Saturday, October 17, 2015

16th October,2015 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter shared by Riceplus Magazine


Sharp decline in rice trade feared

October 16, 2015

Pakistan's rice trade is facing severe challenges due to rising cost of agricultural inputs and its export may decline sharply during this fiscal year. Noman Ahmed Shaikh, Senior Vice Chairman, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has said that rice export trade, the second largest earner of valuable foreign exchange for the country, is continually being neglected by the federal government. "Owing to high cost of agricultural inputs including fertiliser, electricity, water and lack of seeds development, Pakistan's rice is uncompetitive in international market especially Basmati varieties," he added. Presently, Indian rice exporters are offering as low as $300 per Metric Ton price for Basmati rice in the world market. As the prices of Indian rice were much lower than Pakistan, major importing countries and international buyers were switching to Indian rice, Noman informed. "We have rice stocks of some 0.5 million tons rice, having a value of more than a billion dollar, of previous year's crop, while new crop paddy arrival is expected in the market by October-end," he said, adding that it was an alarming situation for the rice trade as previous stocks were still lying in the godowns and new crop would arrive in next two weeks, resulted in losses to the growers. "In the current situation, exporters are not in a position to buy paddy from growers due to shortage of cash flow as their finance limit have already been choked. It believed that rice growers will not get a good price of their commodity due to availability of previous stocks in the market, therefore the government should take some immediate measurers to support the growers," senior vice chairman REAP demanded. "We (exporters) are even not in the position to pay back dues of export refinance facility instantly because rice is still in millers' stock and financial charges on these stocks are daily increasing the cost," he mentioned. Noman said that in order to save the rice stocks from pesticides, it needed regular fumigation to avoid damage of commodity, resulted in an additional burden on the exporters. He said last month Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif convened a high-level meeting with all leading exporting sectors including rice. During that meeting former chairman REAP Rafique Suleman presented a detailed proposal to protect the growers as well as exporters from huge losses, however unfortunately none of demand is so far accepted. "Our major demand is withdrawal of 3.5 percent withholding tax on local purchase of rice and repayment of Export Refinance loans in 360 days instead of current 180 days," he mentioned. Senior Vice Chairman REAP said rice export sector was the only sector which had shown the outstanding performance during a very short span of time of 10-12 years by massive surge in the export. With the struggle and efforts of rice exporters, Pakistan's rice export has reached near $2 billion by end of FY15, compared to only $300 million in FY05. We assured the federal government that the implementation on the REAP's suggestions not only save the growers and exporters from huge losses but also help to expand rice exports to over $4 billion within next three years," Noman said. He proposed subsidy on agricultural inputs such as seed, water, diesel, electricity, besides measurers to enhance the per acre yield. "We demand that Rice Research Institute should work on a mage project to minimise the input cost and increase the yield and quality of Pakistani rice, so that cost of paddy will be reduced and exporters can compete in the world market. In addition, to protect Basmati rice export trade, Pakistan must focus on the markets of Iran and Saudi Arabia, as these are the major importing countries of Basmati rice. In this regard legal and official banking channel should be developed that can help to start official rice export to neighbouring country Iran, which has already lifted a ban on the commodity import from Pakistan," he suggested.


Rice industry: No free-riding in rescheduling loans, SBP says

Published: October 16, 2015

KARACHI: It seems that financial problems of people related to the rice industry are not going to subside anytime soon.Clarifications that only select cases will have their loans rolled over or rescheduled means that the blanket relief is unlikely.“Commercial banks are only accommodating those rice millers, exporters, and rice growers who are having genuine difficulties in repaying their loans,” said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) spokesperson.Rice exporters, millers and growers say that their problems have compounded primarily because rice prices in international market have come down by 30-50% depending on the rice category, which has disturbed the business cycle of the industry.The government realises the financial problems and the prime minister’s relief package hoped to cushion the blow by allowing them to rollover their loans until June 2016. However, according to rice industry officials, banks are forcing millers to repay their loans according to the original schedule.In order to facilitate the rice industry, the SBP had coordinated a meeting among the representatives of rice growers, millers and exporters and representatives of banks at Lahore on September 4, 2015.“The final decision to reschedule loans is to be taken by the individual banks based on the merit of individual case. Some cases might have merit issues and banks might be reluctant to reschedule,” SBP spokesperson said, adding that bankers too had emphasised that only borrowers having genuine difficulties may be accommodated and free-riding would not be allowed.Realising the issues confronted by the rice industry people in meeting their loan obligations, the banks agreed during the meeting to facilitate borrowers by allowing them rescheduling facilities. Commenting on the drop in international commodity prices, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Senior Vice Chairman Noman Ahmed Sheikh said, “If this situation persists, the problems of rice industry will only compound in coming months,” said Sheikh.He said Pakistan had over 500,000 tons of stock of basmati rice only and that was over two years old. “In such a condition, how could millers and exporters buy new rice crop?” he asked.A leading Karachi-based rice exporter commented, “We can feel the problems of rice growers. They are helpless as they have to sell their crop at the current market rate. They cannot do anything but to bring their crop in the market on time otherwise it will be perished.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2015


El Niño may lead to rice shortfall


Farmers engage in post harvest of rice on April 03, 2015 in in Alleppey, Kerala, India. Image: AJP /

Thursday 15 October 2015

Will decreased rainfall and droughts caused by El Niño affect rice production in South Asia and threaten food security in importing countries in West Africa? An Oxfam media briefing released early October warns of such a scenario developing. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted in June that India, under the influence of El Niño, would experience below 90 per cent rainfall. The Madden Julian Oscillation — an atmospheric circulation pattern that brings anomalous rainfall —provided some relief, but August saw a 23 per cent deficit in rainfall. 


El Niño does hit the monsoon, but some links still missing


The Oxfam report said the development of El Niño in the second half of the monsoon season could be more powerful than the one in 1997—1998 and that El Niño conditions are likely to continue into 2016.According to the Oxfam briefing, poor people in the towns and cities of West African countries have a preference for rice because it is easy to prepare and store. However, the production of rice in these countries is low and cannot meet rising consumption levels. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) had estimated in 2006 that rice imports in West and Central African countries had increased to six million tonnes, the bulk of which came from the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan and also China. According to the Oxfam report, while Africa imports about one-third of rice available on the world market, most of the grain is traded near its area of production in Asia. Thus, Oxfam argues, the world market is quite ‘thin’ and vulnerable to disruption. 

In 2014, West African countries imported 7.73 million tonnes of rice.  All West African countries taken together import over one-third of their rice from India, though the proportions between the countries vary. Niger imports 13 per cent from India; Gambia and Ivory Coast 20 per cent; and Nigeria 23 per cent. Senegal imports 72 per cent of its rice from India, and Liberia, a colossal 97 per cent. Other quantities come from Pakistan and China.Indian authorities, however, tell SciDev.Net that there is no cause for concern. “Though El Niño had a significant effect with severe impacts in August and September, which saw 77 per cent rainfall, the government had reacted well to the timely predictions by the IMD,” says Shivananda Pai, scientist at the IMD office in Pune. “Adequate measures included restricted sowing of water-intensive varieties.

Besides, the main areas of deficient rainfall were in Karnataka and Maharashtra which are not rice producing states,” Pai tells SciDev.Net.Pramod Aggarwal, director of the South Asia Regional Programme for the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, while acknowledging that the El Niño affects rice production, tells SciDev.Net says that the Indian government has sufficient buffer stocks to ensure that exports are not affected. The FAO’s rice market monitor (RMM) for October has scaled back itsforecast for global paddy production in 2015 considering “unfavourable climatic conditions, largely associated with the prevalence of the El Niño weather anomaly”. FAO now forecasts world paddy production in 2015 to be around 742.6 million tonnes or 6.5 million tonnes less than estimated in July.



Make the Switch: Why Brown, Red and Black Rice Are Better for Your Health

Posted: 10/15/2015 4:17 pm EDT Updated: 10/15/2015 4:59 pm EDT



Rice, Oryza sativa, is responsible for feeding more people over a longer period than any other crop. It feeds over half the global population, providing more than 3.5 million people more than 20 percent of their daily calories. It makes up one-fifth of the calories consumed. It is also a key staple of a plant-based approach to eating, along with other whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.There are approximately 40,000 varieties of rice. The most common varieties are typically classified by size and texture such as long, medium, and short-grained, and by the strain such as white, brown, red, black or purple There are also specialty rices, which include risotto and aromatics such as basmati, jasmine, and japonica.

Not All Rice is Created Equal
The nutritional value can vary depending on many factors including the type of rice, the soil the rice is grown in, if and how the rice is polished or processed, the manner it is enriched, and how it is prepared before consumption. After rice is harvested, the hull must be removed in order for it to be edible. If the rice is milled further, the bran and germ are removed, resulting in white rice, which is the kind of rice that most people eat.White rice, although the most popular, actually has lower levels of health-promoting nutrients.

The bran is the outer layer of the rice kernel. It contains nutrients like protein, fat, and dietary fiber as well as minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. The bran also contains antioxidants such as tocopherols, tocotrienols, and γ-oryzanol, which are shown to having as immune-enhancing and cancer-fighting properties.Making a switch from white rice to brown rice has been shown to positively impact your health. This includes lowering the risk of diabetes, decreasing cardiovascular risk by improving cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure and antioxidant activity, while providing protection against inflammation and cancer.

The Varieties of Rice

White Rice
White rice is a common staple in many cultures, especially Asian and Pacific cultures, including Hawaii. White rice is milled and polished, which alters the flavor, texture, appearance, and helps to extend its storage life. Removing the bran, germ and husk prevents the rice from spoiling. During this refining process, however, white rice is stripped of iron, vitamins, zinc, magnesium and other important nutrients. Manufacturers in the U.S. are required by the Food and Drug Administration to add back some nutrients such as iron and some B vitamins, although magnesium is not added back in. These nutrients are added back in the synthetic form and depending on the enrichment process, up to 85 percent of nutrients can get lost if rice is rinsed prior to cooking.

Even when white rice is nutrient-fortified, it does not match the nutritional density of whole grain rice and lacks the bran, which has been shown to provide the impressive health benefits. White rice does not show the health benefits demonstrated by whole grain rice since many of the health promoting nutrients and phytochemicals are lost in the milling process. Short grain white rice also has a high glycemic index compared to whole grain rice such as brown, red, wild and basmati rice, since it does not contain the fiber from the bran, which slows down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream.

Parboiled Rice
Parboiled rice is also called converted rice, which means that it has been partially boiled in the husk. The three steps include soaking, steaming and drying, and then removing the husk of the rice. This process enhances the nutrition density by driving certain nutrients from the bran to the endosperm, making it about 80 percent nutritionally similar to brown rice but with a better source of fiber, calcium, potassium, and B-6 than regular white rice. It also has a lower glycemic index than white rice. The steaming does not precook the rice, so it can take about 20 minutes to cook parboiled rice.

Brown Rice
Brown rice undergoes only minimal processing. This means that most of the nutrients including thiamine, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are retained. The protein, fiber, and health-promoting and protective bran also stays in the rice. The shelf life of brown rice is 6 months.

Black or Purple Rice
Black derives its rich color from phytochemicals, anthocyanins and tocols, which are located in the inner portion of the rice bran. Research suggests that these health-promoting phytochemicals possess protective antioxidants. Zhimin Xu, an associate professor at the Department of Food Science at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, La. Xu reported on research on black rice at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Xu has said: "Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants."

Red Rice
Red rice is a special variety of rice, which derives its rich red color from anthocyanins.Anthocyanins not only provide the rice's unique color, but also deliver protective antioxidant properties and anti-carcinogenic activities, which aid in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer prevention. In comparison studies of different rice varieties, red rice has shown the most promising health results due to the high levels of antioxidants. Red rice has 10 times the antioxidants of brown rice. Red rice is also nutrient dense with 20 percent of the daily values for magnesium, phosphorus, and molybdenum. Red rice has a pleasant nutty flavor with an earthy tone.

Long Grain
Long grain rice is like its name, long and slender. It has has a lower glycemic index than shorter grain rice. It also tends to be fluffier and less sticky than short grain. Types of long grain rice include Basmati, log grain red and brown.

Medium Grain
This rice is shorter and plumper than long grain and tends to work better for a plant-based risotto or paella.

Short Grain
Short grain rice is almost round in shape. The grains become glutinous and sticky when cooked, which is why it is also called "sticky rice." This is the best choice for rice puddings, sushi and rice balls. However, short grain rice is higher in glycemic index.

Germinated Brown Rice
Germinated brown rice (GBR) may be soaked in warm water for 8 to 24 hours to stimulate germination. This process activates enzymes to improve the nutritional value of brown rice and can increase fiber, B vitamins and magnesium by as much as three times. It also has been shown to decrease oxidative stress. The activation of the enzymes enhances amino acids including gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that have been shown to help protect against certain cancers.

Make the Switch
Research has shown many improved health benefits from eating whole grain rice varieties such as red and black rice. Comparative nutrition studies on red, black and white varieties of rice suggest that pigments in red and black rice varieties may protect against chronic diseases. People who eat red or black rice have shown a reduction in the progression of atherosclerotic plaque development, induced by dietary cholesterol. White rice consumption did not show these effects. The research indicates that this may be due to the lack of antioxidants in white rice that are present in red and black varieties of rice.

Emerging evidence, such as this study published in Advances in Nutrition in 2012, shows the protective properties of rice bran on certain cancers such as breast, lung, liver, and colorectal. The protective benefits have been linked to the phytochemicals present in the rice bran portion of rice. The phytochemicals found in rice bran have been found to protect against tissue damage by free radicals, the blocking of chronic inflammatory responses, the activation of anticancer immune responses and improved microflora in the gut. This study used a variety of whole grain rice.

Nutrition Breakdown
Note: approximate based on variety of whole grain rice.
Serving size (based on American Diabetic Association exchanges): 1/3 cup cooked
Calories: 70
Carbohydrates: 15 gm
Fiber: .5 gm
Protein: 1.3 gm
Ornish Reversal Recipes
Note: You can swap most of these with any varieties of rice such as brown, red and black.

What is your favorite way to enjoy rice?
Have a questions regarding transforming your way of eating and living, "Ask Dr. Ornish"!




Commercial rice farming cushions Cameroon women from climate stress


By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame

NDOP, Cameroon, Oct 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Women farmers in western Cameroon are leading the way in commercial rice production, benefiting from new seeds and marketing opportunities that are helping them cope with climate stresses and provide for their families.A programme run by the Upper Nun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA), a government agro-industry body, aims to help rice farmers adopt better crop varieties, use water more efficiently and adapt to climate change."I have been able to pay school fees for my children and medical bills from the sale of my rice crop, unlike before when the harvest from my vegetable farm was uncertain," said Bridget Ngang, one of over 300 female commercial rice farmers in Ndop.Her vegetables were often ruined when heavy rains brought floods, she explained.Cameroon's Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD), together with international partners, has developed improved rice varieties that are more resistant to climate extremes, as well as farm technologies to increase rice productivity.

In the last 15 years, scientists have released 18 varieties under a line called New Rice for Africa (NERICA), developed by the Africa Rice Center which crossed an African species tolerant to local stresses, including drought and pests, and a high-yielding Asian species."These varieties can resist submersion, droughts and high temperatures including pests and diseases," said UNVDA General Manager Chin Richard Wirnkar.The local development authority is involved in a project led by the Africa Rice Center which has established a "rapid impact" seed programme to distribute new high-yield seed varieties to farmers.It also promotes post-harvest technologies like rice milling and packaging, processing activities, and stronger links with input dealers and micro-finance institutions.The project gives households opportunities to raise their income by developing new rice-based products like rice flour and husks for fuel, and exploring the use of rice in fortified foods, including vitamin-rich cereals.The government acknowledges that achieving its plan to make Cameroon an emerging economy with double-digit growth by 2035, and implementing the new U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty and hunger depend largely on the economic empowerment of women."Commercial agriculture will play a key role in achieving the SDGs in Africa and the contribution of women in this area cannot be ignored," said Wirnkar.With renewed government interest in the rice sector in recent years, Cameroon has the potential to become a rice granary for the Central African region, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).But making this a reality requires strengthening rural infrastructure such as roads, irrigation, and rice milling and rice processing facilities - as well as farmers' ability to market their produce.Mary Agoh, 52, farms rice on 15 hectares (37 acres) of land in Ndop, in Cameroon's Northwest Region, from which she now comfortably feeds her family, selling her surplus to wholesale buyers to boost her income.In a country where 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, Agoh is now counted among the wealthy.
She and Ndop's other women rice farmers are helping boost Cameroon's rice production to unprecedented levels.

In the last few years, Cameroon grew less than 20 percent of the rice it needed. In 2012, the country produced 102,000 tonnes of paddy rice and had to import up to 375,000 tonnes to meet demand, according to figures cited by the IRRI.
But experts say production has been on the rise since women embraced the commercial rice production scheme. The land developed for rice fields under the UNDVA project more than doubled last year to around 3,300 hectares, and it is adding 700 hectares more in northwestern villages.Thanks to a good harvest in 2014, the UNVDA had to increase its initial FCFA 250 million ($435,868) budget for collecting paddy from farmers by FCFA 50 million.Things were not the same even five years ago, when tradition prevented women in the area acquiring or inheriting land they could use for large-scale commercial farming.
"We were condemned to produce on small rented plots that limited us to subsistence agriculture with crops like maize and vegetables that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and food crop loss," said Agoh.Cameroon's 1996 constitution grants women the same rights as men to access, own and control land, and also allows them to participate in decision-making on land matters, but customary norms have made it hard for women to obtain land.When UNVDA launched its project in 2012 to support over 13,000 rice farmers nationwide with improved seeds, fertiliser, herbicide, information, training and equipment rental, the women in Ndop did not want to miss out.With help from the African Women's Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF), they held a series of protests, pushing local authorities to allocate them land so they could join men in commercial rice farming.Ngang and Agoh are just two of millions of African women farmers who have suffered from cultural practices or laws denying them access to land. But their success in overcoming those barriers suggest things may be changing in Cameroon.Here the government has drafted a new family law that will help enforce women's property rights once adopted by the National Assembly, officials say. (Reporting by Elias Ntungwe Ngalame; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit 
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Action plan in the works to promote nutritious black rice grown in the northeast


Vishwa Mohan  

NEW DELHI: White rice may rule the domestic and international markets with the famous 'Basmati' variety having pride of place, but in the near future it is black rice from the northeast that may win hearts of consumers due to its nutritional value and health benefits. Black rice is mainly grown and consumed in Manipur where it is called 'Chakhao'. Famous for its pleasant nutty flavor, this little known rice variety has, however, started entering the world market through China which cultivates it both for local consumption and export. Waking up to the need to promote the variety which already has a market in USA, Australia and European countries, India's premier agricultural research institute is set to suggest an action plan to the government on how to promote black rice and other varieties. The plan is expected to not only earn foreign exchange for the country but also improve the condition of farmers in the northeast and elsewhere. Setting the stage for such a move, chief of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Trilochan Mohapatra on Friday threw a question at a gathering of eminent scientists here at a conference on the occasion of World Food Day when he asked whether they (scientists) were leaving out other regions (non-Basmati rice producing areas) in their research. 
"There has to be a concrete action plan (to promote other varieties of rice from other regions). I believe this conference will throw light on the issue in next two days", said Mohapatra in what is largely believed to be a move to push other unique rice varieties, having high nutritional value, through government intervention.
 In value terms, India exports rice worth over Rs 40,000 crore with the maximum foreign exchange coming to the country through export of Basmati variety. Though the country has done exceedingly well with arrival of a new Basmati variety (Pusa-1509), the idea is to increase the share of other varieties of rice as well in the international markets. Head of the IARI's genetics division, A K Singh, who was the chief breeder of the popular and hugely successful Pusa-1509 variety of Basmati rice, admitted the importance of promoting other unique variety like black rice as well for larger interest of farmers in different regions. Singh told the TOI: "Black rice has medicinal value. Being rich in decease-fighting antioxidants, it is anti cancerous as well". Other scientists, assembled here for the conference on "promoting exportable rice varieties and evolving a sustainable development model", too pledged to promote all such varieties including black rice which got pushed into the background over the years. Joint director (research) of the IARI, K V Prabhu, too felt the need to promote different local varieties through government's intervention. He said the institute would suggest to the government how to go about it after taking into view the deliberations of the conference, organized jointly by the institute and the Voluntary Action for Research Development and Networking (VARDAN). The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) too has of late, started promoting the unique aspect of these varieties on various discussion platforms.

A step forward in rice research

Genome sequencing of 186 rice varieties from Bangladesh done in Chinese lab under global initiative

Genomes of 186 Bangladeshi rice varieties have been sequenced in Beijing Genomics Institute, China as part of a global collaborative project, opening up new opportunities for varietal developments.These include rice germplasms, high yielding varieties (HYV) and advanced lines. Germplasm is the living genetic resources such as seeds or tissue that is maintained for the purpose of animal and plant breeding, preservation and other research uses. Rice breeders and scientists are elated at the latest development of rice genomics. They believe this new understanding of rice gene pool would help them breed new generation rice varieties that are more productive, stress tolerant, less environmentally damaging and more climate-smart.A genome is an organism's complete set of DNA that contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. A genome sequence is like an inbuilt instruction book that tells living organisms how to grow and react to the environment.Each rice plant has about 400 million "genetic letters" in its genome sequence while the human genome is made up of over 3 billion of such letters.Md Sazzadur Rahman, a Bangladeshi rice scientist, who is working on developing carbon dioxide (CO2) efficient rice variety, told The Daily Star that genome mapping of so many rice breeding lines comes as a boon for the research he is carrying out.He has been studying on CO2 responsiveness of rice varieties by randomly picking some 202 germplasms from the gene bank of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI)."Now that I'm getting complete genome sequences of some of these germplasms (24 to be precise), it'll be helpful for me to try developing the CO2 efficient rice in future," hoped Sazzad, a senior scientific officer (SSO) at BRRI Plant Physiology Division.
O2 is a potent greenhouse gas and plays a vital role in regulating the earth's surface temperature, currently constituting about 0.04% or in other words, 400 parts per million (ppm) of the atmosphere."There are some projections that CO2 concentration may reach 600 ppm by 2050. So we've to prepare now for developing rice varieties that are able to withstand high temperature in future," said the BRRI scientist.

The genome sequencing of 186 Bangladeshi rice varieties comes as part of an international collaboration -- 3K RGP (3,000 Rice Genomes Project) -- that accomplished the decoding of 3,000 rice varieties of 89 countries.    Three research institutions -- the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) Shenzhen and the IRRI -- collaborated to sequence the genomes of 3,000 rice varieties and lines stored in the IRRI (82%) and the CAAS (18%) gene banks. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology jointly funded the sequencing and the initial analysis.Of the 186 decoded Bangladeshi rice breeds, seeds of 179 germplasms and four advanced breeding lines were taken from the IRRI gene bank while seeds of two high-yielding varieties (BR11 and BR24) and one advanced line were taken from the CAAS collection.The homegrown traditional varieties include Binnaful, Hijol Digha, Jabor Sail, Kalabokri, Lal Moti, Pankhiraj, Badshabhog, Kushiara, Dhola Aman, Birui Sail and Sada Jira. BRRI has a collection of about 8,000 rice germplasms in its own gene depository and duplicate copies of this gene pool are also stored at the IRRI gene bank, Seed Storage Laboratory at Fort Collins, Colorado in USA and Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.With 127,000 rice accessions the IRRI maintains the biggest collection of rice genetic diversity in the world at the International Rice Genebank in the Philippines. Countries from all over the world send their rice to the IRRI for safe keeping and common public good.Last week, the Philippines-based IRRI formally placed all the genome maps of 3,000 rice varieties with the UN FAO-based International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in Rome in a move to set up a global data exchange system for crop genetic resources.This new 3K RGP data analysis set is massive at 120 terabytes, which is well beyond the computing capacities of most research institutions. However, these new results are now publicly available online as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Public Data Set.  BRRI sources said they have so far downloaded genome maps of 10 varieties and would access others gradually.  Some BRRI scientists said they would not be able to make the best out of the huge genome resources unless they are equipped with powerful internet servers, computers and better trained manpower in bioinformatics.Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that combines computer science, statistics, mathematics and engineering to analyse and interpret biological data.There is not a single bioinformatician at the BRRI at the moment.Dr Zeba Islam Seraj, who teaches biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Dhaka, told The Daily Star that her lab has got two bioinformaticians."Soon we're going to offer bioinformatics training from the newly set up Centre for Bioinformatics Learning Advancement and Systematic Training," she said.Dr Zeba, the scientist behind developing the country's first transgenic salt-tolerant rice, said establishment of a genomic institute could help provide lab facilities for genome sequencing and data analysing of varied plants.     On completion of 3,000 rice genome sequencing, CAAS President Jia-Yang Li, BGI Chief Executive Jun Wang and IRRI Director General Robert Stewart Zeigler wrote a joint commentary in the UK-based Giga Science journal.They said, "For this ambitious effort to be meaningful beyond the scientific community, significant investments will have to be made in measuring plant performance under a wide range of conditions, as well as the development of data management approaches that can apply the genetic knowledge to practical uses."

Cup of woes overflows for Basmati farmers

October 16, 2015 00:14 IST
Taking up cudgels for Basmati rice growers, the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has joined hands with an NGO for collaborating for an international conference on World Food Day on Friday. The conference will deliberate on the issues and problems of farmers, millers, traders and promoters to strengthen linkages among them for boosting the export market.Domestic prices for Basmati have fallen drastically even though there is no decline in exports and this is causing concern. On an average, India exports about 3.8 million tonnes of Basmati rice and is the biggest exporter. In 2014-15, Basmati exports were to the tune of Rs. 29,000 crore.
Seeking the constitution of a Basmati trading corporation to monitor the export of this brand of rice, IARI scientists K.V. Prabhu and A.K. Singh said policies on Basmati and non-Basmati rice production and export should be addressed.They expressed concern over Madhya Pradesh wanting to be included in Basmati GI (Geographical Indicator) along with the traditional Basmati-growing states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. MP’s claim has been challenged by Pakistan in the WTO Disputes Commission. A GI claim is based on quality, reputation and characterisation.Former Deputy Director-General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and president of Voluntary Action for Research Development and Networking (VARDAN) C. Prasad, who has organised the international conference, underscored the need for an interface between extension services and scientific research to the benefit of farmers. “Extension between States is also required for promoting exportable rice varieties and evolving a sustainable developmental model.’’

Use Biotechnology To Alleviate Hidden Hunger, Don't Shun It

Kate Hall
Kate Hall is managing director of the Council for Biotechnology Information and GMO Answers spokesperson
In conjunction with World Food Day, GMO Answers explores the role of GMOs and biotechnology help meet global hunger challenges. (Credit: Neil Palmer)

In September, global leaders converged at the United Nations in New York to establish the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), picking up where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) concluded this year. Whereas the original MDG of halving global hunger by 2015 has been met in terms of correcting the calorie deficit, inadequate access to quality calories and important nutrients – hidden hunger – still affects nearly 800 million people, many of them children. The newly established SDGs aim to end hunger in all its formswithin the next 15 years.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, almost five million children under the age of five die of malnutrition-related causes every year – a staggering number. Important initiatives like today’s World Food Day shine a light on this tragedy, and public-private partnerships have rallied to develop genetically modified crops that can help alleviate the hunger and malnutrition problems that plague many developing nations.Countries like China, India and Indonesia are dependent on rice for as much as 80 percent of their caloric intake. But rice does not naturally produce many important nutrients, like vitamin A or iron. Children who rely on rice-based diets can suffer from impaired immune systems, blindness or even death due to nutrient deficiencies.To address the micronutrient deficiency of rice, researchers at the International Rice Research Institute have found a way to genetically engineer rice to increase the amount of beta-carotene, which is converted in the body to vitamin A. A serving of “Golden Rice” offers half of the required daily intake of pro-vitamin A for a child between the ages of 1 to 3.
Golden Rice is genetically engineered to provide an increased amount of beta-carotene. A serving of Golden Rice could provide half the required daily intake of pro-vitamin A for a 1 to 3 year old child. (Credit: GMO Answers)

Similarly, over 250 million Africans rely on cassava, also devoid of essential nutrients, as a dietary staple. The Danforth Plant Science Center, working with Nigeria’s National Root Crop Research Institute and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute, are developing BioCassava Plus, fortified with vitamin A and iron. Researchers have also found ways to increase the amount and stability of other nutrients in staple crops such as iron and zinc, and to improve the protein digestibility of sorghum.Despite these breakthroughs, biotechnology is still an underutilized tool to help us expedite the delivery of more nutritious and productive crops. Why? Because of the fear and uncertainty around GMOs that is preventing researchers from offering these crops to the communities that can benefit from their use.It’s important to understand what’s at stake: Malnutrition contributes to sickness, lost productivity and poverty, and death. Hidden hunger stunts not only the individual, but also the family and the broader community.We need to continue highlighting the role that biotechnology can play to address some of the biggest food and environmental challenges of our time. Engaging with the public to talk about the safety of GMOs is a critical step to ensure these fortified foods are made available and help contribute to ending the plague of hidden hunger.We have a goal; we have solutions. Now let’s work together to solve this problem.

PH importing rice to hike reserves ahead of El Niño


04:20 AM October 16th, 2015

THE PHILIPPINES’ stock of milled rice eased to 1.96 million tons as of Sept. 1, as the government prepares to import 750,000 tons to shore up reserves through the peak of the El Niño.On Sept. 17, the National Food Authority (NFA) awarded to Thailand and Vietnam separate contracts for the delivery of a total of 750,000 metric tons of milled rice by end March 2016.According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the national inventory—which shrank by 15 percent or 280,000 tons over the previous month—was good for 58 days’ consumption.Data from the PSA showed the NFA’s stock inched up by 100,000 tons to reach 800,000 tons.At the start of September, the NFA’s reserve was 92 percent imported as the agency was able to keep up a parallel effort to source supplies from locally grown produce.
As of Sept. 1, the NFA’s stock was good for 24 days’ consumption, well above its minimum mandated volume of 15 days’ supply.
Further downgrade
Last week, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported a further downgrade in the forecast global rice output for the crop year July 2015-June 2016.This was slashed by 8 million tons to 493 million tons due to worsening prospects in Asia, especially for India and Thailand, as the El Niño approached its peak.The FAO said that, in the Philippines, there was concern over heavy rainfall in the southern regions on the one hand, and about over-dryness attributed to El Niño affecting  the northern regions.The dry conditions in the Philippines are expected to intensify in October and persist until the first quarter of 2016, the agency said.

SunRice entices Riverina growers with higher prices to encourage larger rice planting

Weeks into rice sowing, processor SunRice has jacked up the price it will pay farmers to encourage a larger planting.

Many growers in southern New South Wales have turned away from the crop this season because of extremely high temporary water prices and low water allocations to irrigate.0:    
 00:00        SunRice chairman Laurie Arthur said the company needed Australian rice to fill overseas markets with just over a million tonnes."So we're talking about $415 per tonne as a guarantee for any medium grain Reiziq they grow this year," Mr Arthur said."Of course that does equate up to $655 a tonne for some of our speciality varieties."We want them to grow and we've put a good value proposition in front of them."SunRice is offering $545 a tonne for sushi rice, Koshihikari.In September, the company told growers the medium-grain price for the 2015 crop, which was harvested in April, would be in the range of $385 to $405 a tonne.It also estimated that 2016 crop would be in a similar range, but did not commit to a guaranteed price.On the back of a small increase to water allocations in the New South Wales Murray Valley, the company has changed its tune.

"We want them to grow and we've put a good value proposition in front of them."
Laurie Arthur, SunRice chairman

But it's not clear whether the price will be enough to convince growers, especially those who need to buy water in at a cost of $200 a megalitre in Murrumbidgee Valley and up to $270 a megalitre in the NSW Murray, to put a crop in."The question some of them have been pondering is whether or not they just sell their water on the water market," Laurie Arthur said."We understand that, they've got to make commercial decisions."We believe that putting that guaranteed price there, the allocated water they have, they can turn a strong return by planting rice."The company said its anticipated lift in profits from global markets should offset funds required to supplement the 2016 crop paddy price, provided current market conitions continue alongside a favourable exchange rate.SunRice has also been contacting growers about its proposed capital restructure.It has spent four years deliberating on a model to improve its access to capital.The company plans to open up a restricted share market listing through a SunRice fund on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) for B-class shareholders.Mr Arthur has confirmed that growers will not be voting on the model this year."The reason we haven't announced any earlier is that I did feel I had a responsibility as chairman that everybody fully understands."This is a very transparent process and we believe we've got a great proposal to put in front of growers."I want to make sure that everybody, not just 60, 70 or 80 per cent understand what we're putting in front of people."I'm determined to ensure 100 per cent understand."He expects the regulatory process involved with initiating a major change to the company structure will take up to five months before growers have their official say.

Devastating floods send paddy prices skyward

By Htoo Thant   |   Friday, 16 October 2015

Surging demand following the widespread destruction of paddy fields during the recent flooding has forced a record spike in prices, say the Myanmar Rice Federation and local paddy and rice traders in Nay Pyi Taw.

Source: Adapted from data from the Department of Agriculture (As of September 17)

Since September, the price per 100 baskets of Manaw Thukha old crop in Nay Pyi Taw has risen from under K700,000 to nearly K900,000 as of the second week of October, said Ko Myo Lin Aung, a paddy trader in Pyinmana, on October 13.“A broker this morning who came looking for paddy told me the market price today was K850,000,” he said. U Nay Soe, a rice miller in Pyinmana, Mandalay Region, said Manaw Thukha paddy was priced at K900,000 per 100 baskets. “This is a record high,” he said, adding that the reason for the rise could also relate to the election.In the rice-growing Ayeyarwady Region, Manaw Thukha is priced K650,000, rising to K750,000 in Nay Pyi Taw. U Nay Soe said transportation and general expenses accounted for the difference.U Myo Aung Kyaw of the Myanmar Rice Federation said paddy prices usually rise as the old crop runs out and before the new crop comes to market.“We’re between the old and the new market now, so prices can be difficult to predict,” he said.Dismissing the election as a cause of the rise, U Myo Aung Kyaw said it was the result of restrictions in supply caused by the widespread destruction of farmland by the flooding.“In the rainy season, the flooding of farmland decreases yield. Traders know they can profit by storing rice. That raises demand,” he said.A single bag of Manaw Thukha (one-and-a-half baskets) rose from K23,000 earlier this month to K27,000 or K28,000 in the second week of October, said U Nay Soe said.High rice prices were a cause of concern for low-paid workers, said U Zaw Win of the City Development Committee.U Myo Aung Kyaw said prices would fall as the new summer paddy came on the market in sufficient quantity to make up for the losses caused by floods. He cautioned that no action should be taken to rein in prices even if they rise further.“Price-capping has only a temporary effect, then things go back to the way they were. If prices are allowed to rise, more farmers will have the incentive to grow paddy, bringing prices down again as the quantities increase,” he said.Bran and broken rice prices have also risen. Last year, a bag of soft bran went for K6000, but has doubled this year to K12,000. A bag of broken rice has gone in the past year from K10,000 to K17,000. A year ago, 100 baskets of Manaw Thukha sold for K450,000.

Translation by Thiri Min Htun

Concerns grow as jute sacks to be laminated with polythene
Yasir Wardad

The environmentally-hazardous plastic materials are going to stage a comeback as millers are set to supply polythene-laminated jute sacks for the packaging purpose from December next, officials and traders have said.The latest move came following worries of the millers and traders about protection of rice, wheat and other cereals from being wet and damaged by rainwater and fogginess.But the issue became a cause of concern for the environmentalists, who think the initiative will affect the environment badly by polluting water and land.The government has taken a tough stance on implementation of the Compulsory Jute Packaging Act 2010 by enhancing the number of mobile courts.The Act has made the use of jute sacks mandatory for the millers and traders involved in trading in rice, wheat, maize, fertilizer, sugar etc for their packaging for the sake of environment.Government departments and organisations under different ministries will have to use jute bags to pack their food products.The Act was passed by the Bangladeshi Parliament also for boosting the local jute industry which (jute sector) has been going through a crucial time for sagging demand in the global jute market.According to the Department of Jute (DoJ), around 450 mobile courts launched drives since the mandatory jute packaging act was made effective on January 1, 2014.Each violator will face imprisonment up to one year or a penalty of Tk 50,000 or both depending on the degree of non-compliance.  An official at the jute ministry told the FE that the government agreed that both the state-run and private jute millers would provide jute sacks as required by the millers.He said the millers sought jute bags laminated with products which could protect cereals from water and fogginess.He said plastic could be used slightly to fulfill their requirement but it might be pricier, he said.Jute scientist and agro-market expert Dr M A Sobhan told the FE that the use of plastic (maybe in a lesser volume) would also affect the environment.He said it would go against the key objective of using jute sacks for the sake of safe environment."Yes, hike in use of jute products will boost our jute industry, but we can't avoid the issue of nature," said Dr Sobhan, a former director of Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI)."If we compromise at the beginning, then in the long run plastic will regain its ground," he said. He also pointed out that the government had to search for alternative materials than plastic to meet the millers' requirement."Many biodegradable products could be used for lamination and research should be done on those before the millers and traders are forced to use jute bags made of 100 per cent jute", he said.When contacted, director (Production and Jute) of Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMC) Col. (Retd) K Lenin Kamal told the FE that the Act could not be effective only for the apathy of the rice millers.He said jute millers had various categories of products from which the millers and traders could choose theirs.He said the BJMC and BJMA (Bangladesh Jute Mills Association) would also handle the environmental issue seriously."There is a certain limit of mixing plastic with jute in a way that it would do no harm to nature and it would degrade after a period of time," he said.He also said the millers require 700-800 million sacks annually but "we have the capacity to supply 1.3 to 1.34 billion sacks."He said after meeting the local demand, "we will have the option to export also."General secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) Dr Abdul Matin said plastic pollution emerged a major problem for land and water resources of Bangladesh.He said more than 40 per cent of pollution in Bangladesh was caused by plastic.The drainage system in big cities like Dhaka was also seriously affected by plastic pollution, he said.    Secretary of Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mills Owners Association KM Layek Ali told the FE that they were ready to use jute sacks as per the government law.
He said the government has to ensure smooth supply of sacks numbering 700- 800 million annually for rice millers and traders.   He said they require jute sacks that could protect rice from rain and dampness in winter despite its being pricier."We thank the government that they have agreed to provide jute sacks as per our demand," he said.However, many rice millers talking to the FE isaid prices of rice would increase and local millers would face a tough competition with the importers in the case of using jute sacks.They called for ensuring the use of jute sacks also by the importers and their distributors to create a level-playing field.any millers also demanded raise in import duty on rice further for implementation of the CJPA 2010.The government has taken a tougher stance on enforcing the law. Licences will be cancelled of the rice miller found violating the condition.While giving fresh licences or renewal of the same, the food directorate will set a condition of compulsory use of jute sacks by the applicants in packing their products.
In granting loans to the traders and millers of selected products including rice, paddy, maize, fertiliser and sugar, the Bangladesh Bank also has set the condition of mandatory use of jute-made bags.Millers and traders, who will not use jute sacks, will not get bank loans after November 30 next, according to the jute ministry.

Senate summons Customs’ CG over rice importation

Posted By: Yusuf Alli, Abujaon: October 16, 2015In: Featured, NewsNo Comments

THE Senate has summoned the Nigeria Customs Service Comptroller-General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), to appear and brief it on issues surrounding the removal of rice from the import restriction list.It directed that Ali should interact with its Ad hoc Committee on Import Duty Waiver.The decision to invite the Customs boss followed a motion by Senator Adamu Aliero (APC- Kebbi Central), which was supported by 32 other senators.Moving the motion, Aliero expressed concern about the “unilateral and unexpected’’ decision of the comptroller-general to reopen the country’s land borders to rice importers.He said the action would reverse the gains recorded in rice production in the country. According to Aliero, the decision would halt the rice revolution and discourage further investment in rice farming and agro-allied industries.He added that the decision of the Customs to liberalise the importation of rice to the extent of lifting the ban on land importation of the commodity, would escalate rice smuggling.“Nigeria is presently the largest importer of rice in the world,’’ he said, regretting that this was in spite of 15 new rice mills established across the country by private investors between 2010 and 2015.The senator said the mills, besides striving to provide the commodity to the people, had provided employment to many Nigerians.After a debate on the motion, which many senators supported, the matter was referred to the Committee on Import Duty Waiver.President of the Senate Bukola Saraki decried the rate of illegal activities at the nation’s borders.He said the motion was timely, given the need to reposition the economy to give investors the confidence to invest in the country.The Senate president directed that the committee had two weeks to investigate the matter and submit its report.Meanwhile, 10 bills scaled through first reading at yesterday’s plenary.They are Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 Alteration Bill 2015, Delegated Legislation Bill 2015, National Library Act (Amendment) Bill 2015, Employment Services Bill 2015,Others are Local Industry Patronage Bill 2015, National Planning Process Bill 2015 and National Commission for Peace Reconciliation and Mediation Bill.Also included are Environmental Managers Registration Council of Nigeria (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015, and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2015.

Unusual increase in rice imports

Excessive import of food grains by the private sector has posed a threat to the sale of local stock, especially of rice, affecting both farmers and retailers. While the government procurement of rice and wheat has come down to almost a halt because of a satisfactory stock position, imports by the private sector traders have gone up, which, many observers consider, an unusual phenomenon. The reality, however, is that the low price of food grains, particularly of the low-end, coarse varieties of rice, is encouraging the traders to bring in bulk quantities from neighbouring countries to cash in on the price differential. A local daily reports that import of food grains has grown more than 130 per cent in the past one year.

While import of rice is growing, the government is also allowing export. Allowing import and export, that too simultaneously, presents a difficult question for many seeking a satisfying answer. The officials of the ministry of food are reported as saying that the country at present has much more than what it is to have as buffer, and so there is nothing wrong in exporting. But what is about importing? It would not have mattered if the issues could be delinked, with no influence of one on the other.

Since the imported rice is of the low-end variety, one rationale could be to stockpile or market this variety for consumption of the low-income groups. Now the critical question: is there any dearth of the coarse variety in the country? If no, the imported shipments are sure to dampen the domestic rice market, which it has already done. Even if the answer is yes, has there been a survey of sorts to quantify the volume? In all considerations, it appears that there is little that the authorities can stick to in allowing increasing imports. Rice merchant's association of the country told the media that there was no need to import the coarse variety as domestic production was in surplus. They allege that that their appeals to stop rice import have not been heeded to at all, and as a fallout, domestic trading has been affected badly. Import cost of a kilogram of coarse variety of rice from India is Tk 27-Tk 28.50 and is being sold in the retail market at Tk 30-Tk 32, while the equivalent local variety is selling at Tk 34-Tk 35.

It has been reported that that the government's food directorate is also worried about the unusual increase in rice import. Observers do not brush aside money laundering through over-invoicing -- often labelled against suspicious imports. To many, there are reasons to suspect whether the money, sent out of the country, is meant to meet the actual import bills. However, rushing to a conclusion on this may not be the right thing to do. What is expected of the authorities now is a thorough scrutiny of the state of rice imports, given that there is a sizeable buffer stock and that the domestic grain traders and farmers are suffering on account of the unusual imports.

Rice, wheat stocks fall to 45 MT at the beginning of October

A food ministry official told FE that the corporation's current rice stocks of 14 MT (including the grain to be received from millers) is well within requirement of buffer norms for October, when FCI needs to have 10.2 MT of grain.

By: Sandip Das | New Delhi | October 16, 2015 12:45 AM

The foodgrain stocks held with government-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government-owned agencies have declined to 45 million tonne (MT) at the start of the month from 48 MT reported a month back.The current volume of grain stocks, mainly consisting of rice and wheat, is still higher than the buffer stocks norm of 30.7 MT required at the start of October. However, the grain stocks is lower than the 47.6 MT tonne of grain stocks reported a year back. According to the latest data, the government agencies have rice and wheat stocks of 12.5 MT and 32.4 MT, respectively, on October 1. Besides, around 1.5 million tonne of rice is yet to be received from millers.A food ministry official told FE that the corporation’s current rice stocks of 14 MT (including the grain to be received from millers) is well within requirement of buffer norms for October, when FCI needs to have 10.2 MT of grain.

However, the official said that the real worry for the corporation is the huge wheat stocks in excess of 32 MT of which more than 28 MT of grain had been purchased from the farmers during April -June this year, of which a major chunk is bought through relaxing norms.By October, FCI needs 20.2 MT of wheat under buffer stocks norm, thus marking rest of quantity of wheat as ‘surplus’. The corporation requires around 20 to 22 MT of wheat annually for distribution through the public distribution system (PDS). “We have around 8–10 MT of excess wheat stocks,” the official said.Meanwhile, the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) for selling wheat stocks to bulk buyers has picked up pace in the last couple of weeks. More than 8 lakh tonne of wheat has been sold to bulk buyers under OMSS last three weekly auctions. Earlier, the government has continued with the OMSS wheat in non-procuring states after April 1, yet the response was lukewarm during April — June period.

Usually FCI runs OMSS operations during September —  March period.FCI is targeting at selling at least 6 MT of wheat under OMSS in 2015 – 16. “The open market wheat sale is expected increase during the next few months because of festive seasons,” an official said. The corporation had sold 4.2 MT of wheat under OMSS in the previous fiscal.The high-level committee (HLC) for FCI restructuring, chaired by former food minister Shanta Kumar, in its report earlier this year had observed, “During the last five years, on an average, buffer stocks with FCI have been more than double the buffer stocking norms, costing the nation thousands of crores of rupees loss without any worthwhile purpose being served.” HLC had stated that the current system is extremely ad-hoc, slow and expensive. “A transparent liquidation policy is the need of hour, which should automatically kick in when FCI is faced with surplus stocks than buffer norms.”

 16th October,2015 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter shared by Riceplus Magazine