Thursday, September 29, 2016

29th September,2016 daily global,regional and local rice newsletter by riceplus magazine

15-20 percent water shortage likely in Rabi

September 28, 2016
Pakistan is expected to face 15-20 percent shortage of water in Rabi 2016, to commence from October 1, 2016, well informed sources told Business Recorder. Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has convened a meeting of its advisory council on September 30, 2016 (Friday) to be presided over by Chairman Irsa Rao Irshad Ali Khan aimed at finalising the share of provinces in the light of water availability during the Rabi season.

The representatives of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Chairman Federal Flood Commission as federal member and Provincial Irrigation Secretaries will attend the meeting. The sources said water regulator was not aware of actual demand of the provinces which is why the actual shortage cannot be calculated. Provinces will bring their own workings to the Advisory Council's meeting.

"We are not aware of actual water shortage in Rabi as availability and demand figures have not been firmed up so far. However, we foresee 15-20 percent shortage in Rabi to be shared by the provinces as per their share," said an official. This year Pakistan received 15 percent more water in Indus River due to heavier rainfall. The entire shortage will be distributed between Punjab and Sindh as both Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) and Balochistan are exempted from shortage. The water regulator in its meeting held on August 20, 2016 decided that instead of indented supply, provinces should be given water as per share in accordance with para two of the Irsa Act. Sindh, however, argued that it should be given water in accordance with 1991 Accord instead of para two which implies the maximum share that the canals can absorb.

Water sector experts argue that the water shortage in Rabi could be reduced partially or completely in case western winds enter Pakistan on time in the months of December and January. Water shortage has been recorded at zero percent last year. "Pakistan is facing climate changes due to which substantial water variations exist in the country. Water availability was satisfactory at the initial stage of Kharif season but at a later stage it declined. Seasonal fluctuations which are the result of climate changes will always continue to disturb Pakistan," the official added.

Presently Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs are at elevations of 1,515.48 feet and 1,216.60 feet respectively. The two reservoirs are 34.52 feet and 25.40 feet below their respective maximum conservation levels of 1,550 feet and 1,242 respectively. According to hydrology experts, Pakistan has to fill Mangla and Tarbela by August 20 each year because after this date flows drop drastically.

Chairman Irsa recently informed the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Water and Power that according to data from 1992, Sindh got six percent less water than its share and Punjab nine percent less than its share; KP, with a smaller share, got more than its share as the shortage was not shared with the province and Balochistan provided more water than its share as the province gets water from Sindh canals and, on average, Balochistan suffers 40 percent losses. Sindh is expected to request the Advisory Council to continue releasing water to downstream Kotri.

IMF to disburse $102 million to Pakistan

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board on September 28 completed the twelfth and final review of Pakistan’s three-year economic reform program supported by an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement. The Board’s decision enables the immediate disbursement of the final tranche in an amount equivalent to the SDR 73 million in the IMF currency or about $102.1 million.
The go-ahead follows the approval on September 4, 2013, by the Executive Board of the 36-month extended arrangement under the EFF in the amount of SDR 4.393 billion (about $6.15 billion, or 216 per cent of Pakistan’s current quota at the IMF). The line was subject to completion of quarterly reviews.
The Hindu has learnt that India did not oppose the decision since the amount involved is not large. India's IMF Executive Director in Washington Subir Gokarn also represents Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal but not Pakistan, which is in the group that has Iran and other countries. This is despite the rising hostilities between the two neighbours which has led India to strive to isolate Pakistan globally through diplomatic efforts.
"Despite the challenges it faces, Pakistan is a country with abundant potential, given its geographical location and its rich human and natural resources... The authorities’ program is expected to help the economy rebound, forstall a balance of payments crisis and rebuild reserves, reduce the fiscal deficit, and undertake comprehensive structural reforms to boost investment and growth," the IMF had said in 2013.
Adherence to the program was also expected to catalyse the mobilisation of resources from other donors.

Kharif paddy procurement to start from Nov 15


Raipur | Tuesday, Sep 27 2016 IS

 The Chhattisgarh Government will start procuring new kharif paddy from farmers across the state at support price from November 15 to January 31 next year.The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Raman Singh, here today.

While the minimum support price for common category of paddy was fixed at Rs 1,470 per quintal, Grade 'A' paddy fixed at Rs 1,510 per quintal. Beside paddy, the government will procure corn at the support price of Rs 1,365 per quintal till May 31 next year.

Briefing media after the Cabinet meeting, Food and civil Supplies Minister Punnulal Mohale said the procurement would be done by state-run Primary Agriculture Co-operative Societies at 115 procurement centers throghout the state. UNI SS BDG SB RK2046

August rains costly to Arkansas crop producers

  • Sep 27, 2016
FAYETTEVILLE — Heavy rains in August have cost Arkansas farmers more than $46 million according to preliminary estimates, with rice taking the hardest hit, said Brad Watkins, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture economist.Watkins said that figure may be as high as $50 million once the fall harvests are finished and the extent of the damage is known.
The preliminary report, drafted by Watkins and Eric Wailes, Distinguished Professor of agricultural economics, is based on crop and harvest reports by Division of Agriculture crop specialists.
Watkins presented the report to a meeting of the Arkansas General Assembly’s Joint Committee of Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development held last week at the Division of Agriculture’s Livestock and Forestry Research Station near Batesville.Watkins said the losses resulted from heavy rains around the third week of August. Many crops were at or near harvest stage when the rains and flooding occurred.
Seven counties — Randolph, Greene, Lawrence, Craighead, Independence, Jackson and White — along the Black, Cache and White rivers were the hardest hit, Watkins said. Those rivers collected rainfall from watershed tributaries and sent it into low areas, submerging many northeast Arkansas fields.
Sustained submergence of fields accompanied by sustained cloudy conditions destroyed many fields and severely damaged crop output and quality from others.
Many rice, soybean, corn and grain sorghum grains were damaged by sprouting in the field, and soybean pods split open. The result was that significant percentages of harvested crops were rated poor or very poor when they arrived at market.
-- Rice was hardest hit, with estimated yield loss of more than 4.1 million bushels amounting to more than $18.6 million in lost value. Of harvested grain, 16 percent is rated poor and 12 percent rated very poor.
-- Soybeans have an estimated yield loss of nearly 1.1 million bushels, amounting to nearly $10.8 million in lost value. Ten percent of harvested soybeans were rated poor and 9 percent very poor.
-- Only Lawrence and Randolph counties reported some flooding of corn and sorghum fields, but rain and cloudy conditions resulted in sprouting damabe to about 80 percent of the sorghum crop. The result is an estimated $5.6 million in lost value.
-- The main impact of the rains on corn was delayed harvest. Other impacts were increased ear molds and greater occurrence of stock rot and lodging. Lodging may become more of a problem as harvest continues.
-- About 5 percent of cotton acres were affected by the August rains. A preliminary estimate of lost value is about $11.5 million.
Watkins said the August rains are believed to have damaged vegetable and melon crops, but reports are incomplete and losses cannot be estimated. One producer reported a complete loss of 500 acres of cantaloupes, Watkins said, losing a market value of $1.5 million.
Other small farmers with cooperative contracts with grocery stores that market local produce have had significant losses and were not able to deliver on their contracts, Watkins said

Aus paddy output runs short of target in Sylhet region

Our Correspondent
SYLHET, Sept 28: Sylhet region couldn't reach its target of Aus paddy production this year, farmers and officials informed.

As the farmers had completed harvest of the Aus paddy just a week ago, the yield has been estimated to be a total of 0.31 million tonnes of rice, officials said. However, the target had been set at 0.33 million tonnes.

The division's production include, 0.11 million tonnes in Sylhet, 0.10 million tonnes in Moulvibazar, 88,243 tonnes in Habiganj and 14,259 tonnes in Sunamganj. The yield was however good as there had been a favourable weather with well distribution of rains during the season, said DAE Deputy Director Dr Mamun Ur Rashid.

But, the farmers couldn't achieve their target mainly due to foul weather on times in many areas and excessive rains, a number of farmers said.

Against the last year's 0.13 million hectares of land, the current season's Aus paddy cultivation was on 0.13 million hectares of land while the previously-set target had been 0.13 million hectares.

As the flash floods had damaged some crop in parts of Sylhet and Sunamganj districts, the division's target of yield remained a little behind, farmers said. The total cultivated area includes 47,415 hectares in Sylhet, 43,597 hectares in Moulvibazar and 39,930 hectares in Habiganj district while 6687 hectares were cultivated in Sunamganj district.

Of the total 0.13 million hectares were under the different high yielding varieties and the local varieties were cultivated on 3,493 hectares, the official added, on the other hand, hybrid varieties of Aus were cultivated on 100 hectares in Moulvibazar district only.

Under the targeted programme, 0.33 million tonnes of rice is expected to be produced in the division against the last year's 0.34 million tonnes.

On the other hand, 25,700 selected farmers in 234 unions in 28 upazilas of Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Habiganj districts were covered under incentive programme. They were supplied with HYV seeds and fertilisers and other expenses for farming worth totaling Tk 34.5 million in incentives.

Moreover, 2700 farmers were supplied with Nerika variety seeds and 40 kgs of ferilisers for one bigha land each free of cost. The Nerika paddy farming incentive programme had cost another Tk 5.2 million.

Bumper production of T-Aman on way in Nilphamari

Meanwhile, Our Nilphamari Correspondent adds: A bumper production of Transplanted Aman (T-Aman) paddy is expected this season in the district.

Now a deep green colour is being visible in the Aman croplands in all the six upazilas of the district. The farmers are now weeding and sprinkling urea fertiliser on their lands to ensure expected output.

Abu Alam, a farmer of Gomnati union parishad of Domar Upazila, said he cultivated T-Aman on two acres of land, apprehending the plants had to overcome drought-like situation. But now the plants are growing excellently. He said late rain in the last two weeks helped the plants grow beautifully.

A DAE official said there is no obstacle for T-Aman plants to become more strong and healthy. He said incidence of pest attack in the cropland is very negligible. In only very few cases the farmers used pesticides and some others adopted Parching Method to kill the pests.

DAE sources 0.10 million hectares of land has been fixed to cultivate Aman this year with the production target of 0.29 million tonnes. Upshi variety is cultivated on 0.10 million hectares of land while local variety on 1712 hectares.  
VN News: "

Exports increase 6.7 per cent

Update: September, 28/2016 - 19:02

Up to 1.39 million tonnes of coffee, valued at $2.48 billion, was shipped to overseas markets from January to September. — cafe.orgHÀ NỘI – The country’s exports are estimated to reach US$128 billion in the first nine months of this year, up 6.7 per cent year-on-year, according to the latest statistics from the General Statistics Office (GSO).Of which, the domestic sector contributed $37 billion, up 5 per cent, and the foreign-invested sector (including crude oil) made up $91.1 billion, up 7.4 per cent. However, in September alone, exports plunged 6.8 per cent to an estimated $15 billion compared to August due to a turnover reduction in several key export items such as telephones and components (down 17.4 per cent to $506 million), footwear (down 18.2 per cent to $200 million) and garments (down 7.1 per cent to $175 million.)
From January to September, the country spent $125.4 billion on imports, surging 1.3 per cent over same period of last year, with the foreign-invested sector making up $74 billion and the domestic sector accounting for $51.4 billion.
A slight increase seen in both sector’s imports in nine months proved that local production was well on track to recover, the GSO said.
In the period, Việt Nam enjoyed a trade surplus of $2.7 billion. Unsurprisingly, the foreign-invested sector obtained a trade surplus of $17.1 billion while the domestic sector suffered a trade deficit of $14.4 billion. 
Việt Nam’s farm exports rise in 9 months
Agro-forestry-fisheries exports fetched an estimated US$2.5 billion in September, lifting the total nine-month turnover to $23.3 billion, up 6 per cent year-on-year.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, agricultural exports during the reviewed period experienced a yearly rise of 7.2 per cent to $11.1 billion.
Of this, coffee recorded the highest increase of some 40 per cent in volume and 22 per cent in value compared with same period of last year. Up to 1.39 million tonnes of coffee, valued at $2.48 billion, was shipped to overseas markets from January to September.
Pepper came next with 146,000 tonnes for $1.19 billion, up 31.5 per cent in volume and 13.1 per cent in value, respectively.
After suffering a temporary downtrend, tea and rubber bounced back, enjoying positive growth of 0.2 per cent and one per cent, earning $152 million and $1.1 billion, respectively. 
However, the export of rice, which is a key farm produce in the country, dropped 16.4 per cent in volume and 12.5 per cent in value to 3.76 million tonnes and $1.69 billion, respectively. China remained the largest importer of Vietnamese rice with a 35.5 per cent market share, followed by Ghana with 11 per cent and Indonesia with 9.4 per cent. 
In this year’s nine-month period, shipment of seafood products brought home more than $4.9 billion, surging 4.3 per cent year-on-year. The US, Japan, China and South Korea were the four main importers of Vietnamese seafood, making up 53.7 per cent of the total export revenue.
At the same time, forestry exports raked in $5.1 billion, equivalent to the value during the same time last year. — VNS

Monsoon resumes exit, but may stall again

Vinson Kurian

Thiruvananthapuram, September 28:  
With two days to go for the season to end, the monsoon has resumed withdrawing from parts of North-West India, an India Meteorological Department (IMD) update said on Wednesday.
It has exited from more parts of west Rajasthan, and parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Haryana, having been delayed by weeks together.
‘Rapid’ progress
The US National Centre for Environmental Prediction indicated that withdrawal would witness some rapid progress to cover adjoining West India (Gujarat and west Madhya Pradesh), but only briefly.
This is because of the possibility of a fresh low-pressure area over East India triggering another round of rains in East and Central India and adjoining Peninsular India.
After September 30 (Friday), some of these rains could march into east Rajasthan, west Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, delaying the withdrawal process yet again.
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts shows a wave of rainfall moving across Central India during the week ending October 6.
The subsequent week (ending October 14) too shows a wet spell the heaviest getting concentrated over west Madhya Pradesh, south Gujarat, and adjoining Konkan & Goa.
The rain deficit for the country as a whole until Wednesday is 3 per cent, and it remains to be seen to what extent the residual rains can improve situation over two days.
Rains beyond September 30 do not go into the South-West monsoon account, which means that the season will end in the normal range (between 96 per cent and 104 per cent of the long period average).
Meanwhile, during the 24 hours ending on Wednesday morning, the South-West monsoon was ‘vigorous’ over Chhattisgarh and ‘active’ over Telangana and Vidarbha. Heavy rain was reported from east Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand during this period.
The causative cyclonic circulation persisted, promising more rain. The IMD forecast for the weekend said that the footprint of an emerging wet spell over East India would start growing in size before covering Central and West India.
(This article was published on September 28, 2016)

09/28/2016 Farm Bureau Market Report


Long Grain Cash Bids
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Rice Comment

Rice prices ended the day higher, but well off the day’s highs after November failed to find buying interest above $10. 73% of the crop has been harvested nation-wide, and in Arkansas 84% of the crop is in the bins. November continues to have support at the low of $9.35, with resistance at $10.20

Crawford Legislation Aims to Prepare Farmers for Future Disasters

"Farming is a risky business, and we don't need to look any further than this past August for proof of that," said Crawford.  "From crop failure, changing markets, insect damage, unusual weather, and natural disasters, producers' livelihoods are threatened in many different ways."

Ben Mosely, USA Rice vice president of government affairs, is optimistic about the intent of the bill:  "The rice industry, like other commodities, relies on a variety of programs and risk management tools that make up our farm safety net.  I believe the FRAME Act would  complement existing programs and provide farmers with more flexibility to manage risk on their own terms.  Given the recent flooding throughout the Gulf and the Mid-South, this type of tool could incentivize young people to get into farming and also help them stay in farming."

Mosely added, "Our members are thoroughly evaluating the existing farm safety net programs and we certainly will be looking more in-depth at this bill whether it's moved this year or as part of future legislation.  USA Rice appreciates the continued efforts by Representative Crawford to keep the agriculture industry in business."
Lending a hand to neighbors in need
Louisiana Rice Industry Donates Rice for Displaced Flood Victims
By Randy Jemison

CROWLEY, LA -- Despite suffering major damage during the recent floods, the Louisiana rice industry came together yesterday to provide much needed rice to feed citizens who were also impacted by the deluge.

More than thirteen tons of rice were picked up here by the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. The donation was made by Louisiana Rice Mill and Falcon Rice Mill, both of Crowley; Planters Rice Mill of Abbeville, Farmers Rice Mill of Lake Charles, the Louisiana Rice Growers Association (LARGA), retired rice farmer Jimmy Hoppe, USA Rice, and USA Rice staff.  Once cooked, the gift will provide more than 300,000 half-cup servings.

"Our farmers have just completed a very difficult harvest season and have suffered great economic loss, but they realize that this flood also impacted our fellow citizens and are happy to share our rice with those in need," said Michael Fruge, president of the LARGA.

In addition to contributing rice, Falcon Rice Mill packaged the donated rice from all sources and Farmers Rice Mill provided, at cost, the rice that was purchased for donation by LARGA, Hoppe, and USA Rice and its staff.

"The donation from the Louisiana Rice Industry has tremendous impact for us because it truly is a staple of Louisiana culture and of a Louisiana diet," said Michael Manning, president and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.  "In light of the recent flooding and the destruction to our community as well as our facility, this donation of rice is a great non-perishable item for us to distribute to those most in need."

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to feed the hungry in Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes by providing food and educational outreach through more than 115 faith-based and community partners.  In 2015, the Food Bank distributed more than 8.7 million meals to those in need across 11 parishes.

Ignore quacks, tribal people told

East Godavari district Joint Collector S. Satyanarayanaand ITDA Project Officer K.V.N. Chakaradhara Babu on Wednesday advised tribal people not to go to quacks or any other unregistered medical practitioners for treatment but go to the nearest government hospitals or primary health centres.
Speaking at the distribution of ration to villagers of Annavaram and Chinna Mattapalli in V.R. Puram mandal where pedal edema (swelling of legs) had been reported and nine succumbed to the disease till now, the Joint Collector thanked district rice millers, dal millers and merchants associations for contributing Rs. 10 lakh worth nutritious food to tribal people in the two villages.
He said they had distributed kits containing 10 kg rice, one kg red gram, palm oil, ragi flour and other nutrition to about 2,000 families. Mr. Satyanarayana stated that the government had directed supply of special ration in the tribal areas from October 1.

Celebrate Whole Grains Month with Brown Rice, 5 Different Ways!

September 27, 2016 at 3:00 PM

In Celebration of Whole Grains Month and National Rice Month, check out these easy-to-prepare recipes from MyPlate. (Click to view a larger version)
Did you know September is Whole Grains Month and National Rice Month? To help you fit whole grains into your menu this week, MyPlate is sharing five, easy-to-prepare recipes with brown rice as the star ingredient.
Almost all Americans are not eating enough whole grains. At least half of your grains should be whole grains. Whole grains provide more vitamins and minerals than refined grains because they are made from the entire grain seed. Eating more whole grains is easy to do! Try these recipes featuring brown rice five different ways to add more whole grains to your recipe repertoire:
  • The One-Dish Dinner: Caribbean Casserole
    Looking for an exotic dish to change up your dinner routine? This recipe can be made in a flash and used as a side dish or as an entrée! Bonus: This tasty recipe was the fan favorite at a MyPlate staff gathering.
  • The Savory Side Dish: Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Squares
    Made with low-fat cheese, these brown rice squares are pure comfort food and pack a nutritious punch with whole grains and broccoli.
  • The Super Salad: Fiesta Rice Salad
    This light and refreshing rice dish is packed with veggies. Served chilled, it’s perfect for a picnic or potluck. Cut down on your prep time by cooking and refrigerating brown rice the night before!
  • The Kid-Friendly Dinner: Black Bean Burgers
    A fast entrée that uses flavorful herbs and spices to create a great-tasting burger patty. Add your favorite burger toppings and enjoy!
  • The Takeout-Inspired Meal: Chicken Fried Rice
    An easy, nutrient-packed entrée that is great for the whole family. It’s also a good way to use up leftover brown rice, veggies, and chicken. Bring on the chopsticks!
For more healthy recipes, check out, and find whole grains tips on Check back with us in October when we feature our next star ingredient, pumpkin, five different ways!

ACCase technology plus for Clearfield-resistant weeds: Part II

Sep 28, 2016 Forrest Laws  | Delta Farm Press
The herbicide in RiceTec’s new ACCase herbicide-resistant rice system may not be as “forgiving” as the Clearfield technology, according to a rice weed scientist.But it will take out grasses that have become resistant to other classes of herbicide chemistry. RiceTec’s Mason Wallace explained how the ACCase rice could be a good fit for helping producers with problem rice fields at the company’s Mid-South Field Day.
One of those could be row rice systems, as long as the soils don't become too dry..

Paddy Procurement: The Perennial Scam

By Sandeep Sahu
Scams may come and scams may go, but there is one scam that goes on forever in Odisha: the scam in paddy procurement. It has got to a stage where irregularities (read pilferage) of huge sums of money running into hundreds of crores by the well-entrenched miller-supply official-politician nexus every single year have stopped raising eyebrows. One just has to witness the lukewarm response to the revelation in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) laid in the state Assembly on Monday about massive bungling in the procurement of paddy in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal to realize it. It is as if everyone – the government, the millers, the people and even the media – has come to accept it as a fact of life about which nothing can be done.
Ironically, the CAG report came just a day after Food Supplies minister Sanjay Dasburma went through the charade of holding a ‘consultation’ with farmers from all 30 districts where suggestions were invited from them on how to streamline the procurement process in the coming kharif season beginning in November next. A new procurement policy taking these suggestions into consideration would get the cabinet nod soon, Dasburma told the farmers at the meeting assuring them that mandis will be opened and farmers paid their dues in time.
A few nuggets of information from the CAG report would bring out the extent of the scam in all its damning details. The state lost out on central subsidy worth Rs 581 crore between 2010 and 2015 because of its failure to settle the accounts in time. Failure to open mandis in time forced farmers to sell their produce for Rs 700-800 instead of the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1310 in the procurement year 2013-14. Millers in five districts – Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sunargarh and Kalahandi – procured 9.48 lakh tonnes of paddy instead of the 5.75 lakh tones they were entitled to – excess procurement of 3.73 lakh tones worth about Rs 496 crore. At the other end of the supply chain, millers failed to supply 61, 561 tonnes of rice they were duty bound to – resulting in a loss of Rs 126 crore. An average of 3-4 kg was deducted from every quintal of paddy sold by the farmer on the ground that it did not meet the standards of fair average quality (FAQ), but the full 100 kg was shown in the records resulting in windfall gain of Rrs 305 crore for the millers. And last but not the least, an incredible 1914 quintals of paddy was procured from 19 landless farmers!
Variations of these figures are mentioned in virtually every single report of the CAG. But the fate of all these reports has proved that these ‘revelations’ are not worth the paper they are written on.
There is plenty that does not make it into any CAG report but is true nonetheless. An RTI query brought out the startling revelation that an incredible 77, 000 tonnes of paddy was procured from the farmers of Nuapada in 2008, a year in which this poorest of poor district was reeling under the impact of a severe drought and more than half the farmers had migrated out of the state in search of work. An inquiry ordered by the collector following the RTI revelation found that more than 50% of the farmers, who had supposedly sold their paddy to the millers, just did not exist! In other words, the procurement of 77, 000 tonnes was a complete lie. As if that was not bad enough, the RTI answer also revealed that the millers had supplied 44, 000 tonnes of rice to the Supplies department against the paddy procured – as they were obliged to under the rules.
So, where did this rice come from if the paddy was never procured in the first place?
This brings us to the next layer of the scam that operates with clinical efficiency; the recycling of subsidized rice supplied to ‘ghost’ BPL beneficiaries. In reality, much of the BPL rice finds its way to the rice millers through the well oiled network of miller-dealer-storage agent, only to be supplied to the government as what is not known as ‘levy’ rice (the rice supplied by millers to the government in lieu of the paddy procured by them).
The scale of this perennial scam is mind-boggling and unraveling its intricate, multi-layered labyrinth is a task that not many people are ill equipped to handle. Perhaps that is the reason this scam has gone on for so long even as farmers continue to commit suicide in hundreds because of their failure to sell their produce and get timely payment for it when they do manage to ‘sell’ it.
Meanwhile, an uncaring government continues to boast about winning the ‘krishi karman’ award year after year to prove its pro-farmer credentials!

Illegal Viet Rice Floods Cambodia Market

By David Van Vichet
Outstanding in their field
Government ignores plight of farmers, millers in free market fallacy 
 An estimated of 800,000 tonnes of low-quality Vietnamese milled rice has been imported illegally into Cambodia since 2015, flooding the domestic market with cheap rice driving small domestic millers out of business because they have been unable to compete.After being a net exporter of milled rice, Cambodia became a net importer   2015 with these massive imports from Vietnam, which amounted to almost 50 percent of annual domestic consumption.
In early 2016, disenchanted millers and exporters formed an adhoc team to lobby the former Minister of Commerce to submit a plea to the Prime Minister seeking Government intervention into an impending crisis hitting the industry.  That effort has had little success. The recent Sen Kra Ob harvest season has been catastrophic due to the collapse in global prices.
As the usual foreign buyers of paddy did not show up, combined with tightening liquidity at commercial banks and weak financial health of Cambodia’s millers, the Sen Kra Ob harvest season was almost totally unsellable as the offer price was too low. This has created an endemic financial situation for farmers who are already heavily indebted with very high interest rates short term loans.
Farmers have faced extreme difficulty to sell their paddy as prices have dropped dramatically. Millers are confronting working capital issues to procure paddy since National Bank of Cambodia instructed banks to restrict lending from the fourth quarter of 2015 to try to combat possible lending bubbles. Commercial banks also started to cut all further loans to the rice millers since then, creating a massive crisis for the industry.
Rice industry operators expect that the worst is yet to come as the major harvest of jasmine is due in October, November and December as there will be higher tonnages at stake while millers will remain unable to access affordable and realistic loans for working capital.  Foreign buyers of paddy such as Vietnam may not be active in buying this major crop as they have started to plant their own variety of Jasmine rice, selling at a much lower price globally. 
The millers and the Ministry of Commerce reached out to PM Hun Sen, who summoned a high-level inter-ministerial meeting at the CDC, under the chairmanship of former DPM Keat Chhon on how to best to design a set of policy measures to improve industry competitiveness.
The current distress suffered by farmers and millers alike serves to confirm that a sense of urgency is needed to come up with pragmatic policy measures so as to allow the rice industry to become competitive, survive and thrive.
The government may need to bring all the stakeholders together to gain a full understanding of the problems, not only domestically but also how the regional and global competitive forces can impact local reality.  Thus many pertinent questions beg to be answered by key players, both the government and the private sector.
First, price floor policy should be set at US$218 per tonne. Despite demonstrating goodwill in an attempt to disburse an emergency fund of US$27 million to the millers, the Rural Development Banks has ruled that loan recipients must procure paddy at a determined level in order to “artificially” help farmers.
How can such a policy work given that the global price is trending downward each day and that Cambodian farmers are already hardly competitive overseas given high costs of financing, logistics and utilities? How can a price floor, which is a welfare transfer to the farmers, incentivize millers to buy paddy given that it impacts their profitability?
Second, the Rural Development Bank issued a policy proposal to apply 8 percent interest on working capital for millers, considered as “emergency loans.” Does 8 percent make a difference given that our neighboring competitors have access to  2.5 percent?
Is there a way to provide the same level playing field than our competitors so that our farmers and millers can also have access to 2.5 percent interest rates or interest rates that are lower than 5 percent? Could the government study this possibility since our neighbors can do it? Why not us, given than we can also have access cheap concession soft loans at below 1 percent interest rates from either China or Japan? This is not a subsidy as the bank such as the RDB would still have a positive spread of 3 percent if it lends it back at 4 percent.
The government may have overlooked the fact that farmers cannot survive without the millers and as such millers are the Achilles Heel of the rice industry. The government encouraged investment in rice processing without adequate accompanying economic policy measures to promote the industry. Millers to this day have not been listened to when they are the ones who have taken the most risks in investing in fixed assets and competing in the global markets.
Comprehensive policy measures are lacking
When the rice industry turned to the government for pragmatic policy measures and intervention, they were told that Cambodia practices a free market economy and cannot intervene. Do we all have the same understanding of what free market means and what commodity trading is really about. Do we know that the US, Japan, the EU, all practice a free market economy, yet they have huge government interventions for their agriculture sector?
When it comes to agriculture, no business can survive without government intervention because commodity trading is simply prone to market failure. The free market just does not work for commodities.
Where should Cambodia go from here and does Cambodia really wants to promote its rice industry?  Is rice the ultimate crop to promote or is it other crops? Should the government remain committed to promote the rice industry, it has to conduct a pragmatic consultation with all the stakeholders to understand the challenges, the opportunities but also to be aware of the costs of the set of new policy that are needed to make the industry competitive.
Some of the issues would be to look into a selection of seed varieties, as we cannot grow numerous qualities that are not in demand by the market. We are not a large country and certain varieties such as the non-fragrant Long Grain White are not competitive. Should we discard it?
Should the government decide to downgrade the importance of rice cultivation, are we ready to accept to face future food security and safety problems? Should we focus more on other higher value added commodities like Pepper, soybeans, corn and others?

Thailand's military allows 'culture of torture', says Amnesty

  • 28 September 2016
  • From the section Asia
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The military had seized power in 2014 after months of political unrest, saying it wanted to restore stability
Thailand's military government has allowed a "culture of torture" to flourish since assuming power, says a new report by rights group Amnesty International.
The report lists 74 alleged cases of torture and other ill-treatment, including methods such as beatings and waterboarding, by soldiers and police.
The military seized power in 2014 after months of political unrest, saying it wanted to restore stability.
It has denied allegations of torture.
"Our investigations into such allegations have shown no indication of torture, I have seen no indication of torture and the Thai people have seen no indication of torture," Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a spokesman for the prime minister's office, told Reuters.
Amnesty was due to hold a press conference in Bangkok on Wednesday to release the report.
But it was cancelled at the last minute after officials warned that speakers could face arrest under labour laws.
"We are not singling out the Thai government," Amnesty's Asia media manager Omar Waraich told Reuters.
"We are here on business visas, we have an office in Thailand."

'No accountability'

Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International's director for South East Asia and the Pacific, said Thailand "may claim to be tough on torture, but actions speak louder than words".
"[Its] military rulers have allowed a culture of torture to flourish, where there is no accountability for the perpetrators and no justice for the victims."
Thailand had earlier defended its rights records since the coup, with the coup leader and current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha saying that "every country has gone through rough times".
In a speech earlier this month he told countries criticising Thailand: "Don't tell us that we abuse rights, you also abuse the rights of others."
He has promised that an election will be held next year.
Since coming to power, the military government - officially known as the National Council for Peace and Order - has jailed critics, censored the media and cracked down on dissidents.
Article 44 of an interim constitution gives the government powers to "disrupt or suppress" anything deemed a threat to national security. It also allows for soldiers to detain people for up to a week without a warrant.

PhilRice develops software for grain quality evaluation

Posted by Web Team Posted on Sep - 28 - 2016
Researchers at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) have developed an automated classification software to measure chalkiness and identify immature grains in milled rice.
In the conventional process, the grain quality evaluation team of the Rice Varietal Improvement Group (RVIG) manually evaluates the physical attributes of 600-800 promising lines every year. They evaluate two sets of 30g milled rice of candidate elite line using their naked eye, a process that is tedious and time consuming for researchers.
“This prompted us to come up with the PhilRice Milled Grain Classifier (PMGC), a software that can speed up the conventional classification process,” said Imeldalyn G. Pacada, PhilRice senior science research specialist.
A classifier evaluates 30g of milled rice and can assess its physical attributes at around 48-96min. By using PMGC, a classifier can evaluate 6.2g of milled rice in less than 5min.
The software provides quick overview of analyzed milled grain samples that can be enlarged for verification. It validates translucent, chalky, and immature grains and gives grain ID number and color. It can also determine grain length and shape, and identify broken and brewer grains.
According to Pacada, PMGC was developed by establishing an algorithm using special programming language for image acquisition, processing, and integration of Artificial Neural Network (ANN). The developed algorithm includes the development of Graphical User Interface (GUI) to control the hardware and execute the image analysis software. The establishment of models or training samples was the key for increasing the predicting value of the software.
“This consists of image acquisition of different degree of chalky grains and various samples of immature grains that were used for model development with the help of neuroshell program,” Pacada explained.
The research team composed of Pacada, Evelyn H. Bandonill, Thessa Marie M. Pascual, Fred Jan A. Fracia, Arvin Paul P. Tuaño, Andres M. Tuates, and Thelma F. Padolina hopes that the software can help classifiers and plant breeders for faster grain quality evaluation.
The software was developed under the research study titled New tools for predicting chalkiness and immature grains in milled rice. The study won the best poster award during the 29th National Rice R&D Conference held at PhilRice, Sept. 7-8

Rice Body Stirs National Pride and Anti-Competitive Enforcement

In an effort to stir national pride and bolster the faltering rice sector, the Cambodian Rice Federation has created a seal emblazoned with the federation’s logo to identify rice that has been grown and milled in Cambodia.
And if the carrot doesn’t work, they are also prepared to use a stick: more vigorous enforcement of laws that punish those who sell imported rice falsely claiming that it is 100 percent Cambodian grown.
Rice is displayed at a shop near Phnom Penh’s Central Market on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
An ad campaign featuring Cambodian rice, celebrity chefs and the new seal is set to be filmed this morning, with the ads scheduled to begin airing on television, radio and social media websites by this weekend, federation adviser Rod Bassett said.Moul Sarith, secretary-general of the rice federation, said there was a twofold impetus for the creation of the seal and the ad campaign to promote it.“We’d like to guard our markets—prevent rice sellers from mixing Cambodian rice with rice from neighboring countries, and thereby defrauding people,” he said on Wednesday. “The second is we’d like Cambodian people to take pride in their rice.”

Members of the federation’s board and other volunteers are visiting rice mills across the country to encourage them to use 100 percent Cambodian-grown rice, said Hun Lak, the group’s vice president.“In order for the move to be effective, we have asked relevant institutions like Camcontrol, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture to punish those who trade rice that is not pure Cambodian rice, or to take measures to close their businesses,” Mr. Lak said.Camcontrol, together with anti-economic crime police and customs officers, acts as the government’s fraud suppression arm. The law protecting Cambodian rice isn’t new, but the enforcement effort has taken on a heightened importance as a result of the challenges facing the industry.Var Roth San, an adviser to the Commerce Ministry, said that those selling “fraudulent rice” would be jailed for a year and have their business closed. Those who used the federation’s seal fraudulently would be jailed for five years.

The moves come as sluggish global demand for rice has hit markets across Southeast Asia, driving down prices and bringing Cambodian rice into steeper competition with its neighbors. The government has pumped money into the rice sector over the past two weeks to prevent farmers from going bankrupt.Challenges also come from further afield. Nigeria, once the world’s second-largest importer of rice at 3 million tons per year behind China, which imports 4 million tons annually, started self-sustainability measures last year and for months at a time has completely frozen rice imports. Other West African nations are following suit, Mr. Bassett said.Thailand, meanwhile, is trying to rid itself of a nearly 10 million ton rice surplus and Vietnam, with its more cost-efficient production, is able to maintain a significantly lower price point for its crops, which frequently cross its porous border with Cambodia.

Rice from Vietnam sold for $25 per 50 kg bag near Phnom Penh’s Central Market  on Wednesday, whereas Cambodian rice sold for between $30 and $50.The government’s efforts prop up rice prices by encouraging large purchases by businesses and wealthy individuals have helped to sell only a few tons of rice, said Mr. Sarith, who on Wednesday was visiting groups of rice farmers in Battambang. He estimated that 35 to 40 percent of farmers in the area had stock remaining.Prices being offered by mills affiliated with the rice federation had fallen to about $150 per ton of paddy on Wednesday, despite $27 million in subsidies pushed through by the government and the Rural Development Bank.

Song Saran, CEO of Phnom Penh-based exporter Amru Rice, said that his company had been buying pure Cambodian rice since September 18. Having already purchased 1,000 more tons of paddy than initially planned, he said he doubted the ad campaign would push him to buy more, even though he thinks “it’s a good idea.”
Although the rice federation is putting concerted effort into the seal, it is not likely to have a big impact on the current market conditions, Mr. Bassett admitted.“The majority of the domestic market is for rice grown in Cambodia,” he said. “The idea is to give the mills confidence. Right now they’re holding off.”

Rice industry to donate 117K pounds of rice


Posted Sep 28, 2016 at 3:22 PM


The donation will be made at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Arkansas Food Bank, a statewide food bank that works with 600 Arkansas hunger relief programs including food pantries, school food programs, disaster relief organizations and a statewide hunger hotline. The donation will follow Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Rice Month proclamation event to be held at 10:30 a.m. at the State Capitol in the Governor's Conference Room.

By Submitted for Stuttgart Daily Leader

In honor of National Rice Month, on Thursday the Arkansas rice industry will donate 117,000 pounds of rice to the Arkansas Food Bank. The donation will provide over one million servings to help feed hungry families in Arkansas. Participating rice mills are Cormier Rice Mill of DeWitt, Windmill Rice Company of Jonesboro, Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart, Producers Rice Mill of Stuttgart, Riviana Foods of Carlisle, Southwind Rice Mill of Pine Bluff and Specialty Rice Inc. of Brinkley.

The donation will be made at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Arkansas Food Bank, a statewide food bank that works with 600 Arkansas hunger relief programs including food pantries, school food programs, disaster relief organizations and a statewide hunger hotline. The donation will follow Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Rice Month proclamation event to be held at 10:30 a.m. at the State Capitol in the Governor's Conference Room.
Arkansas is the number one rice-producing state in the nation. This year, Arkansas family farmers will produce over 50 percent of the nation's rice. The Arkansas rice industry contributes over $6 billion annually to the state's economy and employs over 25,000 Arkansans.

PhilRice Midsayap launches new projects, rice-based products

Posted by Web Team Posted on Sep - 27 - 2016
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Midsayap, North Cotabato launched new projects and rice-based value-adding enterprises during its annual farmers’ field day, Sept. 20.Over 1,000 farmers learned the latest projects of the station such as the PalaYamaNayon and Technical Cooperation Project 6 of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA TCP 6). PalaYamaNayon promotes diversification, intensification, and integration to boost the income of rice-based farming villages. During the event, PhilRice Midsayap unveiled the value-adding products produced by farmers’ cooperatives. These products include mushroom, calamansi juice, and rice cakes that provide additional income to the farmers.
JICA TCP 6, which builds on the successes of JICA TCP 5, aims to help secure enough household food supply, improve food production and nutrition among farming communities, increase farmers’ income, and promote peace in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
DA’s Undersecretary for Operations and National Development Ariel T. Cayanan led the launching together with the key officials of the Institute. In his speech, Cayanan updated the farmers on the latest program of the agency called Rice Productivity Enhancement (RIPE) that aims to conduct a thorough review of the country’s water management and irrigation policies. He also explained DA’s plan to provide free irrigation to the farmers by 2017.
During the field tour, the farmers visited stations on breeder seed production, participatory varietal selection, rice mechanization, and Palayamanan Plus. The event also promoted the Brown4Good Campaign to encourage the consumption of brown rice among consumers.