Tuesday, March 01, 2016

1st March,2016 Daily Exclusive ORYZA rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Indian Finance Minister Enhances Agricultural Credit in 2016-17 Union Budget
Feb 29, 2016

The Indian Finance Minister, who presented the Union Budget 2016-17 today, has enhanced the agricultural credit to Rs.9 lakh crore (around $131 billion) from Rs.8.5 lakh crore ($124 billion) last year.
A total of Rs.35,984 crore (around $5.2 billion) is allotted for agriculture in the 2016-17 budget, he said. The Minister also announced that the government aims to cover all the 140 million farm holdings in the country under the soil health card scheme by March 2017. The soil health card scheme was introduced in last budget. Under the scheme, the government will advise farmers on the usage of inputs like fertilizers for different types of soils and for different types of crops after testing the soil in various soil testing labs across the country.
He also noted that about 200,000 hectares would be brought under organic farming over a period of three years. He stated that Rs.6,000 crore (around $874 million) would be allocated for sustainable management of ground water resources.
The Minister announced that Rs.15,000 crore ($219 million) would be allocated towards interest subvention to lower burden for farmers.
He also announced that a Unified Agricultural Marketing ePlatform would be provided for wholesale markets.

Government of Rwanda May Stop Rice Imports by 2018 to Reduce Trade Deficit

Feb 29, 2016

The government of Rwanda may stop importing rice by 2018 as part of its efforts to reduce the bulging trade deficit, according to local sources. Rwanda imported around $37 million worth rice in 2015 compared to around $31.1 million in 2014. The country 's trade deficit stood at around $1,761.3 million in 2015. Higher deficit is attributed to a fall in the country’s exports due to falling global prices.
The State Minister for Agriculture reportedly told the Parliament recently that the Agriculture Ministry has drafted a new plan aimed at increasing the local rice production, enough to meet all the country's needs by 2018.
The measures reportedly include expanding the rice planting in marshland areas as well as allocating more land to private investors who are interested in venturing into commercial rice growing activities. Currently, only 28,500 hectares of marshland areas are used for rice cultivation, while the country has a total capacity of 66,094 hectares.
"The new plan involves working with co-operatives and easing access to farm inputs to boost production. The government is currently trying to address the challenges in rice production including limited Post-harvest infrastructures, insufficient amount of good quality seeds due to absence of efficient public seed production and distribution," said the Agriculture Ministry's Permanent Secretary.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry added that “streamlining the production and supply value chains will help increase local production."
The government of Rwanda is aiming to achieve rice self-sufficiency by increasing yields to 7 tons per hectares by 2018. In 2014, the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) reportedly unveiled an initiative that sought to increase rice production, ensure quality along the value chain, and ease access to agro-inputs.
Rwanda imports about 40% of its annual rice demand of arbout 98,000 tons, according to the USDA.

Cambodia Lacks Comprehensive Rice Export Policy, Say Exporters

Feb 29, 2016

Cambodian rice exporters have expressed concerned that Cambodia lacks a comprehensive rice export policy, which can aid in boosting production and exports, according to the Phnompenh Post.
They noted that despite winning the world's best rice competition for three consecutive years, the Cambodian rice industry continues to face challenges such as access to finance, as well as inadequate irrigation, milling and storage facilities.
“Relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Economy and Finance together with the Ministry of Agriculture and CRF [Cambodian Rice Federation] have yet to come up with a thorough strategy design, accompanying policies and policy implementation framework that can be rolled out to enhance the competitiveness of our rice industry in the global market, especially within the context of how to allow Cambodian millers to become a cost leader to compete with the same level playing field [of our] Thai and Vietnamese counterparts,” one of the leading exporters was quoted.
“Cambodia’s rice industry has a huge potential but unless we manage to solve the cost impediments, this potential may be squandered. It is the survival of the fittest,” he added.
They noted that "a pragmatic, professional, and thorough marketing strategy with appropriate market positioning and implementation plan" is necessary along with the government's on-going efforts to develop a national brand name for the country's rice.
Meanwhile, the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) is planning to expand the production of organic rice in the country to around 1,000 - 1,500 tons this year due to its higher export potential. Local farmers affiliated with CEDAC produced around 400 tons of organic rice in 2014 and around 800 tons in 2015.
Cambodia has exported around 538,396 tons of milled rice in 2015 (January - December), up about 39% from around 387,061 tons exported in 2014. The government of Cambodia aimed to increase official rice exports to one million tons in 2015 but missed the target due to inadequate milling facilities and infrastructure as well as lack of access to funding.

India Average Wholesale Rice Prices Decline Slightly m/m in February 2016

Feb 29, 2016
India average wholesale rice prices have declined slightly in February 2016, after increasing for three consecutive months. The decline can be contributed to increasing supplies from the on-going Rabi/secondary rice crop (November - May) harvests.
Average monthly wholesale rice prices in India stood at around Rs.2,773.3 per quintal in February 2016, slightly up from around Rs.2,782.77 per quintal in January 2016, and slightly down from their year-ago levels of around Rs.2,787.06 per quintal.
In terms of USD per ton, wholesale rice prices in India stand at around $404 per ton (using current exchange rates) in February 2016, down about 3% from around $415 per ton (using historical exchange rates) in January 2016, and down about 10% from around $450 per ton (using historical exchange rates) in February 2015.     
Analysts are expecting India’s average prices to increase due to a likely reduction in this year's output following below-average monsoon rains during the kharif season (July - December).The government, in its second advance estimates for major crops, forecasts India's 2015-16 (July - June) milled rice output to decline about 2% to around 103.61 million tons from around 105.48 million tons in 2014-15.

Indian Authorities Unearth $146 Million Scam in Basmati Rice Exports Routed to Iran

Feb 29, 2016

Authorities from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have unearthed a massive scam involving over 200,000 tons of basmati rice worth Rs.1,000 crore (around $146 million) in rice exports routed to Iran, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).
The DRI authorities found that the rice routed to the Bandar Abbas port in Iran was being fraudulently diverted mid-sea to Dubai. They noted that exporters involved in the scam would load the rice at the Kandla port in Gujarat. They have also filed shipping bills to Iran. However, the consignment was diverted mid-sea to Dubai allegedly with the connivance of cargo ship operators carrying the goods. They also noted that payments are understood to be made from Iran to these exporters with the importers and port officials officially acknowledging the receipt of rice.
The authorities are reportedly suspecting the involvement of about 25 rice exporters from Haryana and Punjab in this scam.
Local sources noted that the intelligence agencies are investigating the end use of the rice off-loaded in Dubai. They noted that the authorities are suspecting the use of rice as barter system to fund some illegal activities. Locally, they are expecting the proceeds of the scam are a form of black money, the sources said.
The DRI has reportedly involved the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team on black money as well as the Enforcement Directorate to resolve the case. It is also in touch with the concerned authorities in Dubai

Oryza CBOT Rough Rice Futures Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Bounce Higher to Start the Week on a Positive Note

Mar 01, 2016

Chicago rough rice futures for Mar delivery settled 10.5 cents per cwt (about $2 per ton) higher at $10.495 per cwt (about $231 per ton). The other grains finished the day with mixed results; Soybeans closed about 0.3% lower at $8.6100 per bushel; wheat finished about 0.2% higher at $4.5325 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 0.7% lower at $3.5700 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded higher Monday, the last trading day of February, amid higher oil prices and after some disappointing data. U.S. crude oil futures extended gains trading more than 2.5% higher near $33.70 a barrel in afternoon trade. In economic news, Chicago PMI came in at 47.6 in February, missing expectations and dropping from 55.6 in January. Pending home sales fell 2.5% in January, versus expectations for a slight gain. Key data for the week include ISM manufacturing on Tuesday and the jobs report on Friday.
European equities came off session lows to close mixed after China's central bank announced further stimulus measures. The People's Bank of China cut further the reserve requirement ratio, the amount of cash the country's banks have to hold, by 0.5% points after China's markets closed Monday. The cut was the first since October and the fifth since last February. The reserve requirement ratio comes into effect Tuesday and means most large Chinese banks will have a reserve ratio of 17%, Reuters said. Asian equities closed mostly lower, with the Shanghai composite down about 2.9% but above session lows and the Nikkei 225 reversing gains to close down 1%.In afternoon trade, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 42 points, or 0.25%, at 16,682. The S&P 500 traded 5 points higher, or 0.4%, at 1,953, with utilities leading eight sectors higher and health care and energy the only decliners. The Nasdaq composite was up 17 points, or 0.38%, to 4,607. Gold is seen trading about 1.1% higher, crude oil is seen trading about 2.6% higher, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.1% higher at about  1:00pm Chicago time.
Friday, there were 4,710 contracts traded, up from 3,079 contracts traded on Thursday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Friday increased by 264 contracts to 13,037. 

Iraq Seeks to Buy 30,000 Tons of Rice in Tenders

Feb 29, 2016

Iraq is seeking to buy about 30,000 tons of rice in tenders from the U.S., Uruguay and Argentina, Bloomberg quoted a statement from Iraq's Trade Ministry.
Deadline for submission of bid is reportedly March 8, 2016, and the offers will be valid till March 14, 2016.
Last week, Iraq passed off tenders to buy 90,000 tons of U.S. rice due to high prices. Bidders reportedly offered South American rice at low prices.

Pakistan Resumes Banking Ties with Iran as Sanctions End

Feb 29, 2016

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has resumed banking ties with Iran allowing all commercial banks and financial institutions in the country to restart business with their Iranian counterparts, according to Reuters.
"In line with the federal government's decision to implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution regarding lifting of sanctions against Iran, the State Bank of Pakistan has communicated to banks/financial institutions that previous sanctions on Iran have been removed and normal business activities can be commenced within the scope of the Resolution," the central bank was quoted.
"It is expected that the lifting of sanctions and restoration of banking channels between Pakistan and Iran would revive normal trade and business activities between the two neighbours," it added.
Major Pakistani exports to Iran include basmati rice, plastics, paper and oranges, and the big imports items include liquefied petroleum gas, petroleum products, electric transformers and dry fruits. The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has been urging the government to restore payment mechanisms between the two countries to help boost exports.
Earlier this month, the global transaction network Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) reconnected a number of Iranian banks to its system, allowing them to restart cross-border transactions with foreign banks. The move came after sanctions were lifted on Iran in January this year. Iranian banks were removed from the Belgium-based SWIFT in March 2012, following the tightening of the international sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program.
Global Rice Quotes
February 29th, 2016
Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade          365-375           ↔
Vietnam 5% broken    355-365           ↑
India 5% broken         360-370           ↔
Pakistan 5% broken    335-345           ↔
Myanmar 5% broken   420-430           ↔
Cambodia 5% broken             410-420           ↔
U.S. 4% broken           455-465           ↔
Uruguay 5% broken    445-455           ↔
Argentina 5% broken 435-445           ↔
Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken 345-355           ↔
Vietnam 25% broken 345-355           ↑
Pakistan 25% broken 305-315           ↔
Cambodia 25% broken           395-405           ↔
India 25% broken       325-335           ↔
U.S. 15% broken (sacked)      440-450           ↔
Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd            365-375           ↔
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd    NQ      ↔
India parboiled 5% broken stxd         350-360           ↔
U.S. parboiled 4% broken       480-490           ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken    520-530           ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken            NQ      ↔
Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%          665-675           ↔
Vietnam Jasmine         415-425           ↔
India basmati 2% broken        NQ      ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken   NQ      ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails             755-765           ↔
Thailand A1 Super      325-335           ↔
Vietnam 100% broken            330-340           ↑
Pakistan 100% broken stxd    285-295           ↔
Cambodia A1 Super   335-345           ↔
India 100% broken stxd         260-270           ↔
Egypt medium grain brokens NQ      ↔
U.S. pet food 280-290           ↔
Brazil half grain          NQ      ↔
All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel, oryza.com

Vietnam Exports About 727,847 Tons of Rice During January 1 – February 25, 2016

Feb 29, 2016
Vietnam exported about 727,847 tons of rice in January 1 - February 25, 2016, up about 73% from around 421,202 tons of rice exported in first two months of 2015, according to data from the Vietnam Food Association (VFA). The average rice export price so far in this year stands at about $399 per ton (FOB), down about 11% per ton from around $452 per ton recorded during same last year.
During February 1-25, 2016, Vietnam exported around 311,077 tons of rice, up about 55% from around 200,814 tons rice exported in full month of February 2015, and down about 25% from around 416,770 tons rice exported in full month of January 2016. The average export price so far in February stands at around $387 per ton, down about 15% per ton from a year ago and down about 5% per ton from a month ago.

Vietnam Rice Sellers Increase Their Quotes Today; Other Asia Rice Quotes Unchanged

Feb 29, 2016

Vietnam rice sellers increased their quotes for 5% broken rice, 25% broken rice and 100% broken rice by about $5 per ton each to around $355-$365 per ton, $345-$355 per ton and $330-$340 per ton respectively today. Other Asia rice sellers kept their quotes unchanged today.                       
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $355 - $365 per ton, on par with Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $355 - $365 per ton. India 5% rice is indicated at around $360 - $370 per ton, about $25 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $335 - $345 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice is indicated at around $345 - $355 per ton, on par with Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $345- $3505per ton. India 25% rice is indicated at around $325 - $335 per ton, about $20 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $305 - $315 per ton.
Parboiled Rice           
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $365 - $375 per ton. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $350 - $360 per ton, about $55 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 $260 - $270 per ton, about $25 per ton discount to Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $285 - $295 per ton.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap - Prices Seen Steady after IGB Reissues Another Tender Including South American Origins

Mar 01, 2016

The U.S. cash market was seen mostly unchanged today after it was confirmed that Iraq canceled their U.S. origin only tender and reissued another tender to buy at least 30,000 MT from either the U.S., Uruguay, or Argentina.
Analyst note that the lower and unsolicited offers from South America on the old tender likely complicated things for the Iraqi Grain Board as they likely faced difficulties justifying paying a roughly $90 per ton premium for U.S. rice over South American.
Going forward, analysts expect that offers from the U.S. will decrease while offers from South America will increase which some believe will give the U.S. a decent shot at booking one cargo.
Offers need to be submitted no later than March 8 and need to remain valid until March 14.
 News have been shared with permission of ORYZA.com with thanks

29th February 2016 Daily global rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Rice exporters seek zero-rated tax regime


The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has urged the government to declare rice as a separate industry and place it under zero-rating along with five major export-oriented sectors.
In a statement, Patron-in-Chief of REAP Abdul Rahim Janoo said that apart from textiles, rice exports were much ahead of other four export-oriented sectors. He feared that neglecting this sector would discourage rice exports and the country would lose its traditional markets.
Janoo said the government would have to go for “no payment no tax” policy to ensure corruption-free export trade and encourage exporters. “There is no logic in first paying taxed and then getting refunds of the same. This results in corruption and blocks huge working capital of export trade.”As exporters funds are held back by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), they had to go for bank borrowing and pay extra amount towards mark-up, he said.

Group seeks foreign partners to boost rice production

ON FEBRUARY 28, 201611:49 AMIN NEWS0 COMMENTS 111 Shares3321 Yenagoa – The Bayelsa chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) says it is seeking foreign partners to produce rice in commercial quantity in the state. The state Chairman of the association, Mr Ezekiel-Simeon Ogbianko, disclosed this in Yenagoa on Sunday. Ogbianko said the association had acquired 40,000 hectares of land in Yenagoa Local Government Area for the commercial rice farming project. He said that the association also acquired additional 5,000 hectares of land in each of the eight local government areas of the state for rice cultivation. He said the acquisition of land in the local government areas was to ensure that there was enough rice for local consumption as well as export. “We want to launch our website very soon and we need international partners. We have a large parcel of land for commercial rice cultivation. “We need those with the technical knowhow and those that know the value of agriculture to partner with us and produce rice in commercial quantity in Bayelsa State,” he said. Ogbianko said that the association was expecting a loan from the Bank of Agriculture to fully go into the project. He explained that the state chapter of RIFAN faced the challenge of non-accessibility of the acquired parcels of land because the areas were characterised by thick vegetation and marshy soil. The chairman decried the lack of rice mills in the state, and said that a large quantity of rice produced in the state was unprocessed because of lack of milling machines. He said, “if government can provide modern milling

Minister Suspects Rice Cartel Practice - Tempo.Co

Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman.
TEMPO/Imam Sukamto
Monday, 29 February, 2016 | 14:38 WIB
Minister Suspects Rice Cartel Practice

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Agricultural Minister Amran Sulaiman predicted that certain parties have intentionally manipulated rice prices to gain profits in exchange of public interest. "These parties are middle men who often look for opportunities to hoard rice and sell them to the market [at certain times]," Amran said to the press on Monday, February 29, 2016.Amran said that these middle men have less to no concern about the public needs and the government's effort to stabilize rice prices. Amran added that the middle men will only sell their rice stocks if commodity prices are climbing.Currently, Amran has noted an indication of massive inflow of rice stocks in rice supply centers, causing oversupply, in turn, dropping the price of rice. On the first week of February 2016, rice were sold at Rp 13,344 per kilogram while on the second week, the price drops to Rp 7,500 to Rp 10,000 per kilogram.

"This is an anomaly that has never happened within the last five to 10 years. This also showed that the national rice production is increasing," Amran said.Minister Amran said that the government will not giving up in eradicating middle men and food commodity mafia who have disrupted Indonesia's agricultural pattern."We will change the planting patter so that there will be no unused land, because once a harvesting season ends, a planting season starts. This will resulted in continuous rice production and eliminate rice scarcity," Amran concluded.


Minister launches premium 7,500 rice

Senin, 29 Februari 2016 21:34 WIB |

Cilacap, C Java (ANTARA News) - Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman launched a new rice product, labeled as Premium 7,500 Rice, in Cilacap, Central Java, on Monday, in an effort to reduce the number of players in distribution channel.The minister launched the Premium 7,500 rice product after conducting a grand rice harvest, together with the Indonesian Army Chief Gen Mulyono, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, Cilacap District Head Tatto Wuarto Pamuji and a number of government officials in Mernek Village, Maos, Cilacap District, Central Java.Minister Sulaiman said the Premium 7,500 rice was bought from farmers at a fair price and was sold to consumers at a lower price.

"This means that we are creating a new market by shortening the distribution channel for rice," noted the minister.He said the rice was bought from farmers at a price of Rp4,000 per kilogram. The rice was bought in the unhusked form and was sold as hulled premium rice at Rp7,500 per kilogram.However, the minister said he did not rule out the possibility of the premium rice price increasing slightly in the future. "It can be raised slightly as long as it stays below the Rp8,000 per kilogram level," he said.On the distribution of Premium 7,500 rice, the minister explained that his ministry has prepared 1,000 farmer shops in provinces which are rice producing centers.
Premium 7,500 rice venture is part of the efforts to stabilize rice prices. "We can see now that the rice prices have returned to normal, ranging from Rp7,500 to Rp8,000 per kilogram. So, we will go ahead with the program."

At a separate occasion, Head of the Food Resilience Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Gardjita Budi said the rice from which Premium Rice 7,500 is produced was bought from farmers at a price more than what is sanctioned by the government (HPP), so the farmers get the benefit. The unhusked rice is processed and sold to the farmer shops.

"The point is that the shops should not cause difficulties to the people while selling rice," he said. The farmer shops can sell the premium rice at Rp7,500 per kilogram directly because there is a shorter distribution channel.Budi said his side has set a target of opening 1,000 farmer shops in 2016. About 150 shops had been opened in 2015 but they were still on a trial basis.


Vietnam rice exports rebound; prices stay low

By Chi Nhan, Thanh Nien News
HO CHI MINH CITY - Sunday, February 28, 2016 10:22
Workers load rice sacks at a seaport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Diep Duc Minh

Vietnam's rice exports hit US$445 million in the first two months, twice the number of the same period last year, the agriculture ministry reported on Friday.The strong increase was achieved, even as the average price slipped nearly 6 percent to $443.5 a ton, thanks to a sharp increase in quantity. Rice shipments exceeded one million ton in January and February, the ministry said.
Indonesia replaced China to become Vietnam's biggest rice buyer, accounting for more than 25 percent of the shipments in January. It was followed by China and the Philippines.
Vietnam, however, saw sharp declines in its exports to Hong Kong and the US, both deemed as its high-ranking markets. Shipments to these markets went down 25 and 23 percent, respectively.Rice exports fell 2.9 percent last year to $2.85 billion. 


Chinese rice body to open Yangon branch

NilarEleven Myanmar
SUN, 28 FEB, 2016 8:42 PM

The China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIG) will open a branch in Yangon next month, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF).It aimed to carry out quality inspection of rice due to be exported to China, the MRF said.Lu Maw Myint Maung, joint secretary of the MRF, said: "Officials from the CCIG held discussions this month to increase rice exports. They feel the Myanmar rice market has potential to develop. The CCIG is looking for an office and plans to open next month. I heard the Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation has arranged an office for the CCIG and it is looking for warehouses in Hlaingtharya and rice mills near industrial zones."

The country could export more than 1.3 million tonnes of rice this fiscal year, down more than four million tonnes compared with the last year, said Ye Min Aung, general secretary of the MRF.The decline in rice exports was due to the devastating floods during last year’s monsoon, he added. Around 90 per cent of Myanmar’s exported rice passes through its land borders with 10 per cent leaving by sea. Muse is the main centre for rice exports to China. "Muse camp received about 5,000 tonnes of rice in previous years. But now we cannot export more than 1,000 tonnes. CCIG is an independent, third-party certification and inspection organisation dedicated to providing inspection, verification, certification and testing services," he said



02/29/2016 Farm Bureau Market Report

Long Grain Cash Bids
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Rice Comment

Rice futures recovered Friday's losses, but didn't make much progress in recouping most of what was lost last week. The market continues to absorb disappointing export news. The loss of the Iraqi tender, which had originally been for 90,000 tons US origin rice only, was the impetus for the negative undertone this week. Weekly exports of 55,800 metric tons weren't enough to spark much buying interest today. USDA pegged US acreage at 2.8 million acres, up from last year's 2.6 million. Depending on the weather, though, that total could be even higher.

Iraq Tender Falls Apart at Eleventh Hour 
By Michael Klein

WASHINGTON, DC -- USA Rice has learned that the most recent rice tender from the Grain Board of Iraq has been cancelled despite on target and competitive bids from the United States, the extension of bids, and intervention from the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.After months of wrangling with the Grain Board and the Ministry of Trade, direct involvement from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and U.S.-sponsored technical seminars as recently as three weeks ago, things appeared to be looking up in this once great market for U.S rice when a U.S. specific tender was announced earlier this month.The 90,000 metric ton tender closed on February 21, with results expected to be announced late last week.

As of today, the tender has been cancelled and is being reoffered at 30,000 metric tons and including South America as an origin.  [Click on the video link above to hear Carl Brothers, senior vice president and COO of Riceland Foods, explain what's happening here.]USA Rice, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, has consistently encouraged Iraq to diversify its origins for rice to reduce the risk of non-delivery and to ensure a reliable and timely supply of rice."We certainly don't expect to get all the business, but with a U.S. origin tender it seems we had a good shot at this one," Ward said.  "We're extremely disappointed, and this latest action by the government of Iraq is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of U.S. rice farmers who stand ready to help feed the people of Iraq.  We have a large, high-quality, safe crop, ready to go.  It's quite frustrating."

The government of Iraq is experiencing a significant financial crisis with no approved operating budget for the year, however, it is well known that food stocks are running low and the 90,000 ton tender was almost seen as an emergency measure to help with food rations for the Iraqi people.

USA Rice Connects with Thousands at Farm & Gin Show
By Michael Klein

MEMPHIS, TN -- The just concluded 64th Annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show attracted thousands of attendees and more than 400 exhibitors, one of which was USA Rice.USA Rice's popular booth featured an exciting prize wheel that's become a show favorite.  "Contestants" spin the wheel and must answer a trivia question about rice to receive a prize.  Topics include the nutritional value of rice, where rice is grown, rice's sustainability record, and more, including some fun facts and trick questions that you can see in the video above.  Correct answers were rewarded withThinkRice marshmallow rice treats, pens, colored pencils, and measuring cups.

"We like to have fun with the folks with our trivia game," said Randy Jemison, USA Rice director of Louisiana Field Services.  "A lot of exhibitors just give stuff away, but we make them work - and learn for it.  They come back year after year, a lot of times proud that they remember the question and answer we asked them last year.  And that's what this is all about."Jemison said USA Rice attends to connect with rice growers and to participate in the many educational seminars offered at the show.During his annual presentation for the Outlook on Rice and Wheat, Carl Brothers, senior vice president and COO of Riceland Foods, said that while the year started out strong and rough rice exports are still strong, milled rice exports are down.

"I had hoped to come to Memphis a little more upbeat than I am, but we've got some tenders going on that we're not sure what's happening, and we are absolutely looking at other rice exporting countries that are not complying with the WTO obligations, making it very difficult for American rice farmers," he said.Brothers said a bright side was a steady rise in U.S. domestic consumption that far outpaces population growth.  "Since 1980, ice consumption is up 271 percent, but population is up only about 40 percent," he said.  "The upsurge is attributed to the rise in rice use in pet food and in the diet of Americans as demographics shift."

Milo Hamilton, founder of FirstGrain, also gave an interesting talk where he said water, and by extension, rice, are entering a phase of what he termed "Empire Commodities."  He believes the Fossil Fuel Empire Commodities are declining in importance and water will be a new global standard.









Global Rice Seed Consumption 2016 Market Research Report

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The report begins with a brief overview of the Global Rice Seed Consumption market and then moves on to evaluate the key trends of the market. The key trends shaping the dynamics of the Global Rice Seed Consumption market have been scrutinized along with the related current events, which is impacting the market. Drivers, restraints, opportunities, and threats of the Global Rice Seed Consumption market have been analyzed in the report. Moreover, the key segments and the sub-segments that constitutes the market is also explained in the reporhttp://qwtjlive.com/2016/02/global-rice-seed-consumption-2016-market-research-report/4856/

US and China Agree to a Deal on US Rice

February 29, 2016 2:30 PM |
Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Loraine Hudson, of Mintec.
After roughly 10 years of discussions, an agreement has been reached that will allow U.S. rice to be exported to China, the largest rice producer, importer and consumer. Demand for U.S. rice in China has been identified and the country could, in time, become the largest market for U.S. rice exports.
In comparison with China, the U.S. rice market is tiny. The U.S. produces 6 million to 7 million tonnes of rice per year, compared to around 140 million tonnes per year for China. U.S. consumption is around 4 million tonnes, whereas China’s is more than 142 million tonnes. China’s huge demand for rice is not completely covered by its domestic production and so in the past few years China has become the world’s largest rice importer too.In 2014/2015, China imported 4.3 million tonnes of rice, and none of that was American. A lengthy discussion on the phytosanitary aspects of the rice that China will allow into the country has been ongoing for the best part of a decade and, until this was decided, no U.S. rice could be exported to China. On Jan. 21, 2016, a representative from USA Rice announced that an agreement had been reached with hopes that U.S. rice could be exported to China as early as spring 2016.

The phytosanitary protocol agreement requires U.S. rice mills and storage facilities to comply with a range of phytosanitary standards, which will be inspected by both U.S. and Chinese authorities, and a certification issued by China before exports can be made. Even then exports will only be allowed into eligible Chinese ports. Part of the requirements is for traps to be laid to capture certain insects, especially the Khapra beetle. The Khapra beetle is notoriously hard to kill but very rare in the U.S., and exporters will need to prove traps are in place and record anything found in them.Although the prospect of exporting to China is seen as having huge potential for the U.S. rice industry, U.S. exporters are aiming for the high-quality market rather than the mass-market. Consequently, it is thought that exports will grow slowly, with China becoming the largest importer of U.S. rice only after a few years.


With a reduced rice crop prices for farmers’ paddy might increase

Dear Editor,
Harvesting of the first rice crop for 2016, will commence soon in Region Two, where farmers will be making full use of the sunny weather. Farmers are expected to harvest an average of 40 bags per acre without much difficulty; overall a bumper crop will result. It is a relatively small crop considering that only about 25,000 acres out of the 35,500 acres were sown due to the lack of irrigation water and the continuing dry weather.With a lower projected yield from such a reduced crop, the signs are pointing in the direction of increased competition for farmers’ paddy and a resultant increase in price, which may be good for the farmers. I think it was a wise decision for Guyana and Suriname rice millers to join forces considering the critical nature of the current situation. It will be necessary to lobby for increased access to the Colombia market.

This could be expedited and supported by monitoring how paddy stocks are released into the market, thereby empowering lobbyists with crucial information for decision-making. The need for constructive dialogue between the Guyana Rice Exporters and Millers Association (GREMA) and the Suriname Rice Millers Association at this time cannot be over-emphasized. Over the past year, there has been a general decline in the sale of rice on the international market for both Guyana and Suriname.

This trend, which has been non-uniform, has had more consequences for Guyana and Suriname than other rice-producing countries. In the last few years they have faced a serious threat to their earning position as other countries began offering more competitive prices. If rice from outside sources enters the Caribbean and Colombia markets, regional producers will have grave difficulties in competing. Guyana and Suriname producers will have to pay greater attention to cost of production and efficiency. We hear over and over that the world is becoming more interdependent.
Much talk is going on about the global rice trade. Asian countries are forming transnational corporations and they do not allow differences of race, nationality or religion to affect their profits. They will further add to the pressure on the low prices. For the third time since 1995, drought has reduced rice crops in Guyana and Suriname. It is still too early to make a definitive forecast of the 2016 production of Guyana’s paddy and rice. International rice prices from most origins strengthened during the month of March.

Yours faithfully,
Mohamed Khanhttp://www.stabroeknews.com/2016/opinion/letters/02/29/reduced-rice-crop-prices-farmers-paddy-might-increase/

P.S.R. Das passes away


Kisan Servcies Organisation (KSO) secretary and a progressive farmer P.S.R. Das passed away on Sunday. His last rites would be performed in the city on Monday. The body was shifted to his son’s residence in the city near Ayush Hospitals. He served as secretary of Kisan Service Organsation (KSO), a voluntary organisation floated to create awareness among farmers on current agricultural practices, government schemes etc.Mr. Das has been instrumental in encouraging the farmers in cultivating Basmati rice in the district. The farmers cultivated the new variety as it can be exported. The Pusa 1509 variety has become popular among the farmers due to its high yield as compared to Pusa-1121.Mr. Das was on forefront on many issues that were related to the farming community. In Gudivada, his home town, Mr. Das also organised meet in commemoration of Sir Arthur Cotton.

Amira Nature Foods Ltd Announces New Partnership for UAE Market

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Amira Nature Foods Ltd Announces New Partnership for UAE Market
Amira Forms Strategic Alliance with MAN Consumer, One of the Fastest Growing FMCG Distributors in the United Arab Emirates

Amira Nature Foods Ltd (NYSE: ANFI), a leading global provider of branded packaged Indian specialty rice, announced today that it has joined hands with MAN Consumer, a wholly owned subsidiary of MAN Investments UAE, to form a strategic alliance for the distribution of Amira products in the United Arab Emirates. The agreement was formalized last week with an official signing ceremony in Dubai at Gulfood 2016, the world’s largest annual food and hospitality trade show. Amira was a gold sponsor for the event which drew approximate 85,000 attendees over a five day period.

MAN Consumer, one of the fastest growing distribution companies in the United Arab Emirates, is a wholly owned subsidiary of MAN Investments, which is a part of Mohammed Juma Al Naboodah’s private office, a major Emirati conglomerate. With a vision to be the largest FMCG distributor in the UAE and a leading player in the broader MENA region, MAN Consumer presently distributes 30+ brands in the region, spread across diverse set of segments.Amira’s Chairman Mr. Karan A. Chanana during the press meet stated, "We are delighted to be working with MAN Consumer to strengthen our brand distribution. This marks an exciting step for Amira in the UAE. We look forward to working with the group to increase our product availability in the region, allowing more Emirates consumers to discover the Amira brand and our excellent range of quality rice."

MAN Consumer General Manager Mr.Taranjit Singh stated, “Amira’s premium aged rice ranges intend to bring delight to consumers, like no other. With our strong distribution strengths, MAN intend to ensure Amira’s availability in every single corner of the country and make Amira a household name.”

About Amira Nature Foods Ltd
Founded in 1915, Amira has evolved into a leading global provider of branded packaged Indian specialty rice and other products, with sales in over 60 countries. The Company primarily sells Basmati rice, which is a premium long-grain rice grown only in certain regions of the Indian sub-continent, under its flagship Amira brand as well as under other third party brands. Amira sells its products through a broad distribution network in both the developed and emerging markets. The Company’s global headquarters are in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and it also has offices in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Amira Nature Foods Ltd is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “ANFI.”For more information, please visit www.amira.net

“Discover. Create. Enjoy. - Amira!”

Safe Harbor for Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains statements of a forward-looking nature. These statements are made under the “safe harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. You can identify these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “except,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to,” “future” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. There is no assurance that our current expectations and projections are accurate. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:

our goals and strategies;
our expansion plans;
our future business development, results of operations, financial condition and audited financial statements;
our ability to protect our intellectual property rights;
projected revenue, EBITDA, adjusted EBITDA, profits, adjusted profits, earnings, adjusted earnings and other estimated financial information;
our ability to maintain strong relationships with our customers and suppliers;
the continued application of the proceeds from our initial public offering (“IPO”);
governmental policies regarding our industry; and
the impact of legal proceedings.
You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements and you should read these statements in conjunction with the risk factors disclosed in “Risk Factors” appearing in Amira’s Annual Reports found on the SEC’s website located at www.sec.gov. Those risks are not exhaustive. We operate in a rapidly evolving environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time, and it is impossible for our management to predict all risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ from those contained in any forward-looking statement. We do not undertake any obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements except as required under applicable law.
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Amira Nature Foods Ltd
Bruce Wacha, 646-779-1984
Chief Financial Officer

DRI unearths over Rs 1,000 crore scam in rice export

By PTI | Feb 28, 2016, 12.47 PM IST
Authorities have unearthed a massive scam in export of high-quality Basmati rice to Iran, running into over Rs 1,000 crore.

NEW DELHI: Authorities have unearthed a massive scam in export of high-quality Basmati rice to Iran, running into over Rs 1,000 crore, in which the commodity was fraudulently diverted mid-sea to Dubai. According to a probe being done by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), over two lakh metric tonnes of Basmati rice was illegally offloaded in Dubai in the last over a year instead of in Bandar Abbas in Iran, official sources said. Over 25 big exporters from Haryana and Punjab are under the scanner of DRI and other agencies for their involvement in the multi-crore scam, they said.


Explaining the modus operandi, the sources said rice would be taken to Gujarat's Kandla Port by these exporters. They would then file Shipping Bills--documents filed with customs authorities carrying details of goods to be exported, consignor and consignee--for export to Iran, they said. Instead of the consignment reaching Iranian shores, it would be diverted mid-sea to Dubai allegedly with the connivance of cargo ship operators carrying the goods. Surprisingly, payments were also made from Iran to these exporters in India. Importers and port officials would allegedly acknowledge the receipt of rice and allow payment to be made against it here, the sources said. What is worrying for intelligence agencies here is that they do not know the end-use of rice off-loaded in Dubai. They suspect use of rice as barter system to fund some illegal activity like terror financing, the sources said.


The DRI has red-flagged the scam at the highest level and is in touch with authorities concerned in Dubai about the scam. Prima facie, two lakh metric tonnes of rice valued at about Rs 1,000 crore has been off-loaded in Dubai instead of Iran, they said. While India lost foreign exchange which it could have got from Dubai in case of genuine trade, Iran was also deprived of customs duty it would have been entitled to if rice was delivered at its shore, the sources said. The authorities suspect the proceeds of the scam assumed the form of black money. The DRI has informed Supreme Court- appointed Special Investigation Team on black money about the case. It has also roped in the Enforcement Directorate to look into the matter, they said. Legal export of rice from the country has risen in the past two years. India had exported 2,77,880.22 kg of Basmati rice to United Arab Emirates in 2014-15. About 4,11,776.06 kg of rice had been sent to the UAE between April and November 2015, as per the latest data of export compiled by Directorate General of Foreign Trade.


Only American on Amadeus Silver II cruise

February 28, 20165:38 PM MST

I’m the only American on this Amras cruise aboard the Amadeus Silver II. I’ll say it once more because it has never happened before and most likely will never happen again – I am the only American on this cruise.

Jackie Sheckler Finch

Jackie Sheckler Finch
What an adventure!
So far, it has been a breeze. A driver was waiting holding a card with my name when I exited the airport in Basel. My Amras contact had already told me to exit on the French side of the airport, rather than the German one. Many people make a mistake and go out the wrong side so I was glad to be forewarned by Amras. On my previous arrivals in Basel, I needed to exit on the German side so this was a bit different.I was the only Silver II passenger arriving on this flight so I had the plush taxi all to myself. The driver didn’t speak English but he smiled a lot and insisted on carrying my one suitcase.It was only about a 20-minute ride from the airport to the ship. Even though I arrived at the ship around 11 a.m., my stateroom was ready. I was happy to be able to unpack, take a shower and get ready for a wonderful five-day cruise on the Rhine.As I said in my first preview blog about the cruise, I am taking two back-to-back cruises on the Silver II. Since it is such a long flight from Indianapolis to Europe, I am combining two cruises for an 11-day river journey. The second six-day cruise is also on the Rhine.
Sleek and silvery ship
The Amadeus Silver II is a beautiful ship and lives up to her name. She sparkles and shines. Launched in 2015, the Silver II has four decks and can carry 168 passengers. As a nod to her Amadeus heritage, the decks are named Mozart, Strauss and Haydn. I am on Mozart.My cruise has 80 passengers, most of whom are German or Israeli with a small group of Japanese. The Israelis are traveling with their own guide and will be doing their own activities as well as eating at tables reserved for them. Although all ship personnel speak English, the main languages on this cruise are Hebrew and German, I am definitely in the minority. I don’t speak either of those.
The average age of passengers seems to be about 60 although there is a young New Zealand couple taking their first river cruise and their first trip to Germany and France. The cruise will be going from Basel to Cologne, Germany. We mostly have two shore excursions each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Since this is embarkation day, our program is shorter than usual. This first day we had tea time from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Panorama Bar. Along with tea and coffee, the welcoming buffet had bunches of little sandwiches and sweets. We will be having dinner in a couple of hours so I tried to steer clear of the delicious fresh pastries. Took will power not to eat more than one strudel.
At 6 p.m., we had the obligatory safety and ship briefing, followed at 6:30 by the captain’s welcome with an introduction of ship officers and a champagne toast.
First dinner aboard Silver II
Dinner was served at 7 p.m. in the restaurant. It doesn’t have a fancy name – just The Restaurant. Dinner is one seating and seats are assigned. The Israeli tour group, of course, was seated together at several tables. Germans also were seated together or as couples at individual tables as were the Japanese. Since the cruise is only half full, it is possible for couples to have tables all to themselves.
I was assigned to sit at a table with a 40ish man named Alex from the United Kingdom. Maître d' Roman said we had been seated together because we both speak English. Alex is on a business cruise. He arranges tours for clients, especially for travelers with disabilities and is on the Silver II to learn more about the ship.
It is interesting to see the ship through Alex’s eyes looking for disability access and I think I will learn quite a bit from him in the next few days. Alex is stubborn and uses crutches, although he said he could easily be a wheelchair user. He also told me that he has outlived his projected lifespan and greets each day as a gift. That is a good attitude for everyone to keep in mind.
The dining room is beautiful as is the whole ship. The décor is very appealing to me – light and open, elegant but simple. Floor-to-ceiling windows are everywhere. The dominant colors are deep mauve and ivory. Lighting fixtures are sparkly crystal.
Cuisine is considered international with an accent on Viennese. Judging from the afternoon tea and first dinner, I am going to be quite happy with whatever label is given the food served aboard Silver II.
Here is the Welcome Dinner Menu. It is quite a lot to type in but look at it and consider what you would order if you were here:
Beef Carpaccio Marinated with Truffle Oil, Old Aceto Balsamico and Ruccola Salad
Caesar’s Salad
Beef Consumme with Sherry and Puff Pastry
Chili Corn Cream Soup
Tortellini Pasta with Truffle Sauce and Parmesan (appetizer for everyone)
Roasted Lamb Shank with Fresh Vegetables, Creamy Polenta, Lamb Jus and Gremolata
Grilled Fillet of Salmon with Potato Carrot Crust, Curry Sauce, Sautéed Savoy Cabbage, Snow Peas and Basmati Rice
Steamed Chinese Cabbage with Basmati Rice, Lemon-Soja Sauce and Asian Vegetables.
Stuffed Macaroon and Caramel Parfait
Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberries and Grand Marnier


Quiz: What’s the right diet for you?

Are you a feaster, emotional eater or constant craver? Take our quiz to find out what kind of eater you are and how that impacts your ideal diet.
By Siobhan Hegarty

22 JUL 2015 - 11:35 AM  UPDATED 24 FEB 2016 - 12:53 PM
The three-part documentary What's the right diet for you? starts 8.30pm Thursday 3 March on SBS.

What type of eater am I?
·         a) Once I start, I can't stop.
·         b) I want to eat all day, every day.
·         c) It's my go-to when anxious or sad.
·         a) Once I start, I can't stop.36.5%
·         b) I want to eat all day, every day.32.2%
·         c) It's my go-to when anxious or sad.31.3%

Answered a)? You’re a ‘Feaster’

Recent scientific studies show gut hormones can have a strong influence on our appetite. If you’re a feaster, you’re likely to possess low levels of a gut hormone that tells you when you’re full.
What does this mean? Once you start eating you’re unlikely to feel the satisfaction of fullness, so you keep on munching.
What’s the best diet? Seeing as you find it hard to stop eating, it’s best to choose foods that reach your gut hormone and make you feel fuller for longer. These are foods that are high in protein, such as fish and chicken, and low in glycemic index (GI) – pasta, lentils and basmati rice are great examples.
What not to eat? Be careful with your carbs! Potatoes along with most rice varieties and breads are carbohydrates that are quickly processed by the gut and, hence, won’t keep you sated.

Answered b)? You’re a ‘Constant craver’

For most people, when our fat stores reach a sufficient level, our brains receive signals telling us we no longer need to eat. If you’re a constant craver, you possess genes which disrupt the way these signals are received, tricking the brain into thinking the fat stores constantly need replenishing.
What does this mean? You’re hungry all of the gosh darn time!
What’s the best diet? Because you’re constantly craving food, dieting seven days a week will be a serious struggle. Instead, try dramatically reducing your calories on two days of the week. This is known as ‘intermittent fasting’. Severely limiting your calorie intake should shock your body into burning carlories.
So how many calories are we talking? It’s best to seek guidance from a medical professional before starting your fast as it’s not recommended for all body types. Most contestants on What’s The Right Diet For You? fit into the obese category, so they were given a limit of 800 calories on fasting days, however, other programs, such as Michael Mosley: Eat, Fast & Live Longer suggest 500 calories for women and 600 for men will be sufficient.
What can I eat? The good news is, five days per week you can eat whatever you like! Try to keep it healthy. For the two fasting days, it’s best to stick to small portions of meat, fish, eggs and vegetables. Some fasting programs, such as those showcased on the Michael Mosley documentary, say you can eat whatever foods you like on a fasting day, while What’s The Right Diet For You? argues you should avoid carbohydrates, like bread, pasta and fruit.

Answered c)? You’re an ‘Emotional eater’

In stressful situations, our brains are primed to seek out rewards. Everyone is programmed differently:  some people seek out alcohol, while others prefer a jog. If you’re an emotional eater, you supress negative feelings with food.
What does this mean? When you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, anger or sadness you seek comfort in foods that are high in sugar and fat.
What’s the best diet? Stick to a low-calorie diet.
Is that all? No. Your unhealthy relationship with food is less about your physiology and more about your emotions. People cannot will themselves to lose weight, but they can develop healthy eating habits.
Do you have any tips? One established way to creatie healthy habits is to seek out group support. Attend weight loss meetings and reach out to online groups that can offer a 24/7 touch point. It’s also a great idea to start a dieting diary and look at cognitive behavioural therapy.

Quiz inspired by What’s The Right Diet For You? starts 8.30pm Thursday 3 March on SBS.

Eat well: Can you be addicted to food?
Are you a “carb craver” or “chocaholic”? We often use language associated with addiction to describe our relationships with food. But is it really possible to be addicted to certain types of food?
10 meaty truths you need to know
From the journalist who brought us the truth about fasting, comes food doco Should I Eat Meat?. Britain's Michael Mosley looks at the pros, cons and potentially dangerous aspects of red and processed meat. Here, we get down to the science-y details so you can separate the saturated fat from the L-Carnitine.
Eat well: How to work out how much food you should eat
Whether you prefer a mathematical or instinctive approach to kilojule counting, it's essential to consider all the variables. And remember, if your clothes are getting tighter, you’re probably consuming more kilojoules than your body needs.


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Rice leftovers bring ‘bird blizzard’ to Sacramento Valley, sandhill crane bonanza

POSTED: 02/27/16, 6:33 PM PST | UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO
Sandhill cranes feed on insects and other critters in the dirt Feb. 20 in a field near Highway 99 west of Oroville. Dan Reidel — Enterprise-Record
Nelson >> Seeing birds — a lot of birds — is nothing new nor surprising for residents of the Sacramento Valley. However, there’s a hotspot for Sandhill cranes that is causing excitement among even the most savvy local bird enthusiasts.
Four hundred... 1,000... 3,000 sandhill cranes in one spot? Birds come and go and the estimates vary. All agree, it’s a lot of birds.
The hotspot is very close to the west side of Highway 99, across the roadway from Schlaf Drive. If traveling south from Chico, continue onto Highway 99 instead of taking Highway 149 toward Oroville. The location is behind a cyclone fence just before reaching the rendering plant. You’ll know you’ve reached the rendering plant because you can smell it.
The reason for the large congregation of birds has been a mystery to some local birders, including Scott Huber, a knowledgeable bird enthusiast who said he saw 1,000 birds at this location last month.
“People have been coming from all over to see the gathering,” Huber said.
This same spot has been a favorite for the big birds for a few years now.
Sandhill cranes are a large migratory bird with gray feather and a crimson cap. They begin to arrive in the Sacramento Valley in September or October, then return to spring nesting spots in Alaska, Siberia and Northern Canada. They will also nest in Modoc and Lassen counties, in tules and marshland, explained Jay Bogiatto, who works in the Biological Sciences Department at Chico State University.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology explains that sandhill cranes prefer moist, open land. Rice fields fit that description, particularly when they are only partially flooded. Sandhill cranes are fun to watch, and during courtship they hop along the field, unfurling their wings in a gangly dance.
Bob Brown, who loves birds, owns the land where what some folks have described as a “bird blizzard” is happening. He bought the property in 1992 and is more than thrilled that cranes and other birds are seasonal guests.
For decades, Brown has made choices to enhance wildlife, including placing bird boxes along the fence and providing piles of brush for birds.
A few years ago, Butte County Rice Growers Association in Richvale asked him if he would be willing to take some rice byproducts onto his land.
This material is really the end-of-the-end for rice. The rice hulls have already been separated for use in Santa Rosa as chicken bedding, Brown said. The truckloads of material he receives are literally rice industry dust (a lot of it) and bits of the rice plants. In bulk, the material is spread over the land. Rains help turn the material into mulch. This particular area of land does not have rich soil, he explained. His goal was to add nutrients to the soil. What happened was a bird bonanza.
Most likely, the mulch is a hotbed for worms and other insects, which are a favorite of many types of birds. Brown said cranes will nibble at leftover rice in rice fields. However, he knows the material he receives does not contain very much leftover rice.
When the Enterprise-Record stopped at the cyclone fence along Highway 99 last week, most of the birds were rooting around in the soil.
Brown said a biologist from The Nature Conservancy recently visited the land, and at that point there were about 2,000 cranes at the location.
The state of California might host 9,000-15,000 Sandhill cranes each year, Bogiatto said.
From the numbers spotted by Brown and Huber, that would mean 10-20 percent of all the cranes in California landed at Brown’s field covered with rotting rice dust.
That’s the kind of bird sighting bird watchers talk about.
Brown said birders have shared the location on their web pages and blogs. However, if you’re thinking about racing out there this weekend, prepare for disappointment. As of last week, the cranes were leaving in large numbers. Brown said they might now be gone for the season. Although other resident birds are probably still in the area.
Brown knows the birds well and has literally spent entire days watching the cranes be cranes.
The birds make a move about midday, he learned after many hours of observation.
“When the temperatures get just right they start circling around,” in the sky.
At this point, the cranes start making a lot of noise, Brown said. He can see the birds are high in the sky, but the sound is as if the birds are right next to you. The chatter attracts more birds, which join the circle in the sky. After time passes, the birds fly off.
Last week, the Enterprise-Record spotted about 400 cranes at this particular location, and hundreds of geese, duck and blackbirds.
Huber clarified that these were American wigeons and red-winged blackbirds. He also spotted swans when he peered through the fence earlier in the season.
“My original intention was that the soil quality would be improved,” Brown said. “It turned out better than I thought, attracting wildlife like crazy.”
Brown is clearly enjoying the experience, as are others.
One day he talked with a member of the Audubon Society who was peering through the cyclone fence with a high-powered scope. The Audubon bird watcher said some of the cranes wore bird bands places on the birds in 1996.
Fish and Wildlife officials have been in contact with Brown as well. It would be preferred that the birds not be disturbed, Brown said.
In previous years, the rice mulch was spread further from the road, Brown said. The birds flocked to this land, but were not visible by people driving along Highway 99.
Brown said this location is better because the land is flat. Bird experts are hoping people are respectful if they stop to view the birds.
Contact reporter Heather Hacking at 896-7758.