Saturday, August 20, 2016

20th August,2016 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Govt may freeze stockpile rice sales

THE NATION August 20, 2016 1:00 am

GIVEN FLUCTUATING rice prices, currency volatility and uncertainty over the weather, the Commerce Ministry will closely monitor the market situation on a day-by-day basis to decide whether to continue releasing rice from the government stockpiles or to suspend sales for a short time.Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said yesterday that with the state still holding a large overall stockpile, the government would consider all factors carefully and monitor the market situation daily in reaching a conclusion on whether it should suspend further sales.

"The upcoming auction for 1 million tonnes of rice could be the last this year before suspending sales for three to four months during the harvest season, which starts next month. However, the ministry will continue to release lower-grade rice that is not fit for [human] consumption, as that would not affect the current crop," she explained.

Philippines plans to buy

Meanwhile, as the Philippines has recently announced plans to buy 250,000 tonnes of 25-per-cent white rice from abroad, the government will join the bidding, despite the price of Thai rice being considerably higher than the prices offered by the Kingdom's two major rivals, Vietnam and Cambodia, she added.
Duangporn said the government would hold talks with the Thai Rice Exporters Association about participating in the tender, as the Philippines wanted to purchase new-crop rice.

Thai 25-per-cent white rice is currently quoted at US$388 per tonne, while the Vietnamese equivalent is quoted at $335.

Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, yesterday said the government might need to suspend its rice-release plan for a few months after opening the upcoming round of bidding, as the main crop would be harvested late next month.

About 22 million to 23 million tonnes of rice are expected to enter the market, which would create a high level of supply, while the price of rice is falling because of weak demand in the world market, he said.

Charoen added that he was quite concerned that Thai rice exports would face tougher competition due to low global demand, while the price of Thai rice was much higher than that of its export rivals, and Vietnam in particular, by about $50-$60 per tonne.

The country may need to cut its rice-export projection of 9.5 million tonnes for this year in the next few months, he warned.

Vietnam, which is the world's third-largest rice exporter, has recently lowered its own full-year export forecast from 6.5 million tonnes to 4.7 million tonnes because of decreased global demand.

Moreover, Charoen said the baht's appreciation was another obstacle facing Thai rice exporters, particularly in light of the prevailing price difference between Thai and Vietnamese rice.

According to the association, the price of Thai 5-per-cent white rice dropped sharply between August 3 and August 10, from $447 per to $432 per tonne, while the price of equivalent Vietnamese rice was quoted at $350 per tonne.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the association, said the Philippines government's decision to hold an auction for the purchase of 250,000 tonnes, while welcome, was for much less rice than in previous auctions by one of the world's largest importers, which were usually for about 600,000-700,000 tonnes.

This all points to a gloomy world-demand situation, which could mean Thailand's rice shipments this year coming in lower than targeted, he said.

By the end of July, the Kingdom had exported 5.6 million tonnes of rice, while Vietnam had shipped about 2.9 million tonnes.

Thailand Offers to Sell 1 Million T of Rice in August Auctions
Bangkok. Thailand is offering to sell one million tonnes of rice this month for domestic buyers, the commerce ministry said, as the country works to clear stockpiles built up under the previous administration. The world's second-biggest rice exporter after India has stocks of about 9 million tonnes after buying rice from farmers at prices exceeding global rates under a scheme put in place by ousted former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The government plans to sell the rice in two auctions on August 29 and 30, for domestic buyers only.
The first auction involves 753,000 tonnes of rice for human consumption. The second auction is for 255,000 tonnes of rice which is fit for human consumption and industrial use, the ministry said. "We're offering to sell one million tonnes but how much will be sold depends on the bids," said Duangporn Rodphaya, chief of the commerce ministry's foreign trade department in charge of the country's rice auctions. "We will certainly not sell rice for low prices to prevent any impact to the market." Duangporn also said Thailand will compete with Vietnam and Cambodia to sell rice to the Philippines, which will be holding an auction on Aug 31 to import 250,000 tonnes of rice on a government-to-government basis.
The rice will be 25 percent white new rice which Duangporn said is currently quoted at $388 a tonne, FOB basis, higher than Vietnam's $335 a tonne. Drought in rice producing countries, including Thailand, has cut supply to global markets and given the Thai government an opportunity to speed up sales before the main annual crop is harvested during the fourth quarter.
Thailand's military junta has sold more than 5 million tonnes in a series of auctions since taking power in a May 2014 coup. It plans to clear the stockpiles by the end of 2017.
In January 2015 an army-appointed legislature impeached Yingluck over corruption in the rice scheme, leading to her being banned from political office for five years.
The government has said the rice scheme cost the state 286 billion baht ($8.19 billion).
She now faces a criminal case for negligence over the scheme, a case her supporters say is politically motivated

IRRI to present 10-point rice action plan

THE NATION August 20, 2016 1:00 am

IN A BID TO rally Asean members and other rice-growing countries in Asia to invest more in research and innovation, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) will present a 10-point action plan to the region’s top agriculture policymakers at the annual SOM-AMAF conference to be held next week in the Philippines.
Countries participating in the Senior Officials Meeting-Asean Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry will include the 10 Asean member states - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - plus China, Japan and South Korea (Asean+3).

The 10-point action plan outlines policy recommendations that can be considered by the attending countries to ensure that rice remains available and affordable across the region, especially in the face of increasing challenges from climate change.The action plan dovetails with the Asean Integrated Food Security Framework and includes the |Asean Plus 3 Germplasm Development and Breeding Initiative.

This initiative in effect creates a regional platform for technology |collaboration that could improve |the genetic resources of |rice varieties available to the Asean+3 countries.
At the same time, it enables work to accelerate the development and deployment of climate-smart |rice varieties adapted to region-|specific conditions of drought, |flooding and salinity brought on by climate change.

In 2013, India, Nepal and Bangladesh entered a similar agreement to share released rice varieties with one another."The agreement meant that a new rice variety released in India could just as easily be released in Bangladesh or Nepal if they wanted a similar variety and vice versa," explained Matthew Morell, IRRI director-general."Now is the time for Asean to make this commitment," he said. "The rice industry feeds over 600 million people in the region each day. A joint investment in rice breeding can achieve food security for the entire region as well as create inclusive economic growth in the rice industry."Deliberations of the SOM-AMAF will take place from Monday to Friday next week

Rice takes hit in Acadiana flooding

LSU AgCenter scientist Dustin Harrell estimates flooding has cost Acadiana rice farmers more than $14 million in fields that were completely submerged resulting in total losses.And that doesn't include yield or quality losses from rice that was damaged, but can still be harvested, or the inability of many farmers to grow the traditional second, or ratoon, crop, which usually amounts to another third of the first crop. Nor does it include equipment and infrastructure losses."It's a pretty bad situation," said Harrell, LSU's rice specialist. Harrell said in some ways the damage is worse than from previous hurricanes."Usually with a hurricane the water recedes quickly, but in this case the backwater flooding is still there," he said.While rice is grown in flooded fields, water that completely submerges the crop creates damage or destruction, depending on how long it's submerged.
Some of Ville Platte farmer Richard Fontenot's fields have been flooded five days. Crops can generally survive complete submersion about two days, Harrell said.
Fontenot, who farms rice and other crops, said the ultimate loss in rice will likely almost double Harrell's initial estimate.
"I'd say closer to $20 million to $25 million, probably more," he said. "I still have some places that are under 12 inches of water."
Fontenot has resumed his rice harvest, but the soil is so wet the equipment is tearing up the fields, preventing a chance at a ratoon crop.
"Nothing has changed for the better," he said.
Acadiana farmers produce about 75 percent of Louisiana's rice crop, which is an estimated 430,000 acres this year.
Losses could be even larger in other crops like late soybeans and sugar cane where harvests had barely started.
"It's looks like I'm going to loose 600 to 800 acres of beans," Fontenot said.
But Fontenot still found reasons to be thankful.
"I'm still blessed with a house that is dry and the ability to harvest at least some of my fields," he said. "I'm better off than my friends to the east.

Farmers look to the future as floods hit paddy production

By Su Phyo Win   |   Friday, 19 August 2016

Flooding across the country over the past two months has impacted more than 400,000 people and submerged more than 500,000 acres of paddy, according to recent government data.
A farmer wades through a paddy field. ( Kaung Htet / The Myanmar Times)
Around 70 percent of the population depends on the agriculture sector, while the floods have hit during plantation of the rainy season crop of paddy, which is mostly cultivated in the wetter months. While flooding is less severe than last year, it has hit at the same critical point in the farming calendar, which coincides with the heaviest annual rains. According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the estimated rainy-season paddy crop for this fiscal year is 15.6 million acres.Around 10 million acres of this had already been cultivated on August 15, while floods have affected more than 500,000 acres of plantation.
Ayeyarwady Region has been the most severely impacted, with more than 200,000 acres of farmland under water, followed by Bago Region, said U Myo Tint Htun, deputy secretary at the ministry’s office.
“We cannot say that all of the submerged paddy has been destroyed. We are calculating the damage as the water level recedes. Of the 150,000 acres that is no longer underwater, around 20,000 acres has been destroyed,” he said.U Myo Tint Htun said that while the total extent of the damage cannot yet be estimated, it appears the losses will not be as heavy as last year, when floods destroyed around 300,000 acres out of 15 million acres of rainy-season paddy.
However, more damage could still be caused as the water level of the Aye-
yarwady River is still rising, he said. The ministry has access to more than 60,000 buckets of seed which will be distributed around the country to those in need.
The ministry also needs to consider that flooding will inevitably happen again in the next few years, said U Nay Lin Zin, rice trader and joint secretary at the Myanmar Rice Federation.
“Ayeyarwady Region is still under- water and the rain has been heavy during the past few days so it is hard to count the total loss at the moment,” he said. “This is the second year of consecutive flooding and total rice production will certainly fall to some extent.”
In fiscal year 2015-16 the government targeted rice exports of 2.5 million tonnes, but Myanmar only exported 1.4 million tonnes, compared with 1.8 million in fiscal year 2014-15, according to data from the Myanmar Rice Federation.
“Rice exports and flooding are not directly proportional, but exports were banned for several weeks between August and October last year due to the floods, and rice production also fell because of the water damage,” U Nay Lin Zin said.
The government targets rice exports of 4 million tonnes in the year 2020 but may also struggle to reach this target because Myanmar’s rice is more expensive than rice in neighbouring countries, U Nay Lin Zin said.
This is partly due to flooding; the price of local rice has risen from K500 to K1000 for one bag of lower-quality Ma Naw Thu Kha, or Sin Thwe Latt, while the price of higher-quality Shwe Bo Paw San has risen from K2000 to K3000 since the floods began.
“Thai rice is even being imported to Myanmar illegally across the borders because the price is lower than the local rice price,” said U Nay Lin Zin.
“We also face the problem that China still does not allow imports of Myanmar rice across the Muse border.”
In some countries, governments sell reserve rice to the market in times of shortage, to stabilise prices. In fiscal year 2012-13, Myanmar put aside K30 billion to buy reserve rice, but used just K14.5 billion of the funds.
Since then, the government has not allocated any budget to buying reserves.
This is likely to change, said U Nay Lin Zin, because of an ASEAN food security agreement that requires each country in the regional bloc to reserve at least 14,000 tonnes of rice each year to protect against the impact of natural disasters and climate change.
Myanmar could learn lessons from other countries in the region such as Vietnam and Thailand, as they also rely on rice and face similar challenges, U Nay Lin Zin said.
Vietnam has a good policy for farmers, he said, with favourable logistics and techniques. The country also benefits because few of its workers migrate overseas, unlike Myanmar which is facing the very serious challenge of farm labour shortages.
Thailand’s policy of subsidising rice prices is also beneficial for farmers, he added.
For Sean Turnell, a government economic adviser, a whole range of things can be done to improve agriculture by improving rural access to credit.
Furthermore, he said, financial services exist that can reduce the risks to farmers and allow them to maximise output, such as crop insurance.
“Bizarrely, at the moment [state-owned] Myanma Agricultural Development Bank does not collect savings. This is the best way around the world to allow people to protect themselves. Then they have a safe place to store their earnings and if the harvest is bad they can take out loans,” he said.
While Vietnam has many problems of its own, it has had incredible success in the agriculture sector, he said.
“Thirty years ago, people even in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, went hungry. Now Vietnam is the second-largest coffee exporter in the world, while Thailand is among the largest exporters of rice. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is central financial reform.”
There is great reason for optimism, Mr Turnell said, as Myanmar’s agriculture sector shows huge promise.
“Myanmar’s agriculture exports are way, way below their potential. Just to take rice [as an example], exports are now about one-third of what they were in 1937,” he said.
“[But] if you are a farmer, it is very difficult to get affordable credit and MADB at the moment does not [offer loans] for most crops. In paddy farming, the bank only offers one-third of total production costs. This means that farmers do not use the best techniques or good-quality fertilisers and, as a consequence of this, production falls.”
Farmers are also forced to approach informal money lenders for additional credit and pay around 10 percent interest each month.
“Just for that one fact alone, forget about all the other stuff, getting agricultural credit right will lead to a significant increase in production,” Mr Turnell said

Heavy rain expected to bring more flooding

By Myint Kay Thi   |   Friday, 19 August 2016

Eight people have died, nearly half a million have been driven from their homes or face imminent threat of flooding, and nearly K700 million (US$590,000) has been spent on flood-relief measures as heavy rain continues to batter most states and regions of the country.
Workers push a cart loaded with fuel barrels along a flooded road in Pathein, Ayeyarwady Region, on August 13.EPA
The depression associated with Typhoon Dianmu off China’s Guangdong province is said to be driving the extreme weather.The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology said yesterday that isolated heavy showers were expected in Sagaing, Bago, Mandalay and Magwe regions; Shan, Chin, Rakhine, Kayah and Kayin states; and Nay Pyi Taw from August 20 to 22.Upper Sagaing and Bago regions and Shan, Chin, Rakhine, Kayah and Kayin states were forecast to receive 3 inches (7.6 centimetres) of rainfall over a 24-hour period. Nay Pyi Taw, lower Sagaing, Mandalay and Magwe regions are forecast to receive 1.5 inches or more.
The DMH warned people living near rivers and streams and in hilly regions to be alert to the risks of flooding and landslides. Department director U Kyaw Lwin Oo said on August 17 that strong monsoon conditions would bring more heavy rain to lower Myanmar, including the delta area, and northern Rakhine and Chin states in the coming week. Ayeyarwady, Yangon and Bago regions face further flooding.
Camps for families displaced by flooding had already been opened in upper Myanmar after last month’s heavy rains, particularly in Kachin State and Sagaing, Magwe and Mandalay regions.
Ayeyarwady, Bago and Yangon regions are still struggling with floodwater, according to the Department of Relief and Resettlement.
Kachin and Mon states and Sagaing, Magwe, Mandalay, Bago, Yangon and Ayeyarwady regions have been struggling with floodwaters for the past month or more, with Ayeyarwady Region the worst hit.
U Than Soe, director of the Department of Relief and Resettlement in Ayeyarwady Region, said, “Pathein district, which includes Thapaung, Pathein, Kangyidaunt and Yegyi townships, is still struggling with floodwater,” affecting both inhabited areas and fields.
As of August 15, 15 townships in Ayeyarwady Region were facing flooding, with 100,000 people from 20,000 households being evacuated. Though the authorities closed some camps in Maubin and Hinthada townships because of falling water levels, more than 6000 people were still living there.
“In Ayeyarwady Region, Pathein, Hinthada and Maubin districts are flood-affected, with Pathein being the worst-affected,” he said.
U Than Soe warned of further flooding to come. “Though the floodwaters receded starting August 16, we’re keeping an eye out for more rain. Floodwater levels are higher than last year because of the tides, and the water is lingering in the villages longer.”
The relief department said eight people had died and 477,360 from 114,247 households had been evacuated or faced displacement since June.
A resident of Thi Htet village, Thapaung township, said, “Our village has been flooded for 20 days. We get flooded every year, but the rains have brought more flooding this year.”
However, displacement camps in Kachin State and Sagaing Region have closed and floodwater is receding in parts of Mandalay and Magwe regions and Mon State, allowing at least some residents to return home.
The Department of Relief and Resettlement said yesterday that it had provided more than K667 million in aid to the flood-affected areas.
Meanwhile, U Soe Aung, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, praised the involvement of the public in providing aid to victims of flooding, as they did this time last year.
The ministry has received more than 700 reports on relief aid supplied by the public, he said.
The permanent secretary told a press conference on August 16 that the ministry had access to K22 billion in funding to help flood victims. Of this sum, K20 billion comes from the National Natural Disaster Management Committee.
“We have a sufficient budget for relief aid, and there are plans for additional funding if we run short,” he said. The ministry provides victims with two cans of rice per person per day, adults and children alike. It was now possible to provide this aid for 10 days, increased from the previous limit of three to seven days.
Union Minister Win Myat Aye said the ministry has been listening to the voice of the people about the government’s management of flooding. “There’s still room for improvement, but we’re listening to everybody,” he said.
Additional reporting by Htoo Thant,translation by Zar Zar Soe

The Latest: LSU: So far rice farmers losses total about $14M