Monday, September 21, 2015

21st September,2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Vol 5.Issue XIV
September 21, 2015
Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter

India 2015-16 Main Paddy Rice Sowing Surges Despite Weak Monsoons

Sep 18, 2015
Total area planting to India's 2015-16 Kharif (main) rice crop (June - December) is continuing to be ahead of the last year planting despite concerns of weaker rains in the second half of the monsoon season (August-September). Total rice planted area stood at around 37.266 million hectares as of September 18, 2015, slightly up from around 37.19 million hectares planted during the same time last year, according to a press release by the Agriculture Ministry.
India received 15% below-average rainfall as of September 17, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). The North-west, Central, Southern and North-East regions received 21%, 18%, 13% and 8% below-average rains respectively. However, the IMD expects most parts of the country to receive normal to above-normal rain from September 19 to October 3, 2016.
The IMD forecast a 16% deficit in the rainfall during the second half (August-September) of the monsoon season (June-September). A likely drought-inducing El Nino this year is expected to lower production prospects in India this year. The IMD has forecasted the El Nino pattern to reach to moderate to a strong one during the monsoon season (June – September).
Global rice prices are expected to increase by 10-20% as El Nino is likely to dampen production prospects in Asian countries, including India, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The total Kharif crop sown area stands at 102.19 million hectares as on September 18, 2015, up about 1.59% from around 100.59 million hectares during the same period last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

Indonesia May Face Shortage of Subsidized Rice Stocks by Year End, Says Bulog Chief

Sep 18, 2015
Indonesia may face shortage of national stock of subsidized rice by the end of this year due to the government's decision to distribute more rice to the poor, local sources quoted the state logistics agency Chief as saying.
He told local sources that at the current pace, Bulog's stocks would reach 62,000 tons, while the agency needs about 1.5 to 2 million tons to meet the consumption demand in the early next year before the harvest time. He noted that the subsidized rice program, called beras sejahtera (prosperous rice), has been extended by two months to restore purchasing power and confidence in the economy on concerns of El Nino induced dry weather that is threatening to cut rice production this year.
However, he did not mention anything about likely imports to maintain stocks. The Bulog Chief noted that the government could also decide to procure more rice from farmers or convert the existing premium rice into subsidized rice to avert rice shortages. Indonesian government is keen on avoiding imports this year and has not imported as rice so far in 2015.
The Agriculture Ministry is understood to maintain next year's rice production target at this year's level. “The reason the target remains the same is because this year we have experienced El Niño and that has severely affected our rice production,” the Agriculture Minister was quoted.
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).
Global Rice Quotes
September 18th, 2015

Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade   350-360                ↔
Vietnam 5% broken        325-335                ↔
India 5% broken               355-355                ↔
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             315-325                ↔
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                 340-350                ↔
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,

Myanmar Rice Federation to issue Export Licences for Up to 500 Tons

Sep 18, 2015
The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) is planning to issue export licences to exporters for up to 500 tons of rice, according to local sources. The MRF has called on companies to apply to the Ministry of Commerce for licences.
However, the MRF told local sources that it will grant licences for both land and sea trade but would require interested companies to maintain a reserve of 2% of exports for six months. The licences will reportedly valid for one month. It also noted that it is holding discussions with the Commerce Ministry on the same.
With about 34.8 million tons of rice in reserves  and amid expectations of a bumper harvest, the MRF expects exports to resume completely by October. Dr Soe Tun, the MRF’s vice-chair, said: “A cargo ship can carry 1,000 tonnes of rice. We might face difficulty loading rice onto a ship if only 500 tonnes of rice is allowed.”
After the country's rice exports reached a record in 1.8 million tons in FY 2014-15 (April - March), the government expected to export around 2 million tons in FY 2015-16. However, in the aftermath of floods and temporary suspension of exports for more than a month, the exports are expected to be around 1.6 million tons.

U.S.-China Trade Protocol Still Not Finalized, Says USA Rice Federation

Sep 18, 2015
The phytosanitary protocol between China and the U.S., which reportedly establishes the phytosanitary or pest control rules necessary to allow U.S. rice into China, is still not finalized, Bloomberg reported the USA Rice Federation as saying.
The Federation has denied claims by the US Rice Producers Association early this week that the U.S. and China will sign a phytosanitary protocol during the week of September 21, 2015 when Chinese President Xi Jinping leads a delegation on an official visit to the U.S.
Citing information from USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Federation noted that the phytosanitary protocol between the two countries is still undergoing regulatory review in China.
It noted that the USDA APHIS is “working closely” with U.S. rice industry, China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine “to come to a bilateral agreement on the final set of protocols for exporting U.S. milled rice to China.”
The USDA APHIS sent its latest phytosanitary protocol to China last month and is expecting China's response to the U.S.' draft protocol soon.  

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

Sep 18, 2015
Thailand rice sellers increased their quotes for 5% broken rice by about $5 per ton to around $340-$350 per ton today. Other Asia rice sellers kept their quotes unchanged.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $340 - $350 per ton, up about $5 per ton from yesterday and about $15 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $325 - $335 per ton. India 5% rice is indicated at around $355 - $365 per ton, about $45 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $310 - $320 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice was last 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 $315 - $325 per ton, about $25 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. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $340- $350 per ton, about $75 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice last shown at around $415 - $425 per ton.                            
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super, was last indicated at around $305 - $315 per ton, at par with Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $305 - $315 per ton. 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.

Online Marketing Tool to be Launched for EU Farmers

Sep 18, 2015
A new online marketing tool called "Farm Inc" is to be launched shortly to help European Union (EU) farmers to better market and brand their products independently and thereby face global competitions in a better manner.
The project is supported and co-funded by the European Union (EU) and was carried out by seven partner institutions, including universities, agricultural associations, VET providers and consulting firms from five EU countries of Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Latvia. Copa-Cogeca, the federation of European farmers unions and agri cooperatives, Italian Coldiretti and Latvian Farmers Parliament have been involved in promoting the product.
They showcased during a series of roundtable discussions and info days across Europe, in Belgium, Greece, Italy and Latvia in September. About 304 stakeholders, including farmers, representatives of farmer associations, agricultural entrepreneurs, VET trainers and policy makers, participated in 21 pilot events in the targeted countries. While 46% of the participants rated the material as "excellent", 47% rated as "very good" and 100% said they would recommend this course to others.
The project involves a customized training tool and  an interactive e-book, which contains basic marketing principles for the agricultural sector as well as practical experiences (case studies, field visits etc). The book is divided into six modules - What is marketing?, A good marketing plan, Farmers markets, Quality, The strength of a Rural Brand, Selling Abroad - and primarily focuses on marketing, branding and internationalisation of agricultural products.
“There is a great potential for regional and local products in the market, but, there is a lack of marketing strategies to enable European agricultural entrepreneurs to compete with the international network and structures of multinational companies," said the Secretary-General of Copa-Cogeca.

Oryza Weekly: Prices Have Yet to Respond to Forecasts for Strong El Nino

Sep 18, 2015
The Oryza White Rice Index (WRI), a weighted average of global white rice export quotes, ended the week at about $387 per ton, down about $4 per ton from a week ago, down about $6 per ton from a month ago and down about $83 per ton from a year ago.
In its September 2015 Rice Outlook report, the USDA forecasts 2015-16 global rice production (milled basis) to be around 475.8 million tons, down about 1% from last year due to an expected decline in average yields.  Southeast Asia, North Africa, and North America account for most of the expected global rice production decline.  In the same report, the USDA forecasts 2015 global rice trade to be around 42.5 million tons, a decrease of about 2% from 2014 but unchanged from last month’s forecast.
Thailand 5% broken rice is today shown at about $345 per ton, unchanged from a week ago, down about $20 per ton from a month ago and down about $90 per ton from a year ago.
The Agriculture Minister may impose a ban on second crop planting in about 2.4 million hectares of rice land due to intense water shortages.
The Thai Office of Agricultural Economics estimates paddy rice production for 2015-16 may plunge to its lowest level in 19 years due to the extending drought conditions.
Thailand's Finance Ministry may demand damages up to 510 billion baht (around $14.8 billion) incurred in the rice pledging scheme from the former Prime Minister as well as the other accused Cabinet Ministers and officials involved in the rice pledging scheme
Vietnam 5% broken rice is today shown at about $330 per ton, up about $5 per ton from a week ago,  down about $15 per ton from month ago and down about $115 per ton from a year ago.
Cambodia 5% broken rice is today shown at about $425 per ton, unchanged from a week ago, down about $10 per ton from a month ago, and down about $45 per ton from a year ago. Dam waters have flooded some rice paddy fields in Cambodia, reigniting concerns over Mekong Region Hydropower Projects.
India 5% broken rice is today shown at about $360 per ton, down about $20 per ton from a week ago, down about $10 per ton from a month ago, and down about $80 per ton from a year ago.
The government forecasts 2015-16 kharif (June-December) rice production at around 90.6 million tons, down slightly from 2014-15.
Total rice planted area stood at around 37.266 million hectares as of September 18, 2015, slightly up from around 37.19 million hectares planted during the same time last year, according to a press release by the Agriculture Ministry.
Rice traders and millers in Nepal are seeking government intervention to curb rice imports, especially rice imports from India traveling through land borders.
Rice farmers in Bangladesh are facing lower prices and higher supplies, as the country achieved a record 34.708 million tons production in FY 2014-15.

Pakistan 5% broken rice is today shown at about $315 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week ago, down about $20 per ton from a month ago and down about $110 per ton from a year ago.

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21st September,2015 Daily global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

The need to formulate Pro-poor research & extension policies In agriculture

September 18, 2015, 7:11 pm 

By Prof. Rohan Rajapakse

Senior Professor and Chair,Department of Agriculture Biology,
University of Ruhuna,
Application of research outputs in the farmers' field is a limiting factor in the agricultural sector of Sri Lanka. On-farm research is essential to fine-tune the new agricultural technology and improve the rate of adoption of such technologies. Hence, research, extension and development efforts are essential to improve the level of livelihood of families in the agricultural sector, particularly the poorer segments of such families.The issue is to examine in depth, whether current and past performances are focused towards the benefits that could be gained from the agricultural research and extension policies and programs, in improving the living standards of the rural poor.

How to identify pro-poor technology
Pro-poor technology should be the outcome of research activities that have focused on the social, cultural and economic environments of disadvantaged farmers, as well as, poor farming communities. The elements of pro-poor policies could among others be:

1. Promote opportunities for building assets among poor families
2. Developing infrastructure and disseminating knowledge to poor areas
3. Facilitated empowerment among state and social institutions that work for poor people by applying good governance and maintaining accountability.
4. Contribute to enhanced security by helping poor people to manage risks
5. Developing national programs to alleviate hunger and responding to major traumas.
The FAO Regional office in Thailand conducted a study along with the Ministry of Agriculture to introduce this aspect of pro-poor policy formulation in agricultural research in 2009 and the results were presented.

The agricultural sector in Sri Lanka is focused on food production, increasing gainful employment, expanding foreign exchange earnings, capital accumulation and labor replacement. Research and extension activities in the agricultural sector will, therefore, impact greatly on the economy and needs to be given high priority for better economic development among the farming community.
The share of agriculture in the GDP in Sri Lanka is one of the lowest in South Asia, despite the fact that 80% of the population resides in rural areas, with agricultural households accounting for some 40% of the poor in Sri Lanka. This has serious social and economic consequences as the potential to increase productivity and improve the level of utilization of resources in the agricultural sector appears to be limited.

Problems facing the Agricultural Sector

Performance in the Agricultural Sector has been constrained by poor rural infrastructure, an unstable macroeconomic environment resulting in high interest rates, ill-defined property rights, and inefficiencies in public sector support services. Together, these have limited the ability of farmers to increase the efficiency of their operations. Some of the main constraints and challenges to improve the enabling environment are:

* Low productivity measured in terms of yields of crops, return to land, labour and capital
* Limited land size due to increasing fragmentation
* Poor service to the farming community, leading to high transaction costs
* Lack of improved technical skills among the farming community
* Poor quality Seed and Planting material
* Poor marketing avenues for farm produce
* Reluctance of youth to take to farming

The framework should emphasize a market-based approach aimed at achieving the highest possible productivity in the sector and increased financial returns to farm households, with increased employment opportunities for educated youth. However, this should be understood, keeping in mind the enormous problems faced by a large segment of the farming population that are poor - both financially and resource wise.

Many of the country's poor are living on smallholdings and depend for a larger part of their livelihood on agriculture. An effective increase in productivity and profitability in agriculture is a major mandate to the research and extension system to hoist Sri Lanka's poor out of poverty. Given the attainment of near self-sufficiency in rice, research and extension programs should now focus on import substitution and export expansion for other products (e.g., dairy) and other high value crops.

Pro Poor - Research and Extension
Application of research outputs in the farmers' field is a limiting factor in the agricultural sector of Sri Lanka. On-farm research at the farmers' field is essential to fine-tune the agricultural technology to improve the rate of adopting of the same. Hence, research and development together with extension is essential to improve the level of livelihood of the poor families who depend on the agricultural sector.

2.1.3 Strategies:
1. Development of crop varieties, agronomic practices, farm equipment and tools through agricultural research and by introduction
2. Strengthen research institutes, centers with modern laboratories, equipment, experimental field facilities.
3. Capacity building of scientists, economists and technical staff
4. Strengthen linkages and collaboration between research and extension.
5. Adopt a participatory approach to enhance productivity in rural communities.
The strategies for this aspect will be through the following:

• Demand driven applied research:
Increasing production within the country crop productivity has to be enhanced, cost of production minimized and profitability optimized. This can be achieved through demand driven applied research conducted at agricultural research centers. The activities planned are:

i. Develop new varieties, through hybridization, selection from existing germplasm and the introduction of exotic varieties.
Research has shown promising new crop varieties developed through hybridization, selection and introduction from other countries. Such crop varieties have qualities such as high yields, resistant to pest and diseases, good performances under stress conditions, international standards in product quality and diversity in consumer preference. In addition, biotechnology research has shown some potential for introducing the benefits to farmers. Hence, on-farm adaptive research is needed to select suitable varieties for different cropping/ farming systems under diverse agro-ecological environments and to popularize these among farmers.
ii. Develop agronomic technologies for increasing water use efficiency, enhancing soil productivity, and increasing cropping intensity
Research has shown advances in fertilizer formulations for blanket application; site specific nutrient application; micronutrient requirement particularly Zn and Copper, for obtaining higher yields from many crops inclusive of rice; integrated plant nutrition; organic farming, fustigation technologies; application of bio fertilizers; new planting techniques in rice; micro irrigation techniques; suitability of medium scale machinery in harvesting rice to replace labor, remove impurities and to minimize grain damages. Such technologies need reaching farmers through a proper testing of their adaptability.
iii. Develop plant protection techniques which are low cost and effective plant protection methods, minimum usage of pesticides and for organic farming
Research has shown advances in plant protection with new agro-chemicals; new biological and mechanical methods in crop protection; integrated plant protection strategies; technology for minimum usage of pesticides and eco-farming. Such technologies need reaching farmers through a proper testing of their adaptability.

iv. Use of modern technology, biotechnology for crop improvement, soil fertility improvement and planting material production.
Some countries use bio-technology for improving crop varieties and also use Algae, fungi and bacteria species which are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen for enhancing bio fertilizer production. Those technologies will be adopted in Sri Lanka for crop improvement and bio-fertilizer production.
v. Participatory Technology Development:
Commodity research has not been always effective in improving productivity in rural communities and especially in the rain fed farming systems. Technology has to be developed through participatory and system approaches for wider acceptance by rural communities. This nature of research has been conducted with teams of scientists comprising extensionists, economists and researchers, together with farmers. For effective participatory technology development, the linkages among those parties have to be strengthened.
Rice production: Losses six times more than cash support, says farmers
Published: September 20, 2015
Average paddy productivity is very low compared with regional competitors where the yield is double than the production in Pakistan, which is the fourth largest exporter of rice in the world. PHOTO: FILE

A Rs341-billion agriculture relief package announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this week has not won hearts of all that are associated with the country’s farms.Growers of paddy crop, who are perturbed about falling prices of rice in domestic and international markets, argue that the cash support of Rs5,000 per acre, offered in the package, is not sufficient to make up for the losses they are enduring.They claim that the losses have jumped to Rs30,000 per acre, which is six times more than the incentive given to them. Owing to the market slump, the price of new paddy crop stands 30% lower than last year, farmers say. However, the crop is bumper and healthy as it has been protected from pest attack.

The government has set aside Rs40 billion for paying the cash grant of Rs5,000 per acre to rice and cotton growers owning up to 12.5 acres of agricultural land.According to agricultural experts, basmati rice gives yield in the range of 35 to 45 maunds (40kg) per acre, super basmati gives 40 to 45 maunds, non-basmati varieties give 50 to 60 maunds and 386 non-basmati variety produces 45 to 50 maunds.The average paddy productivity is very low compared with regional competitors where the yield is double than the production in Pakistan, which is the fourth largest exporter of rice in the world.

 “Indians are very good in agriculture research and development work and scientists there have developed such paddy seeds that give more than 70 maunds per acre,” said Naseer Ahmad, an agricultural expert, while talking to The Express Tribune.Last year, the price of basmati rice stood at Rs1,400 to Rs1,600 per maund, but now it has dipped to Rs1,000 to Rs1,100.The 386 non-basmati variety fetched Rs1,000-1,100 per maund last year and the price has now gone down to Rs650-700, according to Taufeeq Ahmad, a rice exporter and former vice-chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan.

He voiced fear that the massive decline in prices would hurt earnings of exporters and he also pointed to high transportation and shipping costs borne by them. “The government should give freight subsidy to rice exporters,” he said.Last year, the exporters earned $1.84 billion, but Ahmad believed that it would be impossible to touch that figure this year following the slump in international commodity markets. Now, the exporters are looking to make inroads into the Iranian rice market.

“If Iran starts importing rice, the farmers can recoup their losses,” Ahmad said.However, international buyers are looking perplexed because of wild price movements. Last year, many of them sustained heavy losses after international prices fell below their purchase price. “Many rice traders of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) faced bankruptcy too,” Ahmad said.He pointed out that the 386 variety had great demand in the UAE, Iran, China and African nations but price fluctuations kept international traders away.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2015

Lagos mulls collaboration with Kebbi on rice production


By Kayode Ogundele 

 September 18, 2015
 Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi and Ambode of Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has said that the state government will consider the possibilities of collaborating with Kebbi State to explore the economic opportunities in the production and distribution of high yield quality rice and other ventures.The Governor spoke at the closing ceremony of the 2015 Annual National Women Conference, organised by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos.He recalled that his Kebbi state counterpart, Atiku Bagudu, had during the opening ceremony of the conference on Wednesday, sought the cooperation between women in Kebbi and Lagos States in the production of high quality yield rice, saying that it is one area the state will seek to explore.“I am sure the leadership of COWLSO has taken note of this and would work towards creating the platform for this cooperation to work and further show the economic relevance of women”.

“I am sure the communiqué that has emerged at this conference will encapsulate a blueprint for the economic engagement of our womenfolk, not just in Lagos State but across Nigeria,” Governor Ambode said.He said his administration will be keen to receive the recommendations of the conference and see how they can be implemented to improve the lives of Lagosians.“This conference marks a new beginning for COWLSO. We will remain partners in progress and also welcome your constructive criticisms to help us improve in our duty to deliver good governance to the people of Lagos State. This administration counts on your usual support and co-operation,” he said.Declaring the conference closed, Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made case for women to be empowered, stressing that, “there is no society that shackles more than half of its population that can develop or progress”.

He also appealed to government at all levels to invigorate efforts in educating the girl child in the North and women empowerment all over the country.The Governor, who was represented by his deputy, Titi Laoye Tomori, said recent studies have shown that women through their various businesses have contributed immensely to the employment rate in the nation.“In recent years, we have had a reversal of roles on the family front in some cases such that a significant number of women are now the breadwinners.

Through empowerment, they have been able to sustain businesses and thereby providing for their families, educating their children and building sustainable homes and businesses”, he said.In her closing remarks, Chairman of COWLSO, Bolanle Ambode, said the three-day conference discussed series of issues among which was the devastating consequences of divorce on the health and wellbeing of women and children, adding that 80-90 percent of primary care visits to doctors are due to preventable illnesses, while approximately 95 percent of them are caused by stress.

She urged all participants to keep the knowledge gained close to their hearts and deploy it appropriately in future, for maximum advantage.The 10-point Communiqué of the Conference read by the wife of the Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Professor Ibiyemi Bello, amongst other things, tasked government at all levels to pay more attention to women empowerment especially the girl-child.Highpoint of the ceremony was the presentation of Certificate of Appreciation to four individuals and corporate organisations, including former House Committee Chairman on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, Anutal Savara and Honeywell Group Nigeria Limited

U.S./China rice trade deal not completed

Protocol still in Chinese review process
Sep 17, 2015David Bennett | Delta Farm Press
Reports that a China/U.S. rice trade pact had been struck were premature. Hopes that a deal would be signed next week were put to bed during a Wednesday (September 16) conference call between USDA’s APHIS and major U.S. rice players.“There was conference call yesterday with high-ranking APHIS officials,” said Michael Klein, USA Rice Federation spokesman. “A lot of USA Rice Federation people were on the call.

 The USRPA (Rice Producers Association) was on the call, as well.  “APHIS officials said they were doing the call to set the record straight because there are a lot of rumors floating around. They wanted to confirm there is no confirmation that the Chinese have agreed to the proposal APHIS sent them in early August. “What they did confirm is their counterpart in China, AQSIQ, has sent the U.S. draft protocol to an interagency review process. They’ve sent it to another Chinese agency for review.”Klein was keen to make sure everyone understands “that doesn’t mean AQSIQ hasn’t made technical changes to what APHIS sent over in August. They may have. We just don’t know because AQSIQ hasn’t gotten back to APHIS with their reaction to the draft.“We’re optimistic and think the U.S. rice industry is united behind that last draft. That included a lot of concessions to the Chinese and asked them for some reasonable concessions, as well.

 We are confident the Chinese could agree to it but there’s been no confirmation they have.“There will certainly be no signing next week, which was rumored. We asked APHIS officials about that. ‘Are you sure there will be no signing next week?’ They said, ‘that’s correct.’”Klein said the federation also “asked point-blank, ‘The USRPA has a press release saying the Chinese have requested the signing be in Beijing. True?’ The response from APHIS was ‘that’s speculative.’“There simply was no deal to be delayed.

 There was some wishful thinking that the signing would take place next week. You know, ‘Hey, the right people are coming to D.C. next week. It would be great to have a signing.’ But without a deal, there’s nothing to sign.”Asked for a statement, Dwight Roberts, USRPA president, said on the call, “We were told by U.S. government sources today that the protocol had not completed the Chinese ‘administrative clearance’ that was to have been completed in time for the Chinese delegation’s visit to Washington, D.C. as APHIS previously had expected.“In the meantime there is absolutely no indication that there is anything other than a green light towards finalization of this process.

Just a Passing Glance at Buharinomics

20 Sep 2015
Simon Kolawole Live By Simon Kolawole; Email:, sms: 0805 500 1961
If anyone needed a good hint on President MuhammaduBuhari'slikelyeconomic policy direction, he has given one by declaring that there will be "no more devaluation of the naira". It is the clearestsignalyet that the exchange rate policymay not be formulated by the monetary policy committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It is going to be determined, effectively,fromAso Rock. Thus, the exchange rate mayhave nodirect connection to the interplay of demand and supply in the currency market. Is this good or bad? Actually, every policy has its good and bad sides, but I honestly don't know how well Buhari's pronouncement will work out. Things couldeven get messier.
Listen carefully to Buhari: "The naira has been devalued.It used to be around 160, and now it is hovering around 200 and above and I don't think it is healthy for us to have the naira devalued further. That's why we are getting the central bank to make modifications in terms of making foreign exchange available to essential services, industries, spare parts, essential raw materials and so on – but things like toothpick and rice, Nigeria can produce enough of those. We don’t need to give our hard currency on that but those who insist on having toothpick from Europe or from China, instead of using Nigerian toothpick, they can go and source their foreign exchange."
Let's break it down to pieces. "The naira has been devalued."True. But we would not be discussing this if the problem has been solved. "It used to be around 160, and now, it is hovering around 200."Correct. But crude oil used to be $80 too and it is now $40, so we are short of forex inflow since oil is our major export."Things like toothpick and rice, Nigeria can produce enough of those. We don’t need to give our hard currency on that." Fantastic. But we are not yet producing enough locally.What then are the overall plans and incentives to encourage local productionof rice and toothpick — beyond starving the importers of forex?Is forex ban an incentive? Anyone?
And finally."Those who insist on having toothpick from Europe or from China... they can go and source their foreign exchange."Beautiful.But 90% of our forex comes from oil — and oil belongs to the government. Government ispractically the sole earner, sole owner and sole supplier of forex. If wewere industrialised, we would not be importing this much. Forex demandwould not be this overwhelming. If we were exporters of petrol, rice, toothpick, chocolate and steel,we would have diverse source of inflow. CBN would be a little playerin the forex market. Therefore, sourcing forex elsewhere is not yet feasible. Nigerian importers can't apply to the US government for dollars.
There is an on-goingdemonisation of theimportation of toothpick and rice.I object. This is trade. Trade has its own value chain. There are importduties.Banks make margins on loans to traders. They pay taxes. There are jobs for haulage operators. They pay levies. Sellers make their margins. Therefore, if you want to stop imported rice or toothpick, you must come up with an import-substitution programme to create bigger and better value. The programme must factor in the time it will take to build the factories, the gestation, the infrastructureand the incentives. We can't start producing sufficient rice and toothpick "with immediate effect". It doesn't work like that.
My favourite example is cement. Not so long ago, we were heavily dependent on import. In 2005 or so, President OlusegunObasanjo came up with a self-sufficiency plan. Incentives were rolled out. The only companies allowed to import cementwere those with visible local investments. A timeline was developed.Today, Nigeria is a net exporter of cement. That is how it works. Obasanjo did not just say "those who insist on having cement from China can go and source their foreign exchange".Investors won't start producing rice and toothpick overnight simply because of a forex ban.It is a business decision, not some national service. Let's be clear on that.
By the way, trading is a major economic activity in Nigeria, at least for now. Denying genuine traders access to forex will hurtthe economy. The value chain will be jeopardised. Jobs will be lost. The GDP will suffer. We will all feel the pain. Import duties are, meanwhile, a major source of revenue too, so federation revenue will also be hit. If we want to ban importation of rice and toothpick, there should be an alternative on the ground. If Nigerians eat 10 million bags of rice per day and produce only 6 million, the shortfall of 4 million must be imported. If you deny the rice importer forex, there will be scarcity and the price will go up. Who will be hurt? All of us, not just the importers.
If you care little about the basics of economics, you probably read Buhari with little interest. But for investors, traders, bankers, economists, economy-watchers and analysts, this was the major pronouncement they had been waiting for since May 29. They got plenty hints all along — such as the retention of fuel subsidies and the NNPC maintaining that the refineries will not be sold but will instead be repaired and run by government. In effect, the foundations of the petroleum industry bill (PIB) — designed to open up the oil industry by devolvingand divesting state control — are now, at best,wobbly. We alsonow know that the exchange rate will be politically determined.
Clearly, Buhari does not want the naira to take any further beating. There may be a nationalist tinge to it, to protect "national pride and heritage". Maybe he also worries about the impact on the masses. To be honest, devaluation is not a pleasurable experience for a country that survives on imports. Prices of goods and services will head for the skies. Only export-led economies may benefit from devaluation as an inflow of dollars couldtranslate totrailer loads of the local currency for exporters. But Nigeria is import-dependent and devaluation can indeed make life more miserable. But we are damned either way. I sympathise with Buhari in this Devil vsDeep Blue Sea game.
Except he changes his mind, we should expect the naira to officially exchange for N197:$1 for a while, "by fire by force". However, we should expect the parallel market rate to be at anything between N210 and N250. If things get worse — say crude oil price falls to $20 per barrel as predicted — we should expect the parallel market to keep falling, perhaps heading for N300 because the official dollar crumbs it feeds on will also dry up. The CBN will be forced to keep meeting the official demand at N197. Since we don’t print dollars, how can the CBN perpetually keep the exchange rate at N197? Very simple: by perpetually depleting the foreign reserves until they vanish.
When the reserves run dry, we would not be able to import as we like again, except we run to — look away now — the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency loans. Yes, IMF helps troubled economies with short-term fundsto make ends meet. But they don't throw their money just like that. The good, old IMF will ask us to — look away again — devalue the naira and remove subsidies!They want to be reassured that our finances are well run to pay back their money. Alternatively, we can declare a National Day of Fasting and Prayers so that crude oil can start selling for $120 again. That way, we would have enough forex to defend our national integrity, whatever.
If I may quickly chip this in, when we supply forex at N197 to only importers of "essential" goods and services, there are other issues involved. One, arbitrage and round-tripping can set in. Clever guys will look at the black market rate and opt to make quick profit. They know how they do it. Two, the favoured importers could price their goods at black market rate to maximise profit. So Nigerians will be buying goods at parallel market rate, whereas the importers bought forex at official rate. So the inflation we are trying to run away from will still set in. We are clearly between a rock and a hard place. There are no easy ways out, to be fair. I really sympathise with the president.
Meanwhile, this naira that I am looking at cannot be on its feet at N197:$1 for much longer. Something will eventually give. Either we deplete the reserves to keep the rate or devalue the naira as the "essential demands" keep piling up.Fortune couldwell smile on us overoil price. Or we can finally choose to liberalise.Obasanjo came to power in 1999 with a statist mindset. It took him a whiletoembrace liberalisation.The economy exploded in appreciation. Something tells me Buhari will soon acceptthatWest Germanyhas swallowed up East Germany. It may take him a couple of years and plenty of mistakes, but I'm so certain he will get the memo someday.
And Four Other Things...

President Buhari has given us another shocker: that it is civil servants that do the job but ministers make all the noise. Is that the impression he has been given by those permanent secretaries he has been working with since he assumed office? Is that why we have not had a cabinet since? Buhari should commission a research into "a day in the life" of Nigerian civil servants. He should investigate the owners of choice property in Abuja. He should also investigate the processes by which money gets stolen from the system. Then we will discuss the matter again. Stunning.
My belief that “nothing or no-one is absolutely good or bad in life” found further evidence in the implementation of the treasury single account (TSA). On the one hand, we will have a handle on all government revenues in the interest of transparency. Also, banks will stop feeding solely on public funds. One the other hand, the economy will be further squeezed as the already troubled credit system is jeopardised by lack of cash — with the transfer of over N1.1 trillion to the TSA. However, credit to Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, for moving quickly to bridge the liquidity gap. Kudos.
Has BukolaSarakifinally come to the end of the road? Since he decided to run for senate president against the wishes of key APC figures, the battle line had been welldesigned. Indeed, President Buhari has refused to have a one-on-one meeting with him.The two men are practically not on speaking terms. I knew something would give along the line. Now that the Code of Conduct Bureau has finally got something on him, we may be nearing the end game. But getting rid of Saraki is one thing, replacing him withthe preferred choice is anotherentirely.Dicey.

So in 1993, Gen. Ibrahim Babangidawas forced to "step aside" as military president of Nigeria after sustained public protests. He set up an interim government and left his ally, Gen. SaniAbacha, behind. Abacha later did a coup. And so in 2014, President BlaiseCompaore of Burkina Faso was forced to step down amid widespread protests.An interim government was installed and his ally, Gen Gilbert Diendere, remainedbehind. Diendere has now carried out his own coup. What is this thing about African leaders? Why are we eternally locked in crises and power struggles? When shall Africa be free? Questions.

Government to ease permits required for exports, imports 

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Sat, September 19 2015, 5:42 PM
In following up on the issuance of the government’s economic policy package last week, the Trade Ministry will ease export and import regulations to improve the business climate and ensure national stocks of basic commodities, an official has said. The ministry’s deregulation team head Arlinda Imbang Jaya said at least 32 regulations, mostly ministerial regulations, would be amended by the ministry through October this year.
The ministry will also cut at least 38 export and import permits from the total of 121 permits under the ministry, including four registered exporter (ET) permits, 21 registered importer (IT) permits and 13 producing importer (IP) permits. “We hope the measure will increase the flow of goods for imports, exports and domestic trade, as well as ensure the supply of the commodities in the market and therefore stabilize prices,” Arlinda said at a press briefing on Friday.
Indonesia recorded US$6.22 billion in trade surplus in the January-August period of this year, with total exports and imports slumping by 12.7 percent and 18.96 percent year-on-year (yoy), respectively. The declining exports and imports have indicated that many industries in the country are still facing a slowdown. The ease for exports and imports will also be applied on so-called strategic commodities, such as rice, sugar, salt and plantation products, with the removal of requirements for recommendations from other ministries and agencies for the import and export of the products.
“We have finished talking with the ministries that usually give the recommendations, such as the Industry Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and others. There are some policies that need relaxation from their side to remove the recommendation requirements,” she said.Arlinda added that through the import relaxation, the ministry hoped that the industry could better utilize raw materials.Imports of raw materials increased by 18.7 percent month-to-month (mtm) to $9.15 billion in August, a reverse from the 21.4 percent drop a month before, according to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data.Under the new regulation, the government would make a decision on local production, national demand and import volume of the commodities in a limited coordination meeting (Rakortas), involving related ministries.
Regarding rice imports, the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) previously said that the national stock of subsidized rice would be close to running out by the year’s end, as the stock stood at 62,000 tons while it needed 1.5 to 2 million tons to meet next year’s demand. The impact of El Niño on production also loomed, though Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman has stated his confidence on not importing rice this year.
With regard to salt imports, Arlinda said the ministry would scrap requirements for IT and IP, saying the requirement would only be applied to producing importers’ identification numbers (API).Similar ease on imports would also be applied to other commodities, such as steel, with the scrapping of tax identification number (NPWP) and business permit (SIUP) document requirements. According to Arlinda, the export-import process would also be available online starting October.With the easing, the ministry would also still manage the flow of imports by obliging importers to uphold the policy to label imported product in Indonesian prior to selling them. (fsu)
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Aquino won’t likely scrap rice import quota


03:34 AM September 19th, 2015

 It will be up to the next administration to pursue the removal of the quota on rice importation and gradually reduce the tariff on the commodity, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said on Friday.Noting that a repeal of Republic Act (RA) No. 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, which had kept the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice importation, may no longer happen during this administration, Balisacan said the challenge to do so will be passed on to the next administration.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) last year allowed the Philippines to extend its QR on rice until 2017, in a bid to buy more time for local farmers to prepare for free trade in light of the government’s goal of achieving rice self-sufficiency.“We can take the period up to 2017 to prepare farmers and legislators in advocating for the reform from QR to tariffication,” Balisacan said during the policy forum and research symposium dubbed “Climate Change in the Philippines: Scenarios, Policies, and Investments in Agriculture.”Balisacan, who is also the Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), later told a press conference that in case the QR on rice will be eventually scrapped, slapping an import duty of 30-35 percent would be “a much better regime than QR.
”“We can commit to reduce the tariff over time; it can be negotiated with [trading partners],” the Neda chief said.The WTO refers to tarrification as the “procedures relating to the agricultural market-access provision in which all non-tariff measures are converted into tariffs.”“Tarrifying” the restriction will make the rice market more predictable, transparent and more market-friendly while still protecting farmers, he said.Balisacan is pushing for the removal of the quota system, noting the QR puts the burden of rice demand and supply on the government, while limiting market forces.
The Neda chief had partly blamed high rice prices, partly due to the prevailing QR regime, for the higher poverty incidence registered in the first half of last year. The commodity accounts for a fifth of low income families’ budgets.Since the government imposes a quota on rice imports, domestic prices are vulnerable to shocks resulting from meager supply.The extended QR slaps a 35-percent duty on imported rice under a minimum access volume (MAV) of 805,200 metric tons. Importation outside of the MAV limit are levied a higher tariff of 50 percent.The Philippines’ most favored nation or MFN rate—the additional tariff imposed when imported outside of Asean—on the commodity remains at about 40 percent.

From butter chicken to paneer makhanwala at Bali restaurant

September 20, 2015 - 10:37:24 am

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
BALI, Indonesia:  As one walks down the market street on the way to the pristine Kuta beach on Bali island, Indonesia’s major tourist destination, it is hard to miss the Queen’s of India.For the Indians who come to this beach resort for rest and recreation, but crave for "desi" food, especially vegetarian fare, Queen's of India is like manna from heaven.In the street dotted with many restaurants and bars, the Queen’s stands out not only for its shiny nameplate on top or its huge swing on the side, but also because it is packed with food lovers - both expats and tourists, including westerners.No wonder the aroma that floats in air stops many a passer-by who are compelled to take a bite of the delicious Indian fare on offer. From south Indian (dosa, uthapam), to northern (tandoori) or the western (Gujarati thali), all food Indian are served here.

There are many Indian restaurants in Bali from Athithi to Indian Dhaba to Ganesha Ek Sanskriti Indian Restaurant catering to mostly honeymooners thronging this favoured tourist town.However, the Queen’s, which began its journey in 2004 and now has a chain of restaurants (four outlets) in Bali and two in Jakarata, remains the most famous. So much so that they are booked by Indians who come all the way from London, Dubai and India to Bali for a destination wedding.New Delhi-based Puneet Malhotra, the owner of the Queen’s, said their restaurant is an epitome of authentic Indian cooking which is served in the most exotic of locations.“At our chain of restaurants, we understand the basic principle of cooking food - it is not good food unless it titillates your taste buds into a happy submission.“People choose Queen’s, when they want to experience the enriching, authentic flavours of Indian food along with a memorable dining experience.

Being one of the oldest Indian restaurants, of not just Bali but Jakarta as well, QueenÂ’s brings together a pleasurable experience for our each dining guest,” Malhotra said.The mouth-watering butter chicken, chicken makhanwala and prawn tava are most sought after here, while paneer makhanwala, bhindhi masala and aloo gobhi are the vegetarian fare that is most in demand.The delicious biryani - both vegetarian and non-veg - served in earthen pots is also a favourite. “We have the maximum number of Indian chefs specially flown from India so that our guests get to taste the true flavours of the delectable Indian cuisines,” Malhotra, who is helped by his wife, Neeta Shamdasani Malhotra, a fifth generation Indonesian citizen of Indian origin, born and brought up in Bali. She is also founder and president of BIFA (Balinese and Indian Friendship Association) and organizes Diwali and other Indian festivals here.

Chef Devendra Singh, who earlier worked in a Noida hotel and is now working in QueenÂ’s Kuta branch for the past two years, said: “We largely cater to Indian groups. Indians mostly look for Indian food whenever they are visiting a country for either leisure or official work.” “Apart from touring Indians and expats, foreigners love our food. From our vegetarian delights to our ‘gosht’ segment, the visitors have a wide choice. We source our spices and ‘Basmati” rice - to prepare briyani - from India and thats why the taste is truly Indian.

Our “Butter Chicken”, “Rogan Josh” and “Tandori Chicken” is very famous, even the natives love it.”They have catered and served Bollywood actors (Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Shahid Kapoor), politicians (Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and Manmohan Singh) and business tycoons (Lakshmi Mittal), the list goes on.As the brand is making its mark in Indonesia, Malhotra said they are planning to expand in Australia.“It feel great when people who have come thousands of miles away from home compliment us about the food or the westerners who come again and again for our non-vegetarian fare. We want to continue this tradition of giving a sensory journey into Indian cuisine in Bali to all our customers,” Malhotra added.
The Peninsula

Amarinder seeks adequate compensation for Basmati growers

Last Updated: Sun, Sep 20, 2015 19:20 hrs
Senior Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh today asked the Punjab government to provide adequate compensation to Basmati growers who have allegedly been forced to go for distress sale.In a statement issued here, the leader threatened to launch a protest across the state if his demands were not met.Singh noted that last year the Basmati sold for about Rs 3,200 per quintal. But this year the rice variety is not selling for more than Rs 1,200 per quintal."This does not even meet the input costs of the farmers. Moreover, the Basmati yield is less as compared to other varieties of paddy," he said.The Congress leader lamented that he has been repeatedly reminding Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to take up the matter with the central government to address this pressing problem.

"However, he (Badal) only returns after presenting a bouquet to the Prime Minister without asking for anything, for the reasons best known to him," he said.The former Chief Minister also warned that if the farmers do not get adequate prices for their produce it may lead to law and order problem in the state."Better you take serious note of the situation lest it is too late for you and the state as the resentment and anger among farmers is brewing fast," he charged.The leader added that he will personally lead the farmers' protests as this government had failed to address their concerns.Notably, Singh did not attend the 'Kisan Samman rally' by Congress in Delhi today.                                                                                                                 Press Trust of India
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