates global rice trade in 2016 at around 42.2 million tons, slightly down from last month's forecast of 42.3 million tons and estimates 42.5 million tons in 2015. It lowered 2016 export prospects for Myanmar and the U.S, but increased forecasts for India and Australia. It raised 2016 import forecasts for Indonesia, but lowered for Chile.

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16th September,2015 Daily global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

News Headlines...
§  Basmati in free fall, farmers lose sleep
§  Farmers hail govt agriculture package
§  No relief for rice exporters in PM relief package: Reap
§  Farmers divided over ‘agricultural relief’
§  PM announces Rs 341 billion agriculture package
§  Pakistan to award $3.2 billion to farmers to bolster agriculture
§  Kharif foodgrain output seen lower at 124.05 million tonnes
§  Submerged flood tolerant rice plants survive inundation
§  Fresh depression scales up monsoon over East, Central India
§  Gloomy path ahead for Vietnam’s rice brands
§  Top Rice Exporter Sees Crop at Two-Decade Low on Water Shortage
§  India's 2015/16 summer rice output to drop on poor rainfall: Government
§  PH to buy more rice on top of planned 750,000 T imports
§  Falling rice prices land UAE traders in soup
§  Commercial Bank empowers southern rice millers with awareness programme
§  DOST: Hallmark of a scientist is innovation
§  Still Importing Rice: Firm Clarifies Denies Beef With Partners
§  GM crops can address food security challenge
§  Policy reforms needed to ‘climate-proof’ agriculture sector–expert
§  News shared byUSA Rice Daily
§  Rice farmers get unexpected support from NASA study
§  U.S. Rice Industry Rejects Emerging TPP Deal With Japan; Presses For Changes
§  Syngeta launches fast acting pesticide, tomato hybrids, rice seed varieties
§  Oasis brings authentic Yemeni cuisine to Tempe
§  Light option with grains offers departure
§  Coromandel In Southport: Elegant Contemporary Indian In Southport

News Detail...

Basmati in free fall, farmers lose sleep

State govt mulls withdrawal of 7 per cent tax, exporters seek bailout package
 This year, PUSA 1121 is getting Rs 2,000 per quintal for farmers and the recently introduced basmati variety PUSA 1509 is fetching the growers just Rs 950 to Rs 1,200 per quintal The price of non-basmati paddy is fetching growers Rs 1,450 per quintalThe reason for low basmati prices in India is that prices in the export market have fallen drastically — from $1,800 three years ago to $650-$700 nowThis is because exporters have been selling their basmati on direct advance to West Asian buyers and now their payments are stuck, mostly in IranIn the wake of this and fall in basmati exports, the prices in local markets have taken a beating
Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 16

Prices of new varieties of basmati — PUSA 1121 and PUSA 1509 — have had a free fall, sending the farmers and state Agriculture Department in a tizzy.With the price falling much below the price of non-basmati varieties, the state government is likely to enter the market to salvage the basmati growers by offering to withdraw certain taxes.This year, PUSA 1121 is getting Rs2,000 per quintal for farmers and the recently introduced basmati variety PUSA 1509 is fetching the growers just Rs950 to Rs1,200 per quintal.Comparatively, the price of non-basmati paddy —which is procured on a minimum support price — is fetching growers Rs 1,450 per quintal.The reason for low basmati prices in India is that prices in the export market have fallen drastically - from $1,800 three years ago to $650 to $700 now. This is because exporters have been selling their basmati on direct advance to West Asian buyers and now their payments have been stuck, mostly in Iran.
In the wake of this and fall in basmati exports, the prices in local markets have taken a beating.Sources in the state Agriculture Department have told The Tribune that considering the seriousness of the issue, a meeting was held between Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Agriculture Minister Tota Singh yesterday, wherein the poor price fetched by basmati and its impact on the already stretched rural economy because of successive poor returns fetched by farmers on almost all crops — wheat, cotton, sugarcane and now basmati — since last year was discussed.Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said the government was apprised of the grave situation and necessary steps were being initiated to salvage the situation. “We have also called a meeting with the arhitiya association (commission agents) and rice industry tomorrow to discuss the way forward,” he said.
Sources in the state Agriculture Department say the state government is mulling withdrawing at least 7 per cent tax on basmati (two per cent each of market fee and rural development fee and three per cent Punjab infrastructure development fund) if the arhtiyas (commission agents) were to buy basmati. It is learnt that since the private basmati rice millers did not clear the dues of commission agents for 2014, the government could offer them tax rebate so as to encourage them to buy basmati from the growers and then export it.
In Punjab, the total area under paddy this year is 28 lakh hectares, with the area under basmati varieties pegged at 7.63 lakh hectares and the remaining area being sown under non-basmati varieties like PR 124 and PUSA 44.This is the second successive year when the prices of basmati varieties have fallen, mainly due to shortfall in exports to West Asia.Till 2013, basmati varieties were getting Rs4,000 to Rs5,500 per quintal, which has now fallen to just Rs2,000 for 1121 and Rs900 to Rs1,200 for 1509.Vijay Setia, former president of the All India Rice Exporters Association and a leading rice exporter, says the Government of India should immediately impose an export tax of $200 per tonne and plough this tax to help farmers. There is need to watch the farmers’ interest, he said.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Rice Millers and Exporters Association too said it was facing a huge crisis because of declining exports.Ashok Sethi, director of the association, said, “Besides plummeting prices, they also have to deal with frequent search and seizure operations launched on them by the Income Tax sleuths.” They have sought a special bailout package, including interest subvention on bank loans and export advances.

Farmers hail govt agriculture package


Staff Reporter

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - Islamabad—Small farmers hailed on Tuesday the mega agriculture package worth Rs 341 billion announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for farmers and said, the package would help boost agriculture production in the country. “During last several years farmers of the country were facing difficulties due to the flash floods, decreasing trend of agriculture commodities’ prices and increasing prices of agriculture inputs, so the announcement of the package would act like a catalyst for the farmers across the country”, said Muhammad Nasir, President of Kissan Welfare Association talking to APP by phone.


He said small farmers of rice and cotton would get Rs 5000 per acre as cash support which is really an encouraging move by the government. Moreover, he said announcement of subsidy on urea, interest free loans for installing solar tube wells and exemption of taxes would encourage the farmers to put maximum efforts in growing their agriculture produce ultimately resulting in bumper production of the commodity. He however urged the government to implement the announcement in letter and spirit so the benefit could reach all the deserving farmers.

Secretary General Kissan Bachao Tehreek, Ahmad Noor Dhudi also appreciated the mega package of the government saying that it would help revive the
agriculture industry which is backbone of the country’s economy. He also urged the government for devising easy mechanism for disbursement of the benefit to all farmers without discrimination.

A small farmer from South Punjab, Amir Abbas appreciated the announcement of the package and said he would now get a cash support of Rs 5000 per acre for cultivating cotton on his land besides getting subsidy on agriculture inputs. Meanwhile in a statement issued by the Kissan Board Pakistan, Chairman of the Board, Arsalan Khakwani urged to implement the provision of Rs 5000 per acre cash support.


No relief for rice exporters in PM relief package: Reap

September 16, 2015 ARACHI - Rafique Suleman, Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has shown concerns over the announcement of Relief Package by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for farmers in which no relief announcement was made for Rice Export Sector. He questioned that whether the announced subsidy of Rs.5,000 per acre will solve the problems of rice crisis, as this cash support for farmers is not sufficient for Basmati rice farmers. He added that the so-called support price of Rs.1600 for Super Basmati Paddy is not realistic, as the prevailing market rates for Super Basmati Paddy is Rs.800 and still there is a huge difference of Rs.800 which have to be considered by government.
He shared some of the important suggestions, which REAP has given to the government but the same were not considered.The suggestions included rollover of all bank limits without penalties should be allowed under Running Finance as well as Export Refinance where settlement should be extended from current 180 days to 360 days. State Bank of Pakistan related cost of funds for all 100pc markup paid/payable on ERF/ FE/ Running Finance should be refunded without penalty and the borrowers may pay only the bank’s spread as per documented realities available with all banks for their respective clients who are rice millers or rice exporters for the period July 2014 to September 2015.
 He recommended that refund of 100pc Withholding Tax paid by rice exporters from the period July 2014 to June 2015 and refund of 10pc invoice value to all rice exporters for shipments from July 2014 to June 2015 and withdrawal of 3.5pc withholding tax on local purchase of rice.One of the most important issues, he said, is the lack of Research & Development in rice as the Rice Research Institutes were failed to provide any new and good quality seed of Basmati rice since last 15 to 20 years. He added that rice exporters were facing severe problems with shipping companies due to the sudden increase in their charges on arrival of new rice crop.
He demanded Sales Tax Refund claims of rice exporters must have been refunded on fast track basis, adding that TDAP has no sufficient funds to undertake the activities for marketing and promotion of Pakistani rice. The REAP urged the government to allocate additional budget for TDAP to increase the exports from Pakistan.He said that if rice exporters concerns were not addressed and their proposals were not considered, then rice export trade will have to see alarming crisis and rice exporters will have to struggle very hard to survive, as the circumstances are not in favour of rice exporters.

Farmers divided over ‘agricultural relief’

Published: September 16, 2015
Drastic slump in commodity prices has proven to be a major blow to growers, especially cotton farmers. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

LAHORE: While the government quarters seemed pleased with announcing a relief package for farmers, in lieu of the slump in commodity prices, different farmer groups were still displeased.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a Rs341-billion bailout, to be implemented in different phases, that would focus on direct cash transfers, subsidies, loans and reducing input costs.However, farmers’ associations said parts of the package were disclosed in the budget announcement in June, but the ‘relief’ was yet to reach the sector.“The announcement of Rs5,000 per acre support for cotton and rice growers will open new doors of corruption,” said Pakistan Kissan Ittehad President Khalid Khokhar. “Our main demand was to announce the support price for these two commodities, but we failed to convince the premier as the support price announcement, especially for cotton, was not in favour of textile lobbies.”

As per the farmers, cotton and rice growers are facing a per-acre loss of between Rs30,000 to Rs35,000. They say Rs5,000 as subsidy is insufficient.Talking about fertiliser support, farmer lobbies claimed that the price of urea has already been increased by Rs200 per bag, and this subsidy was announced by Ishaq Dar in the budget due to farmers’ protests.“There is a high possibility that support price announced for farmers would be masticated,” said Pakistan Rice Mills Association Chairman Faisal Cheema. “This might give some relief to the growers. But who will buy the paddy from farmers when the godowns are overloaded with existing stocks? The announcement of a support price, on the other hand, will help the entire supply chain as there is a liquidity crunch in the commodity market.”

Some still positive

However, some farmers were optimistic at the package announcement. “The per acre subsidy will help around 65% of the farmers. In current circumstances, when government is facing budgetary constraints, this is a good omen,” said Farmers Associates Pakistan Director Hamid Malhi.However, he added that the move could help farmers but would not help to lift the entire market due to the liquidity crunch. “The current situation is likely to remain for a few more years as the World Bank has predicted that commodity prices are likely to remain stagnant,” he added.

Rice exporters feel left out

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Chairman Rafique Suleman has said that the rice export sector is not going to get any help from the relief package.In a press release on Tuesday, he said the announced subsidy of Rs5,000 per acre is not sufficient for basmati rice farmers. He said that one of the most important issues is the lack of research and development in rice sector.
“Our rice research institutes have failed to introduce new and high quality seed of basmati rice since the last 15 to 20 years,” said Suleman. “Exporters are facing severe problems with shipping companies due to the sudden increase in their charges.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th,  2015

PM announces Rs 341 billion agriculture package

September 16, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday announced a Rs 341 billion relief package for small farmers, which includes direct cash support and provision of soft agriculture loans. Addressing the Farmers Convention at Jinnah Convention Centre, the prime minister said the package was aimed at introducing progressive agriculture on scientific lines, reducing production cost of crops and making the small farmers prosperous. The prime minister said the country’s development was directly related to the uplift of its agriculture sector, particularly farmers. He said that under the package, small farmers would get Rs 147 billion as direct benefit, while Rs 194 billion had been allocated for agriculture loans.
He said the farmers cultivating rice and cotton at up to 12.5 acres of land would be given cash support of Rs 5,000 per acre. The government on this facility will bear the cost of Rs 20 billion each for rice and cotton crops. Nawaz said the global cost reduction of agriculture commodities had affected the income of farmers beside increase in prices of seeds, fertiliser and pesticides, which had resultantly enhanced the cost production. The prime minister announced setting up a Rs 20 billion fund to reduce prices of fertilisers which will lessen Rs 500 per bag of Potassium and Nitrate fertilisers.
Also, the government was negotiating with local fertiliser manufacturers and gas companies to revert the increase in prices of fertilisers, which had gone up by Rs 200 per bag. He said it had been decide to provide Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to fertiliser companies to overcome the shortage of gas supply. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the government would bear the Rs 2.5 billion premium on the agricultural insurance, which will benefit 0.7 million small farmers. He said solar tubewells would be provided on mark-up free loans to the farmers who own up to 12.5 acre of land.
The mark-up of seven years would be paid by the federal government with a cost of Rs 14.5 billion. He said this would ensure a saving of Rs 1,600 and Rs 500 per day for the farmers running tubewells on diesel for five hours daily and on petrol for same duration, respectively. He stated that the electricity price for running tubewells at peak hours had been fixed at Rs 10.35 per unit and Rs 8.85 at off-peak hours. He said the sales tax on these bills, amounting to Rs 7 billion, would be borne by the federal government. The prime minister said the customs duty, sales tax and withholding tax on the agriculture machinery had been reduced from 45 percent to nine percent.
He said rice millers had been given full exemption on the turnover tax for year 2015-16. He said the traders of agriculture commodities, fruits, vegetables and fish would get an exemption of three years on income tax while the sales tax on cold chain machinery had been reduced from 17 to seven percent. Nawaz said the installation of production unit of halal meat that will be registered before December 31, 2016 will be given a four-year exemption on income tax. Banks in general show reluctance in giving loans to small farmers due to risks involved which, he said, could be overcome through provision of guarantees.
Prime Minister Nawaz said the government would provide Rs 30 billion as fifty percent guarantee to banks on loans. This will benefit around 0.3 million farming households through Rs 0.1 million each with collateral loans. He said that the time-limit to pay back Rs 34 billion outstanding loan on the rice traders had been extended up to June 30, 2016. The State Bank of Pakistan is working to reduce the mark-up rate on agriculture loans by two percent which would give a benefit of Rs 11 billion per anum to farmers, Nawaz said.

He said the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited and commercial banks would provide one-window facility to the farmers seeking loans. The value of production unit had been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000, which would help farmers get double the amount of loan against their land value. The prime minister said a committee has set up under the supervision of Federal Minister for National Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan which would work out ways to increase per-acre yield and reduce cost of agriculture inputs.

Pakistan to award $3.2 billion to farmers to bolster agriculture

By Asad Hashim / Reuters on Sep 15, 2015
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistani farmers will receive $3.2 billion in grants, subsidies and loan advances from the government, says Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a bid to spur sluggish growth in one of the country's main economic sectors.The new schemes represent the government's largest economic development programme for the agricultural sector since it was voted into office in 2013.The funds will be provided through immediate cash grants and subsidies on agricultural inputs worth $1.4 billion, while loan advances worth $1.85 billion will also be made and disbursements begin this year, he says."

The conditions of the agricultural sector do not inspire confidence," Sharif said as he announced the new package at a farmers' convention in Islamabad.The reforms and grants will primarily target small farmers, classified as those with holdings of 12.5 acres or fewer.The package includes immediate cash grants for rice and cotton farmers, cuts in fertiliser prices, and a government scheme to pay insurance premiums for farmers who cannot afford them.It also includes collateral guarantees for loans, and tax breaks for the dairy, poultry and fish farming sectors.Agriculture accounts for roughly 23.8 percent of Pakistan's gross domestic product, according to the country's central bank. Wheat, cotton, rice, sugar cane and corn being its main crops.

Kharif foodgrain output seen lower at 124.05 million tonnes

Our Bureau
Poor rains to drag production of rice, pulses, coarse cereals
New Delhi, September 16:  

A consecutive deficient monsoon is likely to take its toll on Kharif crop production, according to the first advance estimates released by the Agriculture Ministry here on Wednesday. While almost all the crop segments – foodgrain, coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds – are likely to miss their targets, output estimates for most major crops appear to be marginally different from the first advance estimates for the Kharif season of the 2014-15 crop year (July-June) that was also hit by a poor monsoon. Total foodgrain production, including rice, coarse cereals and pulses, is likely to touch 124.05 million tonnes (mt) this Kharif, 1.78 per cent lower than last year’s final estimate of 126.31 mt.

However, the early estimate this kharif is higher than last year’s early estimate of 120.27 mt – a 3.14 per cent increase. Rice production is pegged at 90.61 mt compared to 88.02 mt last year but lower than the target of 106.1 mt. Total production of coarse cereals such as jowar, bajra and ragi is expected at 27.88 mt, slightly higher than the first estimate of 27.05 mt in 2014-15. Kharif maize production is expected to be 3.2 per cent lower at 15.51 mt. Output of kharif pulses such as arhar, moong and urad are seen at 2.61 mt, 0.86 mt and 1.37 mt. While the estimates for urad and moong are expected to be slightly higher than the previous year’s early estimates of 1.15 mt and 0.71 mt, it is lower for arhar that was expected at 2.74 mt last year.

Oilseeds buck the trend

Total output for the oilseeds complex is pegged at 198.90 lakh tonnes (lt), about 1.1 per cent higher than the 1st estimate in 2014-15 of 196.64 lt. Soyabean production is expected at 118.32 lt, slightly higher than last year, while output of groundnut – despite 3 per cent lower acreage compared to last year – is estimated at 51.07 lt, higher than the 50.24 lt expected last year.

Cash crops wilt

Cotton production is likely to slide by 3.2 per cent to 335.07 lakh bales (of 170 kg each) in 2015-16, compared to the early estimate of 346.23 lakh bales last year. Cotton acreage is lower by 8.4 per cent this Kharif as of September 11.
Jute and mesta output is also expected to decline by nearly 5 per cent in 2015-16 to 108 lakh bales (of 180 kg each).
Yields impacted

“This is the second consecutive year of a poor monsoon and irrigation coverage needs to be increased. The rural population will always be at risk from droughts in rain-fed areas. So while rice output may remain steady, for others yields will be impacted by less rainfall and moisture in the soil,” said DK Joshi, Senior Director and Chief Economist, Crisil. Around 96 per cent of sowing has been completed even as the country recorded a 16 per cent rainfall deficit between June 1 and September 16. Severely stressed mainly rain-fed areas include Marathwada, central Maharashtra, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat. A monsoon resurgence this month in the southern peninsula has brought some relief in regions like north interior and coastal Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh.

(This article was published on September 16, 2015)
Submerged flood tolerant rice plants survive inundation
posted : 15 Sep, 2015 00:00:00                      
 RANGPUR, Sept 14 (BSS): The submerged plants of flood tolerant rice varieties survived inundation for up to two weeks and resumed normal growth after recession of the floodwater in the country's flood-prone areas this season.The inundated plants of flood tolerant BRRI dhan51, BRRI dhan52, BINA dhan11 and BINA dhan12 Aman rice plants sustained submergence for 15 days in Kurigram, Gaibandha, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Jamalpur, Sirajganj, Mymensingh and other districts.
According to beneficiary farmers of the Stress Tolerant Rice for Poor Farmers in Africa and South Asia (STRASA) Project, their submerged and 'apparently' rotten flood tolerant variety Aman rice plants are growing now normally after recession of floodwater.The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is funding the STRASA-IRRI Project to expand cultivation of stress tolerant rice by implementing the Seed Multiplication Programme with GO-NGO collaboration.
Farmers Ariful Haque Batul, Shahjada Mian and Salek of village Najirdigar in Rangpur said their growing plants of BRRI dhan51, BRRI dhan52 and BINA dhan12 remained submerged for 13 to 14 days at a stretch during the recent floods.Farmer Rafikul Islam of village Farshkura under Nageswari upazila in Kurigram said that growing plants of BINA dhan11 successfully sustained submergence for 10 days at a stretch at the end of last month.
Farmers Nadalal of village Dakshin Rajpur and Mohammad Shamim of village Katapara in Lalmonirhat said their submerged plants of BRRI dhan52 and BINA dhan11 sustained submergence for 15 days in two phases respectively this season.

After a few days of recession of floodwater, the 'rotten' remains of the 'damaged' tender plants of these flood-tolerant rice varieties started growing again and their crop fields turned green within the next two weeks, they said."The apparently damaged rice plants of flood-tolerant rice varieties resumed normal growth despite inundation for two weeks after recession of floodwater while traditional variety submerged Aman rice plants were completely damaged," they said.
Farmers Shaheron Begum, Asadul and Ojifa Begum of village Char Najirdaho under Kawnia upazila in Rangpur said the growing plants of BINA dhan11 rice were submerged in their fields on August 21 last and the floodwater water was yet to recede.Farmer Janab Ali of village Dorsha in Mymensingh said floodwater submerged his BRRI dhan51 rice plants on 1.05 acres of land for two weeks in the first phase and still remain under water since September 9 in the second phase.

Fresh depression scales up monsoon over East, Central India

Vinson Kurian
Thiruvananthapuram, September 16:  
A monsoon depression has formed over South Odisha on Wednesday as the previous day’s well-marked ‘low’ crossed the coast and intensified over land. The rare depression late in the season promises a sustained spell of heavy to very showers for East India, North Peninsular India, Central India and West India over the rest of the week.
May intensify

In fact, model predictions, including by the India Met Department, sees the depression largely keeping its strength as it marches over east Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, west Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The odd prediction goes on to suggest it might undergo another round intensification over land as it approaches the Arabian Sea. This is likely to happen over western Maharashtra. Forecasters are not ruling out potential for further ‘mischief’ since the projected path would take the system for a run-in with a cyclonic circulation each over north-west Madhya Pradesh and the Kutch area.
If this were to happen, this would lead to a flare-up over the Kutch from the combine, following which it would split yet again into two and head off tangent from each other. While the bigger of the two is seen ploughing into the deserts of west Rajasthan, the smaller remnant would slip out into north-east Arabian Sea and push away.

Heavy rain forecast

In this manner, Wednesday’s depression might be able to deliver moderate to heavy rainfall from to East India, Central India, West India, and North-West India, in that order. The US Climate Prediction Centre more or less agrees with this outlook. In fact, it sees the wet spell being sustained for a second week that ends September 28, thanks to latent activity in the Bay of Bengal. Though late in the season to be of any significant gains to the kharif cop, the rains through the week will help improve water levels in the reservoirs over the North Peninsula, Central India and West India.
The overall rain deficit for the country as whole is unchanged from Tuesday at 16 per cent. North-West India and Central India, the worst hit, share 20 per cent each. The deficit is 15 per cent over South Peninsula and seven per cent over East and North-East India. The ongoing rains may not bring about a drastic change in the deficit scenario during this last month of the monsoon.

(This article was published on September 16, 2015)


Gloomy path ahead for Vietnam’s rice brands

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam's rice prices are much lower than the brand-name rice from Thailand and Pakistan. New policies need to be developed to help farmers increase income.

According to data from the World Food Organization (FAO) in 2015, the export prices of Pakistan’s Basmati rice and Thailand’s jasmine rice were above $1,000 per ton in 2012-2015.  At the same time, 5% broken rice of Vietnam has never reached the price of $500/ton.In the period from 2004 to 2012, the average price of imported rice in Vietnam was always higher than the average export price.In 2008 and 2012, the average price of imported rice in Vietnam was over $1,000 per ton, while the average export price was less than $600 per ton. We can understand that due to diverse tastes, we still import rice with a small volume. But it is unfortunate that we have to import high-quality rice at high prices, but have only low-quality rice for export.

Therefore, the problem of building a Vietnamese rice brand is more urgent than ever. Recently, the Prime Minister signed Decision 706/QD-TTg on building a brand for Vietnamese rice until 2020, with the vision to 2030.Currently, some local companies are trying to develop a brand of rice, for example, the organic rice brand "Hoa Sua" of Vien Phu Viet Nam Company, exported to the UK, or "Hat Ngoc Troi" brand of An Giang Plant Protection Company for the domestic market and for export.

These firms have their own rice fields or have close connections to high-quality rice areas.Looking to Thailand or Cambodia, all rice brands are directly managed by enterprises. Obviously, to form a rice product of high quality, the rice production process should be linked in a chain, in which the enterprise is the most important link. This link helps connect farmers and output markets, controls the process of growing high quality rice, and builds brands and markets the brand to consumers. In building rice brands, enterprises play the key role.

Enterprises needs to be “untied”

Looking back on the process of innovation in the last 30 years, the turning point in terms of policy for the rice sector is the policy "Contract 10". In essence, "Contract 10" motivated farmers to cultivate and increase production because they were the main beneficiaries of their rice fields.
The current question is: who has enough motivation to create branded and high quality rice?

"The historical role" of farmers is to produce enough rice to supply sufficient output for the domestic market. They have successfully completed that role for 30 years. But farmers do not have much incentive to produce better rice without influence from the state, entrepreneurs and researchers because rice traders only purchase fresh rice without needing to know about the quality.The state and researchers are motivated but they do not directly produce and benefit from rice. That leaves only entrepreneurs, who seek long-term profits in the market, and have real motivation for the production and sale of high quality rice. When they have a profit, their partners, farmers, will also benefit. Therefore, only businesses and farmers can decide whether we can produce high quality and branded rice.

Therefore, the most important thing in terms of policy right now is to offer support towards market forces, namely businesses and farmers, making them feel that they can benefit from the creation of the brand, from the production of high quality rice. With such policies, both farmers and businesses will create a sustainable and lasting link.The absence of rice brands of Vietnam at recent international food fairs shows that the impetus for the parties is not sufficient, and the policy barriers to this issue are still large. Businesses are still tied somewhere and they need to be untied. That is the basis for Vietnam to create another "Contract 10" policy, oriented to rice enterprises.While the State-owned Vietnam Food Corporations (Vinafood) is still struggling to find ways to create brands of rice for export, some private companies have actively set up links with farmers to produce special rice. Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh, director of the Vietnam Economic Policy and Research Institute (VEPR), said private enterprises are the "gladiators" bringing Vietnam rice brands to the world arena. However, the will to fight of these gladiators is being eroded by policies and mechanisms. The next article will address the limited policy that should be removed so that rice enterprises can be "unleashed".
Nguyen Quang Thai - Nguyen Khac Giang
(Vietnam Institute for Economic Policy Research)


Top Rice Exporter Sees Crop at Two-Decade Low on Water Shortage

September 16, 2015 — 3:26 AM PDT
Rice production in Thailand may plunge to the lowest level in 19 years as dry weather may prompt the world’s largest shipper to further restrict plantings to preserve water supply.Output of rough rice may decline to as low as 22.98 million metric tons in 2015-16, the least since 1996-97, assuming there is no planting during the dry season starting in November, Thailand’s Office of Agricultural Economics said in an e-mailed reply to Bloomberg questions on Tuesday. That’s down 30 percent from 32.62 million tons a year earlier.A smaller crop from the Southeast Asian nation, which accounts for about a quarter of the global trade, may tighten supply just as El Nino threatens to parch fields in Asia and disrupt harvests worldwide.

Global production will fall for the first time since 2009-10 as flooding and drought in major growers damage crops, while consumption expands for a sixth year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Futures in Chicago have risen 10 percent this year, reaching a one-year high on Sept. 14.“A potential fall in output could gradually boost prices by up to $20 a ton by the end of this year,” said Kiattisak Kanlayasirivat, a Bangkok-based director at Ascend Commodities SA, referring to export prices of 5-percent broken white rice, an Asian benchmark. Domestic prices may climb to 9,000 to 10,000 baht ($278) a ton from around 8,000 now, he said.Production may total 24.69 million tons if 20 percent of rice is planted in the dry season, according to the Thai office. Annual output averaged 36.39 million tons in the past five years, it said.


Water Supply

Farmers won’t be allowed to plant crop from Nov. 1 to April 30 as lower-than-average rainfall causes insufficient water supply, Farm Minister Chatchai Sarikulya told reporters on Sept. 11. Cabinet is yet to make an official announcement on prohibiting plantings.Growers need to reduce plantings or switch to other crops that consume less water as rainfall this year is about 25 percent below a historical average, resulting in declining water reserves, Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a government spokesman, told reporters Wednesday. State agencies are working on measures to support farmers, he added.World rice production for 2015-16 is forecast at 475.76 million tons, down from 478.65 million projected in August, the USDA said in a report last week. Consumption was estimated at 487.42 million tons for the same year.Futures on the Chicago Board of Trade traded at $12.920 per 100 pounds at 4:52 p.m. in Bangkok. Prices rose to $13.080 this week, the highest since July 2014.


India's 2015/16 summer rice output to drop on poor rainfall: Government

By Madhvi Sally, ET Bureau | 16 Sep, 2015, 06.43PM IST

The country's food grain production from summer-sown crops is likely to drop 1.8 % from a year ago to 124.05 million tonnes. NEW DELHI: Kharif foodgrain production is expected at 124.05 million tonnes this season, 1.79% less than last year, as per the first advance estimate of the agriculture ministry. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the ministry attributed the likely fall in production to deficit rains in some states. However, with the area under kharif planting seen an increase of over 1.76% year on year at 101.2 million hectare, the production figures could increase as harvest progresses.
"These are preliminary estimates and would undergo revision based on further feedback from the states," the ministry release said. The cumulative rainfall during the current monsoon season has been deficient by 15%, which is higher than rainfall deficit of 12% last year. The agriculture ministry said that on account of timely onset of monsoon as well as government multiple interventions with contingency plans, timely advisories and regular monitoring of seed and fertiliser availability, estimated production of most of the crops during the current kharif season is higher than the first advance estimate of 2014-15. In 2014-15, as per the fourth advance estimate, the country saw kharif production touched 126.31 million tonnes.
 In 2013-14, the country saw a record kharif foodgrain production of 129.24 million tonnes. Rice production in kharif 2015-16, is estimated to be 90.61million tonnes, 0.27% less than the previous year. The crop has been planted on 36.84 million hectares against 36.65 million hectares a year ago. Grain analyst Tejinder Narang said the estimate would not have any impact on grain prices. "Rabi planting of paddy has yet to take place and it is likely to make up. Rice exports are expected to fall this year, so we should have ample supplies in the country," he said. Production of coarse cereal has been estimated at 27.88 million tonnes with a significant decline in maize. Maize crop production is pegged at 15.5 million tonnes against 16.4 million tonnes last year. Kharif pulses (tur and urad) production in 2015-16 has been pegged at 5.56 million tonnes against 5.60 million tonnes a year ago.
  Pravin Dongre, chairman of India Pulses and Grain Association, said the planting was higher than the previous year and that the farmers are hoping that rains are well distributed in the last phase. Area under pulses till last week had increased by 11% over the previous year at 11 million hectares. Production of oilseeds such as groundnut, soyabean and castorseed has been estimated to increase to 19.89 million tonnes this year against 18.3 million tonnes last year. An official from an edible oil company, however, expressed strong doubts about the estimates. "The ministry says soyabean production will be 11.83 million tonnes compared to 10.53 million tonnes in the previous year. We expect it to be lesser than that," the person said. Cotton production is expected to be 33.5 million bales of 170 kg each, lower by 2 million bales over the previous year, while sugarcane production has been estimated at 341.43million tonne, lower by 7.93 million tonnes than the last year.

The Economic Times

PH to buy more rice on top of planned 750,000 T imports

Posted at 09/16/2015 12:37 PM
MANILA - The Philippines plans to buy more rice on top of its planned 750,000 ton of imports via a tender that will close on Thursday, the country's economic planning chief said."We will," Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told foreign correspondents in a forum, when asked if the government will import additional volumes.The country's state grains procurement agency, National Food Authority, has sought 750,000 tons for delivery from November to March next year amid falling stocks and a crop-damaging El Nino dry weather pattern that is forecast to be among the strongest in 65 years.
Falling rice prices land UAE traders in soup
Haseeb Haider/Abu Dhabi
Filed on September 16, 2015 | Last updated on September 16, 2015 at 08.03 am
Between 40-50 commodity traders, dealing in rice, sugar, edible oil, and frozen chicken legs, have defaulted in the last three-four months on their banking obligations, traders and bankers said. In a new episode of the defaulting saga, a large number of commodity traders at Dubai's Al Ras wholesale market have gone bust, creating a crisis at over a dozen local and foreign banks and financial institutions, sources said.Between 40-50 commodity traders, dealing in rice, sugar, edible oil, and frozen chicken legs, have defaulted in the last three-four months on their banking obligations, traders and bankers said.
The defaulting traders, at least 25 of whom are reportedly missing, also owe millions to the market, said Mian Sajjad Ahmed, managing director of Batala General Trading at the Al Ras wholesale market.The sources attribute the trouble to a glut in the market caused by a bumper basmati crop in India and Pakistan and an Iranian ban on imports from India. Prices of Indian basmati rice plummeted from $610 per metric tonne to $305-443 in 2014-15.In Pakistan, basmati prices plunged 40 per cent to $730-750 in 2014-15 from $1,000. India's premium long grain rice 1121 is sold at $750 per metric tonnes, Sella basmati traded at $720-730 and Pakistan's IRRI- 386 is sold at $750, all down from $1,200-1,300 at the start of the year.
According to a retailer in Dubai, prices of Pakistani rice brands Falak and Mehran sustained a downward trend, with Falak available in market at as low as Dh28 on offer for a 5kg bag, compared to the Dh45 normal price."Indian brands - Dawat, Pride of India and India Gate among others - also fluctuated in rates depending on hypermarket and grocery stores, but overall these brands sustained stable trend in the market, ranging from Dh9 to Dh14 per kilogram," he said.
Sajjad told Khaleej Times that out of 50 traders, only four companies were operating out of the Al Ras wholesale market, and the rest were having offices elsewhere in the Jabel Ali Free Zone, Sharjah and Ajman."On the average, these small and medium enterprises had borrowed Dh20-25 million," a source at a multinational bank said. However, one firm's exposure is as big as Dh150 million, while several borrowed between Dh50 and Dh100 million, he said.The bankers fear they may have to write off Dh2 billion-Dh2.5 billion this financial year due to the crisis.
A banker said in most cases the default was not "wilful", a view also echoed by Sajjad. One company owner fled with not only his bank loan, but his own Dh1.5 million and another Dh20 million from the market, Sajjad said, while another trader paid all his creditors before he left.According to him, it all started with the plunge in prices. Sajjad said some genuine traders could not pay on time following which banks suddenly stopped their credit line and demand to pay their dues.This panicked the traders, said Sajjad, who blamed nervous bankers for creating a crisis out of nothing.
However, Sajjad said most of the companies, whose names were revealed to him by Khaleej Times, were never heard before. They were not at all involved in foodstuff business but may have built their books to con the banks."The whole situation developed in just two months, as everything was fine until Eid Al Fitr," he said.One banker said at least 20-25 defaulted traders have already left the country to avoid legal action, including immediate arrest and litigation for recovery.He said at least four rice traders sold a total of 40,000 metric tonnes of rice in the market at 40-50 per cent discount. At least a dozen of traders have not defaulted, but they are in a dire straits and unable to meet their commitments with the banks and market.Traders dealing in Indian rice were largely affected when Iran put a temporary ban on imports from India in November 2014 on the grounds of having adequate stocks and for political reasons.

Commercial Bank empowers southern rice millers with awareness programme

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon recently conducted a programme to enhance the proficiency in rice milling of rice millers in the deep South under the Bank's initiative to assist micro businesses and SMEs countrywide by providing them with essential knowledge.The programme, organised by the Bank's Tissamaharama Agriculture and Micro Finance Unit (AMFU) with the assistance of the Bank's Ambalantota, Hambantota and Tissamaharama branches, benefitted 40 rice millers with knowledge on developing their rice mills and optimising their resources.

It was conducted in collaboration with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Inland Revenue Department and the Institute of Post-Harvest Technologies.Officials of the Central Bank conducted a session on financial literacy development covering fund management, the difference between formal and informal sector borrowings, how to identify legal tender notes, the Central Bank's loan schemes and characteristics of Pyramid systems.

Representatives of Institute of Post Harvest Technologies covered key aspects of effective paddy storing by explaining some of the techniques of modern paddy storing methods, how to reduce post-harvest losses, how to enhance profitability and new machinery.Among the senior representatives of the organisations involved in conducting the programme were Sirimevan Bandara Wasala, Commercial Bank's Regional Manager, Southern, Upali Hettiarachchi - Regional Manager of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Matara Branch, H M K BRathnayake, Senior Engineer of the Institute of Post-Harvest Technologies, A.Gamage Somapala, Assistant Commissioner of the Inland Revenue Department and Kapila Danasiri, a lecturer on positive thinking.

The Commercial Bank has conducted similar programmes for SMEs and micro entrepreneurs in areas such as Narammala, Galle, Monaragala, Wellawaya, Badulla, Passara, Bandarawela, Welimada, Weligama, Koggala, Karapitiya, Matara, Batticaloa,Ampara, Kurunegala, Jaffna, Vavuniya, Hingurakgoda and Kandy in the recent past.The Bank's Agriculture and Micro Finance Units are located in Ratnapura, Narammala, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Kilinochchi, Bandarawela, Wellawaya, Hingurakgoda, Galewela, Atchuvely, Vavuniya and Tissamaharama. They identify and support people who need financial assistance for Agri/Micro businesses, provide guidance on how to improve their businesses and help resolve difficulties.

DOST: Hallmark of a scientist is innovation

September 16, 2015
Lilibeth A. French
ILOILO CITY, Sept. 16 (PIA6) - - Innovation can revolutionize and enrich way of life.This was the gist of the message of Assistant Secretary Dr. Urdujah Tejada of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) during the opening of the 2015 Regional Invention Contests and Exhibits (RICE) which will run until September 17 at SM City Iloilo.Tejada also said that innovation is one of the most important attributes of a scientist aside from knowledge and skills.
She cited in her message how innovation saved Apple, a multi-billion dollar company, when it was in bad shape and close to bankruptcy. She said founder Steve Jobs, instead of laying off some employees and cutting cost resorted to innovate its way out from its predicament.

Innovations after innovations, the company has revolutionized computers, entertainment, music, retail, mobile and telecommunications.“More than saving a company from bankruptcy, it can maintain or better yet create jobs that can support thousand of families,” said Tejada. She added that innovation can also save the Philippines from pits of poverty.To spark the interest of Filipinos in innovating, DOST encourages and engages Filipinos to participate in RICE, a strategy that supports the vision of “Philippines: A Science Nation Innovating for Global Competitiveness”.RICE also pushes active involvement of the youth in Research and Development with the aim to increase the critical mass of researchers who will become future scientists.This year, a total of 61 entries from student researchers both in the secondary and college levels from the different schools in the region is presented in the RICE at SM City Iloilo. This is aside from the 25 entries coming from local inventors and professionals.Tejada said through activities like RICE it will be possible for the country to not only keep up with other countries’ technologies, but will be able to set technological standards which other countries must keep up with.

The Philippines ranked 79th, in terms of innovation or the ability to produce brand new technologies while Singapore ranks 11th, Malaysia 21st, Indonesia 41st and Cambodia 103rd.
On the other hand, in terms of technological readiness and the ability to adopt technologies, the Philippines ranked 69th with Singapore occupying the 2nd rank, Malaysia as top 30, Thailand ranked 42, Indonesia 75th and Vietnam 86th.“We have gone far enough in terms of conducting researches which are resource-based and we are ready to face the challenges as we integrate with the other ASEAN countries,” said Tejada. (JCM/LAF/PIA6-Iloilo)

Still Importing Rice: Firm Clarifies Denies Beef With Partners

Written by Edwin Genoway, Jr (231886458910),
Published: 16 September 2015

“UCI is still doing business with our partner DRUM. The reports that the stocks of one supplier were depleted, and UCI moved to another supplier was not true. As you see, there sits an agent of DRUM- our relationship still exists”- Anwar Ezzedine, Chief Executive Officer, United Commodities Incorporated

Monrovia - The United Commodities Incorporated (UCI) an importer of the nation’s staple –rice has clarified that it is still importing rice on the Liberian market, dispelling reports that the UCI and its international contracting company DRUM are no longer working together as it has been in the past. Citing a report from a local daily, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UCI, Anwar Ezzedine, said he was accused in the report of conniving with DRUM agents to withdraw larger quantities of rice than his company had paid for.

It was also reported by the local daily that in a classic 'sell-pay' scheme, UCI allegedly paid for a certain amount of rice, but convinced with the DRUM agents to allow the importer to withdraw a larger consignment than was paid for, with the assurance that the extra rice would be paid for once sold. The paper reported that when the stocks of one supplier were depleted, UCI moved to another supplier.Speaking at a news conference in the presence of a representative of DRUM, Ezzedine said the contract between the UCI and DRUM still exists, contrary to the report in the local daily. “UCI still doing business with our partner DRUM and the story by Daily Observer that the stocks of one supplier were depleted, and UCI moved to another supplier was not true. As you see, there sits an agent of DRUM--our relationship still exists,” he said while pointing at the DRUM Representative at the press conference.

He disclosed that there has never been a shortage of rice within the UCI supply, adding that even during the Ebola crisis, the UCI did not experience rice shortage. He described the information as a mere jealousy blaming his competitors whom he said want to get into the rice importation business in Liberia, though he did not mention who are those competitors.“I know there are hands behind it but I will not mention any name now, the rice importation in Liberia is very sensitive and it needs to be handled with care,” he said. "We heard there are lots of people who want to come into the business and as such they will do all they can to bring us down.” Ezzedine said the publication by the local daily has injured the reputation of his company and as such, the paper has been sued at the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court for actions of damages for wrong.

The UCI CEO revealed that about 33,000 metric tons of long grain rice was brought into Liberia on the vessel MV AL MUKHTAR on September 11, 2015. The delivery order, a copy of which is in the possession of this paper shows that currently there is 1,319,793 bags of rice at the Freeport of Monrovia imported by the UCI.
GM crops can address food security challenge
Farria Naeem
Food is an emotional topic for us all - we care about not only what we eat, but also how it's grown. But is our stance a balanced one? Are the safeguards we put into place sufficient to protect us while still allowing to us to benefit from technological innovation?
Today, innovations involving Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are at the frontier of agriculture, science, and engineering. GMOs include crops, fruits and vegetables which are developed by combining desirable genes from various species to create new genetically-altered species that offer enhanced nutritional, productive, and ecological value. A better understanding of the science behind genetic modification may improve adoption rates and offer sustainable solutions to ending extreme poverty and hunger in low-income Bangladeshi households. Stakeholders in the agriculture sector, particularly those at the fringe like marginal farmers, are often swayed by popular sentiments and anecdotes. This has regrettably led to a policy framework in many countries which is at best ambivalent towards GM agriculture technologies.

As with all new technologies, the potential risks and benefits must be identified and quantified. Over the years, considerable independent research has been undertaken, around the globe, to evaluate the risks and benefits to animal or public health and the environment from GMOs. A recent EU report, based on more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, concluded that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not significantly riskier than conventional plant breeding technologies.

The growing scientific consensus that Genetically Modified (GM) crops are as safe to human health as traditional ones, may have led to a steady rise in the cultivation of GM crops both in developed and developing countries in the past few years. The acreage of GM crop cultivation has grown from 2.0 million hectares in 1996 (the first year of commercial planting) to about 175 million hectares in 2013. In 2013, more than 18 million farmers in 27 countries across the world made independent choices to grow biotech crops.However, adoption rates of GM crops are still far from satisfactory, particularly, if one takes into account of GM crops' potential to contribute towards the problem of food security as well as nutritional and ecological welfare.
Recent research experiments demonstrated how GM seeds can guarantee higher yields and hazard-resistant crops in countries prone to climate hazards as drought and floods. A study by the African Development Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute in 2012 concluded that under ideal conditions, the use of GM crops grown by smallholder farmers could improve gross margins by 114 per cent, reduce pesticide costs between 60-90 per cent, and improve yields by 18 to 29 per cent.
Researchers in Mozambique and Philippines have successfully experimented with GM varieties of rice and potatoes that can withstand submersion under water for extended periods. GM fortified crop variety can also address crucial lack of essential nutrients. In the Philippines research trials on Golden Rice (developed by the International Rice Research Institute) shows potential for addressing vitamin A deficiency which could protect millions of children and pregnant women globally from blindness, growth and immunity impairments.

The writer is Country Economist, Bangladesh International Growth Centre (IGC).
Policy reforms needed to ‘climate-proof’ agriculture sector–expert
by Mary Grace Padin - September 16, 2015
The government must institute various reforms to boost the productivity of the local farm sector and make it resilient against climate change, an expert said.Dennis de la Torre from the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance and the House of Representatives Special Committee on Climate Change said during the opening of the 28th National Rice Research and Development Conference at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) that there are many “challenges” that hinder the agriculture sector to become a key development investment area.Policy reforms should be rolled out to direct the focus of government institutions, the private sector and foreign investors to agriculture, he said.De la Torre said there is a need to review the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 and the Agri-Agra Act of 2009, which both have provisions on finance mobilization.

The Agri-Agra law authorizes the bank sector to devote 25 percent of their loanable money to agriculture. However, de la Torre said studies show that banks do not comply with the law and are just willing to pay fines.“We should look at our farmers as potential targets for investment in human capital,” de la Torre said in a statement.

He also said the Department of Social Welfare and Development should consider skills in agriculture as a condition for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a Conditional Cash-Transfer Program by the government that aims to address poverty.Meanwhile, de la Torre said the Philippine government should “carefully” plan how it can mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.Citing data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, de la Torre said the annual mean temperature in the Philippines projects that there would be a widespread warming in most parts of the country by 2020 and 2050.He said the government should consider the historical and projected data in its efforts against climate change.

“That’s what climate change is forcing us to do—to think better, to design, and plan better,” he said.According to him, there have recently been growing concerns on saline intrusion and the projected rise in the sea level that can affect coastal integrity. This serves as a threat to agricultural production near the coastlines, he said.De la Torre said research institutions like PhilRice must continuously develop saline-tolerant crop varieties to address these concerns.The PhilRice said it has developed saline-tolerant varieties, such as the NSIC Rc184, which has a maximum yield of 6.3 tons per hectare; NSIC Rc186, with a maximum yield of 4.2 tons per hectare; NSIC Rc186, with 3.8 tons per hectare maximum yield; NSIC Rc190 which has 5.1 tons per hectare maximum yield; and NSIC Rc290, with a maximum yield of 5.7 tons per hectare.

De la Torre, who is the former chief on research and policy development of the Climate Change Commission, also said the quality irrigation infrastructure could be compromised if they fail to resist environmental threats.  He said implementing agencies would then need to reinstitute innovations, which would lead to a “pain point” in funding.The 28th National Rice Research and Development Conference is annually hosted by the PhilRice and gathers around 500 researchers, academicians, students, farmers and extension workers from all over the country.

USA Rice Daily
In Memory:  Pamela Steele
USA Rice is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Pamela Steele on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.    native of Hayti, Missouri, Sara Pamela Avis Steele, is survived by her husband, Gibb Steele, an active leader in the rice industry, her son, Gibson, his wife, Elisabeth, and their two daughters."Pam was a strong woman who cared deeply for her family and the land she and Gibb worked for so many years," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  "She was a true friend to many of us in the rice industry and we will greatly miss her and her wonderful spirit." Visitation will be at Avon Methodist Church from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday.  Funeral services will be held Friday morning at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 407 Main Street, in Greenville. USA Rice extends heartfelt condolences to Gibb, his family, and the friends of Pamela Steele.

Japan Academics Meet with USA Rice to Discuss Crop Insurance, Farm Programs  
USA Rice regularly hosts visiting agricultural specialists from Japan to discuss farm policy issues.
ARLINGTON, VA -- Farm policy academics from Ibaraki University and Okayama University met with USA Rice Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Mosely and COO Bob Cummings today to discuss current U.S. rice support policies, especially crop insurance.  Japan's Prime Minister Abe is seeking to reform Japan's rice sector in a bid to reduce costs and bring supply more in line with demand.  Current policies based on direct payments tied to area-restriction programs are not working, and Japan's government is looking to implement a new insurance-based regime by 2018.  Mosely reviewed the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs provided under the 2014 Farm Bill, and explained new and existing crop insurance policies utilized by rice farmers. 

"It's clear Japan intends to move away from direct payments, and their farm policy experts were interested in knowing about the U.S. experience following the elimination of direct payments," said Mosely.  "We had a very informed exchange of views on the pros and cons of the various crop insurance options available to U.S. rice farmers and possible applications to Japan." 

CCC Announces Prevailing World Market Prices 
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation today announced the following prevailing world market prices of milled and rough rice, adjusted for U.S. milling yields and location, and the resulting marketing loan gain (MLG) and loan deficiency payment (LDP) rates applicable to the 2015 crop, which will become effective today at 7:00 a.m., Eastern Time (ET).  Rough rice prices decreased $0.10 per cwt for long grain and $0.11 per cwt for medium/short grain.

World Price

Milled Value ($/cwt)
Rough ($/cwt)
Rough ($/cwt)
Long Grain
Medium/Short Grain

This week's prevailing world market prices and MLG/LDP rates are based on the following U.S. milling yields and the corresponding loan rates:

U.S. Milling Yields
Loan Rate
Long Grain
Medium/Short Grain

The next program announcement is scheduled for
September 23, 2015.    

CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Prelim):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for September 16 
Net Change

November 2015
 - $0.105
January 2016
- $0.100
March 2016
- $0.100
May 2016
- $0.085
July 2016
- $0.040
September 2016
- $0.015
November 2016
- $0.015

Rice farmers get unexpected support from NASA study

Sep 15, 2015 Logan Hawkes
LCRA disregards needs of farmers and wildlife in water restrictions.When the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) caved into pressure brought about by Central Texas water users, state lawmakers and local government officials in communities including Austin and others around the Highland Lakes area, rice farmers and community leaders downstream in the Lower Colorado River Basin knew the deck was stacked against them.In July, as expected, TCEQ ruled in favor of upholding an emergency order to withhold water releases from the Highland Lakes reservoirs that would have aided rice farmers and communities, although the current amount of water in lakes Travis and Buchanan at the time equaled a number above the 1.4 million acre feet of combined storage—the level considered adequate to release water downstream.

Lower basin water customers say it's just the latest chapter in an ongoing story of how washing cars, watering lawns and filling swimming pools in urban centers take precedence over agriculture and the environment.The plight of rice farmers and communities who rely on water in the Lower Basin has been escalating since the drought years of the new millennium. Multiple dry years prompted the Lower Colorado River Authority's (LCRA) Board of Directors to take an unprecedented initiative to curtail irrigation water from rice farmers beginning in 2011.For four years running a water war has pitted farmers, rural community leaders and marine and wildlife ecologists against densely populated, better financed  and more influential municipalities and recreational communities surrounding the Highland Lakes, one of the fastest growing regions in the state.

More on rice
Farmers, ranchers and rural leaders, longtime stewards and champions of the lands of Texas, say they understand the need to conserve water during the ebb and flow periods of climate change—which can bring about flood, famine, and drought—all in a short period of time. And they bilaterally agree that curtailing river water from widespread use for agriculture was a required step to help meet the challenges of a long-running and severe drought. They also argue that responsibility and sacrifice required by emergency drought measures should be shared by all stakeholders.With abundant rainfall this year and good rains last fall, the issue of irrigation water from the Colorado River for Texas' largest rice growing region may not be as critical as it was for the previous three years. But rice producers in Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda Counties, an area that produces the bulk of Texas' rice crop, point out that deep cuts in rice production in recent years resulted from LCRA's recommendation to curtail use of Colorado River water for irrigating their fields.
(Daily News)
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
The U.S. rice industry does not support the agreement it says the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has reached with Japan on market access for rice and is unlikely to back a final TPP agreement unless it is renegotiated, according to an official with the USA Rice Federation.

Syngeta launches fast acting pesticide, tomato hybrids, rice seed varieties

Wed, Sep 16th, 2015
To help the Federal Government’s agricultural diversification drive, Syngeta Nigeria has launched Ambligo, a new, fast acting pesticide that could be used at any time, against many crop insects, ‘Tuta absoluta,’ a deadly pest, which if not controlled could destroy up to 100 percent of the tomatoes in a field.Syngeta also launched two new tomato hybrids, Chibli and Kilele, and as well as introduced two local rice seed varieties in Nigeria at an event held on Tuesday in Abuja.There are records that thousands of hectares of tomato cropping are lost in a matter of hours due to the ‘tuta absoluta’ infestation, and investments worth hundreds of millions on naira lost as a result of this tomato-consuming pest that ravages products, mainly in the Northern part of the country.At the event, experts who spoke with BusinessDay, affirmed Ambligo’s potency to work against a wide variety of sucking and biting pests in vegetables, potatoes and field crops.

According to them, the product could give up to 21 days protection, meaning that farmers could reduce the frequency that they need to spray their fields, saving time, energy and money.In addition to Ampligo, Syngetta also launched Chibili and Kilele hybrid tomato variety for farmers who grow for both the fresh and for the tomatoes processing market.Kilele, a second hybrid tomato variety could be harvested over a 10-week period compared to local varieties that could take four weeks, whereas Chibili boasts of high improved yields and nematodes resistance.Meanwhile, Nigeria’s current 2.9 million tons of rice import is set to be averted with improved seed variety of faro 44 and Faro 52 rice seeds, an improved local variety also launched by Syngetta. As a result, farmers across Nigeria now have access to high quality seedlings with assurance of improved germination and yield.

Shachi Sharma, director, Syngetta Nigeria Limited, said they were working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on best ways of boosting agricultural produce in Nigeria. “We are also working with the seed council, quarantine services, research institutes, root research crop institute in Plateau State, Institute for Agricultural Research in Zaria and other research institutes,” he stated.He disclosed that a value chain study including seed crops that they carried out in Nigeria found that the country lost about 40 percent of the raw material that was produced internally, due largely to poor transportation and storage infrastructure. “The long shelf life of this variety would assist the country a lot,” Sharma said further.

Oasis brings authentic Yemeni cuisine to Tempe

The new restaurant sports homestyle food including a bakery.

Photo by Ryan Santistevan | The State Press
The Oasis, a Yemeni restaurant and bakery, is pictured on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Tempe.
By Damion Julien-Rohman | 09/15/15 10:00am
Down Apache Boulevard lies row after row of strip malls, each carrying many shops or restaurants of different cuisine for the students close to the east side of the Tempe campus to visit. Pizza, sandwich and Asian joints all line the street divided in two by the light rail, so there’s plenty of choices for the discerning foodie.Look a little closer though, and you’ll see a small smattering of Middle Eastern restaurants within these malls. Move further up the street and you’ll come across a tall building dubbed Oasis, a new restaurant featuring dishes and pastries from the country of Yemen. ounded only five months ago, Oasis marks the desire of owner Hussein Alhajjaji to bring food from his native Yemen to the busy streets of Tempe. According to manager Pamela Garcia, Alhajjaji had owned other businesses in the past, but was having his first go in the restaurant business here.

"He wants to bring the home (Yemen) experience to here in Arizona," Garcia said. "We have such a big Arab population, and so far it's working." Around the spacious dining area, posters hang on the walls with images of the country. Across the way, a big screen TV showcased some quirky Middle Eastern music videos to set the mood. Hidden from plain sight was a seating area where guests would remove their shoes to hang out as they ate.It was quiet for a Friday afternoon, at least when I walked in prior to a late lunch rush. I’m remiss in taking away the popularity of the place, as it currently boasts a four out of five star rating on Yelp as of this writing. Take-out orders were consistently in and out, and it was hard to find anyone without a smile on their face.This was immediately apparent when I spoke with Garcia, who had been a part of Oasis since its inception. She didn’t mask her infectious enthusiasm about the wide spread of food the restaurant had on hand, and was quick to make recommendations – particularly for those that have never tried the cuisine before.

"We have baked chicken, which is baked for two hours and is half a chicken served over mundi, which is white rice and basmati rice mixed and seasoned with onion soup and Arabic seasonings," Garcia said. Garcia went on to list choices that seemed endless including kabsa, a meat cooked with a tomato paste, then fahsa and salta, a pair of items that she was keen to point out."Fahsa is the local Yemeni dish," said Garcia. "It's braised lamb served in a skillet, as a lamb soup." Salta, on the other hand, is made with all vegetables.  The wide variances on Oasis' menu seemed to reflect Garcia's take on the local cuisine."I feel like everything in Arizona is very generic," she said. "When it comes down to Middle Eastern or anything like that, it's because they don't focus enough on it. And that is what we're trying to do."

On Garcia’s recommendation, I asked for the biryani with lamb, which was made with basmati rice and came with a salad sporting dressings of salsa and yogurt, which is less Dannon’s and more of a cream with herbs and spices.It wasn’t more than 10 minutes later that I was able to dig into the big plate of rice and lamb. Garcia explained that the lamb was buried underneath the rice so it could absorb any flavors that seeped through, and it worked. Supported by the flavors of the rice, the lamb was juicy and fell off the bone easily, which inspired further digging for more.
The basmati rice coupled with the lamb well, with spices on each bite presenting a whole lot of flavors as I ate. I couldn’t get enough of it, which worked out well — there was enough left over for me to take home as I felt myself getting full from the dish. Too full, in fact, to try one of the baklavas from the bakery — those would wait until next time.
If you're hesitant to try the cuisine of the Middle East, or if you're looking for something new, Oasis is definitely a place to visit. A sprawling menu and friendly staff are the main draws, and if you need a suggestion — talk to Garcia, or just pick the Biryani. You might not regret it. 

Reach the reporter at or on Twitter @legendpenguin
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Light option with grains offers departure

By Susan Selasky Detroit Free Press  •  Wednesday September 16, 2015 1:20 AM
Planning a gathering and hoping to skip the pasta and potato salads you have served all summer? Think rice.A rice salad promises an easy time in the kitchen: Cook the rice, chop a few vegetables and make a vinaigrette.Why a vinaigrette? You don’t want to drown the grains in a creamy dressing.A rice salad should taste light, with the grains separated — not clumped.White or brown rice, or any exotic version, might be used.These days, grocery stores offer a wide range — including some aromatic choices.Jasmine rice is fragrant and floral, while basmati rice — popular in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes — is nuttily nuanced.As long-grain varieties, both jasmine and basmati are prepared the same as white rice. And, with their slender grains, both are well-suited to salads.


Makes 5 cups
For the salad:
3 cups cooked white, basmati or jasmine rice
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, diced large
Salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled
In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, grape tomatoes, bell pepper, green onions and cilantro leaves. Add the avocado chunks and toss gently, taking care not to break them up. Season with salt and pepper.
In a blender or food processor, combine all dressing ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate.The salad will keep in the refrigerator about 2 days, without the avocados turning dark, if covered tightly, with plastic wrap directly on it.

PER SERVING (1/2 cup): 153 calories, 2 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 68 mg sodium

Coromandel In Southport: Elegant Contemporary Indian In Southport

Somosas ($6.50), a standing pyramid of spiced potatoes and peas, is given an elegant presentation, with salad and sauces to drizzle over the crust. (Elizabeth Keyser / Special To The Courant)
By ELIZABETH KEYSER Special To The Courant
Indian food, in all its glory, at Coromandel
Indian food condenses a vast subcontinent and many cultures into take-out shorthand. Coromandel in Fairfield's Southport section offers an elegant, contemporary setting in which to enjoy India's regional cuisine. The regional chainlet, at the forefront of popularizing Indian food in these parts, has five restaurants (Orange, Newtown, Southport, Stamford and New Rochelle, N.Y.). Their all-you-can-eat lunch buffets are famous.Sometimes you want to focus on just a few dishes, so we go for dinner. The Southport location, just off I-95 and near the Boston Post Road, is in an awkward, one-story 1950s building that has defied other restaurateur's design skills. Coromandel has done a terrific job with the design, blending modern white plastic and metal chairs with white table cloths over blue clothes, and deep yellow napkins. White paper covers the tabletops, and the layers of cloth give a luxurious, padded feeling. (Tables are small and close together, and if you order several dishes, your waiter might struggle to fit everything on the table.)

India is a land of mountains, rivers, foothills, plains, deserts, rain forests and oceans and bays. Spice brings the food of the land and people together. At Coromandel in Southport, dishes aren't burn-your-mouth spicy; the spice blends are tempered and aromatic.One appetizer is Badam Jhinga, shrimp in red chili sauce crunched with slivered toasted almonds, fresh scallions and cilantro. The sauce is bright and lively with sweet, rich butterflied shrimp. The menu calls them called prawns in the Anglo-Indian style, which sounds so much more interesting, and larger, than shrimp.
Achari Murgh, chicken in mango sauce, chunks of chicken breast in a bowl of amber-colored sauce created from an ineffable blend of spices, bloomed in the mouth. Beneath the coating of sauce, the chicken is white and tender; among the spices is amchoor, a powder made from unripe green mangoes that adds an Asian sour fruit flavor note and tenderizes the meat. Figuring that chicken breast would not be the sole cut if this dish were made in India, we ask our courteous waiter what cut of the chicken would be used in India. The whole chicken, he says, cut into pieces.

Scented, long-grain white basmati rice is topped with caramelized onions and green peas. We scoop up meat, sauce and rice with aloo paratha, wheat bread layered with spiced potatoes, dashed in warm buttery ghee.Coromandel has many choices for vegetarians. Somosas ($6.50), easy-to-carry street food, the deep-fried crust folded into standing pyramid of spiced potatoes and peas, is given an elegant presentation, with salad and sauces to drizzle over the crust.
Lamb, too, is a glory of India cooking, and regional choices abound. You can't go wrong with any of them at Coromandel.

Coromandel, 17 Pease Ave., Southport, is open Monday through Friday, 12 to 2:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday 5 to 10:30 p.m. 203-259-1213 and

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