Friday, April 01, 2016

31st March,2016 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Dastgir replaces commercial attaché in Saudi Arabia
By Our Correspondent
Published: March 31, 2016

Commerce ministry pays heed to rice exporters’ demand . PHOTO: FILE
The Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir has decided to replace the commercial attaché in Saudi Arabia, who according to rice exporters was not adequately performing his professional duties.The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) had earlier criticised the performance of the commercial attaché, saying that the official was not doing enough to help Pakistani exporters.“Pakistan’s rice exports are already declining in Saudi Arabia; on top of it the unprofessional attitude of the commercial attaché created unnecessary problems,” said the REAP Chairman Chaudhry Muhammad Shafique.

“It is our aim to take the country’s rice exports to $4 billion from the current $2.5 billion, but such attachés make such targets unachievable,” stated REAP in a press release.The association hoped the new commercial attaché would take his job “seriously” and do everything to support Pakistan’s exports in Saudi Arabia.REAP had demanded the commerce minister to remove Waseem Hayat Bajwa, the commercial attaché in Saudi Arabia, for his unprofessional attitude, obstinacy and indifference.A large delegation of REAP and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) failed to visit Saudi Arabia last year because Bajwa was unable to get visa letters on time.Since he took charge, the commerce minister has been under pressure from exporters to replace all commercial attachés, especially in crucial markets.According to exporters, many attachés are political appointees.

 “Their performance is unsatisfactory and that is why Pakistan’s products have not marketed properly in recent years.”The Ministry of Commerce, however, has only been been able to finalise new officials after a gap of two and a half years.  “The new batch of over 30 new commercial attachés will be dispatched in the next two to three months,” said Dastgir, replying to a question during his press conference.Explaining reasons for the long delay, he said, “The attachés had to be selected through a rigorous process to meet the requirements of the job i.e. to market Pakistan’s products in different countries.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st,  2016
Reap team returns from China with huge rice export orders
April 01, 2016

A trade delegation of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap), led by the association's Senior Vice-Chairman Noman Ahmed Shaikh, has returned with huge export orders from China. The delegation visited Beijing, Schenzhen and Guangzhou during 17 to 26 March. China is a very attractive market of Pakistani rice, as approximately 500,000 metric tons of rice is exported to China annually. "Dr Erfa Iqbal, Commercial Secretary at Embassy of Pakistan, Beijing, and her team facilitated the Reap delegation and arranged a seminar at the Embassy, which was attended by the officials of Chinese Chamber of Commerce and a large number of Rice buyers," Noman said. He said that the Embassy had made wonderful arrangements and extended its full cooperation in facilitating business to business (B2B) meetings of the rice exporters with their Chinese counterparts.

"During the visit, a meeting with a Chinese government body, COFCO, was also held which remained very fruitful and we are hopeful that COFCO will again consider buying rice directly from Pakistan," he added. Noman said that the Reap delegation visited Guangzhou and Schenzhen and with the support and cooperation of Pakistan Consulate held meetings with Schenzhen Cereal Association, Guangzhou Grain Association, Chamber of Commerce, Foshan Grain Reserve Corporation and other leading Chinese rice importers and "we are hopeful to receive good rice export orders".

Talking about a future strategy, Noman said that Reap and COFCO would organise a seminar with the support of the Embassy of Pakistan in near future and invitations would be sent to the government authorities, chamber officials and leading rice buyers from China. This seminar, he added would be very instrumental in promoting Pakistani rice in Chinese markets.

"We are thankful to S M Muneer, Chief Executive TDAP, and Dr Muhammad Usman, Director General, TDAP, for their co-ordination with Pakistan Missions in China and playing a crucial role in making the visit a great success," he Noman said. On behalf of Reap, he also thanked the officials of Embassy and Consulate of Pakistan in Beijing and Guangzhou.

AlDub Rice Paddy Art Raises Awareness On Philippine Agriculture
By Steven Hung on March 31, 2016

Screencap from
As the new generation of digital natives are taking over the greater population of the Philippines, less and less young people are now interested in taking over their forefather’s business in rice paddy farming. In an effort to curb the appetite of the younger generation, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has resorted to a tactic that is beyond imaginable.PhilRice wanted to join the bandwagon of the AlDub phenomenon by creating a rice paddy art of the tv noon-time variety show couple. In order to carry this art out, Nehemia Caballong, FutureRice program’s ICT specialist said:
“We used ‘AlDub’ as our design specimen for the paddy art and through Photoshop, we were able to incorporate the design in the dimension of the field.”Rice paddy arts are more commonly found in advanced rice producing countries such as Japan, and several of these have been made by fans to show their support for their favorite animated tv shows and movies.

Screen cap from
FutureRice Program Leader and PhilRice Deputy Executive Director for Administrative Services and Finance Roger F. Barroga simply wanted to catch the attention of the millennials and attract them to the idea of entering rice farming. He said,“This is one of our strategies to make the youth of today be more informed about the current situation of rice farming in the country. There are many opportunities that await them in agriculture.”According to PhilRice, the average age of a rice farmer is already up to 58 years old, and the youth still continues to see the agricultural industry as non lucrative because of the nature of the work where hard labor is needed to reap the fruits of one’s hard work.With this being said, PhilRice, in partnership with the different educational and vocational departments in the Philippines, have launched several programs such as the Infomediary Campaign that aims to send a message to the youth about the perks of being in agriculture.
At The Age of 15 She Invented Building Material From Indian Rice Waste

Ambika Behal
After seeing the environmental hazards that burning rice waste was causing at her family farm in North India, then-15 year old Bisman Deu saw an opportunity to create something useful, and developed an environmentally sustainable building material out of the farm’s biggest waste product.She’s 18 now, and finishing school in Chandigarh, but Deu is on a journey with her product, Green Wood, as it becomes more relevant now than ever before. Bisman Deu speaks at a UNICEF State of The World’s Children Conference 2015 in New York. Photo courtesy of UNICEF.To understand Deu’s product, one needs to understand the levels of dire pollution that the entire North India region suffers as a result of two major burning seasons for farmers. The first round is in May, during the heat of summer when wheat chaff is burnt and rice crops are sown, and the second in November when rice paddy is burnt and wheat crops are sown.Deu’s family farm in the North Indian city of Amritsar grows both wheat and rice.After seeing the burning of the waste products during evening walks with her dad, Deu, who had moved back to India with her family after spending most of her formative years in the U.K., realized that everyone around her was suffering from breathing problems as the air clouded over with the smoke.“I started researching pollution,” she says, “then I researched the properties of rice husk; it has a high silica content, is waterproof, and termite resistant,” she says.
Bisman Deu, inventor of building material Green Wood, stands with her product. Photo courtesy of Bisman Deu.

Long term solution needed for Mekong drought
Update: March, 31/2016 - 09:00 

View of the Plain of Reeds, an important natural reservoir, in Đồng Tháp Province. — VNS Photo Phước Bửu
Phước Bửu
Việt Nam’s Mekong Delta is facing severe drought and critical inland salination at the same time. El Nino and the shortage of water to the delta due to dams built by countries in the upper Mekong mainstream are the main causes; however, Vietnamese water reserve policies are also part of the story.The Mekong River enters Việt Nam’s territory in two big tributes of the Tiền and Hậu rivers before it ends in the sea through nine estuaries. The delta has thousands of inland canals, and for centuries, it seemed hard to believe that the delta would face a water shortage.
But this year, drought has occurred in many delta provinces and low levels of fresh water in the canals have facilitated the intrusion of salty water, which is said to be the strongest in 100 years now.

As many as 180,000 hectares of farm land has been affected, destroying crops and causing critical shortages of water for delta residents.Local governments in the affected provinces of Long An, Tiền Giang, Bến Tre, Sóc Trăng, Trà Vinh, Hậu Giang, Bạc Liêu and Kiên Giang have attempted to source water from neighbouring, less affected provinces.The central government has delivered the provinces a relief package of VNĐ650 billion (US$29 million) for dealing with salination and drought. At the same time, the Vietnamese government asked countries that own power dams on the upper Mekong mainstream to release water from their reservoirs to water the dried-up rice paddies.Scientists have argued that this will not solve the long-term problem. They urged that the practical situation in Việt Nam be looked into.
First, the country needs to find a fair mechanism of water sharing on the Mekong mainstream, with strong commitments from dam operators on when and how much water will be released.The country must also find the exact cause to water shortage in the tributes’ basin, not on the river. The delta has two wetland zones, 489,000ha Long Xuyên Quadrangle and 697,000ha Plain of Reeds, which serve as natural reservoirs, taking water from Mekong floods and holding it to supply canals in dry season, as underground water sources.However, the closed system of earthen embankment circling wide areas of rice paddies and orchards has prevented water from annual Mekong floods entering the quadrangle and the Plain of Reeds for almost a decade now. Both natural reservoirs face a critical shortage of water.

Scientists have also called for reconsidering the country’s development mindset; they want a policy switch from change and prevention to adaptation. The country should also stop chasing the title of world’s top rice producer.High concentration on rice production has resulted in the embankment system, which allows farmers a third crop of rice in a year, during the Mekong floods. Experts said annual floodwater helps clean the paddies by washing insects, rats and chemical residue away. Without the floods soil has become polluted and pests have spread, which means more chemical use and more pollution year after year.Scientists also suggested policy of switching canals with bracket water into fresh water for the aquaculture sector. Scientists said any move against nature would result in negative outcomes from the changed natural conditions. Countries should develop or select aquaculture species that can live in bracket water for the delta breeding industry.

Notable Prof Võ Tòng Xuân of An Giang University once said the real problem to the delta is the over concentration on rice production. Meanwhile, Associate Prof Lê Anh Tuấn of Cần Thơ University called for the return of natural delta features, which means flooding should happen naturally in the region and canals with bracket water should remain its status quo.
Water from Chinese and Lao power dams could help temporarily, but only Việt Nam can save itself, by changing the policies affecting water reserves and the canals in the Mekong Delta, with a long-term vision. — VNS

Rice exports see sharp growth in first three months
(CPV) - Rice export volume in March 2016 reached an estimated 629,000 tonnes, valued at USD274 million, bringing the total figure for the first quarter of the year to 1.59 million tonnes, worth USD629 million, up 41.6% in volume and 40.8% in value over a year earlier, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development.Indonesia became the biggest importer of Vietnamese rice in the first two months of 2016, with a market share of 31.42%. Rice exports to the market reached 330,000 tonnes in the two months, valued at USD131.1 million.China ranked second with over 160.6 million tonnes of rice imported from Vietnam, worth USD71.5 million, up 39.2% in volume and 53.6% in value, accounting for 17.15%. 

They were followed by the Philippines with a more than 11 fold increase in both volume and value, Malaysia with a 51.49% rise in volume and a 49.27% rise in value, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a 42.27% rise in volume and a 23.85% rise in value. 
Meanwhile, markets witnessing sharp reductions are Ivory Coast (25.19% in volume and 8.04% in value) and Singapore (20.1% in volume and 21.8% in value)./.

Assessing implications of rice import ban for economy
Posted By: FRANCIS EZEMon: April 01, 2016In: Business, Maritime 
The recent reversal of the rice importation through the land borders policy by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has continued to elicit reactions from various stakeholders with most of them seeing the measure as undesirable for the nation’s economy. FRANCIS EZEM reports.
That Nigeria remains one of the major countries that have consistently failed to sustain fiscal and other policy regimes in order to tap the huge socio- economic opportunities in key sectors of their economies is not in doubt. For several decades, changes in government have always led to policy reversals all in the attempt of each successive government to either rubbish the plans of past governments or to demonstrate that they have superior knowledge on certain economic matters. The policy trend, as it were today, appears to be doing more damage to the nation’s economy than good. 
Before now and precisely in 2012, the Federal Government through the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, restricted rice imports only to the seaports. This was in exercises of the powers of the service to place restrictions on the importation of some categories of goods through the land border as provided in section 19 of the Customs and Excise Management Act CEMA, The reason was that the importation of the product only through the seaports would checkmate its smuggling through land borders, especially given the porous nature of these borders, a development that is made worse by the existence of more than 200 unapproved routes through which smugglers ferry these products into the country.

This decision of the government to reverse this policy even without considering its possible effects, negative or positive, underscores the mindset of many top officials of the government at all levels, who make policy pronouncements without re-thinking possible effects of such pronouncements. Little wonder the barrage of criticisms that trailed the pronouncement, which also left the nation’s upper legislative chamber, the Senate to summon the Comptroller General (CG) of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali, (rtd)to explain the pronouncement, especially given the hurried manner in which it was done.

In what however appeared a self-reversal less than six months after, the CG penultimate week announced that the service has once again banned the importation of rice through the land borders. National Public Relations Officer of the service, Mr. Wale Adeniyi had in a statement, admitted that the service in 2012 imposed the restriction on importation through the land borders because the borders were believed to be a difficult terrain in terms of effectively monitoring and controlling the importation of the commodity. According to him, the decision to reintroduce the restriction was sequel to a review session held with Comptrollers of Border Commands and Federal Operation Units of the service held recently in Abuja, during which it was observed that the dwindling revenue from rice imports through the land borders do not correspond with the volume of rice that is handled in the ports of neighbouring African countries.

Intelligence reports show that there is a serious upsurge in the volume of the product smuggled across the borders, a development that had necessitated the re-introduction of the restriction. This points to the fact that the policy was not well thought out. Official statistics available to National Mirror also indicated that for the five-month period during which the restriction was relaxed covering October, 2015 to March 17, 2016, a total of 24.992 metric tonnes of rice valued at N2.4billion was imported through the land borders. In addition, the data during this five-month period, total revenue generated amounted to N1.7billion, which the service suspected was considerably lower than the revenue projected to be generated with the removal of import restrictions.

For instance, in the first two months of 2016, a total of 9,238 bags were seized with a Duty Paid Value DPV of N64.7 million was made by the anti-smuggling patrol units of the Federal Operations and Border commands. Prior to the reversal of rice border imports last year and its recent re-introduction, the Nigerian fiscal policy has been replete with so much summersault. For between 2012 and 2015, the Federal Government reviewed its tariff on rice importation more than four times. From a tariff of about 40 per cent in 2012, the government increased it to 110 per cent in 2013, which gave rise to the massive smuggling of the commodity.

In an attempt to curb this, the government reduced the tariff to 30 per cent for rice millers, who have capacity for backward integration while other rice dealers imported at 60 per cent tariff. The cumulative effect of all these is the uncertainties and dislocations they create in the economy. Head Corporate and Government Relations, Olam Nigeria Limited, largest player in the rice value chain in Nigeria, Mr. Ade Adefeko, says frequent change in Nigeria’s rice import policy promotes smuggling, among other issues. While reacting to the importation of rice through the borders, he observed that borders are very porous.

Monitoring all the imports through them remains an 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. “The frequent policy changes adversely affect the industry. It is encourages smuggling from the neighbouring countries. It also undermines various investments in the rice value chain within Nigeria. There is a substantial gap between production and consumption of rice in Nigeria, which was fulfilled through legitimate imports earlier and now the same supply gap is being met by smuggled rice from across the borders”, he said.President of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents NCMDLCA, Mr. Lucky Amiwero, who bemoaned the inconsistent policy on rice importation, made a strong case for the evolution of mechanisms that would make the country self sufficient in rice production as a way of ending the current regime of massive importation of the commodity. 
“What is ultimate is that in the long term, Nigeria should work towards achieving self sufficiency not only on rice production but also other agricultural produce because countries that rely on importation hardly grow”, he argued. It is estimated that Nigeria needs approximately 2.5 million metric tonnes of rice annually to cover the gap between local production and consumption, which must therefore be augmented through imports. In view of the supply gap, analysts have therefore charged all relevant government agencies to evolve measures to bridge this gap as a way of ending rice importation and smuggling.

Agro Ministry Purchases 143,000 Tons of Rice to Stabilize Market
Write : 2016-03-31 18:24:02 Update : 2016-03-31 18:31:14

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Thursday that it has completed the purchase of 143-thousand tons of rice that was harvested and set aside last year for the purpose of market stability. 
During bidding on Wednesday, 143-thousand tons or 91 percent of 157-thousand tons of emergency rice reserves were successfully sold. The average purchase price was 48-thousand-825 won per 40 kilograms of rice.The rice reserves for public auction held in each province belonged to farmers, agricultural cooperatives or private rice processing complexes(RPC).With the latest government purchases, 343-thousand tons of rice out of last year's total rice output of four-point-three million tons have been purchased off the market. The government purchased 200-thousand tons late last year. The Agriculture Ministry will refrain from releasing its purchased reserves into the market barring unstable demand and supply or a sudden price hike.

03/31/2016 Farm Bureau Market Report
High Low
Long Grain Cash Bids - - - - - -
Long Grain New Crop - - - - - -


High Low Last Change
May '16 1023.5 942.5 969.0 -34.0
Jul '16 1050.0 970.0 996.5 -34.0
Sep '16 1068.0 990.0 1015.0 -34.0
Nov '16 1086.0 1015.0 1035.0 -33.0
Jan '17 1038.0 1033.5 1055.5 -29.0
Mar '17 1071.0 -31.0
May '17 1071.0 -31.0

Rice Comment
Rice futures charted a huge bearish reversal today in reaction to USDA's planting intentions report. May looks headed for a retest of support at $9.22 on the continuation chart. Rice acres are expected to be up 17% from 2015 at 3.064 million acres. All of that gain and then some will be in long grain rice, while medium grain acreage will actually be down 17% across the country. Arkansas is expected to plant 1.581 million acres of rice consisting of 1.43 million acres of long grain and 150,000 acres of medium grain. Flooding this week could delay planting, but it's still early and traders know there is plenty of time to get this huge crop in the ground.

Gov’t vows to monitor borders to stop illegal rice 
Thu, 31 March 2016 
Cheng Sokhorng 
The government has decided to strengthen entry points along Cambodia’s borders to block illegal rice imports, while promising to dissolve any company’s certificate of origin that is caught mixing contraband rice for export, Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) president Sok Puthyvuth announced following a meeting yesterday with Deputy Prime Minister Kheat Chhon.  
Additionally, the government will scrap the value added tax (VAT) on imports of rice milling machinery – a move aimed at reducing millers’ high capital costs. “As result of the meeting, the government has decided to drop the VAT on milling machines for the rice industry,” Puthyvuth said. Members of a government task force attending the closed-door meeting also considered a request by the CRISIS (Cambodian Rice Industry Survival Implementation Strategy) initiative for the government to facilitate $250 million in soft loans to rice millers. The funding package aims at reducing the financial burden on millers, who typically have to take loans out at 8 to 10 per cent interest from commercial banks or 20 to 30 per cent interest from microfinance lenders. 

While Puthyyuth said nothing concrete had been decided about issuing soft loans, a recommendation to reduce logistics costs by facilitating access to Laem Chabang port in Thailand was also discussed during the meeting. The request to reduce electricity tariffs to about 400 riel per kilowatt hour, was also broached.

“The result of meeting was very productive, and rice millers and members of committee are happy with the results”, said Moul Sarith, acting secretary-general of the CRF. “With the VAT dissolved, it will motivate rice millers to stay in the industry.” According to Sarith, the government will implement the new requirements after Khmer New Year in mid-April.The CRISIS group produced a nine-point action plan to address what some described as a rice industry on the brink of collapse. Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol submitted a report that mirrors four urgent measures outlined in this plan to Prime Minister Hun Sen on March 10.“Out of the four issues under discussion, some are difficult to deal with,” Chhon said, adding that they only dealt with the ones that are possible.
A Thai truck in Pailin transports Cambodian rice. AFP

Paddy Cultivation Not Affected By El Nino - Ahmad Shabery

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 (Bernama) -- The current hot weather brought by the El Nino phenomenon has not affected the paddy cultivation due to the sufficient amount of water in the dams owned by the agencies of the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry.Its minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the dams under the management of the Integrated Agricultural Development Area (IADA), the Kemubu Agricultural Development Authority (KADA) and the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (MADA) would supply water according to the circulated schedule."Paddy cultivation schedule varies in each state. According to the schedule, water has been released from dams in Kedah Wednesday.

"For other states, water will be supplied in stages from time to time," he told a press conference after launching a beauty product, Nutrima-Cellode, here, today.Present were the ministry's secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar and Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) director-general Datuk Dr Sharif Haron.Ahmad Shabery urged the 220,000 paddy farmers in the country to follow the schedule that had been set for paddy cultivation to avoid any problems throughout the season.Asked on the dry and cracked paddy fields, he said it was normal and not caused by the hot and dry weather.In another development, Ahmad Shabery said the ministry was also monitoring the production of livestock and fisheries during the hot weather conditions.


Rice exports see sharp growth in first three months

(CPV) - Rice export volume in March 2016 reached an estimated 629,000 tonnes, valued at USD274 million, bringing the total figure for the first quarter of the year to 1.59 million tonnes, worth USD629 million, up 41.6% in volume and 40.8% in value over a year earlier, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development.Indonesia became the biggest importer of Vietnamese rice in the first two months of 2016, with a market share of 31.42%. Rice exports to the market reached 330,000 tonnes in the two months, valued at USD131.1 million.China ranked second with over 160.6 million tonnes of rice imported from Vietnam, worth USD71.5 million, up 39.2% in volume and 53.6% in value, accounting for 17.15%.


They were followed by the Philippines with a more than 11 fold increase in both volume and value, Malaysia with a 51.49% rise in volume and a 49.27% rise in value, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a 42.27% rise in volume and a 23.85% rise in value. Meanwhile, markets witnessing sharp reductions are Ivory Coast (25.19% in volume and 8.04% in value) and Singapore (20.1% in volume and 21.8% in value)./.

Rice sales slim as high prices keep exporters away

 My Pham/Reuters on Mar 30, 2016 

HANOI - Rice trade in top Asian producers - Vietnam and Thailand - was slim this week as high prices kept buyers at bay, while severe droughts put more pressure on these countries' limited supply, traders said on Wednesday.Vietnam 5-percent broken rice remained unchanged from the previous week at $380-$385 a metric ton, free-on-board (FOB) basis, while the same grain in Thailand widened to $367-$381 a metric ton, from $371-$383 last week, traders said.Rice export prices stayed high in Vietnam, the world's third biggest rice exporter, as limited supplies prompted stockpiling by domestic traders and farmers as severe drought stressed the situation further.

"Buyers immediately jump to other markets such as Pakistan after hearing our rice prices," said a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader.Salination and dryness have affected 160,000 hectares (395,000 acres) of rice so far this year in the Delta, or about 10 percent of the total area planted under the key crop, according to theAgriculture Ministry of Vietnam.Thailand is also facing its worst water shortage in two decades, while a shift in the baht/dollar rate widened the prices. Thai baht depreciated to 35.44 baht on Tuesday from 35.1 last Wednesday."Thai rice prices have hit a low number. They only appear to go up or down because of the baht/dollar rate," said a Bangkok-based trader, citing that the value of rice itself has remained flat for months.There was no deals signed from overseas importers in the world's second-biggest rice exporter."There's no order. It's all very quiet," said a Thai trader

AlDub paddy art meant to attract millennials to farming
By Coconuts Manila March 31, 2016 / 11:27 PHT
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The image can only be viewed from a certain angle. PHOTO: Facebook/The Philippine Daily Inquirer

What do you get when you combine the agricultural industry with mainstream Pinoy pop culture? The faces of “AlDub” stars Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza on a 1,600-square-meter plot using two rice varieties, that's what. It’s actually quite stunning. Just like a less mind-boggling version of the Hollywood movie Signs, the field of the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Science City Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, was transformed into a canvas using a new form of art meant to make farming attractive to millennials. 

PhilRice deputy executive director Roger F. Barroga learned about paddy art in Taiwan. He brought the art to the country, and PhilRice started doing paddy art, kicking off with a portrait of Jose Rizal last year. “Our ICT specialist Nehemiah Caballong designed the artwork in the computer using programs that include Photoshop. Plotting the design is like doing cross stitching,” Barroga said in an interview with Inquirer. The artwork received an overwhelmingly positive response. More than 2,000 people came to view the AlDub Rice since it opened on Mar 15. The PhilRice experiment station has turned into a tourist attraction. Since the farm also has a kayaking facility, a viewing trip can easily be turned into a full-day activity.The viewing is only up to Apr 3. The crops will soon start growing and the faces of the AlDub stars will no longer be visible. 

Envoy for Pak rice exporters role in trade with Germany
March 31, 2016

LAHORE - German Ambassador to Pakistan Ms Ina Lepel has asked the rice exporters to play role in promoting bilateral trade and hence further strengthening economic ties with Germany. 
Addressing members of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) on Wednesday, Ina said there was a great need for diversifying the two-way trade, as $2.3 billion trade volume recorded in 2014 was not up to the real potential both countries had.“We have good economic relations but there is more room to further enhance these relations,” the ambassador said, adding, “Germany has more strong trade relations with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Malaysia as compared to Pakistan.” She added that Germany had financially supported major hydropower projects and also the up-gradation of distribution system in Pakistan.She said that Germany was currently focusing on renewable energies and energy efficiency in Pakistan.

“The German Embassy is working with the Pakistani business community to strengthen business institutions,” the ambassador told REAP members. Ina hoped the granting of licence to Pakistan-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry would further improve bilateral trade and economic relations.She urged the exporters to pay attention to organic rice export, as Germans were very conscious about nutrition and health.REAP Chairman Chaudhry Muhammad Shafique, in his address, said that in 2012-13, Pakistan exported 127,953 metric tonnes of Basmati and non-basmati rice varieties to the EU countries, which came to $111.812 million, while the current export to the EU countries stood at 206,000 metric tonnes per annum. “In 2013-14, Pakistan’s exports to Germany were recorded at 9393 metric tonnes, which rose to 11,986 metric tonnes in 2014-15,” he informed.

He requested the German ambassador to relax visa policy for genuine businessman so that rice exports to Germany could be increased. Shafique pointed out that developing countries were the largest rice producers as well as exporters and accounted for more than 80 percent of the world’s rice export.“Especially, the Southeast Asian countries dominate the industry because of their diverse varieties and best quality of rice,” he informed.He said since rice was an important staple food that was why it was mostly consumed in the country where it was cultivated, and less than 8 percent of that production was traded internationally.“REAP has an incredible track record of earning $2 billion for the fourth consecutive year,” REAP chairman said, adding, “Different varieties of rice were grown in Pakistan such as Super Basmati, 1121 Kinat, Basmati PK-385, Irri-6, Irri-9 and KS-282 extra-long grain rice and PK-386.” He said Pakistan was known for its aromatic rice (Super Basmati/Basmati PK-385). 

“While Punjab has abundant Basmati Rice, Sindh, on the other hand, has the Irri varieties,” Shafique informed.He added that currently Pakistan was the world’s fourth largest exporter of rice, with an annual production of more than 7 million tonnes, out of which 4 million tonnes were exported around the world; hence capturing around 15 percent of world’s total rice trade

Food fraud in the UK: Toxic vodka and pet food meat given to humans
Food fraud in the UK: Toxic vodka and pet food meat given to humans CREDIT: ALAMY
·          Lexi Finnigan 
Food fraud is a growing problem in Britain and costing families as much as £1.17billion a year, according to officials.The National Food Crime Unit highlighted scams ranging from lamb takeaways, which include no lamb, to olive oil adulterated with colourings and flavourings.There is also evidence of fake vodka containing toxic levels of methanol and the selling of harmful weight loss pills, such as DNP, which have been linked to the deaths of several young women.

One in three jars of manuka honey fail to meet the label claims  CREDIT: ALAMY
The unit says there are more than 20 organised crime groups involved in some aspect of food and drink fraud in Britain.And a 20 per cent rise in sheep and other farm rustling over the last five years has seen animals slaughtered in unlicensed premises – creating health risks.Part of the Food Standards Agency, the unit was set up in 2013 following the horsemeat scandal.Yesterday it published the Food Crime Annual Strategic Assessment which sets out the seriousness of the problem and the threats involved.According to the report, British food is generally safe and properly labelled but it warns that fraud represents a “serious criminal threat to the safety and authenticity of UK food and drink”.
Millions of cheap cage eggs have been mislabelled as organic or free range CREDIT: REUTERS
It adds: “Our assessment shows the threat is real. An industry of such scale and diversity, worth up to £200billion annually, inevitably presents opportunities to criminals. Threats exist at a number of levels: from random acts of dishonesty by individual “rogues” to organised fraudulent activity by groups who knowingly set out to deceive consumers or expose them to harm.”
While there is no official measure of the cost of food fraud in Britain, the report said studies suggest a “potential scale of £1.17billion” in the UK.
Some concerns in the report
1.      Fake versions of branded vodka, such as Smirnoff, containing methanol or anti-freeze – more than 35,000 counterfeit bottles were seized at Dover.
2.      Offal taken from slaughterhouses to be used in pet food has been diverted for use in catering as big events.
3.      Shellfish sold from locations known to be a health risk – such as sewage contamination.
4.      Takeaways which have replaced lamb with cheaper off-cuts of meat – one in five were found to be at fault.
5.      Pubs and restaurants found selling meat and produce labelled as organic and local which comes from cheaper sources.
6.      Olive oil mislabelled as extra virgin or adulterated.
7.      One in ten consignments of basmati rice bulked up with other rice.
8.      One in three jars of manuka honey fail to meet the label claims covering quality or botanical origin.
9.      Nineteen out of 78 packs of oregano were bulked up with cheap ingredients such as olive leaves.
10.  Deadly diet pills are flooding back online.
11.  Millions of cheap cage eggs have been mislabelled as organic or free range.

 Rice Prices

as on : 31-03-2016 08:10:29 PM

Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.

Arrivals Price

Current %

change Season 

cumulative Modal Prev.

Modal Prev.Yr



Bazpur(Utr) 5500.00 222.58 38113.41 2159 1835 16.70

Gadarpur(Utr) 3005.00 230.95 96987.00 1945 2128 4.29

Bangalore(Kar) 1561.00 -7.08 104131.00 4000 4000 -5.88

Jasvantnagar(UP) 900.00 50 2850.00 2280 2260 2.93

Varanasi(Grain)(UP) 410.00 NC 8615.00 1980 1980 -0.25

Bharwari(UP) 345.00 NC 1570.00 2025 2010 -1.70

Kanpur(Grain)(UP) 230.00 -11.54 7980.00 2165 2160 0.23

Allahabad(UP) 180.00 -5.26 5560.00 2180 2180 2.35

Gorakhpur(UP) 180.00 -18.18 3482.00 2060 2110 4.57

Agra(UP) 148.00 -13.95 4676.00 2100 2040 5.26

Sitapur(UP) 130.00 -2.99 6276.00 2225 2220 8.54

Gondal(UP) 120.00 -11.11 11076.10 2060 2070 2.49

Mathabhanga(WB) 110.00 NC 3120.00 1950 1950 NC

Pilibhit(UP) 100.00 6.38 17802.00 2190 2190 0.46

Etawah(UP) 95.00 58.33 18495.00 2280 2285 1.79

Bareilly(UP) 94.00 0.97 6621.60 2275 2275 10.98

Aligarh(UP) 85.00 6.25 2620.00 2120 2100 9.84

Saharanpur(UP) 84.00 20 4056.00 2160 2165 1.89

Jangipura(UP) 80.00 - 80.00 1940 - -

P.O. Uparhali Guwahati(ASM) 79.50 -3.05 3056.00 2100 2100 -19.23

Ghaziabad(UP) 75.00 50 2195.00 2140 2140 1.42

Thodupuzha(Ker) 70.00 NC 2030.00 2650 2650 8.16

Kalipur(WB) 70.00 -2.78 4269.00 2050 2050 NC

Coochbehar(WB) 65.00 -2.99 1183.00 2050 2050 -4.65

Kesinga(Ori) 50.00 100 360.00 2500 2400 -3.85

Achalda(UP) 50.00 NC 3072.50 2280 2275 2.70

Samsi(WB) 50.00 NC 15510.00 3000 2800 -

Pandua(WB) 50.00 8.7 1423.00 2500 2550 -7.41

Gazipur(UP) 45.00 12.5 1423.00 1945 1945 -1.77

Gauripur(ASM) 43.00 -1.15 2349.00 4500 4500 -

Chintamani(Kar) 37.00 146.67 392.00 2050 2050 2.50

Jorhat(ASM) 35.00 -22.22 1265.00 2700 2700 -3.57

Balurghat(WB) 32.00 14.29 364.00 2750 2780 -

Achnera(UP) 30.00 - 30.00 2090 - 6.09

Hapur(UP) 30.00 - 70.00 2120 - -0.93

Kolhapur(Laxmipuri)(Mah) 29.00 -3.33 1319.00 3200 3200 -

Dadri(UP) 28.00 40 1630.00 2140 2145 1.42

Ghatal(WB) 27.00 12.5 321.00 1930 1920 -1.53

Lohardaga(Jha) 22.00 22.22 717.00 1930 1930 13.53

Lakhimpur(UP) 22.00 -12 420.50 2140 2130 0.71

Ramkrishanpur(Howrah)(WB) 22.00 2.33 903.60 2300 2300 -11.54

Jalpaiguri Sadar(WB) 22.00 -4.35 721.00 2750 2750 1.85

Shahjahanpur(UP) 20.00 -79.8 40139.10 2200 2190 7.58

Shikohabad(UP) 20.00 11.11 415.50 1960 1930 -5.08

Haldibari(WB) 20.00 -20 616.50 2350 2350 -11.32

Mekhliganj(WB) 20.00 -2.44 575.50 2050 2050 10.81

Hoskote(Kar) 19.00 137.5 40.00 4000 3900 -

Meerut(UP) 19.00 5.56 459.50 2200 2200 3.29

Alipurduar(WB) 19.00 NC 365.00 2200 2200 2.33

Kolaghat(WB) 17.00 NC 438.00 2300 2300 -8.00

Tamluk (Medinipur E)(WB) 17.00 NC 476.00 2300 2300 15.00

Sirsa(UP) 16.50 -8.33 416.00 2080 2075 0.97

Jeypore(Ori) 15.00 -14.29 218.40 325 325 -

Atarra(UP) 15.00 NC 69.50 2000 1900 8.11

Firozabad(UP) 15.00 -16.67 503.00 2060 2000 3.52

Jahanabad(UP) 15.00 -3.23 235.00 2200 2260 14.58

Haathras(UP) 15.00 -66.67 420.00 2140 2120 10.31

Pukhrayan(UP) 14.00 16.67 153.50 2035 2025 -6.65

Raiganj(WB) 13.50 -3.57 709.50 2800 2800 12.00

Kannauj(UP) 13.20 -17.5 293.50 2180 2170 -0.46

Divai(UP) 13.00 -3.7 239.50 2050 2040 1.23

Karnailganj(UP) 13.00 - 13.00 2000 - 2.56

North Lakhimpur(ASM) 12.80 64.1 1197.30 1900 1900 -

Tanakpur(Utr) 12.50 19.05 171.10 2100 2200 NC

Udala(Ori) 12.00 -50 756.00 2800 2800 16.67

Buland Shahr(UP) 12.00 140 346.00 2025 2045 -0.25

Champadanga(WB) 12.00 50 659.00 2350 2350 -9.62

Medinipur(West)(WB) 12.00 -14.29 491.00 2400 2400 2.13

Dibrugarh(ASM) 10.00 -16.67 945.30 2400 2400 -

Kottayam(Ker) 10.00 NC 120.00 3500 3500 16.67

Mirzapur(UP) 10.00 11.11 1172.50 1955 1950 -0.51

Nawabganj(UP) 10.00 - 10.00 2000 - 2.56

Rampur(UP) 10.00 -16.67 409.50 2240 2225 9.27

Kaliaganj(WB) 10.00 42.86 491.00 2650 2600 8.16

Khairagarh(UP) 9.00 12.5 300.00 2080 2100 5.05

Etah(UP) 8.00 -20 79.00 1890 1850 -6.44

Muradabad(UP) 8.00 -13.04 422.70 2275 2270 12.62

Jeypore(Kotpad)(Ori) 7.80 387.5 21.60 3250 4200 -20.73

Chengannur(Ker) 7.00 -12.5 439.50 2400 2400 -4.00

Nilagiri(Ori) 6.00 -25 334.00 2300 2300 NC

Kasganj(UP) 6.00 -40 508.00 1950 1940 -4.41

Hailakandi(ASM) 4.00 NC 111.00 2700 2700 NC

Baberu(UP) 4.00 -33.33 109.00 2125 2110 -

Islampur(WB) 4.00 NC 231.90 2150 2150 -

Imphal(Man) 3.30 -2.94 165.00 2900 2900 NC

Alibagh(Mah) 3.00 NC 102.00 4000 4000 150.00

Murud(Mah) 3.00 NC 174.00 3000 3000 87.50

Siyana(UP) 2.50 66.67 62.00 2045 2040 -0.24

Balarampur(WB) 2.20 4.76 50.00 2130 2130 -11.25

Bonai(Bonai)(Ori) 2.00 NC 91.10 2000 2000 -9.09

Gulavati(UP) 2.00 -33.33 36.00 2085 2090 2.21

Khatauli(UP) 2.00 -33.33 24.00 2160 2180 8.00

Kasipur(WB) 1.30 -13.33 24.20 2100 2150 -8.70

Sardhana(UP) 1.20 NC 67.20 2170 2165 3.83

Dibiapur(UP) 1.20 NC 95.40 2250 2250 2.27

Lamlong Bazaar(Man) 1.20 NC 51.20 2900 2900 NC

Punalur(Ker) 1.00 NC 11.50 1600 1600 -

Shillong(Meh) 0.70 -12.5 43.00 3500 3500 NC

New rates for essential edibles

March 31, 2016


The City District Government Lahore (CDGL) notified new rates for essential edibles including rice and grains and directed the price control magistrates to ensure strict implementation of the new rates across the provincial capital.District Coordination Officer (DCO) Lahore notified the new rates on Friday. As per notification, new rates of essential edibles are New Super Basmati Rice (Rs 68 per kg), Old Super Basmati Rice (Rs 82/kg), Erri Rice (Rs 32/kg), Daal Chana small (Rs 100/kg), Daal Channa Big (Rs 110/kg), Daal Masoor thin (Rs 152/kg), Daal Masoor imported and thick (Rs 132/kg), imported and washed Daal Mash (Rs 235/kg), imported Daal Mash with skin (Rs 230/kg), Daal Moong washed (Rs 142/kg), Daal Moong with cover (Rs 152/kg), Black Gram thick (Rs 95/kg), Black Gram thin (Rs 95/kg), White Gram thick and imported (Rs 98/kg), White Gram thin and imported (Rs 112/kg), Gram Flour/Baisan (Rs 110/kg), Red Chili (Rs 238/kg), Sugar (Rs 64/kg), Roti 100 gram (Rs 06), Naan 120 gram (Rs 10), Khamiri Roti (Rs 08), Milk (Rs 70/liter) and Yogurt (Rs 85/kg). The DCO Lahore has directed all the price control magistrates to enforce new rates across the provincial capital and adopt a zero tolerance policy towards shopkeepers involved in price hike. 

Following the directions of the DCO Lahore, price control magistrates raided 795 places and arrested 23 shopkeepers involved in overcharging besides imposing a fine of Rs 20,500.Meanwhile, a special team of the CDGL also carried out a surprise raid on two canteens of a bus terminal near Kalma Chowk and found overcharging in the prices of various edibles. The team arrested Syed Jawad Qadir Shah, Naved Jalal and Fakhar Mehmood, Ashgar Ali and four others and sent them to jail for four days

Rice exports on track for 9.5m tonnes 

31 Mar 2016 at 09:01 


A man uses a tube to collect a rice sample to check its quality at a warehouse in Ayutthaya. Thailand's rice exports this year are targeted at 9.5 million tonnes. THITI WANNAMONTHA

The government remains upbeat about Thailand's rice exports, predicting an average of 700,000-800,000 tonnes a month to reach an annual total of 9.5 million tonnes, as expected.Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said potential rice buyers are expecting lower rice output from the drought, igniting demand for rice and raising prices.The free-on-board 5% white rice prices are now quoted at US$390-400 a tonne compared with $370 a tonne early this year.Despite the poor global economy, Thailand shipped 2.64 million tonnes of rice between Jan 1 and March 29, up 27% from the same period last year, fetching 41.5 billion baht, up 18%. 

In dollar terms, the shipments were worth $1.16 billion, up 7.8% year-on-year.Last year rice exports totalled 9.79 million tonnes, down 10.7% year-on-year, with export values of $4.61 billion, down 15.2%.She said to increase rice sales, the department would call the third rice auction this year for 400,000-500,000 tonnes of state rice stocks after the Songkran festival. The auction will include grains categorised as Grade P, which passed ministry certification, Grades A and B, and Grade C (substandard quality) for industrial use.The Commerce Ministry reported the government's second rice auction this year for 418,000 tonnes of milled rice drew mass interest, with 14 of 42 qualified bidders submitting the highest prices for the whole lot. Some 292,000 tonnes of the lot were white rice, with combined sales totalling 4.43 billion baht. 

The department is scheduled to allow interested bidders to submit their purchase proposals today to buy 223,000 tonnes of substandard rice stocks for industrial use.Since the May 2014 coup, a combined 5.05 million tonnes of rice have been sold via 13 auctions, fetching 53.9 billion baht, while government-to-government deals sold 3.8 million tonnes for 50 billion.The government estimates it has 12 million tonnes in its rice stocks, down from 18.7 million from various rice pledging schemes. The schemes bought rice from farmers at prices 40% higher than market rates from 2011-14, hurting the competitiveness of Thai rice in the export market, leading to huge stockpiles.Authorities are speeding up rice sales to prevent further losses, especially from rotten rice that has been kept for years in warehouses.

Bangkok post South Asian hot spot

Amber Indian Cuisine joins a growing list of excellent Indian restaurants

by Adam Powell

March 31, 2016


Ryan Wisniewski

Beef chapli kabab, minced and spice beef, has a real kick.Indian food is wildly popular worldwide, though Madison has been a bit slow to the party. That appears to be changing, especially on Madison’s far west side and in Middleton, where the beachhead Swagat has recently been joined by Minerva and the excellent Dhaba. And there’s a new kid on the block, Amber Indian Cuisine.

Located in a mini-mall, the restaurant’s interior seems designed to calm. The burgundy and cream color palette with yellow track lighting and flowers as accent notes is well conceived and classy. Drop ceilings and partitions of Indian design lend notes of the East. A series of elegant black-and-white photographs line one wall and colorful paintings depicting trees and fields adorn another. The full bar seems underused (the clientele skews heavily non-Caucasian, and adherent Muslims do not drink alcohol) but adds texture to the room, with the buffet area to its right.As with many Indian restaurants, the focus is on the buffet. This one runs three tables deep, with a wide variety of dishes that change every day. (Kids get half price on the buffet during lunch, making it an economical proposition for parents).

Chicken tikka masala was everyone’s favorite: hearty tomato sauce, subtle flavor combinations, tender hunks of chicken roasted in a tandoori oven. Lamb curry, with ginger, onions and garlic, had a lot of fat and bone, but was tender enough. A giant heated plate had fried fish on a Thursday (bland and forgettable), but an excellent garlic-fried shrimp (dusted with spices and heavy on the garlic) on a Saturday.Beef chapli kabab is minced and spiced beef, like a burger patty. It had a real kick and can be dunked in tamarind chutney for a kaleidoscopic taste sensation. Hyderabadi dum chicken biriyani was exemplary. The subtle flavors of the Mughal and Andhra regions of India are blended for the sauce; the chicken is layered with basmati rice and steamed in a tightly sealed dish.

Vegetarians will like the dal makhani, four types of lentils simmered in chilies and garlic. Salad is simple and always the same: carrot wedges, sliced tomatoes, chopped cabbage, sliced cucumbers. It gets significantly more interesting when ladled with raita, a yogurt sauce.

Condiments include sliced lemons, garlic chili sauce and pickled cucumbers. Also available: a smoky tomato chutney, a refreshingly cool mint chutney, a mango chutney and a coconut chutney that does a good job cooling down the lamb curry.

At dinner, the lights are lower and jazz (Coltrane in one case) is playing. It’s busy, and you might have to wait, so a vinyl couch in view of a television, right near the bar, is your new home for a while. The dinner menu is à la carte, as the buffet is only open for lunch.Fans of Indian cuisine usually have a dish they use as the standard by which to judge a restaurant. For me, that’s beef vindaloo, and I always ask for it extra-spicy. Amber’s version had just the right level of heat and spice. Kadai paneer (vegetarian) was exquisite, with dollops of Indian cheese in a broth of peppers and onions.

Crème caramel and homemade mango ice cream are the best dessert options.Service is helpful during a quiet brunch, but servers didn’t have a lot to do beyond filling water glasses and clearing plates. On a recent Friday night, however, the restaurant was jammed, with an ever-larger group accumulating near the door waiting to be seated. The servers were also juggling take-out orders, which meant some diners got neglected. The table next to us waited 45 minutes to put their order in, were never asked about a second round of drinks after the initial order, and were so hard-pressed for a take-out container that I gave them one of ours.It’s a good problem to have, but without better service, any good engendered by the excellent food will dissipate like smoke on a hot rock. Good service and good food are the underpinnings of a great restaurant experience, and this kitchen deserves better representation in the front of the house.

Amber Indian Cuisine

6913 University Ave., Middleton, 608-824-0324,

11:30 am-3 pm (lunch buffet) and 5-10 pm daily, $5-$16

- See more at:


MARCH 31, 2016

Drone deployment has become associated with rice growth research in the Philippines, as well as for spotting illegal fishpond-building, and for the early detection of approaching typhoons. The importance of drones has been accepted by Filipinos cognizant of neighboring countries investing millions of dollars on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for combat and non-combat applications.

 Because the Philippine constitution refutes war as an instrument of national policy, the non-combat nature of local drone deployment is a given. According to Inquirer, Philippine Rice Research Institute spokesman Roger Barroga emphasized the importance of the UAV in accurate data gathering and efficient program implementation. His assertion of drone deployment in a non-combat role included a joking reference to corruption-charged Vice President Jejomar Binay tainted by a shady 2014 land deal in the province of Batangas.“This is a low-cost alternative to using helicopters and light airplanes as well as satellite imaging which requires expensive equipment and experts to interpret the data. They need not have spent so much in the surveillance of the so-called Binay Hacienda when they used a helicopter. 

”Drone demo holds U.S. Congress spellbound [Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]Advances in drone technology now allow hobbyists to operate fairly inexpensive UAVs at remarkable distances, with consistent precision. The deployment of different commercial grades give operators the leeway to automate landing, hovering, and even advanced maneuvers like barrel rolls. Higher-end recreational UAVs can have pre-determined flight paths without user input.While Philippine drone acquisition is dependent on the United States, Japan has emerged as a viable option. According to TC News, Japan’s Rakuten has thrown its hat in the ring as a serious contender against e-commerce giants Amazon and Alibaba aiming for the UAV market. The Tokyo-based company, Japan’s largest online commerce firm, has revealed its investment in a drone maker and plans to begin the deployment of field trials in a golf course.Rakuten is helping to finance Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory (ACSL), a Japan-based robotics and drone developer for industrial use. 

A child of Chiba University in 2013, ACSL offers its “Mini Surveyor” drones for deployment with automated tasks like surveying, inspections, and monitoring.Prolific drone-maker China’s strained relationship with its Southeast Asian neighbors has removed itself from the list of the Philippines’ possible UAV suppliers. Though continuing to trade with the Philippines, the manufacturing giant has laid claim to most of the South China Sea, threatening freedom of navigation for its smaller neighbors. As one of the countries protesting the deployment of Chinese navy patrols in the contested area, the Philippines is unlikely to purchase Chinese UAVs even if they are the cheapest in the market.

South Korea, on the other hand, already a major source of cars for Filipino drivers, could also be counted on to help the U.S. reinforce the Philippines’ drone fleet. According to Dronelife, South Korean President Park Geun-hye had this to say about her country’s deployment of resources to augment its manufacturing capabilities.″Korea is the world′s fifth-largest auto producer; and seventh in terms of drone technology. If we come up with a strategy and focus on increasing our capabilities, we will be able to catch up to the leading nations.

″Typhoon Haiyan survivors watched over by drone in the sky and Justin Bieber on the ground [Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images]During Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, a Philippine drone system helped in disaster relief operations, paving the way for pop star Justin Bieber to arrive with his entourage bearing material goods for the survivors. When Typhoon Hagupit hit in 2014, Canadian Aeryon Labs lent UAVs to Global Medic for search and rescue operations.The Filipino government has given the green light to drone deployment in stamping out illegal logging of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley rainforests — a clear signal that the UAV is here to stay.

IRRI DG visits BRRI in Gazipur

Published : 31 Mar 2016, 21:31:44

Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Dr. Matthew Morell meets with the DG of BRRI in Gazipur on Wednesday during his visit at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in Gazipur.

Our Correspondent

GAZIPUR, Mar 31 : Director General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Dr. Matthew Morell visited Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI)  in Gazipur on Wednesday. BRRI Director General Dr. Jiban Krishna Biswas accorded a cordial welcome to Dr. Morell and his companions at the institute and briefed about its main features. He also discussed the ways and means to strengthen collaboration between BRRI and IRRI in an opinion exchange meeting held at the BRRI conference room. BRRI Director (Administration and Common Service) Dr. Mohammed Shahjahan Kabir,  Coordinator for Advanced Studies and Research Dr. Mohammed Abu Saleque, Heads of the research divisions of the institute, the senior scientists and officials along with IRRI Representative for Bangladesh Dr. Paul Fox attended the meeting. 

Dr. Morell's visit was aimed at exchanging ideas between scientists and policy makers as well as knowledge sharing on issues like collaborating efforts on promoting some frontier technologies and projects such as zinc enriched rice, golden rice and transforming rice breeding etc. During the discussion the speakers stressed also on the need for quick dissemination of modern rice production technologies including farm machinery, seeds of salt tolerant rice varieties as well as how farmers are trying to cope with unfavourable environments using high yielding rice varieties and other inputs to the farm level especially in the south-western and southern coastal belt of the country. 

Remembering the impacts of global warming Dr. Morell said, 'Rice cultivation in Bangladesh is on the frontline to face the challenges of climate change and we have to double our efforts to cope with changing climate'. IRRI DG also lauded BRRI for transforming rice breeding project related activities and expressed satisfaction after getting some latest information about BRRI technologies and their role in helping the resource  to poor farmers of the country.  He also expressed willingness to extend all out cooperation to BRRI

Agri journalists group cites PhilRice


 The Philippine Agricultural Journalists (PAJ), the second oldest organization of journalists in the country, had recognized the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) for its role in communicating agricultural developments and issues, March 29.In ceremonies co-sponsored by San Miguel Corporation, PAJ conferred the 2015 Binhi awards on two PhilRice communication initiatives. Gusto Namin Milyonaryo Kayo, a campaign that showcases progressive rice and rice-based farmers, won the 2015 Agricultural Information and Media Campaign of the Year Award. The PhilRice Magasin, on the other hand, won the 2015 Agricultural Newsletter of the Year Award.The Gusto Namin Milyonaryo Kayo is an initiative under the Rural Transformation Movement of PhilRice. It aims to change the mindset of the Filipino farmers through agripreneurship.

The campaign has featured successful business-minded farmers such as Rey Quisumbing from Zamboanga City and Daisy Duran from Bulacan. More details about the Campaign can be found in this link. Noel O. Reyes, chairman of the awards committee, said that the judges ranked campaigns based on impact, medium, and key message.Meanwhile, the PhilRice Magasin features success stories of rice and rice-based farmers who have tried various rice production technologies developed by the Institute. Additionally, the magazine also captures indigenous practices of farmers.PhilRice Magasin is written in Filipino and designed especially for farmers. It has a comics section, which tackles several technologies being promoted by the Institute.PhilRice’s S&T Magazine is a Hall of Fame Awardee in Binhi.

  In the 2014 Binhi Awards, PhilRice also won two major awards: Agricultural Radio Program (Bagong Sigla sa Agrikultura with DA-Regional Field Office 3) and Agricultural Information and Media Campaign (Be Riceponsible).“These awards are measures of relevance of our initiatives to our major stakeholders. We will listen more so we can provide highly relevant and innovative knowledge products for our farmers,” said Jaime A. Manalo IV, former head of PhilRice’s Development Communication Division.Former Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar gave a message during the event and served as chairman of the board of judges. Some of the biggest names in agricultural communication in the Philippines were also present.Other awardees were staff members from, among other media outlets, the Business Mirror, The Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, EDGE Davao, DZMM, and ABS-CBN Davao.

Organized in September 1976, the PAJ has been conducting the Binhi Awards since 1978.

RiceBran Technologies' (RIBT) CEO John Short on Q4 2015 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Mar. 30, 2016 11:04 PM ET


 About: RiceBran Technologies (RIBT)


SA Transcripts

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RiceBran Technologies (NASDAQ:RIBT)

Q4 2015 Earnings Conference Call

March 30, 2016 4:30 p.m. ET


Rich Galterio - IR, Ascendant Partners

John Short - CEO and President

Dale Belt - CFO

Robert Smith - SVP of Operations

Mark McKnight - SVP of Sales and Marketing


Anthony Vendetti - Maxim Group

George Johnson - RiceBran

Harry Glodsholl - Private Investor

Greg Hillman - First Welshire Securities Management

Michael Segal - Private Investor


Good day ladies and gentlemen. And thank you for standing by. Welcome to the RiceBran Technologies' 2015 full year financial results conference call. At that time all participants are in a listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Rich Galterio, of Ascendant Partners. Please go ahead, Mr. Galterio.

Rich Galterio

Thank you, operator, and good afternoon listener. Welcome to the RiceBran Technologies 2015 Q4 and full year financial results conference call. With us today are John Short, Chief Executive Officer and President of RiceBran Technologies; Dale Belt, Chief Financial Officer; Dr. Robert Smith, SVP of Operations; and Mark McKnight, SVP of Sales and Marketing.

Before I turn the call over to John, I want to remind listeners that during the call, management's prepared remarks may contain forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Management may make additional forward-looking statements in response to your questions today. Therefore, the company claims protection under the Safe Harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ from results discussed today, and therefore we refer you to a more detailed discussion of these risks and uncertainties in the company's filings with the SEC.

In addition, any projections as to the company's future performance represented by management include estimates as of today, March 30, 2016, and the company assumes no obligation to update these projections in the future as market conditions change. This webcast and certain financial information provided in this call, include reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to comparable GAAP financial measures. And they are available at on the Investor Relations page.

At this time, I would like to turn the call over to John Short, CEO and President of RiceBran Technologies. John, please go ahead.

John Short

Thanks, Rich, and thanks to all of our listeners for joining today's call. 2015 was a year in which we delivered a significant improvement in our bottom line results despite significant challenges. Severe macroeconomic, political, and currency challenges in Brazil resulted in a drop in U.S. dollar revenue, in spite of a 36% increase in local currency sales.Revenue from our USA segment was up only slightly, as revenue related to our largest customer slowed as they completed a relocation into expanded facilities to support growth, and sold off inventory of old formulas in preparation for the launch of a complete reformulation of their product line in the first quarter of 2016.

Our quick responses to those challenges, which I'll discuss later in this call, enabled us to produce improved bottom line results for the full year and deliver a strong overall performance in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for a significant improvement in 2016.In Q4 2015, consolidated revenues were 9.9 million, compared to 10.3 million in the prior year due to the reasons I just mentioned. Nevertheless, every other important financial measure improved significantly. Q4 2015 consolidated gross profit rose 200% to 2.7 million compared to $900,000 in Q4 of 2014.

USA segment gross profit increased to 34.9%, compared to 31% quarter-over-quarter. Brazil segment gross profit improved 14.5%, compared to negative gross margin in Q4, 2014. We achieved $650,000 in positive consolidated adjusted EBITDA in Q4 2015, with positive contributions from both our USA and our Brazil segments, an improvement of over $2.2 million, compared to the adjusted EBITDA loss of 1.6 million in Q4 2014. And our Q4 2015 consolidated net loss narrowed by 56% to $1.4 million, compared to a net loss of $3.2 million recorded in Q4 of 2014.