Monday, October 26, 2015

26th October ,2015 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Pact for $40m food processing plant at Sohar Freezone

Sunday 25th, October 2015 / 19:33 Written by Oman Observer 
JOINT VENTURE: Usher Agro announces partnership with Sohar Food Cluster firm –
Business Reporter –
Oct 25: Indian agribusiness firm Usher Agro Ltd, through its 100 per cent subsidiary Usher Worldwide FZE and Prime Trading LLC, has signed a Joint Venture Agreement with Al Mada Project Management Company (AMPMC) and Sohar Food Cluster Company LLC for setting up a rice and pulses storage, processing and packaging facility at Sohar Port & Freezone. Alpen Capital India Private Ltd acted as the sole financial advisor to Usher Agro on this project.The initial facility will be set up at a total estimated project cost of $40 million and will feature a polishing, grading, blending and packaging unit for 100,000 tonnes per annum (TPA) of premium long grain rice including basmati rice and a state-of-the-art milling unit for 100,000 TPA of pulses.The facility will also incorporate a 25,000 TPA capacity rice fortification plant based on patented technology provided by PATH — a non-profit organisation supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The rice will be fortified with vitamins and minerals to address nutrition requirements and is envisaged to be sold as a premium product and also supplied to the government for welfare activities in the wider MENA region.The basmati rice products of the facility will be distributed within MENA countries whereas pulses products from the facility will be distributed in India and MENA Countries. The parties expect to commence the operations of the facility by end of FY 2016.“The proposed food logistics and processing hub at the Port of Sohar (SIPC) will provide a unique opportunity for the new Joint Venture in a strategic location, capitalising on direct access to agro/food berths and proximity to many export markets in the GCC and the MENA region,” said Essa al Ghurair, Promoter & Managing Director, Sohar Food Cluster Company LLC. “We are delighted to partner with Manal al Abdwani of AMPMC and Essa al Ghurair of SFCC to set up a rice and pulses distribution hub at Port of Sohar. India is the largest exporter of rice and net importer of pulses. The Joint Venture company aims to participate in this two-way trade with Port of Sohar as a hub.

 We are confident that this project once launched will help in food security efforts of the region and contribute to the creation of significant shareholder value,” added Dr Vinod Kumar Chaturvedi, Promoter and Managing Director, Usher Agro.
“We are extremely delighted that all parties have come to a mutually beneficial agreement to commence the execution of this project. We are proud to be associated with AMPMC, SFCC and Usher Agro and hope that our expertise in the GCC-India corridor will add value to this landmark project at Port of Sohar,” stated Rohit Walia, Executive Chairman, Alpen Capital India Private Ltd and Alpen Capital (ME) Ltd.

Rice mills falling on hard times


 October 25,2015, 04.37 AM  IST | | THE HANS INDIA

Karimnagar: Like other agro-based industries, the rice milling industry is also in a deep crisis in the district. While some of the mills are already closed, more number of industries are on the verge of closure. The situation is pathetic in Sultanabad where the highest number of rice mills are located in both the Telugu speaking States. As many as 30 mills belonging to Sultanabad, Manakondur and Peddapall were closed and machinery of 15 mills sold. The number of labourers like drivers, hamalis, supervisors, gunny bag repairers and other workers were left jobless following the closure of the rice mills.

Though there are a number of reasons for the present pathetic situation, the increase in the prices of electricity, transportation and labour charges were some of the main reasons for the industry being pushed into a catastrophe.Compared to the previous years, there is huge jump in the price of current bills, labour and transportation charges, which were vital to run rice mills. But there was no change in the remuneration being paid to rice millers by the State government towards custom milling charges. At present, Rs 15 and Rs 22 were being paid per a quintal of raw and boiled rice respectively. Apart from these issues, the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is also playing a vital role in staying rice exporters away from state. Not interested to spend huge amounts on procuring rice from the State, they are approaching millers of other states such as Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharastra where there was no MSP for paddy.

Speaking to The Hans India here on Monday, P Muralidhar, owner of Maruthi Industries, Sultanabad, said that the remuneration for custom milling was fixed 20 years ago. There was no change in the payments for custom milling though the prices of all commodities like diesel, electricity and other were hiked hundred times, he opined.Another rice miller from Sultanabad, Poleti Maruthi said that they had brought the issue to the notice of the State government a number of times in the past, but the successive rulers did not heed to their request. However, he expressed the hope that the present Telangana State government would protect the interests of rice millers.

According to the official figures of the District Rice Millers Welfare Association, there were 536 rice mills including 242 boiled mills in the district out of which, 111 were located in the surroundings of Sultanabad mandal headquarters itself.  More than 15 mills were already closed while 80 percent of mills belonging to Sultanabad were in crisis.Rice millers from the district have pinned their hopes on the Finance and Civil Supplies Minister, Eetala Rajender, who assured the protestors, a few months ago, that he would help them in resolving their crisis.  Moreover, Rajender’s candidate Bachu Bhaskar has been elected as the president of district rice millers association in the elections. All the candidates withdrew from the contest based on the instruction from the Finance Minister, it was leant.

By:Raghu Paithari  

UNVDA helps farmers cope with climate change, boost production
YAOUNDE, (Xinhua) -- A program by a government agro-industry body is helping rice farmers in the Cameroon’s north and west regions to adopt better crop varieties, use water more efficiently and adapt to climate change so as to increase output.
The program, run by the Upper Noun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA), is also in partnership with Cameroon’s Institute of Agricultural Research and Development (IRAD).“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 Richard Chin Wirnkar.
He said that 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 and also promotes post-harvest technologies like rice milling and packaging, processing activities, and stronger links with input dealers and micro-finance institutions.The project thus 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 rice farmers, particularly women.“With renewed government interest in the rice sector in recent years, Cameroon has the potential to become a rice granary for the Central African sub-region, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI),” said Wirnkar.

“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.”In the last few years, Cameroon grew less than 20 percent of the rice it needed. In 2012, the country produced only 102,000 tonnes of paddy rice and had to import up to 375,000 tonnes to meet national demand, according to figures cited by the IRRI.
It should be noted that in previous decades, the government’s reluctance to boast local production saw the massive importation of rice into the country which almost killed the local rice sector. The customs department of the Ministry of Finance put the rice importation figures in 2014 at 552,000 tonnes, up from 540,000 tonnes in 2013, mainly from Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China and South Korea.
But over the last few years, the government has been mapping out strategists to revamp the rice sector and some institutions have been put in place to ensure this transformation, including UNVDA in the North-West and the Company for the Expansion and Modernization of Rice in Yagoua (SEMRY) project in the Far-North Region to boost local rice production.

In Cameroon, areas where rice production is currently going on include the Ndop and Mujang plains in the North-West Region, Tonga, Bandounga and Santchou in the West Region, Yagoua and Kousseri in the Far-North Region, and Nanga Eboko in the Centre Region with support from Chinese company Sino-Cam Iko.Despite all these efforts, some constraints are still hindering the country from expanding and intensifying its rice production, including a lack of good-quality seeds and adequate equipment for labour-intensive tasks, and a lack of post-harvest technologies to make local rice competitive in the market. Thus, the country’s rice production has not yet been able to keep pace with the increasing national demand.

PH national scientist Benito Vergara dies

Vergara, who was named National Scientist in 2001 for his contribution on rice research, dies at the age of 81

Reynaldo Santos Jr
Published 11:34 PM, October 25, 2015
Updated 11:44 PM, October 25, 2015
RICE RESEARCH. In a photo taken in 1991, Benito Vergara is seen conducting a study on a rice field.

MANILA, Philippines – National scientist and plant physiologist Benito Vergara died on Saturday, October 24.Vergara's death is confirmed in a Facebook post by the Philippine Horticulture Society Inc. (PHCI), where he served as an honorary member.The cause of death of the 81-year-old Vergara is not immediately clear.Vergara was given the title National Scientist in 2001 due to his significant contribution on rice research.In an Instagram post by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), Vergara is said to have brought "rice science and technology closer to the popular consciousness.""He worked on the physiology of deep-water rice and flood-tolerant rice plant. His work has been adopted by national breeding programs leading to the identification of parent materials with excellent flood tolerance," said in the post.NAST added that he is also behind the "conceptualization of a model for the super rice, an even higher-yielding rice, based on a new ideotype with the correct panicle morphology, grain development, and low tillering habit as key components."

Vergara worked at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) from 1961 until 1995.His other contributions include the book Farmer's Primer on Growing Rice which has been translated into more than 40 languages, and the development of the Riceworld Museum and the Philippine Science Heritage Center.Vergara obtained a bachelors degree in botany from the University of the Philippines in 1955, a masters degree in botany from the University of Hawaii in 1959, and a doctorate degree in plant physiology from the University of Chicago in 1960.He was born on June 23, 1934.According to PHCI, Vergara's body lies at the Arlington Memorial Chapel in Quezon City from October 25 to 26. It will then be brought to Los Baños in Laguna for a wake until October 28. –

Bill Gates deputy visits PH for rice research updates

(2nd UPDATE) Pamela Anderson, a director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been meeting with IRRI officials, but reports say the world's richest man himself also visited
Published 4:32 PM, April 08, 2015
Updated 1:13 PM, April 09, 2015

BILLIONAIRE'S LIST. Microsoft co-founder and philantropist Bill Gates is still the world's richest man in 2015. File photo by Cole Burston / EPA

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The world’s richest man, Bill Gates, was reportedly spotted in Los Baños, Laguna – the hub of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on Wednesday, April 8.A few social media posts and online reports said the billionaire philanthropist was seen in IRRI Wednesday morning.Tony Lambino, IRRI head of communications, neither confirmed nor denied the visit.Lambino told Rappler, however, that Dr. Pamela Anderson, the agricultural development director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) had been in IRRI since the weekend.

He said Anderson and other senior officers of the BMGF were in the country to get updates on the food and nutrition security programs the foundation is supporting, with an annual commitment of $18 million. The briefings of IRRI officials with Anderson concluded Wednesday morning."The foundation is IRRI's largest philanthropic donor," Lambino said in a text message.Apparently, a private jet with registration number N887WM and tied to Gates, was in the country as early as April 4, reported.An IRRI employee shared with Rappler that social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, were blocked in the premises of the institute at around 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, before and after the chopper reportedly carrying Gates landed at IRRI. The chopper was at IRRI from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, the employee shared.

Research in progress
Scientists at IRRI updated the BMGF team on advances in research on climate-change-ready rice and varieties that promise to help solve micronutrient deficiencies.“We are thankful that the BMGF has come for updates on the food and nutrition security initiatives that they support,” said Robert Zeigler, Director General of IRRI.“The foundation is a staunch partner in applying the best of science so that people in the rice-eating world will not go hungry.”The foundation has invested in IRRI’s research for Golden Rice, a genetically modified crop that is seen to help solve hunger and malnutrition in developing countries.

"It is hoped that Golden Rice will help improve the health of millions of children and adults across the Philippines and Bangladesh," the foundation said in a statement.Environmental groups oppose the GMO-developed rice, warning of its potential hazardous impact to the environment.The BMGF team was also shown experimental rice plots for the development of flood- and drought-tolerant rice. These varieties promise to improve the livelihoods of the world's poorest farmers by ensuring a good harvest despite weather and climate upsets.For instance, flood-tolerant rice are supposed to thrive even after more than 14 days underwater. Non-tolerant rice normally die after just 4 days of submergence.


BIllionaire philanthropist Gates, with an estimated fortune of $79.2 billion according toForbes, stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in 2014, and has been since focusing on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.Co-chaired with wife Melinda, the foudation teams up with partners around the world to take on some tough challenges: extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries, and the failures of America’s education system."We focus on only a few issues because we think that’s the best way to have great impact, and we focus on these issues in particular because we think they are the biggest barriers that prevent people from making the most of their lives," the Gates earlier wrote, explaining the foundation's work.  with a report from Lynda C. Corpuz, Pia Ranada /

Nearly P10B in rice wasted yearly–study

 Sunday, October 25, 2015

ABOUT P27 million worth of rice is wasted in the Philippines every day, a loss that, unless abated, will go up to nearly P10 billion in a year’s time.Citing a study by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI), Mary Agnes Militante, regional information officer of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Central Visayas, said that one person, on average, wastes two tablespoons of rice daily or some 3.3 kilograms in a year.“We are calling on our consumers not to waste rice because, for one, the Philippines is not rice-sufficient. We are even importing some of our rice from Thailand and Vietnam,” Militante said.The NFA is running a nationwide information campaign that urges Filipinos to pledge to become food guardians. As food guardians, they should: (1) not waste rice (BeRiceponsible campaign); (2) help in making sure that rice is available, accessible, affordable, and visible to the public (Bantay Bigas Campaign); and (3) follow the correct food handling procedures to ensure that rice is safe for consumers (Food Safety Campaign).The agency is aiming to gather one million signatures nationwide through its social media accounts and offices for the commitment to become food guardians.
In Central Visayas 1,850 have volunteered to become food guardians. Nationwide, the number stands close to 60,000.

To better equip food guardians with the right knowledge about grains and the rice industry, food guardians are also advised to attend free seminars about post-harvest technology, food handling, food quality, food safety, and production-consumption-importation analysis.According to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan in recent reports, the country may have to accelerate rice imports in order to keep prices stable and cushion the impact of recent crop losses from typhoon Lando and the prolonged dry spell due to El Niño.

Unreasonable mechanism clips the wings of rice exporters
VietNamNet Bridge - Five big rice exporters, including Thailand, India, Vietnam, Pakistan and the US, are all under the influence of new economic circumstances. However, Vietnam is the only country which has seen exports fall.
Huynh The Nang, chair of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), said the current conditions do not support rice exports. First, there is an abundant world supply. Second, the prices are getting more competitive. Third, some new rice exporters have turned up such as Cambodia and Myanmar. Fourth, rice importers are now following self-sufficient food policies. However, an analyst pointed that the factors have had an impact on all the countries involved in the global rice trade, not only Vietnam.
 Vietnam even has advantages over other exporters. Vietnam’s rice is believed to have the most competitive price. Vietnam’s 5 percent broken rice is priced at $330-340 per ton, which is only more expensive than Pakistan, which sells at $310-320 per ton.Experts believe that unreasonable policies are behind the unsatisfactory rice export performance. Nguyen Van Sanh, head of the Mekong River Delta Research and Development Institute, noted that rice cultivation and export are covered by 200 legal documents with overlapping content and unreasonable regulations which hinder the normal operation of links in the supply chain.Pham Thai Binh, director of Trung An Company in Can Tho City, discussing the unreasonable policies for the rice industry, mentioned the Prime Minister’s Decision No 68 on the policies to help ease losses in agricultural production.

Binh said the decision only benefits farmers, while export companies cannot enjoy any benefits.In order to implement the large paddy field model, i.e., the agricultural production mode under which businesses are responsible for farmers’ rice consumption, businesses have to make heavy investment to develop dryer systems to ensure product quality. Meanwhile, they don’t receive support from the State.“It is enterprises which have to spend money on processing machines, not farmers,” he said.The State Bank of Vietnam has committed that the banking system would give financial support to implement the large-field model. However, it is still difficult to access banks loans. 

Investors who develop the large field model in Can Tho City, for example, only get money disbursed for the projects in Can Tho, not in other localities. Regarding rice exports, Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh from VEPR, an economic policy research institute, pointed out that the government Decree No 109, since the day it took effect, has weakened the competitiveness of Vietnamese rice exporters.The decree, which has many strict requirements on rice exporters, only allows a small number of enterprises to export rice. 


Salt water showing up in rice growing areas