Monday, August 01, 2016


Locally bred rice varieties to be launched in Africa next year: expert

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Locally bred indigenous rice varieties are set to be available in the sub-Saharan Africa market next year, an expert said on Friday.Kayode Sanni, Project Manager for Rice with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), an agricultural think tank promoting use of agricultural technologies in Africa, said that 30 varieties will be unveiled in Kenya and Tanzania respectively by early 2017."The varieties have been submitted to national regulation authorities and are currently undergoing National Performance Trial (NPT) that is expected to approve the varieties before end of this year," Sanni said in Nairobi at a meeting.

He noted that the new varieties, which have been developed using a two-line rice hybrid technology, have the potential to produce seven to 10 tons per hectare, up from 2.3 tons per hectares.

"The new hybrid varieties are expected to produce grain quality that are resistant to diseases and also be of high yielding quality," he added.

With this breakthrough, Africa will realize its own high yielding hybrid seeds, consequently boosting production and moving closer to self-sufficiency in rice production.Sanni revealed that once the varieties are unveiled in Kenya and Tanzania, the high yielding hybrid seeds be rolled out to other East, Central and Southern African countries to help boost production and self-sufficiency in rice production.

"Kenya alone imported rice valued at 15 million U.S. dollars in 2014 while Africa imported 13 million tons of rice amounting to 5 billion dollars," he revealed.Kenya relies on rice imports since its annual demand of milled rice is 550,000 tons. The country last year imported 420,000 tons that was not enough to cater for demand, leaving the country with a deficit of 15,000 tons.

While global production of rice has risen steadily from 132 million tons in 1960 to 491.5 million tons in 2015, Africa has not contributed much to the increase, producing only three percent, with Asia accounting for 90 percent of the global production.Rice demand on the continent exceeds production and Africa has been forced to rely heavily on importing large quantities of rice to meet demand at a very huge cost.

So far, Egypt is the only country that has developed its own rice hybrids.

TDAP organises agro food traders’ visit to Qatar  

ISLAMABAD: The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) recently organised a visit of an agro food trade delegation to Qatar, aiming to promote Pakistani food products and enhance the country's export in this regard.
In this connection, the Embassy of Pakistan in Doha arranged Pakistani food festival at the Intercontinental Hotel, Doha on Wednesday.
The event was attended by diplomats from more than 60 countries, concerned government officials, Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials, local importers of food products and chief executives and other management officials of big retail companies and outlets like Lulu Hyper Markets, Al Meera Hyper Marts, Hassad Foods, Widam, Family Food Centres etc. Qatar Chamber of Commerce Vice Chairman Mohammed Bin Ahmed Tawar Al Kuwari was the chief guest of the occasion.
Further, on Thursday and Friday, Pakistan Qatar Business Forum (PQBF) organised Pakistan Food Festival in Ezdan Mall, Gharafa, said a statement issued by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.
The shopping mall was located in the centre of Doha and attracted big crowds on the occasion.
The display area of the mall was decorated with publicity and promotion material related to Pakistani agro food products, LED screens showcasing documentaries on Pakistani mangoes, rice and red meat, while mangoes and Biryani tasting events were also organised for the occasion.
The purpose of the programme was to introduce three premium Pakistani product groups, namely rice, mangoes and red meat, to the Qatar market.
During the events, the importers showed great interest in Pakistani mangoes, rice and red meat while Pakistani exporters received many serious inquiries.

TDAP holds food festival in Qatar
By our correspondent
KARACHI: The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has organised food festival to showcase Pakistani products in Qatari markets, a statement said on Friday.The purpose of the event was to introduce three premium Pakistani product groups, rice, mangoes and red meat to the Qatari market.During the festival, importers showed great interest in mangoes, rice and red meat, according to the statement.
The TDAP organised agro food trade delegation to Qatar from July 27-30. On the occasion, the Embassy of Pakistan, Doha arranged Pakistani food festival in Doha, Qatar on July 27, 2016.
The event was attended by diplomats from more than 60 countries, government officials concerned, officials of Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, local importers of food products and chief executives and other managements of big retail companies and outlets such as Lulu Hyper Markets, Al Meera Hyper Marts, Hassad Foods, Widam, Family Food centers etc.
Mohammed Bin Ahmed Tawar Al Kuwari, vice chairman of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce was the chief guest of the occasion, the statement said.
Further, from July 28-29, 2016, Pakistan-Qatar Business Forum (PQBF) organised Pakistan Food Festival in Ezdan Mall, Gharafa, Qatar.  The shopping mall is located in the center of Doha and attracted big crowd of people.

Pakistan ‘Agro Food Festival’ a huge draw
July 30 2016 10:24 PM

From left: Ahmad Hussain, president of Pakistan-Qatar Business Forum; Wajahat Hashmi, first secretary, embassy of Pakistan; and Mehmood Arshad, chairman of Pakistan-Qatar Business Council of FPCCI, at the event.

“If the world’s peace depended on mangoes, you can rest assured, Pakistan would be one of the go-to countries. The king of all fruits — and probably, even ‘queen’ if Sindhri from the country’s Sindh province is taken into account — does not taste as sweet and succulent anywhere in the world than Pakistan,” Ahmad Hussain, President of Pakistan-Qatar Business Forum (PQBF), said in his opening address at the two-day Pakistan ‘Agro Food Festival’ at Ezdan Mall, Gharaffa.

Themed ‘Taste of Pakistani Delicacies’, the show was jointly organised by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Zaoq Restaurants, Qatar, under the umbrella of PQBF.
Held in a festive atmosphere, the event was attended in large numbers and graced by Qatari dignitaries, government officials, Pakistan embassy officials, foreign diplomats, senior officials of catering companies and supermarkets besides importers. Members of PQBF were also present on the occasion.

It was aimed at creating awareness amongst the stakeholders and importers by demonstrating and promoting the quality and taste of Pakistani agro-food products.A number of major exporters from Pakistan, who are already established entities in GCC, Europe and the US were present on the occasion and displayed their range of products as well as publicity material. The festival saw dedicated kiosks to enable Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings between prospective customers and exporters from Pakistan. Dominated by mango, rice and meat, the fruit had the easier of other draw, with Hussain explaining to an eager participant why its summer arrival across the globe made headlines: “fertile soil, tropical climate — with plenty of sun — and organic methods of growing”.
“There is a reason why ‘mango diplomacy’ even assumed such a halo — Islamabad manages to keep leaders in important world capitals in good humour thanks to its sweet after-taste. Now, if only disputes could be resolved over a Chaunsa basket,” he suggested.

It was opened to the general public on Friday, where people of multiple nationalities in vast numbers savoured the delights of the Pakistani fruit.
The annual mango production in Pakistan is over 1.8mn tonnes on average with yearly exports reaching 120,000 tonnes. With more than 30 listed varieties, the country remains one of the preferred choices for global export.

Mehmood Arshad, chairman, Pakistan-Qatar Business Council, an apex body of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), invited potential investors to profit from Pakistan’s rich growth base, citing the surplus citrus chain as an example. He felt Qatar’s proximity to Pakistan in terms of physical reach with a barely two hour-flight meant the access was a huge advantage.

In all the mango hysteria, rice did not lag behind in making an immediate impact — Pakistan is the world’s fourth largest rice exporter, turning 9.1% of the global export last year alone. A few interested consumers after sampling a dish wanted to know how and why Pakistani Basmati rice with a “fine texture, long grain and distinguished taste was so light”. Another enthusiast wished to know how not to lose its taste to spices. The short answer was to be content with the “natural aroma” and not to spice it up, literally! It was explained that the “open secret” lay in the lexicon — “Bas” means fragrance and “mati” queen; in other words, the “queen of rice”!
A pitch was also made for increasing the volume of halal meat given its demand in Qatar and the quality associated with Pakistani livestock.

Responding to a question, a Pakistani embassy official informed that the annual trade volume with Qatar was approximately $380mn, of which food component of the export from Pakistan alone was around $80mn, with rice constituting 60% of it.
In response to a poser, the PQBF president trotted out three salient reasons for why Pakistan would hold the potential investor’s interest in Qatar: “One, the consistency in quality and taste; two, affordability since Pakistan is in an advantageously close reach; and three, availability, which in many cases means surplus produce

Microbiologist vs dengue leads science awardees

By: Jocelyn R. Uy@inquirerdotnet

Philippine Daily Inquirer

03:26 AM July 31st, 2016

Dr. Raul Destura receives his award. FACEBOOK PHOTO/CECILIA ACUIN
A microbiologist who developed a portable kit that can detect within an hour the presence of dengue virus in the blood and a University of the Philippines (UP) professor who used computer programs to develop designer drugs against tuberculosis were among the winners of this year’s National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) Awards.
The five awardees also included an agricultural scientist who researched rice varieties that can adapt to different soil moisture levels, a science administrator who created an enabling environment for UP science researchers and a university scientist whose research on precision food processing can help stakeholders comply with the demand for safe and nutritious food.
Given the Outstanding Technology Commercialization Award was Dr. Raul Destura, while Dr. Junie Billones and Dr. Roel Suralta received the Outstanding Research and Development Award for Basic Research. Dr. Alonzo Gabriel was recognized with a Development Award for Applied Research, while  Gisela Concepcion received the Outstanding Science Administrator Award.

At the opening ceremonies of the annual NSTW on Monday, Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) gave the five awardees a certificate of recognition, a plaque and the P150,000 cash prize. Dengue diagnostic kit
The NSTW, celebrated every third week of July since 1993, recognizes the contribution of science and technology to the country’s development and was meant to draw support from public and private institutions for its sustainable development.
Destura was recognized for his successful commercialization of the breakthrough diagnostic kit called Biotek-M Dengue Aquakit that can diagnose dengue within an hour at a more affordable cost. By adding nucleic acid to a blood sample, doctors can detect the presence of the dengue virus when the blood turns green. Uninfected blood turns orange.
The kit was initially tested in 2012 at Rizal Medical Center, National Children’s Hospital and Philippine Children’s Medical Center.
Destura, a microbiologist and an infectious disease specialist who works for the UP Manila National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, was the leader of the Lab-in-a-Mug Project, which includes the dengue rapid test kit.
The kit was developed in 2012 as a joint undertaking between the DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Department of Health’s National Epidemiology Center, Biotech-Manila and  Philippine Genome Center.
“Such quick testing makes the Philippines one of the first countries in the world to develop this kind of diagnostic device. Biotek-M is likewise as accurate as the currently available Polymerase Chain Reaction technology, yet less costly,” the DOST said.
Designer medications
Billones, a university scientist and professor at UP Manila, received recognition for his pioneering studies that used computer programs to develop a new class of designer medications against tuberculosis, one of the top causes of death in the country.
The DOST said the use of computer programs led to the “swift discovery” of new drugs without the need to perform costly lab experiments.
Suralta, an agricultural scientist at the Philippine Rice Research Institute, was recognized for his outstanding scientific research on rice crops and the flexibility and adaptability of their roots to fluctuating soil moisture conditions, such as drought or flooding.
According to the DOST, Suralta’s breakthroughs and pioneering initiatives in researching rice production in climate change-affected areas are crucial in shaping the future of the country’s rice supply.
Food processing
Gabriel, a full professor and a university scientist at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at UP Diliman’s College of Home Economics, was cited for his research on precision food processing, which can lead to safer and more nutritious food products.
Concepcion, UP’s vice president for academic affairs, was chosen as this year’s outstanding science administrator for her many accomplishments, which included lobbying for the creation of the UP Diliman-based National Science Complex, and the grant of a heftier funding for master’s degree and doctoral scholarships.
The UP official also simplified the Balik Scientist program to allow Filipino scientists based abroad to return to the UP campuses and enhance their teaching capabilities.  Concepcion initiated as well another program that sends faculty members, research and professional staff for short-term training and internships abroad.
“Dr. Concepcion has fostered an enabling environment for researchers in UP by providing university funds, which faculty and researchers use to carry out interdisciplinary and basic or applied research and creative work,” the DOST stated in its citation. TVJ
Rice crops that can help farmers cut costs and reduce pollution

TORONTO: A team of Canadian and Chinese researchers has identified "superstar" varieties of rice that can reduce fertiliser loss, thereby helping farmers cut costs and reduce environmental pollution in the process.

The rice varieties that the researchers identified belong to both Indica - the world's most popular rice type commonly grown in India, China and Southeast Asia - and Japonica (the rice used in sushi) genotypes.Zhongjiu25 (ZJ25) and Wuyunjing7 (WYJ7) were the most effective genotypes among Indica and Japonica varieties, respectively, the study said."We have this bucolic idea of agriculture - animals grazing or vast fields of majestic crops - but the global reality is it's one of the biggest drivers of environmental pollution and climate change," said one of the study authors Herbert Kronzucker, Professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Kronzucker in collaboration with a team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences looked at 19 varieties of rice to see which ones were more efficient at using nitrogen.

"Anything we can do to reduce demand for nitrogen, both environmentally and for farmers in the developing world struggling to pay for it, is a significant contribution," Kronzucker said.

The researchers identified a novel class of chemicals produced and released by the roots of rice crops that directly influence the metabolism of soil microbes.

They found that key microbial reactions that lead to an inefficiency in nitrogen capture can be significantly reduced in certain varieties of rice plants through the action of those specific chemicals released from root cells.

One of the main reasons crops waste so much fertiliser is that they were bred that way. In the past fertilisers were relatively inexpensive to produce because fossil fuels were abundant and cheap.

As a result, plant geneticists bred crops that responded to high fertiliser use regardless of how efficient they were at using nitrogen.

"These inefficiencies used to be of little interest, but now, with fluctuating fuel prices and growing concerns over climate change, it's a much bigger issue," Kronzucker said.

The researchers hope that this study, published in the journal New Phytologist, will help inform rice-growing strategies throughout Asia.
One option could be to provide farmers with government incentives like tax credits, to switch to a more nitrogen-friendly variety.

Another outcome could be better breeding programmes where even better species of crops can be produced.

"There's no reason a crop can't result in less pollution while also saving farmers money; the two aren't incompatible," Kronzucker said.

Chong – gang – a potential green manure plant for rice cropping system

Aug 01, 2016 thesangaiexpress

After the publication of  an article on “Organic farming technology and its transfer” (The Sangai Express, 28, 29, and 30 May, 2016), the present writer received interesting queries on green manure technology including from one of the senior correspondents Indo-Asian News Sciences, Kolkata. In this article, the writer made an attempt to answer some of the issues raised by the readers.
Definition of Green Manure

Green manure is defined as a plant material incorporated into the soil while green or at maturity. For soil improvement, a green manure crop is grown for the purpose which is ultimately converted into manure while still green or soon after its maturity.

Plant used as green manure for rice cropping system
Many nitrogen fixing plants have been used as green manure either legumes including woody legumes or non –legumes. For details please refer to “Green Manure and Rice farming” – proceeding of symposium on sustainable agriculture on the role of green manure crops in rice farming systems (25-29 May,1987) published by the International Rice Research Institute in collaboration with the application of Science to Agriculture, Forestry and Agriculture (1988).

About Chong–gang

The scientific name of Chong–gang is Aeschynomeneaspara L (confirmed by BSI, Howrah vide CNH-I-I(193)/2002- Tech II (1767) – belong to the family Fabacea. A little branched stout herb upto 1-1.5 m in height, the stem attaining of diameter of about 2cm, bark greenish, grey, warty, deep green underneath the cuticle. Leaves 7.62-15.24 cm long stipules auricled, deciduous. Leaflets 60-100, .25 to .38 cm by 2.5 cm to 5cm oblong or linear 1- nerved. Raceme 3.75 cm to 7.5cm long, latex flowered and often branched, clothed with bristly, hairs, pedicels 3.75cm to 7.5 cm long hairy. Calyx 1.5 cm to 1.6 cm long hispid, supported by a pair of hairy bracteoles. Corolla 1.5 cm to 1.75 cm long, yellow hispid pod. 3.81 -7.62 cm by 7.62 cm of 3- 6 joints, each 1 cm long, indented along both sutures, echinate over the seeds.

Distribution of Chong-gang(Aeschynomeneaspera L) in NE India

Aeschynomeneaspera L. grows abundantly in wet and wasteland of Manipur valley like Lamphelpat, Takyel, Lamshang, Langjing, etc. In Imphal West District; Takhok Loubuk, Sagolmang-Pukhao Loubuk, etc in Imphal East district in areas near paddy fields in Thoubal district like Thoubal Athokpam, Kakching Loukol, Wabagai Loubuk etc. And near paddy fields in Bishnupur district. In Mizoram, it was found growing in the paddy field in Aizwal, Lunglei area specially in waste but wastelands near paddy fields. In Nagaland, it grows in Mokokchung, Thesang, Phek regions near the places where the rice is cultivated.

 In Arunachal Pradesh, it grows in East Kameng District, West Kameng and Tirap region where this plant is found in wastelands. In Meghalaya,it grows in the hill terrace of East and West Khasi hills, Garo hills and Jaintia hills. In Tripura, it grows in the wastelands of South Tripura and Dholai Districts. In Assam it is grown in wasteland of Barak Valley, Brahmaputra valley, such as Jallukbari area in Kamrup district, Nagaon and Golaghat districts in the wastelands near paddy fields.
Popularization of Green Manure Technology

Green manure technology is being popularised by training and demonstration through the officials of the state Agriculture Department, NGOs representing marginal and progressive farmers.The training cum demonstration programmes were organised during 8 to 9 June, 2002 at the Life Sciences Department, Manipur University, Canchipur. Fifteen trainees attended the programme. Again another training cum demonstration programme on the use of Aeschonomeneaspora as green manure for rice cultivation for 20 representative of NGOs and poor and marginal farmers of Manipur was organised during 13 to 14 July, 2002 at the Life Sciences Department, Manipur University, Canchipur. Again, training cum demonstration programme on the use of Aeschynomeneaspera as green manure representatives of NGOs of Manipur during 9 to 10 August 2003 was arranged at the some place. Fifteen representatives attended the programme.

If green manure is to become popular to those areas, it is essential that it be fitted into local cropping patterns without competing with other economic enterprises. The technology will be viable only if unit costs of green manure production stability and to minimize risks of green manure crop loss (IRRI,1988).

Challenges for Green Manure technology
How do we choose the best green manure crop for providing nitrogen requirement for our rice crop? The answer is the selected green manure crop should suit the growing conditions-the climate, soil and waterare available in the area selected.It should be easy and cheap to grow, it should not need extra irrigation, fertilizer or pesticides. And its growing season must fit the time available between rice crops. That is, it must not delay planting the main crop.

The use of nitrogen fertilizers in various proportions (Urea alone; 60:40N. Aeschynomeneas-peraand 50N:50N.A.aspera) did not improve the yield any further. Since A. aspera could be produced by the farmers in his own land without disrupting farming, the net value for using A. aspera as green manure was substantially higher than the control (Devi;2010). Therefore, the use of A. aspera will reduce the cost of cultivation and raise the net value of output from the rice field used. The study of stem nodules of A. aspera as green manure for high yielding rice variety in Manipur condition for three consecutive kharif crops (2006,2007 and 2008) revealed green manure technology employing A. aspera helped in increasing rice yield by reducing the cost of cultivation but raised the net value of output from the rice field (Devi;20100). The only challenge is how to popularise green manure technology in NE India.

Importance of green manure technology in NE India
The farmers of NE India are generally unsound economically. Further, the costs of chemical fertilizers are shooting up annually. As such it is beyond their reach to buy sufficient chemical fertilizers. On the other hand, the climate of NE India is favourable for mass cultivation of Chong-gang (Aeschynomeneaspera L.) in their own paddy fields. As such incorporation of Chong-gang(Aeschynomeneaspera) into the soil@ 10t/ha significantly improves soil structure. An advantage of this green manure plant is that because it nodulates both on roots and stems.  Thus, it fixes atmospheric nitrogen more actively than other known legumes. It is economical and easily adaptable by the small and marginal farmers of NE India. Moreover, Aeschynomeneaspera is eco-friendly and non polluting to the environment.

Chong-gang (Aeschynomeneaspera L.) grows well in wet and wastelands of Manipur valley as well as rest of the NE India(Singh,2004). The stem nodules are infected by Rhizobium sp. (MTCC-10038) through the root primordium which occurs at the pre-determined sites independently by bacterial infection without infection thread. The nodule growth is determinate of the aeschynomenoid type.

Agronomic trials with the stem nodules of A. aspera revealed as potential green manure to high yielding rice variety (Devi,2010). Available data indicate that the soil fertility maintenance require for sustainable rice production is enhanced by a judicious combination of green manure and inorganic fertilizer. This approach is critical in the areas where land holdings are small, the resource base is weak, production and productivity have reached a plateau and soil neutral deficienciesor imbalances have emerged. A sizable area in South, South East and East Asia qualifies these criteria (IRRI,1988).

The best strategy is to use green manure in conjugation with chemical fertilizers. This combination may reduce application rate of inorganic fertilizers and may reduce risk of environmental pollution and can also provide sustainability to crop production system. Hence, green manure technology through Chong-gang (Aeschynome-neaspera L.) can be recommended for use by farmers of NE India in their own paddy fields.

(The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic grade/Life sciences, Manipur University) and former Dean, School of Life Sciences, MU and can be reached at

Overall rice bran oil market share, growth rate and key players’ profiles in a new research report

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Rice Bran Oil market sales are thoroughly studied for its competitive landscape, growth, trends and more in a new report.
The current state of worldwide rice bran oil market is studied at length in this research report that provides a basic overview of the industry including definitions, classifications, applications and industry chain structure. The rice bran oil market analysis is provided for the international market including development history, competitive landscape analysis, and major regions development status.
Secondly, development policies and plans are discussed as well as manufacturing processes and cost structures. This report also states import/export, supply and consumption figures as well as cost, price, revenue and gross margin by regions (India, Thailland, China and Japan), and other regions can be added.
Then, the report focuses on global major leading industry players with information such as company profiles, product picture and specification, capacity, production, price, cost, revenue and contact information. Upstream raw materials, equipment and downstream consumers analysis is also carried out.Whats more, the rice bran oil industry development trends and marketing channels are analyzed.Finally, the feasibility of new investment projects is assessed, and overall research conclusions are offered.

Rice Crops That Can Save Farmers Money And Cut Pollution
By News Staff | July 31st 2016 11:00 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
There are more than 120,000 varieties of rice stored at the germplasm bank at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, but a new paper focused on varieties that met important criteria - currently grown by farmers, have a high yield potential, be disease and pest-resistant, grow to the right size and have strong enough roots to withstand monsoon-force winds - to find out which ones could were optimal in regards to nitrogen.

Nitrogen is one of three main nutrients required for crops to grow, it also costs the most to produce. They concentrated only on Japonica (the rice used in sushi) and Indica, the world's most popular rice type commonly grown in China, India and Southeast Asia and identified 19 "superstar" varieties of rice that can reduce fertilizer loss and cut down on environmental pollution in the process. 

Nitrogen, when applied as fertilizer, is taken up inefficiently by most crops. In tropical rice fields, as much as 50 to 70 percent can be lost. The problem is that nitrogen negatively impacts water quality by contaminating nearby watersheds or leaching into ground water. It's also a significant source of gases such as ammonia and nitrogen oxide, which are not only harmful to aquatic life but also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.
The study identified a novel class of chemicals produced and released by the roots of rice crops that directly influence the metabolism of soil microbes. They found that key microbial reactions that lead to an inefficiency in nitrogen capture can be significantly reduced in certain varieties of rice plants through the action of those specific chemicals released from root cells.
One of the main reasons crops waste so much fertilizer is that they were bred that way. In the past fertilizers were relatively inexpensive to produce because fossil fuels were abundant and cheap. As a result, plant geneticists bred crops that responded to high fertilizer use regardless of how efficient they were at using nitrogen.

Optimizing food crops scientifically will make them both cost-effective and better for the environment. Spurred on by Greenpeace and other anti-science groups, the Philippines has been scared about agriculture science, but studies like this may show that cost and impact aren't incompatible.