Wednesday, December 02, 2015

1st December,2015 Daily Global,Regional & Local Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine-Latest Rice News Updates

Rice News Headlines...
·         Pakistan's exports to UAE set to grow 10 per cent
·         India exported 55.26 lakh tonnes of rice in April-September
·         Basmati rice export down by 31pc
·         India seeks preferential trade deal with Iran
·         Harvesting losses: Behind the trouble on Punjab's rice farms
·         Rice fuels 123% rally in Indian mills tapping new-age consumers
·         Boost for Basmati rice exports as Iran to issue fresh contracts
·         Saudi Arabia consumes more Indian rice these days than Iran
·         NRRI Awarded for Green Revolution
·         Vietnam’s rice industry in urgent need of restructuring
·         Farming model increases profits, lowers emissions
·         Australia will produce less grain than expected, but still more than last year: ABARES report
·         Northeast farmers told to refrain from off-season rice
·         Central and State govts must remember: Allowing others to eat is also corruption
·         12/01/2015 Farm Bureau Market Report
·         U.S. Rice Increases Presence on British Retail Shelves  
·         U.S. Rice "Cal-Bowl" Demonstration Kick Starts Retail Campaign in Japan     
·         CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures  
·         Greg Abbott lands in Cuba for a whirlwind visit to promote Texas trade
·         2 local firms win bid to buy 37,000 tonnes of rotten rice
·         APEDA Rice Commodity News
·         How climate change affects malnutrition
·         California Calrose Receives World's Best Rice AwardHinode rice celebrates results of 7th Annual World Rice Conference blind taste test
·         El Nino Shrinking Rice Crop Worldwide to Spur Vietnamese Sales
·         Efforts to 'turbocharge' rice and reduce world hunger enter important new phase   
·         New Variety Of Rice Fights Global Warming And Global Hunger
·         From Cauliflower Rice to Cinnamon Water, Healthy Food Startups Dominate
·         Rice exports down on Basmati slump
·         Opposition targets Haryana goverment on 'paddy scam', demands probe
·         Sri Lanka’s Nawaloka Holdings enters the FMCG sector
·         The Philippines Fights Climate Change With Rice and Religion

News Detail...
Pakistan's exports to UAE set to grow 10 per cent
Haseeb Haider
Filed on November 30, 2015 | Last updated on November 30, 2015 at 07.18 am
Habib Ahmed briefs Mohammed Helal Al Muhairi on products exhibited by the visiting delegation from Pakistan's Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Asif Ali Khan Durrani is also seen.The UAE imports perishable vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, rice, engineering and electrical products, textiles and ICT products from Pakistan.Abu Dhabi: Pakistan is targeting a 10 per cent growth in exports to the UAE, which reached $3 billion in financial year 2014-15, according to a top diplomat."We are targeting 10 per cent growth in our exports to the UAE during 2015-16," Asif Ali Khan Durrani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the UAE, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of an event at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) to host a trade delegation from the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI).The ambassador said year-on-year bilateral trade volume has grown 11 per cent to $9 billion in the last two years, but enormous potential exists to improve these numbers.
"In order to capitalise on growth potential, Pakistan embassy is more active to invite more trade delegations, aiming for greater participation in exhibitions and trade shows in the UAE," Durrani said.
He said the ADCCI visit was part of this initiative and more such delegations are lined up for the future. "These will boost interaction between business communities and promote greater visibility of Pakistani products," Durrani said.The UAE imports perishable vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, rice, engineering and electrical products, textiles and ICT products from Pakistan. Though no major item has been added to the traditional exports list, there has been a rise in the volume of exports recently.

The visit by the SCCI is an unprecedented visit by any Pakistani trade body, Durrani said.
Members met ADCCI director-general Mohammed Helal Al Muhairi. They also organised an exhibition of sports and surgical goods, industrial wares and auto parts.
With the improvement in electricity supply in Pakistan, industrial output has increased considerably this year, the ambassador said. Industries are also spending on building their electricity generation capabilities. This has enhanced production for both export and domestic consumption, he added.
Habib Ahmed, commercial counsellor at the Pakistan Embassy, said the Sialkot exhibitors were targeting a market worth $56 billion annually. Elaborating, he said the vehicles and auto parts is a $20 billion trade; surgical goods is worth $3 billion; sports goods market is over $1 billion; rice and grains $2 billion; uniforms, badges, protective gear and workwear at $3 billion.
The response to the exhibition was positive, with requests for dealership coming from local businessmen, Ahmed added.

India exported 55.26 lakh tonnes of rice in April-September


By PTI | 30 Nov, 2015, 03.48PM IST

India has exported 55.26 lakh tonnes of rice, valued at over $3.17 billion, in the first six months of the current financial year.ET SPECIAL: NEW DELHI: India has exported 55.26 lakh tonnes of rice, valued at over $3.17 billion, in the first six months of the current financial year. During the April-September period, the country has exported 20.84 LT of basmati rice valued at over $1.91 billion and 34.42 LT of other varieties valued at over $1.25 billion. In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also informed that India exported 1.19 crore tonne rice valued at $7.8 billion in the last financial year. According to the data shared by the minister, the maximum quantity of 5.98 lakh tonnes was exported to Saudi Arabia, followed by 5.08 tonnes to Senegal and 4.15 lakh tonnes to UAE. In a separate reply, the minister informed that import of 'plastic rice' has not been permitted. Import of rice is allowed through Food Corporation of India ( FCI) and its import is also subject to clearance by FSSAI

Economic Times India


Monday, 30 November 2015 | PNS | Chandigarh | in Chandigarh
 More than 55.51 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of paddy have arrived in the mandis (grain markets) of Haryana as compared to more than 44.90 lakh MT during the corresponding period last year.A spokesman of the Food and Supplies Dept on Sunday said that of the total arrival, more than 42.43 lakh MT paddy has been purchased by Govt procurement agencies and the rest has been purchased by millers and dealers.

Giving further details, the spokesman said that more than 19.37 lakh MT of paddy have purchased by the Food and Supplies Department, over 14.96 lakh MT have been purchased by Hafed, more than 4.35 lakh MT have been purchased by the Haryana Agro-Industries Corporation and over 3.73 lakh MT have been purchased by the Haryana Warehousing Corporation.He added that while Karnal has received the maximum amount of paddy at 12.07 lakh MT, more than 10.08 lakh MT paddy has arrived in Kurukshetra, more than 7.23 lakh MT in Kaithal.
The spokesman said that farmers have been advised to clean and dry their harvest properly before bringing them to the market so that they do not have to face any problems in storage due to high moisture content.
Basmati rice export down by 31pc
November 30, 2015
Our Staff Reporter

Lahore - The rice export from Pakistan have increased by 10.78 percent during first four months of the current financial year against same period of last year while export of basmati rice decreased by 31.22 percent to 131,160 metric tons from 174,191 metric tons during this period.According to statistics, during July-October 2015 period 898,603 metric tons of rice worth $339.92 million was exported as compared to 657,420 metric tons valuing $306.89 million during the same period last year. During October 2015 rice export grew by 24 percent as compared to the same month of last year. During the month about 347,685 metric tons of rice worth $121.66 million was exported as compared to 22,948 metric tons valuing $9.493 million of the corresponding month last year.

However, a point of serious concern was raised by exporters on decline in export of Basmati rice, as the export of this superior quality rice decreased by 31.22 percent to 131,160 metric tons from 174,191 metric tons during the period under review.

The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan central chairman Ch Muhammad Shafique has feared that Pakistan may not take advantage of opening of rice export to Iran because of energy crisis and lack of the Research and Development which has turned Pakistan regionally uncompetitive.Ch Shafique said that Pakistan rice export has been stagnant for the past many years, both in quantitative and value terms and is hovering around 4 million tonnes in quantity and $2 billion in worth because of devastating energy crisis and inconsistent and discouraging export policies of the government. India has entered the global rice market with a huge surplus and a 20-percent devaluation of its rupee, giving it almost unbeatable comparative advantage against Pakistani exporters. The State Bank of Pakistan also honoured sanctions against Iran, resulting in drastic drop in basmati exports to it. But the exporters still maintained their share and were able to achieve the mark.

He called for devising a comprehensive mechanism and appropriate currency transfer arrangements by the State Bank of Pakistan to take full benefit of reopening of rice trade with Iran. “Iran is the one of the largest rice importer of the world, which imports around 11 percent of the world rice worth $2.5 billion. He said that the demand for rice in Iran has doubled during 2012-13 and in the last five years, import of rice grew more than 35 percent. Hence, there exists a huge opportunity for the exporters of Pakistani rice. Pakistan, once, was the largest exporter of rice to Iran, before imposition of sanctions on Iran, which it has lost to India and now almost 90 percent of rice is coming to Iran from India though import from Pakistan is more economical,” he said.

India seeks preferential trade deal with Iran

Tue Dec 1, 2015 12:1PM
India is the second importer of Iranian crude oil after China.
India says it is interested in signing a preferential trade agreement with Iran when sanctions are lifted against Tehran, a press report says. "We have a good relationship with Iran. It is a good market for us in the long term," the Economic Times newspaper quoted a “senior” commerce department official as saying.The official said the agreement, India’s first trade pact with a West Asian country, is at a “conceptual stage”, explaining that both the parties have shown interest in it but no negotiations have begun yet.  "Iran is working towards WTO accession. In the build-up to that, they have shown interest. There are no negotiations at present. From India's perspective, the sooner the better that we sign an agreement," the official said.
The Financial Times said a preferential trade agreement with Iran would offer India a foothold to tap other markets in the region.It put India's exports to Iran in 2015 at $4.17 billion and its imports from the oil-rich country at $8.95 billion.India is the second importer of Iranian crude oil after China. Its exports to Iran include automobile components, chemicals as well as agricultural commodities such as Basmati rice and sugar.

Harvesting losses: Behind the trouble on Punjab's rice farms

A rice paddy on the outskirts of Lahore | Tariq Mahmood, White Star
Mian Ghulam Ali Bhatti once had a steady source of income. Working at a government-run Savings Centre with a guaranteed monthly salary, he was a source of envy in his village of Piranay Kee where most people either worked as farmers, with uncertain earnings, or had odd menial jobs to make ends meet. Every morning, as he left the village in a crisp shalwar kameez with his hair slicked back elegantly to go for work in the nearby town of Pindi Bhattian, young men working in paddy fields and older folks preparing fodder for their livestock looked at him jealously.
This was slightly less than a decade ago. Then, something changed in the village: agriculture suddenly became very profitable around the late 2000s as prices of cash crops – rice, wheat and sugar cane – began moving up. Bhatti’s relatives, who would earlier toil in the fields to earn a pittance, started getting thick wads of cash by selling their produce at rates unimaginable earlier. Most of them could now hire farm hands or employ machines to do the most tedious jobs in the fields.Many in the village started making, and spending, more money than Bhatti could. They bought brand new motorcycles and television sets, and rebuilt their mud houses with brick, mortar and reinforced concrete.

Young men donning crisp clothes and slicking their hair back in the latest fashions became ubiquitous in the village. No one envied him anymore.By 2008, Bhatti had had enough of not being able to benefit from the farmland revolution taking place around him. He resigned from his job at the Savings Centre 29 years before he would reach the age of superannuation and, for the first time in his life, started farming on his 17 acres of land. The times were good. For the first four years, Bhatti’s annual earnings were way above what he could make in a year from his job. Then a sudden slump hit the agriculture sector. Prices of agriculture commodities declined sharply and he started finding it difficult to retrieve his production costs, crop after crop.The price of high-quality basmati rice, for instance, is half as much as it was in 2012, according to the statistics provided by growers and traders. That year, 40 kilogrammes of the best quality basmati rice sold for around 2,500 rupees; the price fell to 2,000 rupees for the same quantity in 2013. Next year, the price registered another steep decline, going down to 1,400 rupees per 40 kilogrammes. For the current crop, farmers fear they may be getting as little as 1,000 rupees for the same quantity.Absent landowners who routinely lease out their lands are in a quandary as lease rates have dropped to 40,000 rupees from a peak of 65,000 rupees only a couple of years ago.In the rice-growing central Punjab districts along both sides of the Chenab River – stretching from Sialkot in the east to Sargodha and Chiniot in the west – famers like Bhatti are despondent. Nervously tending their current rice crop, they are worried if they can even recoup their production costs. Many expect to incur huge losses as they have been doing over the last couple of years.Haji Liaquat Ali Maqsood, a resident of Chiniot district who has acquired 105 acres of land on lease in nearby Pindi Bhattian for rice cultivation, gloomily predicts that he is set to suffer as much as 3.5 million rupees in loss. He has paid 60,000 rupees per acre in annual land lease under a two-year contract and spent about 30,000 rupees per acre on inputs such as seed, irrigation water, fertilisers and other assorted chemicals.

 The price of his crop is expected to be only half as much as the expenses on it, he tells the Herald.Negative trends in rice prices have also dragged down the demand and rates for land leases. Absent landowners who routinely lease out their lands are in a quandary as lease rates have dropped to 40,000 rupees from a peak of 65,000 rupees only a couple of years ago. Many of them are finding it difficult to lease out the land at all.Others are desperate. Having suffered big losses over the last three years, six and a half feet tall Bhatti appears oddly distressed. “I am so worried that I can do anything short of committing suicide,” he says on a hot summer day. Pale green rice fields around him seem to be wilting under the smouldering August sun.
Rice husking in Punjab | Arif Ali, White StarMuhammad Ali Kalru, a middle-aged landowner in Chiniot, knows a thing or two about growing and selling rice. He cultivates a rice paddy on his own farm and also runs a business – known as arrhat or commission shop – that purchases rice from scores of other farmers for husking, processing and packaging it before it is sent to domestic and foreign markets. He tells the Herald that a number of commission shop proprietors in Chiniot are sitting on huge stocks of unsold rice from their purchases in the last two years. This, he predicts, is going to have a major negative effect on the quantity of the rice these traders can purchase this year.

Their problems mainly stem from Pakistan’s failure to export its surplus rice. For a number of years, rice exports have consistently declined. Their share in total exports went down from 11.3 per cent in 2009-2010 to 8.7 per cent in the first nine months of 2013-2014, reads the latest issue of the Economic Survey of Pakistan. For the same nine month period in 2014-2015, the share of rice exports in the country’s total exports stood at 8.8 per cent — still 2.5 per cent below its peak five years ago.
Other figures recorded by the survey are even more drastic. Basmati rice exports have “witnessed a decline of 22.5 percent in quantity term” in the first nine months of 2014-2015 fiscal year as compared to the same period in 2013-2014.Yet, these export losses have not yet translated in the decrease in land under rice cultivation which, in fact, has increased. Since 2010-2011, according to theEconomic Survey of Pakistan, the area under rice cultivation has increased from 2,365,000 hectares to 2,891,000 hectares in 2014-2015. This has been accompanied by an upward trend in per acre yield of rice which has increased from 2,039 kilogramme per hectare to 2,423 kilogrammes per hectare in the same period of time. In the combined outcome of these two factors, farmers have produced three per cent more rice in 2014-2015 alone than they did in the previous fiscal year.Declining exports and rising yields have had the expected effect: a glut of rice in the market and consequently a collapse in its prices.
Shaikh Muhammad Afzal is a 50-something trader in Sahiwal. He is the vice-president of the local chamber of commerce and industry as well as the head of a Punjab-wide association of commission shop owners who deal in agricultural commodities. In his opinion, there is only one reason why Pakistan’s rice exports have fallen in recent years — a virtual halt in the commodity’s export to Iranian markets where, according to Afzal, “India has outclassed us”.Media reports on international trade suggest that Iranian imports account for around 11 per cent of the global commerce in rice. Only a few years ago, Pakistan supplied the single largest part of these imports.
With the imposition of international economic sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear technology programme, however, Pakistan’s trade relations with its south-western neighbour suffered badly mainly because the two countries do not have barter trade agreements and bilateral mechanisms for money transfers. Pakistan’s exports to Iran, therefore, fell to 43 million US dollars in 2014 from 182 million US dollars in 2010, according to a news report published in daily The News on September 2, 2015. In rice trade, India quickly stepped in to fill the gap.India’s trade with Iran during these years also experienced a negative trend. In 2010, according to India’s commerce ministry, Iranian oil accounted for 17 per cent of all Indian oil imports. In 2014, this decreased to only six per cent.
But Indian rice traders were able to increase their exports to Iranian buyers because the two countries have barter trade agreements and bilateral currency transfer institutions in place. These allowed them to minimise the impact of the sanctions on bilateral commerce at least in export categories – such as food and medicine – which did not invite as stringent restrictions as, for example, oil trade did.Another reason why India has been able to capture the lucrative Iranian rice market is the price advantage that Indian exporters are offering. India is selling high quality basmati rice variety at 800 dollars per tonne in the international market. This price, Afzal claims, is lower than even the production cost of the same rice variety in Pakistan.Since 2010-2011, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan, the area under rice cultivation has increased from 2,365,000 hectares to 2,891,000 hectares in 2014-2015.Growers and traders in Pakistan both argue that Indian traders have been able to offer such low prices because of the generous subsidies, as well as technical and administrative support, that rice cultivation gets in India.
 The government in Pakistan, on the other hand, does not care much about agriculture, they complain.Afzal, for instance, points out that the entire rice harvesting in India is done manually which ensures that the grain does not split during husking. On the contrary, he says, mechanical harvesting is common in Pakistan even though it leads to 15 per cent split grain which in turn decreases the exportable surplus.In seed development and per acre yield, too, Pakistan lags far behind India. Growers claim that India’s most successful basmati rice variety yields 2,000-2,400 kilogrammes per acre whereas Pakistan’s most successful basmati variety has a per acre yield of 1,200-1,600 kilogrammes per acre.

And in the last few decades, Pakistani research institutions have not developed even a single new variety whereas India has been introducing new varieties on a regular basis. In fact, many rice farmers in Pakistan admit sowing plagiarised Indian varieties to increase their crop yields.Lack of strict quality control for exports is another reason why Pakistan’s rice exports do not get as positive a response in international markets as Indian ones do. Many Pakistani rice exports resort to blending and mixing high-quality varieties with low-quality ones. Some of them claim that they do so only in order to compete with exporters enjoying subsidies from their governments. Others see it as a dishonest practice to make quick bucks at the cost of the country’s long-term commercial interests.The practice is rampant among rice processors and traders in the market town of Jalalpur Bhattian, about 23 kilometres to the north-west of Pindi Bhattian.
“The low-quality varieties are processed and polished in such a way that no one can differentiate them from the high-quality varieties,” says Bhatti — the saving centre employee turned farmer. Such blended rice, however, does not cook and taste as good as the pure high-quality varieties do. When exported, the blended rice badly affects the reputation and credibility of Pakistani exporters, he adds. Their competitors with better business ethics, thus, get an obvious edge over them.
In September this year, Punjab’s agriculture minister Farrukh Javed undertook an official visit to Iran to look into the possibility of a revival of rice exports to that country. An official handout issued after the conclusion of the visit claimed that Iran had agreed to resume rice exports from Pakistan. The rice growers and traders could not have expected anything better — only if it were real.
Without a bilateral currency transfer mechanism being available between Iran and Pakistan, the revival of rice exports will remain a pipe dream as long as international economic sanctions against Iran remain in place, an official of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan is reported by a newspaper to have said. Ensuring that the two countries have “an effective, efficient and reliable formal banking channel of currency transfer” is vital for these exports, he is said to have argued.
In an interview with the Herald, minister Javed does not talk about putting in place the required money transfer mechanism. He, instead, focuses his energies on explaining that the malaise in Pakistan’s agriculture sector is way beyond the power and mandate of Punjab’s provincial government to resolve.He mostly blames international developments for problems in the local agriculture sector. “Great changes have taken place internationally. New hybrid seeds have come in; genetically modified crops and seeds have arrived. Because of these changes, crop yields have increased,” he says. And these increased yields have depressed the commodity prices in global markets, he suggests. India, Javed says, has been able to withstand the impact of these changes because, in consonance with global trends, it introduced a new variety of long-grain non-basmati rice which has blown away the market.
There were some other unhelpful developments, too, such as China having started producing more rice than it consumes, which means that there is more rice available in the international market for export than there ever was, the minister explains. “And then the Iran factor came into play. That was our biggest market for rice export until India captured it,” he says. “It is difficult for the government to plan for these externalities.”Javed says it is only in the long run that Pakistan can expect to address some of these external factors by, for instance, developing better rice varieties with bigger yields. For the short-term measures, he points to the reduced fertilizer prices and other subsidies being offered by the federal government in its recently announced multibillion rupee package for farmers. “We will continue to help the country’s farmers,” the minister vows.Bhatti is waiting expectantly for these official promises for help to materialise. If they don’t, he may well be trying to get back to his old job at the Savings Centre.
Photo by Arif Ali | White Star
— Additional reporting by Sher Ali Khan

Rice fuels 123% rally in Indian mills tapping new-age consumers

The changing profile of consumers in India is fuelling a stock rally in local producers of branded rice as rising incomes stoke demand

Rice being a staple for a majority of the 1.2 billion Indians, Rabobank estimates sales of the packaged grain is growing 15% annually and will jump 81% to about 2.9 million tonnes worth $3.5 billion by 2017. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
New Delhi: For Mumbai homemaker Sonali Ray, buying basmati rice until a year ago was a leap of faith. It often meant a silent prayer for grain free of weevils and stones as she watched her old grocer scoop up the produce from open burlap sacks onto his ancient scales.Not anymore. These days she walks into a swanky supermarket in the same neighbourhood and picks up a neat, branded 5-kilogram pack. And, she doesn’t mind paying 20% more. “I am assured of the quality and I know what I am paying for even if it’s a bit expensive,” says Ray, 36. “Adulteration is a big issue.”
The changing profile of consumers like Ray in India is fueling a stock rally in local producers of branded rice as rising incomes and the shift to modern convenience stores from grimy mom-and-pop shops stoke demand. Rice being a staple for a majority of the 1.2 billion Indians, Rabobank estimates sales of the packaged grain is growing 15% annually and will jump 81% to about 2.9 million tonnes worth $3.5 billion by 2017.
“Branded rice is turning into gold for the industry with its growing consumer acceptability,” said Shiva Mudgil, an analyst with the Mumbai unit of Rabobank International. “The premium will help the companies boost revenue growth and profitability.”Shares of KRBL Ltd, the seller of India Gate basmati rice and the nation’s biggest in the segment, have surged 123% this year to Rs.233.65 after tripling in 2014, while those of LT Foods Ltd, which sells the Daawat brand, have jumped 156%, poised for a fourth straight year of gains.
Sales of branded packs account for only 2% of the total in India, which is the world’s largest consumer and producer of rice after China. As consumption rises, even the old mom-and-pop stores are starting to stock the popular, packed brands, widening the reach, said Saravana Gughan, an executive vice president for India at Dutch processed food maker Samhoud Food BV.“The more packets consumers see on the shelves, the more they tend to buy,” said Gughan, who earlier was an executive with Reliance Retail Ltd. and the local unit of McDonald’s Corp.
Plunging prices
Domestic consumption in India is also rising after prices plunged from their 2013 record after Iran slashed imports. Rates for some basmati rice varieties in India have tumbled 56% to about $700 a tonne from as high as $1,600 a tonne in 2013, according to Anil Kumar Mittal, chairman of KRBL, who has been trading the commodity for three decades at the family-owned company founded in 1889.Though the dip in exports and prices caused growth in KRBL’s group sales to decline to 8.6% in the 12 months through March 2015, from 40% the previous year, the food processor has managed to maintain its Ebitda margins at about 15%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Any revenue loss due to lower prices is likely to be compensated by an increase in volumes,” said V.V.L.N. Sastry, chief executive officer (CEO) at Mumbai-based Firstcall India Equity Advisors Pvt. “Since, the industry has a positive outlook, the rice companies are going to attract investors in a big way.”The potential for growth has already driven overseas investors to pick up minority stakes in some of these companies.Abu Dhabi-based Al Dahra International Investment Llc has picked up 20% of Kohinoor Foods Ltd, while the International Finance Corp., the private equity arm of the World Bank, invested in Amritsar, Punjab-based Dunar Foods Ltd. Rabobank International’s private equity fund has bought a stake in LT Foods.
Roller coaster
India is the world’s largest exporter of basmati rice and ships about half of its output to countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iraq. In the non-basmati trade India competes with Thailand and Vietnam for exports to countries including Bangladesh, Senegal, South Africa and Liberia.
Overseas sales totaled 11.4 million tonnes in the year through March, according to the All India Rice Exporters Association. India’s exports accounted for 25% of the global rice trade in 2014 and helped the country earn $4.8 billion, a fifth of its total food and agriculture shipments, according to Rabobank.Shipments out of India may drop to between 5 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes in the next five years from more than 10 million tonnes in recently, according to estimates by Rabobank.
KRBL is seeking to increase sales volume locally to counter the drop in prices and exports by taking its produce to small towns and rural areas, Mittal said.“It’s like a roller-coaster ride,” he said in an interview. “We are trying to increase our share and going to new destinations. When sales increase, the cost of expenses comes down and that will reflect in our Ebitda. Bloomberg
Live Mint

Boost for Basmati rice exports as Iran to issue resh contracts

In a major boost to India's Basmati rice exports, Iran will issue fresh contracts for rice imports after a seven-month curb.

By: Sandip Das | December 1, 2015 2:37 AM
In a major boost to India’s Basmati rice exports, Iran will issue fresh contracts for rice imports after a seven-month curb.As part of the decree issued by the agriculture ministry, Iran’s customs officials will be allowed to register new imports orders from December 3, 2015 till June 21, 2016.Iran is expected to import 6 lakh tonne of rice, a major chunk of it from India, for meeting domestic demand till March, 2016. Trade sources told FE around 3 million tonne of rice is consumed domestically in Iran annually and more than half of which is met through domestic production.
Iran had put restrictions on the rice imports because of surplus grain availability in the country a year back. Of total exports of 3.7 million tonne of Basmati from the country in 2013-14, 1.4 MT was shipped to Iran. Sources said Basmati imports of 1.4 million tonne from India was ‘excess’, thus the carry forward stock with Iran was ‘high’ in the last fiscal. Thus the shipment to Iran fell to around 9 lakh tonne in the last fiscal.
The lifting of restriction on rice import comes at a time the prices of Basmati paddy has crashed to around R28,000 per quintal at present from R40,000 per quintal prevailed two years back. According to a commerce ministry official, average realisation from Basmati rice exports has fallen from $1,295 per tonne in FY14 to around $ 950 a tonne in the current fiscal.“With Iran lifting restriction on rice import, the exports prospects look bright in the next few months of the current fiscal,” a leading exporter said.Rice shipments to Iran got a boost when India launched a rupee settlement mechanism from April 2012 with Iran to avoid sanctions from the US and EU. As part of the initiative, state-owned UCO Bank has tied up with Iranian lenders — Parsian, Pasargad, Saman and EN Banks — for settlements of dues.

Iran and India also agreed to have referral labs in India for testing rice consignments rejected by Tehran because of presence of pesticide residue. “Henceforth, in case of disputes on pesticide residue levels, the report of these labs would be final,” an official said.Sources said the Iranian authorities have been asking India’s exporters since January 2014 to furnish documents on good agricultural practices, ISO 22000, which deal with food safety management and packaging protocols, besides “non-genetically modified crop” certification.Besides Iran, India exports Basmati to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, EU and others. India exported R27,598 crore worth of Basmati in the last fiscal.

Financial Express /Yahoo India News 
Saudi Arabia consumes more Indian rice these days than Iran
By S V Krishnamachari
Updated: November 30, 2015 17:48 IST
Labourers work at a rice mill on the outskirts of Agartala, capital of TripuraReuters file
Saudi Arabia continues to be the largest importer of rice from India, importing more than Iran during the first six months of 2015-16, a trend that was first set last fiscal.Saudi Arabia imported 598,001 tonnes of rice valued at $527.16 million during the April-September period, as against Iran which imported 361,474 tonnes of rice valued at $319.71 million. Till 2013-14, Iran was the largest importer of rice from India, buying 15.32 lakh tonnes valued at $1.98 billion, but slipped to second position, importing 10.04 lakh tonnes valued at $1.16 billion next year. Saudi Arabia bought 11.48 lakh tonnes valued at $1.29 billion.In terms of overall rice exports, India exported 55.26 lakh tonnes valued at $ 3.17 billion, during the first six months of the current financial year, with basmati accounting for $1.91 billion.Besides Saudi Arabia and Iran, other rice importers include the UAE, Iraq and Kuwait.The details were given by Nirmala Sitharaman, minister of state for commerce and industry, in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
NRRI Awarded for Green Revolution
By Express News Service
Published: 01st December 2015 07:05 AM
Last Updated: 01st December 2015 07:05 AM
CUTTACK: National Rice Research Institute (formerly Central Rice Research Institute) has been awarded by National Academy for Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) for its contribution to Green Revolution in making the country self-sufficient in food grain production.The award was presented to Director, NRRI Dr AK Nayak by Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Radha Mohan Singh in presence of NAAS president Dr S Ayyapan during the golden jubilee celebration of Green Revolution 2015 at New Delhi on November 27.Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) along with five State Agricultural Universities of GBPUAT Pantnagar, PAU Ludhiana, TNAU Coimbatore, CCSHAU Hisar and CSAUAT Kanpur were also awarded on the occasion along with eminent agriculture scientists and experts like Prof MS Swaminathan, Dr MV Rao and Dr MJP Rao.
NRRI, established in 1946 in the backdrop of Great Bengal Famine with Founder Director Dr K Ramiah at helm, has steered groundbreaking research in development of high-yield rice varieties that have contributed immensely to achievement of self-sufficiency in production.The varieties developed and released by the institute are used by research institutes in the country and abroad as parent to develop high yielding varieties suitable to their regions. The crop management technologies developed at NRRI along with the varieties have successfully turned the country from begging bowl to self-sufficiency.
Vietnam’s rice industry in urgent need of restructuring
Rice industry plays a significant role in ensuring food security and providing jobs to 9.3 million households in rural areas. It is a decisive factor in poverty alleviation contributing to economic development and political stabilization. However, recent difficulties and challenges have put the industry under urgent need of restructuring.Rice harvest in the Mekong Delta (Photo: SGGP)
Achievements in productivity and output improvement have taken Vietnam from a rice import nation to the world’s leading rice export country. At present, it contributes over 20 percent to the world’s rice export volume. However, the industry has recently showed a number of limitations comprising low effectiveness and competitiveness in the aftermath of excessive farming area expansion.
Rice quality is not high and processing is limited now while farmers’ income is still low and inappropriate with that of traders and businesses.Rice production has still negatively impacted environment for using many resources and abusing fertilizers and pesticides in intensive farming.One of major reasons for the above limitations is slow changing institution and relevant policies which have failed to meet objective requirements in the rice industry’s development.
Besides, business environment has yet to create a fair playground to sides involved in rice production and trading. Growers have produced over small scales and been in disadvantageous condition. The role of cooperatives is limited while businesses have just attended the final phase of the rice value chain without much attachment to farmers and paid little attention to their interest.Therefore, institutional reform is necessary to develop rice value chain, encourage and attract attendance of private investors to create a breakthrough for the rice industry in the upcoming time.
Creating fair playground
The Government’s Decree 109 on rice trading and export requires businesses to have at least one warehouse stockpiling 5,000 tons of rice, one milling establishment with a capacity of 10 tons per hour in rice farming provinces and cites or those with seaports for export.The decree has eliminated small businesses for failing to meet requirements on warehouse and milling facilities without regard to those with high export value and quality. It has also brought large companies more power.The decree imposes 0 percent value added tax on export rice but 5 percent on locally produced and consumed rice.According to statistics by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 5 percent tax imposed volume accounts for only 15 percent of total rice produced locally, the rest has been purchased by traders and not taxable.This has discouraged businesses to cooperate with farmers in rice production to create high-quality products.
The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has been established to gather and link rice growers, processors, traders and exporters together. It has a great power and influence on businesses.Ninety eight percent of the country’s rice export turnover has been shipped by the association’s members. The Government has directly assigned VFA to implement policies to ensure food security.VFA has been empowered to manage export activities, allocate 80 percent of rice export volume among its members, announce floor prices to create a basis for businesses to negotiate and sign contracts, update data from related agencies and join in rice stockpiling program.The association has skipped some important roles such as building development strategy for the rice industry, advertising brand names, developing local supply sources and value chains.
Policy, institution reform
A large scale paddy field in Hau Giang province (Photo: SGGP)
Because of just focusing on export, VFA has directed its members to purchase rice via traders rather than invest in long term plans to create specialized rice production zones.Surveys in localities show that the effectiveness of the rice stockpiling program is not high as it has mainly benefited traders, who have purchased at low price and resell at high prices, not farmers.There are some chains linking input materials up to production and consumption such as large scale paddy fields. However, this model has accounted for only 5 percent of total rice farming area.Cooperative economic organizations have failed to lure the positive attendance of farmers, mainly supplied irrigation services and played a small role in connecting farmers and businesses.
To improve rice business environment, it is necessary to boost value chains, assist businesses to innovate equipment and technologies, build brand names and transfer from over-the-counter trading into building investment partnership agreements with importers.
Implementation of Government contracts should be put out to tenders to create fair competitiveness among businesses.VAT rates should be same at 0 percent or 5 percent for both export and locally consumed rice. Otherwise, it should be kept unchanged at 5 percent on local rice, export items will pay a fee, whose revenue will be used for building and upgrading warehouse system and broadening large scale paddy fields.Authorized agencies should have policies ensuring fairness to all sides attending the rice value chain.Development of new style cooperatives should be encouraged to connect rice production with trading. The cooperatives will stand for farmers to sign contracts with businesses, organize agricultural material supply and stockpiling services, find consumption sources to reduce costs and increase profit for each farm household.By Dr. Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, Dr. Nguyen Trung Kien (the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and RuralDevelopment) – Translated by Hai Mien
Farming model increases profits, lowers emissions
VietNamNet Bridge – Nguyen Thi Ngoc Huong, a farmer in Tan Hiep District of southern Kien Giang Province, has increased her profit from rice farming by 10 per cent since she applied a new locally developed farming model.Farmers from the central Phu Yen Province are enjoying a bumper harvest this year. — Photo: VNA/VNS
Some 500 farming households from An Giang and Kien Giang provinces have applied a new model to increase productivity, quality, and economic effectiveness. The model means they must used certified rice varieties, and they must use less seedlings, pesticides, fertilisers and water.If strictly applied, the model would help them reduce post-harvest loss and greenhouse emissions, said Nguyen Van Sanh, Director of the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute.Ngoc said the farming model required her to reduce 50 per cent of rice seeds compared to old method and use 30 per cent less fertiliser."I was quite worried at first, but after 40 days, the rice began to grow well. Our harvests have increased by 10 per cent each," she said.
Hoang Trung Kien, director of Kien Giang Province's Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Centre, said the farming model had brought about significant changes for local farmers."Trained farmers have begun to actively cut down on fertilisers, pesticides and water from 30 to 40 per cent compared to how much they used in the past," Kien said.Phan Huy Thong, director of the National Agriculture Extension Centre, said with its more than 1.8 million hectares of rice farms, the delta contributed more than half of the country's rice output and 92 per cent of rice exports. But farmers' incomes were low due to high costs and unstable prices. Additionally, the old rice farming model produced a lot of greenhouse emissions."The overuse of chemical fertilisers and burning straw after harvest from traditional farming methods caused greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
National trademark
Sanh from the Director of the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute said he hoped the agriculture sector would bring the farming model to a new height to develop a "green rice" national trademark."In order to compete with rice from other countries like Thailand, India and Myanmar, Viet Nam needs to build its own national trademark," Sanh said.

Australia will produce less grain than expected, but still more than last year: ABARES report

Updated Tue at 7:51am
Hot and dry weather over spring has seen the national commodity forecaster ABARES drop its estimate for Australia's total grain production by 5.6 per cent since its September forecast.
Despite adverse grain growing conditions in key regions of Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia, including fires in WA and SA, Australia's total grain harvest is tipped to be two per cent higher than last season, coming in at 39.1 million tonnes.Wheat production is forecast to rise by one per cent since last year, to 24 million tonnes, while barley production is expected to be two per cent higher at 8.2 million tonnes.In September, ABARES forecast Australia's total grain production to be 25.3 million tonnes, and barley production at 8.6 million tonnes.Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek. :
"Since September, we have issued a revision in October shortly after hot and dry weather hit the cropping regions, and shortly after the Bureau of Meteorology issued a revised seasonal outlook," ABARES senior economist Peter Collins said."The forecast we're issuing now is similar to the revision, but it is down 5.6 per cent on what we were saying in September."A major reduction in the area planted to canola has ABARES expecting production to drop by 14 per cent to three million tonnes.Mr Collier said there were wide disparities in the quality of grain being received."In some areas there have been high screenings reported, while that's not the case for other regions."It is too early to tell what the final outcome will be, but so far there's been big variations in the quality of the crops coming off."
There's definitely been quality issues caused by the dry September and hot October and we're seeing a definite lift in grain coming in with high screenings.
Charlie Brown, AWB
AWB's Charlie Brown said quality was lower this season."There's definitely been quality issues caused by the dry September and hot October and we're seeing a definite lift in grain coming in with high screenings."Mr Brown does not expect markets to react strongly to the latest figures, saying the most recent estimates brings ABARES wheat harvest into line with other international forecasts from organisations like the International Grains Council (23.7 million tonnes) and the United States Department of Agriculture (26 million tonnes)."Most people have been taken into consideration how the change in the weather outlook has hit yields."
Mr Brown pointed out that this year's production was below Australia's five year average, of approximately 26 million tonnes, but above the 10 and 20 year averages of approximately 22 million tonnes."On the longer term we are producing more than we have in the past, and even across the shorter term it is worth remembering there's been some really big years in the last five year period," Mr Brown said.
Better outlook for key summer crops
Production of sorghum is set to rise this season by five per cent, to 3.9 million tonnes, with the area planted to the grain growing by 12 per cent.The area under cotton production is estimated to increase by 52 per cent, and production to rise by 11 per cent to 560,000 tonnes.A lack of irrigation water this season has ABARES tipping rice production, centred mainly around NSW's Riverina region, to drop by 58 per cent, to 305,000 tonnes.

Northeast farmers told to refrain from off-season rice

THE NATION December 2, 2015 1:00 am
FARMERS in Khon Kaen and three neighbouring provinces in the Northeast have been told to refrain from growing rice in the off-season, and instead opt for plants that consume less water until April 30 due to plunging water levels at the Ubonrat Dam.The three other provinces affected are Nong Bua Lamphu, Kalasin and Maha Sarakham.Songwut Kitkachornwut, director of Nongwai water-distribution and maintenance project, said Khon Kaen provincial water-management executives had resolved that farmers should refrain from planting off-season rice in the Nongwai irrigation zone from December 1 to April 30. The level of water in Ubonrat Dam stands at 781 million cubic metres or 32 per cent of total capacity, of which only 200 million cubic metres can be used.

Farmers in the provinces of Khon Kaen, Nong Bua Lampu, Kalasin and Maha Sarakham would be affected as the dam can only release 500,000 cubic metres of water daily, just enough for consumption and for maintaining the ecological system. The Lam Mat River, which flows from Buri Ram's Lam Plai Mat district to meet Moon River in Nakhon Ratchasim's Phimai district, has dried up in many areas. Tap water in nine villages that rely on this river has dried up and villagers now have to purchase water from water trucks. Sawat Hiewthaisong, 65, chief of the Ban Nong Bung village in Tambon Bot, Nakhon Ratchasima's Phimai district said 3,000 households in Tambon Bot have barely enough water for consumption.
Five dams in Nakhon Ratchasima are, on average, only 45 per cent full. Lamtakong Dam in Sikhiu district has 129 million cubic metres or 41 per cent of its total 314 million cubic metres. Lam Phraperng Dam in Pak Thong Chai district has 87 million cubic metres or 80 per cent of its total 110 million cubic metres. Khon Buri district's Lam Chae Dam has 101 million cubic metres or 36 per cent of 275 million cubic metres, while its Moon Bon Dam has 50 million cubic metres or 35 per cent of 141 million cubic metres. Lam Plai Mat Dam in Soeng Sang district has 56 million cubic metres or 57 per cent of its total 98 million cubic metres.
Central and State govts must remember: Allowing others to eat is also corruption
Sankara Narayanan
01 December, 2015
"Indians living in alien countries were earlier ashamed to identify their Indian origin to the foreigners because of the corruption tail attached with India," thunders Prime Minister Modi on every other day in the arranged NRI jamborees in alien lands. And all NRIs, according to our PM, are now facing the foreigners boldly with their head held high proclaiming proudly their origin, thanks to the 18 months rule of his Sarkar.The PMO may be free from corruption charges. But a few of his cabinet colleagues, some CMs of BJP-ruled states and other minsters in state govts are carrying the stain of corruption, defying the Modi-dictates nonchalantly. Perhaps the foreigners do not treat the saffron coloured corruption as a stain. Even the corruption carries its colour complex.
All are not lucky enough to deal with PMO. Ordinary minions have to solve their routine problems through the offices of Union and State governments, thanedars, tehsildars, patwaris, municipalities and panchayats. It is better for the PM Modi to check up with the billion plus people living here in Indiahow they see the state mandarins while paying bribes to them. Head and chest up!

In Focus
In the last few days, I have come across a few scams either through the media or by my own sources duly keeping my head and chest up like a rat. I am elaborating these scams which have not been noticed or ignored so far by the NDA-II and all the state governments caring little for the PM's anti-graft thunders.
Rice Milling Scam
According to the net magazine 'The Wire' in its Nov 25, 2015 report (under the heading 'CAG blows the lid on Rs 10,000 crore rice milling scam'), the current rice milling policy was formulated by the NDA-I government in 2003. Both Central and State procurement agencies supply paddy to rice mills after buying the same from farmers.When a government agency gives 100 kg of paddy to a rice miller, the latter returns 68 kg of parboiled rice (or 67 kg of raw rice) and is paid Rs 87 for his effort. However, he gets to retain the 32-33 kg of by-products, selling them in the open market for whatever price they fetch. According to the Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, rice millers on average derive 22 kg of rice husk, 8 kg of rice bran and 2 kg of broken rice from 100 kg of paddy. And over the years, the market for these by-products has become even more lucrative than for rice.
Paddy by-products find applications in a wide range of industries: power generation, solvent plants, pharmaceuticals, brick kilns and breweries. While rice bran yields oil, cattle and poultry feed, rice husk is used to generate power and its further by product - rice husk ash - has numerous industrial uses including the production of pharmaceutical-grade silica.Going by the average price these by-products fetch in the market, the rice miller on average rakes in an extra Rs. 169 per 100 kg of paddy - over and above the Rs 87 he earns from the government. Since millions of tons of rice are processed every year, many top-notch millers are developing stand-alone by-products units for a sustainable stream of revenue catering to both the domestic and export markets. In plain terms, the state has to collect Rs 82 (169-87) from the millers for every quintal of paddy hulled without paying a penny for the hulling.
Although the market for these by-products is huge, lucrative and well documented, government agencies treat them as 'worthless' and refuse to claim any right over their further processing and sale. No wonder, then, that an evaluation of their market worth is never done. Instead, the contracts and agreements between the government agencies and rice millers give the latter unconditional 'property rights' over these by-products.So far, the efforts of the Tariff Commission to put in place a new pricing regime seem to have come to a naught as state governments and rice millers have not provided the data the commission sought two years ago - so stiff is the resistance from the powerful lobby of rice mill owners who enjoy political patronage.The rice milling scam would have never been brought to light but for an Orissa-based whistle-blower Gauri Shankar Jain who relentlessly pursued the case for almost five years. Thanks mostly to his efforts, the Tariff Commission - the nodal agency under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry mandated with setting prices on the basis of referrals from ministries and departments concerned - began working on a new price mechanism in 2012. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister's Office also forwarded Jain's complaint to the CAG, which decided to take up the issue for scrutiny.

In its audit report, the CAG criticises the government for its faulty policy of giving millers sole rights over the by-products of paddy. How can rice by-products, which are supposed to be the property of the state, be handed over to mill owners without any compensation, asks the CAG. Of particular cause for concern is the fact that successive governments – led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh andNarendra Modi –persisted with a milling policy that deprives the nation of enormous revenue despite knowing the reality.The estimates of revenue loss to the government arrived at by the CAG in its audit report stand at more than Rs. 10,000 crore every year. If we calculate the cumulative losses since 2003 - when the current milling policy was formalised - the figures stand at more than a staggering Rs. one lakh crore.
The only reason for this executive helplessness according to Jain is that "a close-knit 'family' of government [authorities], politicians and rice millers prefers the status quo. Millers are clearly afraid of losing their monopoly rights over the by-products and a very profitable business if a new policy is put in place." Sources at the CAG are candid enough to admit that the 'political will' needed to re-structure the existing tariff mechanism is completely lacking.
Power Purchase Scam
Private agencies are now operating many a power plants (coal, gas, hydel etc) and generating thousands of MW of electricity. The Union government is the authority that grants permission for the construction and operation of these power plants. One very important condition stipulated by the government while sanctioning the power plant is that the private power producer has to supply 13% of the installed capacity of that plant's electricity to the public grid at cost to cost basis or no loss no gain basis.Not a single private power producer is following this condition. They only supply 13% of the generated power. Let us consider this case. One power plant is generating 300 MW against its installed capacity of 500 MW. In such a situation, the private agency is supplying only 39 MW (13% of 300 MW) of power to the state grid. Actually the agency has to supply 65 MW (13% of 500 MW) as per the sanctioned condition. The state grid is losing 26 MW of power due to it at the agreed price. No agency has been penalised for this default.
The scam extends further. This 13% quantum of power is to be supplied to the state grid round the clock. But the electricity authorities and power producers entered into an illegal understanding to swindle the public further. During the peak demand hours, the state grid automatically develops some technical problem and will not receive the power from the agency.
The agency will sell the power during the peak hour to other private consumers at higher rates. The state grid loses revenue by purchasing power from elsewhere paying extra rates to meet its customers' demands. The agency will supply extra power during non-peak load hours to maintain its 13% quota. The state grid will receive the power even if there is no demand. In this issue also, not a single power generator is penalised. Nor any officer punished. Perhaps the energy minister Piyush Goel is waiting for a CAG audit to take on the scamsters.Public Money Parked in Private Companies.

Union govt has shares worth of Rs 60,000 crores in ITC, L&T and Axis Bank. This govt is cutting even health and mid-day meals allocations for want of money. It desperately tries to sell the state shares in PSU companies including the profit making ones to private companies. But the govt's shares in the above three private companies are not sold out by the current government to raise the precariously needed revenue. Any guess, why?
In the above two scams (Rice & Power), the central and state governments are collaborators over several years. In the rice miller scam, Vajpayee government can be blamed both for the faulty policy formulation and allowing the loot up to 2004. There is nothing to tell about the government that ruled the country from 2004 to 2014. That dispensation made all the earlier scams pigmies. Manmohan Singh can easily get an international award as the Scam Samrat of the world. Hence he was shown the door by the people.From May 2014, we have a PM who repeatedly declared that corruption would be history in his rule. Neither the commerce minister Nirmala Sitaraman nor the energy minister Piyush Goel could stop the day light robberies (Rice Milling and Power Purchase) for the past 18 months. Yet the PM and his Bhakts keep chanting 'No Corruption' in Modi Sarkar. Allowing others to eat is also corruption.
Price Adjustment Scam in Odisha
Works contracts for major projects extending more than two years are normally incorporated with a price adjustment clause. This clause is inserted to safeguard the interest of both the executing agency and the state. In case of price rise of various materials like steel, cement, diesel, stone products and bricks and cost escalation of labour, a formula is adopted to calculate the extra money to be paid to the agency. In case of fall in prices also, this formula will be adopted to calculate the amount to be deducted from the agency. It is a win -win clause for both the parties of the agreement.
The price adjustment bill will be regularly raised by the contractor and the officer in charge of the project will scrutinise and release the payment to the agency. During the recent several months, there has been a steady fall in the prices of steel and cement. And the fall is quite significant. The contractors are not raising the price adjustment bill because it is a negative one. The state authorities are duty bound to direct the contractors to furnish the bill. If the contractors fail to submit the bills, the officers can very well prepare the bill and recover the money from the contractors.This has not been done for reasons best known to the Odisha administration. Media and opposition, as in the case of the scams relating to Rice Milling and Power Purchase, keep a stony silence. Is it necessary to explain why? Perhaps the authorities concerned are also waiting for the Accountant General's audit to unearth the scam. By that time, the scam will eat crores of public money.
12/01/2015 Farm Bureau Market Report
Long Grain Cash Bids
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Long Grain New Crop
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Rice Comment

Rice prices closed lower today. The market held support near October lows of 11.68, however the market need some bullish news to help pull prices out of thier recent declines. Prices continue to be pressured by slow demand and large supplies in the U.S.
U.S. Rice Increases Presence on British Retail Shelves   
#because it's delicious
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -- After an absence of almost 10 years, U.S. parboiled long grain rice is back on UK retail shelves at the country's second largest retailer.

Aunt Caroline Long Grain Rice is now available at ASDA supermarkets (owned by Walmart) in 5kg bags following presentations from leading UK rice importer S&B Herba Foods.  The product is currently in 60 of the largest ASDA stores, with options to roll out to all 525 locations during 2016.
"We are delighted to be selling U.S. parboiled long grain rice after such a long absence," said Peter Walker of S&B Herba Foods.  "It has taken a lot of time and effort to persuade retailers to see the opportunities that high quality, consistent U.S. long grain rice offers," he added.S&B Herba worked with ASDA to develop a specific size pack that would appeal to those consumers who eat large quantities of rice as part of their daily diet and, so far, demand has been strong.
 "We began the promotion during October," said Walker, "so it is early days, but the signs have been good that we are on trend for what was needed in the marketplace.  With so many choices, it can be overwhelming for consumers, but U.S. long grain has always delivered on consistency and quality.   This will hopefully open up further opportunities with other retailers."

Aunt Caroline is the second identified U.S. long grain rice brand available in the UK retail segment.  The first identified milled long grain rice brand appeared on retail shelves in March this year.USA Rice Vice President for International Promotion Jim Guinn said, "In spite of tough competition, U.S. long grain rice sales have more than doubled compared to last year, reaching over 18,000 MT in the period January-September 2015.  The all-important run up to Christmas should see U.S. long grain sales increase even more as we continue to promote the U.S reputation for quality, consistency, food safety, and sustainability."
 Contact:  Eszter Somogyi 011-49-40-4503-8667
U.S. Rice "Cal-Bowl" Demonstration Kick Starts Retail Campaign in Japan   
 Dare we say "Yummy!"
TOKYO, JAPAN -- A popular Japanese food writer and recipe consultant known as "Yummy-san" recently conducted a cooking demonstration here using U.S. medium grain rice in the preparation of three dishes: chicken, nuts, and berry salad; coconut shrimp spicy tomato soup; and almond milk rice pudding.  This consumer tasting event coincided with the start of a new USA Rice promotion at two hundred Kaldi import stores that will feature ingredients used in the three recipes, including U.S. medium grain rice.Attendees at the event, none of whom had tried U.S. rice before, got a chance to taste test the three dishes and, in a survey they filled out afterwards, 32 percent gave a "thumbs up" to U.S. medium grain rice saying it was completely different from Japanese rice.
 Chris Crutchfield, with American Commodity Company, was on hand at the tasting and said, "Yummy-san has been a big proponent of U.S.-grown rice for 15 years - ever since she participated in a Japanese delegation that toured the California rice industry in 2001.  She has a huge following here through her cooking blog, cookbooks, and cooking shows.  Her participation brings a lot of popularity to this promotion highlighting U.S. rice."
 Contact:  Bill Farmer (832) 302-6710
CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Prelim):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for December 1
Net Change

January 2016
- $0.190
March 2016
- $0.195
May 2016
- $0.195
July 2016
- $0.205
September 2016
- $0.170 
November 2016
- $0.155
January 2017
 - $0.155

Greg Abbott lands in Cuba for a whirlwind visit to promote Texas trade

Posted: 6:48 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, 2015
American-Statesman Staff
Gov. Greg Abbott landed in Havana on Monday afternoon leading a business development mission of two-dozen Texans looking to reintroduce Texas agricultural products to a growing Cuban market.
Abbott’s entourage of 26, including himself and first lady Cecilia Abbott, was made up of members of the governor’s staff and economic development team and representatives of economic interests with a stake in increased trade with and travel to Cuba, including officials from the ports of Houston, Beaumont and Corpus Christi and Houston’s airports.Abbott is the second governor to travel to the communist island nation since President Barack Obama’s new policy of rapprochement by executive action led to the reopening of the American embassy in Havana over the summer.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a major rice and poultry state, led a similar delegation to Cuba in September. The trip by the Texas delegation will be a whirlwind – 51 hours from wheels-down in Havana on Monday to wheels-up Wednesday evening for the return home.
Top exporters to Cuba

It will include a tour of the Cuba’s state-of-the-art Port of Mariel, and meetings with a variety of Cuban trade and tourism officials. It will culminate with a meeting with José Luis Toledo Santander, president of the Constitutional Commission of the National Assembly of the People’s Power.Abbott’s trip is freighted with symbolic significance. He is the conservative Republican governor of Texas, the second largest state in the union and the world’s 12th largest economy.
As a politician, Abbott is not one to leave his right flank exposed, and his decision to make a high-profile trip to Cuba his second international trip — the first, in September, was to Mexico — was as sure a sign as any that there is little political risk, outside certain Cuban-American circles, still mostly concentrated in Florida, in the move toward closer economic relations with Cuba, even if it is an opening being championed by Obama.“This is symbolically important,” said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a recently formed nonprofit advocacy group lobbying Congress to end travel and trade restrictions with Cuba. “There’s nothing that says mainstream Republican Party, anti-Obama, anti-everything about his agenda than the governor of Texas. It means something.”
“Opening trade with Cuba could be a watershed moment for Texas’ agricultural interests and its seaports,” Williams said. “According to some estimates, it could generate $57 million in new exports and result in 1,500 new jobs in the state.”
It was only in May that the Obama administration removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. But everyday Cubans, many of whom rely on remittances from family in the United States, have long held Americans in fond regard.And Cynthia Thomas, president of TriDimension Strategies, who made the arrangements for the trip, said there is a special affection for Texans.Thomas, founding president of the Texas-Cuba Trade Alliance, who has made 38 trips to Cuba, said Cubans like the fact that when other Americans visit they say they are from the United States, but when Texans visit, they say they are from Texas. They like the state’s independent spirit, she said.
Thomas said Abbott’s visit will turn heads in Havana because he will be navigating the beautiful but decrepit city in a wheelchair.“It’s really an incredible statement to have someone who is in a wheelchair to be so determined that this is a good idea to be willing to take on the challenge,” Thomas said. “I’ve never seen a wheelchair in Cuba in my life in all my times there.”
Rewarded for misbehaving?
Improving relations with Cuba is broadly popular with the American public.According to the latest Pew Research Center survey, conducted in July among 2002 adults, 73 percent of Americans say that they approve of the U.S. re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, up 10 points since January, and 72 percent back lifting the trade embargo — which would require congressional action — and ushering in a new era of U.S. investment and trade with Cuba. While Democrats are more supportive of the change, 56 percent of Republicans, up 16 points since January, also favored renewed diplomatic relations.But there are still those who adamantly oppose the shift in approach and don’t believe it will end well.
Sebastian Arcos, associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, said that Obama’s new Cuba policy has raised hopes and expectations for new business opportunities in and with Cuba. But, he said, those hopes and expectations are not well-founded.Arcos said Cuba is still controlled by the same people who seized power in 1960, confiscating $1 billion in U.S. property and instituting a repressive regime that has not relaxed its hold on the economy and the everyday minutiae of Cubans’ lives.Increased investment in Cuba will only serve to enrich and entrench them in power, Arcos said.While Williams said the failure of the embargo to change the behavior of the Cuban government is proof the policy has failed and the embargo should be lifted, Arcos said lifting the embargo would demonstrate that Cuban intransigence had won out.“They’re essentially being rewarded for misbehaving,” Arcos said.
Slumping exports
The U.S. government placed a partial trade embargo on Cuba in 1960 and a full embargo in 1962. However, legislation in 2000 allowed for the export of agricultural, food and medical products to Cuba on a cash-in-advance basis.Those exports peaked at $711 million in 2008 and have since fallen to $299 million in 2014, according to Parr Rosson, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University and leading expert on trade with Cuba.Of the $299 million in exports in 2014, only $6.3 million went through Houston ports, putting Texas seventh on the list of Southern states through which virtually all of trade to Cuba flows.
Topping the list, $81.8 million went through Louisiana ports, followed by Florida at $77.2 million.Rosson said the decline in U.S. trade with Cuba was a consequence of price competition, the strength of the dollar and the inability of U.S. companies to offer credit to a country pressed for hard currency.Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, France, Ukraine and Vietnam have all gained at the expense of the United States, he said.Rosson said there might also be political and diplomatic reasons for the dramatic drop-off in Cuban exports from the United States.He said it appeared that the Cubans were frustrated that their buying rice and other staples from the U.S. market — partly calculated to nudge farm-belt lawmakers to use their influence to change U.S. policy toward Cuba — had seemed to bear so little fruit, even after Obama was elected in 2008, until this new diplomatic opening.
Whether the resumption of diplomatic relations, and trips like that being undertaken by Abbott’s delegation, will change that remains to be seen.Ernest Bezdek, director of trade development for the Port of Beaumont, making his fourth trip to Cuba, is depending on that.Bezdek said that back in the 1950s, Cuba was Beaumont’s No. 1 trading partner. He carried with him on this Cuba visit small sacks of Sunset Rice, from the Beaumont Rice Mills, to deliver to Cuban officials to remind them of the high-quality Texas rice that Cubans used to prefer before cheaper “broken” rice from Vietnam and elsewhere came to dominate the Cuban market.The trip is sponsored and paid for by TexasOne, which was created by the Texas Economic Development Corporation to market and promote Texas. A contingent of Department of Public Safety officers, providing for the governor’s security, traveled at state expense.
Who’s on the Texas trip to Cuba:
Gov. Greg Abbott
First lady Cecilia Abbott
Daniel Hodge, chief of staff, governor’s office
Robert Allen, deputy chief of staff, governor’s office
John Reed Clay, senior adviser to the governor
Bryan Daniel, executive director, Economic Development and Tourism Division, governor’s office
Drew DeBerry, policy director, governor’s office
Matt Hirsch, communications director, governor’s office
Lauren Bean Clay, senior adviser to the governor for the office of first lady
Chelsea Holden, senior adviser to the first lady
Matt Sniadecki, senior advance representative, governor’s office
Cody Kloster, communications aide, photographer, governor’s office
Garrett Nerren, executive aide to the governor
Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO, Texas Economic Development Corporation
Michael Chrobak, executive vice president, Lead Generation, Texas Economic Development Corporation
Jack Webb, senior international business adviser, AWSCI LLC
Samuel Webb, CEO and General Counsel, AWSCI LLC
Saba Abashawl, chief external affairs officer, Houston Airport System, city of Houston
Mario C. Diaz, director of aviation, Houston Airport System
Ernest Bezdek, director, trade development, port of Beaumont
Judy Hawley, port director, port of Corpus Christi Authority
Charles Zahn, vice chairman, port of Corpus Christi Authority
Roger Guenther, executive director, port of Houston Authority
Janiece M. Langoria, chairman, port of Houston Authority
Cynthia Thomas, president, TriDimension Strategies LLC
Dee Vaughan, chief operating officer, Vaughan Farms Inc.
Expert coverage
American-Statesman chief political writer Jonathan Tilove is the only Texas-based reporter covering Gov. Greg Abbott’s historic trip to Cuba.

2 local firms win bid to buy 37,000 tonnes of rotten rice

1 Dec 2015 at 16:05
Two private Thai firms won a bid on Tuesday to buy 37,413 tonnes of rotten rice, the Commerce Ministry said after the first auction of spoilt grain by the government.The government said last month it would begin selling rotten rice from state warehouses for industrial use, looking to offload stockpiles of the staple grain built up under a previous support scheme for farmers.
The rotten rice would be used to produce ethanol, among other things.The rice, worth about 198 million baht, is the first lot taken from about 6 million tonnes of rotten rice in state warehouses that the ministry has said it plans to sell in quantities of between 1,000 and 6,000 tonnes."We'll have to see how smoothly this auction goes and then we will see whether we will hold the next one and when," Chutima Bunyapraphasara, the Commerce Ministry's permanent secretary, told reporters.The ministry did not say when the sale would be approved.The government is looking to dispose of huge rice mountains following the end of the support scheme introduced by the government of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Ms Yingluck was banned from politics for five years in January after the National Legislative Assembly found her guilty of mismanaging the scheme. The government claims the scheme incurred losses of US$16 billion.Thailand, the world's second-largest rice exporter after it lost its crown to India last year, has about 13 million tonnes of rice in storage.About 6 million tonnes in government warehouses is below standard or rotten and classed unfit for human or animal consumption, the Commerce Ministry said last month.Since taking power in 2014, Thailand's military government has auctioned off 5 million tonnes of rice through several tenders, with sales worth about $1.5 billion.
Rotten rice found at a government warehouse in Phitsnulok province in March 2014. (Post Today file photo)
Bangkok Post
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How climate change affects malnutrition

By Frank Rijsberman 30 November 2015

A farmer works in the fields. More innovative solutions for nutrition and climate-smart agriculture are essential to ending hunger and malnutrition. Photo by: Abt Associates
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030 — that is the second Sustainable Development Goal, adopted in September by the United Nations.Today, 800 million people are going hungry, close to 2 billion people are malnourished and another 2 billion are overweight or obese. Unhealthy diets, causing chronic diseases from diabetes, heart disease to cancer have become the most important factor in global health — overtaking smoking or infectious diseases. And all these challenges are severely exacerbated by the changing climate.

Health care expenditures caused by poor nutrition are 16 times higher than preventing malnutrition, according to the 2015 Global Nutrition Report. Ending malnutrition is therefore an excellent investment. But food systems are very vulnerable to the increased variability in the weather as a result of climate change: more droughts, more floods, more storms.CGIAR’s research program on climate change, agriculture and food security estimates that 3 percent of land in Africa, currently supporting 35 million people, will no longer be able to grow maize, their staple crop. Potato yield across the globe could decrease as much as 32 percent by 2069 if agriculture does not adapt. And 80 percent of the land where coffee is grown in Nicaragua would no longer be suitable for coffee production.

Bangladesh is the nation most vulnerable to climate change. More than 70 percent of the calories consumed by rural Bangladeshis come from rice. When rice yields are reduced by flooding, the Bangladesh government imports rice and boosts the country’s production the following year, resulting in rapid price increases. As rice prices climb, consumers spend less on more nutritious food, and the number of underweight children rises. More than 40 percent of Bangladeshi children under 5 already lack vital minerals and vitamins, and climate change pushes more children into malnutrition.Ending malnutrition — and achieving agreed targets to reduce stunting and wasting in children under 5 — will require a holistic, multisectoral approach. It requires a focus on the 1,000-day window to improve the health and diets of expecting mothers and young children under 2. It includes better health care, awareness of the importance of breast-feeding, and improved access to affordable nutritious food.

Agriculture should play its role to provide healthy diets from sustainable food systems. That will require innovation in many parts of the food system — including agri-food systems becoming more “climate-smart.”Climate-smart agri-food systems will be needed both to increase resilience to the changes in climate that are unavoidable and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Agricultural research for development drives the innovation to enable agri-food systems to do this, including the development of rice varieties that can withstand floods and droughts, such as the International Rice Research Institute’s “scuba rice” and drought-tolerant rice. Scuba rice has already been adopted by more than 5 million farmers in India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos and Nepal and drought tolerant rice can be grown on the 23 million hectares of Asian land that is increasingly drought prone.In those same rice fields, when flooded, WorldFish has helped communities breed small fish that can improve the dietary quality of malnourished children. Affordable rice and small fish may help improve the diet of malnourished children in Bangladesh.

In Rwanda, where beans are a key staple food, scientists at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and HarvestPlus have successfully introduced improved bean lines that are both higher in essential micronutrients and can tolerate temperature increases of 3 degrees Celsius and possibly higher.More of such win-win solutions for nutrition and climate-smart agriculture need to be identified.Navigating the complexity of healthy diets from climate smart agri-food systems is far from obvious, as it requires thinking across traditional sectors of health, agriculture and the environment. It is possible, however, as shown in a recent Global Panel on Nutrition policy brief on climate-smart food systems that can enhance nutrition.

To succeed — to end hunger and malnutrition while addressing climate change — will require bold leadership. It will require powerful alliances across the sectors of nutrition, health, agriculture and climate. Agricultural research for development needs to play its part, which requires an ability to increase the pace of innovation. It will require a widespread public awareness of the challenges and the solutions we can all adopt as consumers. It will also require governments to come together in Paris this week to agree on a climate treaty that includes agriculture, food and nutrition as part of the negotiations.
Only if all these pieces come together can we hope to have healthy diets from climate-smart food systems for all.
Planet Worth is a global conversation in partnership with Abt Associates, Chemonics,HELVETAS, Tetra Tech, the U.N. Development Program and Zurich, exploring leading solutions in the fight against climate change, while highlighting the champions of climate adaptation amid emerging global challenges. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #PlanetWorth.

About the author

Frank Rijsberman is CEO of the CGIAR Consortium, a global partnership of 15 international agricultural research Centers with the shared vision of a food secure future. With over thirty years' experience as a researcher and consultant in natural resources management, Frank is leading the implementation of this vision through a coherent portfolio of research programs focusing on increasing food security, improving nutrition and health, reducing rural poverty, and protecting the environment.

California Calrose Receives World's Best Rice AwardHinode rice celebrates results of 7th Annual World Rice Conference blind taste test

Hinode Calrose Rice
WOODLAND, Calif., Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/

  Hinode rice has built its brand with California Calrose since 1934. Now, this premium variety of aponica rice is gaining recognition from international growers and chefs worldwide. California Calrose just received the coveted award for World's Best Rice variety at this year's World Rice Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The contest included 24 entries from countries that produce rice for domestic sale and international trade. The panel of judges was made up of renowned rice chefs from a diverse network of international restaurateurs.

 Representing the California rice growing region was Chef Matthew Teruo Sato of Ten22 who won this years' "Lord of Rice" sushi competition.Each variety of rice submitted to the World Rice Conference for consideration is confidentially marked and blindly tested for color, fragrance, taste and texture. After sampling each variety in its dry, uncooked form, samples were steamed and tasted as traditional table rice. This year, California Calrose was selected as the highest ranked variety in the world. Cambodian Fragrant rice received this award the previous three years, making this recognition a great honor for the California rice industry.Jeremy Zwinger, CEO of The Rice Trade and host for the World Rice Conference, shares his perspective on how California competed against Eastern varieties of rice, "This win is a result of over 100 years of research by the California Rice Experiment Station, coupled with technologically advanced farming practices that safeguard the premium quality of Calrose rice.

" Mr. Zwinger continues, "Within the diverse global rice market, it is rewarding to witness California's success as Calrose rice gains international visibility. This year the title of World's Best Rice is reserved solely for California Calrose."Hinode Calrose rice is traditionally prepared as white rice but now 100% whole grain brown rice is growing in popularity. A recent study released by the Whole Grains Council found 31% of respondents almost always choose whole grains. This is up from only 4% five years ago. ("Survey: Two-thirds of Americans Make Half Their Grains Whole." Whole Grains Council, 31 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.) Matt Alonso, President and CEO overseeing marketing and manufacturing of Hinode Calrose rice shares, "Volume sales for Hinode Calrose brown rice are up 25% and overall Hinode Calrose sales have increased 34% in the US this past crop year."

About Hinode Rice

Established in 1934, the Hinode brand is now owned by SunFoods, LLC; a joint venture formed in 2008 between local
 California rice farmers and Australian-based Ricegrowers Limited (trading as SunRice). With international partners in rice growing regions around the world, Hinode offers a full range of domestic and imported rice product to retailers across the US.

El Nino Shrinking Rice Crop Worldwide to Spur Vietnamese Sales

Rice exports from Vietnam may increase 14 percent in the first quarter as the strongest El Nino in almost two decades shrivels crops in some countries, spurring importers to build reserves.Shipments will jump to 1.3 million metric tons in the three months ending March from 1.14 million tons a year earlier, said Tran Tuan Anh, Vietnam’s deputy minister of industry and trade. The world’s third-biggest exporter is already seeing a spurt in demand, he said in an e-mail on Nov. 25. October rice shipments surged 43 percent to 859,000 tons from a year earlier, the highest level since July 2012, government data show.Indonesia and the Philippines are among nations importing rice after dry weather induced by the strongest El Nino since the record event in 1997-98 hurts crops.

Prospects for the event to further strengthen may prompt buyers to secure supplies before prices run up as the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization predicts a decline in global rice output in the 2015-16 season with consumption surpassing production.“Rice supply and stockpiles will decline, and demand for imports will rise because of unfavorable weather conditions,” Anh said. “The El Nino event occurring this year and prolonging into 2016 will affect production in many countries, especially Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.”Rough-rice futures on the Chicago Board of Trade have rallied 29 percent from the lowest level in more than eight years in May on concern that the El Nino will shrink global harvest. The contract for delivery in January closed at $12.13 per 100 pounds on Wednesday.

Output Decline

Production in Thailand may decline to the lowest in 19 years as dry weather may prompt the world’s top exporter to further restrict plantings to preserve water supply. The Philippines is monitoring rice production closely to see whether there’s need to import more on El Nino after purchasing 750,000 tons from Vietnam and Thailand for delivery from November to March 2016. Indonesia this month agreed to import 1.5 million tons from Vietnam and Thailand and is in talks with Cambodia and Myanmar for additional supplies, according to state-run food company Bulog.
Vietnam’s paddy rice output may increase 0.3 percent to 45.1 million tons this year, VietnamPlus reported in September, citing the Agriculture Ministry. Exports may climb to 7 million tons in 2016 from 6.2 million tons this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Boosting rice exports will still be a challenge for Vietnam as Thailand is looking to draw down the stockpiles it accumulated under a state purchase plan, Anh said. Major importers, especially in Southeast Asia, are also diversifying supply sources and boosting domestic production, he said.Thailand has about 13.7 million tons of rice in state stockpiles after the military government sold 5 million tons, Chutima Bunyapraphasara, permanent secretary for commerce, said Nov. 16.

Efforts to 'turbocharge' rice and reduce world hunger enter important new phase

A long-term project aimed at improving photosynthesis in rice is entering its third stage, marking another step on the road to significantly increased crop yields that will help meet the food needs of billions of people across the developing world.Led by scientists at Oxford University, this phase of the project will build on the work carried out in the first two stages, with the ultimate aim being to 'supercharge' photosynthesis in rice by introducing more efficient traits found in other crops.Rice uses the C3 photosynthetic pathway, which in hot dry environments is much less efficient than the C4 pathway used in plants such as maize and sorghum. If rice could be 'switched' to use C4 photosynthesis, it would theoretically increase productivity by 50%.
As well as an increase in photosynthetic efficiency, the introduction of C4 traits into rice is predicted to improve nitrogen use efficiency, double water use efficiency, and increase tolerance to high temperatures.
And with almost a billion people around the world living in hunger, boosting rice productivity is crucial to achieving long-term food security -- particularly in areas such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where 80% of the food supply is provided by smallholder farmers.
Professor Jane Langdale, Professor of Plant Development in the Department of Plant Sciences at Oxford University, and Principal Investigator on Phase III of the C4 Rice Project, said: 'Over 3 billion people depend on rice for survival, and, owing to predicted population increases and a general trend towards urbanization, land that currently provides enough rice to feed 27 people will need to support 43 by 2050.
'In this context, rice yields need to increase by 50% over the next 35 years. Given that traditional breeding programmes currently achieve around a 1% increase in yield per annum, the world is facing an unprecedented level of food shortages.'
Professor Langdale added: 'The intrinsic yield of rice, a C3-type grass, is limited by the inherent inefficiency of C3 photosynthesis. Notably, evolution surmounted this inefficiency through the establishment of the C4 photosynthetic pathway, and importantly it did so on multiple independent occasions. This suggests that the switch from C3 to C4 is relatively straightforward. As such, the C4 programme is one of the most plausible approaches to enhancing crop yield and increasing resilience in the face of reduced land area, decreased use of fertilizers, and less predictable supplies of water'.
Phases I and II of the programme were focused on identifying new components of the C4 pathway -- both biochemical and morphological -- as well as validating the functionality of known C4 enzymes in rice. Phase III will refine the genetic toolkit that has been assembled and will focus both on understanding the regulatory mechanisms that establish the pathway in C4 plants and on engineering the pathway in rice.
Robert Zeigler of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) described the project as 'one of the great undertakings in plant sciences of the early 21st century'. He said: 'Unless we can translate our work into meaningful products adopted by rice farmers worldwide, this will remain simply an academic pursuit. The unique partnerships that characterise this programme should make sure this happens.'
The C4 Rice Project was initiated in 2008 with funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, following discussions led by IRRI. Phase III of the project is a collaboration between 12 institutions in eight countries - Oxford University, IRRI, Cambridge University, Australian National University, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Washington State University, University of Minnesota, University of Toronto, Heinrich Heine University, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Academia Sinica, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences-Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology. This phase has been funded by a grant of over £4.5 million from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Oxford.
Find out more at
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New Variety Of Rice Fights Global Warming And Global Hunger
A slight change in a single gene of rice can avoid the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions each year as all the wind turbines in the world, the same as 15 nuclear power plants.Work led by Dr. Christer Jansson at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that transferring one gene from barley to rice lowered the methane (CH4 or natural gas) emissions from rice paddies to almost zero.As th COP21 climate change talks get underway today in Paris, it’s nice to see real progress on a critical front that doesn’t get enough attention – food and climate.
Agriculture is a primary source of greenhouse gas emissions, especially as humans practice it nowadays, and emissions are on the rise. Over the last ten years, agriculture, forestry and other land uses have emitted over 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent/year:
- 5 billion tons of CO2 eq/yr from crop and livestock production
- 4 billion tons CO2 eq/yr because of net forest conversion to other lands (deforestation)
- 1 billion tons CO2 eq/yr from degraded peatlands
- 0.2 billion tons CO2 eq/yr from biomass fires
In contrast, only about two billion tons CO2 eq/yr are removed from the atmosphere by carbon sequestration in forests and wildlands.
With their warm, waterlogged soils, rice paddies contribute up to 17 percent of global methane emissions. SUSIBA2 rice is the first high-starch, low-methane rice that could offer a significant and sustainable solution to both global poverty and global warming. Image courtesy of Tamago Moffle, Flickr

From Cauliflower Rice to Cinnamon Water, Healthy Food Startups Dominate

Food Matters Live, the annual healthy food conference, took place in London this year and highlighted healthy startups
Nov 30, 2015 | 4:33 pm
Could cinnamon water be the new coconut water?

Rice made from cauliflower, cinnamon water, and a protein-packed alternative to Greek yogurt are just a few of the healthy food and drink items from startups featured at the Food Matters Live conference that focuses on healthful, sustainable solutions to hunger and food issues worldwide. This year’s Food Matters Live conference took place from November 17 to the 19. Cinnamora claims to be the future of flavored water and Food Navigator calls it “a contender for coconut water’s crown.” Cinnamora has no artificial colors or flavorings and is just made from cinnamon and sucralose. There are few advertised health benefits to cinnamon but consumption has been associated with lowering blood sugar for diabetics and cinnamon has been used in Ayurvedic natural medicinal remedies.
CauliRice, another one of the more popular health food products at the convention, is a healthier alternative to white rice. With 75 percent fewer calories, CauliRice is made from cauliflower but has a longer shelf life than its vegetable base, thanks to technical advancement in preservation. Finally, we have the product Quark, a “spoonable fresh cheese,” that tastes deceptively similar to Greek yogurt, but packs more protein and less sugar. The product will start distributing to retailers worldwide in 2016.

Rice exports down on Basmati slump

November 30, 2015
For the four months ended FY16, PBS numbers show a 24 percent surge in the quantity of rice exported year-over-year, but a 6 percent decline in dollars earned. The plot thickens when one looks at the types of rice - in both dollar and quantity terms. Basmati exports have plummeted over last year while non-Basmati exports have gained tremendously. Recall that Basmati is of superior quality and more expensive, so its margins are higher. What went wrong?

This column has discussed the issues of Pakistan's rice industry at length (Read "Rice: another dying commodity," published on October 20, 2015). To recap, the main issues highlighted by industry sources were low international prices, a high cost of doing business, and a lack of research in Basmati. However, there have to be some factors other than these for this free-fall of Basmati exports over last year; for the four months ended FY16, the volume of Basmati exports was lower by 34 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, non-Basmati rice exports shot up around 40 percent. What explains this shift from a premium-priced Basmati to inferior type exports?

Wajid Paracha from REAP told BR Research that the answer to this can be found in lower buying from Iran, which happens to be Pakistan?s largest market for Basmati rice. Pakistan was already having trouble in the Iranian market for Basmati thanks to India, as also confirmed by Guard Rice CEO Shehzad Malik, who added that India has been producing evolved Basmati varieties that give twice the yields.Iran happened to be an important market for India as well. Since last year, however, Iran stopped importing, perhaps owing to its own stockpiles, or perhaps in anticipation of the removal on sanctions and access to a broader market. Moreover, Wajid Paracha said the inspection standards of Iran had been raised as well.

So, Pakistan lost its biggest Basmati market, as did India. As a result, India began slashing its prices and aggressively marketing its Basmati in other markets where Pakistan was present as well. This explains the enormous drop in Basmati exports as of late.As for the rising non-Basmati exports, Shehzad Malik said that there have been significant developments in other seed varieties. He said that the private sector has done a lot of work (particularly in Sindh), introducing hybrid rice technology that gives twice the yield and reduces the cost of production. It may thus be the case that growers are now opting for non-Basmati varieties.While there's no arguing that the commodity crunch is playing a huge role in our exporters' troubles, one can't ignore the fact that the dollars earned could easily be higher if Basmati is given due emphasis.

Opposition targets Haryana goverment on 'paddy scam', demands probe

By PTI | 1 Dec, 2015, 02.21AM IST
The House had taken up the discussion on a 'calling attention' motion moved separately by the Congress and INLD which was later clubbed.CHANDIGARH: Opposition INLD and Congress today trained their guns on the Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana government over alleged irregularities in paddy purchases and demanded a probe by a sitting judge of the high court into the issue. The two parties also staged separate walkouts on the issue, on the first day of the Haryana Assembly winter session.
 The House had taken up the discussion on a 'calling attention' motion moved separately by the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) which was later clubbed by the Speaker. Earlier, before the Question Hour, the main opposition INLD had sought adjournment motion on the paddy scam, but the Speaker assured that a discussion would be held during later part of the day's proceedings. Former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Congress legislature party leader in the State Kiran Choudhry and other party legislators alleged that the Khattar government had compromised farmers' interests for benefiting rice millers.

 "Farmers have been paid around Rs 1,250 as against the MSP of Rs 1,450. The rice millers had made huge profits as the prices had nearly doubled after the paddy procurement," Choudhary alleged. The Congress pressed its demand for an inquiry by the SIT or a sitting judge of the high court to bring out the truth. Leader of Opposition, Abhay Chautala alleged that farmers had faced huge loss due to "irregularities" in paddy procurement. The Chief Minister and his senior Cabinet colleagues assured the opposition that no irregularities had taken place in the paddy procurement. However, as the opposition failed to get a satisfactory reply from the government, the Congress members, led by Hooda, staged a noisy walkout. They were followed by INLD MLAs, who first assembled near the Well of the House, before walking out. Meanwhile, Haryana Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Abhimanyu said that the process of special girdawari (survey) to assess the extent of damage to the cotton crop due to the whitefly attack is underway, and reports from districts are expected soon.
He was replying to a separate calling-attention notice on the damage to the crops due to pest attack. Abhimanyu said that based on the report received from the Agriculture Department, the government had directed the Deputy Commissioners to conduct special girdawari to assess the damage to the crops due to pest attack. "The process of special girdawari is underway and reports are expected soon. Compensation would be paid to the affected farmers based on the special girdawari reports or the extent of damage as per relief norms fixed by the state which are higher than the relief norms fixed by the Central Government," he assured the House. Meanwhile Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, announced that physical verification of stock of paddy purchased in the mandis during the current Kharif procurement season would be conducted by the Additional Chief Secretary or Principal Secretary in each district in coming two weeks.
The Chief Minister informed the House that as the irregularities worth crores of rupees were found in warehouses of wheat at Ambala, Pehowa, Ismailabad and Palwal, physical verification of paddy stock with rice millers would be conducted. He said that not even a single farmer had complained against arthiyas (Commission Agent)about irregularities in paddy procurement. Paddy is purchased every year and its procurement is done by rice millers on behalf of government agencies. Necessary quota for the same is determined. Farmer brings their crop to mandis with more than permitted moisture level of 17 per cent, Khattar said. He said that he had himself visited Karnal mandi where moisture in crop was examined in his presence in two places, that was found to be 24 and 23.5 per cent moisture. "Farmer and arthiyas mutually agreed for payment below MSP due to over and above the moisture content in crop," the Chief Minister added.

Sri Lanka’s Nawaloka Holdings enters the FMCG sector

Author LBO
Posted on November 30, 2015 | 
Nov 30,2015 (LBO) – Nawaloka Holdings, a diversified conglomerate in Sri Lanka, entered the FMCG sector through its recent acquisition of East West Marketing (EWM), the company said in a statement.“Nawaloka has always been associated with quality. We have proven this over and over again in the past 70 years. And with the recent acquisition of EWM we continue in this great tradition of supplying quality products to the market at affordable prices.” Jayantha Dharmadasa, chairman of Nawaloka Holdings said.EWM is a leading distribution company which has been able to leverage its long standing relationships with local and foreign partners to introduce and distribute some of the world’s leading FMCG brands across the island.The company owns leading brands Turkey, Bega, Aparna, Sunrise and Super chef.
The EWM product portfolio also includes edible oils such as Vegetable oil, Sunflower oil, Corn oil, and other FMCG products such as Basmati Rice, Canned fish, Cheese, Soya meat, Dimbula Tea and a range of sauces.The company also plans to re-launch Milgro Milk Powder to the market.The statement said that the bakery division covers all small, medium and large bakers island wide and is the exclusive representative in Sri Lanka for Saf Yeast – France, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of yeast.
“However, the backbone of the company is its strong dealer network, state-of-the-art warehouse, and brand new vehicle fleet which have ensured efficient distribution of their products island wide.” the statement said.Nawaloka Holdings has interests in healthcare, construction, manufacturing, trading, lubricants, education, real estate, finance and aviation. It has more than 20 companies including three listed companies.“The financial strength, resources and the wealth of experience of Nawaloka Holdings will be an advantage for EWM in its mission to become the most prominent FMCG brand in Sri Lanka.”
Lanka Business Online

The Philippines Fights Climate Change With Rice and Religion

The deeply Catholic nation's 100 million people, battered by typhoons and rising seas, are responding to Pope Francis' call for action with moves to slash agricultural greenhouse gas emissions—and a resounding demand for help.
(Photo: Tony Oquias)

The Philippines Fights Climate Change With Rice and Religion

The deeply Catholic nation's 100 million people, battered by typhoons and rising seas, are responding to Pope Francis' call for action with moves to slash agricultural greenhouse gas emissions—and a resounding demand for help.
NOV 30, 2015
David Page has written for The New York Times, Men's Journal, Skiing, Outside, and many other publications. He is a co-founder of Mammoth Medical Missions, Inc.LEYTE ISLAND, PhilippinesUldarico Castañeda Jr. keeps five tattered life jackets hanging at the ready on his front porch. When Typhoon Haiyan hit central Philippines two years ago, it blasted the glass from the windows of his house and blew the roof off. Then came the storm surge, seawater rising quickly to the ceiling. He and his family survived by donning the life jackets and climbing onto a concrete beam over the porch. Many others were not so lucky. The typhoon, known locally as Yolanda, killed more than 6,300 people, left more than 1 million homeless, and razed 33 million coconut trees, destroying the livelihood of more than a million coconut farmers. Some 100,000 fishing boats were lost, and rice crops were ravaged across several major islands as the typhoon flattened villages and cities.
“What is happening now is the destruction of the climate,” Castañeda tells me one afternoon in October just up the path from the beach in Bislig, a small fishing village where he serves as an elected neighborhood official charged with peace and security as well as disaster risk and reduction. The resilient, perpetually smiling villagers, many of whom live on less than a dollar a day, have rebuilt their lives as best they can, mostly in the form of a dense shantytown inside the 130-foot coastal “no-build zone” mandated by the national government in Manila in the wake of Haiyan but not yet enforced. Residents cobbled their homes together from bamboo, rattan, salvaged roofing metal, and sheets of white tarpaulin emblazoned with the fading logos of international humanitarian relief groups. Some have dirt floors perhaps two or three feet above the high-tide mark; others are on stilts or attached to the tops of broken tree trunks.

(Map: TakePart)
On the eve of the second anniversary of Haiyan, with typhoon season once again bearing down on the country, Castañeda is afraid. “The storms get stronger and stronger,” he says. As long as there’s enough warning—as there was last year before Typhoon Hagupit hit—people will get out. They’ve learned their lesson. But their homes, their animals, their small stocks of food, their livelihoods—all of it will easily be swept away again, and the downward spiral of poverty and destruction will only get worse. The government, he says, is still not serious. The aid organizations have for the most part come and gone. “When are we going to do this?” he wonders. “We still have time to protect the environment. If only we could all cooperate.”As world leaders meet this week in Paris to hammer out a binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the stakes have never been higher. Of the 171 countries on the United Nations’ most recentWorld Risk Index, the 100 million people of the Philippines are ranked the third-most-vulnerable population on the planet to extreme natural disaster. The only places at greater risk are Tonga (No. 2) and Vanuatu (No. 1), tiny archipelagos in the South Pacific with populations of 105,000 and 250,000, respectively. As global warming accelerates, the Philippines is likely to face not only more catastrophic typhoons but also heat waves, coastal flooding—sea levels are rising in the Philippines at a rate three times the global average—loss of fisheries and forests, drought, and widespread food shortages.

With the archipelago’s extreme vulnerability compounded by a population explosion and endemic poverty, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the social costs of climate change, “Laudato Si,” has struck a deep chord among the country’s 90 million Catholics already feeling the impacts of climate change. Inspired in part by the pope’s words, the government has joined religious leaders in calling for swift action on climate change in Paris, promising to cut 70 percent of the Philippines’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in exchange for financial assistance as the country tries to adapt and steel itself for an uncertain future.
Filipino nuns pray during holy mass by Pope Francis at Rizal park on Jan. 18, 2015 in Manila. (Photo: Dondi Tawatao)
Making good on such a bargain will require sacrifice, hard work, and cooperation on the part of all Filipinos. One wild card is the pope, who visited the Philippines in January, preaching to 6 million people at a mass in Manila. It is difficult overestimate the cultural and political power of Catholicism in a country occupied for three centuries by the Spanish, when church and state were one. The Philippines remains one of the only countries in the world where divorce and abortion remain illegal and where another champion of the poor—Cardinal Jaime Sin, the archbishop of Manila—rallied “people power” to depose a dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, in 1986 and influenced the democratically elected governments that followed.

One of Sin’s successors, Luis Antonio Tagle, has embraced Pope Francis’ call to action on climate change. “We see in our country refugees who are not driven away not only by conflict, battles, or lack of employment, but by climate catastrophes,” Tagle told the National Catholic Reporter in September. “For me, success would also [be] getting the grass roots, the local communities to achieve a level of conversion of heart, a change of lifestyle, and for them to monitor at the grassroots level what is implemented in terms of the Paris conference’s direction. Without the involvement of the grass roots, I don’t think there will be real success.”
With a frightening future drawing ever closer, the will to act may finally have become reality.

The Francis Effect

Three days after Haiyan struck on Nov. 8, 2013, Filipino negotiator Naderev “Yeb” Saño broke into tears during an opening speech at the U.N. climate negotiations in Warsaw. Many of his relatives were still missing. His brother had survived, he said, but was struggling to find food and deal with dead bodies. “I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves after perishing from the storm,” Saño told the delegates, announcing that he would go on a hunger strike until rich nations made financial commitments to help developing countries like his cope with the effects of climate change. Now was the time, he pleaded, to stop the empty talk and half measures. Now was the time to take meaningful action to “prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life.”

Two years later, the message is the same. “Climate change is something we have to confront,” Pel Tecson, the mayor of Tanauan, Leyte—a municipality of 50,000 people that includes the village of Bislig—tells me over lunch in his mercifully air-conditioned office on the first floor of the rehabilitated town hall. He is just back from giving a presentation to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Pope Francis spoke to the same body a few days earlier, calling for “concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment.” The mayor’s topic was Tanauan as a case study for successful community-led development and resiliency. “The town of Tanauan was submerged,” he told them. The water was 15 to 20 feet high in some places and ran more than a mile inland. “We cannot just leave,” he says to me. “This is our home. So we have to develop a plan to mitigate the impact of these disasters, to protect the people and be ready.”
Tanauan Mayor Pelagio Tecson, Jr., points to a name of one of his volunteers who died during a rescue mission after Typhoon Haiyan struck the city. (Photo: Tony Oquias)

Tanauan was the first Haiyan-devastated municipality to come up with such a plan to prepare and adapt to future climate change­–spawned super typhoons, less than two months after the disaster. Funding has been sporadic, and implementation on nearly every front has been excruciatingly slow; however, there have been successes. Streetlights have been restored and converted to energy-efficient LED. Schools have been rebuilt with second stories that can serve as evacuation centers. Fishing boats and pedicabs have been replaced. Rice farmers were given free high-yield seeds and fertilizers and in 2014 brought in record harvests. The number of completed resettlement housing units is about to reach 400, providing stormproof shelter, more than a mile inland, for nearly half of the estimated 880 families living in what the mayor calls “danger areas” along the shoreline. The average resettlement rate elsewhere is less than 10 percent, the mayor tells me. “So we’re ahead of the game.”

After lunch, I visit some of these new units with one of the mayor’s aides. They are painted in bright colors: yellow, orange, purple, and red. Each eligible family will receive one room with a small loft, a kitchen sink, and a toilet. There’s a playground, a meeting area, and a communal vegetable garden. The few dozen families already living there seem happy enough. Whether people who have already rebuilt near the beach, like Castañeda’s neighbors in Bislig, would be willing to move inland permanently, especially those with livelihoods that depended on fishing, is uncertain—at least until the next Category 5 storm comes along and sweeps everything away again.I ask the mayor to what extent the pope’s campaign for climate action has helped the process. Of course, he says, the church is integral, not merely in helping to restore the victims’ faith, but also in charting a way forward. “It’s great that there’s advocacy from all sectors,” he tells me, “because we need everybody.”
Later I climb onto the back of a crowded, diesel-belching jeepney to visit Father Al Cris Badana of the Relief and Rehabilitation Unit of the Archdiocese of Palo, just north of Tanauan. “If Mao Zedong has his ‘Red Book,’ we have our own red book: the ‘Laudato Si,’ ” he tells me. “This is our guide in our interventions.”Since Haiyan, Badana and his brothers have helped to rebuild more than 500 homes. Instead of just delivering new equipment or packaged solutions imported from elsewhere, they first hold a series of meetings with the community, to let residents determine and articulate their own needs. “First we have to listen to what they really want,” Badana explains. What they want is not always the most obvious thing. Many rice farmers, he says, would prefer a water buffalo to a mechanical harvester. The latter requires gasoline, ongoing maintenance, and technical training, while the former can sustain itself simply by eating grass. The animal also provides milk and reproduces. For about $700, Badana says, the church can provide a water buffalo that serves five families, with a written agreement that the offspring is given to the next in line.
Finished homes inTanauan, where 100 families from the coastal town of San Roque will be relocated. (Photo: Tony Oquias)
Pope Francis visited Leyte in January. As a Category 2 tropical storm moved in, the pope stood on the airstrip at Tacloban, 12 miles north of Tanauan, and delivered a homily in the rain before a crowd of 150,000. The next day Francis appeared in Manila, the most densely populated megacity on the planet, one that in 2009 felt the full brunt of Typhoon Ketsana, which killed 700 people. Before a rain-soaked gathering of 6 million people, the pontiff spoke of the inseparability of the natural environment and the dignity of human beings. “When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil, and pollute our seas,” he said, “we betray that noble calling.”Six months later, Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, responding to the pope’s call to action in the “Laudato Si,” launched what he hoped would be a massive global petition campaign. The goal is to collect 10 million signatures from Catholics all over the world—1 million from the Philippines—addressed to delegates at the Paris climate negotiations and calling on world leaders “to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous 1.5-degree-Celsius threshold and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.”

On Saturday, church officials presented 800,000 signatures to U.N. officials in Paris. Mayette Rodriguez, executive director of Aksyon Klima, a coalition of 40 organizations working on climate change in the Philippines, appreciates the church's call to action. She credits it for raising general awareness among Filipinos. In her neighborhood in Manila, for instance, she says has seen an increase in environmentally friendly activities such as recycling. "It's important for the grassroots to realize that the power actually lies in their hands," Rodriguez says. "They have been disempowered for so long that they have to be reminded that if they are consolidated they can effect change in society."
Pope Francis waves to well wishers in the rain after a mass in Tacloban on Jan. 17, 2015.
Rice Power
In 1995, the year of the first major global climate change negotiations in Berlin, Tony La Viña was a young human rights lawyer working on a Ph.D. at Yale in the then-esoteric field of climate change. As one of the only Filipinos who had any knowledge of the subject at that time, he was asked to advise his country’s delegation to the conference. By year’s end he was appointed undersecretary of the environment. He negotiated the Kyoto Protocol for the Philippines in 1997 and has participated in every major conference since as a senior negotiator. He is now dean of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila.

“In the beginning we were just preaching to developed countries: Cut emissions, cut emissions,” he tells me one dark and rainy evening at his office on campus. On the windowsill is a stack of well-worn paperbacks that include a selection of writings by Mao, the autobiography of Trotsky, Plato’s Dialogues, and Cervantes’ Don Quixote. “Of course they never listened.” Now, he says, the negotiations have evolved to the point where every country is being asked to cut emissions, “regardless of how much you’re contributing to climate change or how much you’ve contributed historically.” At the same time, developed countries are being asked to put real money up to help poorer countries that are severely impacted by climate change.
President Benigno Aquino III himself, La Viña says, refused to go to Paris with a weak offer. What had been a tentative promise to reduce Philippine greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent suddenly became a bold pledge to slash the country’s carbon spew 70 percent by 2030—even though the total Philippine contribution to global emissions is less than 1 percent. “We made a very big commitment,” says La Viña, “and we made it contingent on support by developed countries.”
If it happens, Filipinos will have to make some big changes. In theory, the biggest cuts in emissions will come from new efficiencies in energy, transportation, industry, and waste management.

Photographer Tony Oquias shows how life moves forward in an area continually devastated by typhoons.

Much of the focus will be on agriculture. Farming is responsible for more than one-third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the second-biggest emitter after power plants. Also, as the Philippines attempts to adapt to changing climate conditions, food security is a primary concern. According to the U.N. Development Programme, 11 million people are directly involved in rice production in the Philippines, nearly a quarter of the overall workforce. Rice is the country’s most important food crop, and yet production has not been able to keep up with population growth. Every year the Philippines imports rice from Vietnam and Thailand. Those imports are likely to grow as typhoons regularly wipe out rice crops and rising temperatures lowers agricultural productivity.
Evangeline “Vangie” Sibayan is an agricultural engineer and head research specialist at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Muñoz, an agricultural center several hours north of Manila. “This is basically the rice granary of the Philippines,” she tells me as we drive across the province of Nueva Ecija, which has the highest yields in the nation and essentially feeds metropolitan Manila.

Her colleague, Bernardo Tadeo, an agricultural engineer and a senior consultant for PhilRice on energy and environmental issues, is behind the wheel. We’re on our way to visit a 12-megawatt power plant he’s helped set up in San Jose City fueled entirely by rice husks. Built with private financing, the plant is a spin-off of research done at PhilRice. It’s a prime example, Sibayan says, of how adaptation and mitigation are “co-benefits” in the fight against climate change. In other words, by looking at ways to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, they’ve also hit on a way to produce cleaner electricity. All of it hinges on participation by government, private enterprise, scientists, and the rice farmers and millers themselves. “It’s really a collective effort,” she says. “Otherwise there’s no impact.”
Bernardo D. Tadeo, chief executive of Full Advantage Phils. International, stands in front of the one-of-a-kind power plant he helped develop. The 12-megawatt power plant produces electricity using rice husk, long considered as farm waste.  (Photo: Tony Oquias)

Tadeo negotiates his way past farm trucks, pedestrians, motorcycles with sidecars, and intermittent stretches of golden-yellow rice grains spread out to dry right on the roadway. Whenever possible, people try to swerve around it into the other lane. It’s harvest time, and in the fields, groups of men and women in T-shirts and conical straw hats use knives to cut and gather handfuls of grain. Water buffalos drag mechanical harvesters, and here and there a modern diesel-driven combine works its way across a muddy field. Sibayan points out whole sections of fields where the crop is flattened, courtesy of a Category 2 storm named Kabayan that blew through a few days earlier. Some of the rice might be salvaged, she says. Much of it will be ruined.

On the gated campus of PhilRice in air-conditioned labs surrounded by manicured lawns, teams of scientists are hard at work developing more resilient, more productive varieties of rice that can better cope with the changing climate. They’re also plotting ways to make radical improvements in cultivation methods—to save water, improve yields, reduce methane gas emissions, and curtail the use of fossil fuels. One of their climate change projects is the development of carbon-neutral gasifiers that burn rice husks to produce electricity or to power small engines for hand tractors and water pumps. Rice husks are what are leftover after the grains are separated to be dried and packaged. Rice millers once had to pay to have husks hauled away for disposal; now they make money selling them as renewable fuel.

We pull into the parking lot just as the sun is dipping behind the corrugated steel building. The plant hums softly as we don hard hats and climb several flights of stairs, past gauges and boilers and the main generator to the hoppers at the top. Below us, an enormous loader is shoveling mountains of rice husks onto a conveyor. Burning 12 to 14 metric tons per hour of husk, the plant generates enough electricity to power tens of thousands of homes. The technology is relatively simple, Tadeo says, but to make it viable, it took almost eight years to push through a 4-centavo charge—a fraction of a penny—for renewables on people’s utility bills. Now, says Tadeo, “everybody in the Philippines is contributing to renewable energy development.”
A water pump for farms powered by burning rice husk.  Farmers can save money with the use of the pump as they don't have to buy fuel to run their pumps. (Photo: Tony Oquias)

One of Sibayan’s projects is an ambitious but low-tech initiative developed in collaboration with the U.N. and a major investment bank based in Japan. By alternately flooding and drying rice fields rather than flooding them continuously right up until harvest time, as is traditional, it is estimated that methane gas emissions can be reduced by more than 50 percent. That’s because organic matter decomposes in the water as it sits in the fields, releasing large amounts of methane gas, which contributes to global warming.
Other benefits include a potential increase in the hardiness of the plants, a rise of about 5 percent in yield, and significant water savings that can be banked against the potential for drought or used to increase the amount of land in production. All this, Sibayan explains, is from “modification of water management at the farmer’s level.”The trick is getting the farmers to change their ways. There are no incentives in place for using less water—yet. The farmers are charged an irrigation fee based not on how much water they use but on the amount of irrigable land they’ve planted. Often, if they don’t get as much water as they want, they don’t bother to pay the fees. So for now, the experimental initiative is voluntary and limited to one small group of farmers.

We drive down along a network of irrigation channels to meet the farmers of the Lateral B irrigation association. Outside the village meeting hall in Santo Domingo, the basketball court is spread with newly harvested rice grains drying in the sun. We sit in the shade on woven-cane benches and chat about the successes and pitfalls of the alternate wetting and drying program. It has worked well enough, the farmers tell me. It wasn’t even that much extra work. The problem was, the plots they farmed were down at the end of the ditch and hadn’t been getting enough water throughout the season, or they were getting it at the wrong times.

“If you don’t need it, it comes,” complains one old-timer, 57-year-old Edgar Mariano Sr. Some of the farmers with fields farther up the ditch, who were not on the new program, had been taking all the water they could get for themselves. So those downstream weren’t always able to stay on track with the watering program, and at times they risked drying out entirely. “There are a lot of farmers who are hard-headed,” he explains. “If you’re not courageous enough, you won’t get water when you need it. You need to bring out all the weapons you’ve got to get it.”Sibayan asked the group what could be done to make the program work better. The answer was unanimous: Everybody needed to participate—everybody or nobody. For that to happen, Sibayan knew, the laws would have to change. There would have to be real incentives, such as a break on irrigation fees based on water savings, or reduced rates on crop insurance. Beyond the abstract threat of climate change, there would have to be money.

Seeding Resilience

One Saturday afternoon in the full press of the day’s heat, I meet Madonna Songalia beside an army-troop transport along the Yolanda Highway, just across the bridge from Bislig. Songalia works for a local nonprofit group called Burublig Para Ha Tanauan (Coming Together to Help Tanauan). A gaggle of schoolkids has gathered, along with several neighborhood leaders and some soldiers from the Charlie Company of the Philippine Army. A Japanese nonprofit has provided funds for a batch of mangrove seedlings to replant along the estuary in the hope that it would begin to restore a lost ecosystem and perhaps, one day, provide some protection against storm surges.
We carry the seedlings in plastic sacks down a dirt path strewn with unspooled videotape.

 We leave our flip-flops at the edge of the water and walk out into the warm mud. A group of fishers watch us from the shore, greatly amused. Digging holes underwater with our hands, we set the plants into the mud, three feet or so apart, and cover them as best we can. They seem terribly delicate, but Songalia points out another batch that was planted earlier in the season. They’re at least twice the size of the new plants.“It’s a good way for the children to learn to help protect the environment,” she says, “and to bring awareness to the local people. If you help together, you can do something.” Then she adds, “It’s our time to give back.”
The PhilRice Climate Change Mitigation team in Nueva Ecija. Evangeline B. Sibayan, supervising science research specialist (3rd from left), has helped develop rice seeds that are climate change resilient. (Photo: Tony Oquias)

We squish our way back to our shoes and solid ground. We stop by a hut along the path for some sweet pandesal bread and rest in the shade while Songalia talks to the kids.It’s all part of what La Viña sees as a new and important development in the global conversation: justice for the people most vulnerable to climate change. “I’m talking about communities and peoples that are not necessarily represented by their states,” he says, “because they’re excluded also within their own countries. How do we make sure that they don’t bear the cost of the impacts of climate change? If they’re going to be our solution to climate change, we want those people to have a say.”

If a global agreement can be struck in Paris that includes real and sustainable financial assistance for developing countries, vulnerable populations like those in the Philippines may have a decent shot at adapting to a changing climate, building toward a more secure and self-sufficient future. “A strong mitigation agreement has very real consequences,” says La Viña. “A weak one means we’re in real, real trouble. I don’t even know how to prepare for that.”Meanwhile the farmers in Santo Domingo are barely making ends meet. Even before increased storm surges, coastal flooding, and coral bleaching, Bislig’s fisher folks, as they’re called locally, were no longer catching enough fish to cover the cost of bait and fuel and to sustain their families. Now the trees are gone too. There’s no shade and no protection, and typhoon season is upon them once again. “Leyte will happen again and again,” says La Viña. “It’s still the same vulnerable place. If it happens tomorrow, the whole place will just be destroyed all over again, and it will get worse.”Sure enough, as if to punctuate his point, two days after I land back in the United States, a storm called Lando, the 15th typhoon of the season, plows across Luzon, right over the top of Manila, PhilRice, San Joeé City, and Lateral B, destroying 326,000 metric tons of rice—enough to feed the 12 million people in Metro Manila for about three months.