Saturday, March 26, 2016

March 21,2016 daily exclusive oryza & global regional local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

March 3,2016 daily global regional local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Today Rice News Headlines...
News Detail...
 Mar 2, 2016 |  Thaver
The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has urged the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan to reduce the membership and renewal fees to make it affordable.The Union has pointed out that Rs 14000 plus Rs 1000 for I.T/ website maintainence is very high. Even the chambers of commerce are only taking Rs 2100 as renewal fees.More than 1000 rice units are closed and the exporters are unable to compete due to various reasons and exporters are unable to secure orders.
The Union informed the SME rice exporters that the membership of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP ) is not mandatory for rice exporters. They can export rice to global destinations without membership of REAP.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver has invited the attention of the rice exporters to the circular of the Ministry of Commerce (MINCOM) in which it reiterated that membership of REAP is not mandatory and it is up to the rice exporters if they wish they can become members or renew their membership but the condition of mandatory membership has been removed.The MINCOM has also sent a copy to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority of Pakistan (SMEDA).Thaver however said those SME members who can afford to pay may become members or renew their memberships and participate in the activities of the association.
He emphasized the need for REAP to become proactive and take up the issues of the sector vigorously and especially the Geographical Indications, the Basmati trade mark, the high cost of production, the energy, the export bills negotiation and other issues of land at concession, marketing support and cost of packing materials

World's Largest Rice Miller Focused on Preferred Varieties
By Michael Klein

MEMPHIS, TN - Carl Brothers, senior vice president and COO for Riceland Foods, the largest rice miller in the world, said the cooperative was looking to add a preferred varieties list to its rice marketing programs at the request of its farmer-members to provide guidance on variety selection.

"We will never tell a grower that we won't take his rice, however, we are comfortable providing a limited list of preferred varieties," Brothers said. "Last year we handled more than 30 varieties, and we're prepared to do it again, but we think less varieties may be in the U.S. industry's best interest in the long run."

In certain international markets, U.S. rice suffers from a perception of waning quality that has dogged the industry since the disastrous 2010 crop year. Many of the worst problems associated with that year have been put behind the industry, thanks to solid research and better growing years, however, some think reducing varieties may be key to restoring U.S. rice's glory around the world.
"Our quality can be improved by reducing the number of varieties in the market," said Jim Guinn, USA Rice vice president of international promotion. "Of course it's still true that probably more than 80 percent of U.S. long grain rice comes from just a few varieties, but still, this could improve consistency of the product which will help us overseas."

Brothers pointed out that as a family farmer owned co-operative, Riceland Foods recognizes that farmers need to grow what makes agronomic sense, and they'll never be turned away. He said the list for the 2016-17 preferred varieties has not yet been finalized but will be available soon.

                  USA Rice Daily, Thursday, March 3, 2016

Nigeria’s inconsistent rice import policy, catalyst for smuggling –Olam

Posted By: FRANCIS EZEMon: March 04, 2016In: Business, MaritimeNo Comments
The Federal Government has in the last four years changed parboiled rice rice import policy more than three times thereby making investors in the sub sector and other stakeholders to feel that such a fiscal regime is doing more harm to the economy than good. Head Corporate and Government Relations, Olam Nigeria Limited, largest operator in the nation’s rice value chain, Mr. Ade Adefeko, in this interview with FRANCIS EZEM, says frequent changes of the commodity’s import policy is one of the factors aiding rice smuggling into the country, among other issues.
Late last year the Nigeria Customs reversed the policy on rice imports through the borders. How does this impact on your business and investment projections on the commodity?
The Land borders are very porous. Monitoring all the imports through Land Border is a very uphill task. As per industry reports, the quantity of rice that was discharged in the neighboring ports were much higher than what was declared as imported through land borders. It is not economically viable for Rice to be imported into Benin republic and Niger and pay duties and taxes there and then pay the duty again in Nigeria the transportation cost is also very high as it involves multiple borders. Yet, we can see that rice from Cotonou/ Niger routes is coming into Nigeria and so it is not difficult to draw the obvious conclusion about the extent of tariff payment on rice imported through land border into Nigeria.
As an expert and a major player, what is your advice to government on how to boost local rice production?
The frequent changes in policy are adversely affecting the industry. It is encouraging smuggling from the neighbouring countries which undermines various investments in rice value chain within Nigeria. There is a substantial gap between production and consumption of rice in Nigeria, which was fulfilled being met through legitimate imports earlier and now the same supply gap is being met by smuggled rice from across the borders.
I am aware you have large rice production farm in Benue State. What is your annual production capacity in terms of tonnage?
Olam has a 10, 000 hectares of farm land in Rukubi Village, Doma Local Government Area in Nassarawa State. We are currently cultivating 4,400 hectares. Presently, we have a state- of- the- art mill with a capacity to mill 105,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice per annum. We have the requisite infrastructure to double this capacity to 210,000 metric tonnes. This is the largest integrated rice farming and milling project in Africa.
Generally, it is believed that your brand of locally produced rice is not sold in Nigeria because you hardly see them in the market. How do you react to this?
Our local rice brand is very much sold in Nigeria. It is called MAMA’S PRIDE. It is available in all leading markets in Abuja, Lokoja, Makurdi, Lafia, Aba, Onitsha, Benin City and others. We sell the rice as close to the farm as possible as there are challenges related to transportation, especially in terms of cost and availability. The rice is available in some markets in Lagos as well.
What are the major challenges posed to rice production locally and what do you think government should do to address these challenges?
There are several challenges and multiple issues to address. One of such challenges in associated with poor yield. Yield has continued to be a major issue in Nigeria because of this, the farmers are not gaining value and hence the acreage under production is not growing. Another issue is the lack of quality seeds and other agro inputs, which inhibit productivity. There is also problem of non availability of basic infrastructure including roads. This makes the movement of goods from the production sites to the final consumers, as transport cost eats deep into the profit. This is not encouraging. We are also grappling with the challenge associated with the nutrition of the soil, which invariably affects yield and thus profitability. Also is the lack of irrigation facilities. The Federal Government has to seriously and urgently look into all these aspects of the value chain in the country including those ones that we could not mention in the course of this interview. I learnt that there were some farmer cooperative associations under your company, how far have you impacted on them, especially in terms of growing their businesses? We have an out grower of over 4,000 farmers with our company. These farmers been impacted positively in all aspects of farming and increasing productivity by being associated with us. We also put in place a mechanism through which we buy their produce at market prices and supply them with inputs. We also aid them in the areas of supplying relevant information that they require in growing their businesses in addition to organising training and enlightenment programmes for them, among several other assistance we render to them.
Do you think Nigeria should be importing rice at this time, given the vast resources that could enhance massive local rice production?
Over the years, experience all over the world suggests that it is hard to legislate on consumer taste and preference. The reality is that Nigeria needs approximately 2.5 million metric tonnes of rice to cover the gap between demand consumption and supply production. To add to this, the consumption is increasing year on year, given the annual increase in the population of the country. So it would take quite a while for the country to produce the quantity of rice to meet local demand.
What is the price range of the brand of rice your company produces locally?
The price of our locally produced brand is dictated by the market. In the last few months the price has been in the range of between N7, 500 to N8, 500 per bag of 50 kilogramme.
It is believe that Nigerians have appetite for Thailand rice. Do you think that Thailand variety and quality of rice can be produced in Nigeria?
Nigeria produces better quality of rice than that imported from Thailand. This is a well known fact.
The Multinational rice importers in the country including Olam have been accused of abusing waiver and quotas, through which the government loses huge sums of money annually. What is your take on this?
There is a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of facts about this issue. We have approached the courts to put things in order on the matter and so we cannot comment on it

Southeast Department of Agriculture Studies Arsenic Levels in Rice Irrigation Methods

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 2, 2016 – The Southeast Missouri State University Department of Agriculture’s irrigation comparison study has seen positive results for maintaining rice yield production and reducing arsenic concentrations.The research is part of a continuing effort by the Department to examine the differences between furrow and delayed flood irrigation in rice production. Dr. Michael Aide, chair of Southeast’s Department of Agriculture, and his team looked at the nitrogen efficiency and arsenic uptake rates between the two irrigation systems.

“We found between 44 different varieties of rice that the yields for furrowed irrigated rice are comparable if not better than the traditional delayed method because of improvements in water application timing, nitrogen management and weed control,” said Aide. “An important consequence of converting is that the normal and safe concentration of arsenic in tradition irrigation systems virtually disappears with furrow irrigated rice.”

In furrow irrigation, or row irrigation, farmers flow water through their crops down small, parallel trenches running in the direction of a predominant slope. In the traditional delayed method, water is introduced to the field from a ditch or pipe and simply flows over the ground through the crop and ponds the water between three to six inches.

Over four growing seasons, the Department collected data indicating that arsenic concentrations were significantly smaller in rice from furrow irrigations systems.

Arsenic is a natural component of the earth’s crust but is a major toxic pollutant in its inorganic form. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a maximum daily intake of inorganic arsenic and sets the limits in drinking water to 10 micrograms per liter. Long-term exposure from food and drinking water with unsafe arsenic levels can cause serious health issues, including cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease and neurotoxicity.

Rice produced under the traditional delayed irrigation method contains arsenic levels well within the international trade guidelines and is considered completely safe to consume, but there’s always room for improvement, said Aide.

Arsenic levels in “Missouri rice are low to begin with but furrow irrigated rice is even lower,” he said. “If you switch to furrow irrigated rice, it’s virtually undetectable.”

Additionally, farmers growing rice may also choose to use the furrow irrigation system because it uses less water than the traditional method, said Aide.

With farmers not only in the Delta region but also across the nation looking for ways to conserve water, how they manage the water that is available is a driving force behind which irrigation method they choose.

There is one caveat though.

“Furrow irrigation does take more expertise,” said Aide. “It takes more time to watch your fields, manage your water, attend to weed issues and assess your nitrogen efficiency.”

But the data the Department has collected has larger implications for how rice producers choose to grow their rice in the future.

“Furrowed irrigated rice avoids arsenic uptake, it’s essentially arsenic free and we have the supporting data,” said Aide.

With high expectations from consumers demanding safer food products, the decisions start in the fields.

Southeast has one of the only consistent programs for furrow irrigated rice for the Mid-South region. It has partnered with the Fisher Delta Research Center, the University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Rice Council which also have furrow irrigation projects to help distribute the information and knowledge to local farmers and rice producers.

“I think southeast Missouri is showing great interest in converting to a furrow irrigated rice regime,” said Aide.

The department will continue to calculate and compile data to include more acres and more varieties of rice. As producers switch irrigation methods, the data will be vital for insurance coverage, he said.

Photo Caption: Dr. Michael Aide (right) with Southeast President Dr. Carlos Vargas (front) and Dr. Chris McGowan (behind), dean of the College of Science, Technology and Agriculture.

Meet India's Female "Seed Guardians" Pioneering Organic Farming

by Bijal Vachharajani, originally published by Vikalp sangam  |

Members of the Maa Lankeshwari seedbank in India. Photograph: Bijal Vachharajani
Bring up the topic of seeds and Nabita Goud sits up a little straighter and begins to talk animatedly.
Nabita is a smallholder and a “seed guardian” at the Maa Lankeshwari seedbank of Bhimdanga village in Odisha, eastern India. The seedbank is a small room lined with rows of neatly-labelled earthen pots and stoppered glass bottles, all of them filled with varieties of millets, ladies finger (okra), pumpkin, and red gram seeds (lentil), along with cotton.Nabita puts her hand into a pot and scoops out a fistful of paddy seeds which are a dull brown, the colour of the soil. “This is kalajira rice,” said Nabita, who is an organic and Fairtrade-certified farmer. “It’s a scented, local variety and gives us a high-yield. We are now conserving it.”Seeds are at the heart of agriculture, but they are also a significant cost for farmers. Organic seeds are hard to come by in a market flooded with genetically modified and hybrid cotton seeds. More than 90% of cotton in India is genetically modified and input costs for Bt Cotton are high. Hybrid cotton seeds cannot be replanted post-harvest, which in turn forces farmers to add to their financial burden by buying new seeds from the market.

Bhimdanga is a fully organic and Fairtrade village in Kalahandi, Odisha. Photograph: Bijal Vachharajani
Nabita is one of 18 seed guardians who are part of Chetna Organic’s seed conservation project. Over the last two years, six seedbanks have been established in five villages in Odisha with 72 men and women conserving 50 varieties of fibre and food crops seeds. This is a much needed shot in the arm for these districts which are plagued with hunger, poverty and insecurity.
“The programme aims to promote women-managed and controlled seed enterprises,” said Arun Ambatipudi, one of the founders of Chetna Organic. Chetna was established 10 years ago to enhance sustainable livelihood options for smallholder families that are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. According to IndiaSpend, 56% of India is dependent on rain-fed agriculture, and farmers are often pushed into an endless cycle of debt because of unpredictable weather, high input costs, poor soil and pest management, and market fluctuations.
Traditionally, Odisha is not a cotton growing state but over the last two decades, small and marginal farmers have started growing the cash crop. Conserving organic cotton seeds that are suited to the soil and as a climate adaptation measure is a priority for smallholders. Over the last five years, Chetna has been conducting small-scale trials with farmers like Nabita to evaluate the suitability of indigenous cotton varieties such as Suraj and Anjali.

From seed to plate, Kalajira rice has a heady fragrance, earning it the market name of “white baby Basmati”. Photograph: Bijal Vachharajani
Driving through Odisha, it’s easy to spot the organic from the non-organic farms. The landscape is dotted with stretches of waist-length cotton. In sharp contrast are the organic farms that look like Ceres has run riot, planted with cotton, red gram, and food crops.
“We practice organic agriculture,” said Nabita, who farms on three acres of land. “There are challenges. The traditional variety of cotton has a lower yield than the hybrid one, but we know it’s good for the soil and the environment. And organic is better for health.” Bhimdanga’s residents take pride in being completely organic. Visitors to the village are greeted with a board that says, “Welcome to Bhimdanga, an Organic and Fairtrade-certified Village”. ”
In a volatile cotton market, the mixed cropping practice that Bhimdanga’s farmers follow ensures individual food security, even if their cotton crop fails. Farmers grow cotton alongside food crops such as pumpkin, ridge gourd, lentils, and millets. Some are for their own consumption, and the rest is sold in the market. Ramprasad Sana, an entomologist and the technical head at Chetna Organic, said that the seedbanks have given 600 families food security.

Chetna enables farmers to set up sustainable and multipliable open-source systems to share and store seeds, using traditional knowledge along with new concepts and technology. The enterprise operates like a bank, only with less bureaucracy. A farmer can “withdraw” a kilo of seed and has to repay the loan with one-and-a-half to two kilos of seed after harvest. With the establishment of seedbanks, organic farmers no longer need to buy seeds from the market. This year, 1,594 kilos of seeds were distributed to 603 farmers.
Empowering women farmers to manage their own seed enterprises enables them to become decision-makers in the community. This is significant, given that according to the 2011 census, 68.5% of women work in agriculture. Traditionally, women have been the custodians of seeds and Chetna hopes to revive the practice.
Last year, Nabita and her neighbours participated in a seed festival in the neighbouring village of Mading where they met other farmers and showcased their indigenous varieties of seeds. “Everyone loved our kalajira rice there,” said Nabita with a smile. The short-grained kalajira is one of the key scented rices of India (pdf) and gives a high yield in a short timespan. When cooked, the rice has a heady fragrance, earning it the market name of “white baby Basmati”.
Rice is a staple agriculture product but in most of India, farmers cultivate high-yield paddy for a homogenous market. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that at least 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops had been lost by the beginning of this century.
Kalajira rice and indigenous cotton varieties are being conserved by seedbanks like Maa Lankeshwari at a time when indigenous species of food and fibre are rapidly disappearing from farms and plates. With women like Nabita taking back control of their seeds, soil and food security, the smallholders of Bhimdanga are becoming part of a thriving, sustainable community that is conserving India’s indigenous seed heritage and protecting its food sovereignty.
First published by The Guardian

For a taste of heaven

If there is a dish I could say I am in love with, it is biryani, a heavenly combination of flavoured basmati rice, with spices and meat into the mix, a culinary delight that owes a lot to the campaigns fought by the Mughal armies in the dusty Deccan Plateau. Scouring the streets of Bengaluru in search for the perfect biryani is something I indulge in on a regular basis.

Check out biryani with a twist at Aqni on Hennur Road

Much like the diversity the country offers, biryanis also change taste and texture based on location. From the richly-flavoured Awadhi varieties and the spicy masala mixed versions from Hyderabad to the spicy, soupy delights that a well-made Thalassery biryani offers it is a gustatory experience like no other. It was during the course of one such expedition that I stumbled upon Aqni, a small outlet on Hennur Road that claims to serve authentic Memoni Kutchi Biryani.
As we wait for the biryani, we wolf down portions of the innovatively-named kebab Manchurian, an Indian-Chinese twist to kebabs.
The soft kebabs were excellent with curry leaves providing an extra crunch. Another speciality, the lemon chicken, boneless strips fried in a batter and sloshed in a sour lemon sauce transports me into gastronomic heaven. We then arrive at the mutton biryani, served in Kutchi style with two pieces of potatoes and jeera samba rice.
It is high on flavour, the potatoes are cooked well and the soft mutton pieces are delightful.
The baingan salan served alongside adds to the flavour, though the jeera samba rice works wonders even without any accompaniments. Unlike its cousins in Hyderabad and Thalassery, the Kutchi biryani is not very spicy and tastes like homemade biryani, and doesn’t force you drink copious amounts of water to douse the fire. Special mention must be made of the soft, fluffy rice, which brings an added aroma to the preparation. If a sweet is what you crave for post the meal, you can sample the superb rice kheer consisting of condensed milk, rice, milk and dry fruits, which will remind you of the payasam made by mum.


International Benchmark Price
Price on: 02-03-2016
Benchmark Indicators Name
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)
For more info
Market Watch
Commodity-wise, Market-wise Daily Price on 01-03-2016
Domestic Prices
Unit Price : Rs per Qty
Market Center
Min Price
Max Price
Amreli (Gujarat)
Gulbarga (Karnataka)
Solapur (Maharashtra)
Davangere (Karnataka)
Satana (Maharashtra)
Dahod (Gujarat)
Rajpura (Punjab)
Kolhapur (Maharashtra)
Sonepat (Gujarat)
Harippad (Kerala)
Pune (Maharashtra)
Bolangir (Orissa)
For more info
Rs per 100 No
Price on 02-03-2016
Market Center
Other International Prices
Unit Price : US$ per package
Price on 02-03-2016
Market Center
Onions Dry
Package: 40 lb cartons
Package: cartons film wrapped
Long Seedless
Long Seedless
Long Seedless
Package:18 lb containers bagged
Red Globe
Red Globe
Red Globe

Rice consignments: KPA waives Rs 200 million storage charges

March 03, 2016
RECORDER REPORTKenya Port Authority (KPA) waived storage charges worth Rs 200 million on all Pakistani rice consignments, stuck at the Kenyan seaport due to license cancellation of two harbour yards. The charges were imposed on Pakistan's rice consignments of some 1,500 containers, which were held up at Kenyan seaport since January 18, 2016, when license of two port yards namely Auto Ports Container Freight Station (CFS) and Portside CFS were cancelled. 

On behalf of Rice Exporters, Rafique Suleman, Chairman FPCCI Rice Export Committee and immediate past chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) reached Kenya in the first week of last month to resolve the matter and ensure timely release of held up rice consignments. 

Suleman told Business Recorder via phone from Kenya that with the support of Pakistan High Commission Nairobi the issue had finally been resolved and KPA had fulfilled its promise of waiver. He informed that in a meeting held on February 17, 2016, KPA officials agreed to waive all demurrages and storage/re-marshaling charges may accrued on rice consignment stuck due to the cancellation of license of two yards. 
Amir Mohyuddin co-ordinated a follow up meeting on February 29 with KPA officials for waiver of storage charges. The main agenda of the meeting was the procedural delays of Pakistani rice consignments and storage invoices being raised, he said. 

"I together with Amir Mohyuddin held meeting with Madam Catherine Muturi Managing Director KPA, Soodi KIFWA Operation Manager KPA, Patrick GM Finance KPA and Brian development manager EATTA Trade, on Monday and accordingly discussed the issue of storage charges in detailed," Suleman informed. 

After discussion, the KPA officials assured full waiver on storage amounting to Rs 200 million imposed on all cargo from Pakistan that arrived during January 18, to February 15, 2016 and were held up due to the policy change, he said. "Those who have already paid the storage charges will be refunded on presentation of full documentation and waiver request in writing. KPA also assured to speed up the release process and expedite the credit notes against the storage accrued,' he added. 

Suleman informed that so far some 1,000 containers of Pakistan rice had been released from the port and remaining 500 containers were in process. He said that a deadline of 15th March 2016 has been set for the release of remaining rice consignments from KPA without any storage or additional charge. He, particularly, appreciated the role of Amir Mohyuddin Commercial Counsellor Pakistan High Commission and said that without his support it was difficult to achieve this task.Meanwhile, Suleman and other office-bearers of REAP have thanked Eng. Khurram Dastagir Khan, Federal Commerce Minister, for taking prompt action on the issue and sending letter to top Kenyan Authorities. 

"On behalf of REAP, we also appreciate the role of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Raza Bashir Tarar High Commissioner of Pakistan in Nairobi for their active involvement to resolve this critical issue in the larger interest of rice export industry of Pakistan

Grain of truth: Making rice greener

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Wednesday, 2 Mar 2016 | 6:01 AM ET

Rice is one of the world's most important staples, with billions of people basing their meals around it. But as the world's population grows, the amount of resources needed to produce the food is growing as well. Demand for crops such as rice, wheat and maize is set to increase by 33 percent by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.
According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), it takes between 1,000 and 3,000 liters of water to produce just one kilo of rice. While this compares favorably with the 13,000 to 15,000 liters needed to produce one kilo of grain-fed beef, rice still has an impact on the environment.


The FAO says that, along with the stagnation of cereal yields and depletion of natural resources, climate change is threatening food security. 
Founded more than 50 years ago and based in the Philippines, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is a research organisation looking to slash poverty and global hunger through "rice science."
"When the decision was made to found IRRI as the first international agricultural research center, the world was facing famine," V. Bruce J. Tolentino, the IRRI's deputy director general for communication and partnerships, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.
"To supply the world with the food… (it) needed, we needed to be able to push productivity, and that's been the end goal and mission of IRRI ever since," Tolentino went on to add.

The power of science

Climate change is likely to have an impact on rice production, according to IRRI. Those who farm rice are often some of the poorest agricultural workers, and their livelihoods are threatened by environmental changes. 
Climate change impacts including an increase in sea levels, flooding, salinity, increased CO2 levels, higher temperature, scarcity of water and pests, diseases and weeds could all hit crop yields.
At IRRI a key aim is to gain an in depth understanding of the genetic diversity of rice in order to assist producers facing challenges from climate change as well as diseases and pests. To date, more than 40,000 rice genes have been mapped.
The importance of rice that is hardy and high yielding is only set to increase.
"The varieties that survive the drought and flooding, they enable farmers not only to at least keep that season's worth of income and survive that season, but they also encourage farmers to invest more in other ways to increase the productivity," Sarah Beebout, a senior scientist at IRRI's soil chemistry, crop and environmental sciences division, said

Hats off to a master juggler

 Savitri Mohapatra   |  Mar 2, 2016
A dynamic research leader, a well-respected rice agronomist, a mentor to young scientists, a widely published author, and a loving family man, Marco Wopereis wears many hats and juggles them all with equal efficiency.

In January 2013, Martin Kropff, then CGIAR Consortium board member and future director general of CIMMYT, and Dr. Wopereis inspect a containment facility for rice pathogens and pests at AfricaRice in Cotonou, Benin. (Photo by R. Raman, AfricaRice)
Marco Wopereis, deputy director general and director of research for development at the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) since December 2007, is like a master juggler wearing many hats and juggling them all with equal efficiency.He is a dynamic research leader, a well-respected rice agronomist, and a passionate spokesperson for issues relating to rice research and development in Africa. He is also a mentor to young scientists, a widely published author, and a loving family man. With an international research career spanning more than 25 years in Asia, Europe, and Africa, Dr. Wopereis is fluent in English, French, German, and Dutch, which is his mother tongue. He loves jazz and adores soccer, which he plays whenever he gets a chance.In October 2015, Dr. Wopereis was appointed the new director general of AVRDC (The World Vegetable Center), starting on 21 April 2016.

“Marco has made significant contributions to AfricaRice, especially in establishing a solid scientific direction and foundation,” said AfricaRice Director General Harold Roy-Macauley in his congratulatory message. “He has played a highly significant role in leading the implementation of the research for development program, which has ensured a sound scientific position for AfricaRice in the global rice research arena and the achievement of important successes.”
Rooted in agriculture
Since his childhood, Dr. Wopereis has been associated with plants and soil as his parents ran a small nursery for ornamental plants. “The strong link our family had with plants and working outdoors greatly influenced me,” he said.
His father was a soil scientist working for the Dutch Soil Survey Institute. Therefore, it seems quite fitting that he would take up agricultural sciences following in his father’s footsteps. However, his first choice was to become a veterinarian.
Fortunately for the world of agronomy, Dr. Wopereis decided to take up soil science and fertilizer use instead as the veterinary institute was overbooked. He obtained his BSc and MSc (with distinction) degrees from Wageningen University in 1984 and 1988, respectively.
The rice connection
A few months later, Prof. Johan Bouma, his professor at Wageningen University who had seen signs of a promising agronomist in him, asked if he was interested in going to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños in the Philippines to coordinate a soil management project. Dr. Wopereis’s positive decision proved pivotal, both professionally and personally. “It was great to work at IRRI—great people, fantastic facilities,” he said, describing this golden period of his life.
His research focused on quantifying the impact of soil and climate variability on rainfed rice production. This work led to a PhD thesis, which Dr. Wopereis defended at Wageningen University in 1993. His stay at IRRI was very enriching at the personal level as well because he met his lovely wife, Myra, there.
A continental leap
Soon after this, Dr. Wopereis and Myra left for Africa, where he accepted an agronomist’s position at the AfricaRice (then WARDA) regional station in Saint Louis, Senegal. This was a huge change from the lush greenery of Los Baños to the Sahelian town of Saint Louis. But it was exciting, too.
The six years (1994-2000) he spent in Senegal and the following couple of years spent in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire, as the scientific coordinator of the Inland Valley Consortium convened by AfricaRice, were one of the most productive periods for Dr. Wopereis as a scientist.
He, along with his colleagues, showed that farmers in the Senegal River Valley could increase their yields by 1–2 tons per hectare by simply modifying their agricultural practices. The team developed integrated crop management (ICM) options and decision support tools for irrigated-lowland rice farmers, which were widely disseminated.
“I am certain that our team contributed to the rise in average rice yield from about 4.5 tons per hectare to about 6 tons per hectare observed in Senegal from the 1990s onwards,” explained Dr. Wopereis.
A thresher-cleaner developed by the team in 1997, based on an IRRI prototype, received the Senegal President’s award in 2003. Virtually all rice grown in the Senegal River Valley is threshed with that machine and there are now hundreds of these threshers in neighboring countries.
He also co-developed a participatory learning and action research approach for lowland rice systems focusing on ICM options, which was adopted in seven countries.
Outside the rice world
In 2002, Dr. Wopereis joined the International Fertilizer Development Center as program leader of the Integrated Intensification Program in Togo, focusing on integrated soil fertility management in maize, sorghum, and millet-based systems.
In 2005, he became director of the Annual Crops Department at CIRAD, the French development-oriented agricultural research organization.
A POURING rainstorm does not stop participants in the Japan-funded Emergency Rice Project in Liberia from posing with Dr. Wopereis (5th from left), Dr. Dobermann (white shirt), and Inoussa Akintayo (far right), African Rice Initiative coordinator, AfricaRice. See Rice for peace (Photo by R. Raman, AfricaRice)
Back to Africa

However, after 2 years, Africa and the rice world called him back. AfricaRice selected him to lead its research and development program toward the end of 2007. Dr. Wopereis’s passion for high-quality research and his drive to achieve impact in farmers’ fields brought positive changes in the AfricaRice research agenda and structure, contributing to the center’s achievements and continued relevance.
He and his research team, after extensive consultation with AfricaRice’s national partners, were instrumental in developing a product-oriented 10-year strategic plan with a major shift in focus from supply-driven research to more demand-driven research. The plan presented a clear vision of success to help Africa achieve almost 90% self-sufficiency in rice by 2020.Another milestone was the publication in 2013 of Realizing Africa’s Rice Promise, for which he was the lead editor. This reference book provides a comprehensive overview of Africa’s rice sector and ongoing rice research and development activities, indicating priorities for action on how to realize the promise of rice in a sustainable and equitable manner.

He was able to build and lead effective teams to secure significant research grant funding for the Center to sustain a continuous portfolio of collaborative projects. Consequently, AfricaRice’s research and development activities, partnerships, and budget grew substantially during the last 10 years.
“One of the most rewarding experiences, without a doubt, is the establishment of the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP),” said Dr. Wopereis.
Robert Zeigler and Papa Seck, former directors general of IRRI and AfricaRice, respectively, pioneered the idea of a worldwide partnership for rice research as early as 2007.
“It was in the office of then IRRI deputy director general for research, Achim Dobermann, that we sketched the contours of GRiSP,” he said, reiterating his conviction that GRiSP would outlast any other CGIAR Research Program. “It is essential that IRRI and AfricaRice work together for the benefit of rice farmers and consumers worldwide, particularly Africa.”
Speaking fondly of his strong bonding with Africa, Dr. Wopereis said, “I look back at my time in Africa with great satisfaction. It is filled with unforgettable experiences, friendships, and achievements through solid teamwork. Working in partnership has always been AfricaRice’s strong point.”
Ms. Mohapatra is the head of Marketing and Communications at AfricaRice.

03/02/2016 Farm Bureau Market Report

Long Grain Cash Bids
- - -
- - -
Long Grain New Crop
- - -
- - -

Mar '16
May '16
Jul '16
Sep '16
Nov '16
Jan '17
Mar '17

Rice Comment

Rice futures were in the red across the board today. 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. The market needs to see better movement in order to gain any upward momentum. 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. May is testing support at $10.50. Below that, support is at the contract low of $10.43 set last week.

USA Rice Promotions Highlight Quality, Good Taste 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- While being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has consistently been one of the top five export destinations for U.S. rice.  Just last year, over 400,000 MT of long grain, milled rice was exported there - an amount that is 12 percent higher from 2014.  
Using USDA's Market Access Program (MAP) USA Rice conducts nationwide promotions, targeting both consumers and the importers/sellers of U.S. rice.
"USA Rice is one of the few, if not the only, trade association conducting promotional activities in the country," says Ives-Marie Chanel, USA Rice's representative in country.  "Starting in 2013 when Vietnamese rice made its initial foray into Haiti, USA Rice spread the message of high quality, reliable, easy-to-cook U.S. rice throughout the country."

And these promotions have been hugely successful.  While it was initially feared that Vietnamese rice would cut into the U.S. market share, so far there has been no long term negative effect from this new origin.  U.S. exports dipped initially when 66,000 MT of Vietnamese rice entered the market in 2013, but due to consistent, effective promotions that highlight the positive characteristics of U.S. rice, Haitians returned to their origin of choice.

"In several interviews with Haitian consumers, they complained that the Vietnamese rice does not cook well and is harder to digest," says Park Eldridge, a rice merchant from Arkansas and a member of the USA Rice Western Hemisphere Promotion Subcommittee.  "USA Rice's promotions highlighted the better quality of U.S. rice and really helped stop what could have been a huge hit to one of our largest export markets."

Fond farewell–Rice Today editorial for January-March 2016

 Gene Hettel   |  Mar 3, 2016

With my retirement looming after more than 22 years at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), this is my last issue of Rice Today as editor-in-chief. A staff member on the magazine since its debut in April 2002, I have served as a contributing writer, Asia editor, and finally, since January 2014, editor-in-chief.
Over the last 14 years, I’ve worked with a great, continually evolving—and award-winning—team of writers, editors, designers, and photographers (photo). Together, we have witnessed the magazine’s growth as it has become the institute’s flagship publication. Certainly, being part of this magazine’s team has been the pinnacle of my time at IRRI.We have a fascinating set of stories and commentaries in this issue. Be sure to read the guest editorial in which Matthew Morell, IRRI’s ninth director general, sets the stage for building further the institute’s compelling mission and cutting-edge research that is paramount to alleviating poverty in the world.IRRI is not the only rice research center experiencing major change in 2016. After more than 8 years leading the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) as deputy director general and director of research for development, Marco Wopereis will be taking the helm of The World Vegetable Center in Taiwan this coming April. Read about Marco’s significant contributions to rice research and development in Africa in Hats off to a master juggler.

Staying in Africa, find out about a ’SMART’ choice for Africa’s inland-valley rice farmers. These inland valleys are increasingly being considered as the continent’s future food basket. And in our map section, see how AfricaRice researchers are using satellite images to define flood-prone rice areas in West Africa. Doing so will help provide a more efficient and effective introduction of new flood-tolerant Sub1 varieties to the region’s farmers.Onward to Asia, January 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of IRRI’s post-war involvement in a remarkable episode in agricultural history. I’m referring to the rebuilding of Cambodia after the horrendous genocide of the “Killing Fields” in that Southeast Asian country (1975-79). Glenn Denning told this amazing story during my latest IRRI Pioneer Interview. Glenn, who spent 18 years at IRRI, points out that what was achieved there over the last three decades is a compelling example about why genetic conservation and human capacity are so critical to agricultural development.
Moving on to another Southeast Asian nation, see how Filipino farmers are recovering from another kind of disaster that was Typhoon Haiyan. This powerful storm devastated the island of Leyte a little more than 2 years ago. Green Super Rice is giving many of them a fighting chance to rebuild their families’ livelihoods.

Also in the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture’s Heirloom Rice Project, which has strong support from IRRI, is making great strides in empowering the farmers who grow these tasty traditional rice varieties in the northern Cordilleras region. The article, Home among the heirlooms, expounds on the experiences of one farmer who has been able to maintain her ancestral farm as a profitable venture by growing the exotic purple-colored rice from the region called Balatinaw.We feature a pearly-white heirloom rice, called Innawi, in our What’s cooking recipe. It is the main ingredient of a delicious dish, Risotto carbonara, prepared by none other than Margarita ‘Gaita’ Forés, executive chef for a number of restaurants in the Philippines. She has been named Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2016.

In addition to having celebrity chefs, we also have celebrity scientists. Read an entertaining interview with Michael Purugganan, IRRI collaborator and reluctant rock star scientist. He talks about making science and scientists approachable, his creative process, and the GMO debate. He also has some good advice for young researchers.Sam Mohanty, IRRI’s senior economist, examines whether or not the global rice market is headed for a repeat of the 2007-08 rice price crisis, which today seems like a distant memory. Market players will need to keep cool to avoid duplicating that turbulent time.And finally, Michael Jackson, former head of IRRI’s Genetic Resources Center, introduces a new term: “Genebank tourism.” He sees this interesting concept as being an important tool to spread the good word about the strategic importance of genetic conservation.

I now pass on the reins of Rice Today to the capable hands of Lanie Reyes (to my left in photo), long-time contributor to the magazine, most recently as managing editor. She has proven to be truly enthusiastic about accurately reporting on the significance of this staple that is so important to nearly half the world’s population

A glimmer of hope for Vietnam’s white gold

 Bernadette Joven   |  Mar 2, 2016

The CLUES project offers viable adaptation and mitigation options to rice farmers in the Mekong Delta as they face various climate challenges. (Photo by G. Smith, CIAT)
Rice is referred to as Vietnam’s “white gold” because it is not only a valuable staple crop but also one of the country’s major export products. In 2015, Vietnam exported 6.61 million tons of rice, making it the world’s third-largest rice exporter after only India and Thailand.
But, the country’s rice industry has been beset with challenges because of climate change, particularly in its regional granaries—the Red River Delta and the Mekong River Delta. These major rice-growing areas are increasingly becoming vulnerable to salt water intrusion and flooding caused by sea-level rise.
To secure enough rice for the almost 90 million Vietnamese and the people of other nations, Vietnam’s rice industry must soon adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. Maintaining rice productivity also means sustained livelihood and income for many Vietnamese farming communities.
The recently concluded project, Climate Change Affecting Land Use in the Mekong Delta: Adaptation of Rice-based Cropping Systems (CLUES), offers a basketful of climate-smart practices and technologies that should help rice farmers in the Mekong Delta cope.
“The interdisciplinary approach adopted by CLUES yielded a range of tangible insights into dealing with future risks stemming from sea-level rise,” says Reiner Wassmann, project leader and coordinator for climate change research at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). “It has also provided possible response strategies in terms of adaptation and mitigation in rice-based systems of the delta.”
A 4-year initiative (2011-15), CLUES aimed to increase the adaptive capacity of the region’s rice production systems and provide farmers and management agencies with technologies and knowledge to improve food security. It was conducted in four provinces of the Mekong Delta region (MDR) with varying geographic features: An Giang (flood zone), Can Tho (intermediate flood zone with alluvial soils), Hau Giang (acid sulfate soils), and Bac Lieu (coastal area with saline-affected soils and local submergence).
The project, implemented jointly by IRRI and Can Tho University, with partners from Vietnam and Australia, under the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), involved more than 70 team members. IRRI’s project team members specialized in climate change, plant breeding, water sciences, and agronomy.

Vietnam’s rice production—a story of success
Vietnam’s rice production is an unprecedented success story. The country underwent a period of acute rice shortages and dependency on imports until the implementation ofinstitutional and policy reforms that led to rice self-sufficiency. The past two decades saw Vietnam doubling its rice yield to become one of the top global rice producers and exporters. The country’s average yield went up to 5.89 tons per hectare (from 5.32 tons in 2010), with a total production of 45 million tons and exports of 7.3 million tons, based on FAO statistics (2015). The MDR contributes more than half of the country’s annual rice production and 90% of its export supply.
Bleak climate scenarios

The country’s drive to improve its rice industry even further is threatened by sea-level rise where flooding and salinity conditions are predicted to become worse. The CLUES project has developed high-definition risk maps of the current and forecasted flooding depths (Fig. 1) and salinity amounts for Bac Lieu and Soc Trang provinces.

High-definition maps illustrating the impact of sea-level rise and climate change scenarios on spatial and seasonal flooding risks in Bac Lieu and Soc Trang provinces. (Click to enlarge)
“Within the next 30 years, more than 60% of the MDR will be affected by flooding and 40% by salinity intrusion,” says Ngo Dang Phong, IRRI’s project facilitator. The maps also show that sea-level rise will greatly increase flooding depths and areas in a wide range. Its strongest impact will be felt in the coastal areas, especially during the dry season, generally decreasing upstream. Submergence caused by stagnant flooding (0.4 to 1 meter) is also predicted to extend to up to 40% of the downstream areas in the MDR. Flooding will be exacerbated because of the construction of dams, dikes, and sluices that regulate sea-water inflow coming from east of the delta.
“By using these maps, we can determine the best climate-smart practices to adapt, such as promising flood- and salt-tolerant rice varieties or other techniques,” says Dr. Phong. “We can also test and apply targeted interventions to maintain the high productivity of current rice systems.”
Promising varieties for the MDR

Given that the MDR is destined to have more frequent and deeper floods and increasing salinity, farmers will need rice varieties that have tolerance of these climate-related stresses. Thus, 300 rice varieties, comprising both traditional and improved ones, were screened as part of CLUES for their survival and recovery potential against these stresses at the study sites.New breeding lines have been developed and field-tested for their suitability in these areas. These lines combine salt and submergence tolerance as well as high yield potential. These are set to be outscaled through participatory varietal selection (PVS) trials and seed multiplication and distribution.
Water-saving technology for climate adaptation and mitigation

Although the MDR is surrounded by water, it is not impervious to drought. In 1997-98 and 2009-10, for instance, the region experienced severe drought because of El Niño. The early end of the wet season prolonged the dry season.A solution to the drought problem is the simple and inexpensive IRRI-developed technology known as alternate wetting and drying (AWD). It can save water use in rice paddies by as much as 25% through a cycle of draining and reflooding of rice fields that keeps water at an optimum level when needed.In partnership with GIZ, the German development agency, 100 farmers in Bac Lieu Province assessed AWD’s viability. The farmers found that they were able to reduce the cost of pumping irrigation water, resulting in increased income.

Demonstration site in Bac Lieu Province where AWD viability was tested. (Photo: CLUES)
Apart from AWD’s adaptation potential, this technology has been proven effective in reducing methane emissions from rice paddies by 50%. This is especially important for climate change responses because rice production is one of the main sources of greenhouse gasses (GHG). It accounts for a sizable share of the national GHG inventory of Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam.A pioneering output of CLUES was the generation of new data on emissions and mitigation in rice production, which will help in identifying options for the reduction of GHG in the MDR. The project measured methane gas emission rates at various plant growth stages under different farm practices (i.e., nitrogen application and straw compost application). The data were analyzed at the Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute.
Results showed that the emission rate of methane in conventional field plots was consistently greater than in AWD plots. Also, methane emission rates varied at different stages of growth. After an initial increase, the emission rates peaked at flowering time and decreased with reduced water depth at harvesting time.

Farming practices, such as AWD that are climate-smart and result in low GHG emissions are highly relevant for defining and implementing new climate change policies. After the successful completion of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, France, rice-growing countries can now turn their attention to reducing GHG emissions without affecting rice yields.
“AWD will help achieve these multiple objectives,” says Dr. Wassmann.
Community involvement in rice research

The approach undertaken by CLUES was based on participatory research that engaged local communities during every phase of the project. It focused on the poor farmers in the four provinces who must deal with varying degrees of salinity, acidity, and flooding in their rice fields. More than 3,900 farmers were involved in field trials, PVS, and other activities. This included around 700 women who participated in PVS and participatory rural appraisal for crop and natural resource management assessment studies.
Building capacity to enrich rice science

With support from the project, 18 students completed their master’s theses and four CLUES staff obtained doctorate degrees. The project also facilitated postgraduate studies for students in and outside of Vietnam. Cognizant of the importance of disseminating the research results to enrich rice science, project team members published papers in international and Vietnamese refereed journals and made conference presentations. Leaflets were disseminated to farmers, local decision-makers, and the public.
Collaborative partnership

“The CLUES project is an excellent example of multi-stakeholder involvement in Vietnam,” said H.E. Le Quoc Dohan, vice minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, during the end-of-project workshop.The CLUES project team built on previous work undertaken by IRRI and its Vietnamese and Australian research partners. Throughout the life of the project, the team reached out to numerous local research and government institutions and farming communities. A solid partnership was established among the Australian and Vietnamese institutions, which will continue well into the future.
The CLUES project team involved more than 70 staff members and students from 12 institutions working on six individual themes. (Photo: CLUES)
What lies ahead?

Beyond CLUES, plans on disseminating and amplifying the research results among farmers and the farming communities will continue.“We support the adoption of research results and are communicating CLUES outputs with larger audiences,” said An Nguyen, ACIAR country manager-Vietnam. “The major outputs of CLUES have been presented to policymakers in MDR provinces and to related Vietnamese ministries, such as Agriculture and Rural Development and Natural Resources and Environment. The results were also included in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Vietnam Aid Program Performance Report for 2014-15. Relevant technical packages will be communicated to potential development donors, international organizations, and local communities in the region for outscaling.”Taking things further, Dr. Phong suggested establishing more demonstration farms to illustrate the promising technologies produced by the project, alongside complementary training activities. Outscaling by local and national authorities with supporting policy and logistics support should also be in place.

Based on CLUES results, the concept of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) could be specified and substantiated for rice production in the MDR as well as in other mega-deltas of Asia. CSA combines mitigation as well as adaptation technologies into one comprehensive package. Several ongoing projects are now capitalizing on these results and are further expanding this concept by adding new elements such as mobile phone technologies for technology transfer and establishing Climate-Smart Villages acting as catalysts for upscaling.CLUES undoubtedly was a rewarding endeavor with plenty of tangible and helpful results that farmers in the MDR and Vietnam’s local and national governments can exploit to improve rice production. With these results, Vietnam’s white gold industry should continue to improve—perhaps even thrive—despite the challenges brought about by climate change.

Ms. Joven is a senior communication specialist at IRRI and the CGIAR Regional Program for Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

Golden rice isn’t the panacea for Vitamin A deficiency

By Rich Keller, Editor, Ag Professional March 02, 2016 | 12:45 pm EST

The reason that golden rice has not been cultivated in third-world nations isn’t so much that it isn’t accepted by people who fear eating a genetically modified rice but rather that varieties for commercial production aren’t available.The rice, which is genetically modified to include health-inducing levels of beta-carotene (vitamin A), is not grown mainly because of agronomic reasons claims Tom Philpott in an article published on ability to add beta-carotene (vitamin A) into rice was discovered in 2000, Philpott reports the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) still hasn’t figured out how to develop a variety of golden rice that comes close to producing comparable yields to conventional rice.
If golden rice was available, it would have to be priced at a premium. The original goal in developing the rice was to counter vitamin A (beta-carotene) deficiency of under nourished children. Diet deficiency in vitamin A is and has been the leading cause of blindness in children in many parts of the world where rice is the staple food in their diets. The worst regions are the Indian subcontinent and Africa. None of these people could pay a premium for golden rice, and they aren’t eager to eat it anyway.Anti-GMO zealots have hindered the development of golden rice by doing everything from scare tactics about it poisoning people to destroying field research plots. And their tactics have won government officials’ with malnourished populations to support banning golden rice production or consumption in several nations

Philpott claims that golden rice’s health effects have not been proven sufficiently. He cites a lack of studies proving that the beta-carotene can be taken up by a child eating a low-fat diet, which is the case with malnourished individuals. Because vitamin A is fat soluble, the contention is that unless the vitamin A is accompanied by sufficient dietary fat it will not be providing health effects.It still appears that road blocks, instead of investment and support for golden rice, are examples of anti-GMO activists paving the way for more starvation in the world.

World first database collates information on proteins in wheat, barley, rice and maize plants to facilitate research into new crop varieties

Posted yesterday at 6:24am
Australian researchers have launched a world first database to help scientists get more targeted information on breeding new crop varieties.
The database catalogues information on the location of vital proteins in barley, wheat, rice and maize.Plant proteins are important in breeding new crop varieties because they dictate whether the crops can cope with things like drought, rising temperatures and saline soils.Researchers based at the University of Western Australia (UWA) have reviewed information from thousands of studies from around the world to create the public database called CropPAL, which stands for 'crop proteins with annotated locations'.
Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
Lead researcher Dr Cornelia Hooper is a part of the Australian Research Council Centre of Energy in Plan Energy Biology at UWA.She said the resource would improve research into traits like drought resistance and salt tolerance."It's not a straight forward thing to breed a drought tolerant plant; there's a lot of trial and error," Dr Hooper said."With actually knowing which proteins you want to improve, increase or decrease or change you might be able to do a more targeted approach and you might be able to guide the breeding."

Dr Hooper said the database gave scientists the opportunity to learn more about how these proteins work.She said scientists generally researched a particular area and this database would offer "an extra layer of interpretation"."The protein location is a really important piece of information," Dr Hooper said."Because proteins within the cells work together in units."So it's really important to know which units do which functions so that you can link them to other parts of the cell."
Dr Hooper said CropPAL currently collated data on the proteins within the "four most important" crops, including barley, wheat, rice and maize plants.But she said researchers aimed to add information on a further seven crop varieties by the end of 2017

Millers, exporters take on rice federation

Thu, 3 March 2016
A newly formed coalition of rice millers and exporters has raised alarm bells, forecasting the imminent “collapse” of the nation’s rice sector within two years and blaming in part “governance failure” by the industry’s apex body.The 18-member group, whose initiative is called the Rice Industry Strategic Key Solution (RISKS), met Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol earlier this week to make a case that governance of the Cambodia Rice Federation’s (CRF) “had broken down” and the industry body was wrongly focused on long-term initiatives rather than formulating an emergency plan to protect struggling millers and exporters.In a presentation, the group claimed that the recently signed Vietnam-EU free trade agreement, cheap rice imports from Vietnam and the ineffectual leadership of the CRF have led the industry to a breakingpoint.
It called for the Ministry of Commerce’s assistance in arranging an extraordinary general meeting of the CRF to vote on amending the organisation’s charter and bylaws “so as to salvage the sinking ship.”

The group also asked the industry body to make a detailed presentation of its expenses ahead of planned CRF elections in May.Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice and a member of the RISKS initiative, said the CRF was caught up in formulating long-term plans, while taking no action to address the immediate concerns of its members.“We are trying to push for actions [to ensure] the survival of millers and exporters,” he said, “The CRF has to take action within a specific timeframe rather than only make plans.”He acknowledged the CRF’s work since its formation in 2014, but said its accomplishments were limited and some members were deeply dissatisfied.
CRF president Sok Puthyvuth told the Post yesterday he understood the “pain” felt by some of the industry body’s members, but said cohesion and unity were needed in order to address the sector’s structural issues.

“When things are tough you’re pointing fingers, but we have a platform and a federation, and if you have concerns bring them up and we can work on them together,” he said.
One of the demands of the RISKS initiative is access to cheaper financing options. Members have requested that the government facilitate access to $500 million in soft loans at 4 per cent interest per annum.Puthyvuth suggested that some millers and exporters were feeling the pressure from banks, which might be holding back loans, but insisted that was out of the federation’s control.He also disputed the group’s claim that “the number of [rice] millers and exporters was reduced by half in 2015,” claiming this was not the “correct picture” and that there were in fact some millers who reported a solid financial performance last year.

“I know big rice mills that will continue to survive and there are some that are doing very well,” he said. “I don’t think it is going to happen that in two years all millers will go bankrupt.”Another contentious issue brought up during the presentation was the import of cheaper rice from Vietnam, which the group claims prohibits local millers from competing in the market.During its presentation, it asked the government to introduce protectionist measures, like higher duties, or place a six-month moratorium on imports.Puthyvuth said while the CRF was working with the government to monitor these imports, it needed to ensure that local importers pay the relevant duties and taxes, evasion of which can provide a cost advantage to importers. He added a ban on imports was not the right solution in this situation.“That’s not going to work and I don’t endorse that. There are other ways to do it, but not that,” he added, without giving any further details.

Following the meeting, Chanthol asked the RISKS initiative to provide a detailed report with evidence to back their claims, which he said would be presented to Prime Minister Hun Sen for further action.Mey Kalyan, senior adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council and architect of the country’s rice policy, said that while times were tough for the rice sector, given the low margins and price pressures, millers focused on producing fragrant rice were able to turn a profit.He added that Cambodian rice firms were in part responsible for bringing down prices, given that they were competing with each other instead of working together.“They compete among themselves with the price,” he said. “This competition is bringing down the price and in the end it’s a loss for them.”Yang Saing Koma, former president of agriculture organisation CEDAC, said the problems in the sector extend beyond millers and exporters to smallholder farmers.

“It’s an injustice for farmers in this competitive market, where they do not get fair loans and don’t have much involvement with the market,” he said.Koma added that it was important for farmers to build a strong association so their issues could be heard on a governmental and industry level.“It has almost turned normal for no one to pay any attention to them,” he added.

Sok Puthyvuth, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, speaks at the Cambodia Rice Forum in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Pha Lina

Labels on genetically modified foods? Not so fast

  March 1

WASHINGTON — States could no longer require labeling of genetically modified foods under legislation approved by a Senate panel.The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 14-6 Tuesday to prevent the labeling on packages of foods that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Vermont is set to require such labels this summer, and other states are considering similar laws.Senators have said they want to find a compromise on the labeling issue before Vermont’s law kicks in. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the panel, said a patchwork of state laws would be a “wrecking ball” that could be costly for agriculture, food companies and ultimately consumers.

“Now is not the time for Congress to make food more expensive for anybody,” Roberts said.
The bill would block Vermont’s law and create new voluntary labels for companies that want to use them on food packages that contain genetically modified ingredients.The legislation is similar to a bill the House passed last year. The food industry has strongly backed both bills, saying GMOs are safe and a patchwork of state laws isn’t practical. Labeling advocates have been fighting state-by-state to enact the labeling, with the eventual goal of a national standard.
Passage won’t be as easy in the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to overcome a certain filibuster. Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders have both strongly opposed efforts to block their state’s law.Roberts and Stabenow have worked to find a compromise that can pass the Senate. But those negotiations broke down before the committee vote, and Roberts said the panel needed to move quickly ahead of the Vermont law. Both said they are still negotiating and hope to find agreement.

Stabenow said that for the legislation to receive broad enough support to pass the Senate, “it must contain a pathway to a national system of mandatory disclosure that provides consumers the information they need and want to make informed choices.”Three Democrats voted for Roberts’ bill: North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.Genetically modified seeds are engineered in laboratories to have certain traits, like resistance to herbicides. The majority of the country’s corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that going to animal feed. Corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soybean oil.The food industry says about 75 percent to 80 percent of foods contain genetically modified ingredients.While the Food and Drug Administration says they are safe and there is little scientific concern about the safety of those GMOs on the market, advocates for labeling say not enough is known about their risks. Among supporters of labeling are many organic companies that are barred by law from using modified ingredients in their foods.
Those groups said they are holding out hope for a compromise on the Senate floor.
“We remain hopeful that the Senate will craft a national, mandatory GMO labeling system that provides consumers with basic factual information about their food,” said Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group.

Grain of truth: Making rice greener

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Wednesday, 2 Mar 2016 | 6:01 AM ET

Rice is one of the world's most important staples, with billions of people basing their meals around it. But as the world's population grows, the amount of resources needed to produce the food is growing as well. Demand for crops such as rice, wheat and maize is set to increase by 33 percent by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), it takes between 1,000 and 3,000 liters of water to produce just one kilo of rice. While this compares favorably with the 13,000 to 15,000 liters needed to produce one kilo of grain-fed beef, rice still has an impact on the environment.


The FAO says that, along with the stagnation of cereal yields and depletion of natural resources, climate change is threatening food security. Founded more than 50 years ago and based in the Philippines, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is a research organisation looking to slash poverty and global hunger through "rice science.""When the decision was made to found IRRI as the first international agricultural research center, the world was facing famine," V. Bruce J. Tolentino, the IRRI's deputy director general for communication and partnerships, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

"To supply the world with the food… (it) needed, we needed to be able to push productivity, and that's been the end goal and mission of IRRI ever since," Tolentino went on to add.

The power of science

Climate change is likely to have an impact on rice production, according to IRRI. Those who farm rice are often some of the poorest agricultural workers, and their livelihoods are threatened by environmental changes. Climate change impacts including an increase in sea levels, flooding, salinity, increased CO2 levels, higher temperature, scarcity of water and pests, diseases and weeds could all hit crop yields.At IRRI a key aim is to gain an in depth understanding of the genetic diversity of rice in order to assist producers facing challenges from climate change as well as diseases and pests. To date, more than 40,000 rice genes have been mapped.The importance of rice that is hardy and high yielding is only set to increase.
"The varieties that survive the drought and flooding, they enable farmers not only to at least keep that season's worth of income and survive that season, but they also encourage farmers to invest more in other ways to increase the productivity," Sarah Beebout, a senior scientist at IRRI's soil chemistry, crop and environmental sciences division, said.

Millers refuse to collect paddy


Paddy farmers are facing fresh trouble in Kuttanad as rice millers have refused to collect paddy from the fields where harvesting has begun.The millers are demanding higher processing charges from the government. Though the government had agreed to pay higher processing charges during the previous harvesting season, the promised hike has not been paid, according to millers.

We don’t have to import rice with improved technology, govt support’

Marya Salamat March 3, 2016 
Science and technology advocates want the government to take action in modernizing local agriculture.
MANILA — At the forum for science and technology electoral agenda led by AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People), experts agreed that government support in research and improving technology can spell wonders for the country’s overall rice production. It can stabilize rice prices and curb importation, it can increase the income of farmers and millers. All these, based on government data on palay harvest and production as cited by a rice expert who attended AGHAM’s forum. Although he focused just on the technology used in post-harvest milling and drying, he said a lot more of rice would be produced if technology here was improved. Joji Co at AGHAM’s science and technology agenda for 2016 elections (Photo by Loi Manalansan /

For Joji Co, president of Philippine Confederation of Grains Association, the current trend of rising rice imports of the country could have been avoided if the country’s succeeding presidents had stuck to their promise of focusing on agriculture.Our total rice imports, he said, is only five percent of what is wasted during the rice milling process, a problem which the country could have resolved if the government was supportive.He cited Vietnam’s achievement. He visited Vietnam in 1995 after it came out of a civil war. At the time, he said Vietnam had 65 percent rice recovery after milling. But they improved on their technology and after 20 years, they’re now exporting rice.In the Philippines, Co said, “if we improve our current 65 percent to 70 percent rice recovery after milling, we won’t have to import rice anymore.”

Co said the problems candidates should tackle are not just government neglect in helping improve mechanical dryers and other equipment, which Filipino farmers and millers use from the time palay is harvested. Another problem revolves on government saying or promising something but doing something else.“Rather than promise us help (without really doing so), why doesn’t the government just say outright what their real policy in rice is?” he said.By now, a “cartel” in rice and others more are benefiting from rice importation, Co said. “All we ask (candidates and government) is state the policy. Then we will stop rice milling and just import and tell the farmers to stop planting rice,” said Co. S & T experts calling attention of 2016 electoral candidates (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat)

But his heart is more for demanding, along with other science and technology advocates, that the government take action in modernizing local agriculture.Coming from a second generation of millers, Co expressed confidence that with research funding from the government, Filipinos can develop better, more affordable technology in rice milling.

Thank you for your interest in Daily Rice News! Our Researchers & Editorial Team  work hard to share their best News for analysis, please give them credit. Any reproduction of  content requires written permission from us and clear reference to Copyright © 2016
For Advertisement in daily two newsletters & On blog & Website contact for detail...