Monday, October 17, 2016

17th October,2016 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine


Unaccounted Cash Seized Rice Millers Agent 

Hyderabad: Police seized Rs1.44 crore cash from one Prasad near LB Nagar ring road on Saturday midnight. Prasad who belongs to Nellore was spotted by police with cash bags. When questioned, he reportedly stated that the cash belonged to 14 rice mill owners in Nellore.The man was handed over to Income Tax authorities as the cash was a profit on number-2 transactions of rice millers. Undocumented cash is black money

Africa: A Fable of Rice and Women

By Elfrieda Pschorn-Strauss

A month ago, I read that Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), based in Rome, dedicated his African Food Prize award to "the millions of African women who silently toil to feed their families."

In a follow up interview, he said that his wish is for these women to become businesswomen and entrepreneurs participating in the economy. He also mentioned that his advice for young African scientists is to cultivate and put into practice the ideas that his generation inherited from Norman Borlaug and other Green Revolution architects.

These views come as no surprise, as he was instrumental in introducing and promoting the fabled 'new rice for Africa', NERICA. But still, it made me think about NERICA, and I was wondering how far this miracle rice has gone in achieving its promise to feed Africa?

NERICA is a cross between the hardy African rice (Oryza Glaberrama) and high-yielding Asian rice (Oryza Sativa). It is promoted with a huge amount of propaganda and funding and is seen as the crop that will finally allow Africa to follow Asia and have its own Green Revolution.

NERICA is heralded as a Green Revolution success story and as the 'rice for women', because it allows women to participate in the production of cash crops. And indeed, more women have been cultivating NERICA, even in areas where they have not previously grown rice, like Uganda.

But like most other top down Green Revolution technologies, NERICA can be a trap, in particular for African rural women. And as with International Day of Rural Women and World Food Day, celebrated last weekend, they seemed to be centre stage, what better opportunity to tell a fable of rice and rural women.

Eroding diversity

A study by the Africa Rice Centre has shown that this strong promotion has led farmers to adopt NERICA, in the process replacing their local varieties. Seed production in particular is seen as lucrative, and the capturing of NERICA seed production by local elites has been extensively documented. In Benin it is shown that even though women accounted for 70% of the rice farmer workforce, it is men who benefit from seed production, because male farmers have more access to land and are contracted to grow NERICA.

Another study in Uganda showed that replacing food with the growing of rice as a cash crop does increase household income. In instances where women are able to grow rice as a cash crop, it increases women's decision-making power. However, it is coming at price.

Replacing food crops with NERICA has brought significant costs to women and children as they take on the most burdensome tasks related to its cultivation. Children complain that they have to miss school - especially girls, who have to look after the home and younger siblings while their mothers are chasing birds in the rice field.

It is worth pausing to reflect at this point, to fully comprehend what is happening here. And what the long term impact of this shift to a Green Revolution crop will be on rural women's well-being. At what cost are they shifting to this new seed and crop?

As echoed by the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch, 80 percent of rice in Africa is grown by women and most of this used to be local, farmer varieties. Women are seed custodians in rice growing communities and they usually have seed plots near the home where they try out varieties, but also keep their old and trusted varieties. Across Africa, thousands of local varieties were always grown and preferred by farmers. But this diversity and the social and cultural systems attached to it, is fast disappearing.

In anticipation of the massive erosion expected with the introduction of the Green Revolution rice varieties into Africa, scientists in the 70s made a huge effort to collect as many local varieties as possible. Today there are 500 000 accessions housed at the Africa Rice Centre. A rapid erosion of genetic diversity in rice is taking place and a detailed survey showed that the growing of African rice varieties (O.Glaberrima) is declining sharply, now making up only 0.1% of the total rice growing area.

A simple question

A simple question needs to be asked at this point: does diversity matter? Does it matter to rural women?

Diversity is nature's insurance policy and rural woman are dependent on nature. Women farmers have to deal with changing weather all the time.

But, if within the genetic makeup of a seed, there are a few genes hidden somewhere that can survive the drought or the cold, the plant can survive and the family will eat.

Scientists say that those seeds with a complex genetic make-up are more likely to survive, they have horizontal resistance, a resistance to risk. They are prepared, resilient. It is survival of the fittest, where the weakest die.

Life depends on diversity and it constantly generates diversity as a life impulse. Some humans rejoice in this diversity and enhance it.

Others, kill it off and narrow it down. It is not easy to monopolise diversity, so to gain maximum profit it is necessary to simplify and exclude diversity. Therefore we get hybrid maize, NERICA rice, GM crops.

Rural women are told that their lives will improve if they throw away their old seeds and plant this new seed.

In 2009 GRAIN already wrote that the NERICA project is about building the foundations of a seed system that will respond to the needs of agribusiness by putting in place the systems and seed policies that will integrate African small farmers into networks managed by big companies.

Through NERICA the infrastructure is put in place that will make it much easier for GM companies to move in.

Over millennia agriculture has emerged from specific regions through selection by farmers, breeding from the wild biodiversity they have created an incredible variety of crops in specific areas which have spread all over the world. So for rural women too, diversity is their insurance policy. They depend on it. We all depend do. It is unimaginable that we could conceive of destroying it, yet it is happening.

NERICA has a very narrow genetic base, with the entire family bred from just two O.Glaberrima varieties. This is a far cry from the 500 000 varieties that were out there in farmers' fields four decades ago. Not the kind of insurance policy that reassures me and that I need to go into the insecure future of climate change.

The propaganda about Green Revolution crops and GM is all about 'improved delivery of new seeds and other inputs" to rural women, as if they have no agency, no seeds, no knowledge. Reports that praise the economic value of Green Revolution crops like NERICA, have only looked on the surface and omit to mention how the new labour burden and loss of diversity cause extreme social deprivation and exacerbate poverty for rural women. Apart from the irreversible loss of their ancestral seed varieties and the whole range of social and cultural losses that accompanies this, it impoverishes them and their children

How $3bn Nigeria-bound rice rots away in Benin Republic

·         In BUSINESS
·         5 hours ago
·         Ifeanyi Lawrence-Agbai
An estimated $3 billion bags of rice destined for the Nigerian markets are stuck in various warehouses in Benin Republic due to the Federal Government’s refusal to allow importation through land borders and fierce customs anti smuggling drive.
The annual routine of importing rice into the neighbouring country from July to December to make massive sales in Nigeria during Yuletide period has hit a brickwall this year as Controller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali has insisted that his men have tightened the frontiers.
Nigeria shares major border frontiers with Benin Republic at Seme Border (Lagos), Idiroko (Ogun), Shaki (Oyo),Chikanda (Kwara) and other smaller openings. Prominent among them is Seme where the highest volume of trade and largest smuggling opportunity exist because of its easy access to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital city.
Seme Border which hitherto was a major transit point for foreign rice importation suddenly became impenetrable for smugglers as almost daily seizures of 50kg bags have taken a good portion of the customs warehouse in the area.
A recent visit to Benin revealed that most of the warehouses where the bagged rice are kept before shipment into Nigeria are now battling for space.
Some consignments of imported rice no longer have storage space at the popular stores and so are exposed to rains, weevils and other unhygienic forms of storage.
Popular warehouses no longer receive rice shipments as thousands of bags earlier delivered to them since July could not be evacuated into Nigeria as planned as was the case in previous years.
Popular Cherika Warehouse in Akpakpa near Cotonou with a capacity to store 25,000 bags is fully loaded with Thailand rice with no hope of evacuating them into Nigeria except government relaxes its policy of rice importation through border.
Defezi Warehouse close to the Cotonou Port is filled with over 40,000 units of 50kg bags of Indian and Thailand rice. Defezi got occupied earlier due to its proximity to the port but was not evacuated as the owners could not risk entering Nigeria with it.
Cica Warehouse in Missebo area of the Cotonou outskirts that suffered lack of patronage in the past due to distance from Seme Border and bad road presently has over 15,000 bags.
Some grains are getting moulded, caked with their bags torn and quantity reduced while endlessly awaiting shipment into Nigeria.
As hope of smuggling them into Nigeria gets slimmer by the day, there is a conscious effort to bring in the commodity without using bags.
The unwholesome method requires pouring grains of rice into various compartments of vehicles like the boots, bonnets, inner parts of the doors, under the seats and other spaces meant for spare tyres and tools.
Sources disclosed that the more the attempt to smuggle hundreds of bags into the country, the more customs in Seme and Idiroko make more seizures.
Unfortunately, some of these grains are no more safe for human consumption and so cannot be donated to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) as was done in the past.
Over 37,000 bags of rice have so far been seized in Seme and Idiroko between January and September 2016 including the 13 vehicles laden with smuggled rice.
From the owners of the rice to the transporters, loaders, landlords and operators of warehouses, there is a general lull as it has been a season of stockpiling without transiting. They expressed frustration at the government policy but more on what they described as Seme Customs lack of cooperation.
Nigerian Customs had in an October 2016 press statement reiterated government’s ban on rice importation through the borders. The statement signed by Wale Adeniyi, customs spokesman reinforced its resolve to protect government’s attempt to improve local rice capacity.
Part of it reads: ‘’We like to reiterate the position that importation of rice remains banned through our land borders, and we have the commitment to partner government agencies and stakeholders to enforce this restriction. While this restriction is in force, rice imports through the ports are still allowed subject to payment of extant charges.
‘’It is equally important to restate the confidence of the Nigerian Customs Service in the ability of Nigerian rice producers to fill the existing sufficiency gaps in the supply of the product. The service has noted with satisfaction the ongoing rice revolution undertaken by many state governments, and strategic interventions by the Federal Government agencies.’
‘’The service is convinced that the bumper harvests expected from these efforts will address the supply gap in 2017. It is our belief that continuous waste of scarce forex on a commodity that can be produced locally makes no economic sense, most especially at a period of recession. The service will therefore advocate a total ban on rice importation into Nigeria with effect from 2017’’
There are loud cries in Benin over what is going on at Seme and other borders. A respondent simply identified as Mr. Sewanu said things have taken a turn for the worse as every attempt to bring rice into Nigeria has failed.
‘’You can see we are idle here because rice is not entering Nigeria through Seme Border. We can’t work. Each day we come here , it is in prayer that the customs should cooperate with our bosses so we can have jobs to do to survive.
‘’By this time in previous years, thousands of bags of rice had entered Nigeria from here and more ships had been discharging at the Cotonou Port. But this year is different, nothing is working.
‘’Seme customs have spoiled the business for us.We don’t want to take the risk of transporting rice through any other border because Lagos is the largest market. Once you enter through Seme,you are already in the market.
‘’If this continues, we may die of hunger. Benin customs in Krake cooperates with us but the customs in Nigeria are our only headache. We want the Controller removed. He is making things difficult,’’ Sewanu lamented.
A visit to the border shows smooth running and processing of imports into Nigeria and there are so much activities in the banks. People were seen paying customs duties for items not on Nigeria’s import prohibition list.
While the stockpiling of imported rice continues to increase in Cotonou and neighbouring towns, there may never be a market for them as they face the risk of either being expired or going bad due to poor storage condition.
Benin Republic with an estimated population of 11 million persons and closest to Togo with a little above 8 million, there appears to be no market for the stocked rice as these countries lack the population and luxury to consume them.
Prices of rice which presently sells for between N11,000 and N13,000 in Cotonou is expected to crash ahead of the Yuletide period as they continually face difficulties in getting them into Nigeria

Demand for local rice overwhelms millers

·         In BUSINESS
·         22 hours ago
·         Tonye Adikumo
Following the Federal Government’s ban on rice importation through the land borders, local rice millers are finding it difficult to cope with the demand for the commodity from dealers.
Only Umza Rice, the largest local rice mill in Nigeria, which is located in Kano, is currently supplying most markets in the country.
Many dealers expressed anger over depositing money to the company for months without getting any supply.
Consumption of rice in Nigeria is put at over six million metric tonnes per annum. Local production is about 2.8 million metric tonnes while imports account for 2.5 million metric tonnes.
Local production recently dropped from 2.835 million metric tonnes to about 2.701 million metric tonnes, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The USDA projected that local rice production would hit 2.730 million metric tonnes by December 2017. Imports are also expected to fall by 400,000 metric tonnes to 2.1 metric tonnes by 2017.
A major rice distributor in Lagos, Mrs. Olufunke Coker, said she had paid for the 10 trailers of rice for the past one month but she could only get two trailers.
Umza was said to be so overwhelmed with orders that the management of the company had resorted to rejecting fresh orders from people needing the commodity.
Although importation of rice is allowed through the seaports, importers said they were required to source for forex from the parallel market at the exchange rate of over N400 to one dollar to bring the product into the country. Investigations revealed that the situation sometimes forced dealers to buy smuggled rice from Cotonou at the risk of having their consignments impounded by the Nigeria Customs Service.
Recently, officials of the NCS seized more than six trailers of rice suspected to be smuggled from some shops at the Iddo Railway Terminus, Lagos.
The spokesman for the NCS, Mr. Wale Adeniyi, said the service had received information that some smuggled trailers of rice were taken to the terminus, which prompted the raid.
Following the fall in crude oil prices and drop in Nigeria’s foreign reserves, the government had through the Central Bank of Nigeria restricted importation including banning the importation of rice.
It was gathered that efforts by major rice producing states to boost production in November 2015 had resulted in the adoption of the dry season rice farming scheme, deploying improved rice seedlings in Kebbi State.
Speaking in an interview, the former Deputy Governor of Kebbi State, Sulaiman Argungu, said the dry season farming had yielded a harvest of 1.5 million metric tonnes of paddy rice.
An Anambra State local rice miller and Chairman of Stine Industries, Chief Akai Egwuonwu, said rice production would increase by November this year, adding that this could push down the price of the product, currently hovering around N20, 000 per 50kg bag

Rice stakeholders discuss policy directions on rice security
Various stakeholders from the rice industry gathered in a policy seminar-workshop to discuss issues and recommendations in the countrys quest for rice security, Sept. 30.
With the theme, Toward a rice-secure Philippines: Identifying key priority government interventions in 2017-2022, the activity aimed to identify strategies that could help attain the Department of Agricultures three-point agenda under the leadership of Sec. Emmanuel Manny Piñol. This includes: fast and effective agricultural technology transfer to farmers; easy access to financing; and efficient marketing for farmers' produce. 
Raymond Patrick Cabrera, senior agriculturist of the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research, presented the current rice research and development projects implemented through partnerships and collaborations with international, national, and local R&D institutions.

Cabrera also presented the Rice Research Development and Extension Agenda and Programs (RDEAP) as a reference material to guide the path towards a competitive, sustainable, and resilient rice industry.
On the rice extension session, Dr. Eliseo Ponce, former professor of research and extension management of the Visayas State University, talked about issues, challenges, and opportunities of the rice extension system in the Philippines. He recommends the national government to identify structural or organizational barriers to an effective rice extension system and institute the corresponding policy solutions.
Participants of the forum also learned about the Fostering Agriculture and Rice Marketing by Improved Education and Rural Advisory Services (FARMERS) project of the Better Rice Initiative for Asia (BRIA) Philippines.

According to Nomer Esmero, BRIA PH’s senior national coordinator, FARMERS is a public-private partnership initiative that includes efforts for better rice production, better market linkage, and documentation of project insights and good practices as reference of partner agencies at national and regional levels. 
Meanwhile, Dr. Roehlano Briones, senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), identified factors for rice marketing inefficiency in the country. To solve this issue, he recommends the establishment of wholesale palay markets that "should come as a package" by introducing palay grades and standards; weighing, drying, and storage facilities; and compulsory warehouse receipts among other features.
Also part of the event was the launch of the book Competitiveness of Philippine Rice in Asia authored by socio-economists from PhilRice and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The book is a product of the study Benchmarking the Philippine rice economy relative to major rice-producing countries in Asia.
Outputs of the workshop sessions in research for development (R4D), marketing and trade, rice extension system, and support services for farmers, will be presented to Sec. Piñol by the Socioeconomics Division of PhilRice that organized the policy forum.
“For us to make an impact on the lives of our farmers economically, we need to bridge them to our policymakers for them to better understand our farmers’ dilemmas. To do this, we need to craft and submit relevant policy papers to support legislation,” said Dr. Sailila Abdula, acting executive director of PhilRice.
R4D and rice security was the theme of the 29th National R&D Conference where Abdula presented the new strategic plan of the Institute anchored on its vision of a rice secure Philippines. 

PhilRice develops software for grain quality evaluation
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.