Monday, September 19, 2016

19th September,2016 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

FPCCI calls for implementation of GI protection law

KARACHI: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has expressed concern over a long delay in implementation of Geographical Indication (GI) Protection Law.GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and has qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
In a statement issued on Friday, Senior Vice President of FPCCI Shaikh Khalid Tawab said that in the absence the law, drafted in 2001, Pakistani products have failed to fetch good prices in the world market.
“Our neighbouring country India implemented this law in 2003 and has protected 220 products,” he added.
Pakistan was facing tough competition from India, he said, pointing out that Pakistan had already lost the market of basmati rice to India due to geographical indication.
Some of the Pakistani goods that could immediately come under GI protection are Sindhri mangoes, kinno, green cardamom, Khairpur Aseel dates, Hunza apricot, Multani Mitti, Hala handicrafts, Khanpur oranges, Kasuri methi, Chiniot furniture, Sahiwal cows and buffalos, Sindhi Ajrak and cap, etc.
“GI protection is a sort of intellectual property right. It helps in sustained earning in exports,” Mr Tawab explained.
The geographical indication, he said, has assumed greater importance with its inclusion in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO members
He urged the government to implement the law as soon as possible and hold awareness programmes for traders, industrialists and farmers for registration and protection of their products.
Published in Dawn September 17th, 2016

FPCCI slams govt for not implementing protection laws

September 17, 2016
KARACHI: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has expressed concerns on government’s ignorance over protection laws, which was drafted 15 years ago to prevent monetary losses to Pakistani goods in the international markets.
In a statement issued on Friday, the FPCCI said that Geographical Indication Protection Law was drafted in 2001 but it was not implemented so far. “Absence of Geographical Indication Protection law has created millions of rupees loss to Pakistan’s economy in term of not fetching good prices of Pakistani products from international market,” Shaikh Khalid Tawab, senior vice president said in the statement.
He said that neighboring India implemented the law in 2003 and since then has protected 220 products while Central and South American region has protected 400 products; even African region has registered a product through geographical indication.
He said that Pakistan is facing tough competition from India due to common history and civilization and in past Pakistan has lost the market of basmati rice due to geographical indication while India has gained maximum market access including due share of Pakistan.
Geographical Indication is a form of intellectual property right, which identifies a product originating from a specific area, whose quality or reputation is attributable to its place of origin which helps in stable earning of exports.
The apex trade body of the country said that the country had diverse geography, climate, soil, culture and traditions and many of our products related to agriculture and manufacturing sector are qualifying for protection as geographical indications

Wheat weakens on ample stocks

Traders said reduced offtake by flour mills also contributed to it

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  September 17, 2016 Last Updated at 14:48 IST
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Wheat prices softened by Rs 10 per quintal at the wholesale grains market on Saturday due to reduced offtake by flour mills against adequate stocks position.However, barley moved up on pick-up in demand from consuming industries.Traders said besides reduced offtake by flour mills, adequate stocks position kept pressure on the wheat prices.In the national capital, wheat dara (for mills) declined by Rs 10 to Rs 1,800-1,805 per quintal. Atta chakki delivery followed suit and traded lower by a similar margin to Rs 1,805-1,810 per 90 kg. Atta flour mills shed Rs 10 at Rs 9,60-9,70 per 50 kg.On the other hand, barley rose by Rs 30 to Rs 1,530-1,535 per quintal.

Following are Saturday's quotations (in Rs per quintal):

Wheat MP (desi) Rs 2,300-2,835, Wheat dara (for mills) Rs 1,800-1,805, Chakki atta (delivery) Rs 1,805-1,810, Atta Rajdhani (10 kg) Rs 275, Shakti Bhog (10 kg) Rs 275, Roller flour mill Rs 960-970 (50 kg), Maida Rs 1,060-1,070 (50 kg) and Sooji Rs 1,090-1,100 (50 kg).

Basmati rice (Lal Quila) Rs 10,700, Shri Lal Mahal Rs 11,300, Super Basmati Rice Rs 9,700, Basmati common new Rs 4,700-4,900, Rice Pusa (1121) Rs 3,900-4,700, Permal raw Rs 2,000-2,050, Permal wand Rs 2,150-2,225, Sela Rs 2,800-2,900 and Rice IR-8 Rs 1,840-1,850, Bajra Rs 1,260-1,270, Jowar yellow Rs 1,850-1,950, white Rs 3,500-3,700, Maize Rs 1,500-1,510, Barley Rs 1,530-1,535.

Is there gold in golden rice?

Monday, September 19, 2016
GOLDEN RICE -- Is it the golden answer to end Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) or just a golden illusion?
The battle to end VAD among children and pregnant women has long been started but the solution still has to come.
In the pursuit to potentially reduce or eliminate malnutrition resulting to diseases or worse death caused by VAD, scientists for over 20 years now have been busy in developing a Genetically Engineered (GE) Golden Rice but commercialization was put on delay as its safety to health and environment has yet to be proved scientifically and environment groups led by Greenpeace heavily opposed such GE crop.
Golden Rice, as defined by the International Rice Research Institute (Irri), is a GE rice that has beta-carotene in the grain (beta-carotene is a precursor of Vitamin A), a potential new food-based approach to improve vitamin A status, which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in the world especially those in Southeast Asia and Africa.
Philippines, along with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, among others are categorized as “severed” Vitamin A Deficient countries.
“Our objective is mainly to develop Golden Rice as a potential new food-based approach to complement current approaches to alleviate Vitamin A deficiency,” said Violeta Villegas, Irri Senior Scientist and Golden Rice Coordinator.
Vitamin A is a vital nutrient needed for good vision, growth, development, and a healthy immune system. According to World Health Organization, more than 90 million children in Southeast Asia suffer from VAD.
Other approaches pursued to combat VAD in the Philippines are promotion of optimum infant and young child feeding practices (breast-feeding), dietary diversification, supplementation, and food fortification.
Safety of Golden Rice is among the paramount aspects being studied in all development stages.
Presently, data from recent tests on both agronomic and laboratory on Golden Rice showed that the crop is safe. However, further tests will be conducted before it is released for growing by farmers and for consumption.
“It will be released if it is proven to be safe, matches farmer and consumer expectation and can improve vitamin A status including all necessary country approvals are granted,” Villegas said.
Irri, as the lead organization pushing for Golden Rice, is also working with participating organizations to breed Golden Rice into local varieties, following the biosafety regulatory system of the partner countries.
Philippines, Bangladesh and Indonesia are doing research and development on this GE crop.
Status of Golden Rice
Breeders at Irri and national partners including Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Indonesian Center for Rice Research, Philippine Rice Research Institute are developing Golden Rice versions of existing, popular rice varieties.
In the Philippines, the GR2E Rc82 variety lines were transferred to PhilRice and two seasons of Confined Field Testing were done, which completed grain and straw samples produced for compositional analysis.
After which, Golden Rice is set for multi-location field trials, then it will also undergo nutrition study, market test, regulatory and safety assessment before it will be commercialized.
Why fortify rice?
Opponents like Greenpeace asserted that VAD can be addressed through combination of vitamin supplementation and home gardening, a sustainable solution to the problems of nutrition.
But Villegas said that as the poor cannot access or afford a diverse and healthy diet, there is a need to fortify rice for it comprises the bulk of their diet. Micronutrient malnutrition or “hidden hunger” is a persistent public health problem.
According to Irri, Philippines has a 47 percent of caloric intake from rice.
Disruptions from anti-Genetically Modified (GM) activists such as site destruction, court cases, and Anti-GM resolutions in some Local Government Units (LGUs) are just some of the challenges faced by the proponents of the GE crops.
Greenpeace, has deemed the golden rice project as "environmentally irresponsible, poses risks to human health, and could compromise food, nutrition and financial security."
“The tens of millions of dollars invested in GE 'Golden' rice could have been better spent on practical and working VAD solutions, such as food supplements, food fortification and home gardening of natural foods rich in Vitamin A and other essential nutrients,” Greenpeace said in a report posted in its website.
Last June, Greenpeace was targeted by more than 100 Nobel laureates who have signed a letter urging the environmental group to stop its “unreasonable” campaign against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Wilhelmina Pelegrina, a campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia in a report said that the organization was not blocking golden rice, as the initiative "has failed as a solution and isn't currently available for sale, even after more than 20 years of research."
"Corporations are overhyping golden rice to pave the way for global approval of other more profitable genetically engineered crops. Rather than invest in this overpriced public relations exercise, we need to address malnutrition through a more diverse diet, equitable access to food and eco-agriculture," she said.
Greenpeace also stated that GE 'Golden' rice can easily contaminate non-GE rice “through inadvertent mixing of seeds during harvest, transport and distribution.”
“Greenpeace opposes the release of GE crops, including GE 'Golden' rice, into the environment. Golden rice relies upon the body's ability to convert beta carotene to Vitamin A. But the exact metabolic pathway is poorly misunderstood and negative health effects can result from an overexposure to beta carotene,” the group said.
When asked on how they respond to groups opposing their researches, Villegas was quick to add that “decisions should be science-based, not based on fear.”
Villegas said that the journey of Golden Rice may seem long and winding but they are committed to go through the entire stringent process to ensure that the GE crop will comply to all regulatory requirements before its release and will therefore serve its noble aim – end VAD.

PM weighs in on rice lending

Mon, 19 September 2016
Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) inspects rice in Phnom Penh earlier this year during the 5th Cambodia Rice Forum. Pha Lina

Rice millers said yesterday they welcomed the prime minister’s announcement that the government would make over $20 million in funds available shortly to support cash-strapped millers and prop up falling paddy prices.
“We’ve been waiting for these loans for a long time like fish waiting to be fed,” said Phon Nary, director-general of Heng Huch Rice Mill in Battambang province. “I hope to receive the loans soon so that we can survive.”
Cambodia’s rice industry is facing a crisis as two consecutive years of drought take their toll on farmers and millers struggle to stay afloat.
Millers have repeatedly called on the government and industry bodies to facilitate emergency loans, arguing that liquidity shortages prevent them from purchasing paddy rice from farmers, one factor contributing to a steep decline in market prices on paddy in recent weeks.
According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), the average farm-gate price of paddy has plummeted from $240 per tonne to $192 per tonne over the past month as farmers short of capital and desperate to pay back debts sell off their paddy, even at a loss.
Prime Minister Hun Sen raised the struggling sector’s hopes on Friday when he announced on his official Facebook page that the government-backed financing to millers promised three months ago could soon be released.
“In the past few days, I’ve ordered the Ministry of Economy and Finance and other relevant institutions to find solutions to this issue. Now, the Royal Government of Cambodia found some necessary measures to intervene in increasing the paddy rice prices, including the use of a budget of at least $20 million along with other funds to support the paddy prices.”
The posting was the clearest indication to date that the government will issue lines of credit to shore up the Kingdom’s struggling rice sector.
Hours later, the Ministry of Economy and Finance announced it would provide $27 million in loans to millers to purchase rice paddy from farmers. Some $7 million would be disbursed through the state-run Rural Development Bank (RDB), while the other $20 million would come from the government’s budget, the ministry said.
The ministry announcement confirmed that the RDB would only provide loans to millers who put down rice paddy stock as collateral, and urged these millers to invest in increasing their warehouse capacity.
Meanwhile, the central bank held meetings with the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) and the Cambodian Microfinance Association (CMA) on Friday to encourage their member financial institutions to step up lending to the agricultural sector at lower interest rates and with more flexible repayment plans.
The ABC and CMA responded with a joint statement stating that loans would not “solely rely on fixed assets [for] collateral.”
“Mindful of this difficult time, ABC and CMA members will continue to provide loans to qualified farmers, rice millers and traders to support their business,” the statement said. “Depending on our members’ expertise in the sector, loans to agriculture-based businesses have been provided on financial strengths, cash-flows, future receipts past repayment and behaviour history.”
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, said he welcomed the prime minister’s announcement, but he felt the government’s commitment to the rice sector was long overdue and the loan package would only cover about 10 percent of the capital needed by millers to buy rice from farmers at a fair price. He estimated that an additional $50 million would be needed to ensure that prices remained stable.
Saran urged financial institutions to expand lending and ease up on restrictions.
“I appeal to banks to continue to provide loans to millers,” he said. “When millers have more funds, they are able to buy larger amounts of paddy from farmers, making the sector more stable.”
In Channy, president of Acleda Bank, denied that his bank had slowed lending to the agricultural sector. On the contrary, he said, the number of loans given to individual rice millers had grown by over a third in the past year.
“We’ve always planned to enlarge loans to the agricultural sector, including rice,” he said, adding, “we have sufficient funds for millers.”
Channy said about $500 million of Acleda Bank’s $2.67 billion in outstanding loans were in the agricultural sector, a total he reckons accounts for 40 percent of all domestic rice lending.

No sign of recovery for rice mills

Of 320 rice mills only 20 major mills are functional in Nizamabad district; industry in doldrums for last two years

Improved crop position this Kharif season and in the coming Rabi are unlikely to help rice mill industry, which has been in the doldrums in the district in the last two years.
Out of the total of 320 big and small rice mills across the district only 20 major mills are milling rice at present. Closure of 90 per cent of rice mills has not only impacted the revenue to Government but also to individual millers, bankers and also the general employment.
Rice mill industry provides direct and indirect employment to 30,000 persons who are now jobless. Further, labour migration from Bihar and other States during harvest season has came to an end.
Continuous failure of monsoon, heavy burden of current and salary bills, stoppage of levy rice and purchases by Government, supply of low quality rice from primary cooperative agricultural societies are the main factors leading to the present situation of rice mills. Boiled and raw rice milling is totally shut down.

“Millers, unable to repay the loans, are handing over keys to the bankers for seizure of the mills. In the last two years we lost the repaying capacity. Our appeals to the Government to increase the commission has fallen on deaf ears. We are incurring losses if we run the mills. For big mills power bills is coming in lakhs,” says president, district rice millers’ association Moturi Dayanand Gupta.
The industry will collapse if the Government does not take steps immediately, say the millers. Quantity of rice being given to millers through custom milling needs to be increased, opines K. Ramesh, a miller in the town. Almost one third of mills are located in and around district headquarters and when they were in operation the district economy used to be vibrant.
“We requested Finance Minister Etala Rajender to use his good offices to prevail upon bankers to reschedule the loans and waive interest amount on dues from millers to help the industry recover, but to no avail,” deplores Mr. Gupta.

Rice rice baby


This Sunday, skip your usual dal-chawal for a round of traditional rice preparations from Assam and Gujarat. We have also included a rice-based dessert, payasam for the times you want to indulge in all things that spell comfort
Palak rice with kulhad ki dahi
1 cup uncooked rice
1 to 1.5 tbsp oil
Half of a star anise or few petals
2 green cardamoms
3 cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
¼ tsp cumin or shahi jeera
1 small bay leaf
2 cups palak/spinach
2 to 3 sliced green chillies
1 tsp ginger garlic paste or 2 garlic cloves
1 onion sliced
1 medium potato or any veggies
½ to ¾ garam masala
A pinch of little turmeric
Salt, as needed
Lemon juice, as needed
Cook rice and cool completely.
Wash palak thoroughly in ample water. Drain completely.
Add it to a blender and puree.
Heat a pan with oil, add spices and sauté for a min.
Fry ginger-garlic paste until the raw smell vanishes.
Add onion and fry until golden. Add the vegetables and sauté until they are tender. If needed sprinkle some water and cook.
Sprinkle garam masala, salt and turmeric.
Add palak puree and saute until the raw smell goes off.
Add cooled rice, squeeze in the lemon juice.
Mix everything well.
Garnish with fried chillies.
Serve hot.
Thukpa and sticky rice
30 gm noodles
60 ml vegetable stock
10 gm carrot
10 gm capsicum green
10 gm red and yellow capsicum
6 gm spring onion
15 gm onion
15 gm tomato
5 ml soya sauce
1 ml vinegar
Salt, to taste
A pinch of black pepper
90 gm sticky rice
3 gm ginger
2 gm garlic 2 gm
1 chopped chilli
Oil for sauté
Cut all the vegetables and ginger, garlic in fine juliennes.
Boil the noodles and keep aside.
Heat the pan with oil. Add ginger, garlic, and sauté.
After it softens, add all the vegetables and cook for two to three minutes.
Add vegetable stock and adjust the seasoning with soya sauce and vinegar.
Add the noodle to the pan. Cook further. Remove from heat.
Cook the sticky rice in a different pressure cooker. Add a little salt and keep little extra water so that rice gets a sticky consistency. While cooking the rice, after the first whistle, cook it on slow heat for a few minutes. Check for doneness and remove from heat.
Serve sticky rice with thukpa.
3 tbsp basmati rice or regular non-sticky rice
1 litre full cream milk or full fat milk
4 tbsp sugar or add as per taste
1 tbsp ghee
Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a thick bottomed wide pan.
Add 3 tbsp basmati rice. Stir the rice grains and sauté for about 30 seconds on a low to medium flame, or till you get a nice fragrant aroma from the rice. Do not allow the rice to get browned.
Add milk which has been boiled before. The pre-boiled milk can be hot, warm or refrigerated. Stir well.
Bring the milk to a boil first on a low to medium flame. Do stir when the milk is getting heated up, so that the bottom of the milk does not get scorched.
After the milk has come to a boil, continue to simmer till the rice grains are cooked. Cover the pan in such a way, so that some of the steam can be passed through.
Continue to cook further till the rice grains are completely cooked. Cook the rice grains in such a way that you can even mash them while stirring with a spoon or spatula.
Once the rice grains are cooked well, add sugar. Stir so that the sugar is dissolved.
Simmer for a further eight to ten minutes till the milk has reduced and the payasam has thickened.
Serve plain or garnished with saffron, rose petals or sliced almonds.
You can serve the rice payasam hot or cold.
Recipe credit: Twenty nine, Mumbai
The Asian Age

Government to probe suspected kickbacks undercutting official prices of imported rice

  • Sep 17, 2016
The Japanese government will investigate a suspected scheme undercutting the official price for imported rice, farm minister Yuji Yamamoto said Friday.
Prices of foreign rice are set through state-run auctions that importers and wholesalers participate in. The auctions are designed to keep prices at certain levels in order to prevent low-priced foreign rice from affecting domestic rice farming.
But it is suspected that foreign rice is traded in the domestic market at lower prices due to kickbacks, called “adjustment money,” paid by importers to wholesalers.
“We will check the results of past auctions as much as possible,” Yamamoto told a news conference. The government plans to question related companies.
To ease farmers’ concerns about a possible surge in rice imports under the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, the government has explained that the auction system will help alleviate the impact on the domestic market.

Rice production limited to a few varieties

Despite having around 100 rice varieties invented locally in the last four decades at their disposal, Bangladeshi farmers still seem to be dependent on a handful of varieties of Aman, Boro and Aush paddies

Sources at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) say the number of developed and released rice varieties by the state-run rice research body currently stands at 81. Of them, 25 are varieties of Boro, 36 of Aman and 10 are Aush.
In addition, Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) has developed another 18 rice varieties since its inception.
Yet, statistics show that the most popular rice varieties among farmers are two Boro varieties –  BRRI Dhan 28 and BRRI Dhan 29. These two varieties had the highest adoption rates in 2014-15 –  40.14% and 28.51%, respectively.
Among other popular rice varieties are Aman BRRI Dhan 11 with 11.6% adoption rate, Aman BRRI Dhan 49 with 11.07%, Aush BR 26 with 8.75%, Aush BRRI Dhan 48 with 7.84%, Aman BRRI Dhan 28 with 7.26%, Aman BRRI Dhan 32 with 4.13% and Boro BR 16 with 3.71% adoption rates.
However, during Aush season, a significant portion of paddy farmers prefer cultivating BRRI Dhan 28, which is a Boro variety: nearly 21% farmers choose this Boro variety over Aush varieties.
“Only a few rice varieties are being cultivated because the other varieties have not been distributed among farmers,” said Jibon Krisna Biswas, former director general of BRRI.
“Another reason could be the nature of the varieties; some of the recently developed rice varieties are region specific, while some are developed with high tolerance to salinity, drought and submergence,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Asked why Boro varieties BRRI Dhan 28 and BRRI Dhan 29 have such high adoption rates despite the availability of other varieties, the veteran scientist blamed Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC), who is responsible for distributing rice varieties among farmers.
“The BADC always tries to produce the varieties that are popular, rather than producing the new ones and introduce them to farmers.”
However, BADC Chairman Md Nasiruzzaman refuted the allegation, saying they produced and distributed seed varieties as per farmers’ demand.
“We cannot produce a variety unless there is a demand for them, in order to avoid financial loss,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture Extension Director General Md Hamidur Rahman said popularising a new crop variety among farmers usually takes time.
“In addition, farmers are the best judge of the production value of a variety as they cultivate it for their own profit. They accept the varieties which will give them the best production in short time,” he said.
BADC Chairman Nasir told the Dhaka Tribune: “The government could make the newly invented rice varieties popular via proper field demonstration, so that  so that farmers could learn about them.”

PhilRice cites benefits of #BROWN4good Challenge

  • September 19, 2016
  • Trixie Joy B. Manalili
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Sept.19 (PIA) -- Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) enumerated Thursday the benefits of #BROWN4good challenge known as the “four goodness in a cup.”This challenge is social media campaign that seeks to promote brown rice as a good food.
 PhilRice’s Hazel Antonio, Campaign Director of Be RICEponsible, noted that brown (unpolished) rice contains low glycemic index that prevents cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. “It contains antioxidants that prevent cancer and lowers blood pressure,” Antonio said.Also, farmers will generate higher income and can provide consumers with low price because of direct marketing.
 Antonio likewise stressed that consumption of brown rice can result to the country’s rice self-sufficiency because of its 10% higher milling recovery.The BROWN4Good challenge is a competition among all regions nationwide to gather 50,000 posts in the social media with the hashtags “#BROWN4Good” and “#Region3”.
 For every post with the said hashtags, a cup of rice is donated to the less fortunate. The challenge will last until October 31, 2016. (CLJD/TJBM-PIA

Synchrotron plays key role in food sector research

The Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne is playing a critical role in research breakthroughs that benefit the food sector including biofortification of foods, assessing the effectiveness of food processing, and determining the nutritional impact of foods. Hartley Henderson writes.
This world-class facility uses accelerator technology to produce a powerful source of light (X-rays and infrared radiation) a million times brighter than the sun. The intense light produced is filtered and adjusted to travel into experimental work stations where the light beams reveal the innermost sub-microscopic secrets of materials under investigation.
Dr David Cookson at the Australian Synchrotron explains that basic ingredients in food are highly complex in nature – a ‘mish-mash’ of different proteins, starches, and fats, mixed together in a highly complex way.
“The Australian Synchrotron’s unique capacities and capabilities allow Australian researchers from across academia and industry to unravel these complexities by investigating materials at a molecular level to facilitate processing and production improvements. Longer-lasting products can be created, a better understanding of quality control can be generated, and certain nutritional characteristics can be boosted or reduced,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News.
“The reason the Australian Synchrotron is so important to any of these improvements is it provides highly accurate, objective data on any material modification, using the powerful X-ray beam to produce visualisations of unprecedented detail.
“For example, there is great opportunity in synchrotron food research related to dairy products. A team from CSIRO Food and Nutrition has used the Australian Synchrotron to examine the structure of casein micelles, which play a significant role in the ideal consistency and stabilisation of milk-based products.
“Understanding the nanostructure of micelles through the Small and Wide Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS/WAXS) beamline provided new understanding of how the size and number of micelles within a component of cow’s milk can affect how efficiently the milk is processed into products such as powdered milk and hard cheese.”
Rice projects
In a rice project currently underway, plant biologists have used gene technology to increase the amount of iron and zinc transported into the endosperm, the part of the rice grain that most people eat.
The Australian Synchrotron’s X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy (XFM) beamline was used to produce ‘metal maps’ that accurately track the diffusion of key nutrients such as iron and zinc at sub-micron resolution levels without damaging the rice grain’s internal structure.
Dr Alex Johnson from the University of Melbourne’s School of BioSciences, who is the Australian lead of the project, says that white rice is very low in iron and that some 2 billion people suffer from iron and zinc deficiency.“The aim of the project, which is in part funded by HarvestPlus, is to develop a biofortified rice that is high in iron and zinc, demonstrating that by manipulating rice plant genes, rice plants can translocate more iron and zinc to the endosperm,” he said.
“When rice is milled it loses the outer layers of the grain where much of iron and zinc is located, but the powerful synchrotron was able to show that the nutrients were translocated deeper in the part of the grain that is not affected by milling.
“The biofortified rice that we developed in the project has now been successfully tested in the Philippines and Columbia under highly controlled conditions. HarvestPlus is now seeking funding to further develop and de-regulate this transgenic rice for sale to farmers, possibly in Bangladesh, and possibly in five years from now if these research activities go well.
“Most staple crop foods have low iron content, so there are significant opportunities to further utilise the synchrotron to show the extent and location of nutrients in additional grain crops such as wheat.”
Director of HarvestPlus, Dr Howarth Bouis, recently won the World Food Prize for his team’s pioneering work in addressing the global problem of micronutrient deficiencies, known as hidden hunger, through biofortification.
He says malnutrition amongst poor people is a serious public health problem because they can afford to eat the basic food staples but do not have enough income to buy non-staple foods which have higher levels of minerals and vitamins. As a result, many suffer from inadequate intakes which cause serious health problems.
“It is cost-effective to breed nutrients into staple crops to address mineral and vitamin deficiencies. With respect to iron in rice, we were unsuccessful in using conventional breeding techniques, but we have been able to do this by using a transgenic approach to increase the iron in rice, with the bonus of also increasing the zinc content,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News.
“We have already released over 150 conventionally-bred varieties across twelve biofortified crops in 30 countries, and are testing these varieties in an additional 25 countries around the world. We are hopeful that as many as 1 billion people will benefit from biofortified foods by 2030. High iron and zinc transgenic rice eventually could contribute significantly to this ambitious goal.”
In another rice project, researchers from the NSW Department of Primary Industries have used the Australian Synchrotron to compare parboiling techniques, showing that longer parboiling processes at higher temperatures cause more micronutrients to migrate from the outer bran layer into the starchy core of the grain.
Dr Laura Pallas, Rice Chemist at the NSW DPI, says changing global rice processing and eating habits is an enormous task. “There are deeply entrenched expectations across various cultures around desired texture consistency and flavour, including different approaches to parboiling and cooking,” she said.
“Advances in this area are important because rice is the closest thing we have to a global dish and it is gluten free and a good source of complex carbohydrates.”
Meat quality
The quality of meat, such as tenderness and intramuscular fat in lamb, is currently graded by mechanical and chemical tests, but obtaining that information in a more timely way in the abattoir has eluded the meat processing sector.
Therefore, the Australian Synchrotron has been involved in a research project to provide information on meat quality aspects such as tenderness and intramuscular fat content.
The project was led by the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Agriculture Victoria Division (Dr Eric Ponnampalam), in collaboration with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (Dr David Hopkins), the University of Melbourne (Prof Frank Dunshea) and the Australian Synchrotron (Dr Nigel Kirby).
Drs Ponnampalam and Hopkins say the research is exploring new approaches to measuring meat quality that may have applicability within the processing sector, thereby providing rapid information on the suitability of meat to different sectors of the supply chain.
“The Synchrotron’s Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) beamline technology was used to investigate differences in muscle fibre and/or fat, which can influence the eating quality of meat,” they said.
“The project results demonstrate that these technologies could be powerful research tools in the future to determine not only the structural components of muscle, but also the composition of muscle relating to eating quality traits of meat.
“In addition, the synchrotron SAXS beamline technology presents a promising opportunity to determine carcase toughness or tenderness and relative fat content and could be a useful experimental tool, overcoming the need for destructive sampling techniques.” They said the method requires significant further development to be utilised in the processing sector.

Australian Synchrotron
03 8540 4100

PhilRice cites benefits of #BROWN4good Challenge

  • September 19, 2016
  • Trixie Joy B. Manalili
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Sept.19 (PIA) -- Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) enumerated Thursday the benefits of #BROWN4good challenge known as the “four goodness in a cup.”This challenge is social media campaign that seeks to promote brown rice as a good food.PhilRice’s Hazel Antonio, Campaign Director of Be RICEponsible, noted that brown (unpolished) rice contains low glycemic index that prevents cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
 “It contains antioxidants that prevent cancer and lowers blood pressure,” Antonio said.Also, farmers will generate higher income and can provide consumers with low price because of direct marketing.Antonio likewise stressed that consumption of brown rice can result to the country’s rice self-sufficiency because of its 10% higher milling recovery.The BROWN4Good challenge is a competition among all regions nationwide to gather 50,000 posts in the social media with the hashtags “#BROWN4Good” and “#Region3”.
 For every post with the said hashtags, a cup of rice is donated to the less fortunate. The challenge will last until October 31, 2016. (CLJD/TJBM-PIA 3)