Tuesday, December 08, 2015

8th December 2015 Daily ORYZA Rice News shared by Riceplus Magazine

India and Pakistan Resolve Basmati GI Tag Issue; Indian Basmati Rice May Soon Get Legal Protection

Dec 07, 2015

The Chennai-based Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), which is dealing with India's basmati Geographical Indications(GI) tag application, is likely to issue a final notification in a week or so, according to Financial Express.
A GI tag distinguishes a product with its geographic origin and, under a multilateral framework, prevents traders from attributing its name and traits for products from other geographies.
India's GI tag application has been facing several legal issues since it was first initiated in 2009 by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). The APEDA applied with the GI Registry seeking exclusive (commercial) use of the basmati tag for rice grown within the boundaries of Indo-Gangetic plain (including the Punjab, Haryana, (western) Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir).
Pakistan has been opposing India's application for GI tag as a part of Indo-Gangetic plain (Punjab province) falls within its territory. It is understood that the IPAB had recently concluded hearing the pleas of all the stakeholders — farmers, breeders, exporters and representatives - from Pakistan. Both the countries have reportedly agreed to share the commercial benefits of basmati. According to official sources, Pakistan has agreed to accept India's application on the condition that when it applies for a GI tag, it would be able to claim ownership on the rice grown in its Punjab province.
The process of granting a GI tag to basmati had been delayed due to internal issues as well. India's central state Madhya Pradesh sought for its inclusion in the GI tag application. When the Agriculture and Commerce Ministries as well as the APEDA opposed Madhya Pradesh's plea, the state filed an application with the IPAB.

Brazil Rice Stocks Decline About 3% m/m to 118,250 Tons in November 2015

Dec 07, 2015
Brazil rice stocks stood at around 118,250 tons in November 2015, down about 3% from around 121,038 tons in October 2015 and down about 71% from around 411,947 tons in November 2014, according to the country's national grain supplying agency Conab.
According to Conab, rice stocks with the Selling Option Contract of Agricultural Products (OPCAO) stood at around 68,658 tons, down about 1.5% from around 69,683 tons in October 2015 and down about 72% from around 244,253 tons in November 2014.
Rice stocks with the Federal Government Acquisition (AGF) stood at around 49,586 tons, down about 3% from around 51,349 tons in October 2015 and down about 70% from around 166,604 tons in November 2014.
Rice stocks with farmers (Agricultural Familiar) stood at around 6 tons in November 2015, unchanged from October 2015 and down about 99% from around 1,090 tons in November 2014.

Oryza CBOT Rough Rice Futures Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Continue to Fall as Lack of Demand Sends Prices into Tailspin

Dec 08, 2015

Chicago rough rice futures for Jan delivery settled 30.5 cents per cwt (about $7 per ton) lower at $10.875 per cwt (about $240 per ton). The other grains finished the day sharply lower; Soybeans closed about 2.6% lower at $8.8225 per bushel; wheat finished about 0.4% lower at $4.8275 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 2.2% lower at $3.7300 per bushel.
U.S. stocks declined Monday as oil fell to trade near lows for the year. U.S. stock index futures turned lower in pre-market trade as the globally traded Brent crude fell more than $1 to below $42 a barrel, a more than six-and-a-half-year low. The decline came after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries failed on Friday to agree on a production curb to stem sliding prices and a stronger dollar made holding crude positions more expensive. U.S. stocks surged Friday to close slightly higher for the week on increased certainty of divergent monetary policy, with a strong jobs report supporting a Fed hike in December and a continued dovish tone from the European Central Bank.
The ECB's decision on monetary policy Thursday fell short of market expectations for greater stimulus and sent the euro above $1.09 for its biggest one-day gain against the dollar since March 2009. European equities pared gains but closed higher Monday after European Central Bank Mario Draghi's dovish remarks and the solid U.S. jobs report. The French CAC ended up nearly 0.9%, while the German DAX closed about 1.25% higher. In early afternoon trade, the Dow Jones industrial average declined 155 points, or 0.87%, to 17,682. The S&P 500 traded down 20 points, or 0.96%, to 2,071, with energy leading seven sectors lower and telecommunications leading advancers. The Nasdaq composite fell 47 points, or 0.93%, to 5,094. Gold is seen trading about 0.9% lower, crude oil is seen trading about 5.3% lower, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.3% higher at about  1:00pm Chicago time.
Friday, there were 807 contracts traded, down from 2,129 contracts traded on Thursday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Friday increased by 143 contracts to 14,104.

Conab Estimates Brazil 2015-16 Paddy Rice Production to Decline About 6% y/y on Low Acreage, Yields

Dec 07, 2015

Brazil’s National Grains Supply Company (Conab) has forecasted the country's 2015-16 paddy rice production at around 11.733 million tons (around 8.1 million tons, basis milled), down about 6% from an estimated 12.449 million tons (around 8.6 million tons, basis milled) in 2014-15 due to a likely reduction in acreage and yields.
Conab has estimated Brazil's 2015-16 paddy rice acreage at around 2.289 million hectares, slightly down from around 2.295 million hectares in 2013-14.
Most of the decline in 2015-16 acreage is expected in the key rice growing Centro-Sul region. Rice acreage in the Centro-Sul region is estimated at around 1.55 million hectares, down from around 1.557 million hectares in 2014-15. On the other hand, paddy rice acreage in the North/North east regions is projected at around 738,700 hectares, slightly up from around 738,200 hectares in 2014-15.
Average rice yield in Brazil in 2015-16 is projected at around 5.35 tons per hectare, down from around 5.42 tons per hectare recorded in the previous year.
USDA estimates Brazil MY 2015-16 (April – March) paddy rice production at around 11.765 million tons (around 8 million tons, basis milled), down about 6% from an estimated 12.5 million tons (around 8.5 million tons, basis milled) in MY 2014-15. It estimates Brazil’s 2015-16 paddy rice acreage to increase slightly to around 2.3 million hectares from last year's 2.295 million hectares. USDA estimates Brazil to export around one million tons of rice and import around 450,000 tons of rice in 2015.

Vietnam, Pakistan Rice Sellers Alter Some of Their Quotes Today; Other Asian Rice Quotes Remain Unchanged

Dec 07, 2015

Vietnam rice sellers lowered their quotes for 15% broken rice and increased their quotes for jasmine rice varieties each by about $5 per ton to around $360 - $370 and $440 - $450 per ton respectively today. Pakistan rice sellers increased their quotes for 5% broken and 100% broken rice varieties each by about $5 per ton to around $325 - $335 per ton and $285 - $295 per ton respectively. Thailand rice sellers are out today on account of public holiday. Other Asian rice sellers have kept their quotes unchanged from yesterday.
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $350 - $360 per ton about $20 per ton discount on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $370 - $380 per ton. India 5% rice is indicated at around $345 - $355 per ton, about $20 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $325 - $335 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice is indicated at around $335 - $345 per ton, about $20 per ton discount on Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $355- $365 per ton. India 25% rice is indicated at around $320 - $330 per ton, about $25 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $295 - $305 per ton.
Parboiled Rice            
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $345 - $355 per ton. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $340 - $350 per ton, about $65 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice last shown at around $405 - $415 per ton.               
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super is indicated at around $325 - $335 per ton, about $5 per ton discount to Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $330 - $340 per ton. India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $280 - $290 per ton, about 5% discount to Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $285 - $295 per ton.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Cash Prices Continue to Fall ahead of USA Rice Outlook Conference

Dec 08, 2015

The U.S. cash market saw bids and offers from resellers dip lower today even as farmers with unsold paddy remain on the continuing to wait on the sidelines for prices to improve.
Analysts note that as next year’s planting season approaches many farmers may be forced to sell their crop below their cost of production unless prices recover.
As market participants gather this week in New Orleans for the annual U.S.A. Rice Outlook Conference analysts expect that many attendees will be disillusioned with the direction prices are heading.
Global Rice Quotes
December 8th, 2015
Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade          360-370           ↔
Vietnam 5% broken    370-380           ↔
India 5% broken         345-355           ↔
Pakistan 5% broken    320-330           ↔
Myanmar 5% broken   405-415           ↔
Cambodia 5% broken             415-425           ↔
U.S. 4% broken           485-495           ↔
Uruguay 5% broken    515-525           ↔
Argentina 5% broken 530-540           ↔
Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken 335-345           ↔
Vietnam 25% broken 355-365           ↔
Pakistan 25% broken 295-305           ↔
Cambodia 25% broken           400-410           ↔
India 25% broken       320-330           ↔
U.S. 15% broken         515-525           ↔
Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd            345-355           ↔
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd    405-415           ↔
India parboiled 5% broken stxd         340-350           ↔
U.S. parboiled 4% broken       590-610           ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken    545-555           ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken            NQ      ↔
Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%          695-705           ↓
Vietnam Jasmine         440-450           ↔
India basmati 2% broken        NQ      ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken   NQ      ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails             830-840           ↔
Thailand A1 Super      325-335           ↔
Vietnam 100% broken            330-340           ↔
Pakistan 100% broken stxd    285-295           ↔
Cambodia A1 Super   355-365           ↔
India 100% broken stxd         280-290           ↔
Egypt medium grain brokens NQ      ↔
U.S. pet food 330-340           ↔
Brazil half grain          NQ      ↔

All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel, oryza.com

Indonesia Rice Stocks Stand at 1.5 Million Tons, Says Bulog Official

Dec 07, 2015
Indonesia’s rice stocks currently stand at around 1.5 million tons , including supplies from imports, Bloomberg quoted the Bulog’s Procurement Director.
The official also noted that Indonesia received around 330,000 tons of rice from Vietnam.
The country needs to maintain about 2 million tons of rice at the end of the year.
Indonesia aims to import around 1.5 million tons of rice this year to deal with falling production due to El Nino-induced dry weather conditions.

USDA Post Forecasts Sluggish Thai Rice Exports Until First Quarter of 2016

Dec 07, 2015
USDA Post forecasts lesser Thai rice exports until the first quarter of 2015 despite an improvement in exports in October 2015. Thailand exported around 1.2 million tons of rice in October (compared to an average of 730,000 tons in January-September period). The Post expects Thai rice exports to fall to an average of 600,000 - 700,000 tons in November and December.
The increase in October exports is attributed to lower export prices compared to Vietnam. Strong demand from Indonesia and the Philippines drove the Vietnam rice prices high. Vietnam prices are expected to increase further due to tight supplies. However, Post says this won't help Thai rice exports due to the government's suspension of sales of food-grade stocks during the harvest season. The Thai government announced that the new tenders for food-grade rice stocks will resume after the first quarter of 2016.
The Post reports that rotten rice sales would increase in 2016 if the first rotten rice auction on December 1, 2015 proves to be a success. The government will monitor whether the buyers would sell it as food or feed. The government has a total of 2 million tons of rotten rice and about 4 million tons of non-food grade rice.USDA Post expects MY 2015-16 paddy production at around 24.85 million tons, down about 15% from an estimated 29.4 million tons in MY 2014-15. Output from off-season crop is expected to fall by 48% due to heavy water shortages.

Exclusive News have been shared with written permission of ORYZA.com with thanks

7th December,2015 Daily Global Regional,Local Rice E_Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine -Today Latest Rice News Updates

Rice News Headlines...
v  Slump in Basmati Rice Exports Causing Problems for Pakistan
v  Mandatory use of jute bags—making the law effective
v  WTO Authorizes Retaliation Amounts in COOL Dispute
v  New Orleans Restaurants Proudly Serve U.S.-Grown Rice; Welcome USA Rice Outlook Attendees
v  APEDA Commodity Rice NewsCME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures  
v  Do We Really Want GMO Salmon Swimming into the Food Chain?
v  12/07/2015 Farm Bureau Market Report
v  The path to rice perfection begins when you start paying attention
v  Indonesia launches trade, business fair
v  Rice import policy: Appraising the implications for a groaning economy
v  Rice, wheat seized in raids
v  Rice Exports to Face Rising Competition
v  Rice farmers fighting debt and loss of land again, group says

News Detail...

Slump in Basmati Rice Exports Causing Problems for Pakistan

A slump in the export of basmati rice is having a damaging effect on the Pakistani economy. It has exacerbated rural poverty with often catastrophic consequences for small farmers. The causes of the slump are complex and both national and provincial governments are facing criticism for a failure to act.Pakistan’s exports of basmati rice have declined by 40% in the past four years, from 1.1mn tons in 2011 to 676,630 tons in 2015. As a consequence, the domestic market has been overwhelmed by an unmanageable glut, with an accumulated surplus of 1mn tons. This has driven down the domestic price of rice by 50%, from Rs4500 per maund (a measure equal to 40 kilos) in 2012 to Rs2200 per maund in 2015. If the surplus is not reduced, there are fears of a further collapse in domestic prices, which would deter farmers from growing basmati.

In Pakistan basmati has traditionally been an export crop. In recent times, 60% of the total annual production of 2mn tons produce has been sold abroad, generating around $2bn for the national economy, boosting foreign currency reserves and contributing a healthy balance of payment (BoP). The basmati trade has played a major role in the alleviation of rural poverty, so much so that the rice crop is seen as too important to be left to the mercy of market forces.In previous years, the Pakistani government gave the task of removing the glut from the domestic market to the Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supplies Corporation (Passco) and to the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP). It seems, however, that neither organization is now fulfilling this role, and the national government has been accused of neglecting its duty to regulate the market, both in terms of inputs and export of the produce. The responsible departments of the federal government, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the Ministry of Commerce, have failed to act, as has the provincial government agriculture department of Punjab, to which responsibility for agriculture was devolved under the 18th constitutional amendment.
In the same period that Pakistani basmati exports declined by 40%, Indian exports increased by 50%. The export figures for India rose from 2.37mn tons in 2011 to 3.45mn tons in 2013, an increase of 1.2mn tons that is estimated to include 400,000 tons of exports won from Pakistan through competitive advantage. The fact that India added a further 800,000 to its exports clearly disproves any argument that basmati is losing its appeal in the international market.

One of the main reasons for Pakistan’s loss of international competitiveness is the low yield rates, which have been stagnant at 25-30 maunds per acre. The variety of seed used in Pakistan was developed in the mid-1990s and is now susceptible to pests and diseases that decrease the yield. This has reduced economies of scale, pushed up production costs and made the export of Pakistani basmati uncompetitive. The research institutes (Pakistan Agriculture Research Corporation, National Agriculture Research Corporation and Rice Research Institute) have so far failed to develop a new variety of seed that would increase yields.

Electricity shortages have also increased the cost of production because some rice mills are operating at only half their capacity, and gas shortages make the drying process longer. The deterioration in law and order in Karachi, the major port city, has increased the cost of shipping and hindered exports. Transporters have been targeted by criminal gangs who demand protection money for every container and sometimes hijack transport vehicles.

The Rice Export Association of Pakistan (REAP) is seen as focusing on maximizing short-term profits, rather than investing in the development of exports. The Indian private sector, by contrast, has made long-term investments not only in retail brand development, with aggressive marketing for exports, but also in research and development of new seed. Two of its recently developed seed varieties, which have increased production and exports, were produced by the industry. In contrast, Pakistan’s exporters are more interested in maximizing short-term profits and one way of doing this has been to dump basmati rice in countries at the lower end of the market. The rice is then often snapped up at a low cost by other nations, particularly India, thus strengthening their retail brand.
Farmer displaced by flooding in Jacobabad, Pakistan. (Russell Watkins)
Dumping rice in the international market results in a low price for exports, while the domestic price of rice is high because of the high cost of production and low yields. Exporters and domestic traders have been accused of ensuring cheap supplies for export by manipulating the market and engineering a domestic market crash. In 2008 the government tried to impose a minimum export price (MEP), but within four months it had bowed to pressure from the exporters and abolished the MEP. India, by contrast, has kept its MEP and has seen exports double between 2007-2010, from 1.2mn to 2.4mn tons.

The inefficiencies in the rice trade make it crucial for the government to regulate the market, instead of allowing prices to be manipulated by a few players under the guise of free market forces.
Pakistani basmati rice has its niche in the world market because of its natural taste and aroma, and the world is prepared to pay a premium for this. It strengthens the case for the crop to be protected and exports to be developed. Unfortunately, the market crash will discourage farmers from growing basmati. This will diminish the area under rice cultivation with adverse consequences for rural livelihoods and the economy as a whole.

Pakistani exports have suffered from bans by Russia, Mexico and Iran in recent years. These were the result of failures to fulfill quality standards, with pests being found at the initial monitoring stage or in consignments. International market is an extension of domestic market, improving the quality in the domestic market is fundamental to the development of exports. Ensuring, for example, that seeds of different varieties are kept separate and establishing proper quality standards is essential to ensure long-term buyers’ confidence.

REAP has a monopoly for the export of rice and the government has made membership of the body mandatory for rice exporters. But with the power of monopoly comes the responsibility to develop exports and retail brands. Brand development is an expensive exercise, but it benefits country, province, farmers and the traders. Successful retail brand development can not only increase the share of the market, but can also increase the value of exports by up to 400%.

The 18th constitutional amendment made the provincial governments solely responsible for the agriculture sector, and the Government of Punjab needs to learn lessons from the federal government’s failure to develop the export of rice. If REAP is failing to invest in brand development, the Government of Punjab should develop its own brand. This would foster positive presentation of the trade and bring long-term benefit to both the province and the country.
The rice crop roughly utilizes approximately 17 million acre feet (maf) of water, which agricultural economists value at $34bn. The consumption of precious natural resource on such an enormous scale demands that particular care be paid to water planning, to the impact of the rice trade and to the responsibility of government and exporters to fully capitalize on rice exports.Unfortunately this has not been the case in recent years. Instead of taking responsibility, exporters and traders blame the government and the farmers for using archaic seeds and production methods. They have opposed official intervention in the trade cycle, claiming that setting an MEP subsidizes inefficiencies. For their part, farmers blame the traders for pressurizing the government to abolish the MEP and to procure rice to clear the glut.

All this is in sad contrast to what has been happening in India. One might conclude that Pakistan could learn useful lessons from India’s success in creating a win-win situation for farmers, exporters and the economy. The first step would be to expand the share of rice going to the export market, which demands a multi-pronged strategy starting from reforms in the domestic market to a specialized approach to marketing in the international market.
Special thanks to Mr. Ahmad Fraz Khan for his valuable insight.

Mandatory use of jute bags—making the law effective
Syed Jamaluddin
Published : 07 Dec 2015, 22:21:28
A law was passed long ago making use of jute bags compulsory. It was also amended later. The government has recently taken a firm decision to implement the law. It has banned export of raw jute. Use of jute bags for paddy, rice, wheat, maize, fertiliser and sugar have been made binding. Licenses of those who are not following the government instructions will be cancelled. They will also not be given bank loans. Mobile courts have been activated from November 30. Publicity campaigns have been geared up. Businessmen and entrepreneurs have been alarmed because of the government's decisions.The law was passed in 2010 to compel businessmen to use jute bags. This law was partly amended in 2013. But its implementation did not proceed due to various reasons.  A number of ministries recently held consultations to decide  the course of action for effective implementation of the law.
The government has taken a number of decisions in this regard. The decisions include ban on production of plastic bags for packaging of the selected items, imposition of a condition for using jute bags for rice and husking mills at the time of giving licence and mandatory use of jute bags by producers and suppliers of six items at the time of giving bank loans and so on.Several ministries will work together for making the campaign successful. The ministry of commerce has informed that licences of the organisations under their control will be cancelled if they do not use jute bags for packaging of their products. Letters of credit of those who will import and export six products but will not use jute bags will be cancelled. Plastic product manufacturers will have to give an undertaking to the department of environment that they will not produce plastic bags. Instructions have been issued to rice mill owners and aratdars (stockists) under the ministry of food in this regard. The ministry of shipping will provide assistance for implementation of the law in respect of river and land ports and ferry ghats while loading and unloading the products. The Bangladesh Bank has issued a circular that businessmen dealing with the six products will not be given loans unless they use jute bags for packaging.
It has been ascertained from businessmen that they spend Tk18/22 for buying a plastic bag. Private sector entrepreneurs offer jute bags at Tk 50 per unit. But they will have to pay Tk 70 per bag if they procure this from the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC). This will increase cost for the users. As a result, prices of the six products will increase and the burden will fall on the consumers.The state minister for textiles and jute has said the government has taken the initiative in the interest of public health for using jute bags as well as for stopping the use of plastic bags which is not environment-friendly. All public sector jute mills are now busy in producing jute bags. Price of such bags has been reduced by 10 per cent.
This year alone 500 million bags will be needed. But the 22 public sector mills have the capacity to produce 250 million bags. These jute mills are producing 5,00,000 bags per day, If the jute bags are successfully used for six products, more products may be brought under the scheme gradually.Jute ministry officials are facing obstacles in implementing the Mandatory Packaging Act. Sixty-two mobile courts are in operation throughout the country. But the six products are still found in plastic bags in many shops. These are also found in godowns and showcases. Doubts have been expressed about the effectiveness of the campaign.
Hartals are being observed in many places for stopping the mobile courts in case of jute packaging for fertiliser transport. The agriculture minister has written a letter to the jute minister for relaxing the use of jute bags for fertiliser. But the jute minister has said that the Jute Packaging Act will be implemented at any cost.
The government has now put a ban on export of raw jute for an indefinite period with a view to ensuring adequate supply of the fibre to local mills for making bags for packaging. The decision has been taken in the wake of the shortage of jute bags. Most of the rice millers, businessmen and traders did not use jute bags for packaging essential commodities like paddy, rice, wheat, maize, fertiliser and sugar on the plea of high prices and non-availability of jute bags.
According to the department of jute, a total of 724 cases were filed by 329 mobile courts between November 30 and December 01 and Tk 3.39 million was realised as fines during the period. The millers were in trouble as the government was conducting the drive without ensuring supply of adequate jute bags. The government should immediately appoint agents in all districts for smooth supply of jute bags as the private jute mills are not supplying jute bags at all.
The writer is an economist and columnist.
WTO Authorizes Retaliation Amounts in COOL Dispute
 WTO Building
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND -- The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced today that Canada and Mexico can move forward with a combined $1.01 billion in retaliatory tariffs in response to U.S. noncompliance on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for muscle cuts of beef and pork.  A WTO arbitration panel said the two countries' previous requests for a combined $3.2 billion were too high and instead authorized Canada and Mexico to increase duties on imports from the United States by $781.77 million and $227.76 million, respectively.  Canada has U.S. rice on its retaliation list; Mexico has not yet published a list. 
 "The remaining option is to repeal the COOL rule or face retaliation in the form of duties on U.S. rice exports to Canada and Mexico," said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings.  "USA Rice calls on Congress to repeal the noncompliant provisions of COOL."

Cummings said the U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved repeal of COOL but the effort has bogged down in the Senate where some favor a voluntary labeling rule, which both Mexico and Canada have rejected.  
Canada's government issued a statement today which said, in part, "If the U.S. Senate does not take immediate action to repeal COOL for beef and pork, Canada will quickly take steps to retaliate."The United States has lost several cases over the COOL rule in the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), which has found that COOL discriminates against imports from Canada and Mexico.  The United States has exhausted its WTO appeals.  The DSB is expected formally to authorize Canada and Mexico to retaliate on December 18.  
 According to Cummings, USA Rice will continue to press for repeal as part of The COOL Reform Coalition, representing more than 140 companies and associations from a broad spectrum of industries.  The group will also monitor closely actions by Canada and Mexico and work with importers in those countries so as to minimize any retaliation on rice.  Exports to Mexico ($325 million) and Canada ($185 million) accounted for just over one-quarter of all rice exports in 2014.

Contact: Kristen Dayton (703) 236-1464
New Orleans Restaurants Proudly Serve U.S.-Grown Rice; Welcome USA Rice Outlook Attendees
 U.S. Grown Rice Label
NEW ORLEANS, LA- Each year, USA Rice teams up with restaurants in the host city of the USA Rice Outlook Conference to promote local eating establishments that serve U.S.-grown rice. This year, members can again look forward to an expansive selection of highly-rated restaurants that will satisfy every palate and price point. The seventeen restaurants participating in this year's promotion will display "We Proudly Serve U.S.-Grown Rice" emblems provided by USA Rice (pictured). Many restaurants expressed a desire to keep the emblem up year-round to support U.S. rice farmers."Our customers appreciate that we use locally-sourced ingredients," said Robert Gurvich, a chef at Palace Café that is across the street from the Outlook headquarters hotel.
"Ninety percent of what we use comes from Louisiana and the surrounding states and definitely the Gulf of Mexico. We have customers who ask where we get our ingredients, and we are proud to tell them about our local ingredients like rice. Ninety percent of the rice we serve here is popcorn rice and I would say the other t1- percent is Jazzman, a hybrid rice that is produced at LSU."  "It's great to see so many restaurants committed to using locally-sourced ingredients like rice," said Katie Maher, USA Rice's director of domestic promotion.  "We hope that those attending the USA Rice Outlook Conference will visit these restaurants that are actively supporting the U.S. rice industry."  
Recognized globally for its distinctive cuisine, New Orleans is the hub of the Creole and Cajun food scene providing patrons with specialty dishes that move rice from a side item to the center of the plate. Members can look forward to New Orleans classics like jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee, and many more dishes that feature rice as a central ingredient.For a list of this year's participating restaurants with contact information, meeting attendees can check their conference guide, or
Contact: Colleen Klemczeski (703) 236-1446
APEDA Commodity Rice News

International Benchmark Price
Price on: 07-12-2015
Benchmark Indicators Name
Turkish No. 2 whole pitted, CIF UK (USD/t)
Turkish No. 4 whole pitted, CIF UK (USD/t)
Turkish size 8, CIF UK (USD/t)
Chinese first grade granules, CFR NW Europe (USD/t)
Chinese Grade A dehydrated flakes, CFR NW Europe (USD/t)
Chinese powdered, CFR NW Europe (USD/t)
Chinese sliced, CIF NW Europe (USD/t)
Chinese whole, CIF NW Europe (USD/t)
Indian Cochin, CIF NW Europe (USD/t)
For more info
Market Watch
Commodity-wise, Market-wise Daily Price on 02-12-2015
Domestic Prices
Unit Price : Rs per Qty
Market Center
Min Price
Max Price
Manjeri (Kerala)
Dhekiajuli (Assam)
Samsi (West Bengal)
Gangavathi (Karnataka)
Rajkot (Gujarat)
Katol (Maharashtra)
Aroor (Kerala)
Muktsar (Punjab)
Solan (Himachal Pradesh)
Palayam (Kerala)
Nagpur (Maharashtra)
Koraput (Orissa)
For more info
Rs per 100 No
Price on 08-12-2015
Market Center
Source: e2necc.com
Other International Prices
Unit Price : US$ per package
Price on 07-12-2015
Market Center
Onions Dry
Package: 40 lb cartons
Package: cartons film wrapped
Long Seedless
Long Seedless
Long Seedless
Package: cartons tray pack
Red Delicious  
Red Delicious  
Red Delicious  
CME Group/Closing Rough Rice Futures   
CME Group (Prelim):  Closing Rough Rice Futures for December 7.
Net Change

January 2016
- $0.305
March 2016
- $0.305
May 2016
- $0.305
July 2016
- $0.315
September 2016
- $0.315
November 2016
- $0.315
January 2017
- $0.315

Do We Really Want GMO Salmon Swimming into the Food Chain?

What's the history behind the approval of genetically engineered salmon?
December 7, 2015

Photo Credit: © g215/Shutterstock.com
The recent approval of genetically engineered salmon for human consumption by the FDA brought back my memories of the Golden Rice controversy. It also raises a question, amid the conflicts of our world: who gets fed?
Golden Rice was initially developed by a research team led by two scientists, Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Germany’s University of Freiburg, respectively. Their new GE rice variety, deep yellow with beta-carotene, an essential vitamin A precursor, represented a significant advance in bioengineering when introduced to the world in 2000. The genes necessary for the complete synthesis of a required human nutrient had been inserted into the rice genome, so that this nutrient was newly available in the edible part of the rice, the endosperm. Golden Rice was intended to improve human nutrition on a global scale by enhancing a widely used staple crop of subsistence with the vitamin A precursor necessary to prevent childhood blindness, one of many nutritional deficiencies still affecting people on our planet. (WHO publishes a Vitamin A deficiencymap and there are plenty of hunger statistics.)

In April 2015, Potrykus and Beyer received the Patents for Humanity Award from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They had released their intellectual property rights in Golden Rice for the common good, without profit. Their groundbreaking, bioengineered design of an enhanced staple food used around the world was genuinely humanitarian.

However, from its introduction and to this day, there has been a rejection of Golden Rice at the populace level, a social and cultural pushback: many people of rice-based cultures in Asia do not want to eat yellow-colored, foreign rice. White is an ancient, traditional rice color that historically carries religious significance. For thousands of years rice has fed the many and is culturally powerful, an inborn meme. In 2013, the destruction of a plot at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) field trial of Golden Rice in the Philippines, by a group of anti-GMO activists, made headline news. The field ruin was hotly criticized, with many contentions that the anti-GMO side just does not understand the science. 

True, not every member of the general public understands and knows how to interpret GMO data. Yet people in the Philippines also share the belief that one must never destroy a green (growing) rice plant. Some reporters made the point that many native farmers held back from the rice field “massacre” and were horrified at the sight. But the farmers’ response to the massacre was not because Golden Rice in an IRRI field was being destroyed; it was because rice plants were being decimated, the symbol of life itself.

There was cultural horror in the crowd.   Rice is sometimes the only food there is to eat for the millions who live in poverty on our planet, the people for whom Golden Rice was developed. A conflict of choices remains.For now, I am anti-GMO, even though all food, when properly digested, is reduced into its components. Proteins become amino acids, long chain carbohydrates become short chain sugars, and precursors like beta-carotene are processed in the human gut to become vitamin A, no matter what the source. I can see why scientists in academia, government and industry may state that GMOs are safe for human consumption. What harm could possibly come from eating a GMO, when everything we consume is digested? We eat DNA every day, from every once living organism in our diets, from rice to caviar. 

The introduction of food allergens is one example of a potential problem with GMO consumption. Soybeans that have been genetically engineered to contain Brazil nut proteins do trigger allergic reactions in people with Brazil nut allergies, which is a good reason for labeling GE foods. Do we know what other proteins made from lab-engineered genes may cause allergenic problems, now or in the future? How stable are the genes of GMOs, and what are their mutation rates, if any? What happens when they get into the wild and cross-breed? Are these possibilities long shots, only remotely possible?

There are a number of other pressing issues around the industrial production of GMOs, yet my intent is not to review all of them, and I direct readershere for more information. One issue I do wish to hone is the potential for gene flow, from engineered to wild, a literal genetic contamination of the wild genomes of the species from which GMOs are derived, if mating occurs of any kind between them.  Farm-raised Atlantic GMO salmon continue to escape into the ocean, and upstream into reproductive proximity of their native, original species. Such gene flow is a form of pollution and must not be allowed. That is because gene pollution will alter our remaining wild diversity, and we cannot afford to lose any more.

Wild biodiversity cannot be created in a lab. Furthermore, there is not survival without it. Ireland’s potato famine is a prime example of the demise of an organism that occurred due to genetic paucity; insufficient gene diversity to code for any effective plant biochemical or other defense of the field pathogen. Potato blight killed one million people through starvation and disease and displaced another million more, all because just one or two potato plants were used to propagate the whole of Ireland’s crop. That “founder effect,” the propagation of many from a genetically limited few, put all of the potato plants into a survival bottleneck, a limited gene pool.

There are now only three white rhinos left in the world—this is genetic paucity. Genetic paucity easily leads to extinction.On planet Earth, in our current era, there is no longer any other way of conserving biodiversity in all of its forms, genetic, organismal, species, wild population, and especially human and cultural, without first conserving the diversity and ecology of all habitats and inhabitants still alive. This means we must stop the loss of wild diversity in nature, in all of its forms, and prevent further environmental contamination of any kind, not just chemical, but also genetic. Is this stance idealistic and untenable?

I believe that for all of what we do as individuals, we who live with comfort among the nations, there must now be global thinking in our decisions; we must remember our inextricable connections to other life on this planet as we make our way in our individual lives. Kofi Anan recently tweeted: “We are rapidly approaching the tipping point beyond which climate change may become irreversible."
Climate is an integral sustainer of biodiversity. We are at a tipping point. We can’t afford to fail, for we cannot survive without our planet’s climate, or without its biodiversity. There are new voices rising from the general public against GE salmon. Reviewing some of the scientific rebuttal to prior anti-GMO free speech, I have to wonder why so many critics assume anti-GMO scientists are not looking at the data, the statistics, and asking good questions. The new GE salmon is a “triploid.” Triploid often means an organism has three full sets of chromosomes, instead of the normal two sets, which is termed “diploid.

” Humans are diploid, with 46 total chromosomes, having two complementary sets of 23 chromosomes each.  Triploid for humans would mean 69 chromosomes total, a genetic disaster. “Polyploidy,” this trait of multiplied sets of chromosomes, is rarely found in animals, although there are a few known species of beetles in which it occurs. The more widespread rule for animals is that multiples over normal numbers of chromosomes lead to serious problems. In humans, to make another comparison, even a single excess chromosome or portion thereof can cause anomalies, like “trisomy 21,” which is the term for three copies of chromosome 21, and the genetic cause of Down syndrome.

The commercial GE salmon now approved is likely to be triploid only in its X chromosome, rather than its full genome. This triple X genetic trait, which confers sterility, has been commonly reported in the scientific literature. Obviously, the details may be proprietary; note that sterility of this nature may not be absolute.
Under the conditions of modern ocean farming, where brood eggs are allowed to age after killing the females, diploid Atlantic salmon can undergo the spontaneous development of triploidy. This has been scientifically studied and is thought to be caused by the unnatural aging of the eggs under farming conditions. Triploid salmon also suffer from skeletal abnormalities, so they are fed a diet high in phosphorous to compensate for this lack of fitness.

Thousands of these fish escape from their pens into the sea every year, and scientists acknowledge that they can interbreed with their wild relatives. What is the rate of wild diploid Atlantic male salmon fertilization of GMO triploid eggs in Norway? Has this instance of interbreeding of GMO and wild been fully evaluated as a reference point? Wild salmon genomes have been infiltrated with traits from an unfit, triple X organism. Diploids and triploids can mate under some conditions; mis-division in meiosis could yield another diploid from a triploid, and vice versa, by random mutation.
These considerations are apart from other environmental issues of aquaculture, which include antibiotic resistance, pollution and the exploitation of wild, lower trophic fish for feeding.
One suggestion I came across in my research surprised me: the idea that developing countries could farm low trophic fish, to be used to feed their citizens and to sell, as an income stream, to “more wealthy countries.” These countries, in turn, would use that fish, not for human food, but as feed for farmed, high trophic fish, so that the wealthy citizens could continue their more desirable farmed fish diet. Trophic refers to food chain position in the web of life. Chinook salmon and cod are high trophic; sardines and anchovies are low trophic.  

In summation, we know that ocean-farmed Atlantic triploid salmon have congenital skeletal abnormalities, can and do escape their pens, and can breed with their wild relatives. The new FDA-approved GE salmon is an Atlantic triploid with a punch: it also carries an extra gene for high trophic, Chinook salmon growth hormone. That growth hormone gene is not authentic to the original species from which the GMO was derived.

Given the public refusal to accept bovine growth hormone in cow milk, how will (Pacific) Chinook growth hormone in Atlantic salmon be received? And what happens when a land-locked aquaculture system, as proposed to contain all of the fish and eggs of this big and fast growing triploid, fails by any error? We need to understand what set of criteria have been used for the decision that GE salmon is safe from a long-term ecological perspective.

For all of the reasons that the industry gives in defense of GE salmon, I see reasons for corporate profit: less cost to feed the fish, quicker growth, and lower shipping expenses. We are being sold the line that these make the process environmentally friendly. This is a foreign fish with at least one extra complement of the X chromosome, and which is, truthfully speaking, “Franken." There is an alteration in the ploidy level which makes triploid salmon essentially a new species, if reproductive barrier is the touted rule. In addition to malformed skeletons, what other mutational effects are there in GE salmon that we will not see in our filets? I am sorry to guess that that information may be proprietary. And I wonder if the lower farming costs of GE-salmon will be passed on as savings to consumers.
In addition to the possibility of contamination in the wild, we already have problems with many invasive species, like the damaging Asian carp predators of the Great Lakes, and now, the Eurasian ruffle, a small perch and a new, European sourced, fish invader. Perhaps those examples are different and I don’t understand, although I do think that the manner in which any foreign fish is accidentally introduced into native environments is not the question. What these fish do in overtaking native species’ habitats, and the potential for damage to diversity of wild genomes, whether by genetic bottleneck due to habitat loss, population demise or by hybridization, is a conservation problem that was not fully addressed by the FDA decision.

However, the FDA may not be the proper jurisdictional body for considering the long-term genetic impacts of non-native, engineered food organisms released into our environment. As a conservationist, I ask, who gets fed? I stopped eating salmon a few years ago, when I learned that farm-raised fish swim in dirty water and antibiotics.

 I also decided not to eat the wild-caught alternative because there are no longer enough wild salmon to feed the world. Salmon is a very good human food; I have enjoyed it, yet will live without for as long as it takes to get fish and fisheries and the humans who rely upon them back into balance again. I am a fortunate consumer with food on my table, able to choose, hopefully so that there is more food for everyone, and so that habitats can be conserved, one less fish dinner at a time. It is not a sacrifice for me, but it would be for the indigenous peoples of the world, whose ties to salmon and sustainable fishing are culturally ingrained, not just a means for literal survival. Food is a part of culture, a part of diversity, like white rice and its many native varieties, preferred by people whose survival has long depended upon it, where it has been cultivated in cross pockets of humanity for thousands of years.

GMO critics abound and I am one of them, but I think we also must provide alternative and sustainable solutions for feeding the masses of people now living on our planet. Everyone should be able to eat and to eat with choice. One method to bring balanced diets to the people of developing countries, a method which has been used successfully in Africa, is agroecology. This is an approach to food and farming which balances agriculture with ecological preservation. The flexibility of agroecology, which allows a custom fit to micro-cultural farming practices, is one of its great benefits.

 (The author Colin Todhunter has more information on this practice.) I live in a rural area of the U.S. where “locally grown” is both a major lifestyle and an economic movement. Sustainable alternatives are out there, and I am fortunately living with some of them. 
The advent of genetically engineered salmon with fish growth hormone is upon us. Who does not know that the fishing industry is in trouble? If we all want a plate of salmon for dinner, we really do have to farm it. We now produce enough salmon to bag and can for our pets. The new GMO has been approved and will be disseminated commercially, ever so carefully, to give consumers time to accept what it is. 

Finally, I wonder about the food hopefully being shipped to South Sudan, where a famine is currently unfolding, and if GE salmon will ever make its way to the overpopulated and underdeveloped countries in need of essential subsistence. Who will be enjoying GE salmon with a delicate rice pilaf and a lovely glass of wine, while watching world events unfold on television? What is at risk as we feed the few? What is a fair trade? 

Part of the “inconvenient truth” is that while comfortable lives have been sustained, too many of the people on our planet have lived in stark poverty. We have all seen the photos of children collecting water in South America where oil exploration and drilling have ravaged and polluted their indigenous lands, in Africa amidst runoff from gold mines, children who are hungry in so many countries: what are they eating? Is the U.N. there to help?  Can I buy my “Holland Orange Bell” pepper, and walk away from the electrically cooled and misted vegetable counter, assuming the global hunger problem will be solved?

Who gets fed? Many women still carry their cooking water in earthen pots upon their heads. Will they be offered, for their children’s hunger, salmon over rice? Golden Rice may be an emergency answer for developing countries, one that was clearly conceived for overall good, yet clashed with culture. GE salmon, I think, is a wealthy class, fish-for-profit story.    
Kathy McKeown is a scientist, scholar and writer who specializes in genetics, agriculture, biodiversity and conservation.
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Rice Comment

Rice futures were lower across the board following other commodities lower. The crude oil crash is impacting commodities across the board. Today's losses in rice open the possibility for another leg down. There is little support seen for January above the $10.50 level.

The path to rice perfection begins when you start paying attention
  Food and Dining Editor December 7 at 7:00 AM 

Persian Rice With Black-Eyed Peas and Dill, served with the all-important crusted rice from the bottom of the pot. (Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post)
When is the last time you thought that much about rice? Sure, you like eating it — who doesn’t? But did you pay a lot of attention to how you cooked it?

“I love rice,” says chef Michael Solomonov. “But when you learn how to cook in fine [Western] restaurants, nobody gives a [expletive] about the rice. Oh, sure, we would cook risotto with truffles, or whatever, but nobody cared about the basic pot of steamed rice.”Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Washington Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Food section's Weeknight Vegetarian column. 

That changed for Solomonov when he started paying attention to the foods of the Middle East. He was born south of Tel Aviv but has lived in Israel for just a few years; he grew up in Pittsburgh. Now, at his acclaimed Philadelphia restaurant Zahav, “we regard the rice as so special that we serve it with our Mesibah (party) menu, to give you an idea of just how cool it is,” he writes in his new cookbook, “Zahav.”In Persian cooking, rice is treated with the utmost care. Solomonov writes about his half-brother-in-law Avi Mor, who grew up in Iran (where “rice is the bright center of the universe”) and began helping his mother cook at age 10. The boy wasn’t allowed to touch the rice until five years later, once he had proved himself worthy.

“Rice is [expletive] hard, dude,” Solomonov told me on a recent morning in my kitchen as he showed me two of his favorite ways to prepare it. “It’s 50-50 whether this even comes out,” he said, and I couldn’t quite tell if — or how much — he was joking. The way he put it in “Zahav” is this: “Cooking rice is easy. Cooking it perfectly is in­cred­ibly difficult.” He considers himself, like Avi, to be on a never-ending quest for perfection.

Chef Michael Solomonov: “The feeling of exhilaration when I nail a batch of rice rivals almost any feeling of satisfaction I have ever had in the kitchen, and many outside of it.” (Steve Legato)

“Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking,” is the Philadelphia chef’s first cookbook. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The difficulty is that cooking rice is subject to so many variables — including, much like dried beans, the age of the grain itself. “We just have no idea how long most rice has been sitting around,” Solomonov says. “And since in [American] culture we don’t go through nearly as much as others — in Iran they eat a kilo of rice a day! — we don’t always have the best sources for it.”

The Persian method allows for more interaction and adjustment than does the typical steaming. The rice is first soaked to reduce some of its starch, to help keep the grains fluffy and separate rather than sticky. Next it’s boiled until al dente, a process that offers the cook chances to sample and stop the cooking when the rice reaches the right stage, then is drained and gently fluffed. Only then is it combined with a little more water, closed up and slowly cooked. There’s traditionally turmeric and oil on the bottom of the skillet, and a dish towel tied around the lid to absorb any extra moisture as the rice cooks.

Even with all his practice, Solomonov writes, “If I cooked rice every day for the rest of my life, I would never outgrow the anxiety in that moment just before lifting the lid off the pot. The feeling of exhilaration when I nail a batch of rice rivals almost any feeling of satisfaction I have ever had in the kitchen, and many outside of it.”

Carrot Rice Pilaf. (Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post)
[Make the recipe: Pilaf With Carrots]

I had bought Thailand-grown jasmine rice from a little Asian market that has a high turnover, hoping that would help eliminate the age issue. And I had soaked it, too — for about eight hours. Half of it went into the chef’s Persian Rice With Black-Eyed Peas and Dill and the other half into Pilaf With Carrots, which, in pilaf tradition, is baked.

For the Persian rice, Solomonov thought the initial blanching went a little long, and the rice a smidge past al dente, so for its second round of slow cooking, in the pot, he held back some of the liquid. And he touched and listened and smelled and looked, finally opening the pot after about a half-hour to check for the all-important crust on the bottom. Not quite there, so he continued cooking it for another 20 minutes or so.

Then it rested while we finished making the pilaf, toasting the soaked rice briefly with cooked carrot, onion and garlic, then baking it in an aromatic mix of carrot juice, saffron and cayenne. “There’s something about this combination that tastes like shellfish, even though it’s completely vegetarian,” Solomonov said.The moments of truth arrived. Solomonov folded fresh dill into the Persian rice, then inverted it onto a plate, lifted the pot and unmolded it. Some pieces of the crust — a delicacy much in the same vein as the socarrat at the bottom of a well-made Spanish paella — clung to the pot, but it wasn’t anything that a little pulling with a fork couldn’t remedy. He extracted it and set it on top of the domed rice.

Solomonov thought the rice was slightly overcooked; he’s still going for perfection, after all, and this wasn’t quite there. But when I tasted it, I thought it might be the best I had ever had. And then I tasted the pilaf, which was even better. If this wasn’t perfect rice, then I can’t wait to get back into the kitchen.
Indonesia launches trade, business fair
December, 07 2015 08:20:00
HA NOI (VNS) — Indonesia plans to import one million tonnes of rice from Viet Nam to meet the country's high demand, according to Indonesian Ambassador to Viet Nam Mayerfas. He made the statement at a press briefing in Ha Noi on Friday to introduce an Indonesia trade fair and an Indonesia-Viet Nam business forum, to be held from December 10 to 12, at the Ha Noi International Centre for Exhibition (ICE).
The ambassador told the press that Indonesia has the highest consumption rate in the world for rice. Some 250 million people in Indonesia eat rice three times a day. Indonesia also imports steel, iron and cement from Viet Nam.Indonesia also has great demand for Vietnamese coffee, the ambassador said, adding that the country imported US$40-50 million worth of the commodity in 2014 and the figure is expected to increase.He affirmed that the trade fair and business forum, as part of the activities to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic ties between Viet Nam and Indonesia, will be a valuable opportunity for both nations' enterprises to set up business links.Trinh Xuan Tuan, vice director of the Viet Nam National Trade Fair and Advertising Company (Vinexad) said within the framework of the events, some 100 Indonesian enterprises will showcase their high-quality products at the fair, including automobiles and spare parts, pharmaceutical and medical equipment, food and beverages, among others. — VNS

The ambassador told the press that Indonesia has the highest consumption rate in the world for rice. Some 250 million people in Indonesia eat rice three times a day. Indonesia also imports steel, iron and cement from Viet Nam. — File Photo


Rice import policy: Appraising the implications for a groaning economy

Posted By: TOLA AKINMUTIMIon: December 08, 2015In: Business & FinanceNo Comments
For a country like Nigeria with huge natural and human resource endowments needed to produce agricultural commodities and feed her citizens, the raging controversies on whether to ban or not to ban rice importation again reflect one of sordid features of national development plans. In this analysis, TOLA AKINMUTIMI appraises the issues from stakeholders’ viewpoints and the implications for the economy in the long term.

It is indeed an irony that a country that in the early 60s prided itself as one of the agro-based flourishing countries with prospect to become a leading world power if her potential in agricultural sector is fully explored is today sourcing over 70 per cent of her food needs through importation at huge costs to its foreign reserves, other national savings, sustainable growth and socio-economic well being of the people.This is even more worrisome when the nation’s inability to feed itself is analysed within the context of the fact that the just published Unemployment and Underemployment Watch report by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, indicated that the economically active population or working age population (persons within ages 15 64) increased from 102.8 million in the first quarter of this year to 104.3 million by the third quarter.
A cursory appraisal of Nigeria’s import bills over the past years indicated that substantial part of the country’s foreign exchange earnings was spent on importation of food items, which in most cases, as analyses by medical experts confirmed, are harmful to consumers. The latest official figures showed that about N356 billion is spent yearly on rice importation.The World Bank report on the country’s merchandise trade volume for the period 2011-2013 showed that in 2011, food imports accounted for 31 per cent of the country’s import component of the merchandise trade while in 2012 the figures dropped to 23 per cent. In 2013, food imports cost the country 18 per cent of the year’s import bill.

Although the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, reported that the nation’s food imports declined from N 1.1 trillion ($6.7 billion) in 2009 to N684 billion ($4.35 billion) in 2013 while 12 million metric tonnes (MT) of food were added to the domestic food basket last year as a result of the successes recorded under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), the truth is that Nigeria cannot still feed her population through domestic farming programmes.

As it is with other issues affecting sustainable national development policy thrusts, analysts have blamed the failure to explore abundant country’s agro ecological opportunities in the country, including very rich arable land across the geopolitical zones, fauna-friendly weather and climate as well as huge labour population, to the fullest to policy reversals in the agricultural sector.For instance, in 2013 fiscal year, government raised the import duty on rice to 100 per cent with an additional levy of 10 per cent based on its believe that such a fiscal regime would discourage import and encourage local production capacity in furtherance of the ATA agenda. A year earlier, import duty on the commodity was 50 per cent and 10 per cent levy bringing total tariff on its import to 60 per cent.The immediate fiscal and economic fallouts of the implementation of the policy were that smuggling of the commodity increased, causing substantial revenue to the economy and economic losses to importers and other stakeholders engaging in rice business.For instance, at the ENL Consortium terminal at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa, where at least 60 per cent of rice imported into the country is discharged, available statistics indicated that the port recorded nearzero import of the commodity in 2013.

The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, estimated the total revenue loss by the rice duty hike in 2013 at about N300 billion, noting that in the first quarter of this year N80 billion was lost as over 600,000 metric tons of rice were diverted to Benin Republic, Cameroon, Ghana and Togo.She lamented: “This is becoming rather unfortunate. Our economy is bleeding seriously because of this policy.
The loss to other countries, as a result of the high tariff on rice was over N300 billion last year while in the first quarter of this year alone, both government and private operators have lost a least N80 billion. Haastrup, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium Limited, listed the revenue losses associated with the 110 per cent rice policy to those that should have accrued to the Nigeria Customs Service, terminal operators, dockworkers and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

While absolving the Customs from blames connected with the huge revenue losses to the country, the industry player explained that there was a lot of pressure on Customs because the quantity of rice produced locally can only satisfy 30 per cent of local demand.Apparently worried by the negative impact of the policy on the economy, especially revenue losses, the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the occasion of the Centenary Award held in Abuja, hinted of plans by government to revise the policy in the 2014 budget.

She said: “We increased the tariff to110 per cent, and it encouraged some people to go and grow rice and we grew 1.1 million metric tons of the product. But it also encouraged smuggling by neighbouring countries because they immediately dropped their own tariffs to 10 per cent. For rice, we decided to bring it down because we see that it is not working”, she said.To prove her point, available revenue collections on imported items by the Customs of which rice imports remained substantial showed that in first quarter 2014, Customs import duty collections dipped substantially between January and March to N77.9 billion, a far cry from the N400 billion target set for it by government during the period. This represented a 19.5 per cent or a N322.1 billion loss and also less than half of the N191.3 billion collected by the Service in the corresponding period of 2013.

Apart from the fiscal strains the policy was creating for government, another major factor that undermined its feasibility is that local production capacity could not meet demand, despite sundry efforts under the ATA to complement farmers’ productive activities with the dry season farming since 2013.Curiously, in the 2015 fiscal year, the controversies that characterized rice import allocations for 2014 did not abate despite Federal Government’s downward review of import volume from 1.5 million MT to 1.3 million MT.

Compelled by the failure of the policy as well as the frustrations arising from the dwindling revenue occasioned by whirlwinds in the global oil market where prices of oil crashed by about 60 per cent since July 2014, the government reversed the tariff regime on rice in the 2015 budget with a view to using the revenue collections to augment revenue in the federation account in the fiscal year.But then as with other policy measures in the public sector over the years, the rice import policy regimes has again stoked the fire of controversy with those given the task to generate more revenues from rice importation as well as the fiscal authorities lauding the move while others, including the Legislature believe full scale lifting of ban on the commodity requires some caution.

In October, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), unveiled plans by the Federal Government to lift the ban on rice importation through the land borders to improve revenue generation and to curb unbridled smuggling of the commodity into the Nigerian market.
In a spontaneous reaction to the proposed measure, the National Rice Millers Association of Nigeria, NRMAN, faulted the Customs boss stance and advocated for he sustenance of the existing policy on land border restrictions on imported rice.
The Chairman of the association, Mohammed Abubakar, apart from saying that the NCS acted out of its statutory mandate to have made the declaration, noted that opening the borders would hurt the economy and rubbished the successes recorded under the rice value chain so far.Abubakar, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Umza Rice, said the decision was an attempt by the Customs to give official backing to smuggling of rice. He said: “First of all, the customs does not have the power to do that, it is a matter of national policy and customs does not make national policy, it is an implementation agency.

This will completely kill the rice value chain and everything concerning rice production will stop; customs does not have the right to make such decision. “This ban was placed six years ago and everybody knows that, so it does not have any reason to say rice should be brought in through the land borders.Anyone who gives such directive has smuggling intentions,” Abubakar added. He urged government to be focused and ensure that the country becomes self sufficient in rice production.However, barely a month to the implementation of the proposed fiscal measure, the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Import Duty Waivers, Concessions and Grants, chaired by Senator Adamu Aliero submitted its report after a review of the policy. The Aliero-led Committee recommended that the Senate ask the Federal Government to suspend the policy on the grounds that it would escalate rice smuggling into the country.

The Committee noted that the Customs lacked “the capacity to monitor and control the flow of goods through the land borders”. Convinced of the logic in the Committee’s stance, the Senate adopted the recommendation calling on the government to suspend the policy.As expected, the proposal by the Customs and the subsequent recommendations of the Senate have opened a new phase in the unending controversies surrounding the importation of rice such that except the government fully appraised the implications of the planned fiscal regime on rice imports in the 2016 budget, the country may be the ultimate loser in the medium and long terms.

In what seems a direct reaction to the USDA’s stance but more particularly to his conviction that Nigeria can do without massive importation of rice, the Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Mr Dele Oye, advised the Federal Government to implement the proposed 2015 deadline for the ban on rice importation.

He pointed out that Nigeria cannot be threatened by food insecurity in any form given , the wide variety of food crops that are cultivated in the various agro ecological zones of the country.
According to him, even if there is any shortfall in polished rice and supply comes short of demand, Nigerians have alternatives in other food sources with high carbohydrates nutrients such as garri, yam, foo-foo and plantain, among others.The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has also rued the increasing rate at which rice was being smuggled into the country and urged the National Assembly to help in curbing it menace He described the smuggling of 300 trailers of rice through the Seme boarder as unacceptable and called for strong measures to tackle the menace.

The Minister, during an interactive session with members of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture last Tuesday, cautioned that “if we carry on like this for the next five months, the economy of Nigeria would collapse” and solicited the support of the lawmakers in protecting the citizens.
Ogbeh expressed his desire to deal with import substitution in which he said $15 billion could be saved if the country explored the rice and wheat export potential to other West African countries, hence the need to develop the small scale industries to create jobs for the rural poor and develop the cotton industry.

In the final analysis and based on stakeholders’ perspectives it is only logical to feel that outright ban on the importation of rice for now may be counter-productive for the economy while prolonged delay in building the much talked-about local production capacity will only expose government’s insincerity to take the destiny of the nation in its hand by anchoring the diversification the economy on agricultural sector.


Rice, wheat seized in raids

A huge quantity of rice and wheat meant to be distributed under Public Distribution System (PDS) was seized following raids at several godowns by city police.Acting on a tip off, the Commissioner’s Task Force (West) raided two godowns at Kishanbagh and Mangalhat area in the old city and seized nearly 120 quintals of rice and wheat.The accused Syed Feroz (25), Mohd. Imran Khan (22), P. Om Prakash (30), Mohd. Abbu Almas (24) Munawar (40) and Fareed (38) supplied the grains to different towns in Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat at a lower price.The accused persons purchased the rice from ration shops and kirana stores and supplied it to rice mills.
The millers then polished the PDS rice and wheat and sold it to wholesalers.“At every level the middlemen and agents made a profit of Rs. 2 to Rs. 3 per kg and it results in heavy loss to government,” DCP (Task Force) B. Limba Reddy said.One of the accused, Om Prakash, runs a fair price shop at Mangalhat and directly bought the rice and wheat from the beneficiaries, the official added.The police also seized a four-wheeler from the accused persons.

Rice Exports to Face Rising Competition

Khmer Times/Sum Manet

Monday, 07 December 2015

Officials at the Industry Ministry say they are striving to make Cambodian rice more competitive by improving its quality as well as farm productivity, as rising supply is expected from new entrants to the market, like Myanmar, and leading exporters like Thailand and India are fighting to regain market share. Sat Samy, a secretary of state at the ministry, said the private and public sectors have to work together to ensure rice exports can compete.Myanmar will become a rice exporting country within five years and its prices will be as low as those charged by Cambodian exporters, he said, adding that like Cambodia it will enjoy duty-free access to markets like the European Union.

Rising production prices cannot be prevented, Mr. Samy said. This will also be occurring at a time when competition with Thailand for fragrant rice exports and with Vietnam for white rice exports will intensify. Moreover, India and Thailand are expected to export more rice, which will see prices decline. Exports of Cambodian rice to the EU have already reached their peak so Cambodia must increase its supply of quality rice for export to expand to other markets, Mr. Samy said. 

Ouk Maraka, a researcher at the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, said it was introducing higher-quality seeks for farmers to improve the quality of rice exports.  “We introduced farmers to the best seeds in order to reduce losses in production,” he said. These seeds include phka romdul, phka rumdeng, phka rumcheck, phka romeat, and damnoeb sbai mongkul. 

More research in seeds that are most suitable for Cambodian farmers will pay off in the long term, Mr. Maraka said. Even small amounts of investment in such research can produce results, he added, noting that this is in line with the government’s policy to encourage farmers to increase productivity and quality of rice for export. Mr. Samy said the emergence of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of this year will create a single market of 630 million people. The Industry Ministry is planning a national conference on productivity and competitiveness in the rice sector, he said, adding that the conference will have two specific goals. These are to discuss the current status of the industry and to ensure a smooth flow of information, knowledge and technology to farmers.  

Chea Sivithyea, director of Kim Se Rice Mill, said it is necessary to have help at the national level to ensure Cambodian exporters can compete with neighboring countries.
“Cambodia produces less rice than neighboring countries and the production cost is high, so we have difficulty competing,” Mr. Sivithyea said. “However, our strength is that we have better seeds than neighboring countries... We need help from policymakers at all levels in order to be competitive,” he added. Exports of milled rice in the first nine months of this year, totaled 369,105 tons, up 37 per cent over the same period last year, according to data from the Agriculture Ministry. Rice exports reached about 370,000 tons for all of last year, worth $247 million in total, according to official figures.


Rice farmers fighting debt and loss of land again, group says

THE NATION December 7, 2015 1:00 am
MANY rice farmers are facing the old problems of indebtedness and loss of farm owner-|ship despite short-term gains from the former government's rice-pledging scheme, accord-ing to research by a non-government organisation.Pongtip Samranjit, executive director of Local Action Links, a non-profit think tank researching government policies and farmers' problems, said farmers' quality of life has plunged following the end of the rice-pledging scheme.Increased indebtedness has led to the loss of farm ownership. Pongtip cited statistics collected by the organisation over the past 10 years that the number of farmers who hold less than six rai have increased, while those having to rent farmland have also risen in the past few years.
Pongtip said past and present government rice price intervention programmes, including the last rice-pledging scheme, offered farmers quick benefits as money would directly go to their pockets. But these were temporary, and never tackled the roots of farmers' problems, namely accumulated debts and loss of farmland.Besides land and equipment, farmers need to invest in pesticide and chemical fertiliser to keep their crop safe from pest attacks.During the rice-pledging scheme, farmers enjoyed a high guarantee price of up to Bt15,000 per tonne, but their costs also rose, leaving them a smaller margin of profit."The rice price now stands at around Bt7,000 per tonne while farmers' costs are up to Bt5,000 to Bt6,000 per rai (one rai generally yields around one tonne of rice). So, how can they survive?"
"In other words, they are being left to face the same old problems of indebtedness and they have to help themselves survive," she said.Pongtip said the current government had apparently taken the right approach to tackle farmers' deep-rooted problems by cutting farming costs, but she has not seen any concrete actions yet.Son Sukcharaen, a 66-year-old farmer from Khao Poon village in Ratchaburi's Photharam district, recalled the time when he narrowly obtained money from rice sold under the pledging scheme for the second and last time last year. He had to go to the district police to file a complaint about the delay in payment and it was the military government that cleared the money for farmers like him.
Son immediately used the funds to clear his debts and withdraw an amount to invest in another crop. But this time, he no longer has any price guarantee, and has to bet on the market, with the price currently offered at Bt7,000 per tonne.Son said he could not do anything except try to reduce costs as much as possible. But as he has to rent 20 rai of land and to pay off debts, he rushed to invest more in fertiliser. He hoped his rice yield would be higher so he can earn more.
"What I can do now is to keep doing it because if I don't do it, somebody else will take over the rented farmland and leave me with nothing to do or to eat. Can farmers without education, like me, have a choice?" Son asked.
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