Wednesday, September 30, 2015

29th September,2015 Daily global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

News Headlines...

ü  Rain deficit slips back to 14% as monsoon resumes withdrawal

ü  Attention to rice sufficiency

ü  Yingluck sues attorney-general over rice case

ü  Indonesia wants to buy Thai, Vietnamese rice

ü  Importing gram daal

ü  California Resources Corp Now Covered by Johnson Rice (CRC)

ü  Licences of millers not using jute bags to be cancelled Inter-ministerial meeting decides

ü  The eyes behind the lensAsia-Pacific Analysis: Coping with big data in the digital age

ü  The beleaguered rice market: exports up, prices down

ü  Rice farmers react to low yields and Cuba trade

ü  In Cuba, Arkansas governor seeks to chip away at embargo

ü  Japan could concede 50,000 tons on rice to placate US

ü  Final Worker Protection Standards Rule a Litany of Overreach

ü  CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures  

ü  Japan considers making new offer on U.S. rice in Atlanta TPP talks

ü  Rice stocks ‘low but enough’, says Jokowi

ü  NFA’s 3rd quarter rice distribution in Negros Occidental remains low

ü  Vietnam Expects 45 Million Tonnes Of Rice This Year

ü  Expert advice: children should not to eat rice cakes due to risks of cancer

ü  Buffalo meat exports down by 30% on lower Chinese demand

ü  Vietnam's Rice Exports Face Difficulties

ü  High local rice prices draw in illegal Thai imports

ü  Haryana to rope in exporters as millers to boycott paddy purchase

ü  APEDA Commodity News from India

ü  Eat to beat the menopause: There's no need for a heart-sinking diet plan

News Detail...

Rain deficit slips back to 14% as monsoon resumes withdrawal


With a day to go for the season, the rain deficit during monsoon 2015 has slipped back to 14 per cent on Tuesday, two per cent higher than estimated by the India Met Department.This emerged after a late surge over Peninsular India and parts of North-West seems to have run out of steam.
Also, the monsoon has resumed withdrawing from north-west and adjoining Central India.

Exits north-west

In one full swoop, it exited from entire Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, most of west Uttar Pradesh and parts of west Madhya Pradesh, east Gujarat and north Arabian Sea.The withdrawal line passed through Dharchula, Etawah, Guna, Ratlam, Ahmedabad and Dwarka on Tuesday, the Met said.
But the monsoon held on its own over parts of the South, including in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar islands. This indicates that withdrawal from the entire landmass will be delayed beyond September, in line with the trend observed in the recent past.

‘Low’ forecast
Additionally, a rain-generating low-pressure area is expected to be thrown up over the Andaman Sea after a ‘monsoon pulse’ from across the seawaters meandered in and has started evolving there.Model forecasts do not indicate the formation of a major weather system depression/cyclone) but the ‘low’ may wander about in the Central Bay of Bengal and trigger a surge of flows across southern peninsula.The net result will be enhanced rain along the West Coast and the East Coast and parts of interior peninsula for the next two weeks, a bulk of which may fall beyond the scope of the southwest monsoon.The trigger is being attributed to the evolving positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) in which the western part of the Indian Ocean warms up relative to the East, but late for the current monsoon.

Beneficial impact
A positive phase of the IOD has traditionally had a beneficial impact on the concurrent Indian monsoon.An Australian Bureau of Meteorology update said that the positive IOD is evolving to be the strongest one after the year 2006 event, first time in the history when it was replicated in three successive years.Meanwhile, the late rains happening in the South may get accounted for in the North-East monsoon that sets in normally in the October 15-20 time band.Model forecasts show that the monsoon reverse might reach fringes of South China Sea upstream by October 11.According to latest forecasts by the US Centre for Climate Prediction, the West Coast, the East Coast and parts of interior peninsula may stay wet right until mid-October.
(This article was published on September 29, 2015)

Attention to rice sufficiency
Published on: Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: Various efforts have been carried out by the Government to increase the level of self-sufficiency for the country's rice production to meet the challenging demands of an increasing population.Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the State had determined that agriculture is an important sector that would spur the State's economic development and progress."Our priority is to increase domestic food production level in order to decrease our import bill which is already very high and continues to rise."Therefore, rice production is an activity which the State Government is paying very close attention to," he said at the launching of the National Plantation Industry Conference and Exhibition, Monday.His speech was read by Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin.

Musa said the Government had agreed with the target of achieving a self-sufficiency level of 60 per cent for the State's food security, taking into account other factors such as economy, unpredictable weather and changes in international trade policies."In 2014, Sabah had a total of 44,921 hectares of rice planted areas, producing 2.7 tonnes of rice per hectare. In terms of infrastructure, since 2010, a total of RM42.9million had been spent in Kota Belud for the upgrading of irrigation system so that harvesting can be done twice a year with an estimated production of 55,090 metric tonnes per year," he said.Musa said more attention should be given to research and development activities based on technology and innovation which could contribute to the increase of the nation's rice production as it moves towards 100 per cent self-sufficiency level.Meanwhile, Organising Executive Committee Chairman Ahmad Fer-Rouse said Malaysia lies in 25th place in terms of rice production in the world with China and India leading the pack, producing half of the world's rice.

"However, Australia is the world's most efficient producer of rice, producing an average of 8.7 tonnes of rice per hectare per year, followed by Japan, and then China," he said.Ahmad added that Malaysia had resolved to increase its rice production to meet the government's target for full self-sufficiency in rice by 2015."The government's decision to achieve 100 per cent self-sufficiency in rice could be due to the real threat of world food crisis in 2008, where the country suddenly found itself unable to guarantee sufficient rice for the nation in the three-months in mid-2008."The food crisis in 2008 laid bare our persistent and perhaps increasing food insecurity nightmare," he said.At the moment, Malaysia had decreased its level of dependence on imported rice by 70 per cent.

During the next two days, Ahmad said the conference will be hearing from expert speakers who would share their insights on whether rice productivity had increased since then and what are the current politico-socio-economic trends that affect Malaysians' lifestyle that in turn influence their eating habit.The biennial conference, with this year's theme of 'Rice Industry Towards 100% Self-Sufficiency Level' will discuss and deliberate on various issues concerning the rice industry by experts such as governance and policies, investment opportunities, research and development as well as human capital and talent management.

Yingluck sues attorney-general over rice case

29 Sep 2015 at 13:18

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and former prime minister Somchai Wongsuwan arrive at the Criminal Court on Tuesday morning to file abuse of authority charges against the attorney general and three prosecutors handling the rice scheme corruption brought case against her. (Photo by Apchart Jinakul)

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday sued attorney-general Trakul Winitnaiyaphak and three other prosecutors in the Criminal Court for alleged abuse of power in handling the case against her in connection with her government's controversial rice-pledging scheme.
In her lawsuit, Ms Yingluck accused Mr Trakul, Chutichai Sakhakorn, Surasak Treerattrakul and Kittinan Thatpramuk of violating Sections 83, 157 and 200 of the Criminal Code, causing damage to others in their handling of the case against her in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.Ms Yingluck was accompanied by former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat and lawyer Sommai Koosap when she arrived at the court this morning.In the lawsuit, Ms Yingluck said there were three contentious points in the case against her. These involved the rice-pledging scheme, the alleged dereliction of duty, and the alleged corruption.

The attorney-general had failed to further investigate these points as required by the Criminal Procedures Code for holders of political positions, thus putting her at a disadvantage.  Instead, the attorney-general decided to indict her in the Supreme Court only one hour before the National Legislative Assembly voted to impeach her, Ms Yingluck said.She further stated that in the indictment the prosecutors said she knew there were corrupt practices in the scheme, and allowed them to continue. This accusation was made by the prosecutors, in addition to what the NACC originally stated in its investigation report, she said.

Moreover, during the court procedure, the prosecutors submitted an additional 60,000 pages of documents for inclusion in the case. These documents had not been used in evidence during the investigation by the NACC and a subsequent joint task force comprising the NACC and prosecutors, Ms Yingluck. This was illegal, she alleged.After filing the case, Ms Yingluck said she was exercising her right to defend herself.The NACC last year petitioned the NLA to impeach Ms Yingluck, accusing her of dereliction of duty while  prime minister in failing to stop corruption and massive financial losses in her government's rice-pledging scheme.On Jan 22, the NLA voted to impeach Ms Yingluck. As a result, Ms Yingluck has been banned from political office for five years.

On the same day, before the NLA's impeachment vote, Mr Trakul, the attorney-general, announced his decision to indict her in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions over the rice-pledging scheme, as requested by the NACC.The NACC concluded that the implementation of the rice scheme from 2011 to 2014 resulted in a posted loss of 518 billion baht, meaning about 200 billion baht per year, and the state would take about three decades to repay the debts resulting from the loss incurred using the taxpayers' money.

Bangkok Post

Indonesia wants to buy Thai, Vietnamese rice

29 Sep 2015 at 11:57

A Thai farmer harvests rice by hand, using a sickle.(Bangkok Post file photo by Panupong Changchai)

Indonesia wants to import 1.5 million tonnes of rice from Thailand and Vietnam by next January as the effect of the El Nino weather phenomenon has cut domestic supply.Chookiat Ophaswongse, honourary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said the Indonesian government announced plans to buy rice through government-to-government deals and its representatives would soon begin negotiations.
Prices could vary as Thai rice was better and more expensive than Vietnamese rice, Mr Chookiat said.Indonesia might have to import from other sources too because Thailand and Vietnam may not be able to fill the 1.5-million-tonne demand within Indonesia's timeframe, he said.Indonesia wanted the rice between November and January. Its own rice harvest season would start in March, he said."The 1.5 million tonnes that Indonesia needs is white rice 5% and 15% broken, and it must be new rice. It is good the Thai rice harvest late this year has a market," he said.In the first nine months of this year, Thailand exported nearly 7 million tonnes of rice and the Commerce Ministry is confident the export target of 10 million tonnes will be realised this year, Post Today reported.

Bangkok Post
Importing gram daal

Dr A Q Khan
Tuesday, September 29, 2015 
Part – I
The news that Pakistan was going to import 50,000 tons of daal channa drew my attention. We, an agricultural country with vast tracts of uncultivated land and an abundance of water, importing daal?

But first the cowardly terrorist attack on the PAF Colony at Badaber, Peshawar. This barbarous attack has once again shown that terrorists can hardly be called human, let alone Muslims. Human life means nothing to them. Thanks to the bravery of air force and army personnel, an even bigger tragedy was averted. Still, 29 innocent people lost their lives, mostly in the mosque during prayers. May Allah Almighty shower His blessing on the departed souls – Ameen. The armed forces and the public should join hands in hunting down all terrorists once and for all. Imran Khan and Pervez Khattak should put their house in order instead of wasting all their time and energy on politics.Now back to daal. Pakistan is an agricultural country and it accounts for about 25 percent of our GDP.
About half of our labour force is engaged in this important sector. Due to irregular rainfall, most agriculture is dependent on water supplied through almost 40,000 miles of irrigation canals – the longest in the world. Wheat is the main crop, followed by rice, millet, maize, pulses, barley, fruits, vegetables, Basmati rice and cotton. 
The agricultural sector plays an important part in the economy, not only by providing food for the people, but also by earning almost 75 percent of the foreign exchange earned from exports. About half the working population is employed in agriculture, thus providing livelihoods for the rural population and raw materials for many industries. How ironic is it then that we need to import channa daal. We have large tracts of so-called non-fertile, sandy land, ideally suited for peanut and gram cultivation. The government should encourage farmers and help them to utilise this unused land with the available manpower. This can be done if the problem is tackled seriously.Lebanon’s late famous philosopher/poet, Gibran Khalil Gibran, the third-most best selling poet of all times (behind Shakespeare and Laozi), portrayed people like us with these words:
“Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion./Pity the nation that wears cloth it does not weave,/eats bread it does not harvest,/drinks wine that flows not from its own wine press.“Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero/that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful./Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it wakes in a funeral,/boasts not except among its ruins/and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.”If we read ‘curse’ instead of ‘pity’, ‘dictator’ for ‘bully’ and ‘medals and badges’ for ‘glittering conqueror’, we have a true picture of our country.The PM recently announced an attractive package for farmers. If honestly implemented, it can go a long way to help them. However, some critics are calling it a gimmick to cheat farmers in connection with the forthcoming local bodies elections.

Almost 80 percent of the world population is engaged in agriculture. The developed countries have a very well-planned infrastructure for the preparation and cultivation of crops, storage, use of proper fertilizers to minimise dangerous side effects, etc. Even though fewer people depend on agriculture in those countries, their expenditure on it is relatively high. This is done to ensure good and clean food and water. We badly lack initiative and infrastructure in this field. Our nation faces two serious problems – a fast-growing population and the use of fertile land for housing schemes, thus destroying millions of acres of arable land. We must tackle these problems on a war footing or face dire consequences.
Being well aware of the corrupt and inefficient system in vogue in the country, I had suggested that the army chief utilise his efficient and organised manpower for the development of the country and the welfare of its people. In this connection I would like to mention the large tracts of land between Islamabad and Lahore that consist of unused, soft land which has been rendered useless due to heavy rains and erosion. 
If the government provided some heavy duty machinery to the army and levelled the land in question without any cost to the owners, it would immediately become ready for cultivation – beneficial both to farmers and the government. We must be proactive, not reactive only. Foresight is the need of the day – foresight to see what can be done rather than sitting by helplessly. Didn’t Almighty Allah tell us that we get only what we strive for?
After the Indian nuclear explosion there was no doubt in my mind that our very existence and sovereignty was in jeopardy. I did not hesitate to offer my services and, by the end of 1975 we moved to Pakistan without asking for any special favours. 
There were many intrigues, but we stuck it out for the sake of the country. It took six months before I received my first salary – Rs3,000. Then, after giving it our all for 25 years and after my patriotic colleagues and I had made this country into a formidable nuclear and missile power, I retired with a monthly pension of Rs446. I did not ask for, or accept, a single yard of land or any other favour. The technology I gave to Pakistan free-of-cost was worth billions of dollars. Money was not the motivation, patriotism was.
What I would like to emphasise here is that it is time to act, not sit and daydream. Dreams alone achieve nothing. One needs foresight and hard work to achieve goals. Dying for one’s country is the supreme sacrifice but making one’s country strong so one can live honestly and peacefully is a real service. Bragging and boasting about bravery is of no use without practical and immediate action.

To be continued

The News International

California Resources Corp Now Covered by Johnson Rice (CRC)


Equities research analysts at Johnson Rice assumed coverage on shares of California Resources Corp (NYSE:CRC) in a research note issued to investors on Friday, The Fly reports. The firm set an “accumulate” rating on the stock.A number of other analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Goldman Sachs initiated coverage on shares of California Resources Corp in a research report on Monday, June 8th. They set a “sell” rating for the company. Bank of America  lowered their price objective on shares of California Resources Corp from $15.00 to $12.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, August 4th. Zacks raised shares of California Resources Corp from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $6.25 target price on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, July 1st.

Finally, Societe Generale initiated coverage on shares of California Resources Corp in a research note on Tuesday, July 14th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $7.00 price target on the stock. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $9.19.Shares of California Resources Corp (NYSE:CRC) traded up 5.13% during midday trading on Friday, hitting $2.46. The stock had a trading volume of 5,262,582 shares.
 The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $3.34 and its 200 day moving average price is $6.14. California Resources Corp has a 52 week low of $2.28 and a 52 week high of $9.86. The company’s market cap is $950.49 million. California Resources Corp (NYSE:CRC) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, August 6th. The company reported ($0.18) EPS for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of ($0.18). The business had revenue of $634 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $601.80 million. On average, equities analysts forecast that California Resources Corp will post ($0.83) earnings per share for the current year.The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, October 15th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 10th will be given a dividend of $0.01 per share.

This represents a $0.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.71%. The ex-dividend date  of this dividend is Tuesday, September 8th.In related news, CEO Todd A. Stevens bought 10,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 11th. The stock was bought at an average cost of $4.00 per share, for a total transaction of $40,000.00. The purchase was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link.California Resources Corporation (NYSE:CRC) is an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company, operating properties exclusively within the State of California.

The Company has a mineral acreage consisting of approximately 2.4 million net acres spanning the state’s four oil and gas  basins. The Company’s four oil and gas basins include San Joaquin Basin, Los Angeles Basin, Ventura Basin and Sacramento Basin. It operates an average of approximately 26 drilling rigs across the state. It drilled approximately 1,048 development wells with approximately 847 wells in the San Joaquin basin, approximately 177 in the Los Angeles basin, approximately 21 in the Ventura basin and approximately 3 in the Sacramento basin. It also drilled approximately 9 exploration wells in the San Joaquin basin, approximately 4 in the Ventura basin and 1 in the Sacramento basin.

Licences of millers not using jute bags to be cancelled Inter-ministerial meeting decides

Arafat Ara

Posted : 29 Sep, 2015 00:00:00         

An inter-ministerial meeting has decided to cancel licences of auto rice, husking and chatal mills if they do not use jute bags for packaging their food grains.Besides, a condition for using jute-made sacks will also be tagged while providing renewal of licences to the millers, according to the decision.The meeting also decided to tag a condition while issuing no objection certificates by the Department of Environment to the plastic goods manufacturers so that they cannot produce and supply woven polypropylene (WPP) bags for packaging products, for which use of jute bags has been made mandatory.  The meeting was held recently at the Ministry of Textiles and Jute (MoTJ), chaired by state minister for MoTJ Mirza Azam.

"If any rice miller violates the condition, his licence will be cancelled by the authorities concerned," Mirza Azam told the FE.   He said while giving fresh licences or renewal of the same, the department of food will set a condition to the applicants on compulsory use of jute sacks to pack their products. While allocating loans to the traders and millers of selected products including rice, paddy, maize, fertiliser, and sugar etc Bangladesh Bank also will set condition for use of jute-made bags.Departments and organisations under ministries of Agriculture and Industries will have to use jute bags to pack their products.
Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) will supply jute bags according to the specification of the products.The meeting also decided to continue mobile court drives against violators of the 'Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010'.  The state minister said they will go for tougher action against the non-compliers of the act and continue raids at all places from the next month.While talking about the outcome of earlier drives, the minister said due to political unrest they could not be strict to the millers as their overall business was dull."But now there is no scope to violate the law," he said adding that anyhow the sale of jute bags has to be increased as the sector is facing trouble because of lower demand of the products in international market.

If the use of jute bags is not increased, jute millers will face a major setback, the state minister added.BJMA chairman Shams-uz Zoha said they have a production capacity of 600 million bags a year. "If the local demand increases, they will be able to supply the same."BJMC chairman Humayun Khaled said they presently supply bags according to the specification of sugar and fertiliser industries.If the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) gives specification, they will produce bags as per their requirement, he added.
Jute secretary Farid Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury and director general of Department of Jute Muazzem Hossain, among others, were present at the meeting.Meanwhile, sector insiders have identified short supply of jute-made bags, higher cost of the same compared with plastic-made ones and lax enforcement of law as major factors behind their poor use.Around 400 mobile courts launched drives since the mandatory jute packaging act was made effective on January 1, 2014, according to Department of Jute.Each violator will face imprisonment up to one year or a penalty of Tk 50,000 or both the penalties will be imposed considering the degree of non-compliance.

The eyes behind the lens

 Alaric Santiaguel   |  Sep 29, 2015

When David Leprozo, Jr. took up photography as a hobby at 13, he never thought it would lead him to a career of preserving the culture of the Philippine Cordilleras through his photos. Now in his early 50s, Mr. Leprozo has become an emissary of the geographic region, where he was born and raised, showcasing its traditions around the world.

“It started as a hobby,” Mr. Leprozo recounted his love affair with photography a few hours before the opening of the Rice Culture of the Cordilleras exhibit at the Riceworld Museum at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). “Eventually, I saw the importance of preserving images through photography and conveying these messages to the world.”

Let the viewing begin! OIC of the Operations Division of the DA-Cordillera Administrative Region Virgie Tapat; Honorable Congressman Teddy Baguilat, Jr.; IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler; David Leprozo, Jr.; and IRRI Director for External Relations Corinta Guerta officially open the photo exhibit. (Photo: I. Serrano)

The portfolio, which Mr. Leprozo donated to IRRI, was part of a series of international exhibits, most recently in Vienna, Austria where it was warmly received by Europeans. “Philippine culture is unique, especially in the Cordilleras. The region has some 47 vernaculars, no political boundaries, yet the tribes differ in color and customs and their lives revolve around rice,” said Mr. Leprozo.The rice culture of the Cordilleras is often equated with the regal rice terraces, particularly those in Ifugao province, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. In fact, the culture is composed of the terraces, rice farmers, traditional farming methods, and the local heirloom rice varieties. These elements are so closely intertwined that removing one would cause the system to unravel. At one point, the rice terraces were almost taken off the World Heritage List due to the alarming state of disrepair triggered by the migration of farmers seeking more lucrative livelihood elsewhere. In their absence, their abandoned rice fields deteriorated.

Furthermore, the heirloom rice varieties that they once planted started to recede into extinction.To restore the rice terraces, the Department of Agriculture and the Ifugao provincial government earmarked over PHP 30 million in rehabilitation projects. One of these projects, Save the Rice Terraces Program, funded the construction of irrigation and livelihood projects for Ifugao farmers.Another initiative, the Heirloom Rice Project (HRP) launched in early 2015, focused on the farmers and their traditional rice. Led by the Department of Agriculture and IRRI, HRP aims to enhance farmers’ productivity and the quality of their produce, and expand their market. The idea is to make heirloom rice farming more profitable to encourage more people to stay in the business. The reinvigoration of traditional farming will then assure the survival of the culture and the terraces.

The photo exhibit is a tribute to the culture and ingenuity of the Cordilleran people according to Dr. Casiana Vera-Cruz. (Photo: I. Serrano)
“We are really honoring the rice culture of the Cordilleras here,” said IRRI scientist Casiana Vera Cruz at the opening of the Rice Culture of the Cordilleras. “It underscores the importance of the contribution of the indigenous people through their knowledge system in conserving heirloom rice. This exhibit jives well with HRP’s objectives. It reflects the slogan of the project, which is capturing value and preserving the heritage of the Cordilleras.” HRP was one of the sponsors of Mr. Leprozo’s exhibit at Riceworld Museum.Mr. Leprozo considers his photos as art, social commentary, and documentation of the cultural identities that are starting to merge with modernity.

“Their ways of planting rice are still being practiced in some areas, but in some parts, changes are taking place,” he said. For now, he is not worried about losing the culture. “Although younger people tend to modernize, many return back to their roots.”Teddy Baguilat, Jr., who represents the Ifugao people in the Philippine Congress, is an example of this. He left his hometown at an early age, to study and work, but returned in 1991 to serve his people as an elected public servant.“If we lose the appreciation of our youth for the rice terraces culture of the Cordilleras, many of them would leave,” Honorable Congressman Baguilat said. “The biggest challenge is how to convince the youth to stay.

The wandering son returns. In his youth Teddy Baguilat, Jr. left Ifugao Province to seek higher education and livelihood as most young people are wont to do. He returned in 1991 to serve his fellow Cordillerans. (Photo: I. Serrano)
“There was a time when I believed that, for the rice terraces to survive, the Ifugaos should stay in Ifugao. Now, I’ve become more pragmatic,” he said. “My deal with the Cordillerans is that, at least one of their children or one of their inheritors should stay behind to take care of our ancestral heritage. Those who migrated and are now working in cities and overseas should at least support those who stayed behind.”Mr. Leprozo’s work plays a role in keeping the relationship between those who left and those who stayed vibrant and strong. “Dave has donated a lot of his photos to our compatriots overseas,” said Congressman Baguilat. “I hope that through David’s eyes, people can get a glimpse of how important the rice terraces, heirloom rice, and the life of the Cordillerans are.”

Asia-Pacific Analysis: Coping with big data in the digital age

As we navigate the digital age, we are increasingly challenged by information overload. We now have more data at our fingertips, but are we any wiser? How does society handle so much knowledge? How can people use it? 
This has given rise to the big data phenomenon, which refers simply to a set of data that are too huge, so large and complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. Big data has given rise to a new field of data science and practitioners called data scientists. [1] 

What these scientists do is to make sense of the data. The work they do refers to the use of predictive analytics or other certain advanced methods to extract value from data and present them in understandable forms. Accurate data are needed for more confident decision-making by governments, businesses, science institutions, and policymakers. And better decisions mean greater efficiency, reduced cost, minimised risk and positive results. But big data cannot be grasped easily. It has to be packaged in small parcels in some logical order and visualised. Enter the new field of data visualisation. This refers to the techniques used to communicate big data by encoding it as visual objects contained in graphics. The purpose is tocommunicate information clearly and effectively.
“Big data can be a boon or a bane. We can let the statistics overwhelm us, or we can visualise and use them to improve our life.”

By Crispin Maslog

Data visualisation tools are not just the usual charts and graphs used in Excel spreadsheets. They display data in more sophisticated ways such as infographics, dials and gauges, geographic maps, spark lines, heat maps, and detailed bars, pie and fever charts. The images may also be interactive, allowing users to manipulate them for querying and 
analysis. Most software vendors embed data visualisation tools into their products.
 Big data on fish and rice 
An early example of big data is FishBase, the largest and most extensively accessed online database on adult finfish on the web. The site is owned and managed by a consortium of universities, fishery centres and museums, as well as the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization). FishBase provides comprehensive species data, including information on taxonomy, geographical distribution, biometrics and morphology, behaviour and habitats, ecology and population dynamics as well as reproductive, metabolic and genetic data. It has links to information in other databases. [2]
 Official FishBase information sheet indicated that their database included descriptions of 33,000 freshwater and marine species and subspecies with information on 304,500 common names in some 300 languages, distribution ecology, taxonomy, population dynamics (growth life, length-width, etc.) and actual photos, and references to 51,600 works in the scientific literature. The site has about 800,000 unique visitors per month. Such an impressive database can be useful in research and teaching, decision-making and management of aquatic biodiversity, and in monitoring how climate change affects species richness. Data is provided by over 2,000 collaborators all over the world. In fact, because of demand for database covering other aquatic lifeforms other than fish, a spinoff was created in 2006 called SeaLifeBase.
 Another more recent example of big data is the 3,000 Rice Genomes Project (3K RGP) launched this September by three rice research institutions — the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Beijing Genomics Institute. The program has sequenced 3,024 rice varieties from 89 countries. “This massive dataset is a powerful resource for understanding natural genetic variation in rice as well as for large-scale discovery of new genes associated with economically important traits,” says Kenneth McNally, senior scientist at IRRI’s T.T. Chang Genetic Resources Center. [2] 
McNally adds: “The 3K RGP will speed up tremendously the pace of developing improved rice varieties to feed a growing population, estimated to reach more than 9.6 billion by 2050, with half of humanity eating rice.” [2] 
At the launching of the genome project, IRRI bioinformatics specialist Nickolai Alexandrov explained that data on 3,000 rice genomes can help scientists discover new locus-trait associations, find causative genome variations and introduce new varieties to breeding programs. The IRRI-based international rice gene bank stores more than 127,000 rice varieties and accessions from all over the world. Up to this point, Alexandrov tells SciDev.Net, access to the wealth of information about the hundred thousand plus rice varieties had been inadequate because in the old system, running “SNP-calling pipeline at IRRI’s server took about six hours for one genome, and 18,000 hours (750 days) for 3,000 genomes”. The new 3K RGP data analysis set is massive at 120 terabytes, which is well beyond the computing capacities of most research institutions. 
Big data visualisation 
The 3K RGP will thus make this gold mine of rice varieties easily accessible to scientists from all over the world. Rice breeders will now be able to mine the big data at IRRI for rice traits that include higher nutritional quality, tolerance of pests, diseases, environmental stresses such as flood and drought, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. “The great thing about the release of this dataset is that it is immediately useable,” says McNally. “It comes with tools to help researchers visualise and analyse genetic information.” The dataset is now available online, as an Amazon Web Services public data set. Accessing the data is free. 
Big data can be a boon or a bane. We can let the statistics overwhelm us, or we can visualise and use them to improve our life — inform our policies, plan our cities, improve our yields from the earth and seas, conquer sickness, mitigate disasters and predict the future. Crispin Maslog is a former journalist and science journalism professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and director of the Silliman School of Journalism, Philippines. He is a consultant of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and board chairperson of the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre, both based in Manila. 
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's South-East Asia & Pacific desk. 


[1] Wikipedia Big data
[2] International Rice Research Institute Big data on 3,000 rice genomes available on the AWS Cloud (IRRI, accessed 22 Sept. 2015) 29/09/2015

The beleaguered rice market: exports up, prices down

VietNamNet Bridge - The bulk rice exports to the Philippines under the government-to-government market have not helped raise rice prices.

The rice price in the Mekong River Delta did not move up in the last week despite the news about Vietnam’s attending the bid to provide 750,000 tons of rice to the Philippines later this year and early next year. The price even at times decreased slightly.
In the past, the price would go up at least by VND100 per kilo right after the news about the bidding.Nong Nghiep Viet Nam quoted rice suppliers as saying that merchants and exporters have not put high hopes on the bidding; therefore, merchants did not speed up the rice collection from farmers.
They also lacked information, and Vietnam’s rice price has fallen sharply in the world market as well. A rice exporter said though Vietnam’s 5 percent broken rice now sells at $330 per ton only, the sale has been going very slowly. Meanwhile, Vietnam exported only 4 million tons of rice by the end of August, leaving a big inventory.Vietnamese rice exporters have had to struggle to win every rice export contract this year. Major export items – 5 percent, 15 percent and 25 percent broken rice – all have been selling very slowly. Only broken rice products have been selling well because the Chinese government, while restricting rice imports from Vietnam with a quota scheme, allowed Chinese importers to import broken rice without licenses.A branch of the Northern Food Corporation (Vinafood 1) reportedly exported 40,000 tons of broken rice this year thanks to high demand from China.
The rice exporter complained that Vietnamese businesses were meeting big difficulties in negotiating with importers because of ‘spies’.Some rice survey firms, which try to keep good relations with foreign rice importers as they hope to be chosen as rice inspection service providers for the importers, have been regularly providing information to them about rice prices in Vietnam.  The importers use the information they get from their partners – survey firms – in negotiating with Vietnamese rice exporters and then try to force the prices down.
 In many cases, rice importers have forced Vietnamese exporters to lower the selling prices the two sides had agreed to before, because they had heard about the domestic price decrease.In the latest news, Manila Bulletin has reported that Vietnam won the right to provide 450,000 tons of rice to the Philippines in a bid invited by the Filipino National Food Agency (NFA) at $426.6 per ton, lower than the ceiling price set by NFA at $426.83 per ton.

Rice farmers react to low yields and Cuba trade

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is in Cuba Monday speaking to leaders there about Arkansas’ rice and poultry trade as the US begins to normalize diplomatic relations.“I think it's a huge benefit to the Arkansas rice industry. For them to take the initiative and go down and promote rice, which Cuba was one of our best markets that got taken away from the embargo. To try and regain that, it's a huge benefit that our state politicians are trying pick up some of the slack we haven't been able to get at the federal level,” said Jay Coker, an Arkansas rice farmer.While good news with Cuba may be on the way, some bad news for farmers could be lurking in the rows of rice. Lower crop yields are projected this year anywhere from 5 to 10 percent less than last year.

“Really a typical weather from both extremely hot at times to extremely cold windows really threw farmers for a loop as far as their ultimate yield goals at the end,” said Jarrod Hardke of the University of Arkansas Dept. of Agriculture.Lower yields equals less money. If crops yield 10 percent less, that's an impact of more than $84 million dollars across the state.“A 5 to 10 percent production yield and a decline in prices can take away 100 percent of your profits,” said Coker.
Hutchinson is holding a phone conference Tuesday on the status of his visit. He returns to Arkansas on Wednesday. 

Watch video on

In Cuba, Arkansas governor seeks to chip away at embargo


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday urged the U.S. Congress to allow food companies to sell to Cuba on credit, favoring it as a first step in a gradual repeal of sanctions against the Communist-led island.Hutchinson, a Republican, is the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba since Washington and Havana restored diplomatic relations in July after a 54-year break.He leads an Arkansas trade delegation, seeking an edge as states jockey to take advantage of the U.S. opening to Cuba. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo led a similar delegation in April.U.S. President Barack Obama has used executive authority to relax parts of the comprehensive trade embargo of Cuba and has asked Congress to lift it completely.Hutchinson, a former member of Congress and senior official in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, called the extension of credit "the logical next step.

""That doesn't require the full lifting of the embargo," Hutchinson said in an interview. "Once that is done, then let's see commerce be extended and increase. Hopefully the rules of the Cuban government will be more relaxed as well. And then ... Congress will take additional steps down the road."The Senate appropriations committee in July passed a measure sponsored by Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas to allow credit sales, but Republican leaders in the Senate and House have yet to show they would allow it to come to a floor vote."They have to hear from the American people," Hutchinson said of Republicans in Congress. "I don't think big business should drive this decision."The United States authorized cash-only agricultural exports to Cuba in 2000, creating up to $30 million a year in sales from Arkansas, the leading rice-producing state and home to meat giant Tyson Foods Inc.

Those once-booming sales have faltered because Cuba prefers to buy on credit.If credit were extended, "We would seen an immediate surge of business all across the board," said Jaime Saide, Tyson's director of sales for Latin America and the Caribbean.Hutchinson said such a first step would build confidence between the two sides and possibly lead Cuba to embrace more free-market reforms, citing China and Vietnam as Communist countries that have accommodated foreign investors."So it's got to be not only steps by the United States, but appropriate responses by the Cuban government," Hutchinson said.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Richard Chang)

Japan could concede 50,000 tons on rice to placate US
TOKYO -- Japan may use a system set in a previous trade agreement to add up to 50,000 tons of tariff-free U.S. rice imports to the pot as the two nations seek to close the gap on rice in Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

     Japan has proposed a duty-free import quota of 70,000 tons of U.S. rice per year, with the current tariff of 341 yen ($2.81) per kilogram applied to imports over that amount. The U.S. is holding firm to demands for a quota of 175,000 tons.    While Japan is set against raising the TPP quota itself, the government is considering allocating 50,000 more tons of an existing 770,000-ton duty-free rice quota to medium-grain and other varieties of rice that the U.S. agricultural sector produces particularly well. The quota was established at the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and accounts for total rice imports from all countries worldwide.

The additional 50,000 tons would not, in theory, go exclusively to the U.S. But the country would likely account for the majority of the rice imported under the system. No alteration would be made to the 770,000-ton limit overall, effectively reducing other countries' shares in favor of the U.S.

The two countries have already effectively agreed that Japan will cut the tariff on U.S. beef from 38.5% to 9% over 15 years. But the period over which the U.S. will remove the tariff on Japanese autos is not yet decided. The U.S. wants to maintain a tariff for as long as possible, while Japan wants the tax removed in short order.

Final Worker Protection Standards Rule a Litany of Overreach 
WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted a pre-publication version of the final Worker Protection Standards (WPS) yesterday and held a multi-agency press conference call to share details.  On the call, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated that the rule raised the age of non-family members applying agricultural pesticides from 16 to 18; moved training from every five years to annual; expanded training to include items such as how to not take pesticides home from work; required new recordkeeping to be held for two years; and required farms to follow OSHA standards for fit testing of masks and keeping of medical records. 

McCarthy said the rule is allied with Environmental Justice concerns to protect minority farmworkers.

According to McCarthy, these and other requirements will cost farm owners about $400 per year.  McCarthy then thanked federal partners the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who worked on the rule, and the Department of Justice which EPA will collaborate with in the future.  USA Rice submitted 10 pages of comments early in the process that focused on contradictory statements in the rule, issues of apparent privacy violations, a lack of understanding of rural areas, and availability of immediate healthcare facilities, and grossly understated costs of the rule to farm owners.

In her only nod to public comments, McCarthy stated that pesticide warning signs were not being changed as proposed, thanks to comments from farmworker advocacy groups who liked the current signs.

Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez echoed the work with EPA and other federal partners on "this law enforcement" issue, citing the need for a safe working environment, justice, and good housing for farm workers and stated that DOL will play an aggressive role in this process with the agricultural community.  He noted the rule also contains a robust anti-retaliation program that aligns with OSHA requirements.

Perez handed the call off to Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers who cited their past work in protecting farm workers from pesticides and lauded the whistleblower protections in the new rule.

The rule is not yet published in the Federal Register but will go into effect 60 days after publication.  Deadline for compliance with the rule will be sometime in the winter of 2016-17.  USA Rice staff will continue to analyze the rule for its impact on rice.

CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Prelim):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for September 29
Net Change

November 2015
- $0.015
January 2016
- $0.015
March 2016
- $0.010
May 2016
- $0.020
July 2016
+ $0.075
September 2016
+ $0.150
November 2016
 + $0.150

Japan considers making new offer on U.S. rice in Atlanta TPP talks
SEP 29, 2015
ATLANTA – Japan is considering sweetening the pot for U.S. rice farmers in a bid to reach agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a source close to the matter said Monday.As talks resumed on Saturday between the United States, Japan and 10 other countries negotiating the bloc in Atlanta, Washington and Tokyo remained at odds over rice imports, a heavily protected staple in Japan.Tokyo earlier proposed a 70,000-ton tariff-free annual import quota for U.S. rice under the trade pact talks, but that was far short of the 175,000 tons demanded by U.S. officials.

Tokyo is now looking at a proposal where it will allocate 50,000 tons for medium-grain rice within an existing 770,000-ton quota for all rice imports set under an earlier multilateral trade agreement, the source said. The allocation would benefit U.S. farmers.
Japan currently imposes 778 percent tariffs on rice to protect local farmers. But following the Uruguay Round of global trade talks under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade framework through 1994, it created a 770,000-ton tariff-free “minimum access” rice import quota. U.S. rice accounted for some 360,000 tons of the 770,000 tons in fiscal 2014.U.S. farmers are likely to make up most of the 50,000 tons that would be allotted to medium-grain rice, boosting American rice imports to Japan while squeezing allocations from other countries such as Thailand, China and Australia.The idea was taken under consideration as the Japanese minister in charge of TPP negotiations prepared to attend ministerial talks from Wednesday in Atlanta.
Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari, who is in charge of TPP discussions for Japan, told reporters ahead of his departure that agreement must be reached at the meeting to keep negotiations from dragging on without progress, as they have for months. He said they might otherwise take years to conclude.Some countries believe a deal must be struck ahead of the general election in Canada next month and before the national focus in the United States shifts later this year to the 2016 presidential election.

Such political events will make it hard for politicians in those countries to concentrate on TPP issues, analysts said.Major sticking points such as intellectual property protection and automotive trade prevented ministers from wrapping up negotiations in the previous round in Hawaii in July.The TPP negotiations were launched in 2010 and involve the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Malaysia, Mexico, Canada and Japan joined the talks at a later date.

Rice stocks ‘low but enough’, says Jokowi 


Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Tue, September 29 2015, 6:06 PM

Rice tip: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (third right) hosts a luncheon with rice businesspeople at his office in Jakarta on Monday. Jokowi, whose administration has been struggling to rein in prices of basic commodities, called on his guests to put public good above profits.(Presidential Secretariat/Laily Rachev)

While acknowledging that Indonesia’s rice stocks of 1.7 million tons are among the lowest in Asia, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has insisted they are enough to see out the year.“Our [rice] stocks are very low if compared with other countries’. Do you know the volume of China’s rice stocks? 40 million tons. The Philippines has how much? 2.5 million tons, even though their population is only 90 million,” Jokowi said during a lunch gathering with a number of rice millers and traders at the State Palace on Monday.The President, who recently said Indonesia would not need to import rice despite the low stocks and a possible decline in production brought about by an extended dry season, said Indonesia’s rice stocks would ideally exceed 10 million tons.

“I am optimistic that if farmers maintain production, our rice [stocks] will be abundant,” he said, before calling on farmers, rice traders, rice millers and all related parties to work hard to ensure optimal rice production and distribution.The President and Vice President Jusuf Kalla have been divided over the need to import rice to cope with potential decline in production, which was initially projected to reach 45 million tons this year, a slight increase from 44.44 million tons in 2014.Kalla previously stated that the government would import 1.5 million tons of rice in light of the devastating impact of El Niño, which has caused harvest failures in several rice-producing regions. The State Logistics Agency (Bulog), he added, was purchasing the rice from Thailand and Vietnam.

The Vice President also pledged not to repeat the mistake made by then president Soeharto in 1997 when he failed to respond to drought-induced shortages in rice production, leading to soaring rice prices and social unrest.Bulog claimed to be optimistic that the current stock of 1.7 million tons of rice would be sufficient until December, although the agency also described the supply level of below 2 million tons as “alarming”. “Of course it’s alarming, but it is up to the government to decide the next step,” Bulog corporate secretary Djoni Nur Ashari told The Jakarta Post. He denied that the agency lacked enough rice to carry out “market operations”, in which the agency balances rice prices by selling its reserves cheaply.

Meanwhile, agricultural experts advised the government to obtain more valid data on the country’s price production so that it could act appropriately to anticipate a possible shortage of supply.ustanul Arifin of the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) economic think tank urged the government to be more open about the real situation and not to consider imports a disgrace. “In an emergency situation like this, imports don’t mean failure. Openness would support their policy credibility,” Bustanul said.“Don’t leave people guessing, questioning — there will be severe consequences. The government will lose its credibility if it insists it won’t import rice, then suddenly does,” he added.

The government, he suggested, would do no harm by offsetting a potential rice shortage with imports, preventing price increases between November and January. Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) professor Dwi Andreas Santosa said that data accuracy was vital to proper policy-making.He voiced concern over the accuracy of rice-production estimations, with a surplus of 10.5 million tons predicted by the Agriculture Ministry, without taking account into harvest failures brought about by drought. “Any policy formulated has to be based on accurate data,” Dwi said.He urged the government to organize data collection free from vested interests in view of the potentially disastrous consequences of miscalculations. (fsu)

NFA’s 3rd quarter rice distribution in Negros Occidental remains low

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

THE National Food Authority (NFA) in Negros Occidental still has low rice distribution for the third quarter just like in the second quarter following much higher distribution rates from January to March this year.NFA Negros Occidental records showed that of the target 125,000 bags of rice in July, only 16, 900 bags or about 14 percent were distributed while in August, only 14,017 bags or 14 percent of the targeted 100,000 bags.This September, of the target 80,000 bags, only 9,645 bags or about 12 percent were distributed.In the first quarter of 2015, NFA has recorded relatively higher distributions – 99 percent in January with 20,000 bags target; 95 percent of 20,000 bags in February; and in March, 60 percent of the targeted 30,000 bags.

The rice distribution continued to shrink by second quarter, records further showed.The NFA has only 35 percent distribution of the target 50,000 bags in April; 11 percent of the 85,000 bags in May; and 14 percent, or 14, 536 bags of the target 100,000 bags in June.Jovy Chua, assistant provincial manager of NFA Negros Occidental, said the low rice distribution is brought about by ample supply of commercial rice with prices that are competitive with the P27 and P32 per kilo of NFA rice.In terms of quality, the province has high supply of newly-milled rice thus, the buying public prefers it over NFA rice, Chua said, adding that the lean period has not really affected the selling and buying of NFA rice in the province.

Meanwhile, the low distribution according to NFA implies that the rice supply in the province is stable and at comfortable level.Based on the provincial NFA rice inventory as of second week of September, the province’s rice supply for both NFA and commercial rice is enough for the next 81 days.If the daily rice consumption requirement of Negros Occidental is 22, 220 bags, Chua said there is currently about 1.81 million bags of available rice stored among retailers and wholesalers, including households stocks.NFA alone can supply the daily consumption requirement of the province within the next 25 days, he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 30, 2015.

Vietnam Expects 45 Million Tonnes Of Rice This Year


HANOI, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- Vietnam's total rice output this year is estimated at 45.1 million tonnes, a 0.3 per cent increase from 2014, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported that about 91.2 per cent of the total area under summer-autumn rice crop was harvested in southern Vietnam by mid-September with an estimated yield of 5.4 tonnes per hectares, up 80kg compared to the same period last year despite reduced rice growing areas.The increase is due to favourable weather conditions, enabling both a healthy crop and higher rice prices.
The Mekong Delta region has planted more than 612,000 hectares of autumn-winter rice crops this year, up 4 per cent annually. Around 20 per cent of the area has been harvested, producing 5.43 tonnes per hectare.However, northern Vietnam is forecast to see its rice output drop 1 percent due to a 1.3 percent decline in growing areas.Currently, Vietnam boasts around 4.1 million hectares of rice paddies, 53 per cent of which are concentrated across the Mekong Delta. In 2014, the country exported 6.3 million tonnes of the 45 million tonnes of rice

Expert advice: children should not to eat rice cakes due to risks of cancer

Updated Tuesday, September 29th 2015 at 17:18 GMT +3
STOCKHOLM: Sweden's National Food Agency has changed its recommendations on rice products, stating that many products contain dangerously high levels of carcinogenic arsenic and should be consumed in moderation.Children should not eat rice or rice products more than four times a week and children under the age of six should stay away from rice cakes altogether, the National Food Agency advised, after investigating 102 rice products sold in Sweden and concluding that the arsenic levels were too high in some cases."We already knew there was arsenic in rice. That is why we have now concluded that some products that are on the market contain quite high levels," Emma Halldin Ankarberg, a toxicologist at Sweden's National Food Agency, told Swedish Television.

The rice product market for young children, which includes crackers, cereals and puddings, is booming. Gluten intolerant children tend to eat particularly high quantities of rice products.While adults can eat more rice than children, they should also try to cut down, the agency says. Eating rice a couple of times a week is fine, though, Halldin Ankarberg suggested. The National Food Agency has also established that organic rice contains just as high levels of arsenic as non-organic rice, with raw rice containing more arsenic than basmati and jasmine rice."If one eats products containing arsenic during several years, then the risk of getting different forms of cancer -- lung cancer and bladder cancer -- increases," said Halldin Ankarberg.
Arsenic is a natural element that is ubiquitous in the environment and can be found in rocks, soil, water and air, as well as in plants and animals. For most people, food is the largest source of arsenic, although much of this is likely to be in the less dangerous, organic form. The highest levels of arsenic in foods can be found in rice products, mushrooms and poultry.

Buffalo meat exports down by 30% on lower Chinese demand

Buffalo meat has traditionally been India's top agri-export commodity generating over $4 billion a per year
Namrata Acharya  |  Kolkata September 29, 2015 Last Updated at 17:42 IST
India looks to Russia to increase buffalo meat exportsMaharashtra BJP climbs down on meat banBring a nation-wide ban on cow and buffalo slaughter: Maneka GandhiMumbai meat ban latest step in state-sponsored intoleranceFour-day meat ban imposed on Mumbai during Jain festival.
India's buffalo meat exports have come down by close to 30% in the last three months. The fall has been mainly on account of more than 50% fall in Chinese demand. India'sexport of buffalo meat to China is routed from India through Vietnam as China has yet not started importing from India directly despite understanding signed between the two countries three years ago. Buffalo meat has traditionally been India's top agri-export commodity generating over $4 billion a per year.According to Agriculture Processed Food Product Export Development Authority data In the first three months of the current financial year (April-June), buffalo meat exports were down by almost 10% in terms of quantity, and 11% in terms of value. Exports to Vietnam were down by nearly 20% in terms of both quantity and value. Exporters said, in the subsequent months, the fall in exports have been sharper. Fall in Brazilian Currency also impacted India's competitiveness as Brazil is also a major buffalo meat exporter and India lost out to it.
"The exports to China is slowly picking up. However, over the past few months the market was totally closed. As a result, buffalo meat exports have come down by at least 30% in the last three months. We believe, there have been some issues with the customs clearance at China, which has been reluctant to buy buffalo meat that has been indirectly exported to their country via Vietnam," said D B Sabharwal, secretary of All India Meat and Livestock Exporters' Association.
According to Mohammed Ather (Chairman & Managing Director), Azan Group, his company's monthly exports to China via Vietnam has come down from close to 160 containers (each container 29 metric tonne) about six months back, to less than 50 containers per month at present. China accounts of nearly 80% of total exports of the Azan Group.
In the financial year 2014-15, Vietnam accounted for nearly 42% of the total buffalo meat exports from India to China. In terms of valuation, Vietnam accounts for about 45% of the total realization from buffalo exports from India. Last year, India exported about 14.75 quintal of buffalo meat worth $4781 million. Of this the share of Vietnam was about 6.3 quintal worth $ 2153 million.In 2014-15, buffalo meat was India's largest agri-export commodity, surpassing Basmati rice, which had been traditionally occupied the first position."While ahead of the Spring Festival, China has recently opened its market for buffalo meat, the supply has been lower by at least 30%. This is significantly hurting exports," said Ather.
China is yet to open its door for direct import of buffalo meat from India. In 2013, India and China signed a pact for direct export of buffalo meat but it is yet to be implemented.In tandem with the huge fall in demand from China, the average prices of buffalo meat has also come down by more than 25% in the last six months. At present, the average price of buffalo meat in the international market is between $3000-4000 per metric tonne.Amidst an economic slowdown, China had been curtailing imports from Vietnam. China is the biggest trading partner of Vietnam. Soon after Chinese devaluation of yuan by nearly 2% on August 11, Vietnam had devalued its currency, dong, by close to 1%, third time in a year. This apart, strained relationship over South China Sea had also been a cause of tension between between the two countries.

Vietnam's Rice Exports Face Difficulties


CAN THO (Vietnam), Sept 28 (Bernama) -- Vietnam is encountering difficulties in exporting rice in the face of fierce competition from Thailand, India and Myanmar, reports Vietnam News Agency (VNA). The statement was made by Vo Hung Dung, Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Can Tho branch, at a workshop in the Mekong Delta city on Sept 25 to seek solutions for rice producers and exporters.Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that in the first eight months of 2015, Vietnam shipped 4.1 million tonnes of rice abroad and earned US$1.76 billion, down 8.6 per cent in volume and over 13 per cent in value compared to the same period last year.
Notably, China, which remains Vietnam's largest rice importer with 32 per cent of the country's total market shares, is decreasing its imports from Vietnam.In 2012-2013, around 65 per cent of China's imported rice came from Vietnam but the figure reduced to 53 per cent in 2014 and 47 per cent in the first four months of this year.In addition, Vietnam's two other major importers, the Philippines and Indonesia, which account for 12 and five per cent of the market shares, respectively, are striving to boost production towards self-sufficiency.At the workshop, Chairman of the Vietnam Food Association Huynh The Nang introduced several measures to help businesses improve their competitiveness.
According to Huynh, the long-term solution to effectively stabilising production and exports is to provide loans for export businesses' rice stockpiles.He also suggested reducing risks in harvesting, stocking and distributing rice while striving to build trademarks for the Vietnamese product.The Ho Chi Minh City Development Bank (HDBank) also took the occasion to introduce its programme to support rice exporters.


High local rice prices draw in illegal Thai imports

Imported rice at Wardan Jetty, Yangon. (Photo – Aung Kyaw Htet)

Due to the high price of locally produced rice, illegal imports of rice from Thailand have spiked.“Rice from Thailand began entering the local market ten days ago. It has been seen for sale in retail shops,” said Lu Maw Myint Maung, Co-Secretary of the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF). Although Myanmar officially allocated 80 per cent of its total rice exports to China, China illegally buys more, raising the price of Myanmar-grown rice.“If we export rice [to China] via Muse, that export is official.
But China side buys unofficially. When they unofficially buy our rice, they don’t need to pay tax in their country, so they can buy more Myanmar rice with the money they save. Since tax doesn’t need to be paid for rice bought from our country, both the EU and China buy rice from us. As a result, the price of local rice is higher than in other Asean countries. Then they take advantage of it and enter our local market,” said Lu Maw Myint Maung.Rice from Thailand is sold in the market in 50 kilogram bags, which are about Ks 2000 to Ks 3000 cheaper than the best local rice on the market.

“The Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) and Asean Economic Community (AEC) have been intriduced recently. We should prepare our country’s economic data and policies to gauge the effects of AFTA and AEC. Regarding AFTA, we can’t protect the goods entering in accordance with free market and free trade principles. When they enter, our country’s competitive advantage, support and basic infrastructures need to be fulfilled, and the markets, which can compete with international prices, should be implemented. The Myanmar rice market will develop in long term only in these ways,” said Nay Lin Zin, Co-Secretary of Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).

Haryana to rope in exporters as millers to boycott paddy purchase

Hindustan Times

Karnal, Sept. 29 -- As the Haryana Rice Millers and Dealers Association (HRMDA) toughened its stand on Monday against milling of rice for government agencies, the Haryana government is contemplating to rope in exportersand a breakaway faction of the association for the task.Additional chief secretary, food and civil supplies, SS Prasad said rice exporters had extended their support for rice milling. "The Haryana government has assured the HRDMA of redressal of their grievances, but a faction of the association seems unwilling to cooperate. However, the government has chalked out a strategy to ensure smooth procurement of paddy and its subsequent milling.

Today, I convened a meeting with some of the leading riceexporters who are ready to work with the government," said Prasad.Since Sunday, the millers have refused to buy non-basmati varieties of rice. However, a few millers at Nissing, Taraori, Karnal and other places of the paddygrowing districts reportedly purchased paddy.The association is demanding rollback of the central sales tax (CST) imposed on paddy and its recovery by the excise and taxation department. The demand to decrease yield for milling from 67% to 65% was another key issue raised by the association.The association is also demanding relaxation in the milling norms due to high moisture content in paddy following recent rain.Food and civil supplies officials led by SS Prasad had convened a meeting with the HRDMA representatives here but a faction of the association remained adamant on its demand.

Prasad admitted ambiguity in the CST and assured action at the earliest.He said the damage to the crop had already been raised with the Food Corporation of India (FCI).Prasad told reporters that chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had recently met the association members and assured them of removing discrepancies in the milling policies.However, a faction of the association showed disagreement with the HRMDA and said it should have trusted the officials and the CM.A delegate from Kaithal apprised Prasad and association office-bearers that rice millers had already started buying paddy as per the state government directions and they would not boycott the milling.Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor

APEDA Commodity News from India

International Benchmark Price
Price on: 29-09-2015
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Turkish No. 2 whole pitted, CIF UK (USD cent/t)
Turkish No. 4 whole pitted, CIF UK (USD/t)
Turkish size 8, CIF UK (USD/t)
Australian 5 Crown, CIF UK (USD/t)
South African Orange River, CIF UK (USD/t)
Turkish No 9 standard, FOB Izmir (USD/t)
South Africa, HPS 70/80 peanuts CFR main European ports (USD/t)
South African, HPS 40/50 peanuts CFR main European ports (USD/t)
Argentinean 40/50 runners, CFR NW Europe (USD/t)
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Eat to beat the menopause: There's no need for a heart-sinking diet plan.


You can boost your hormones with a few simple steps - and still enjoy tasty treats 

Are you plagued by menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes?
Read on for the second part of this compelling series
We reveal how easy it is to transform your life with help of bio-identicals

Are you plagued by menopausal symptoms? In the second part of this compelling series, we reveal how easy it is to transform your life.Whatever the hormonal problem - whether it's acne, premenstrual syndrome or menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and dramatic mood swings - I am a great believer in the healing power of bio-identicals.These natural hormones are made from plants and have the same chemical structure as the hormones our bodies produce - they are a wonderful, gentle way of tackling hormonal imbalances.
Bio-identicals are natural hormones made from plants with the same chemical structure as bodily hormones
And it's not just women who can benefit; as men's hormones start to tail off in middle age they, too, can be helped with bio-identical testosterone (as you will see in tomorrow's Mail).However, these products cannot work in a vacuum - in balancing your hormones you cannot overlook the significant contribution of diet, exercise, sleep, stress, supplements and lifestyle. Your diet doesn't have to involve a complicated and rigid eating plan that adds stress to your life, nor do you have to launch into a lengthy exercise programme.For I have devised a hormone-balancing diet that is gentle, realistic and achievable and can easily become part of your life. It will work for both women and men, whatever your age.
Forget the food pyramid, with its emphasis on eating mainly carbs, and throw away your diet books - those low-calorie meals will rob you of energy, deplete your body of the very hormones it needs to function and, besides making you feel miserable, won't necessarily help you lose weight.(Or, if you do lose weight, it will come back as soon as you stop dieting.)
+Dr Erika Schawrtz reveals how easy it is to transform your life with help of bio-identicals
The most important thing to know is how food affects your hormone balance and how you feel.
You will be changing your eating habits just enough to balance your hormones and keep you functioning at your best.In a nutshell, this means a diet that's rich in protein (meat, eggs, fish, beans, soy, nuts, seeds and dairy products such as yoghurt), healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil and olive oil) and fibre (vegetables, nuts, fruit in small portions, oats, bran), and lighter in sugar (including starches such as rice, pasta and potatoes) and saturated fat.

But note that I don't completely ban fats or sugar - we're only humans after all, and we live in an increasingly stressful world. I'm the first to admit it's not easy to give up bad habits.However, there is no doubt that as we get older our bodies have to pay for every packet of crisps and glass of wine. Where, at the age of 20, two days of being good would be enough to get you back on track after a big night out, your recovery at 50 might be longer and all too often incomplete.Following my simple rules, the aim is to do the best you can in a natural, realistic way, to stay healthy and to keep your hormones balanced so you feel great.

The rules
·         Aim to eat small amounts of food every three to four hours. This helps to balance your sugar levels and prevents your insulin levels spiking - if this happens, it can raise levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which quickly puts other hormones, including the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone, out of balance.
·         Make your evening meal small so you can digest it easily, and eat before 8.30pm. This will help you get a full night's restful sleep (essential for the healthy manufacture and balance of hormones).
·         Eat natural - there's no need to go all-out organic, but do cut right back on processed food. Our tastebuds might have been corrupted by the preservatives in processed foods, but our cells can't deal with the chemicals pumped into them. Our enzymes are designed to digest natural foods - so stay away from junk food as much as you can.
·         Eat plenty of vegetables. The fibre in them is a hormone saviour, protecting us from ageing by reducing the blood-sugar peaks and troughs that send insulin levels crazy. Because it is indigestible, fibre prevents other foods being rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream so slows their transformation into blood-sugar. Fibre also reduces inflammation - the harbinger of ageing. Eat as much fibre as you can as often as possible and ensure vegetables make their way into every meal.
·         Step off the sugar rollercoaster. Refined sugars, in the form of cakes, biscuits, ice cream or even white pasta and rice, are our worst enemies in the fight to maintain hormone balance because of their effect on insulin, which then affects other hormones. For teenagers, that can mean spots; for menopausal women, it can mean hot flushes, migraines or aching joints, and an ever-expanding middle; and for middle-aged men, it can be enough to herald an evening of grumpy lethargy. Instead, choose vegetables, wholegrain breads, seeds, beans and fruits low in sugar (berries rather than bananas).
·         Pack in the protein: it is critical to the production of hormones and the maintenance of a happy hormone balance. It also helps us build muscles and stay strong - and youthful - as we age. Chicken, fish, beans, nuts, seeds and tofu are all good sources of protein - but keep meat and dairy foods such as cheese to once a week. 
·         Stick to one cup of caffeinated coffee a day, or switch to tea (which has less caffeine). Quite apart from its stimulatory effects on the nervous system and hormones in women, caffeine also increases breast tenderness and has been linked to osteoporosis.
+7Eat plenty of vegetables. The fibre in them is a hormone saviour, protecting us from ageing by reducing the blood-sugar peaks and troughs that send insulin levels crazy
What to eat when you're out
Never allow yourself to go hungry - the stress reaction it triggers plays havoc with your hormones. Be sure to avoid the 'bad guys' - coffee, alcohol, fizzy drinks (sugar-free or regular) - skip the bread and don't over-eat or order dessert.Choose something simple and hormone-friendly when you can, then on special occasions enjoy a great steak, pizza, chips or chocolate milkshake if you want.But sandwich them between good sleep and exercise and you'll be doing your best to protect your hormone balance as you indulge.
The best and worst choices
Hormone friendly: Minestrone or seafood soup, mussels marinara, pasta with marinara or primavera sauce, breadsticks (no butter), veal piccata or Marsala, seafood dishes (not fried), steamed veg.
Hormone unfriendly: Antipasto, focaccia and other breads, fettuccine alfredo (parmesan and butter sauce), parmigiana dishes, meat sauces, lasagne, cannelloni, desserts.
Hormone friendly: Dahl, mango chutney, sweet and sour cabbage, vegetable curries, naan bread, basmati rice with vegetables, tandoori chicken and fish, biryanis.
Hormone unfriendly: Puri (fried bread), curry sauces with coconut milk, samosas, Mughlai.
Hormone friendly: Dahl, mango chutney, sweet and sour cabbage, vegetable curries, naan bread, basmati rice with vegetables, tandoori chicken and fish, biryanis
Hormone friendly: Black bean soup, gazpacho, ceviche (marinated fish), nopalitos (cactus salad), salsa, grilled chicken or prawns, stewed seafood dishes, fajitas (without the sour cream), tortillas, guacamole.Hormone unfriendly: Nachos, tacos, tortilla chips, refried beans, chimichangas, sour cream, enchiladas, fried tortillas.
Hormone friendly: Miso soup, sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, oshinko (pickled vegetables), yakitori (boiled chicken), yakimono (boiled fish or chicken), maki rolls, steamed tofu, shabu-shabu (boiled meat, seafood, vegetables).Hormone unfriendly: Tempura, tonkatsu (fried pork), torikatsu (fried chicken), fried tofu.
Will herbal remedies help?
I don't often recommend herbal remedies.While most vitamin and mineral supplements are chemically very similar to substances manufactured by our bodies, herbal remedies are foreign. And unless the herb has undergone rigid pharmaceutical processing - including purification and standardisation (ensuring each dose contains the same amount of the herb) - I don't feel confident about prescribing it to my patients or taking it myself.Herbal remedies, like most drugs, have potential side-effects, and some are sufficiently powerful for there to be real concerns, so tell your GP or pharmacist what you're taking so they can check for possible overlaps or contraindications.
'While most vitamin and mineral supplements are chemically very similar to substances manufactured by our bodies, herbal remedies are foreign'
Only choose products marked with a 'THR' symbol (Traditional Herbal Registration), which have been backed up by safety studies.Popular remedies for menopausal symptoms include black cohosh, isoflavones, ipriflavone, genistein, soy derivatives (such as soya milk), agnus castus and dong quai.These contain phytoestrogens, which are plant forms of oestrogen; their chemical make-up resembles human oestrogen molecules closely enough for the body to misread them. For this reason they can alleviate some of the symptoms of oestrogen deficiency.However, they are not identical to human hormones, unlike the bio-identical treatments I prescribe (and which I wrote about in yesterday's Mail). They are not oestrogens, and there is no research data to show that they offer oestrogen-like benefits for the heart, bones or brain.
And until we have definite proof of soy's benefit to women, I do not recommend soy-derived supplements to my patients, and I emphatically advise against remedies based on soy, such as isoflavones, ipriflavone and genistein.However, this does not mean you should stay away from soya milk, edamame, tofu or other soya products. Soy - in its natural form and in moderation - is an excellent source of protein.
+7Dr Erika recommend a selection of vitamin and mineral supplements to her patients
What about other supplements?
Vitamins and mineral supplements are a way of correcting the imbalances that our bad foods and eating habits have created, and I do recommend a selection to my patients.When used correctly, the following (shown in daily doses) can enhance hormone balance and keep us all energetic and healthy.Choose a good brand - in the right preparations they are bio-available (able to enter the body's circulation) and they do work.Vitamin E: 400 international units (IU). This may protect against cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and improve memory.Vitamin C: 1000 mg. Stimulates immune function, protects against recurrent urinary tract infections, reduces the risk of atherosclerosis (furring of the arteries) and stroke.Vitamin D: 2000 IU. Boosts calcium absorption and strengthens bones, it may also help maintain healthy brain function, improve sense of wellbeing and mood and protect against cancer.Folic acid: 800 mcg-1 mg. Relieves PMS and reduces risk of colon cancer.

Vitamin B6: 100 mg, and Vitamin B1: 100 mcg. They help to reduce hot flushes, PMS, mood swings and muscle cramps.Calcium: 1000 mg. Helps build bones and reduces risk of colon cancer, stroke and blood pressure; may also help relieve PMS.Magnesium: 400 mg (take with calcium). Helps relieve PMS and fatigue, and aids building bones. It also reduces angina, palpitations and blood pressure, relaxes the muscles and keeps us regular.Zinc: 25 mg (take with calcium). Protects against dementia and depression - it's also a great immune booster.Coenzyme Q10: 10-120 mg. Revitalises the heart, stimulates energy production at cellular level and delays brain ageing.
L-glutamine: 500 mg before meals if you have sugar cravings. Helps stabilise blood-sugar levels so you're more likely to make healthy food choices and not succumb to sugary treats.Omega-3 fish oils (DHA and EPA): 1000 mg. Support brain and immune function, keep skin and hair youthful.Probiotics: Beneficial bacteria improve digestion, reduce bloating, help boost immune function and protect us from viruses and infections.turmeric: Cook with this to reduce inflammation and joint pain.
Adapted by Louise Atkinson from The 30-Day Natural Hormone Plan by Dr Erika Schwartz. For more information, go to
Choose 'good' fats - the unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, flaxseed and fatty fish
People on very low-fat diets always seem to be hungry, tired and pale, with thin hair and dry skin.Don't try to eliminate all fats from your diet. Fat is very important for healthy cell membranes and is essential for brain and muscle function, contributing to shiny hair and strong nails.Meanwhile, cholesterol is of utmost importance for the manufacture of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.We also need fat cells in our body to store the oestrogen we will need when we get older and no longer manufacture it.But choose 'good' fats - the unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, flaxseed and fatty fish.They help maintain our youthful appearance, energise our bodies, help with moods and balance our hormones.They've also been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attacks and may even limit the growth of breast cancer.Aim for moderation with 'bad' fats, and keep indulgences such as bacon, butter, cream and fatty cuts of meat to once a week.But steer well clear of the dangerous fats in margarine and processed foods.These hydrogenated oils, or trans-fatty acids, have been linked to an increased incidence of heart disease and breast cancer.
 Trick yourself thinner

Imagine a beautifully ornate plate in a great restaurant and decide how much food you should pile on it.If you want to lose weight, make it half of what you would ordinarily be served. If you want to maintain weight, make it three-quarters.But you should never serve yourself, or eat, a full plate.
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