Wednesday, April 20, 2016

20th April,2016 Daily Exclusive ORYZA Rice E-Newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Brazil Paddy Rice Index Increases Slightly from Previous Week

The Brazilian paddy rice index maintained by the Center for Advanced Studies on Applied Economics (CEPEA) reached around 39.7 real per 50 kilograms as of April 15, 2016, up about 0.25% from about 39.6 real per 50 kilograms recorded a week ago.
In terms of USD, the index reached around $227.3 per ton on April 15, 2016, up around 1% from around $225.6 per ton recorded a week ago.
Month-on-month, the index has decreased around 1% from around 39.99 real per 50 kilograms recorded month ago. In terms of USD, the index increased around 7% during the month.

Thailand Rice Sellers Increase Their Quotes Today; Vietnam Rice Quotes Mixed

Thailand rice sellers increased their quotes for 5% broken rice, 25% broken rice and A1 super rice by about $5 per ton each to around $380-$390 per ton, $365-$375 per ton and $340-$350 per ton respectively today. Vietnam rice sellers increased their quotes for Jasmine rice by about $20 per ton to around $460-$470 per ton and lowered their quotes for 100% broken rice by about $5 per ton to around $335-$345 per ton today. India Pakistan rice sellers kept their quotes unchanged.        
5% Broken Rice
Thailand 5% rice is indicated at around $380 - $390 per ton, about $15 per ton premium on Vietnam 5% rice shown at around $365 - $376 per ton. India 5% rice is indicated at around $370 - $380 per ton, about $25 per ton premium on Pakistan 5% rice shown at around $345 - $355 per ton.
25% Broken Rice
Thailand 25% rice is indicated at around $365 - $375 per ton, about $15 per ton premium on Vietnam 25% rice shown at around $350- $360 per ton. India 25% rice is indicated at around $325- $335 per ton, about $15 per ton premium on Pakistan 25% rice shown at around $310 - $320 per ton.
Parboiled Rice           
Thailand parboiled rice is indicated at around $380 - $390 per ton. India parboiled rice is indicated at around $335 - $345 per ton, about $70 per ton discount to Pakistan parboiled rice last shown at around $405 - $415 per ton.
100% Broken Rice
Thailand broken rice, A1 Super is indicated at around $340 - $350 per ton, about $5 per ton premium on Vietnam 100% broken rice shown at around $335 - $345 per ton. India's 100% broken rice is shown at around $275 - $285 per ton, about $10 per ton discount to Pakistan broken sortexed rice shown at around $285 - $295 per ton.

Oryza U.S. Rough Rice Recap – Prices Firm as Grains Rally

Apr 20, 2016
The U.S. cash market was firmer today with offers from resellers increasing with the futures market which got a lift from large gains in soybeans and wheat today as well as support from a stronger Brazilian Real.
Analysts note that with farmer’s planting their crop well ahead of last year and the prior 5 year average it increases the likelihood that this year’s crop will be substantially larger than last year however if the bean rally continues we could see some marginal rice acreage shift to beans. 
In the end, the market will need greater export demand to move old crop to make room for a larger new crop although a few more sales to Iraq or Venezuela could help relieve that pressure.

Percentage of Defects in Grains Needed to Determine Quality of Rice Under Italian Laws

Italian laws specify that along with the values of overall yield and whole grains, the percentages of different types of defects in the grains should be considered to determine the quality and the value of each batch of paddy rice, according to local sources.
Laws specify several defects that should be considered. Also, the percentage of each defect must be determined on the entire milled rice batch; then its percentage weight is specified for each 100 grams. The laws also specify a maximum tolerance rate for each defect.
The following defects are listed under the Italian laws: red striated grains, natural deformities, varietal impurities, damaged grains, not completely gelatinized grains and pecked grains.
Local sources say under Italian laws, determining the presence of varietal impurities is easier, because the mixtures of different varieties were forbidden, and rice can only be marketed with the name of the variety on the package.

Domestic Rice Prices Fall on Weak Chinese Demand

Apr 19, 2016

Vietnam domestic prices, which increased earlier this month on higher demand from China and concerns of drought cutting the output, have started to fall over the last two weeks, reports Bloomberg citing local sources.
The price of IR50404 rice fell to around 6,700-6,800 dong per kilogram (around $304 - $308) from around 7,200-7,300 dong per kilogram (around $327 - $331) two weeks ago. The price of IR50404 paddy fell to around 4,500-4,600 dong per kilogram (around $204 - $209) from around 5,000-6,000 dong per kilogram (around $227 - $272) two weeks ago.
Traders say earlier price increases have prompted Chinese companies to cut purchases again leading to a fall in prices.
Rice Area in Vietnam's Mekong Delta Declined 16.7% Over Last One Year, Show Satellite Reports
Apr 19, 2016

Reports by Europe’s Sentinel-1A satellite have shown that rice area in Vietnam's Mekong River Delta (MRD) has declined about 276,000 hectares or about 16.7% between mid-March 2015 and mid-March 2016 due to the impact of El Nino phenomenon, according to quoting an official from France's CESBIO institute.
According to the official, rice fields at different growth stages have been mapped by Sentinel-1A nearly every 12 days since October 2014 and rice area data between mid-March 2015 and mid-March 2016 was compared to assess the impact of El Nino on MRD.
Since the end of 2015, dry conditions associated with El Nino have severely impacted South East Asia, in particular in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. River water levels have reached their lowest levels in last 90 years in many places, causing more severe and earlier salt water intrusion than previous years.
The Sentinel-1 mission is helping to map and monitor rice production. It carries an advanced radar that can see through all weather conditions - essential in cloud-prone South East Asia - and is highly sensitive to changes in waterlogged ground such as rice paddies.
"The frequent observations by Sentinel-1 over the main rice production areas and its free access make the mission an indispensable asset for rice monitoring in the region," said the official.
Sentinel-1 is a two-satellite mission. The first satellite, Sentinel-1A, studies the rice areas for every 12 . Its sister Sentinel-1B will be launched on 22 April, 2016 allowing for more frequent updates on rice.
Oryza CBOT Rough Rice Futures Recap - Chicago Rough Rice Futures Find Support from Broad Based Rally across U.S. Grain Prices
Apr 20, 2016

Chicago rough rice futures for May delivery settled 10 cents were cwt (about $2 per ton) higher at $10.360 per cwt (about $228 per ton). The other grains finished the day sharply higher led by a continued rally in soy; Soybeans closed about 3.3% higher at $9.9475 per bushel; wheat finished about 2.8% higher at $4.9425 per bushel, and corn finished the day about 1.2% higher at $3.8950 per bushel.
U.S. stocks traded in a range Tuesday, amid a rise in oil prices, as declines in tech stocks weighed after major earnings reports. U.S. crude oil futures for May delivery held more than 2.5% higher near $41 a barrel as of 12:47 p.m. ET. After the settle Wednesday, the contract rolls to June, which was trading near $42.25 a barrel. European stocks were more than 1% higher, with the German DAX outperforming with gains of more than 2%. Germany's ZEW institute's latest Indicator of Economic Sentiment rose for the second month in a row in April to 11.2 points.  In Asia, the Nikkei 225 rebounded with gains of more than 3.5%, while the Hang Seng rose 1.3% and the Shanghai composite closed about 0.3% higher. In economic news, housing starts fell a more-than-expected 8.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.09 million units, the lowest level since October, according to Reuters, citing the Commerce Department. Building permits dropped 7.7% to a 1.09 million-unit rate last month, the lowest level since March last year. In midday trade, the Dow Jones industrial average declined 16 points, or 0.09%, to 17,987. The S&P 500 declined 2 points, or 0.12%, to 2,091, with information technology leading five sectors lower and energy the top advancer. The Nasdaq composite declined 43 points, or 0.88%, to 4,916. Gold is seen trading about 1.6% higher, crude oil is seen trading about 2.7% higher, and the U.S. dollar is seen trading about 0.6% lower at about  1:00pm Chicago time.
Monday, there were 2,204 contracts traded, up from 2,203 contracts traded on Thursday. Open interest – the number of contracts outstanding – on Monday decreased by 227 contracts to 12,098. 

 Vietnam Rice Exports Expected to Reach Eight Year Low Due to Drought

 Drought in Vietnam is threatening the country's rice production in turn affecting its ability to export rice to its traditional importers such as the Philippines. According to an article in Bloomberg, Vietnam's rice exports are expected to fall about 10% y/y to below 6 million tons reaching an eight-year low.
The article quoted the Head of the General Statistics Office (GSO) as saying that the rice output from the Mekong Delta fell 6.2% y/y in the first quarter of the year.
While the Philippines is planning to import 500,000 tons of rice to ensure adequate supplies during the lean season, experts are expressing concern if Vietnam can cater to the needs of its traditional buyers.
Output in four other major rice producing countries , including Thailand, India, Pakistan and the U.S., is also likely to decline this year due to drought. “People in Indonesia and the Philippines will go hungry if the Thais and Vietnamese don’t produce enough rice,” said the Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Stimson Center in Washington.
Water shortages in reservoirs on the Mekong river  in Southern Vietnam are likely to cutwater supplies for irrigating crops by about 50% this year, according to a UN report. Experts are expressing concern that dams built by China, Vietnam and Laos on the river are depriving the Mekong Delta region of the critical sediments needed to replenish soil. A study submitted to the Mekong River Commission noted that eleven dams planned in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia could result in fish and farming losses of $750 million in Vietnam and $450 million in Cambodia. 
Experts are suggesting the Vietnam government, which relied heavily on rice production all these years, to encourage farmers to shift to more profitable crops.
 Decide on Appropriate Time for 2016 Main Rice Crop Planting Next Week
The government of Thailand will decide the appropriate time for this year's main rice crop planting next week, according to Bangkok Post.The Permanent-Secretary of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry told reporters that he will meet with the representatives from state agencies, including the Department of Royal Irrigation, the Department of Water Resources and the Meteorological Department, under his Ministry to discuss the appropriate timing for the first rice crop planting. He noted that the Ministry would reveal the decision to the farmers by the end of this month.
The meeting will assess when farmers can return to planting in-season rice crops after evaluating the water situation in the country and the weather forecast on the rainy season. "We need that information to fix the right period for farmers to begin their seasonal rice plantation. If we let them know in advance, they will have more time to prepare themselves. We have no policy to limit the scale of rice plantation during the rainy season," he said.
However, the official noted that the Ministry has not yet come up with likely measures to assist farmers if they suffer from losses as they are expecting enough water for paddy fields during the rainy season. Around 58 million rai (around 9.28 million hectares) of land will be planted with rice during the rainy season.
He noted that the Ministry has decided to limit additional crops this year also, especially in the Chao Phraya River basin, if there is not enough water for farming. He added that the Ministry has decided on providing lucrative measures, including soft loans and occupation training, for farmers to grow less water requiring crops.
Global Rice Quotes
April 19th, 2016
Long grain white rice - high quality
Thailand 100% B grade   390-400                ↑
Vietnam 5% broken        365-375                ↔
India 5% broken               370-380                ↔
Pakistan 5% broken        345-355                ↔
Myanmar 5% broken      415-425                ↔
Cambodia 5% broken     445-455                ↔
U.S. 4% broken                 430-440                ↔
Uruguay 5% broken        435-445                ↔
Argentina 5% broken     415-425                ↔
Long grain white rice - low quality
Thailand 25% broken      365-375                ↑
Vietnam 25% broken      350-360                ↔
Pakistan 25% broken      310-320                ↔
Cambodia 25% broken   425-435                ↔
India 25% broken             325-335                ↔
U.S. 15% broken (sacked)            470-480                ↔
Long grain parboiled rice
Thailand parboiled 100% stxd     380-390                ↔
Pakistan parboiled 5% broken stxd          NQ         ↔
India parboiled 5% broken stxd                 335-345                ↔
U.S. parboiled 4% broken             480-490                ↔
Brazil parboiled 5% broken          490-510                ↔
Uruguay parboiled 5% broken    NQ         ↔
Long grain fragrant rice
Thailand Hommali 92%   665-675                ↔
Vietnam Jasmine             460-470                ↑
India basmati 2% broken              NQ         ↔
Pakistan basmati 2% broken       NQ         ↔
Cambodia Phka Mails     760-770                ↔
Thailand A1 Super            340-350                ↑
Vietnam 100% broken   335-345                ↓
Pakistan 100% broken stxd          285-295                ↔
Cambodia A1 Super        345-355                ↔
India 100% broken stxd                 275-285                ↔
Egypt medium grain brokens      NQ         ↔
U.S. pet food     315-325                ↔
Brazil half grain NQ         ↔
All prices USD per ton, FOB vessel,

ORYZA News have been published with permission of  with thanks

19th april,2016 daily global regional and local rice e-newsletter by ricpelus magazine

Odisha govt brings in new control order on paddy procurement

PTI | Apr 19, 2016, 10.40 PM IST
Bhubaneswar, Apr 19 () In a bid to maintain discipline in paddy procurement and regulate the custom mills, the state government today decided to bring the Odisha Rice and Paddy Procurement and Custom Milling of Rice Order, 2016.A proposal in this regard by the food supplies and consumer welfare department was approved at a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here."This control order has several safeguards with respect to procurement of paddy, delivery of paddy for custom mills, direction for milling of paddy into rice, ensuring milling of paddy within the Kharif marketing season," Chief Secretary A P Padhi told reporters.Stating that Odisha was a decentralised procurement state since Kharif marketing season 2003-04, Padhi said the state procures paddy through agencies from farmers and pay minimum support price for fair average quality of paddy.The agencies mill paddy through private millers and deliver the rice either to the state government or to FCI for meeting the needs of the public distribution system, he said.Earlier, the Odisha Rice and Paddy Procurement (Levy) and Restriction on Sale and Movement Order, 2013 provided legal framework to regulate the custom millers in the state.However, that order was rescinded from October 1, 2015, thus creating a vacuum of any regulatory mechanism for custom milling by millers, the Chief Secretary pointed out justifying requirement of the new order.

He, however, said the new order was brought as per the suggestion of the Centre to regulate paddy procurement and custom of milling of rice in December 2015.As per the new order, no state agency would be allowed to procure FAQ (Fair Average Quality) paddy at a price below Minimum Support Price as notified by the Centre and the state would have powers to direct the custom millers to convert paddy delivered by the state agency into rice within such time and terms as decided.This apart, the new order would ensure that millers were obliged to mill paddy and deliver FAQ as per out turn ratio fixed by the Centre, custom millers cannot dispose of paddy in shape of paddy and would maintain accounts of all transactions with the state agencies and others, separately.
"The enforcement officers, as per the new order, will have powers of entry, search and seizure in respect of custom rice mills," Padhi said.A total of eight proposals today got the cabinet's nod, the Chief Secretary said. AAM DKB MKJ

Missing foodgrain row: Millers owe Rs1300 crore: CAG

Rohan Dua | Apr 20, 2016, 01.37 AM IST
The auditor report says agencies ignoring custom milling norms.
Chandigarh: At a time when RBI has warned banks against lending to the Punjab government in the wake of the missing foodgrains, the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report has revealed that the government is yet to recover Rs 1,300 crore from rice millers. The millers belong to Jalandhar, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Mohali and Fatehgarh Sahib among others.CAG has listed a number of reasons for the gap between the stock of foodgrains and the cash credit limit (CCL) given by banks. These include undue favour given to rice millers, payment made against non-delivery, not delivering the requisite quantity and abnormal variation in transportation rates, among others.

TOI had on Tuesday reported that a part of the CCL was also being diverted to "finance non-operational expenditure and losses" of the state's four procurement agencies - Pungrain, PAFC, PSWC and Punsup. According to the report, huge quantities of rice were misappropriated by these agencies, violating the custom milling procedures (CMP) amid other irregularities.The report said that state agencies like PAFC and the millers were joint custodians of the paddy and both were responsible for quality and quantity. However, it added that the agencies "failed to conduct timely physical verification of paddy stocks in accordance with the CMP during the years when paddy was stored".

"We observed that 1.36 lakh MT of paddy of crop years 2010-11 to 2013-14 was stored with 20 millers in eight districts. Of this millers short delivered/misappropriated 0.48 lakh MT of rice valued at Rs 120.82 crore during the crop years. The other recoveries after adjustment of amount deposited by millers was to the extent of Rs 143.11 crore," it said.
It also said that the millers who had not delivered the requisite quantity of rice of previous crop years were not to be considered for allotment of paddy yet the agencies allotted 0.25 lakh MT of paddy to four such millers who had delivered rice worth Rs 31.43 crore. Twelve similar millers did not deliver 0.38 lakh MT paddy where government itself had stored it.It said that though the government was pursuing 37 arbitration cases involving Rs 190.11 crore on account of shortage of paddy, these "proceedings were initiated with delays of up to 32 months from the extended date of milling".
The CAG report also found that there was abnormal transportation rates were found per quintal per kilometre from Rs 0.51 to Rs 5.11 between 2010-14."Also, the Government of India did not fix any separate rates of transportation charges within 8 kilometres and these were already included in the milling charges. Audit of 7 selected district offices of Punjab revealed that for transportation of paddy from purchase centres to rice mills within 8 kms, expenditure of Rs 20.71 crore was incurred for crop years 2010-14 and not recovered from millers.


Malaysia studying PHL hybrid rice seed imports for commercial planting

MALAYSIAN customers are considering placing an order with SL Agritech Corporation (SLAC) for some 20,000 kilos of hybrid rice seed for planting on 1,000 hectares of land.

In an interview with reporters, Dr. Frisco M. Malabanan, a senior SLAC consultant, said Titijaya Land Bhd and the state-run Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute have expressed interest in importing seed from the Philippines.The seed will be used for commercial planting if hybrid tests yield positive results.The initial pilot testing will be conducted in the states of Penang and Kedah.“I’m just waiting for the import permit coming from the Malaysian government because I’m supposed to start the varietal trial this coming wet season,” Mr. Malabanan said, referring to 100 kilos of hybrid rice seed to be used in the pilot testing.
Hybrid rice combines the best qualities of its parent varieties. One of its applications is in tropical areas subject to disruptive climate conditions like El Niño.Previous pilot tests in Sarawak have been successful, the company said, yielding 9 to 10 metric tons per hectare, which is “significantly higher than the national average rice yield... in Malaysia.”However, the policy of Malaysia’s government limits the commercial application of the Sarawak tests.Aside from hybrid rice, SLAC said Malaysian firms have expressed interest in importing its Doña Maria premium rice.

Malaysia currently imports around 35% of its rice supply largely from Thailand. --
 Janina C. Lim

Sac Valley rice growers have water, but markets have turned for the worse

A harvester works a field of short grain rice at Gorrill Ranch in Durham September 2014. Wit the price of rice going down, farmers face the dilemma of how much to plant. Bill Husa — Enterprise-Record file photo
POSTED: 04/17/16, 9:10 PM PDT |
Rice harvest gets underway at Gorrill Ranch in Durham, September 2014.Bill Husa — Enterprise-Record file photo
Surface water supplies have returned to normal for most rice growers in the Sacramento Valley. That’s great news, especially compared to other parts of the state where the water supply is still in a more severe version of drought mode.However, now that farmers are ready to fire up their tractors to plant rice, commodity prices have taken a nose-dive.This might also be the first year that new Farm Bill rules are triggered to provide price support payments to local growers.
The dollar is trading strong compared to other world currency, which makes U.S. exports more expensive to international buyers, explained Mark Kimmelshue, who trades rice for ARMCO, Associated Rice Marketing Co-op in Richvale.
Rice isn’t alone in the world of lower commodity prices. Almonds and walnuts, the other two main crops grown in Butte and Glenn counties, are down in value by about a third compared to last year. Read more about the drop in walnut prices at
Other commodities, including metals, cattle and oil are also trading lower, he noted.If a rice grower received $20-$21 last year for a 100-pound sack of rice, he might received $14.75-$15 today (which includes what growers refer to as “price over loan”).The big year for growers was 2008-2009 when a hundred pounds of rice fetched $29-$30, he noted.Being a farmer has its highs and lows. Those good and lean years balance out. Last year, about 1/4 of the rice land in California was not planted, due to lack of water or the sale of water.
If the price for rice is expected to be low, one might think it would be in a growers’ financial favor to sell water instead of growing rice. Other parts of California do not have plentiful supplies of water this year.
However, due to environmental restraints on pumping, and the capacity of water delivery canals, there isn’t room in the canals for transfers. Read details on this issue at farmers will grow another crop, to try to produce food that will fetch a better price. However, rice land is quite specialized. The soil is hard and retains water – perfect for growing rice but not great for other crops that need drainage.
If rice sold for $14-$15 over loan, Kimmelshue said farmers who own their own land and don’t have lease payments or debt should break even with rice at these prices. However, those who have more overhead costs could be losing money. He’s a rice trader and isn’t certain if prices will remain the same or dip even lower. Kimmelshue said there are many moving parts that impact the return growers will receive for rice this year. Australia is running into another dry spell, which will cut back on the amount of rice in the world market. Turkey has not been importing rice, but is likely near the end of its supply. Last year, growers in the south part of the United States grew a lot of medium-grain rice, and 90 percent of the rice grown in the Sacramento Valley is medium grain, Kimmelshue said. This year, southern growers are expected to grow only half as much medium-grain rice, and focus on long-grain rice.
It may be 8-9 months before Kimmelshue and farmers learn where prices will settle.
However, rice needs to be planted this spring.
Water manager Ted Trimble, of Western Canal Water District based in Nelson, said there are some tough decisions being made.
“I suspect that most everything is going to get planted,” Trimble said. “You kind of have to. You have the equipment. You have payments.”
The big quandary is what if the price of rice plummets, he stated, then growers are losing money.
“These guys are really nervous. Down at the (Richvale) cafe, I see it in their faces,” the water manager said.
If prices do drop low enough for rice, new rules under the new Farm Bill would go into effect.
In the past, growers of certain commodities received payments from the government based on previous farming acreage. A big criticism of the program was that farmers of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice received payments even if crops were not grown in a given year.
Those guaranteed farm subsidies ended in 2013.John Smythe, agricultural consultant, explained that as of 2014, growers might receive government payments if commodity prices for those program crops drops below a certain point.In 2014, growers needed to make a choice between choosing either “price loss coverage,” known as PLC, or a program based on average production within their county.
The PLC establishes a floor for prices, based on average national market prices over the year. If the price for rice falls below $15.10, the federal government provides a payment to the grower to bring the return up to $15.10 per 100-pounds of rice. Those prices hold until 2018 when the Farm Bill will be up for another vote before Congress.The other price protection program is based on average county yields. Based on yield and price averages for the past five years, an average per/acre revenue is calculated.
Growers who choose this option are offered a guarantee that the rice grown will fetch at least 86 percent of that five-year average in the county, Smythe explained.Of the rice growers he has worked with, the choice was about evenly split between the two options, he said.
For examples of local commodity prices, the Merlo Farming Group in Oroville provides charts on almonds, rice and walnut prices to show general trends: Merlo said its been fairly quiet in the markets these past few weeks. Prices are down and both buyers and sellers are watching to see what will happen next. Some of the factors to unfold have been water supply for rice farmers, for example.Kimmelshue, the rice marketer, said many rice growers offer their harvest to a marketing pool, with the commodity sold over time. Growers who have not yet sold their rice may be watching prices decline, and getting very nervous.
Contact reporter Heather Hacking at 896-7758.

Cuba trade, the TPP, rice and legislature expectations

Mid-South Ag & Environmental Law Conference in Memphis set for April 22
Apr 15, 2016 David Bennett | Delta Farm Press
  • Where does state stand with regard to Cuba trade?
  • Will state legislature, now in fiscal session, tackle anything ag-related?
U.S. agriculture is set to be a major beneficiary of the softening Cuban/U.S. trade barriers. Perhaps no state is as keen to get deals finalized as Arkansas.On April 8, Delta Farm Press spoke with Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture, about Cuba and other issues facing the state’s farmers. Ward is set to speak at the third annual Mid-South Ag & Environmental Law Conference in Memphis on April 22. Among his comments:
On Cuba…

“Cuba is certainly at the front of many folks’ minds. Look at Arkansas agriculture as a whole and about 30 percent of our production is exported. That means the global marketplace is very important as is having solid relationships with other countries.“Looking at how close Cuba is to the Mid-South, it makes a lot of sense for us to have a strong trade relationship with them. A few sectors in particular – certainly poultry and rice, soybeans and a few others – are poised to benefit from more trade with Cuba.
“Arkansas Gov. (Asa) Hutchinson was kind of visionary when the relationships between the two countries began to normalize and he realized what impact it could have on Arkansas. As a result, he quickly began putting together a trip to Cuba with the Arkansas World Trade Center and a group of business leaders from within the state. He was the first U.S. governor to visit once the U.S. embassy opened there. So, driven largely by agriculture interests, Arkansas – helped by our Congressional delegation and our Governor -- has been on the forefront of efforts in regards to Cuba.“It’s been an interesting thing to watch unfold. It’s one thing if I or an individual producer goes down to Cuba and tries to make trade inroads. But when the Governor personally travels there it takes it to a much higher level and opens up a lot of doors.” 

On the efforts of Engage Cuba…
“The Cuba Consortium and the Engage Cuba Coalition are two similar efforts to further the dialogue about Cuba.“The Cuba Consortium held an Agriculture and Food industry roundtable in Arkansas last month which included remarks from Gov. Hutchinson as well as sessions with Sen. Boozman and Rep. Crawford.“The Engage Cuba Coalition is another effort to show the benefits of normalizing trade relationships with Cuba. Arkansas recently established an Engage Cuba State Council which includes 37 members that are committed to engaging Cuba through diplomacy and trade.” 

Vietnamese Gov’t outlines anti-drought action
All forces should be mobilised to cope with severe drought and saline intrusion in order to ensure food and fresh water for daily usage, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said at a meeting yesterday.
A resevoir is exhausted in Ea H’leo, Centrak Highland Province of Dak Lak. Agriculture minister said that all forces should be mobilised to cope with severe drought and saline intrusion in order to ensure food and fresh water for daily usage. Topics addressed by the Central Steering Committee for Natural Calamities Preparedness and Control included measures to confront drought and saline intrusion in the Central Highlands, southern central and Mekong Delta regions.Phat asked localities to closely watch weather and saline intrusion developments and water resources to adequately promote effective measures that would minimise production losses and stabilise incomes.The committee pledged to mobilise all forces to cope with the situation and avoid hunger and possible epidemic to drought-affected people.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was assigned to closely supervise and issue reports on drought and saline intrusion for specific areas and localities. This helps local authorities set up effective plans for drought and saline intrusion control.The Ministry of Industry and Commerce asked the management agencies of hydropower reservoirs to supply fresh water to drought-prone areas as a priority task.The local authorities should co-operate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to adjust production timetables to reduce losses caused by drought and saline intrusion.This year’s drought was the most severe one in 100 years, and saline intrusion was worsened by the El Nino phenomenon in the Central Highlands, southern central and Mekong Delta regions.
So far, the droughts and saline intrusion have caused fresh water shortages in 390,000 households and damaged nearly 240,000ha of rice and more than 4,000ha of aquaculture production.The total loss was estimated to be VNĐ5,200 billion (US$236 million).According to the weather forecast agency, drought and saline intrusion are expected to expand to other regions in upcoming months.Thus, preparedness measures should focus on supplying fresh water to people and livestock.Colonel Truong Duc Nghia from the National Comittee for Search and Rescue said the committee has asked the Government to provide funds for purchasing water tankers and ships to transport fresh water to affected areas.“The army would play a major role in supplying fresh water to save people and production,” the colonel said.
Localities continue to take measures against drought
The Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control must continuously direct ministries, sectors and localities to implement measures to cope with and address the consequences of drought and saltwater intrusion in the Central Highlands, south central region, and the Mekong Delta.Speaking at a conference in Hanoi on April 15, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, also head of the committee, recommended closely monitoring the developments of drought and salinity and reporting back to the Government for proper revision and adjustment of policies to support the drought-hit regions.The ministry will direct relevant agencies to forecast the impacts of saltwater encroachment in the Mekong Delta and evaluate water resources at hydropower reservoirs and river basins and help farmers shift to growing drought-resistant plants, especially for the 2016 summer-autumn crop.

It will also disseminate advanced irrigation and water-saving techniques to each locality, business and local, the Minister said, adding that the provision of water storage equipment for locals will continue with the foreseeable goal of ensuring sufficient food and fresh water for local daily activities.Localities and relevant agencies need to keep reviewing water resources and anticipating the weather conditions to help people proactively cope with the possibly prolonged and extensive drought, and also take precautions against wildfires, he noted.According to the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, the rainfall in the Central Highlands and south central region from late 2015 to the present is very low, with hydropower reservoirs containing much less water than their designed capacity, and some small reservoirs even being dried out.The drought has effected some 70 percent of the cultivation areas in these regions, with Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan being the hardest hit.Saltwater has intruded as far as 90km inland in the Mekong Delta, about 10-25km farther than usual.Up to 11 out of the 13 cities and provinces in the delta were affected by salinity which caused serious water shortages and damaged agriculture production.
As of April 13, 2016, more than 390,000 households in the Central Highlands , Mekong Delta, and south central region were faced with water shortages. Drought and saltwater intrusion damaged over 232,000 ha of rice, 61,992 ha of fruits, and 4,052 ha of seafood. The total economic loss was estimated at over 5.1 trillion VND (229.5 million USD).Head of the Department of Search and Rescue under the Ministry of National Defence Truong Duc Nghia said military units have raised over 30 billion VND (1.35 million USD) to support locals in the drought-stricken regions. The units have transported 34,246 cubic metres of fresh water to residential areas in Ninh Thuan, Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Ben Tre, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh and Tien Giang, and helped locals drill 59 wells and dredge 35 lakes and 10.5 km of canals.The Governmetn and localities nationwide have also provided over 1 trillion VND and 5,220 tonnes of rice in aid to the regions.

Drought Killing Vietnam Rice Crops Compounds Mekong Water Crisis

April 19, 2016 — 4:00 AM PKTUpdated on April 19, 2016 — 9:53 PM PKT
 River is lowest in a century after worst dry spell in 90 years
Millions of farmers at risk from dams on 3,000-mile waterway
The nine acres in southern Vietnam that double as rice paddy and shrimp pond for farmer Nguyen Thi Tam have become a wasteland. After the worst drought in 90 years, almost nothing grows.Tam’s family had no income for two harvests because the rice crop failed and the shrimp died. They ran up $8,000 in debt -- more than twice her earnings in a typical year. To make ends meet, Tam plans to leave her village to work at a factory hundreds of miles away. Many others in the area already have fled, she said, including her daughter-in-law, who couldn’t endure the poverty.
“I am worried about everything,” Tam, 55, said inside the thatched house in Kien Giang province she shares with her husband, three grown children and two grandchildren. “I cannot sleep.”
The dry spell in the once-fertile Mekong Delta is devastating food supplies in southern Vietnam and threatening to reduce global exports of rice, seafood and coffee. It is also compounding a Southeast Asia water shortage along a 3,000-mile river that runs from Tibet to Thailand to the South China Sea, as climate change and too many dams erode livelihoods for millions of farmers.Waters in the Mekong Delta, a network of channels that cut across vast flatlands in southern Vietnam, are at the lowest in almost a century, which may mean shortages for as much as 50 percent of the region this year, according to a United Nations report. That means less for irrigating crops and an increase in salt levels as more seawater seeps into the delta, causing more damage.
Parched rice field in Long Phu district, Vietnam.
Photographer: AFP via Getty Images
The Mekong River countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar produce about 62 million metric tons of rice, or 13 percent of global output, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. The river accounts for as much as 25 percent of the global freshwater catch and provides livelihoods for at least 60 million people, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Vietnam exported about $3 billion of shrimp last year. Almost half of Vietnam’s population of 91 million works in agriculture, which accounts for about 13 percent of the economy.“People in Indonesia and the Philippines will go hungry if the Thais and Vietnamese don’t produce enough rice,” said Richard Cronin, director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Stimson Center in Washington. “This is a preview of the longer-term effect of development and climate change to the Mekong Delta.”


More Dams

Rice exports from Vietnam, the world’s third-largest shipper, probably will drop 10 percent this year because of lower production, said Do Ha Nam, the chief executive officer of Intimex Group, a major Vietnam exporter of agricultural products. Rice output from the Mekong Delta fell 6.2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, reducing the country’s total agricultural production by 2.7 percent, according to Nguyen Bich Lam, head of the General Statistics Office.Water from the Mekong was already under pressure before the drought, which the UN attributed to a stronger-than-normal El Nino weather pattern. China has completed six of seven major dams on the river in southern Yunnan Province, Cronin said. Vietnam has built dozens in the Central Highlands, which, like the Chinese and Laotian dams, deprive the Delta region of the critical sediments needed to replenish eroded soil, he said.


Agriculture Losses

Eleven more dams planned in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia could result in fish and farming losses of $750 million in Vietnam and $450 million in Cambodia, with extinctions for as much as 10 percent of fish species in the region, according a study submitted to the Mekong River Commission, a group created to mediate water disputes.
Vietnam’s government, which relied on rice farming to feed its population during years of dire poverty after its war with the U.S., needs to encourage Mekong Delta farmers to switch to more profitable crops, such as fruit trees that require less water, and raise higher-value shrimp in coastal areas, said Vo-Tong Xuan, a professor of agronomy and rector of Nam Can Tho University.


Costly Change

It’s not that easy to switch, said Nguyen Trung Kien, vice chairman of the Vietnam Food Association. Fruit trees can take years before the first harvest, he said.
The drought is changing the landscape in the Mekong Delta. Along National Road 63 in coastal Kien Giang province, the soil is parched and cracked on land once soaked with water for rice paddies tended by Vietnamese in conical hats. Sugar-cane trees that should be green have yellowed.
Nguyen Van Nhin pumps well water inside his home.
Photographer: John Boudreau/Bloomberg
“This is the first time in my 22 years of rice farming I could not grow rice,” said Nguyen Van Nhin, 36, who tends nine acres in Kien Giang province behind his thatched-roof hut with wood-plank beds and mosquito nets.In Kinh 5, Nhin’s village, 70 percent of the 281 farms produced no rice this season, said Danh Nhac, the local vice chief of the Communist Party. “The majority of the people left in the hamlet are children and people older than 45 or 50.”For those who remain, it means looking for alternatives to commercial farming. Nhin is trying to grow vegetables for food and looking for work as a manual laborer.“I am just waiting for the rain to return so I can grow rice again,” he said. Why India needs IMD to be right about a good monsoon


Mumbai: The announcement of plentiful rains this year is likely to spell relief for those forced to migrate because of failing monsoons. A slowdown in the construction industry which employs most migrant labourers would likely have strained their ability to deal with another deficient year after rains fell short in 2014 and 2015.A Mint analysis looked at India Meteorological Department (IMD) data on rainfall and compared it with seasonal migration patterns across rainfall sub-divisions based on Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS) data.Chart 1 shows that there is a negative co-relation between the amount of rain that regions receive and the proportion of the population that sees seasonal migration. The survey asks if people have migrated over the previous five years (2007-12). Simply put, the lower the average rainfall in a region over the period, the higher is the seasonal migration. This analysis is restricted to rural males in the age group of 15-64 years (working age population).

The result can simply be explained by the fact that agriculture is still the biggest employer of people, and irrigation is yet to reach around half of the country’s farms. Because of this, India has a fairly significant population which migrates for temporary employment.According to IHDS data, an estimated 6.5 million (or 7%) out of the total 94 million agricultural labourers identified themselves as short-term migrants, defined as those who temporarily migrated to other villages/towns for work. Similarly, an estimated 7.5 million (or 9%) of 84 million construction workers identified themselves as short-term migrants. This is liable to be an under-estimation of the actual size of the migrant labour force in the construction sector, because much of the migration to the construction sector is of a more permanent nature. For example, this UNDP study pegs the migrant construction labour estimate at 40 million, which would amount to almost 50% of total construction workers (assuming the total number of construction workers is around 84 million, as suggested by IHDS).

“Short-term out-migrants have been estimated to number 12.6 million but recent micro-studies documenting large and increasing numbers of internal migrants suggest that the true figure is 30 million and rising,” says a 2007 study, Circular Migration in India, authored by Kate Bird and Priya Deshingkar Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a think tank.Poor rains act as an impetus for this seasonal search for employment.A 2014 paper, titled ‘Rainfall variability, food security and human mobility in the Janjgir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh state, India’, examined the issue. There was a single annual rice harvest in the research site which, if affected by erratic rainfall patterns, leaves marginal farmers and labourers with very few options. Authors Janakaraj Murali and Tamer Afifi noted that some looked to help from relatives or friends and the government to help deal with the situation.“However, seasonal and permanent migrations are the most opted-for coping strategies in the study area,” it said.

India suffered back-to-back deficient monsoons in 2014 and 2015. The relationship between poor rains and migration would indicate a significant undocumented spike in migration over the last two years.But there is a problem here.Most of the seasonal migrants find work in the construction sector. It accounts for the largest single-sector source of employment for such labour. And construction has been going through a rough patch.Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy shows that stalling levels in the construction sector have been climbing higher ever since the financial crisis of 2008. While it is not at its peak, it is far off its trough. The latest figures show that stalled construction and real estate projects are at 7.84% of the projects under implementation compared to 1.19% in March 2009 at the time of the global financial crisis.The IMD’s forecast is thus a welcome relief.


GP has rice, corn planting streak

Last year’s anomalous growing season made a mess of agricultural predictions, with a cool wet spring followed by pockets of outright flooding in the summer. Planting throughout much of the state was delayed well past the date that any agronomist thought could produce near-optimum yields.

By Ryan McGeeney

UofA Division of Ag

Posted Apr. 18, 2016 at 1:16 PM

For a brief moment a few weeks ago, it looked as though Arkansas rice growers might be looking at 2015, all over again.Last year’s anomalous growing season made a mess of agricultural predictions, with a cool wet spring followed by pockets of outright flooding in the summer. Planting throughout much of the state was delayed well past the date that any agronomist thought could produce near-optimum yields.

For a number of rice growers in central and northern Arkansas, 2016 planting began in mid-March under cool, clear conditions. But then, around April 4, a miraculous thing happened: The clouds broke; the sun appeared. In the space of one week, the amount of rice planted in the state rocketed from 11 percent of the 1.6 million acres predicted for planting in 2016 to 33 percent — exceeding not just the abysmal amount planted during the same period in 2015, but beating the 5-year average by 10 percentage points as well, according to the weekly Arkansas Crop Progress and Condition Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said that the period of April 4-10 “really represented the first time that the entire eastern half of the state was able to make planting progress.
”Hardke said that much of the rice planted in March through the first week of April was planted on larger farms and on high ground. He said many smaller growers tend to delay their rice planting somewhat because they may not have the resources to replant if heavy rains or other weather factors ruin initial plantings.“In rice, the early season issues we’re most concerned with are erratic soil temperatures leading to uneven emergence, or lack of germination and emergence,” Hardke said. “Seedling disease leading to stand loss, and soil crusting — which is something we’re concerned with at the moment.Much of the rice planting and growing season is something of a tightrope between too much and not enough rain. Thursday evening of this week, Hardke tweeted photos of emerging rice in Stuttgart, with the message, “Need some heat this week and) rain to prevent crusting.
”“Seeds only have so much pushing power to make it out of the ground,” he said. “And some of our soils, when they dry out, have a tendency to form a crust that’s nearly impenetrable. If the plant can’t make it out, it will eventually turn down and lose the ability to emerge.”
Corn also saw substantial gains during the week of mild weather, as growers planted an additional 30 percent of an estimated 790,000 acres, bringing the state to about 61 percent complete for corn planting.

Creating tech savvy young rice entrepreneurs

Posted By: DANIEL ESSIETon: April 20, 2016In: 
Bolstering rural economies, Africa Rice Centre Nigeria believes is not just a matter of helping existing agro businesses, but also encouraging new ones. This is what it is seeking to achieve by raising a new generation of rice entrepreneurs that are technology savvy and making money, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Young agro entrepreneurs   will soon pad their mobile wallets with more than just mobile money, they’ll get on-demand farming advice, too. Driving this is a campaign to boost  rice business  in Nigeria  which experts believe  has  a big potential  to  contribute to food  security and even  generate  foreign  currency  from  its  export. Though rice is one of the nation’s staple foods, most farmers produce less than they consume, and most don’t have access to mobile farm advice. Consequently, productivity is very low and improving it is one of the most pressing issues.
To this end, Africa Rice Centre, a leading Pan-African rice research organisation committed to improving livelihoods throughout the continent, is partnering   government  agencies to boost rice production and improve farmers’ incomes.  This time, the centre is training agro-entrepreneurs that will   deploy the speed of information and communications technology (ICT) to put information into the hands of farmers who  want to   get information about good rice farming practices to increase yields.Since communications technology has become one of the most effective ways of reaching remote farmers, the centre is raising a new group of tech savvy rice entrepreneurs in major countries in Africa.According to the Centre Rice Commodity Specialist in Nigeria,  Dr Philip  Idinoba, the  emergence of mobile technology in agricultural practices has made the sector more attractive to the younger generation.
Idinoba said the centre wants to engage young people in farming as a business and to provide a sustainable livelihood. To achieve this, he  said the  centre plans to train young Nigerians  to become  rice  entrepreneurs  who  can use mobile technology to bring many benefits to farmers and their families, including  raising  productivity and  helping  to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty and contribute to economic development.  For a start, the centre wants to demonstrate this in Nigeria and Mali.  In Nigeria, the training is scheduled for  six states.The states include Nassarawa, Niger,Jigawa,Kogi,Kebbi and Kano states. The emphasis of the project is acquisition of skills along the rain value chains and the transition of the trainees into business in the sector. Idinoba believes technology is going to excite young people to join agriculture, promote economic development, and drive sustainable livelihoods for their communities.To this end, Africa Rice has developed RiceAdvice, an  Android based decision support tool. According to him, solutions provided by the software are location-specific  and can help rice farmers  produce sufficient food with higher profitability.
The internet-based tool,he  added,  provides rice farmers with advice on the optimal timing, amount, and type of fertiliser to apply to their crop to maximise production and profit and reduce waste. The young entrepreneurs will be trained to offer a tailored suite of services available via mobile phone. Young entrepreneurs will be engaged to collect information from a farmer through easy-to-answer questions about cultivation conditions.The answers are transmitted to an online database to develop a fertiliser recommendation matching the specific needs and rice-growing conditions of that farmer. He expects the young entrepreneurs to provide this service for a fee.
Expected users  also include extension workers, private rice sectors, development agencies who are interested in advice for rice production.The Head Farming Systems, Rice Sector Development Hub, the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI),Badeggi,Niger State, Dr. Samuel Bakare,  said  young agricultural entrepreneurs can tap into opportunities all along the value chain: from supplying fertiliser and seed, to processing, transporting and marketing of food.  Once tapped into, he believes such opportunities can turn young, jobless Nigerians into success stories.The rice entrepreneurs, according to him, will be taught how to  make money using  rice threshers  or help farmers thresh their rice farmers for a fee.  The rice thresher, he explained,   enables smallholder farmers to thresh their own rice without having to hire extra labour.
To increase the supply of improved seed—especially in rural areas,he said  Africa Rice will be working with NCRI  to train young and other farmers  on good agricultural practices and facilitate their  certification as rice seed producers. He  said if young Nigerians can be trained to produce and market  seeds , it could be the starting point of a viable seed enterprise. They will be  trained on the production of quality seed, seed selection and entrepreneurship. In addition, they will be trained to function as freelance extension agents.Speaking  further on Rice Advice software,  the Principal Scientist , Africa Rice Center and lead innovator of the application, Dr. Kazuki Saito,  explained that  it  is an online platform that engages young people who are interested, inspiring and using agriculture to generate income and employment.
He said though RiceAdvice can be largely used without an internet connection, an active connection is required from time to time to synchronise information with the database server. According to him, the young agro entrepreneurs, who will provide services as freelance extension agents will be trained to use their phones   to generate tailored recommendations they give to individual farmers for a fee.
With the app, he explained that rice farmers will be able to use their resources efficiently by choosing a suitable variety, avoiding a failure in crop establishment, and using an efficient fertiliser application. This, according to him, could help reduce their risks and make rice farming better and more stable.
He said the automated rice fertiliser and input recommendation tool that has been tested over the past two years can successfully increase farmer’s income per hectare by one ton.By providing farmers with accurate information, he said farmers can enjoy better harvests, which can  translate into higher earnings and more reliable profitability. Thus, he said RiceAdvice makes rice farming attractive to young people by changing the perception that rainfed agriculture is an all-or-nothing occupation.With Rice Advice, he said, the young entrepreneurs serving as freelance extensive service providers  identify challenges confronting rice farmers and collect data which will be transferred  online.  The use of the tool, according to him, improves business efficiency and profitability for young ICT saavy farmers.He said positive feedbacks are coming from farmers on  RiceAdvice.Regional Representative, Africa Rice Nigeria, Dr Francis sees youth entrepreneurship as the way to tackle unemployment across the continent. Nwilene said the centre  intends to promote local production and create job opportunities for  youths.
Director-General,Africa Rice, Dr Harold Roy-Macauley said the  centre is determined to work with the African Development Bank, to develop young entrepreneurs, Nagropreneurs, in agriculture. This is because African countries face the challenge of providing employment to the young.
For sustainable economic growth to become a defining reality across the region, he noted that young people must be empowered to transform agriculture.According to him, a system of mentorship, handholding, and bridging support will be provided to launch youths into higher-value crop production using modern agriculture and agribusiness methods.  According  to him,  young   farmers need to aspire to be successful business people and even those who do not see themselves like that at all could learn to become more entrepreneurial
Cuba’s Construction and Agricultural Machinery Sectors
In the event that U.S. restrictions on trade with Cuba are lifted, Cuban demand for construction and agricultural machinery is likely to provide U.S. producers of such machinery with significant export opportunities in the near term.Cuba is currently upgrading its infrastructure in most areas and is working to increase the country’s agricultural productivity. Cuban demand for construction machinery is expected to be strong because of Cuba’s plans to expand its tourism industry and revitalize urban core areas, which will require significant construction of buildings and underlying infrastructure, as well as conservation of historic structures and neighborhoods.

Further, aged roads and airports will require upgrading. Cuban demand for agricultural machinery will be driven by Cuba’s desire to reduce its dependence on imported food and to boost export crops as a source of foreign exchange. Moreover, Cuba is in need of modern equipment to replace its antiquated fleet.
Construction Machinery – Cuba
In 2014, U.S. exports of construction machinery to the Dominican Republic totaled $28.9 million, down from a peak of $84.5 million in 2008. There were no U.S. exports of construction machinery to Cuba during 2005–14.932 In 2015, U.S. exports to Cuba totaled $222,250 and consisted of one bulldozer and one front-end shovel loader.Cuba has no commercial production of construction machinery, and the current fleet of construction machines in Cuba is reportedly obsolete. However, there may be limited production of components and parts for such machinery. During 2005–14, Cuba exported construction machinery valued at $9.6 million, of which $5.3 million was exported to Mexico in 2006 and $2.3 million to Venezuela during 2010–11. These were likely exports of used construction equipment.
With no domestic industry, Cuba relies on imports for its construction machinery needs. Cuban demand stems from the country’s need to upgrade as well as construct new infrastructure. This ranges from improving Cuba’s airports and seaports to constructing tourist facilities, as well as renovating its city cores and improving its road system. In addition, certain construction equipment may be used for mining—for example, for use in Cuba’s nickel industry. Cuban construction activity has increased in recent years, and housing shortages, decades of underinvestment in infrastructure, the government’s push for foreign direct investment (FDI), and the priority placed on developing tourism suggest that such activity will continue to grow.
Cuba: Value of construction by economic activity, 2012–14 (million dollars)
Cuban imports of construction machinery rose from $37.3 million in 2005 to a high of $118.7 million in 2008, before falling to $53.8 million in 2014. Over one-half of total imports during the period were comprised of parts for construction machinery (18%), machines with a 360-degree revolving superstructure (13%), bulldozers (12%), and front-end shovels (11%). Off-highway dumpers, mobile cranes and drilling derricks, backhoes and trenchers, and miscellaneous other machinery made up the remainder of Cuban imports during 2005–14.

During 2005–13, the EU was the principal source of Cuba’s imports of construction machinery, being surpassed in 2014 by China. In 2014, Cuba’s imports of these goods from China totaled $27.9 million (52%), compared with imports from the EU, valued at $22.8 million (42%). Spain has generally been the leading supplier of EU machinery to Cuba; in 2014, Spain accounted for 19% ($10.4 million) of Cuba’s imports of construction machinery and 46% of all construction equipment supplied to Cuba by the EU. However, in certain years during the 2005–14 period, Italy, the Netherlands, or Germany surpassed Spain as the top-ranked EU supplier.
Cuba: Construction machinery, imports by major supplier and the United States, 2005–14 (million dollars)
The variability of Cuban imports of construction equipment during the period reflects both the specific construction projects undertaken in Cuba at any particular time and government-to-government agreements that often involve financing for Cuba’s purchases of such machinery. For example, in 2013 and 2014, some Cuban imports of construction machinery were the result of a contract with a Chinese equipment producer that was partially financed by the Export-Import Bank of China. Cuba’s imports from Brazil in 2010 and 2011 correspond to Brazil’s involvement in constructing the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone (ZED Mariel), a project into which Brazil injected significant funding. Cuba’s imports from Russia totaled $61.6 million during 2009–13, with Russia and Cuba signing agreements for Russia to provide $150 million in grants for Cuba to purchase construction and agricultural machinery. Such agreements complicate the landscape for U.S. suppliers, as Cuba reportedly prefers to deal with government-owned companies and do business under bilateral relationships, including barter deals with countries sharing Cuba’s socialist-communist values.
Source: Victoria Friends of Cuba, “Cuba Modernizes Its Agricultural Mechanization System,” August 5,2013.
Agricultural Machinery – Cuba
Cuba has a small agricultural machinery industry focused on equipment and tools for cultivation, agricultural trailers, tillage tools, and plows. Cuba’s Grupo Industrial Maquinaria Agrícola y Construcción (GIMAC) is likely responsible for most production of agricultural machinery. Cuba’s exports of agricultural machinery totaled $2.6 million in 2014, down from a peak of $3.6 million in 2011, but up significantly from $423,885 in 2005.949 During 2005–14, 93% of Cuba’s exports of these goods went to Venezuela.
As with construction equipment, Cuba imports most of its agricultural machinery and is in need of high-quality, consistent machinery and spare parts. Cuban imports of agricultural machinery rose from $11.4 million in 2005 to a peak of $92.8 million in 2013 before falling to $57.5 million in 2014. In 2014, Brazil was the leading supplier of agricultural machinery to Cuba, followed by the EU (largely Spain and Italy).The Cuban drivers for increased imports of agricultural machinery have been the need to improve agricultural performance and reduce reliance on imported agricultural products. Nonetheless, any attempts by Cuba’s agricultural sector to replace its old and obsolete agricultural machinery are making slow progress. In 2013, approximately 1% of Cuba’s 66,128 tractors were less than five years old, nearly 12 percent were between 6 and 30 years old, and 87% were more than three decades old.
Cuba: Agricultural machinery, imports by major supplier and the United States, 2005–14 (million dollars)
Like imports of construction equipment, import trends for these goods tend to be driven by the specific needs of Cuba’s agricultural sector for machinery suited to particular crops, irrigation, or pesticide and fertilizer application, as well as by favorable financing terms and bilateral agreements.One example is Cuban imports of irrigation machinery. Imports of sprayers, dusters, and irrigation machinery accounted for 34% of total imports of agricultural machinery during 2005–14. These imports followed implementation in mid-2003 of the government’s 10-year plan to electrify the Cuban irrigation system, a project co-funded with a $10 million loan from the OPEC Fund for International Development.
Another example is the recent growth in Cuban imports from Brazil. These reflect both Brazilian investment in Cuba’s sugar industry and Brazil’s position as one of the few global suppliers of sugarcane harvesting machinery – which Cuba needed in order to modernize the sugar sector. Brazil also granted Cuba credits to purchase agricultural equipment and other inputs. In fact, Cuba has completed a number of deals in this sector with other countries, involving either attractive financing or non-traditional, quid pro quo transactions.

Effects of the Removal of U.S. Restrictions
U.S. manufacturers view Cuba as a potential market for U.S.-made construction and agricultural equipment, and Cuban government officials report that U.S. machinery is likely to be well received in Cuba if U.S. export restrictions are lifted. Industry representatives indicate that the desire for U.S.-branded equipment, the size of the Cuban market, and the robustness of the sector suggest that there could be immediate business and excellent export potential for U.S. machinery producers.Credit, however, may be an important factor in realizing this potential. Cuban government officials indicate that access to credit will be necessary for them to be able to purchase U.S. machinery. Therefore, growth of U.S. exports could be affected by U.S. exporters’ willingness to offer favorable financing and credit terms to Cuban purchasers. This is because suppliers such as Brazil and China typically provide government financial support and easy credit terms. Further, producers from Brazil, China, and the EU have developed business relationships with Cuban purchasers, and competing against suppliers with entrenched relationships may prove challenging. At the same time, many U.S. manufacturers, particularly larger firms that have their own financial arms, are reportedly in a position to provide good financing terms for equipment and machinery sales to Cuba.
If U.S. restrictions are lifted, Cuban government officials have indicated that they would likely import agricultural machinery, including rice harvesting machinery and irrigation equipment, noting the quality of U.S. machinery. One U.S. source familiar with Cuban agriculture states that Cuba’s large sugar farms could use large U.S.-built tractors and sugar harvesting machinery.
Likewise, Cuba’s citrus groves, in spite of the decline in numbers resulting from citrus greening disease, are large enough that they would benefit from using U.S.-built agricultural machinery. Regarding prospects for U.S. exports of construction machinery, a representative of Caterpillar, Inc., stated that Cuba needs and would like to buy many of the types of products that the company produces. The company will likely begin by marketing diesel generator sets, which provide continuous or backup electrical power, and will follow that up with marketing mining machinery and then construction machinery.
Recent developments between the United States and Cuba in this sector could lay the groundwork for U.S. exports of construction equipment parts in the very near term. In anticipation of the lifting of U.S. restrictions on Cuba, an Alabama startup company, Cleber LLC, is working to establish an agricultural tractor assembly operation in ZED Mariel. This facility would initially use U.S.-made parts (fabricated in Alabama and shipped to Cuba), with the eventual goal of transferring production to the proposed Mariel facility.


Rice and easy: how to boost your pub menu margins with risotto

By Nicholas Robinson+Nicholas Robinson
Prawn and chorizo risotto
Risotto may not be at the top of chefs’ agendas but, when it is available on pub menus, there are many reasons for it to sell well, including its gluten-free and healthy qualities, and the potential for big profits. Nicholas Robinson reports
Risotto is a dish that ticks all of the current food trend boxes that need to be checked by busy pub chefs these days, such as vegetarian, vegan and free-from allergens, while also providing generous margins. So far, though, it appears to be a dish that’s under the radar for many in the trade.Despite its ability to hit the magic words for customers, risotto sales in pubs have remained fairly flat in recent years, according to Peter Linden, senior analyst at the Publican’s Morning Advertiser’s sister brand MCA.
The great risotto myth:
Gallo UK managing director Jason Morrison says: “It really is a myth that it’s difficult to make. The key to a good risotto is good ingredients and timing.
“There are two ways to cook a risotto: the pilaf method and the par-boiled method. The most frequent method is the pilaf method, which consists of pre-cooking the rice in the morning and finishing the dish during service.
“The par-boiled method is using rice that’s steam-processed and is dried before it reaches the kitchen. It is then cooked in less time than non-processed rice.”

In pubs, he says, 1.6% of all lunch dishes were either risotto or pasta in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015, down from 2% for Q4 in 2014. On a more positive note, the number of risotto and pasta dishes eaten in pubs at dinner rose slightly for the same period to 3.4% in 2015, compared with 3.2% in 2014. Showing it is an option customers will try when it’s on the menu.For the total eating-out market, risotto/pasta dishes accounted for 2.1% of meals ordered for lunch in Q4 of 2014 and 2.2% in 2015. For dinner, that dropped from 4.3% for the same period in 2014 to 3.9% last year — so a reverse in the trend when compared with pubs alone.
Risotto’s slight dinner-time growth in pubs may be as a result of its appearance on the menus of bigger chains, as Linden points out: “A number of leading pub brands offer risotto dishes positioned as healthier options. Pub restaurant chains Table Table and Browns serve asparagus risottos, while Chef & Brewer and Harvester offer lighter seafood and vegetarian risottos.”
Rice dishes as a whole are also appearing on more pub menus in one form or another, with leading operators including dishes such as jambalaya, he adds. The rise in rice dishes could be attributed to the increased popularity of gluten-free foods because the grain is naturally void of the nutrient.
Its versatility when it comes to meat and dairy-free options is also a plus. The latest figures from MCA’s Food-service New Menu Item Analysis claimed vegetarian dishes accounted for 31% of all new menu items in 2015, compared with just 18% in the previous year.While rice dishes appear to be slowly becoming more of a feature on pub menus overall, recent research by Premier Foods shows 45% of the consumers it asked wanted to see more Italian or Mediterranean dishes on menus, making risotto a prime dish to fit with this demand and the rising interest in gluten and other free-from dishes, such as vegetarian and vegan.
A rise in customer interest and demand for Italian dishes on pub menus can be attributed to the current domination of the high street by Italian food chains, claims Patrick Hames, head chef at the Enterprise Inns lease the Farmhouse in Horley, Surrey.
Risotto on pub menus
As recently as five years ago, he says, a risotto on a pub menu may not have been considered with the same sincerity by pubgoers as it would be now, but the increased access to Italian food on the high street has made customers more open to trying dishes not traditionally associated with pubs. “It’s pretty popular when it’s on the menu here,” explains Hames, who recently took over the Farmhouse’s kitchen. “It’s not for everybody, because some people still want to see the more traditional dishes, but I think the casual-dining trend has probably made it a lot more popular for pubs.

Watch Italian Embassy head chef Danilo Cortellini make a quick and easy risotto in this exclusive video masterclass
“Pubs had lost a lot of their food trade to the likes of high-street chains such as Strada and Prezzo, but on the positive side, their popularity has put dishes like risotto more in the consciousness of customers.”As well as it being a popular dish on the Farmhouse’s menu — whether it’s asparagus risotto or a prawn and chorizo one — it is also a quick, easy and tasty dish you can pull out to cater for customers who are more demanding, he claims.
“Chefs don’t always look to risotto when they need a dish that’s vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. But it’s the ideal dish to meet those needs —maybe they’re put off because they think it’s harder to make than it is.”
Ernst van Zyl, chef and co-owner of the Kerridge-based pub the Lord Clyde, in Cheshire, understands why some chefs view the dish with apprehension, but says they shouldn’t because it’s a simple dish to make.The menu at the Lord Clyde, which came in as a new entry at number 50 on the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list this year, changes weekly, he explains. Risotto, in its simplest form — a bianco, which is just onion, garlic, celery, stock, rice, butter and cheese — can take on an unlimited amount of flavours, which makes it the perfect dish, he explains.
“One day it could be as simple as wild garlic, which is in season now, or pancetta or serrano ham. But, if you cook your risotto well then whatever other ingredients you use, it will work.”
His biggest tips are: ensure all of your preparation is done before you start cooking the risotto and to use really good stock, which should always be kept hot while the dish is being cooked.
“It’s an easy and worthwhile dish to put on in a pub. You can pre-cook your rice in the stock to about 70% done and then cool it really quickly. Then just finish the dish in the pan when the check comes on.“Depending on the ingredients you use to flavour the risotto, your GP will be good too. One box of rice can feed about 10 to 12 people, so it does go quite far.”
GP from risotto dishes
GP, at the end of the day, can be the make or break of a dish making the menu, points out Jason Morrison, managing director of Italian rice specialist Gallo UK. “The margin that chefs could make from each dish depends mainly on the cost of ingredients, which also comes down to the quality the pub chef wants to achieve,” he explains.
Top Italian rices:
·         Arborio: The most popular risotto rice, with large plump, full-bodies grains. Arborio has a high-starch content that that gives it the perfect balance of creaminess and bite for a very traditional risotto.
·         Carnaroli: Premium risotto rice that is known for its ability to absorb flavours and retain a perfectly-cooked al dente texture.
·         Venere: A natural black which originally comes from China, but is grown in the Po Valley, Italy. Venere cooks in just 18 minutes and has a distinctively nutty aroma and can be eaten hot or cold.
“Usually, we consider a portion of risotto to be 80g-90g, so buying 1kg of rice could obtain 12 portions. In commercial terms, the cost of a portion of rice is based on the maximum 100g raw weight and would be 25p, therefore a vegetarian risotto would cost under £1 to make and, with protein, about £1.50 a portion.
This supports the point that high margins are to be had — probably the highest on a gastropub’s main-course menu.”
Importantly, says Italian Embassy head chef Danilo Cortellini, the dish is actually easier than most think. “It’s not that ‘cheffy’, really,” he explains. “It’s a pretty straightforward process. If you learn to do it properly then everybody can do it.”
Ingredient quality is the biggest challenge, he warns. The rice has to be the best and it has to be a risotto rice (see boxout) and not something like a long-grain basmati rice, because that won’t give you a risotto. Grains such as arborio or carnaroli release the starches needed to achieve a creamy risotto. They also maintain their shape during cooking.
The quality of the grain is important, he affirms. The grains have to be unbroken so the right amount of starch can be released and so it stays whole and ends up on the plate al dente.
Yet, risotto rice is also diverse in its use beyond offering a tasty free-from and high-GP option, points out Felicia Troia, owner of the foodservice supplier the Sicilian Kitchen. The firm specialises in arancini — small balls of risotto rice breaded and fried — that are ideal bar snacks, starters or even a main-course option.
“They can be a fantastic extra in-come stream and also quite an unusual addition to a bar snack menu, especially for those who might not want to eat the likes of a Scotch egg or pork pie,” Troia says. “You could make 100% gross profit from ours, which come frozen and vacuum-packed. You just have to reheat them and, to add value to them, you could serve them with a simple sauce.”
They can quite easily be a vegetarian bar snack option that’s not boring, she adds. “If you use vegetable stock and no meat in the rest of the recipe then they’re ideal for vegetarians and they can be vegan if you don’t add cheese. Rice is naturally gluten-free, so they’ve got that going for them too.”So, with that in mind, risotto’s flexibility could see the dish, understandably, become more of a star on pub menus as chefs become ever more reactive to the rise in demand for free-from options. Plus, its potential to offer kitchens a high GP for relatively little input is a real bonus.
The risotto report series was sponsored by Italian rice experts Riso Gallo. The series includes a feature report, 10 things you need to know about risotto, a recipe gallery and a video masterclass


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By Nicholas Robinson+Nicholas Robinson, 19-Apr-2016
Risotto may not be at the top of chefs’ agendas but, when it is available on pub menus, there are many reasons for it to sell well, including its gluten-free and healthy qualities, and the potential for big profits. Nicholas Robinson reports

USA Rice Sponsors Event Launching Trade Mission for Cubans 
 WASHINGTON, DC -- Last night, USA Rice co-sponsored an event launching a week-long trade mission for Alimport, the Cuban food and agricultural trade agency.  Delegates will visit Maryland, Missouri, and Louisiana during the trip to tour important areas of U.S. agricultural production and transportation.  Their itinerary also includes a stop in New Orleans for a lunch hosted by Russell Marine Group that many key U.S. rice exporters will attend.
 USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward gave remarks at the event welcoming the delegation and highlighted USA Rice's top legislative priority:  lifting the embargo against Cuba.   Juan Leon, Official Ambassador of the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture, also spoke during the reception.  "The U.S. has great quality food, for instance, great quality long grain rice," Leon commented, "and we think U.S. imports to Cuba will pick up again very soon."
 Terry Harris of Riceland Foods, Inc., who attended the event, agreed.  "The U.S. rice purchased by Cuba since 2001 has been the best into the country in decades, with a competitive price and with much quicker shipment and delivery," he said.  Cuba last imported U.S. rice in 2008.
 Harris added, "Alimport's visit this week is a great opportunity to exchange information and lay the groundwork for cooperation when we overcome the partisan obstacles to exporting U.S. rice to Cuba again."
 Opponents of lifting the embargo often point to the political regime in Cuba as one of those obstacles.  However, President Raúl Castro recently announced he will step down in two years, welcoming new - and younger - leadership there.  During a speech to the Cuban Communist Party Congress over the weekend, Castro acknowledged "concrete results in the dialogue and cooperation between the United States and Cuba."
 Coincidentally, yesterday the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) released a report titled Overview of Cuban Imports of Goods and Services and Effects of U.S. Restrictions that suggested "U.S. exports to Cuba could see significant gains from the removal of U.S. restrictions, particularly those related to credit financing. U.S. producers can offer a wide variety of high-quality goods, competitive prices, smaller shipments, lower transportation costs, and faster delivery times."
 Ward concluded, "We see Alimport's trade mission this week as a continuation of dialogue and cooperation.  In light of the USITC report findings, the Castro announcement and Alimport's visit are positive steps in U.S.-Cuba relations, and these developments bode well for future trade, travel, and diplomatic relations.
04/19/2016 Farm Bureau Market Report
Long Grain Cash Bids
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Rice Comment

Rice futures recovered somewhat after yesterdays big losses, which were attributed to profit taking. The market will be watching crop progress closely. If farmers plant what they reported to USDA in the survey, the large crop will limit the upside potential. Currently, USDA says 48% of the crop in the ground and 19% emerged. In Arkansas, the totals are 55% planted and 11% emerged. Demand is also a key factor. Last weeks sale to Iraq gave the market a much needed boost, but wont sustain a rally long-term without better demand across the board. May has resistance at Fridays high of $10.46, when the market failed to challenge the 38% retracement level, which is $10.50.

Rice Prices 

as on : 19-04-2016 08:10:28 PM
Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Sealdah Koley Market(WB)