Monday, December 14, 2015

14th December,2015 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Oryza Weekly: Fresh Demand from Philippines, Persisting El Nino Concerns Support Global Rice Prices

Dec 12, 2015
The Oryza White Rice Index (WRI), a weighted average of global white rice export quotes, ended the week at about $391 per ton, unchanged from a week ago, down about $3 per ton from a month ago and down about $45 per ton from a year ago.
Thailand 5% broken rice is today shown at about $350 per ton, down about $5 per ton each from a week and a month ago, and down about $55 per ton from a year ago.
The USDA Post forecasts sluggish Thai rice exports until the first quarter of 2016, despite an improvement in exports in October 2015, when Thailand exported about 1.2 million tons.
The governments of Thailand and China may soon sign a new deal for Thailand to export another one million tons of rice to China in 2016.  This deal is part of a 2 million ton rice MoU signed by the two governments in December 2014.
Thai rice exporters are planning to purchase an additional 100,000 tons of Hom Mali rice as part of joint efforts by the government and the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) to stabilize prices
Vietnam 5% broken rice is today shown at about $375 per ton, unchanged from a week and month ago, and down about $20 per ton from a year ago.
Vietnam exported about 5.807 million tons of rice in the first eleven months of 2015, down about 1% from the first eleven months of 2014.  The average rice export price so far this year is about $408.30 per ton (FOB), down about 6.8% from the same time last year.
Cambodia 5% broken rice is today shown at about $420 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago, and down about $45 per ton from a year ago.
Cambodia has failed to reach its self-imposed target of exporting one million tons of rice by 2015 due to inadequate milling and storage facilities and poor access to finance.
Rice exporters in Cambodia are seeking government support to face increasing competition from neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, and India.
Myanmar 5% broken rice is today shown at about $415 per ton, up about $5 per ton from a week and a month ago.
India 5% broken rice is today shown at about $350 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago, and down about $50 per ton from a year ago.              
Wholesale Indian basmati rice prices have declined this month, partially reversing the advance seen in late November, due to high supplies and sluggish demand.
The USDA Post estimates India’s 2015 rice exports at a record 11.5 million tons, up from 10.91 million tons in 2014, based on the exports pace until September 2015.  It estimates MY 2014-15 (October-September) exports at 11.87 million tons.
India’s rice stocks in the central pool as of December 1 stood at around 11.315 million tons, down about 48% from the same period last year.
The Chennai-based Intellectual Property Appellate Board, which is dealing with India’s basmati Geographical Indications tag application, will likely issue a final notification in a week or so.  Pakistan has been opposing India’s application for GI tag as a part of Indo-Gangetic plan (Punjab province) falls within its territory.
India 2015-16 winter rice (November - May) planting area has reached around 0.1094 million tons, down about 15% from around 0.1285 million tons planted during the same period in 2014-15.
Pakistan 5% broken rice is today shown at about $335 per ton, up about $10 per ton each from a week and a month ago, and down about $40 per ton from a year ago.
The governments of Indonesia and Pakistan have signed a MoU to import around one million tons of white rice from Pakistan to Indonesia between 2016-19.
Central & South America
Brazil 5% broken rice is today shown at about $500 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago and down about $50 per ton from a year ago.
Rice stocks in Brazil stood at around 118,250 tons in November, down about 3% from October and down about 71% from November 2014, according to Conab.
Conab estimates Brazil’s 2015-16 paddy rice production will decline about 6% y/y, to around 11.733 million tons.  The decline is largely attributed to a reduction in acreage and yields.
Five per cent broken rice from Uruguay and Argentina is today shown at about $520 per ton, down about $15 from a week ago, unchanged from a month ago and down about $80 per ton from a year ago.
The government of Guyana hopes to finalize a rice export deal with Mexico within the next five weeks.
In the recent elections, Venezuelans have given a historic victory to the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity alliance (MUD), ending the seventeen-year rule by the United Socialist Party, founded by late Hugo Chavez in 1999. Venezuela is currently facing severe economic problems, including very high inflation and unemployment rates, low growth rate and weakening currency. Spiraling commodity prices and shortages of basic products are understood to have acted negatively on the ruling party. 
The U.S. 4% broken rice is today shown at about $485 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week ago, down about $15 per ton from a month ago and down about $60 per ton from a year ago.
Chicago rough rice futures for January delivery dropped early in the week, reaching a low of $10.760 per cwt (about $237 per ton) on Tuesday, but regained some ground to reach a high of $11.225 per cwt (about $247 per ton) on Friday before closing at $11.015 per cwt (about $243 per ton).
The USDA, in its December World Agricultural Demand and Supply Estimates report, estimates the U.S. all rice imports at around 1.11 million tons, down from its last month’s forecast, based on slower-than-expected import pace for long-grain rice.  Despite this decrease, 2015-16 all rice imports are slightly above the imports from 2014-15 due to expected lower production.
Other Markets
Current rice stocks in Indonesia stand at around 1.5 million tons, including supplies from imports.
Paddy rice output in China for 2015 increased slightly y/y to around 208.3 million tons.
The government of Bangladesh has doubled the duty on rice imports to 20% from the current 10% as part of its efforts to curb increasing rice imports from India as well as to protect the interests of local farmers.
The Department of Agriculture and Agrifood in Brunei is promoting the use of Integrated Pest Management techniques to avoid pest-related yield losses throughout the country.
South Korea’s state-run Agro Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation has purchased 55,555 tons of non-glutinous brown rice of China and U.S. origins for delivery between March 31 and April 30, in tenders that closed on December 9.
The government of the Philippines will import an additional 300,000-400,000 tons of rice in the second quarter of 2016 to ensure adequate stocks amid concerns of extending dry conditions because of the El Nino weather phenomenon.
According to the latest data issued by the European Union (EU), rice imports, milled equivalent by the EU increased sharply since the beginning of the crop year 2015-16 (September 1, 2015 - August 31, 2016). The EU imported about 278,474 tons of rice during the period September 1 - December 1, 2015, up about 20% from around 231,429 tons imported during the same period last year.
The EU’s rice imports from the Least Developed Countries of Asia such as Cambodia and Myanmar under the Everything But Arms Agreement have reached around 80,794 tons in the first two months of the crop year 2015-16, up about 23% from the same period last year.
Ente Nazionale Risi estimates Italy’s total rice imports in CY 2015-16 (September-August) at around 152,000 tons, up about 17% from in CY 2014-15, despite higher domestic production.
The UN’s FAO forecasts Mali’s 2015 paddy rice production at around 2.451 million tons, up about 13% from in 2014.  The increase is attributed to good rainfall, increased planting area, and the use of selected seeds.
The Crop Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) has developed a new high yielding and drought resistant rice variety, called AGRA, as part of its efforts to increase crop yields and boost production.

Wholesale Basmati Rice Prices in India Increase Slightly on Restricted Supplies

Dec 11, 2015
Wholesale basmati rice prices in India's capital, have increased today due to restricted supplies from rice producers and higher demand from traders, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).Prices of Pusa 1121 declined to around Rs.4,600 - 5,400 per quintal (around $690 - $810 per ton) from previous quotes of around Rs.4,500 - 5,300 per quintal (around $675 - $795 per ton).
However, prices of common basmati rice today remained unchanged from previous level of around Rs.6,100 - Rs.6,200 per quintal (around $915 - $930 per ton)."Besides demand from retailers, restricted supplies from producing regions mainly attributed rise in rice basmati prices," traders were quoted as saying.
Global Rice Quotes
December 11th, 2015
Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade          355-365           ↔
Vietnam 5% broken    370-380           ↔
India 5% broken         345-355           ↔
Pakistan 5% broken    330-340           ↔
Myanmar 5% broken   410-420           ↔
Cambodia 5% broken             415-425           ↔
U.S. 4% broken           480-490           ↓
Uruguay 5% broken    520-530           ↔
Argentina 5% broken 515-525           ↔
Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken 335-345           ↔
Vietnam 25% broken 355-365           ↔
Pakistan 25% broken 300-310           ↔
Cambodia 25% broken           400-410           ↔
India 25% broken       320-330           ↔
U.S. 15% broken         500-510           ↓
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       500-510           ↓
Brazil parboiled 5% broken    545-555           ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken            NQ      ↔
Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%          690-700           ↔
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 280-290           ↓
Brazil half grain          NQ      ↔
All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel,

India Winter Rice Crop Acreage Lags Behind Last Year, Says Agriculture Ministry

Dec 11, 2015
India 2015-16 winter rice (November - May) planting area has reached around 0.1094 million tons, down about 15% from around 0.1285 million tons planted during the same period in 2014-15,according to a press release by the Ministry of Agriculture.The decline is due to untimely rains in some of the rice growing regions.In 2014-15, the rabi rice acreage reached around 4 million tons, down about 9% from around 4.488 million tons in 2013-14.

Asian Rice Quotes Remain Unchanged Today

Dec 11, 2015
Asian rice sellers have kept their quotes unchanged today from yesterday.                           
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $345 - $355 per ton about $25 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 $15 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $330 - $340 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 $20 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $300 - $310 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 per ton discount to Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $285 - $295 per ton.

Ghana Develops New High Yielding and Drought Resistant Rice Variety

Dec 11, 2015
The Crop Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) has developed a new high yielding and drought resistant rice variety, called AGRA, as part of its efforts to increase crop yields and boost production, according to local sources."This new variety will help the farmers to increase their production because of its high yield," said a Municipal Development Officer at the Department of Agriculture. He added that this variety is particularly resistant to the "rice black" disease.
He also noted that the new variety tastes better than the regular varieties and will help raise the farmers' standard of living.Ghana imports over a half of its annual rice consumption demand and the government is planning to increase rice production by about 20% per annum over the next four years to make Ghana self-sufficient in rice.Ghana produced around 235,000 tons and imported around 417,000 tons of rice in 2014 to meet a consumption demand of around 750,000 tons, according to sources for the Crop Services Directorate.According to the USDA, Ghana’s rice production is estimated at about 300,000 tons (milled basis) in MY 2015-16 (October - September). The U.S. agency expects Ghana to import 550,000 tons of rice in 2015 to meet consumption needs of around 930,000 tons.

Thai Rice Exporters Plan to Buy Additional 100,000 Tons of Hom Mali Rice to Stabilize Prices

Dec 11, 2015
Thai rice exporters are planning to purchase an additional 100,000 tons of Hom Mali rice as part of joint efforts by the government and the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) to stabilize prices, according to local sources.Last month, the exporters agreed to purchase the Hom Mali paddy at a target price of 13,500 baht (around $375) per ton and Hom Mali milled rice at about 26,000 baht (around $723) per ton from December 2015 to February 2016. However, since prices have fallen sharply to around 24,000 baht (around $667) per ton, they have agreed to buy the additional rice.
The fall in prices is mainly due to increased supplies from the on-going harvests and relatively high moisture, according to the exporters.The TREA President noted that the exporters have decided to spend about 2.4 billion baht (around $67 million) for the purpose. "The move is aimed to take supply out of the market and raise Hom Mali rice to the target price of 26,000 baht (around $723) per ton, he said.Export prices of Thai Hom Mali rice also fell to around $720 per ton compared to around $800 per ton last year. Depreciation of the baht also contributed to a fall in export prices, said the TREA President.Thailand is expected to produce 6.5-7 million tons of Hom Mali paddy or 3 million ton of milled rice in the 2015-16 season.

Exclusive News have been shared with written permission of with thanks

14th December 2015 Daily Global Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine-Latest Rice News Updates

Today Rice News Headlines...
·         International demand for Pakistani rice set to rise
·         Rice Basmati Slides on Muted Demand
·         Arcadia Bioscience and BGI create non-GMO rice resource
·         Belize Agro-productive Sector Group discourages importation of cheaper rice
·         Rice export to Kuwait on the decline
·         Rice market failure
·         Biotech helped crop production–farmers
·         FIRST IN THE WORLD | Supreme Court bans development of genetically engineered products
·         Realizing the gains from our investments in irrigation (Part I)
·         Rice varieties likely to be replaced
·         Mechanization, credit promise upside for rice
·         Rice Exporters Face Greater Scrutiny from China
·         Top of the table
·         APEDA Rice Commodity News
News Detail...


December 13, 2015
The prices of vegetables, fruits and rice have witnessed a decline during this past week as compared to the proceeding week, revealed a survey conducted by Business Recorder here on Saturday. The survey noted that the price of entire range of vegetables witnessed a further decline during the week under review as capsicums price in wholesales market further reduced by Rs 100 per 5 kg from Rs 400 per 5 kg to Rs 300 per 5 kg, which in retail market is being sold at Rs 70 per kg against Rs 80 per kg, onion price reduced by Rs 1,000 per 85 kg bag from Rs 5,500 per 85 kg bag to Rs 4,500 per bag, which in retail market is being sold at Rs 55 per kg against Rs 65-70 per kg, tomatoes price declined by Rs 30 per 5 kg from Rs 280 per 5 kg to Rs 250 per kg in wholesales market, which in retail market is being available at Rs 55-60 per kg against Rs 60-65 per kg.

 The price of peas witnessed a decline of Rs 130 per 5 kg in wholesales market from Rs 330 per 5 kg to Rs 200 per 5 kg, which in retail market is available at Rs 40-50 per kg against Rs 80 per kg and spinach price reduced by Rs 10 per kg from Rs 25 per kg to Rs 15 per kg. Green chilli price witnessed a reduction of Rs 50 per 5 kg in wholesales market from Rs 450 per 5 kg to Rs 400 per 5 kg, which in retail market is being sold at Rs 90 per kg against Rs 100 per kg, carrot price is stable at Rs 150 per 5 kg, which in retail market is being sold at Rs 40 per kg. However Bringal price witnessed an increase of Rs 10 per kg from Rs 30 per kg to Rs 40 per kg, cabbage and cauliflower are being sold at Rs in the range of Rs 25-40 per kg.

 Kareela price reduced from Rs 350 per 5 kg to Rs 250 per 5 kg in wholesales market which in retail market is being sold at Rs 60 per kg against Rs 80 per and okra price went up by Rs 20 per kg from Rs 80 per kg to Rs 100 per kg. Tori price went down by Rs 5 per kg from Rs 70 per kg to Rs 65 per kg, Arvi by Rs 10 per kg from Rs 70 per kg to Rs 60 per kg, kaddu by Rs 20 per kg from Rs 70 per kg to Rs 50 per kg. Good quality potatoes price reduced by Rs 20 per 5 kg in wholesale market from Rs 170 per 5 kg to Rs 150 per kg, which in retail market are being sold at Rs 40 per kg and normal quality potatoes also price went down by Rs 20 per 5 kg from Rs 120 per 5 kg to Rs 100 per 5 kg, which in retail market are being sold at Rs 30 per kg. Ginger price reduced by Rs 40 per kg from Rs 180 per kg to Rs 140 per kg, while garlic price went up to Rs 20 per kg from Rs 180 per kg to Rs 200 per kg.

However there is no change in the prices of chicken as live chicken in wholesales market is being sold at Rs 5,000 per 40 kg, while in retail market live chicken is being sold at Rs 130 per kg and the chicken meat is being sold at Rs 250 per kg. The survey observed that apple prices witnessed a reduction of Rs 30 per kg as good quality apples are being sold at Rs 120 per kg against Rs 150 per kg, while normal quality apples are available in the range of Rs 40-100 per kg against Rs 60-120 per kg. Good quality guava is being sold at Rs 50 per kg against Rs 80 per kg, good quality orange at Rs 50 per dozen, good quality pomegranates are being sold at Rs 140 per kg, while normal at Rs 100 per kg and bananas are available in the range of Rs 30-60 per dozen depending on quality. It was observed that the prices of all the quality rice has been reduced as good quality Basmati is available at Rs 100 per kg against Rs 130 per kg and normal quality Basmati at Rs 80 per kg.

The price of egg has increased by Rs 10 per dozen from Rs 90 per dozen to Rs 100 per dozen, the survey noted. No change was observed in the prices of ghee/cooking oil, entire range of branded spices, wheat flour, packed milk, tea packs and other non perishable items. There was no change observed in the prices of entire range of pulses which last week went up by Rs 10 to Rs 30 per kg as Malsh pulse is being sold at Rs 240 per kg, Black Masoor at Rs 140 per kg, Red Masoor at Rs 150 per kg, Moong at 170 per kg, gram pulse at Rs 140 per kg and Red Lobia at Rs 140 per kg. 

International demand for Pakistani rice set to rise

Published: December 12, 2015

Commodity price going up, exporters gear up for orders. PHOTO: FILE
FAISALABAD: Pakistan’s rice exporters are looking at a new dawn as prices have started to pick up in the international market after remaining subdued for over a year, renewing hopes of them getting fresh orders.A surge in demand from Europe and the Middle East has helped the price of rice increase by around 25% in the last one month, according to exporters.

The price of basmati rice at the start of the current season was $600 per ton, while the non-basmati variant was fetching $350 per ton, said Taufeeq Ahmad a rice exporter and former vice chairman of the Rice Exporter Association of Pakistan (REAP), while talking to The Express Tribune.“Basmati rice prices have increased 33% to $800 per ton, while non-basmati rice prices saw a phenomenal increase of 42%. International contracts are signed at the price of $500 per ton,” he added.Many exporters felt the heat due to price fluctuation over the first four months of the current fiscal year. The country earned $484.4 million by exporting 1.1 million tons during July-October this year, compared to an inflow of $517 million through 846,000 tons in the same period previous year.

Ahmad said this year could prove to be the best year for exporters who have purchased rice at very low prices.“An increase in global demand will also help jack up commodity prices in the local market as well. Some intermediaries, millers and traders are still not bringing their stocks to the market in hope that prices will increase further.”Ahmad added that Pakistan is exploring new markets in Far East Asia, mainly in South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. “The market for Indian rice is shrinking and Pakistani rice demand is increasing. Five years ago, rice exports peaked to $2.2 billion but have fallen since then.”

Meanwhile, the exporter said the government needed to help the rice sector by trying to control the rising cost of production. The Kisan package announced by the government, he said, was not going to be enough to help the sector.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2015.
Express Tribune

Rice Basmati Slides on Muted Demand

Published: 12th December 2015 02:41 PM
Last Updated: 12th December 2015 02:42 PM
NEW DELHI: Prices of basmati rice drifted by Rs 100 per quintal at the wholesale market today following sluggish demand coupled with adequate stocks position.However, other grains moved in a narrow range in scattered buying or selling and settled around previous levels. Marketmen said easing demand from retailers against sufficient stocks on higher supplies from producing belts kept pressure on rice basmati prices. In the national capital, rice basmati common and Pusa 1,121 variety fell by Rs 100 each to Rs 6,000-6,100 and Rs 4,500-5,300 per quintal respectively.

Following are today's quotations (in Rs per quintal):
Wheat MP (desi) Rs 2,000-2,600, Wheat dara (for mills) Rs 1,670-1,700, Chakki atta (delivery) Rs 1,700-1,715, Atta Rajdhani (10 kg) Rs 230, Shakti Bhog (10 kg) Rs 230, Roller flour mill Rs 880-885 (50 kg), Maida Rs 935-940 (50 kg) and Sooji Rs 1,040-1,045 (50 kg).Basmati rice (Lal Quila) Rs 10,700, Shri Lal Mahal Rs 11,300, Super Basmati Rice Rs 9,700, Basmati common new Rs 6,000-6,100, Rice Pusa (1121) Rs 4,500-5,300, Permal raw Rs 1,950-2,000, Permal wand Rs 2,200-2,275, Sela Rs 2,750-2,850 and Rice IR-8 Rs 1,700-1,720, Bajra Rs 1,425-1,430, Jowar yellow Rs 1,600-1,700, white Rs 3,100-3,200, Maize Rs 1,700-1,710, Barley Rs 1,440-1,450.
Indian Express

Arcadia Bioscience and BGI create non-GMO rice resource

Arcadia Biosciences and BGI announced Tuesday they have agreed to collaborate to develop a rice resource library for food crop research and development. Together, they will create, sequence and characterize gene alleles for global rice breeding. Arcadia already has experience with non-genetically modified genetic diversity libraries with soybeans, two different types of wheat, canola, and vegetable crops. BGI’s world-class genome sequencing capabilities will help the make the data available for free online and store seed and distribute rice lines via The China National Gene Bank. 

“These shared results have the potential to accelerate rice variety development and eventually extend to other key food crops,” Arcadia President and CEO Eric Rey said. “We are cost-effectively connecting a major global genetics research base with the breeders who can apply that knowledge practically to support global food security in the face of growing populations, limited land resources and the negative effect of climate change on crop yields.” Rice is grown on more than 395 million acres around the world, totaling $429.3 billion in 2013. 
“As the staple food for China, as well as for nearly half of the world’s population, rice is one of BGI’s most important research priorities,” Xin Liu, vice director of BGI-Research, said.
 “Large-scale discovery of novel alleles for desirable rice phenotypes is critical to understanding genomic diversity and elucidating gene function for development of elite varieties. We also encourage greater efforts to establish a global, public rice genomic database and advance rice improvement. In the future, we hope to dedicate such efforts to other important crops, like millet, soybean, maize and wheat.” Rice is especially important in China, but Arcadia has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development in other countries such as Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Uganda

Belize Agro-productive Sector Group discourages importation of cheaper rice


Posted by The Reporter Newspaper on December 12, 2015 at 11:16 am
By Marion Ali, Staff Reporter
A series of radio advertisements by businessman Jack Charles (Jitendra Chawla), offering an alternative on the local market to sell Guyanese rice at significantly cheaper prices, have spawned prompt reaction from the Belize Agro-productive Sector Group, who countered with a press release on Friday.The organization says Belizeans ought to ask hard questions about what they suggest are hidden agendas.“While rice at 69 cents per pound sounds like good news to consumers, Belizeans need to ask the hard questions.

How many Belizean farms, farmers, farmhands, millers and distribution workers will join the unemployment line as another agricultural product, Belizean rice, is removed from the products we produce here in Belize?” the release challenged.It goes on to state that there are almost 100 local rice farmers, five milling companies, and more than 2000 field workers, employees, distributors, and their families who are bound to suffer some level of loss if Charles is allowed to import cheaper rice for sale. “Guyanese rice will support ONE importer and a handful of distribution workers,” the release continues. “Why is one importer interested and actively pursuing the importation of rice, when Belize is already self-sufficient in rice?”

The rice producers puts forth a set of questions, and deny that local rice farmers have been guilty of price gouging, inflating production costs, while registering huge profits.“Why does he (Charles) not join us and grow cheaper rice here in Belize? Why does he not invest in the industry here and put hundreds of Belizeans to work, instead of just a few people to distribute his Guyanese rice? Why is Guyanese rice in other countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Trinidad and Jamaica sold in the SAME price range that Belizean rice is currently sold here in Belize? Can the importer sustain this cheap rice over the long haul?”

Local rice producers claim that the cost of rice production is higher than in most countries, but that their retail price is far below their counterparts in Central American and the CARICOM.The rice producers point to the millions of dollars in loss of revenue in business tax, in areas of fuel, equipment, chemicals, fertilizer, seed, rice milling, packaging, and distribution if Charles is allowed to import rice for sale.The rice producers argue that “imported rice at 69 cents per pound is UNSUSTAINABLE for the long term. This low price is a ploy to have Guyanese rice enter the Belizean market. When our already stressed local rice industry becomes extinct, imported rice will then become more expensive with little to no benefit to Belizeans except to the importer!”
The rice producers say there is a matter of urgency for discussion on the issue to begin. “Let’s bring cheaper rice to Belizeans while simultaneously ensuring that thousands of people remain employed. It is time to reduce our Import Export deficit. It’s time to be talking about exporting rice, not importing it!”

Rice export to Kuwait on the decline

December 13, 2015  LAHORE - The exports of rice from Pakistan to Kuwait are recording significant decline from the last few years.Country’s rice exports to Kuwait declined to 12,000 metric tons in 2014 from 30,000 tons of 2010, showing a fall of more than 60 per cent.Although Kuwait owes huge potential for Pak rice exports but Pakistan lost its share since 2010 owing to neglected marketing, evolution of new basmati varieties, price instability and mainly imposition of visa restriction in 2011.
“The visa restriction limited our capacity to understand market trends and dynamics as well as the capacity to market our qualitative product, which ultimately created a trust deficit between suppliers and buyers,” said Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan chairman Shafique Ch.
Taking cognizance of decline in rice export to Kuwait, a 17-member trade delegation of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, under the leadership of its chairman Shafique Ch, visited Kuwait to have meetings with Kuwait Ministry of Commerce, Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Association of Pakistani Businessmen in Kuwait (APBK), trade bodies of Kuwait as well as officials of various chambers to explore prospects and demand of Pakistani rice.

The delegation included senior and experienced rice exporters including Reap former SVC and GCCI president Samee Ullah Ch.Shafique Ch, describing the major objective of the visit, said it was aimed at exploring and enhancing demand of Pakistani rice in the country having great future prospects for the quality Pakistani rice.Kuwait is a very important market for Pakistani rice, which has been importing rice from India, Vietnam and Thailand etc.The trade between Pakistan and Kuwait is far less than the potential that both countries possess.“We need to focus on measures that could enhance our bilateral trade ties to new heights.

Rice is one of the main potential sectors that should be focused in this context.” Shafique Ch said that during this visit REAP delegation had fruitful meetings with rice importers so that Pakistan again takes a good share in Kuwait markets.He also extended cordial thanks to Aslam Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to Kuwait, and Agha Saeed, First Secretary at Pakistan Embassy, and particularly the Association of Pakistani Businessmen in Kuwait (APBK) for the valuable efforts to make this visit a big success.APBK hosted a mega ‘Baryani’ festival to attract hundreds of businessmen, creating awareness about the importance of Pakistani high quality rice.GCCI president Samee Ullah Ch said, “We would like to grow our mutual trade on stronger footing with our brotherly country.
A liberal visa policy for businessmen of Pakistan would ensure increase in our bilateral trade.The exchange of trade delegations will establish diversified B to B contacts between both the countries businessmen and will identify the areas of mutual interest in trade and investment.” REAP’d former SVC said that friendship of Pakistan and Kuwait is time tested and trusted.He was hopeful that this visit will produce fruitful results for the betterment of rice exports from Pakistan.The delegation expressed its view that the existing trade volume is still below the potential.

Rice market failure

To understand what actually is happening in the rice market, we need to get back into reasons behind food price hike in 2008

A feature of the so called self-regulating free markets is ‘crisis or market failure’. Apart from major financial meltdown of 2008, there are many smaller bubbles that keep bursting in particular economic sectors. The food price crisis of 2008-09 is one example of this phenomenon. One such most recent is rice market failure.Pakistan had never been a big consumer of rice. With the introduction of green revolution technologies including improved seeds and increased water availability, the country’s rice production witnessed a boom.

Plains of Punjab and Sindh produce the world’s best quality basmati rice, which is famous for aroma and taste.High production, low domestic consumption and international demand provided Pakistani exporters an opportunity to earn revenue through higher exports. It was in 1990s that rice market in Pakistan was integrated with global market while the state decided not to directly intervene or “distort” free market and domestic price setting becoming a function of international market unlike wheat, cotton and sugarcane. Subsequently, Pakistan registered rapid growth in rice export, becoming the fifth largest country by 2004.During the last decade, rice exporters and millers made fortunes by fetching maximum profits with small part trickling down to farmers. Price of per metric ton milled rice kept smoothly increasing until encountering financial and food price crisis in 2007-08. Since then, it is a bumpy ride for rice with overall downward trend.Access to market information is the most crucial element of production decision and agricultural market system whether local or global.

Lack of such information or incomplete information is what traps small farmers. So in the following years, farmers kept growing paddy each year and selling on lower price. However, the government realised the catastrophe and the prime minister announced a relief package for small farmers.So what do policy makers, millers, commission agents and farmers say? There are at least three arguments present at different tiers of stakeholders.Policy makers in the government see it as something happening at international level, out of their reach. For example, in his speech to farmer’s convention, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called international price meltdown the reason for domestic price failure that, without any doubt, is true to some extent. Rice price in international market is still slightly above the 2007-08 levels. If at this price it is not viable to grow rice then how did farmers manage in 2007-08? Answer to this question is what completes the story.

In the past years, prices of inputs were at lower level. After witnessing unprecedented profits in rice exports, the then People’s Party government started cutting subsidies on agricultural inputs.As the price of rice in international market declined the gap between cost and return on production started narrowing down, ultimately becoming negative.Other argument prevalent among the rice exporters and millers is the issue of quality and branding. Pakistan doesn’t have any established rice brand in the international market and most of the produce is sold in bulk. Rice quality depends on each consignment being exported. Many exporters mix low quality rice with high quality and call it Basmati.

The low quality of Pakistani rice has led many countries to contract with Indian exporters hence Pakistan’s share declined. Exporters/millers are not interested in buying the new produce.The third argument presented by the mainstream academia is of low productivity and competitiveness among Pakistani farmers. Use of high tech agricultural technology can increase per acre yield of produce that can help farmers to earn more profits. This argument completely ignores the presence of skewed power relations on which local agricultural markets are oriented. Without considering those relations, technology introduction can backfire further disempowering small farmers.

To understand what actually is happening we need to get back into reasons of food price hike in 2008. Increasing role of finance in food, termed Financialisation of food, is the main culprit. Globally financial institutions like AIG and Goldman Sachs have devised ways to avoid financial risks attached with their financial speculative practices. Their method is to invest in commodity markets to hedge against financial risks as commodity markets are more stable. For this purpose, commodity price index (CPI), like different indexes, is created.

The CPI provides investors opportunity to invest in the market which they don’t have direct access to or enough knowledge of. Here agricultural produce (like rice) are mere commodities invested to seek profit. These financial institutions are private in nature so they are under no obligation to show real stock of commodities they hold.Private nature of these investment funds have provided them possibility to go on for speculation in commodity market like the financial market. Together with speculation, profit seeking behaviour of investment in agricultural commodities has made prices highly volatile.

Biotech helped crop production–farmers

by Butch Enerio - December 13, 2015

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—Farmers from several parts of the Philippines belonging to the Asian Farmers Network (Asfarnet) vowed they would mobilize their ranks for an all-out campaign to push for an unhindered science-based agricultural learning to address the country’s food security.
The stakeholders, during National Agri-Biotechnology Farmers’ Congress at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) auditorium held in this science town on Friday, were unanimous in declaring that modern biotechnology has helped crop production without jeopardizing human health and the environment.

Searca Director Gil Saguiguit said the recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling to temporary stop the research, laboratory tests and field testing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), would result in a negative implication to the country’s ongoing studies related to agriculture, particularly in the development of biotechnology.“But as it is, the ruling would have implications on what we are doing and the parallel research that other institutions are doing in line with food production. And if the SC says that products of biotechnology are not safe, they have to prove it, because when we say it’s safe, we can prove it,” Saguiguit said. Part of the SC ruling states that, “Consequently, any application for contained use, field testing, propagation and commercialization, importation of genetically modified organisms is temporarily enjoined until a new administrative order is promulgated in accordance with law.”

One of the ongoing research that would be jeopardized is the Golden Rice project of the International Rice Research Institute, that would not see field testing as a result of the SC ruling. Golden rice is a potential source of vitamin A.Reynaldo Cabanao, Asfarnet president, said the SC ruling would stall ongoing research and future testing of biotech crops. And the GMO crops, such as the Bt corn, that are already propagated by farmers would be jeopardized.“The SC ruling would cause the collapse of the corn industry in the country affecting the economy and the lives of millions of farmers dependent on the industry,” Cabanao said.He added that the Philippines has more than 700,000 hectares planted to Bt corn seeds. “If the use of GMO corn seeds is stopped, the corn industry would regress from its rosy development,” Cabanao said.

Asfarnet said the Philippines produces about 35 million metric tons (MT) of corn each cropping season, or 70 MMT a year. In 2014 12 MMT of corn silage were exported to South Korea and the volume is increasing since corn export to that country started in 2010.Cabanao said that, as a result of the possible drop of corn production, the livestock industry and feed millers will also suffer as a consequence. “If importation of Bt corn seeds is banned, millions of farmers who are relying on the corn industry for subsistence would likely add up to the poverty incidence of the country,” Cabanao said.

FIRST IN THE WORLD | Supreme Court bans development of genetically engineered products


The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - Voting unanimously Tuesday, the Supreme Court en banc expanded the Court of Appeals’ writ of kalikasan (environment) order that permanently stopped the field trials of Bt talong, a genetically modified eggplant engineered with a bacterium to deter pest insects.Aside from affirming the halting of Bt talong testing, the high tribunal stopped the use, testing, propagation, commercialization, and importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) after it nullified the Department of Agriculture’s regulating GMO use.

It ordered the use of GMOs “temporarily” stopped until the agriculture department promulgates new rules that will more sufficiently comply with the country’s biosafety framework and international protocols.The temporary ban includes the highly controversial Golden Rice, an experimental project by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that is currently back at the laboratory stage due to poor performance. The high court in that decision cited the lack of scientific certainty in stopping GMO use, saying that it had to rule in the benefit of the environment amid the lack of safety guarantees.The ruling earned the praise of farmers, consumers, environmental organization Greenpeace Southeast Asia, scientists’ group Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), and other petitioners. They called the decision “a major victory for Filipino farmers.”

'Concern' over ruling's impact on food security, micronutrient drive
On the other hand, the Los Banos-based IRRI expressed “concern” over the decision.In a statement sent to BusinessWorld, the IRRI expressed reservations about the ruling, concern it said was based on “the best scientific knowledge and evidence.”Yet, in response to BusinessWorld’s queries how it affects the development of better rice varieties at the institute, the statement read: “We, of course, remain committed to abiding by the laws and regulations of the Philippines and of every country in which we do collaborative research.”As soon as the institute obtains the full copy of the decision, it said it will read it carefully “to take stock of all implications” on biotechnological research.

One of the products that may be affected by the Tuesday ruling is Golden Rice, a genetically engineered variety developed at the IRRI.The rice strain was designed to produce beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) and address vitamin A deficiency, which may lead to blindness and thousands of deaths among children.“It is the poorest and most vulnerable groups, especially women and children, whose health and well-being are most negatively affected by the scourge of micronutrient deficiency,” the IRRI noted.

Landmark decision

The Supreme Court decision sets a global precedent as it is the first legal decision on GMOs in the Philippines using the writ of kalikasan (environment) - a legal environmental remedy found only in the Philippines. The court is also the first in the world to adopt the precautionary principle - that it is best to err on the side of caution in the absence of scientific consensus - regarding GMOs in their decision.The decision of the high court means that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Science and Technology are barred from issuing any approvals for genetically modified (GM) crops pending the crafting and approval of a new administrative order.

The court order would also have an impact on the trading of GM crops. In 2014, the US exported $784 million worth of GM crops and products to the Philippines.“It is high time that the Philippine government also looks at new, innovative, and science-based ecological farming,” says Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines.The Supreme Court affirmed the May 2013 Court of Appeals order for the government to prepare an immediate plan of action to rehabilitate field trial sites and protect, preserve, and conserve the environment, and recommend policies and measures to reform the present regulatory process.

The petitioners to the case are: Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), Magsasaka Siyentipiko sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura (Masipag), Rep. Teodoro Casino, Dr. Ben Malayang III, Dr. Angelina Galang, Mr. Leonardo Avila III, Ms. Catherine Untalan, Atty. Maria Paz Luna, Mr. Juanito Modina, Mr. Dagohoy Magaway, Dr. Romeo Quijano, Dr. Wency Kiat, Atty. H. Harry Roque Jr., Former Sen. Orlando Mercado, Mr. Noel Cabangon, Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn, and Mr. Edwin Marthine Lopez.

REUTERS FILE PHOTO: Genetically modified corn by Monsanto

Realizing the gains from our investments in irrigation (Part I)

December 12, 2015
We have invested hundreds of billions of pesos in the 1.72 million hectares of irrigated lands we have developed so far. We still have about 1.30 million hectares to go to fully develop the estimated over 3.0 million hectares of irrigable lands with slope of three percent or less.Actually should we consider the additional physically suitable areas with slopes with as much as eight percent, our total irrigable area should reach six million hectares out of a total area of 10 million hectares agricultural land.

We shall need all these farmlands and water in the coming century to meet our increasing requirements for food, fiber, energy and shelter. The question is not whether but when will we have the means and political will to look after our people’s basic needs for food well into the future.But for now the immediate challenge is realizing the gains from our previous investments in irrigation. And to accomplish this we need to do essentially two things: 1) narrow the gap between the actual irrigated areas versus the designed area coverage, and 2) properly operate and maintain the irrigation systems to optimize productivity and minimize system deterioration to make the systems pay for themselves.


The basic objective of irrigation is to enable to grow crops where and when natural precipitation is inadequate. For us in the humid tropics, the goal at the minimum is to grow a second crop during the dry season after the regular wet season crop i.e. twice cropping on the same piece of land or a cropping intensity of 200 percent.Unfortunately the realized cropping intensity of our national irrigation system is only 157 percent. Therefore, with a physical area of 1.72 million hectares irrigated area, this is equivalent to a loss of production from 783,000 hectares.Year after year we fret over intractable rice imports. But right there the missing 783,000 hectares, at the national average palay yield of 3.3. tons per hectare should produce 2.58 million tons, more than enough to affect our perennial rice deficit of about 10 percent.Yes, we can be self-sufficient in rice!

There are wide variations in the history and circumstances among irrigation systems. But the major explanations for water delivery underperformance include 1) over-optimistic projections during the design stage; 2) inundation of low lying areas during the rainy season due to insufficient provision for drainage; 3) destruction of facilities due to force majeure i.e. floods, typhoons and earthquakes; 4) progressive deterioration of systems due to siltation and obstruction by vegetation, and 5) poor distribution of available water such that farms far from the water sources are deprived of water during the dry season.

Over-optimistic projections and inundation of low-lying areas due to inadequate provisions for drainage are engineering issues for which there is no remedy except hiring and paying well, competent agricultural and civil engineers.Very little can be done with typhoons especially when the rice crops are hit when they are almost ready to harvest. Also true for temporary flooding i.e. submergence of crops for a few days. However, there is hope in the horizon with the new varieties released by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which are tolerant of temporary submergence, called “scuba” varieties by farmers.

However, a whole lot can be done to clear up the canals, free them from silt and unwanted vegetation which impede the free flow of water. A lot of water can be saved from percolation and seepage losses by progressively lining the canals with cement.And most importantly, the planning and irrigation schedules can be staggered and better synchronized so that water is efficiently and equitably distributed among all the farms in the service areas of every lateral canal.These last two functions the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) cannot accomplish on its own without the full cooperation and discipline among the water users themselves. This leads to the second requirement to properly operate and maintain the irrigation facilities to optimize productivity and minimize system deterioration to make the irrigation systems pay for themselves.


The operation and maintenance of irrigation systems have four aspects: 1) operation of storage and diversion dams, 2) maintenance of facilities including service areas and access roads, 3) repairs of major damages by floods, typhoons and earthquakes, and 4) operation and maintenance of gates, turn-outs and drainage ditches.The first three services are better performed by an entity like NIA. However, the downstream functions of looking after, opening and closing of gates, turn-outs and drainage canals are more readily accomplished by the water-users themselves who are familiar with the territory and whose livelihoods depend upon how well the services are delivered.

The judicious opening and closing of gates and turn-outs are vital in ensuring timely delivery and equitable distribution of water among all the farms served by the irrigation system. And in order to spread out the demand for water the farmers must organize and agree among themselves to stagger their planting dates. In fact in most places this is the most contentious part.The demand for timeliness of water delivery is made more acute as farmers are encouraged to grow crops like vegetable, legumes and even ornamental plants in rotation with rice. In fact, multiple cropping of high-value crops with rice is the key towards recouping our investments in irrigation and increasing incomes of farmers.

To be continued. . . Irrigation Management Transfer

Dr. Emil Q. Javier is a Member of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and also Chair of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP).
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Rice varieties likely to be replaced

Sun,13 Dec 2015
 Summary: PANAJI: Jyoti and a couple of other rice varieties, known for their unique tastes, feature in the diet of many Goans. These varieties, however, are likely to be replaced by six new ones what with them being vulnerable to pests during cultivation. Two more varieties of red kernel, Samyuktha and Vaishakha are recommended for cultivation in hilly areas of Goa, as these varieties are drought tolerant. Agriculture scientists have been finding it tough to replace Jyoti though, as consumers are habituated to its taste. Over the last two years, the agriculture department has successfully experimented growing six higher-yielding varieties to replace Jaya, Jyoti and Karjat.
PANAJI: Jyoti and a couple of other rice varieties, known for their unique tastes, feature in the diet of many Goans. These varieties, however, are likely to be replaced by six new ones what with them being vulnerable to pests during cultivation. Over the last two years, the agriculture department has successfully experimented growing six higher-yielding varieties to replace Jaya, Jyoti and Karjat. The new varieties of red kernel now cultivated are Makom, Aiswarya and Kanchana. Warangal, Somasila and Sampada comprise white kernels. "These varieties have been dominant in Goa for the last 20 to 25 years," said director of agriculture Ulhas Pai Kakode. But, as their resistance to pests decreases, they get affected by a disease called Blast, specially in rabi season, and the yield shows a progressive decline.
The new varieties which can be cultivated in both, rabi and kharif seasons, have been actively promoted after taking into consideration changes in tastes and the demand for the fine quality of white rice among consumers. Agriculture scientists have been finding it tough to replace Jyoti though, as consumers are habituated to its taste. Two more varieties of red kernel, Samyuktha and Vaishakha are recommended for cultivation in hilly areas of Goa, as these varieties are drought tolerant. The new varieties promise higher production, and farmers can keep seeds for cultivation for the next season..

Mechanization, credit promise upside for rice

December 13, 2015 06:08:00 PM

PHILIPPINE rice production can improve in several areas including irrigation, credit, insurance and labor costs, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said.

Mr. Alcala was citing a comparative study on the local rice sector and other rice producing countries in Asia that was conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the department’s Philippine Rice Research Institute.The study provided inputs that allow the analysis of factors critical to understanding competitiveness, namely: production costs and practices, levels of subsidy, farming systems and marketing practices in the rice industry of other countries.“These numbers are important but need to be contextualized as to production subsidies as well as short-term market conditions,” the department said in a statement.
Prior to the study, an analysis of competitiveness was limited to comparing published statistics like the free-on-board rice prices of exporting countries.The study also compared the level of mechanization across countries and found that mechanization could address the increasing cost of farm labor in the local rice sector.Mr. Alcala said that in the context of the ASEAN Economic Community and in anticipation of the free flow of goods among member countries, enhancing competitiveness “should not be mere lip service.”“Instead, it must be translated into targeted interventions that lead to the capacity of farmers to compete and to expand their engagement in agribusiness opportunities,” he said.He made the statement during the third research seminar last week at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City.“We will never look at Philippine rice farming the same way again because now, we know better,” he said.
Victor V. Saulon

Rice Exporters Face Greater Scrutiny from China

Khmer Times/Sok Chan

Sunday, 13 December 2015

China has set a yearend deadline for Cambodia to submit a list of all Cambodian rice exporters so that Chinese inspectors can evaluate whether they can fully meet food safety laws in a market Cambodian exporters are hoping to increase exports to, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Agriculture.It called on domestic rice exporters to cooperate with ministry officials by providing contact information by December 18. Ministry officials will then inspect and evaluate each rice miller to determine whether they have the capacity to process, mill and store rice so that it can meet standards required to ship it to the Chinese market. Hean Vanhan, a deputy general director at the ministry, said China had asked Cambodia to evaluate rice exporters to determine whether they adhered to hygiene laws in China because officials in the world’s second largest economy did not trust all of the 71 rice exporters registered with the Ministry of Commerce. 
“China is strengthening hygiene and food safety standards so they have some conditions for Cambodia to implement for Cambodian rice exporters,” Mr. Vanhan said. “They asked the Cambodian government to recheck whether rice exporters are fully complying with their standards.”“It is a rush to work on this, but we are trying our best to send them the list of our rice exporting companies by the deadline. Our officials will go onsite to evaluate the technical production, processing and storage facilities in each rice exporter and then send the information to China,” Mr. Vanhan said. 

Agriculture officials say not all of the 71 rice exporters registered in the Ministry of Commerce are active. Some have reserved licenses with the intention to export in the future, they said.
Only 23 companies exported rice – to China and other countries – this year, officials said. Of these, just 10 account for most rice exports, they said. Exporters that lack rice milling, warehouse and storage facilities are not permitted to export rice to China, officials said. “China imported about 91,883 tons of rice in the first 11 months this year, so if Cambodia cannot meet requirements set by China it will have a bit effect of rice exporters in Cambodia,” Mr. Vanhan said.

Song Saran, president of Amru Rice (Cambodia), welcomed the move, saying that it will be good for Cambodia as a rice exporting country. Cambodia has the ability to supply a large amount of high-quality, hygienic rice to China and Cambodia can meet food-safety standards set by China.
“If China is aiming to strengthen food safety, it is not a big concern as we also want to show them our production process, from producing to processing and storage,” Mr. Saran said. 

“We are ready to work with the government to ensure that it has all the information related to rice millers so that it is easy for them to check in case a problem occurs,” he added.
Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, told Khmer Times recently that the federation has worked with experts on rice promotion, logistics, energy issues, export documentation and to conduct field visits to rice millers in various provinces to assess concerns. “They are working with the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture to smooth out the production process,” Mr. Lak said. 

Cambodia exported 450,000 tons of rice over the first 11 months of the year, according to a recent report from the Agriculture Ministry. Though only around half of the government’s goal for the year, rice exports did rise 36 percent over the same period last year, despite some 242,416 hectares of rice fields in 16 provinces being severely affected by drought as of November, the report said.

Top of the table
Rice will always reign supreme in Asian diets but rising affluence and changing tastes are making more room for other staples. By Tanyatorn Tongwaranan
While many Asians are seeking new ways to satisfy their appetites by moving away from rice-based staples toward wheat and potatoes, experts say demand for rice across the region will continue to swell.Even with more Asian consumers making westernised meals and convenience foods part of their regular diet, rice demand is still rising in the region of 4.5 billion people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations."Rice consumption is expected to be healthy, especially for Asian countries where rice is a traditional form of daily staple, and is not likely to be replaced by wheat products," said Emil Fazira Bte Kamari, a research analyst at Euromonitor International.China, India and Vietnam are seeing higher growth in rice demand in line with population growth. Consumers in these emerging markets are also increasingly likely to prefer packaged instead of unpackaged rice, she said.

Samarendu Mohanty, head of the social sciences division at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), told Asia Focus from Manila that global average rice consumption per capita had not yet begun to decline and that Asia would continue to dominate the world as the largest rice consumer."We expect some diversification in Asian diets, but the demand for rice will continue to rise in line with population growth," he said.The world consumes about 485 million tonnes of rice annually, and 90% of the consumption or about 440 million tonnes is in Asia. By 2035, the IRRI projected that an additional 116 million tonnes will be added to global demand.

"It's not the demand side that we should be concerned about. It's going to be the supply side," Mr Mohanty added.Vichai Sriprasert, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA), agreed saying that the industry would continue to grow and rice would remain the main staple in Asia.The shift toward higher wheat, meat and dairy consumption is a typical scenario for rice-eating countries to as they become wealthier, a trend that can be observed globally.

"Rice will still continue to be popular among Asians; however, rice eaters are becoming more conscious about the quality of rice they consume," said Mr Vichai. "Consumers will opt for better quality rice even if they have to spend more."The Rice Knowledge Bank suggested that good quality rice should have the right moisture content at 14%, with high purity. Other characteristics include uniformly mature kernels, uniform size and shape, and no contaminants.

"While rice consumption per person in Japan and South Korea has gone down roughly 50% compared to how it was 40-50 years ago, a similar trend is not going to happen yet in Southeast Asia, at least for the next decade," Mr Vichai said.Mr Mohanty added that rice had also become increasingly popular everywhere else in the world. Consumption outside of Asia, although accounting for only 10%, has been growing over the past years and continues to rise.Africa is the fastest growth market as rice has a more appealing taste than the traditional staples such as maize and cassava and is much more convenient to prepare."In Africa, they see rice as a luxury item and as people become richer, we would expect to see much higher demand from this region," he added.Between 2010 and 2012, FAO statistics show that the world's top importers of rice were Nigeria at 2.1 million tonnes a year, followed by Indonesia (1.7 million), China (1.5 million) and the Philippines (1.3 million).
David Dawe, a senior economist with the agricultural development economics division of the FAO, explained that strong economic growth in Asia had encouraged many Asian farmers to leave the farming business."Given the rise in population and global food demand, farming will always be inevitable; however, agricultural practices will become less labour-intensive with greater integration of technologies," he said.Mr Mohanty said that rice farming in Asia was still dominated by millions of small farmers with an average land holding of 1 hectare. Farming on such a small scale results in very low earnings per crop. But outmigration by some farmers has led to more land consolidation, which allows those who remain to acquire more land.

In addition, the labour-intensive nature of farming is gradually changing as farmers are exploring new methods to increase productivity in terms of land preparation, transplanting, harvesting and threshing. The cost of labour, which accounts for about 45% of the total cost of conventional farm production, is expected to go down as a result."The direction of rice farming in Asia will be toward modernisation and commercialisation and it will be integrated along the supply chain," said Mr Mohanty.Smallholder farmers in Asia are adopting small-scale mechanisation and renting machinery when needed. This is because many women and young people are no longer available to help with farm chores as they find it more attractive to do other kinds of work, he said.Competition among rice exporters has also intensified. "India, for example, overtook Thai imports into Singapore in 2014, and with Thailand's droughts and irregular output, Indian rice may retain its popularity in rice-importing countries," added Ms Kamari of Euromonitor.

Statistics from World's Top Exports (WTEx) showed that global rice exports last year were worth US$24.9 billion, an increase of 22.7% since 2010. Asian countries supplied 74.6% of all export volume in 2014 and had the highest dollar value at $18.6 billion.Since 2010, Cambodia has been the fastest growing rice exporter, expanding by 750.7% from a low base, followed by Australia (545.1%), India (244.4%) and Brazil (151.8%).For Thailand to remain competitive, Mr Vichai said, the country needed to develop better irrigation systems for paddy farmers and integrate more technologies into agricultural practices."It's the only way we can remain competitive. Water is our main issue and we need more investment in water management systems. This will ultimately improve the quality of Thai rice while lowering the cost of production," he added.

While rice consumption globally is still on the rise, per capita consumption has fallen significantly in some Asian countries where baked goods, potatoes and noodles are gaining in popularity amid the proliferation of Westernised cuisines."This has affected consumer preferences and is causing them to switch to wheat consumption like noodles. With millennials largely having strong purchasing power, they are also encouraged by the availability of healthier varieties," said Ms Kamari.Noodles and pasta are two types of staple food products that are attracting more Asian consumers. For example, in Thailand, the growth of rice consumption in 2015 slowed compared with 2014, while pasta and noodles showed the opposite trend.
According to the World Instant Noodles Association, global noodle consumption stood at 102.7 billion servings (packets and cups) in 2014. Among the world's 15 biggest consumers of instant noodles, 11 are in Asia.China and Hong Kong consumed 44.4 million servings last year, followed by Indonesia (13.4 million), Japan (5.5 million), India (5.3 million), Vietnam (5 million) and South Korea (3.5 million)

Potatoes, the third most popular food crop after rice and wheat, are also gaining in popularity in the Asia, according to the Dutch potato organisation Nederlandse Aardappel Organisatie (NAO)."Asians are increasingly including potatoes in their eating habits amid the proliferation of westernised restaurant chains," said Karst Weening, a policy adviser to the NAO."There is an upward trend in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) segment, which means increased consumption of processed potato products," he said.China and India are the two largest potato producers in the world where almost a third of all potatoes are harvested; however, total potato consumption in Asian countries is still relatively small compared to other parts of the world.

"China and India constitute only about 2-4% of total potato consumption," said Mr Weening.
The latest FAO statistics show that China produced 85.9 million tonnes of potatoes in 2012, followed by India (45 million), Russia (29.5 million), Ukraine (23.3 million) and the United States (19.2 million).Potato exports from China also rose significantly last year. Malaysia, Russia and Vietnam are among the biggest importers of Chinese potatoes.The Chinese government is looking to make potatoes play a bigger role as a daily staple for its population given that rice and wheat have become more difficult to grow during periods of drought."In countries like China and India, potato production is being heavily promoted. This is partly related to the environment. The water used in the cultivation of potatoes is significantly lower compared to rice, the biggest competitor to potatoes in Asia," added Jan Gottschall of the NAO.
Mr Dawe suggested that the common theme is that as people become wealthier, they want to vary their diets. Southeast Asia is a rice-eating region so therefore the diversification is running toward wheat."The main drivers for the diversification are income and age. It's the rich and the young who consume more wheat products than the poor and the old," he said.Even for a comparable level of income, he said, younger people seem to diversify their diets more quickly as they are more globalised and interested in the latest trends, whereas the older generations prefer to eat what they always eat.

The price of rice is another factor that is influencing the shift away from rice consumption. In Southeast Asia, rice prices are relatively low in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam, but higher in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines to reflect import costs."When the price of rice goes up in these countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines), it induces people to eat more wheat-based products such as bread or noodles," said Mr Dawe.The governments in these countries have been trying to promote self-sufficiency in rice by imposing restrictions on rice imports, as they prefer not to rely solely on the instability of the global rice market.In South Korea, meanwhile, consumers are opting for healthier alternatives with multigrain and premium whole-wheat bread seen as major drivers for retail value growth, noted Ms Kamari of Euromonitor.SPC Group, South Korea's leading bakery chain, reported that the country consumed about $5.37 billion worth of baked products last year.In emerging markets such as the Philippines, convenience and value for money are the key factors that influence people to shift away from rice consumption."Unpackaged baked goods like artisanal breads, cakes and pastries are becoming more significant in emerging markets due to dynamic new product developments," she said, adding that consumers were also more willing to spend on the fresher quality of artisanal baked goods compared to packaged foods.

The Bangkok Post
APEDA Rice Commodity News
International Benchmark Price
Price on: 10-12-2015
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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)
Guar Gum Powder
Indian 100 mesh 3500 cps, FOB Kandla (USD/t)
Indian 200 mesh 3500 cps basis, FOB Kandla (USD/t)
Indian 200 mesh 5000 cps, FOB Kandla (USD/t)
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Bonai (Orissa)
Surat (Gujarat)
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Rs per 100 No
Price on 12-12-2015
Market Center
Other International Prices
Unit Price : US$ per package
Price on 09-12-2015
Market Center
Package: 50 lb sacks
Package: 50 lb cartons
Round Green Type
Round Green Type
Round Green Type
Package: 4/5 bushel cartons