Monday, December 05, 2016

پانچ دسمبر،۲۰۱۶ ڈیلی رائس رائس نیوز ایل لیٹر 5th December,2016 Daily Global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Halal food sector has potential to boost exports

By Webmaster - Salim Ahmed
December 2, 2016
Lahore—Federal Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security & Research Muhammad Abid Javed has said that special attention is being given to the Halal food sector it has the ability to give a quantum jump to the national exports.He was speaking here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Thursday. The LCCI President Abdul Basit and former President Shahzad Ali Malik also spoke on the occasion while former Vice Presidents Aftab Ahmed Vohra, Abuzar Shad, Mian Zahid Javed, Muhammad Arshad Chaudhry, Ali Hussam Asghar, Tehmina Saeed Chaudhry, former Executive Committee Members Rehmatullah Javed, Naseeb Ahmed Saifee, Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed and Ghulam Sarwar Malik were present in the meeting.
Federal Secretary said that Rice Research Institute is continuously working in to introduce new varieties and recently two new varieties have been introduced that would help enhance rice exports. He said that there is a high demand for Pakistani basmati rice in the global market. He said that import of tomato from India has been stopped as country has enough production to meet the domestic demand.The LCCI President Abdul Basit said that Pakistan is an agrarian economy could not be able to draw the potential benefits of this sector. It is a matter of concern concern that during fiscal year of 2015-2016, the performance of agriculture sector as a whole remained dismal.
He said that unlike other sectors of economy, the agriculture sector witnessed a negative growth of 0.19% against 2.53% growth during the same period last year. The growth of crops also declined by 6.25%, while the other sub component of agriculture sector like livestock, forestry and fishing posted positive growth of 3.63%, 8.84% and 3.25%, respectively.“It is really unfortunate that we lag terribly behind in producing the desired results. It is high time that our farmers and local entrepreneurs related to food and its associated sectors must be motivated to modernize their processes. For that matter, the Ministry of National Food Security can play pivotal role”, Abdul Basit added.
He said that since there are number of research institutions working under the control of the ministry, so, it is suggested that they should take this responsibility to highlight the benefits of adopting new ways and technologies to increase the existing low level of agri yield.

We believe that there can be better results if the cost factor of availing such facilities is as minimized as possible.
Former LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik said that the total size of Halal market in global trade is around 3 trillion dollars and Pakistan has insignificant share in it. We have a natural base for producing Halal products and this unique characteristic should be aggressively marketed to earn appropriate share.He said that in addition to 5 exports oriented sectors which have been declared zero-rated, the food sector should also be awarded the same status. This step will encourage the exports of agri-produce and eventually our farmers will be able to fetch better prices.
Shahzad Ali Malik said that it is the age of hybrid technology and every sector of economy is focusing on it. For agriculture sector, the hybrid seeds are mostly imported from other countries. We are of the view that maximum facilities and incentives should be given to local hybrid seed producers so that they could be able to contribute more. Likewise, the government should encourage them to expand their production capacity to be able to export hybrid seeds. These efforts will also play important role in giving boost to agri-produce and job creation.
He said that all seed materials are tested by federal agency throughout Pakistan. We demand that the same institution should be made responsible for issuance of legal documents which will make it easy to market these seeds all across the country. Our members have experienced great hurdles by the provincial agriculture regulatory bodies in this connection.

Basmati rice: BGA for tapping potential of Chinese market

December 03, 2016
Basmati Growers Association (BGA) of Pakistan Chairman Chaudhry Hamid Malhi has urged the government and the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) to tap the potential of huge Chinese market for exporting basmati rice from Pakistan. Talking to Business Recorder on Friday, Malhi said that the Chinese market was emerging as a big importer of rice and their government, departments concerned and exporters should tap it by studying the dimensions of this market, its requirement and conditions set for making a place in that important neighbouring market.

Referring to a news item appeared in Indian press that the Chinese had agreed to import Basmati rice from 14 Indian companies, the BGA Chairman raised the question on performance of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and the Ministry of Commerce Pakistan. Chaudhry Hamid Malhi, who is also Director of the Farmers Associates of Pakistan (FAP), said it was astonishing that the quarters concerned with increasing exports of different commodities could not en-cash the opportunity and India took the lead.

"We have an estimated production of 2.3-2.4 million tons of Basmati rice this year out of which domestically we may consume only one million tons. The rest of 1.3-1.4 million tons is available for export and earning the precious foreign exchange. But it seemed that the rice exporters and the departments concerned are not even in the knowledge of such a big market in their neighbourhood," Malhi alleged.

Malhi urged the Commerce Ministry to seriously ponder over the reasons that why China had to approach Indians for buying Basmati rice. He said that still big room of exporting their aromatic rice variety to China exists as India alone could not meet requirement of that huge population. He said that their companies should study different conditions set by the Chinese government to have an access to that huge market.

China lifts restrictions on imports of non-basmati rice from India

China has granted phytosanitary clearances to 14 Indian rice exporters.

Good news for Indian rice exporters! China has for the first time granted phytosanitary clearances to 14 Indian rice exporters, including Amira Pure Foods, LT Foods and Kohinoor Foods after it had imposed non-tariff barriers on imports of non-basmati rice from India. The other Indian rice exporters who have also received exports approvals from China include Best Foods, DRRK Foods, Ebro India, KRBL, MR Overseas, Nature Bio Foods, Pari India, Sarveshwar Foods, SSA International, Sunstar Overseas and United Exports.
In September, a team consisting of 19 Indian rice millers visited China to address their concerns with the relevant Chinese authorities, following which China announced in a recent communication to the Indian government that it has okayed for 14 rice exporting companies out of the 19 to ship non-basmati rice into the Chinese market.
Several officials from China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine paid their visits to these mills, located in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to inspect the quality of rice and the methods adopted by these millers in making the commodity safe and secured.
The rice exporters have to be registered with India’s National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) if they plan to ship their commodities to China. China had restricted imports of non-basmati rice citing concerns over the presence of khapra beetle in India’s crop. The decision comes at a time when India’s commodity exports, including rice have been witnessing a sharp decline.
However, India continues to be a major exporter of basmati rice to China, even though exports have been declining over the past few years. India’s exports of basmati rice to China in 2015-16 stood at $3.86 billion against $4.78 billion in 2014-15 and $5.03 billion in 2013-14.    
The International Grains Council (IGC) estimated China to import about 4.1 million tonnes of rice in 2016-17, slightly down from 4.2 million tonnes a year earlier, while India’s rice exports during the same period will grow marginally to 10.5 million tonnes from 10.4 million tonnes a year ago.
India’s rice exports fell considerably to $5.79 billion in 2015-16 as against $7.84 billion in 2014-15, but rice exports still accounted for 18% of country’s total farm exports last year.
Earlier this year, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister met Chinese ambassador-designate to India and expressed her concerns about the delay in issuing clearances. India has been seeking greater market access for its farm and commodity products, especially since India’s trade deficit with China has continued to rise over the years. India’s trade deficit with China mounted to almost $53 billion in 2015-16 from $48.48 billion in the previous fiscal. This year, its trade deficit with China has already reached $25.22 billion during the April-September period of 2016-17

Health effects of arsenic in Pakistan

By Webmaster - Maham Khalid

Exposure to various chemicals in everyday objects poses a hidden health threat. Although low levels of most of these toxicants may be of little significance, continuous exposures lead to increased dose and therefore significant damage to our body. Arsenic is a highly toxic element that is naturally present in nature, and in man-made products, including some pesticides.
In Pakistan arsenic contamination is prevalent mainly in Punjab and Sindh provinces and the hazard in drinking water drawn from wells is well known. Mainly arsenic is found in 5 foods that shouldn’t be a part of our regular diet: 1- Brussels sprouts 2- Dark meet fish 3- Rice 4- Chicken and poultry 5- Beer and wine. Arsenic poisoning is a medical condition that occurs due to elevated levels of arsenic in the body. If exposure occurs over a brief period of time symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal pain and watery diarrhoea that contains blood.
Long term exposure can result in thickening of the skin, darker skin, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, heart disease, numbness, and cancer. Arsenic exposure affects virtually all organ systems including the cardiovascular, dermatology, nervous, hepatobiliary, renal, gastro-intestinal, and respiratory systems. Therefore, people who have been exposed to high concentrations of arsenic display diabetes, hearing loss, portal fibrosis, haematology disorders. Exposure to arsenic in the workplace by inhalation can also cause lung cancer. The likelihood of cancer is related to the level and duration of exposure.
So we should monitor the level of arsenic that is being discharged from industries and other human activities to avoid damage to human health. There are a number of options to reduce levels of arsenic in drinking-water and in food. Test all groundwater sources of drinking water for arsenic. If you’re preparing rice, rinse it thoroughly. Boil brown rice in a lot of water. Instead of rice cereal as the first solid food for babies, try orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and squash, bananas, and avocados.

Rice mills in Larkana shut as workers go on strike

LARKANA: A large number of rice factories workers, after their unproductive talks with rice millers on enhancing wage, took to the streets of the city on Saturday after announcing an indefinite strike at 42 mills.
Led by Rice Factories Labour Union president Qadir Bakhsh Kurd and Rice Mills Workers chairman Abdul Aziz Abbasi, the participants marched from Labour Colony to Jiannahbagh gate, where they held a demonstration.Speaking to them, Mr Kurd said that currently around 4,000 workers were serving in 42 rice mills functioning in Larkana and on its outskirts alone.
“Normally they get different percentages on loading, unloading, stocking, milling and weighing processes at the mills. In 2014, mill-owners and rice factories labour union had agreed to enhance 40 per cent in the present wage.“This year, the agreement has expired and the labour union had in August given the notices to the rice millers to sign a new agreement with certain enhancement and revisions in the earlier wages. But they are running away from talks which has resulted in mounting unrest among workers,” he said.
Workers were demanding an overall 20 per cent rise, Mr Kurd said, but the millers were not ready to accept their demand.On Friday night, talks between millers’ representative, Ramesh Lal, and labour leaders in the presence of labour department official Nagina Memon were held but the session remained fruitless, which compelled workers to go for a strike, said Aziz Abbasi.
The workers did not to turn up to their assignments on Saturday which led to closure of mills. The labour union had announced continuing the strike till the acceptance of their demands.An official word and mill owners’ statement about the strike and inconclusive negotiations between the two sides were yet to be made public.
Published in Dawn December 4th, 2016

December 04, 2016

LAHORE: Rice output in Punjab is likely to fall nearly six percent to 3.3 million tons during the current crop year of 2016/17 as the sowing area in the province touched decade-low levels, government projected on Saturday. In the last crop season, rice output was recorded at 3.5 million tons in the province, accounting for more than half of the country’s total outputs.Official figures showed that area under rice cultivation plummeted to 1.70 million hectares in the current agriculture year, which was the lowest sowing area in the past 10 years. In 2007/08, the acreage was recorded at 1.72 million hectares.
In 2015/16, paddy was planted on around 1.78 million hectares. Overall, rice acreage fell 4.7 percent in the current season over the previous year.Rice was planted on 1.78 million hectares in 2015/16 as against 1.87 million hectares in 2014/15, showing a 5.2 percent decline.Pakistan’s Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) has set 2016-17 (July – June) rice production (milled basis) target at around 6.83 million tons from around 2.8 million hectares.An expected crop shortage has already ignited a price hike at the local markets.Wholesale price of new milled rice rose to Rs80-85/kilogramme from Rs55-60/kg last year.
Usually, milled rice wholesale prices came down to Rs50-60/kg with the advent of paddy harvesting. “This time around, soaring prices have baffled traders,” a trader said. “Low output forecast further aggravated the situation.”During the last decade, rice sowing area in the province ranges between 1.70 million and 1.97 million hectares. Acreage shrinkage was observed in the last couple of years. Over the past two-year alone, sowing area shrank approximately 10 percent.In 2014-15, paddy output stood at 3.64 million tons, down four percent over the previous year.
An official said farmers are getting low returns owing to a huge carryover stocks. Besides, better profits on fodder and other competitive crops encouraged farmers to switch to those crops. “Erratic monsoon rainfalls were also one of the reasons of a relatively low output,” he added.Rice, being one of the staple foods, is cash crop of Pakistan. Fed on the western rivers, Punjab is blessed with the biggest rice producing belt of the country, occupying a major chunk of total national cropped area.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in a report released in July, raised Pakistan’s exports forecast for 2016/17 by 0.1 million tons to 4.5 million tons on a stronger pace of trade only if the country achieves rice production of seven million tons.The United States Department of Agriculture projected around 20 percent more purchases by Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan from Pakistan.   The country exported 3.946 million tons of rice during the July-May period of 2015/16

Philippines plans rice import deal

Submitted by Eleven on Sun, 12/04/2016 - 15:23
Writer: Nilar
The Philippines has offered to make a government-to-government treaty to buy rice from Myanmar, according to the Ministry of Commerce.“The Philippines has offered to buy rice. More detailed discussions are needed [for the treaty]. Currently it imports rice mainly from Vietnam. Its market makes enormous demands on rice,” said Khin Maung Lwin, a senior official from the ministry.The Philippines would become an excellent market for rice when the deal was made, the civil servants said.
The Philippines also offered to buy rice from Myanmar in early 2016 but failed to make a deal. As there was a price gap between Myanmar and Vietnam, the latter apparently won the tender for a rice deal.Myanmar exported more than 80 per cent of rice to China through the Muse border centre. When Muse was attacked by rebels in late November, rice traders said they were preparing to export more rice by sea. Myanmar exports rice to 33 countries and more exports went to the African market this year.The country produced 13.5 million baskets of rice during the last fiscal year and exported nearly 1.5 million tonnes in the year.The government said it was working with experts, exporters and farmers to export more rice in the coming years.
Translated by TTW

Ebonyi and foreign rice ban

Posted By: Emeka Omeiheon: December 05, 2016In: Emeka Omeihe

Apparently buoyed by emerging support for its ban on the sale and consumption of foreign rice, the Ebonyi State government has to set up a task force to ensure full compliance.Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh had commended the state government for the decision to ban the sale and consumption of foreign rice during his assessment tour of some rice projects in the state. Ogbeh who was accompanied by the chairman, Presidential Committee on Rice Production, Abubakar Bagudu and CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele commended Governor Dave Umahi for ensuring massive rice production in the state. He said “I heard you banned the sale of foreign rice in your state, God bless you for it”.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu had in a different forum, endorsed the ban thus: “I support the ban on sale of foreign rice in Ebonyi. We have to start somewhere. What we know is that local production is not enough but we should consume it and that is not an excuse for importing rice”.
Umahi directed the taskforce to “confiscate foreign rice found in our markets, the person should give us the certificate of the quality of the rice and has to provide the import duties paid for it, where he bought it from and give us Standard of Organization of Nigeria certificate to prove that the rice is not poisonous”. He sought to justify these measures on the grounds that some foreign rice were poisonous having been stored for over 20 years abroad before they were smuggled into the country.
On the face value, it would seem all is well with the decision of the Ebonyi State government to ban the sale and consumption of foreign rice. This is especially so as the seeming overall objective is to discourage the consumption of imported rice and boost the consumption and production of local variant. This thinking is further supported given that Ebonyi has great potentials for the production of local rice which is said to be of better nutritive value than the imported variety. There is also a lot of economy of scale that will follow if our people are made to consume the rice we produce. It will create jobs, enhance income per capita and catalyze a positive leap in the general well-being of our people. These benefits are not in doubt. There is also the compelling imperative to discourage the seeming insatiable appetite of our people for what is foreign. Thus, the inward looking approach for solutions to our developmental problems cannot be faulted.
These may have been some of the considerations that compelled Umahi to ban the sale of foreign rice –a product the state has elastic capacity to produce. Through the ban, it is seeking to encourage the consumption of locally produced rice which will in turn lead to increased production, job creation and improvement in the general well-being of the people. Conceived along this line, the ban would seem a step worth its while.
But its success would depend on a number of extenuating variables some of which are beyond the control of the state government. The first presumption of the policy is that Ebonyi has available, enough local rice to meet domestic demand. The veracity of this claim is clearly in doubt. For a start, it is doubtful if the state government has accurate statistics on the quantity of rice consumed in the state yearly. It is unlikely to have one since it has no way of monitoring the quantity of foreign rice that hitherto came into the state.
Even if it is privy to the quantum of local rice produced in the state, the unavailability of reliable data on consumption could in effect, render the policy nugatory. There could be scarcity of the product which in turn, will lead to price increase. It is also doubtful Ebonyi can produce sufficient rice to feed its people when the commodity is sold and consumed beyond the shores of the state.
If Umahi discovers that the rice produced in his state cannot go round as it is sold in other states, will he then turn around and ban its sale outside the boundaries of the state? This poser is at the heart of the contradiction brought to the fore by the sole action of that state in banning the sale of foreign rice contrary to extant policy of the federal government. The same contradictions were at play when Umahi directed the taskforce to extract from foreign rice sellers such information as certificate of quality, duties paid on the commodity and certificate from SON that the rice is not poisonous.
These issues are beyond the mandate of the state government as we have a surfeit of regulatory agencies for such assignments. Moreover, Ebonyi State is a land locked state. It neither has a seaport or airport nor does it share borders with any foreign country. What then is the propriety in going into the markets to inundate retailers with all these details that ordinarily should be supplied by importers at the ports of entry? Why hold the poor retailers responsible for issues they know little or nothing about?
How many of our rice importers have their head offices in Ebonyi and how many of them are from that state if any? These posers have been raised to underscore the incongruity in some of the demands the task force has been assigned to confront foreign rice seller with. They also reinforce the problems we run into when we roll out an isolated policy that ignores extant position of the federal government on the matter.
Ebonyi State went beyond its mandate to have unilaterally banned the sale and consumption of foreign rice in the state. The action is loaded with more problems than whatever benefits it is bound to achieve.  Apart from the fact that it cannot guarantee sufficient supply of local rice, it will amount to an undue harassment of foreign rice sellers, most of whom are middlemen and retailers.
For such a ban to have meaning, the initiative should come from the federal government. But it cannot do so because of the mismatch between domestic production and consumption. Besides, Nigeria is signatory to many treaties on trade liberalization that frown at trade restrictions or outright ban on the importation of commodities. So where does the Ebonyi case fit within this matrix and of what value will it be in the overall national calculations to increase the consumption and production of local rice?
The federal government said it has initiated measures in several fronts to boost domestic rice production. These should be pursued with greater vigour. Audu Ogbeh has promised government’s rehabilitation of the Ettem Amagu Ikwo Dam, supply of rice harvesters, threshers and parboiling drums to the state. These are the issues to be vigorously pursued by the Ebonyi State government to ensure it gets its fair share of them.
The overall objective now should be to substantially increase domestic production of rice that can fairly compete with the imported ones. Once this has been achieved, the lure of force as a veritable tool to secure local consumption compliance will fizzle out unilaterally. Then, Ebonyi will have no need for a task force that will confiscate imported rice within its shores.
More importantly, with the phenomenal high price of imported rice, the availability of cheaper local variant should be a soothing relief to the people of the state. By simple economic laws, this will result in a shift of patronage to the cheaper alternative. If we still depend on force to get our people to consume our local rice despite its cheaper price, it should instruct we are yet to get our acts right.
These are the issue to worry about. The right approach is to get more rice produced, refined in such a way that will command local patronage. Then, there would be no need to worry about foreign rice influx and use of taskforces to harass sellers of the commodity. For now, the approach of the Ebonyi State government to the matter is a verity of putting the cart before the horse; an exercise in shadow chasing

RDB Loans Prevent Middlemen From Cheating Farmers

In a bid to stabilize falling prices, the Cambodian government in late September gave the green light to the Rural Development Bank (RDB) to disburse loans totaling $27 million to millers to buy paddy rice from farmers at 840 riel ($0.21) per kilogram.
Khmer Times’ Chea Vannak spoke with Kao Thach, RDB’s president, on the bank’s efforts to revive the country’s beleaguered rice sector.

KT: Can you tell us the progress of the disbursement of the government’s special loan to the rice sector?
Mr. Thach: The RDB has disbursed about $1.5 million, since the government approved $20 million to be given out as special loans to rice millers – with another $7 million coming from the RDB. The loans have been made out to a few rice millers in Battambang and Pursat provinces. Only five rice millers applied for the loans. Two of them, however, withdrew their applications.

KT: What is the reason for the poor response from rice millers?

 Mr. Thach: In RDB’s loan policy, rice millers have to buy paddy rice from farmers at the price set by the bank. But many of the millers refuse to adhere to that policy and want to purchase farmer’s paddy rice at a lower price. That defeats the whole purpose of the special loans. Rice millers were supposed to pass on the benefits to farmers, and not the other way around. The loans were also meant to help farmers from being shortchanged by middlemen.

Also, rice millers are wary of storing large quantities of paddy rice in the warehouses due to fluctuations in the international commodity markets.It’s due to these reasons that the number of loan applications have been low.

KT: Does the RDB have plans to reduce the interest rate of the special loan?

Mr. Thach: I think a seven percent interest rate is reasonable within the context of current interest rates offered by banks, especially for the agriculture sector. The RDB interest rate is on par with business loans.
 The current interest rates set by commercial banks and microfinance institutions for loans in the agriculture sector range from 10 to 24 percent, due to the risk factor. So, RDB’s interest rate is still reasonable.

KT: The government has also approved $15 million in loans, to be disbursed by RDB, to rice millers for the building of warehouses and rice silos. What is the difference between this new loan and the special loan?

Mr. Thach: The $15 million has just been approved by the government and the disbursement has not been made yet by the RDB. The $20 million special loan is a short-term intervention that is supposed to provide working capital for rice millers during this year’s harvest period, and is repayable next May.

The new $15 million loan is more long term. It focuses on helping rice millers build warehouses and silos with good storage facilities, so that the quality of rice does not fall if it is kept for a long time.

KT: The current price of rice is low on the commodity markets. Does RDB have a plan to help rice farmers during this period?

Mr. Thach: What we can do to help rice farmers is to provide them with loans to improve their cultivation methods and use better quality seeds. During this period when rice prices are low, RDB encourages farmers to go into contract farming. Contract farming may be considered as an effective risk management system for small farmers, enhancing their accessibility to farm inputs and ensuring more stable prices for their harvests.

So, RDB will work with farmers to help them understand the advantages of contract farming. We will also, at the same time, work with rice millers to help them buy paddy rice from contract farmers. In those areas where contract rice farming is practiced, RDB will offer loans to farmers. They don’t have to seek high-interest loans from commercial banks or microfinance institutions.

KT: Besides the rice sector, what other sectors does the RDB deal with?                                                           
Mr. Thach: RDB also focuses on the pepper, cassava, rubber and animal husbandry sectors. We consider Kampot pepper as a strategic crop due to its geographic indication status given by the European Union. RDB loans will therefore improve the livelihoods of farmers growing Kampot pepper.

 RDB is also encouraging farmers to diversify into animal husbandry – so that they will have an income through the year, rather than just depending on seasonal harvests of crops.
 The rice sector is still important for RDB. Close to 60 percent of our loans go to the sector.

KT: What is your outlook for 2017?

Mr. Thach: The RDB is a state-run institution and so we work according to government policy. We are working to support the government’s aim to export one million tons of rice a year.Next year, we plan to change our name from the Rural Development Bank to the Agriculture Bank. We hope to better serve our clients by offering them other services, currently only available in private banks

Father of ‘miracle rice’ to receive presidential award

Dr. Peter Randolph Jennings is credited for the discovery of the IR-8 rice variety

Published December 3, 2016, 1:33 PM
By MB Online
The American scientist credited as the father of the so-called “miracle rice” is set to be honored by President Rodrigo Duterte this month.Peter Randolph Jennings, Ph.D. will receive a presidential award for breeding and developing the IR-8 variety 50 years ago, agriculture secretary Manny Piñol confirmed Saturday, December 3.Piñol said Duterte “immediately endorsed” the bestowing of the award to Jennings upon the department’s recommendation, noting the contributions of scientists like Jennings in efforts “to address hunger in the world.”
Dr. Peter Randolph Jennings | | Manila Bulletin
Jennings, now 90, discovered the IR-8 variety—a product of breeding Chinese dwarf rice with an Indian tall variety—in November 1966 during his time at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).Piñol extolled  that the discovery “led to the development of the IR series of rice varieties which posted very high yields and contributed to the increase of rice production all over the world.”
He added the so-called miracle rice contributed to addressing hunger and, for a time, helped the Philippines become a rice-exporting country when then president Ferdinand Marcos introduced the variety to Filipino farmers.Piñol also said the department will request House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, as endorsed by former secretaries Domingo Panganiban and Leonardo Montemayor, to confer Jennings with a congressional award.
On Tuesday, November 29, IRRI marked the 50th anniversary of the “discovery” of the miracle rice with ceremonies in the IRRI compound in Los Baños, Laguna. Jennings spoke at the event.

Nigerians prefer lawmakers that give them bags of rice, Reps member laments

ON DECEMBER 3, 201610:00 AMIN Dogara tasks NASS on transparency By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA – Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon Chukwuka Onyema, on Friday, said it was unfortunate that Nigerians prefer bags of rice to quality legislations. Onyema who spoke at a roundtable conference organised by the House Committee on Civil Societies and Development Partners, decried that people are more concerned about material things they stand to gain from their Representatives, than the quality of Bills being passed by the National Assembly. He represented the Speaker of the House of Reps, Hon. Yakubu Dogara at the conference which had the theme, ‘Bridging the Gap Between The Elected Representatives and Their Constituents’.

According to him, “Nigerians want you to go and steal all the money in the world and come and give them, then you have done well. But even if you pass over 100 legislative Bills, to them you have not done well. “That is very wrong. We have to get it right. For instance, if you go to your constituency and tell them I did this and that at the parliament, they will just be looking at you, like what is this one saying. “But if you tell them I gave this and that scholarship, or there are bags of rice outside to be shared, they will applaud you that you have done well. “This is totally wrong and must be corrected. That is not our work. I think it is high time we started realising some of these things. This is why I think this kind of forum is very very important”.

Meantime, in a paper he presented at the event, a former Minority Whip at the House of Reps, Hon. Samson Osagie, insisted that the National Assembly is the most vilified, misunderstood and unappreciated among the three organs of government. “This is why the Legislature and its committees should do everything possible to reinvent itself”, he added. He said: “The ever growing expectations of the constituents from their representatives necessitates that the latter must evolve strategies to meet with those or at least some of those expectations. “Of course, the nature of our economy does not make the job of a representative an easy one. With the high rate of inflation and huge unemployment, the Legislator is in a very difficult position on how to meet not just the social needs of the communities he represents but the basic individual needs of his constituents.

“Regrettably is the gross misunderstanding of this herculean task that the Lawmaker has to face. As earlier stated, the members of the National Assembly are the most hated, vilified and unappreciated by many Nigerians on account of the alleged salaries and allowances that they earn, yet they are confronted with huge responsibilities to discharge. “Therefore, it is imperative that a Lawmaker must device some strategies to constantly carry along his constituents”. He further decried the influence of money on politics in Nigeria, saying it was the major reason behind the do-or-die attitude of politicians. “At the end of the day you are judged by how much million you are ready to give to people.

“They follow you to the election and at the end of the day they want you to make them millionaires. “I left office over a year ago. Someone told me that the problem I had was that I did not make people millionaires. “The syndrome of god-fatherism is another factor. When one man decides who will be the representative of so many people. Now if you don’t have money you don’t go into politics. That is what it has turned to. At the end of the day, when you sale all your things and contest election, it becomes a problem. “In conclusion, it is suggested that as a way forward, our electoral system must be reviewed and implemented. “Political parties must also evolve strategies to make elections particularly at the primary levels less expensive and competitive. They must also ensure that government implement it’s manifestos.

 “Voter education must be the collective responsibility of nothing government, electoral umpire and political parties. This must be done regularly. Above all, representatives must maintain very close and cordial relationship with their constituents”. In his speech that was read by Hon. Onyema, Dogara, said the conference was timely and apt. “It is also coming at a time in our nation when there is a genuine misunderstanding of the duties, responsibilities and activities of elected representatives and their desire to attract projects and services back to their constituencies, by way of constituency intervention projects. “There can be no effective representation if an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion exists as to the intentions and rational for the actions of elected persons.

“The desire of elected representatives to make an impact in their constituencies is borne out of the need for service. No elected person worth his salt would be satisfied if he is unable to point out at the end of the day, what he has been able to accomplish within the period of his mandate. “This Roundtable is particularly important because there is a yawning gap between the activities of Representatives and the recipients of his services. To bridge this gap, greater effort should be made in communicating effectively the activities of elected Representatives. We should have regular town hall meetings, regular consultative processes, and regular media engagement, if this problem is to be solved “The legislature is often misunderstood because its role is unappreciated.

The work of the legislature is mainly intangible but the public hunger and measure of performance relates to tangible things. If a legislator works on a bill and gets it passed, the constituent may not take note, if a Legislator speaks ‘big grammar’ an makes meaningful contributions in Plenary or Committee, it is hardly noticed by his constituent. “Time has also come for democratic institution like the National Assembly to communicate better, its processes and activities to the public. Time has come for the National Assembly to publicly answer any questions relating to its activities and funding.

 “It seems to us that over the years the legislature has adopted the policy of non-response when its activities are called to question. Most often a simple explanation is what is required. “But when none is forthcoming, mischief makers, ignorant and misinformed pundits are left to fill the public space with lies, falsehood and misinformation”, Dogara added. On his part, the Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, harped on the need fo better collaboration between the National Assembly and Civil Society Organisations

DA launches color-coded agri map

 December 05, 2016

QUEZON CITY, Dec.5 - The Department of Agriculture recently launched a color-coded national agricultural map derived from combining factors affecting agri-fishery production such as soil properties, water availability, climate topography and at the regional level, economics and demography.This is one one of several interventions that Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol initiated in the last five months to fulfill President Duterte’s promise of food sufficiency by the end of his term.

The launching of the map which analyzes agricultural efficiency and land use was led by Piñol, DA officials and Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA) officials. AMIA defines the agriculture department’s national framework in addressing climate change in agriculture and serves as the umbrella program covering climate change across all programs, functions and agencies at the DA.

Piñol, speaking at the 50th anniversary of the breeding of IR8 or the Miracle Rice at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos Laguna Tuesday, bared four other major interventions since he took over the agriculture portfolio last July.

These include:

– The national food consumption quantification survey, currently being undertaken, which will give accurate statistics on food supply and consumption.

– Paradigm shift in irrigation wherein for the first time in the history of rice farming in the country, irrigation water will be provided free by the National Irrigation Administration starting next year. The DA is also moving towards solar-powered and small irrigation projects.

– Corporate rice farming which will directly link farmer producers with corporate buyers including the Social Welfare department’s 4Ps rice ration program to free them from the manipulation of traders and middlemen. It will also give farmers access to quality rice seeds and fertilizers.

– Mechanization and post-harvest facilities, one area where the DA will focus its resources on in the coming years of the Duterte administration.

Piñol bared that the $6-billion being offered by the Chinese government during the state visit of President Duterte may be used in completing the mechanization and establishment of post-harvest facilities.

Negotiations, he said, are also being initiated with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for a long term equipment loan from the Japanese government.

“It has been a long and tiring five months for me but it is a journey which I have to continue doing until the end of the term of President Duterte,” he said.

Last October 10, during their visit to Lamitan City in Basilan, Piñol said he hold the president that, “the strong foundations of a sound agriculture program, including rice production, must be implemented during his term.”

He pointed out that he is comfortable with the thought that the President shares his vision of a sound agricultural program that will provide “available and affordable food for the Filipino people. (DA)

Alternatives to rationalise consumption

THE HANS INDIA |    Dec 05,2016 , 03:18 AM IST

Driven by conservation concerns about the huge pressure on the water resources in the country, there is a growing debate in India about the feasibility of cultivating paddy crops. Such apprehensions are based on the premise that paddy consumes huge quantum of water and consequently it is proving to be a drain on depleting water resources in India.On an average, 2,500 liters of water is required for producing one kg of rice. Keeping these pointers in perspective, there are views making the rounds that perhaps rice cultivators should replace paddy with other crops. Considering the heavy dependence on rice by a majority of consumers in India and also the existent large scale cultivation of paddy crop across the length and breadth of the country, a total and drastic shift towards alternate crops can disrupt the economy apart from causing disorientation among the farmers. 

So what is the solution to this heavy consumption of water?  Do we have to choose between water and rice? 
Agriculture scientists have developed methods that offer scope for minimizing water usage in paddy cultivation. Maximum quantity of water consumption occurs during the transplanting phase. The crop is transplanted in 5 inches of water which through certain methods can be avoided.

In fact, the water used during transplanting serves only one purpose – it prevents accumulation of weeds.  Explaining this practice to The Hans India, Dr. Ravindra Babu, Director, Hyderabad based-Indian Institute of Rice Research said that the farmers continue with the practice of submerging the crop in 5 inches of water because it helps them suppress the growth and proliferation of weed. “This practice was practical at a point time when there was no constraint on water resources.

But, now because of water scarcity there is no need to continue this method in cropping.”  Two major problems crops up in the process of transplantation - emission of hazardous greenhouse gases (GHS) from the submerged crops in addition to the disadvantage of the roots not getting properly aerated because of the submergence.  Dr. Ravindra Babu pointed out that contrary to general impressions “Rice is not a water loving crop.”  According to him maximum water is consumed only during transplantation stage.

“In fact, the process of transplantation can be totally done away with, and, replaced by direct seeding. This will not reduce water usage for cultivation by 50%.” Dr Ravindra Babu informed that wetting and drying methods are also being promoted among the farmers. Farmers can save another40% water by adapting wetting and drying methods.” Moreover, by using these methods, the yield would be higher than what the farmers use to get through flooding or submergence.” 

In addition to minimizing water usage, another very significant advantage of direct seeding, wetting and drying is that these methods enable reduction in the cost of manual labour.  Already, these methods are being adapted by farmers in east and west Godavari, Haryana, Punjab and various other states in the country. Hopefully, once these alternate methods that rationalize water consumption gains momentum in the country, then India can have both rice and also the water.

By  Satyapal Menon

How to sift real rice from the fake

Reader Boey San Fei wrote in to ask about basmati rice: "If we suspect the rice that we have bought is fake, where do we send it for verification?" Food reporter Kenneth Goh finds out.
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) is the authority in Singapore which conducts food-safety checks. If you suspect the rice is fake - that is, synthetic rice, as purportedly has been found in countries like China and Vietnam - then the AVA is the organisation to approach to verify that the rice is indeed real.


Monday, 05 December 2016 | Pioneer | 1

It saved many nations like India from famine
The introduction of ‘IR8’ — a new variety of rice in November 1967, by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Manila, pioneered the green revolution in rice. This November, the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of IR8’s arrival. Indeed, it was a milestone in the field of rice research, and for the rice-growing nations of Asia too. According to reports, the arrival of IR8 saved millions from starvation in countries like India, where very few varieties of rice were available at that time. Besides jump-starting agricultural production across Asia, IR8 has had a remarkable advantage over other rice types that were grown in Asia. This variety requires nearly about 130 days to get mature, whereas the traditional ones take around 160 to 170 days.
Many rice-growing farmers and seasonal cultivators took to IR8 for this reason. Eventually, it did bring miraculous results as it helped various nations address acute problems of food shortage. The story of IR8 and the emergence of subsequent varieties during what came to be known as Green Revolution, established the fact that concerted efforts in scientific innovation can change life. India being a traditional rice- growing nation, gained immensely from the success of IR8. Indian farmers and scientists were widely consulted, while developing the world’s first high-yielding variety of rice at the IRRI. India's top-notch agricultural scientists such as MS Swaminathan, then Director General of the IRRI, literally brought the Green Revolution home. The IRRI and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) had developed  a long collaboration in the period before and after the coming of IR8; this continues till date.

Celebrating the success of half a century of the miracle rice IR8, Director General of the ICAR, Trilochan Mohapatra, remarked: “IR8 has been used extensively in the development of subsequent rice varieties. We should take what we have learned from our partnership with the IRRI, and use it for our country to build the rice sector strategy so we can achieve more than what we had previously.” Also, the ICAR has provided institutional support to sustain the Green Revolution and subsequent developments in Indian agriculture. With massive application of science and technology, the ICAR has enabled the country to increase the production of food grains by five times since 1951 to 2014. Apart from promoting higher education in agriculture, the ICAR has heralded a visible impact on national food and nutritional security.
IR8 was first grown in India by a farmer named Nekkanti Subba Rao, in Andhra Pradesh. He even made serious efforts to promote the rice variety, which earned him the nickname, ‘Mr IR8'. Then gradually, IR8 moved towards other southern States like Tamil Nadu and also to the rest of the country. Today, to make rice-growing farmers more secure and productive, India needs a full-fledged application of advanced scientific methods to be adopted in agriculture — something Prime Minister Modi has been advocating. Time has come to turn the Indian rice research community more participatory, involving more farmers — and especially women — in the process. Meanwhile, the agricultural sector itself needs a fresh dose of holistic reforms