Friday, July 15, 2016

15th July,2016 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine-Rice News today

Measuring arsenic in Bangladesh's rice crops

UMass Amherst, Chemists Without Borders team up to produce new low-cost test kit
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - Naturally-occurring arsenic in Bangladesh's groundwater has been identified as one of the world's great humanitarian disasters, with millions people at risk of cancers and other diseases from drinking water and eating rice irrigated with contaminated water. Now University of Massachusetts Amherst analytical chemist Julian Tyson and his student Ishtiaq "Rafi" Rafiyu are partnering with Chemists Without Borders (CWB) to develop a low-cost, easy-to-use test kit to measure arsenic in Bangladesh's rice supply, offering consumers information on exposure. Tyson says, "One of the first steps in trying to make a difference and help people avoid this exposure has been to increase access to detection and remediation of arsenic-contaminated water, and many non-governmental organizations have been active for years in this area. Our current rice project with CWB builds on earlier work to develop a really low-cost procedure for testing water for arsenic. We hope our contribution to CWB's program of measurement and education will create more awareness and help make a significant difference to the people of Southeast Asia in the long run."
Tyson's analytical chemistry laboratory has for many years assisted environmental scientists and other chemists with tests for potentially harmful compounds of lead, cadmium, chromium, selenium and arsenic in soil and water. Last year, CWB approached the UMass Amherst lab to develop a simple, low-cost test for arsenic in rice, based on the groundwater test.
CWB president Ray Kronquist says the idea is not only to provide an accurate and reliable kit, but to teach chemistry students in Bangladesh who have access to a basic lab at the Asian University for Women (AUW) in Chittagong, to use it. These young interns will then provide arsenic exposure information and education on protective measures such as extra washing or choosing different varieties to local farmers, families, merchants and consumers.
Tyson recalls, "By an amazing coincidence, just a couple of weeks after the CWB request came in, a student approached me and asked if I had an independent study project for him in the spring semester. I always want to encourage that, and it turns out that Rafi is not only from Bangladesh, he grew up in Chittagong. He was the ideal person for the job, and I soon asked him to join the CWB project."
Rafiyu is now a summer intern supported by the Juanita F. Bradspies Fund for Undergraduate Research in Chemistry and will spend this summer conducting experiments to adapt an existing arsenic water test kit for testing rice samples. He and Tyson hope that by September or early fall, CWB will be able to use the adapted test kit at the AUW in Chittagong.
One of the key challenges in testing rice instead of water is that starch in the grain interferes with the reaction. One approach is to modify the chemistry by replacing zinc, the hydride-generation reagent, with borohydride. However, when Rafiyu adds this to the powdered rice paste, the reaction is extremely vigorous and must be slowed to detect any arsenic present.
Tyson and Rafiyu estimate that it will take scores of experiments to identify the optimum combination of reagent, concentrations and reaction conditions. Once that is solved, they plan to replace what is now a naked-eye evaluation of color on the arsenic test strip with a method that creates a digital image, for example with a cell phone camera, for analysis.
Once they put a new kit into the hands of the college interns in Bangladesh, CWB will help them to develop presentations about the health hazards of arsenic in rice at high schools and community centers. It is hoped that the young "agents of change" there can bring awareness and education to help people reduce their exposure. Tyson notes, "We need to address the problems at the village level, and the place to start is with accurate chemical measurement."
In communities with a high arsenic concentration in the water, the interns may try to connect people with organizations that can help the communities transition to safe water, for example. Tyson says different water levels or aquifers have different arsenic contamination, and it is often possible to find a shallower or a deeper one that is relatively free of arsenic. Using that water to irrigate rice can reduce arsenic contamination, as can rinsing rice before cooking, and cooking in excess water. Armed with local test results, consumers can make informed decisions about reducing arsenic intake, especially by infants and small children.
Tyson notes that current scientific thinking is that no arsenic exposure or intake is safe, but an "acceptable risk threshold" of 1 in 10,000 for an arsenic-induced cancer is generally viewed as sensible and achievable. This would correspond to a concentration of 100 parts per billion (ppb) in rice, based on modest consumption by an adult. "That's the equivalent of a grain of rice in about a quarter of a ton of rice," he notes. "Arsenic compounds are extremely toxic."
The analytical chemist hopes that government agencies around the world will step forward as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did recently when it established a limit of 100 ppb for inorganic arsenic in baby rice cereal. "We need to extend that to all rice, which I believe should be labeled as to its arsenic content. Although the situation in Asia is serious, arsenic does occur in quite high concentrations in rice grown right here in the USA," he says.

Aromatic cheers

Public university develops first hybrid rice variety

An experimental plot of the country's first aromatic hybrid rice variety -- BU Aromatic Hybrid Rice-1 -- at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University. Photo: BSMRAU

Scientists at a public university have developed the country's first aromatic hybrid rice variety which is twice as productive as its low-yield indigenous counterparts. Most of the cultivated aromatic rice varieties have low yield potentiality of two to three tonnes per hectare, but the hybrid one, approved recently by the National Seed Board, would give more than six tonnes per hectare, the scientists have confirmed.
The development came at a time when Bangladesh has been struggling in aromatic rice export market due to lack of price competitiveness owing to low-yield potentials.
Aromatic rice is there in Bangladesh's export basket since 2012 fetching a yearly earning of Tk 80 crore. But further growth is being hindered due to the farmers' reluctance in growing fragrant rice, which yields less compared to non-aromatic fine varieties.
"If the farmers are given more productive aromatic rice varieties, it would give us an edge in the export market," said Shah Alam Babu, president of Bangladesh Rice Exporters Association.
To make the aromatic rice more competitive and also to meet the demand of domestic and international market, scientists Dr MA Khaleque Mian and Dr Nasrin Akter Ivy have developed the first aromatic hybrid rice variety -- BU Aromatic Hybrid Rice-1.
Mian and Ivy, both of whom teach genetics and plant breeding at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU), have developed the variety after six years of hybridisation process applied to different locally available rice breeding lines.
Scientists at the BSMRAU have bred the fine and slender fragrant rice unlocking potential for tapping export markets. Photo: BSMRAU
"This rice [new variety] has long and slender grains with wonderful aroma and can be grown in both Aman and Boro seasons with five and six tonnes yield potentials respectively. Unlike most of the hybrid rice varieties, which are susceptive to lodging, this one has an erect plant type having non-lodging habit," Dr MA Khaleque Mian told The Daily Star.
Dr Ivy said the newly developed hybrid aromatic variety is also rich in high zinc and iron contents. It has got 22mg/kg zinc and 10mg/kg iron compared to 15mg of zinc and 7/8mg of iron in most other available rice varieties.
Zinc deficiency causes stunting, while iron deficiency is a leading cause of anaemia. More than one-third of under-five children in Bangladesh are stunted, while more than 43 percent women of reproductive age are anaemic.
Since release of the world's first zinc-enriched rice -- BRRI dhan62 -- in August 2013, Bangladeshi rice breeders have so far developed four high-zinc rice varieties. The BU Aromatic Hybrid Rice-1, however, is the first fragrant rice that is rich in both zinc and iron contents.
In Bangladesh, farmers mostly cultivate low-yield traditional aromatic rice varieties like Kalijira, Kataribhog, Rasulbhog, Badshabhog, Chinigura, Basmati, Dulabhog and Radhunipagol. These are grown in Aman season. The only Boro season aromatic rice variety -- Banglamoti (BRRI dhan-50) -- developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has gained huge popularity among farmers for its fragrance and high productivity.
Dr MA Khaleque Mian and Dr Nasrin Akter Ivy said BU Aromatic Hybrid Rice-1 can be grown both in Aman and Boro seasons with a promise of high productivity.
The scientists got the funding from the Sponsored Public Goods Research (SPGR) programme under the government's National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP).
The GETCO Agro Vision Ltd, a private agribusiness company, has recently struck an agreement with BSMRAU for seed developments of BU Aromatic Hybrid Rice-1, GETCO's Chief Operating Officer Md Abdus Samad Mondal told The Daily Star.
"We've grown the variety in last Boro season in our research station in Bogra and got 6.4 tonnes [per hectare] of production. The rice quality is fine, fragrance is excellent and tastes good as you consume the cooked rice," said GETCO's Head of Rice Research and Development Dr Md Ali Azam.
Dr Azam, who previously served Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) and led breeding of some of Bangladesh's best performing rice varieties Binadhan-7, 9 and 14, expressed the hope they would be able to produce seeds of the new aromatic rice variety starting later this year.
Talking to this correspondent, Bangladesh Rice Exporters Association (BREA) President Shah Alam Babu said farmers' income would boost up from aromatic rice cultivation if they get more yield per hectare. "Besides, we'll be able to source aromatic rice in a competitive price and be able to increase export."
Babu, who exports aromatic rice to the USA, said Bangladesh has lost several traditional markets to competitors when the government banned rice export in 2008. After export resumption in 2012, the flow of aromatic rice export is gradually peaking, he added. 
Export market apart, a good quantity of aromatic rice is also consumed at home as people cook Polau, Biryani, Khichuri, Firni and Kheer delicacies as well as plain rice with the fragrant varieties

Drop by drop

Tushar Arora
Taking stock of the monsoon
After two consecutive years of subpar rainfall, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecasted “above normal” shower for 2016. While the onset in June has been both late and weak, we have seen a dramatic revival in the first week of July. On cumulative basis, from a deficit of 11 per cent in June, there has been a turnaround towards 1 per cent surplus.
The regional distribution is getting better too. All the regions except East and North East are now in the surplus zone. Even for the East division, the revival is encouraging, with surplus rainfall of 15 per cent in the first week of July, compared to weekly average deficit of 29 per cent in June.
Need for caution

More importantly, for foodgrain output, what matters the most is that States such as UP, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh receive normal rainfall. To measure this we created a production weighted deviation (from normal) index at HDFC Bank. This suggests that the momentum is stronger than what an un-weighted index would show.
For the first week of July, while the IMD deviation measure shows a surplus of 35 per cent, the production weighted gauge shows a surplus of 47 per cent.
However, there is still need for caution. Owing to the deficient rainfall in the preceding years, the water level in reservoirs remain discernibly low, and the good monsoon has not yet had a major impact in this regard.
As of July 6, the data from Central Water commission shows that water level in the key reservoirs across the country was at a dismal 18 per cent of the storage capacity. That is 55 per cent of the storage of the corresponding period last year and 74 per cent of the average storage of last 10 years.
Since reservoir levels play an important role, with implications on the supply of hydropower and irrigation of crops after the monsoon. The distressing trend on this front has been a prime reason for subdued sowing activity despite the pickup in rainfall. Therefore, it is important to be watchful of the trend in July and August. Empirical evidence shows that in the last eight years, only 17 per cent of the overall rainfall during the monsoon season has come in June.
Around 32 per cent has been in the month of July, 28 per cent in August and 23 per cent in September. If the trend persists, and as rainfall picks up, both reservoir levels and sowing activity should improve.
An important caveat in this regard is that the monsoon may gain extraordinary vigour towards the fag end, which could result in crop damage and loss in output.
What's coming

If everything goes as predicted, higher agri-output should ultimately lead to lower food inflation, which have been rising at an average pace of 7.2 per cent y-o-y in the last three months, compared to average monthly rise of 4.9 per cent in FY16.
There is catch though. Our model shows that it takes around three to four months for a normal monsoon cycle to have a favourable effect on food prices. So even if it rains cats and dogs, food prices might remain firm.
Supply chain blockages and a weak pass-through mechanism from the wholesalers mean that disinflation in food is unlikely to commence before August.
The writer is a senior economist at HDFC Bank. The views are persona

Nigeria may soon become exporter of rice – CBN Director

Posted by Segun Adebowale on
The meeting was held to discuss the recent shock vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and what it portends for the Nigerian economy

Nigeria may soon become a net exporter of rice, Isaac Okoroafor, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications at the Central Bank of Nigeria, has said.Okoroafor said this in his presentation at the Time Economics Breakfast Meeting, a monthly presentation by the Time Economics Consulting Firm, on Wednesday in Abuja.He said such a feat could become possible because of the increased harvest from the programme the CBN embarked upon with rice farmers in Kebbi State.
The meeting was held to discuss the recent shock vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and what it portends for the Nigerian economy.The forum also deliberated on the economic implications of the floating of the Naira embarked by the Central Bank of Nigeria.Okoroafor said: “Our expectation was that each farmer will get four to five tonnes but they are making seven to eight tonnes per hectare.
“This is just rice and there are millions of farmers waiting for this.“This is just a pilot project.
“If we do this consistently till 2018, we will start exporting rice.“If we can do this for about 10 commodities in two years, we will go out of this, but if we don’t, no amount of policies or management can help us.”In his contribution, Dr. Ogho Okiti, the Chief Executive Officer of Time Economics, said the Federal Government should deepen reforms in various sectors of the economy that could attract investments and create jobs.According to Okiti, Brexit has resulted in uncertainty in the global market and this, he said, would linger for a while.
He said the growth in the global economy had not been very good in the last two years as it had been subdued and volatile as a result of certain conditions in the market.
“Most people believe that the problem is not liquidity, but the investment uncertainty environment.”On its implications for Africa, Okiti said there would be continued pressure on trade, currency and aid from outside sources, adding that the way forward was diversification.According to Okiti, in the second quarter, Nigeria’s economy experienced a new face of low growth, weak export prices.He said: “World bank put our growth rate at 0.8 per cent, IMF expects our economy to contract, Fitch downgraded our expenditure from BB- to B+.
“Oil price is low, poor power supply, weak government expenditure, foreign exchange constraint, constraint in inputs among others and what we see is recession.
“An inflation rate of 15.6 is the highest since 2010, both food and core sub-index recorded significant month to month growth with the drivers being forex scarcity, increased electricity tariff, high fuel prices.”
On the inflation outlook, Okiti said if the government was able to contain the shocks without further occurrence, “we would remain at the present level even if inflation remains the same”.
He said the CBN’s decision to float forex market was a courageous policy which could enhance liquidity, improve business confidence and deepen our market.
He said the Futures Market would serve as hedge against volatility of the naira and businesses and other end users would not purchase forex they have no immediate need for.
Okiti said oil exports, remittances to friends and families and portfolio flows would be ways of improving liquidity in the country.
He said the convergence of the interbank parallel market would result in increased government revenue which would in turn increase states revenue.
Also speaking, Ambakederemo Eniye, the Senior Technical Adviser to the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, called for the establishment and implementation of a data base for the country.
Eniye said: “We need to align institutions within the country.
“Let institutions know their roles and be allowed to play it and establish steps needed to achieve our goals.
“We have the capacity and there is an opportunity for Nigeria, but we need to take charge.

Scientists enter into battle with Greenpeace over GM food

By Tim Sandle    

Few issues spark as much intensity as genetically modified foods and both sides wheel out scientists to give opinions on the safety (or otherwise) of genetically modified produce. In a new move, a consortium of scientists has gone on the offensive.
In an open letter, around one a third of living Nobel laureates (110 scientists) have signed a statement saying that Greenpeace has misrepresented the risks and benefits of genetically modified crops. Here, the scientists state that genetically modified crops are safe for human consumption and have the potential to feed the world and improve human health.
The letter demands that the environmental pressure group Greenpeace stop its campaign against GM crops. Here the letter runs: “There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption.”
Genetically modified crops are plants used in agriculture where the DNA has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. Generally this is designed to introduce a new trait to the plant. This might be to make the plant more resistance to pests or diseases; to allow the plant to be environmentally more robust; or to improve the nutrient profile of the crop. With the latter, potatoes created to have a higher starch content is an example.
In the statement, the scientists, who include James Watson (of the DNA discovery fame), use the example of Golden Rice as a type of genetically modified crop that carries significant potential to improve health and save lives in the developing world. The rice was patented during 1990s. It contains an inserted gene designed to increase vitamin A-rich beta-carotene levels.
However, in conversation with The Guardian, Greenpeace has countered the letter and has refused to stop its anti-GM campaign.
Speaking for the environmental body, Wilhelmina Pelegrina said: “Accusations that anyone is blocking genetically engineered ’Golden’ rice are false.” However, she went onto say that large corporations were using the strain “to pave the way for global approval of other more profitable genetically engineered crops,” adding that “life is not an industrial commodity”.
In addition, The Conversation website notes that Greenpeace argues there are cheaper and more better alternatives to Golden Rice. The campaign body further claims that developers “are downplaying the risk that GM rice will contaminate traditional and organic rice crops.” One concern is with the likelihood of transgenes escaping from cultivated crops into wild relatives.
The general balance on Twitter is in favor of Greenpeace. For instance, V.A. SHIVA (@va_shiva) tweeted: "The letter by the Nobel winners is merely an opinion, and not an authoritative study to go by." However, there are some who are in favor, such as financial journalist Sunil Jain (@thesuniljain), who indicated: "Seems GM food is not harmful after all Nobel laureates endorse it". And there are some in the middle, such as Bernie Sanders supporter #OnlySanders つ _ つ (@ThankYouBernie) said: "Conflicting Values in the GM Food Crop Debate."

07/14/2016 Farm Bureau Market Report


Long Grain Cash Bids

Long Grain New Crop




Jul '16

Sep '16
Nov '16
Jan '17

Mar '17

May '17

Jul '17


Rice Comment

Rice futures again traded in a narrow range with light volume before closing lower. The WASDE report showed mostly offsetting changes, but 16-17 ending stocks are projected at their highest level since 85-86 thanks to large increases in California medium grain stocks. The all rice on farm average price was lowered, again a result of lower prices in California. September has bounced off support near $10.25, and is attempting to work higher, with the next upside target at last weeks high of $10.94 ½.

25,000 MT Food Aid Sale to Ivory Coast 

ARLINGTON, VA -- USDA's Food Assistance Division has approved the sale of 25,000 MT of long grain rice to the Ivory Coast as part of their Food For Progress Program (FFPr).  FFPr allows for U.S. commodities in key food assistance markets to be sold by humanitarian groups who then invest the proceeds in the development of a critical agricultural value chain.  It is commonly referred to as "monetization."  In the case of Ivory Coast, the sale of long grain rice will be invested in the development of the poultry value chain.  

This program is an important component of the U.S. government's desire to invest in helping critical markets achieve agricultural sustainability and eventually transition to commercial markets.  

The Ivory Coast, traditionally a commercial market for USA Rice has descended into food insecurity after years of civil unrest and economic instability.  USA Rice worked closely with industry, monetization agents on the ground in the Ivory Coast, and the USDA to determine the appropriateness of this sale to a former commercial market.  After concluding the sale would not create any market distortion and that it made sense to conduct food assistance activities in a formerly commercial market, USA Rice encouraged and supported the sale of rice for food assistance purposes.

USA Rice has been working closely with both USAID and USDA to emphasize both the availability and advantageous prices of U.S. origin rice.  As rice is the most consumed commodity in the world, it is easily accepted by the target population of food assistance programs, making it a highly effective tool to combat hunger.  

"This is the first of what we believe will be multiple new sales of U.S. rice to the U.S. government for use in food assistance programs in the coming year," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  "We are continuing our close collaboration with government agencies to increase rice use to help vulnerable communities around the world." 

Northeast Louisiana Rice Farmers Host Another Successful Field Day 

OAK RIDGE, LA -- Yesterday morning, Northeast Louisiana rice growers met here at Vic Jordan's farm, Trio Plantation, to hear from Louisiana State University AgCenter researchers on this season's test plots results.

The group of farmers participated in the morning program in the field with presentations by Dr. Rogers Leonard, Dr. Steve Linscombe, Dr. Dustin Harrell, Dr. Don Groth, Dr. Eric Webster, and Sebe Brown.  Topics from the Crowley-based researchers were varied, ranging from pest management, new varieties and effects on stand and yield, new herbicide treatments, and more.

Following the field demonstrations, participants traveled to the Rayville Civic Center for additional presentations from Dr. Trey Price, Sebe Brown, and Peter Bachmann with USA Rice.  Bachmann's presentation focused on the state of the rice economy and the work USA Rice is doing to improve the U.S. rice markets.  "Planted rice acres in Louisiana saw an increase of about 24 percent to 440,000 long grain rice acres this year and with excess stocks on-hand from last year, this is a recipe for depressed prices to stick around.  Fortunately, our work in putting the farm safety net together for rice in the 2014 Farm Bill has made us 'the best house in a bad neighborhood' when compared to other commodities," he said.

Bachmann added, "USA Rice is working hard to focus on permanently opening new export markets like Cuba, securing reliable tenders for Iraq, and finalizing phytosanitary protocols to gain access in China.  Additionally, we're securing conservation financial assistance for producers here on the ground in Louisiana and across the Mid-South, the Gulf, and California through the NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program in conjunction with Ducks Unlimited."

Scott Franklin, a Louisiana rice farmer and owner of Holly Ridge Rice and Grain, and vice president of the Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association, said he's "feeling optimistic about the state of the rice industry, despite lower than desirable prices right now."

Franklin finished by saying, "The Price Loss Coverage program in place is serving the role it was created for, keeping rice farmers in business during the tough years.  We'd obviously prefer for the market to be healthy enough that rice wouldn't hit its trigger price but we all know 'what goes up, must come down' and vice versa.  Better times are ahead!"

APEDA AgriExchange Newsletter - Volume 1515

International Benchmark Price
Price on: 13-07-2016
Benchmark Indicators Name
Argentine 85mm, CIF NW Europe (USD/t)
Argentine 50mm, CIF NW Europe (USD/t)
Argentine 34mm, CIF NW Europe (USD/t)
White Sugar
CZCE White Sugar Futures (USD/t)
Kenya Mumias white sugar, EXW (USD/t)
Pakistani refined sugar, EXW Akbari Mandi (USD/t)
Australian 5 Crown, CIF UK (USD/t)
South African Orange River, CIF UK (USD/t)
Turkish No 9 standard, FOB Izmir (USD/t)
Source: oryza, agra-net
Market Watch
Commodity-wise, Market-wise Daily Price on 12-07-2016
Domestic Prices
Unit Price : Rs per Qty
Market Center
Min Price
Max Price
Haveri (Karnataka)
Dhekiajuli (Assam)
Neemuch (Madhya Pradesh)
Kasargod (Kerala)
Kalol (Gujarat)
Savali (Maharashtra)
Sirhind (Punjab)
Barara (Haryana)
Mechua (West Bengal)
Kannur (Kerala)
Jatni (Orissa)
Jagraon (Punjab)
Unit Price : US$ per package
Price on 12-07-2016
Market Center
Rose Flower
Package: bunched 10s
Assorted Colors
Orchid Flower
Package: bunched 10s
Lilies Flower
Package: per bunch
Asiatic  Type
Package: per stem
Large Head

Rice Prices

as on : 14-07-2016 08:10:26 PM
Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.


Bankura Sadar(WB)
North Lakhimpur(ASM)

Eat, play and make merry

Sanskari Tacos Photo: Nagara Gopal
Caesar's Palace Photo: Nagara Gopal
'Masti' unlimited Photo: Nagara Gopal
At 'Hoppipola' Photo: Nagara Gopal
Peri peri Biryani Photo: Nagara Gopal


Hoppipola, the new watering hole in town not only has food, but books and a board games corner too

HYDERABAD: Hoppipola celebrates all things that bring people together. “It is happiness; the place is for the young, above 21,” smiles business manager Subrata Chakraborty and adds, “The eatery will inspire the not-so-young to discover their youthful days.” The new watering hole Hoppipola, a chain of Speciality Restaurants Limited, opposite Shilparamam in Madhapur joins the list of bar cum dining eateries. Originally Hoppipolla (meaning ‘jumping into puddles’) is a song from Takk, an 2005 album by the Icelandic band Sigur Ros.
The ambience inside the eatery is warm and cosy and the interiors have a fun appeal. Apart from the yellow and blue cushion chairs to sink into and bar stools to perch on, the ceiling is colourful with small aeroplanes created out of wood in yellow, blue, green and pink and cages with wooden birds. “The eight aeroplanes signify the number of places Hoppipola is in India, including Mumbai and Bengalore,” points out Subrata. The interiors are the same in all their branches and a significant feature is their books and games corner. While the guests wait for their spirits to arrive, one can read a Percy Jackson book or play a game of monopoly or Losers and Ladders or Zynga. One can also indulge in some fun by playing a ‘game of happiness’. “This game is only for the women. One special surprise is hidden inside these small houses and who ever finds it wins an offer,” explains Subrata pointing to a wall. While DJ Anupam Raj entertains the crowd with his English, hip hop and Bollywood tracks, the drinks menu has a host of spirits, a large selection of beers, wines and cocktails.
The menu touches shores from Italian, American and Mexican and the special feature is the fancy names of the dishes. One can spot a Paneer sanskari tacos and Wrap city bi*ch jostling space with Fishful thinking and Hot chick.
One can start off with a hearty salad - Caesar’s palace. Starters are enticing with their wide range of dishes. There is Beet the Hummus served with assorted breads or Muncher’s Favourite which is a crumb fried chicken with a Mediterranean rub. OMG with mushrooms is quite mouthful and New age wing man – chicken wings in barbeque sauce or Chiseled prawns (where basil and chilly are added to prawns) is ideal for the non-vegetarians during the monsoon. The menu also includes sandwiches, wraps and sliders.
All the dishes score high on their presentation. For the main course, there is a large variety of pizzas and pastas. They have added a few dishes for rice lovers, so you can savour a cup of Oriental-aromatic Thai green curry flavoured with Galangal and Kafir lime served with rice or Peri Peri Biryani which is essentially basmati rice spiked with peri peri spices, caramelised onions and cheese.
The dessert section features Rum Pum Pum, a rum soaked banoffee pie with a rich toffee sauce and Fudge Block, a classic chocolate brownie served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. There is an equal emphasis on the liquor list, featuring quite the collection of cocktails apart from the usual libations

Aus cultivation increasing in 5 northern districts

12:00 AM, July 14, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 14, 2016

A farmer nurses aus plants on his field at Kanaikata village in Nilphamari Sadar upazila. Photo: Star
Our Correspondent, Nilphamari

Farmers in five northern districts under Rangpur division are now passing busy time in cultivating short duration varieties of aus paddy.The farmers are getting more interested in aus cultivation as it can be cultivated between boro and aman paddy, manifesting a trend of changed pattern in cropping for the last couple of years.Only a few years ago, the farmers used to keep their croplands fallow between mid May to end of July. This year, the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Rangpur set a target for aus cultivation on 22,198 hectares of land in Rangpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts with prospective production target of 56,414 tonnes of rice.Of the cultivated land, 13,981 hectares are in Rangpur district, 4,940 hectares in Lalmonirhat, 1,805 hectares in Kurigram, 1,082 hectares in Gaibandha and 390 hectares in Nilphamari, DAE sources said.
However, the farmers cultivated aus on 22,806 hectares of land which is 7 percent higher than the previous year.
Agriculture experts said aus paddy is drought tolerant and can be cultivated and harvested before full scale rainy season and flood.

Monsoon covers entire country, poised to take a breather

Vinson Kurian

Thiruvananthapuram, July 13:  
The South-West monsoon has completed coverage of the entire country ahead of the scheduled timeline of July 15, the India Met Department announced on Wednesday. The 24-hour period up to Wednesday morning saw heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over Madhya Maharashtra while it was heavy over Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Gangetic West Bengal.
Systems weaken
Wednesday also saw the two main supporting systems — a low-pressure area over North-West Madhya Pradesh and the offshore trough along the West Coast — weaken one after the other. This is considered a precursor to the weak phase that the monsoon is likely entering over the next couple of days. The Met has already indicated that the ‘axis’ of the monsoon would migrate to the foothills of the Himalayas during this phase.
During the active phase of the monsoon, the axis is centred along a North-West to South-East alignment linking Rajasthan with the Bay of Bengal and laid out across the plains of North India.
Monsoon systems (low-pressure areas and others) originating in the Bay move in over land through a corridor (trough) built around the axis, spreading rain over Central and North-West India.
Movement of the axis towards the foothills of the Himalayas will take the belt of heavy rain to that region, covering Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and North-East India.
Global weather models, too, have been alluding to the emerging weak phase. The US Climate Prediction says that July 13 to 19 would witness a ‘break’ in the monsoon over South Asia.
In the week that follows (July 20 to 26), the ‘break’ phase should shift northward over South Asia and expand over South-East Asia, with some ‘moisture recharge’ over southern India.
In other words, the US agency is indicating that the dry phase in the monsoon will alternate between southern and northern parts of the country during the next two weeks.
The second week will witness a limited revival of the monsoon over South India, thanks to the movement of a helpful Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) wave across the Indian Ocean, even as North India dries up.
(This article was published on July 13, 2016)

Inadequate rain, no irrigation hit paddy

Published: July 14, 2016 3:36 am On: Nepal
Himalayan News Service
A subsidiary dam of the Kaligandaki 'A' Hydro Powe...
Rajbiraj, July 13
Paddy plantation in a large chunk of cultivable land has been badly affected due to lack of monsoon rain and irrigation in Saptari district. Of the 70,000 hectares of cultivable land in the district, only 40,000 hectares is irrigated, while the remaining 30,000 hectares lack irrigation.
According to Saptari District Development Office, rice seedlings have been planted only in 10 per cent of the total cultivable land.
Bidhya Sagar Yadav, agriculture officer at District Agriculture Development Office Saptari, said paddy plantation was adversely affected due to water crisis in all three-irrigation canals of the district and less rain during the monsoon season.
“Hardly around 10 per cent paddy plantation has been completed with the help of pumped water. Though some paddy fields in south-eastern belt of the district have been irrigated, almost all fields in the north-west belt are barren for want of irrigation and rain water,” said Yadav. Farmers have yet to begin paddy plantation in about three dozen VDCs of the district, including
Bode Barsain, Pato, Barahi Birpur, Fulkahi, Kodarkatti, Bhutahi, Manraja, Khadkapur, Arnaha, Bramhapur, Kabilasa, Malahaniya, Malhanma, Hardiyakataiya, Rampurjamuwa and Mohanpur, among others.
“If there is no adequate monsoon rain till end of July, paddy plantation will be almost impossible in the district. Rice seedlings can be planted only in around 40 to 45 per cent land, that too only if irrigated adequately,” said Yadav.
Peasants complained that their rice seedlings were turning dry. “If it doesn’t rain within two to four days, planting the pale rice seedlings will be a futile exercise,” said local farmer Surya Narayan Yadav of Raypur VDC-8. For want of irrigation facilities, local farmers usually depend on rain water for plantation.
Ram Narayan Ram, a farmer of Saraswor-7, said it was difficult for them to save the cultivated paddy plants with pumped water during sunny days. “Cracks have developed on the paddy fields and if the situation continues, we will starve this year,” regretted Ram.
75 per cent arable land barren in Rautahat
Rautahat, July 13
Without proper irrigation and low monsoon rain, only 25 per cent of arable land has been cultivated with rice seedlings in Rautahat so far.
“Although the government had said it would bring about a revolution in the agriculture sector, a large number of farmers have not been able to begin paddy plantation due to lack of proper irrigation facility in Rautahat. Farmers in the southern belt farmers have been hit the worst,” said agro-expert Paras Jha.
A large number of farmers have been compelled to use underground water, which is very expensive, said Shiva Mangal Pandit of Laxmipur Belbichhuwa. “Though the government has been investing a huge chunk of the budget in the agriculture sector, no results have come from it,” said Pandit. He added that although they had prepared their fields to plant paddy in mid-May, the fields were still fallow.
District Agriculture Development Office Rautahat Chief Raj Narayan Yadav said production of rice in the district will drop sharply this year. “Although a large chunk of land in the northern belt has been irrigated, the water supplied is not enough for the crops. The monsoon rain has not been so helpful either,” said Yadav. Of the total 112,600 hectares of arable land, paddy is planted in around 40,000 hectares every year.
While the Bagmati Irrigation Project has been a great boon for farmers in the past, the project has failed to work now due to ongoing repair works in the canal in various places.
Meanwhile, Chief of the project Rajendra Yadav said that adequate water would be supplied smoothly within two days.
A version of this article appears in print on July 14, 2016 of The Himalayan Times

Agriculture chief: Rice sufficiency a must

Thursday, July 14, 2016
NEW Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said it is now "a must" for the country to achieve sufficiency in rice and other basic food commodities."It is no longer a choice," Piñol said as he cited the Rice Productivity Enhancement (Ripe), a program, which he crafted.Ripe calls for a comprehensive review of the water management and irrigation policies, the conduct of a nationwide soil analysis, an extensive program to improve rice farming technology, the introduction of high-yielding rice varieties, effective soil rehabilitation and fertilizer program, and modern and post-harvest facilities to minimize losses.
The DA chief noted that there is a potential to significantly increase the rice production from the current national average harvest of 4 metric tons per hectare.
His predecessor, Proceso Alcala, failed to achieve the target of rice self-sufficiency under the Aquino administration.
Piñol also called for the increase production of white corn in support to the grain requirements of the corn-eating provinces such as Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Bohol, Cebu, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, the three provinces of Samar and Northern Mindanao."If there is rice sufficiency, there must be also corn sufficiency," he added.For the livestock and poultry industry, the new Agri chief wants to promote the lessening of feed components supplies’ reliance to imported materials (soya and fish meal), thereby leading to a decrease in production cost.For the fisheries sector, he directed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to implement an anti-illegal fishing program and a three-month closed season during the spawning season of specific fish species in various regions nationwide, a replication of the strategy carried out in Zamboanga. (SDR/Sunnex)

Iraq Agrees to Buy US Rice

July 13, 2016 in Agriculture

On July 13, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart E. Jones and Iraq’s Minister of Trade Salman al-Jumayli signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the purchase and supply of U.S. rice for the Iraqi public distribution system. Millions of Iraqis will benefit from the high-quality and competitively-priced rice from the United States, said a statement from the American Embassy in Baghdad.In signing the MOU, the Ambassador affirmed the U.S. Embassy’s intention to promote awareness of the Ministry’s rice tenders with U.S. rice suppliers that can best meet the needs of the Iraqi market. Ambassador Jones said:
This MOU represents a win-win for Iraq and the United States and is a sign of how our two countries can strengthen commercial ties to the ultimate economic benefit of both our peoples.
“The U.S. Embassy is committed to providing technical assistance to enhance Ministry of Trade officials’ expertise with respect to purchasing agricultural products on the international market.
This agreement comes within the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Iraq Concerning the Development of Trade and Investment Relations.
The MOU will be operative for six months with the possibility of renewal; and it can be discontinued at any time by either party.
(Source: Embassy of the United States)

India's monsoon rains 11 pct above average in past week - weather office

Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:45pm GMT

NEW DELHI, July 14 (Reuters) - Monsoon rains in India were 11 percent above average in the week ended July 13, the weather office said on Thursday.
The June-September monsoon has so far delivered 4 percent higher rainfall than average.
The monsoon rains covered the entire country on Wednesday, cheering farmers planting crops such as rice, soybeans, cotton and pulses in the summer sowing season that starts in June.
Two straight drought years in India curbed farm output and incomes but the country is set to receive above average rains this year, the weather office said. (Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Malini Menon)

Rice Assessment Committee court in full swing -several land issues resolved

Jul 14, 2016

(Ministry of Agriculture – July 14, 2016) – Over a two day process Chairman, and Board Members of the newly elected Rice Assessment Committee Board resolved several land issues, at a scheduled hearing at the Mahaicony, and Leguan Magistrate’s court respectively.
Among the issues which were brought before the courts were outstanding payment of leases, and proprietorship of land. The role of the Committee is to safeguard tenants (rice) who felt they were being mistreated by landlords in keeping with the Rice Farmers (Security of Tenure) Act Chapter 69;02.
Over the years, the dynamics of landlord-tenant arrangements have changed as there are now persons who have small scale land and are renting to farmers who would in turn develop the land into large-scale production contributing towards Guyana’s food security needs.The farmers’ lauded the move of the Government in reinstating the Committee, which has been very instrumental in ensuring that their issues are resolved and in an amicable manner.

Attorneys-at Law Mr. Omadatt Chandan during the proceedings

According to Mr. Amjad Ally Shaw, the work of the Committee has ensured that farmers’ livelihood are safeguarded.“The work the Committee has been doing over the past month is exceptional however, there needs to be harsher penalties towards tenants, especially those are continue to owe landlords excess amount of monies,” he said.The Rice Farmers (Security of Tenure) Act in keeping with implied conditions in agreement of tenancy also stipulates the processes whereby, tenancy can be terminated by tenants and landlords respectively.The matters were presided over by Attorneys-at Law Mr. Omadatt Chandan and Mr. Yoganand Persaud respectively.

 ‘Nigeria spends $11bn yearly on food importation’

Sesan Olufowobi
The Lagos State Government says Nigeria spends $11bn (N3.1tn) annually to import wheat, rice, sugar and fish.The government stated this on Wednesday at a capacity building workshop for heads of agriculture department in the 57 local government and local council development areas of the state in Ikeja. At the event, organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya, said Nigeria’s importation rate was worrisome.

Quoting from a Central Bank of Nigeria report, Onasanya said, “Over $11bn was spent to import four consumable commodities–rice, wheat, fish and sugar– annually. Nigeria’s food import is growing at an unsustainable rate of 11 per cent per annum.”He said relying on importation of expensive food from global markets fuelled domestic inflation, adding that excessive imports had put pressure on the naira and hurt the economy.Onasanya said, “The Lagos State Government has, however, taken the bull by the horns to boost food production at the grass roots. We are organising capacity building for LG workers to increase farm size and productivity.”

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, Jafar Sanuth, observed that involvement of departments of agriculture at the LG level in food production had been minimal.The Director, Community Agriculture, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, Dapo Olakulehin, said the aim of the workshop was to bring about diversification of the agricultural sector.

Chef Benedetto Jeremiah Korpusik fires up the fantastic

Jeremiah Korpusik, the executive chef of the Sardine Room in Plymouth, said he can remember helping his mom make manicotti from scratch when he was just 8 or 9.Sardine Room Chef

Jeremiah Korpusik prepares Hawaiian dishes at home

Before shocking them in ice water to stop the cooking, Sardine Room executive chef Jeremiah Korpusik drains boiled green beans to be used in a favorite green papaya salad while cooking at home in Detroit, Michigan on June 22, 2016.  Brandy Baker, The Detroit News

“I was always hungry and always watching her cook,” he said. “She’s a fantastic Southern-style, soul food cook. I grew up on all the classics…red beans and rice, fried pork chops, fried chicken, meatloaf…all the comfort foods. She doesn’t have a lot of culinary knowledge but she knows how to make great food. Her dad was a cook in the Navy,” he said.Born in Detroit, Korpusik’s family moved to Port Sanilac when he was 12. He got his first job at a local restaurant called The Landing at the age of 15. Then, after moving to Kalamazoo to attend Western University, he worked at several different restaurants.

“I hopped around a lot to learn the trade, spending about six months at each one,” he said.
At the age of 22, Korpusik became the manager of the London Grill Singapore Pub in Kalamazoo. And it was there that he first became acquainted with such classical Indian dishes including naan, dahl and paneer. Soon after, while working as a sauté cook at a resort in Portland, Maine, the chef found out that his girlfriend (now his wife), Monica, had been recruited to teach special education in Hawaii and he decided to join her there.

Koropusik ended up spending four years in Oahu, Hawaii working as a sauté chef — first at Town restaurant for James Beard nominee chef Ed Kinney and later for chef/owner Colin Nikita at Sidestreet Inn.“Nikita, famous for his Hawaiian soul food, was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations TV show,” Jeremiah said.After leaving Hawaii, Korpusik worked as a sous chef for two years in Charlotte, North Carolina before coming back to Michigan in 2010. Since then, he has worked as a line cook at Coach Insignia, as a sous chef at Joe Muer’s Seafood in Detroit and as the executive chef at the Garage Grill and Fuel Bar in Northville.The Detroit resident said he started off cooking the basics, then tweaking them to make them more modern.

“I’m a huge fan of peasant food and making it more refined by using better local products. My motto is ‘local first, organic when possible,’” he said.Korpusik said he likes this green papaya salad because it has more substance than most green salads and variations of it can be found in Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Thai and Filipino cuisines. “It’s one of my favorite salads,” he said. “And I like to add shrimp or crab to it as well.”The 35-year-old also said he likes to make a big batch of the Kalua pig recipe about once a month. “But it’s not the traditional style at all,” he said. “In Hawaii, they put a whole pig in a hole with tea leaves and chicken wire and cook it for 30 hours. When I make it here it’s pretty much just a big pork butt, water and sea salt that I cook it for a few hours. I like to make a big batch and freeze it for sandwiches and nachos,” he said.

Adds Korpusik: “It used to be that the chef trade wasn’t really respected. But it’s become a lot more professional in the last few years. A lot of people my age went out and traveled and learned the craft and came back with the knowledge, talent and skills to teach upcoming chefs in this area. And a lot have learned by going to Schoolcraft. I’ve trained a lot of kids from there. They get a good start there,” he said.
Kalua Pig with Basmati Rice
1 pork butt (bone-in, approximately 5 pounds)
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/2 cup Hawaiian sea salt
1 quart water
Put all ingredients in a Dutch oven and cook for four hours at 350 degrees. Then shred pork. Serve on Basmati Rice (recipe follows).
Basmati Rice
3 cups water
2 cups rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon salt
Bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Add rice. Cover and simmer on low for 22 minutes. Serves 8.
Per serving: 723 calories; 38 g fat (15 g saturated fat; 47 percent calories from fat); 36 g carbohydrates; 0 g sugar; 206 mg cholesterol; 2,371 mg sodium; 56 g protein; 1 g fiber.
Cold Macaroni Salad
1 box elbow macaroni noodles (cooked/cooled/dried)
2 cups sweet peas
3 carrots, shredded
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cups mayo
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients together and let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 578 calories; 42 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 65 percent calories from fat); 40 g carbohydrates; 4.5 g sugar; 23 mg cholesterol; 974 mg sodium; 9 g protein; 4 g fiber.
Green Papaya Salad with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
1/2 green papaya, seeded, shaved thin on a mandolin
1 cup long beans, blanched and cut into 1 inch long strips
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tablespoon peanuts
1 tablespoon mint, torn
1 tablespoon cilantro, torn
Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
1/4 cup fish sauce (I prefer either the Bliss or Red Boat brand)
2 limes, both zest and juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 Fresno chiles, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon mint, chopped
1 tablespoons ginger puree
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin on a mandolin
1 cup vegetable oil
Sea salt to taste
To prepare the Fish Sauce Vinaigrette:
Put all the ingredients (except oil) into a blender and blend. Then slowly pour the oil into the mixture.
To assemble:
Put salad ingredients in a bowl. Toss with vinaigrette. Makes 6 servings.
Per serving: 408 calories; 37 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 82 percent calories from fat); 18 g carbohydrates; 13 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 826 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 3 g fiber.
Kalbi Short Ribs
2 pounds 1/4 inch-cut short ribs with bone in
1 tablespoon Gochujang Korean chili paste
2 tablespoons Sambal Oelok garlic chili paste
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon ginger puree
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mirin rice wine
1 bunch of scallions, smashed
Mix all the ingredients (except the scallions and the sesame seeds) together. Pour over the short ribs and marinate for at least three days, making sure the short ribs stay submerged in the marinade. When ready, grill the short ribs on both sides, three to four minutes per side. To serve, cut in between the bones and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions. Serves 4.
Per serving (without garnish): 413 calories; 18 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 39 percent calories from fat); 32 g carbohydrates; 23 g sugar; 80 mg cholesterol; 2,214 mg sodium; 31 g protein; 2 g fiber.
Coconut and Lychee Tapioca with Passion Fruit Chantilly
1 can coco lopez
1 can lychee
1 can coconut milk
4 ounces water
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups of tapioca pearls
Preparation of the Tapioca:
Put the coco lopez, lychee and coconut milk in a blender till smooth. Transfer to a pot. Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with 4 ounces of water and pour the mixture into the pot and whisk vigorously. Once the mixture turns into pudding consistency, remove from heat and let chill. Then, in another pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add tapioca. Let boil for fifteen minutes. Then strain and mix the tapioca mixture with the pudding mixture. Refrigerate for an hour.
Passion Fruit Chantilly
8 ounces heavy whipping cream
2 ounces passion fruit, pureed
Sliced strawberries and blueberries
To Prepare The Passion Fruit Chantilly:
Whip the heavy cream. Add the passion fruit puree.
To assemble the Tapioca:
Place sliced berries on top of the tapioca. Then cover the berries with the Chantilly mixture. Serves 6.
Per serving: 625 calories; 38 g fat (30 g saturated fat; 55 percent calories from fat); 68 g carbohydrates; 16 g sugar; 55 mg cholesterol; 57 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber