Friday, December 16, 2016

16th December,2016 daily global,regional and local rice enewsletter by riceplus magazine



The visitors took keen interest in Pakistan's traditional foods such as Biryani, Pakore, Samose, Jalaibe offered at food stall.

04:21 PM, 15 Dec, 2016

The Embassy of Pakistan in Turkey has set up stalls at the Annual Charity Fair organized by the Turkish Foreign Ministry's Spouses' Solidarity Association held in Ankara over the weekend.  The visitors took keen interest in Pakistan's traditional foods such as Biryani, Pakore, Samose, Jalaibe, Shami Kebab and Halva offered at the food stall.Turkish and international visitors particularly appreciated the traditional Biryani made of Pakistan's famous Basmati rice.Similarly, the Pakistan stall offering Hina was the most visible and many visitors enjoyed applying Pakistani Hina

Philippines Approves Rice Trader Imports of 641,080 T, Below Quotai
Manila. The Philippines' state grains agency has approved permits for local rice traders to import 641,080 tonnes of the staple grain from Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and India, it said in a notice posted on its website on Wednesday (14/12).
The approved imports, which must be brought in by Feb. 28, 2017, account for 80 percent of the maximum volume of 805,200 tonnes that private traders are allowed to bring in under an annual country-specific quota scheme.Private traders will import 284,780 tonnes of rice from Thailand; 294,020 tonnes from Vietnam; 56,140 tonnes from Pakistan; and 6,140 tonnes from India, the National Food Authority (NFA) said after evaluating all applications.

Sri Lanka to import 250,000 tons rice to overcome shortage

 15 December 2016

Sri Lanka is to import over 250,000 tons of rice to maintain a buffer stock sufficient for one and half months owing to a possible shortage of rice during the first quarter of next year, due to drought, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told reporters in Colombo on Thursday. The Government has taken a decision to import rice through the private sector and provide bonded warehouse facilities for them as the country’s rice production is expected to drop during the drought period, he said..

While the private sector will be allowed to freely import rice, there won't be any imports by the  government unlike during the previous regime, he pointed out.The Finance Ministry is considering tax concessions on rice imports to help mitigate the effects of the drought on the local market, a Treasury official said adding that the government will not call bids from the private sector for rice imports. (Bandula) 

China Trade Cases Pushed

USTR Brings New Charges Against China Over Imports for Corn, Wheat, Rice

Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
12/15/2016 | 11:48 AM CST

Corn piles might not be so big if China followed global trade rules, the U.S. alleged on Thursday. (DTN file photo by Scott R Kemper)
OMAHA (DTN) -- The Obama administration is pushing one more trade case with China over corn, wheat and rice exports, claiming China is not upholding its import obligations under the World Trade Organization for those three commodities.China's tariff-rate quotas for corn, wheat and rice combined are estimated worth more than $7 billion. If China had fully used those import quotas in 2015, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office concluded China would have imported as much as $3.5 billion more of those commodities.The case comes as the U.S. has also separately asked the WTO to create a dispute settlement panel over the U.S. contention that China has paid nearly $100 billion in domestic support for Chinese producers of corn, wheat and rice. U.S. trade officials said Thursday that China has not responded to the U.S. investigation into China's subsidies.
The bottom line is China has effectively stopped importing cheaper global commodities of corn, wheat and rice because the country also poured billions of dollars to spur higher domestic production of those crops as well."Today's new challenge -- as well as the steps we are taking to advance our case against China's excessive government support for rice, wheat and corn -- demonstrates again the Obama administration's strong and continued commitment to enforcing the rules of global trade, and protecting the interests and livelihoods of American farmers," said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. "China's TRQ policies breach their WTO commitments and limit opportunities for U.S. farmers to export competitively priced, high-quality grains to customers in China. The United States will aggressively pursue this challenge on behalf of American rice, wheat and corn farmers."
As with any actions with the World Trade Organization, both disputes with China will be turned over to the incoming presidential administration to defend and argue at the WTO.TRQs set the levels of imports a country has agreed to accept under a specific import tariff. According to the USTR, China lacks transparency on the rules for importing commodity grains. When applying for licenses, exporters do not know how they will be treated or how the TRQ will be applied.According to the USTR, last year China only filled 65% of its 7.2 million metric ton tariff-rate quota for corn, meaning exporters could have shipped another 2.52 mmt of corn into China. For wheat, China imported only 30% of the 9.63 mmt TRQ, meaning exporters could have shipped another 6.7 mmt of wheat to China.
The U.S. has been banned from shipping rice to China over yet another trade dispute involving phyto and phyto-sanitary measures. Yet, China also is not meeting its TRQ obligations for both long-grain and short- to medium-grain rice, the USTR claimed.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said real access under tariff-rate quotas is vital to global trade and to providing farmers and ranchers the opportunity to export American-grown products. Although China has become a significant market for U.S. crops, Vilsack said more commodities would be exported if China abided by trade rules."When China joined the WTO, it committed to implementing an agriculture regime that would facilitate market access consistent with international obligations," Vilsack said. "However, China has frustrated exporters through generous price support and unjustified market restrictions. Taking action against grain price supports was one piece of the puzzle, and now we must confront China's improper administration of its TRQs to ensure that our grains have the meaningful market access that China bound itself to as a member of the WTO. Today's announcement is another step towards advocating for fairness in the global trading system on behalf of American farmers."
The U.S. Wheat Associates and National Association of Wheat Growers stated the groups welcomed the continued push in the two WTO cases against China, which the groups stated is distorting the wheat market globally."The facts in these two cases go hand-in-hand, demonstrating how Chinese government policies create an unfair advantage for domestic wheat production," said Gordon Stoner, president of NAWG and a wheat farmer from Outlook, Montana. "Both actions call attention to the fact that when all countries follow the rules, a pro-trade agenda and trade agreements work for U.S. wheat farmers and their customers."
In the USTR announcement, several key members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees praised the U.S. action. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said China's actions reflect another example of the country's inability to play by the rules. "I am committed to working with our producers and alongside USDA and USTR as we continue to fight for U.S. farmers' ability to compete in the global market on a level playing field," Roberts said.
Chris Clayton can be reached at

2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference Highlights

2017 Miss America Savvy Shields (left) and Mississippi's Kirk Satterfield
MEMPHIS, TN - Welcoming everyone to the 2016 USA Rice Outlook Conference last week, host-state representative and Mississippi rice farmer Kirk Satterfield explained, “The conference has grown so much and is still growing that we had to move to Memphis to find a venue big enough to accommodate all the attendees and exhibits.  We certainly appreciate the level of participation.”

USA Rice Chairman Brian King echoed that sentiment:  “It’s encouraging to see so many in the industry come out - it shows we’re on the right track and offering good value to our customers.  Attendance this year was close to 800 and I attribute that statistic to excellent programming - from exciting keynote speakers like NASA Astronaut Michael Massimino, Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones, and crowd-favorite 2017 Miss America Savvy Shields - to the new Innovation Stage, centrally located in the Exhibit Hall that was bursting at the seams with 59 exhibitors.”

“Moving the New Products & Technology seminar to the Innovation Stage concept in the middle of the Exhibit Hall fostered more interaction between members and exhibitors,” said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.  “We really appreciate all of our exhibitors and sponsors for their support and are always looking for ways to help them promote their products and services.”

Ward also said the Annual Rice Awards Luncheon was a conference highlight.  “Attendees heard moving speeches from the award winners, got to meet the 2017/19 Rice Leadership Development Program class, and see the winning entry in the first ever National Rice Month Scholarship video contest,” she said.Between traditional program offerings like state outlook and rice research reports from all six major rice-producing states, USA Rice showcased several videos, including the P.F. Chang’s Farm-to-Wok video featuring Arkansas rice farmers Jennifer James and Dow Brantley that captures the artistry of rice farming and tells the story of the U.S.-grown grain. 

This year’s conference included two panels focusing on conservation and sustainability practices in the rice industry that was moderated by outgoing Chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Jason Weller who spoke eloquently about the importance of industries telling their stories. (click here to see his full remarks)

“In my view, production agriculture is sustainable agriculture, full stop,” Chief Weller said in touching closing remarks.  “You guys need to stand up and be proud of what you do, you need to advocate for what you do, and you need to do it in a way that connects with people who aren’t familiar with production agriculture.”Weller said he figured this would be his last public appearance as NRCS Chief, at least before a commodity group, and he had the date circled on his calendar for some time.“I am so proud of the partnership NRCS has with the rice industry and I wanted to be here personally to thank you all for your commitment to being partners with us to invest in conservation and really be national leaders – not just regional or local leaders – but national leaders in production agriculture.”

“Add up all the good information from the sessions and exhibits, plus getting to see an astronaut and Miss America in the same conference, and you’re getting your money’s worth,” concluded Satterfield.
The Outlook conference is the largest annual rice-specific gathering in North America and is an educational service of USA Rice.  Next year’s conference is scheduled for December 10-12 in San Antonio, Texas

USA Rice Farmers Board Member Elected to MO Rice Research and Merchandising Council 

HORNERSVILLE, MO - Earlier this week, Rance Daniels, a third-generation Missouri rice farmer and member of the USA Rice Farmers Board of Directors, was elected to the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council.

Daniels has been looking to grow his leadership involvement within Missouri where he currently serves as chairman of the Missouri Farm Bureau's Rice Committee and as an officer for the Dunklin County Farm Bureau.  Daniels particularly saw benefit to joining the Rice Research and Merchandising Council as a way to work on state promotion and research activities.

"Promotion efforts are important to raise both domestic and international consumption of U.S.-grown rice.  I also want to see us brag a bit more about the rice industry's conservation and sustainability efforts.  We have a good story to tell and I think the general public would better support us if they knew all of the great things we're doing on our land," said Daniels.

USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward said, "We congratulate Rance on his election to this important job in Missouri.  As one of our shining graduates of the Rice Leadership Program, Rance continues to demonstrate his value across USA Rice's various boards and committees and within his home state."

In addition to representing Missouri on the USA Rice Farmers Board, Daniels also serves on that groups' Conservation and Crop Insurance Committees, and on USA Rice's Regulatory Affairs and Food Safety Committee, Communications Committee, and Latin America Trade Policy subcommittee. He is also an original member of the USA Rice/Ducks Unlimited Stewardship Partnership group.  He and his wife, Robin, have three children and farm rice and soybeans with the goal of making sure their children have a successful industry and operation to begin their careers as the next generation of family farmers.

Ball is in your court, China
U.S. Government Takes Twin Actions on Chinese Trade Distorting Policies

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the Obama Administration announced two separate but complementary agriculture trade enforcement actions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against policies of China.  The U.S. requested the formation of a dispute settlement panel on the level of China's domestic supports and challenged the way China administers tariff rate quotas (TRQs).  Both actions relate to wheat, corn and rice.

Both moves were hailed by USA Rice.

"Earlier this year, the U.S. requested consultations with China at the WTO on the very high levels of China's domestic support for corn, wheat and rice producers, but the results were unsatisfactory," explained Betsy Ward, USA Rice CEO and President.  "The next step in the WTO dispute process is requesting a panel to hear the arguments, and we've now done that."

Ward said it could take as many as two or three months to set up a panel, and that a report from that panel could take another 10 months.

"We knew from the outset this was a long process, which is why keeping things moving forward is important," she added.

The new case the United States launched against China today challenges the way China administers tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for the import of several commodities, including wheat, corn, and rice.  China provides import licenses under the TRQs contrary to several of China's WTO commitments and in a manner that effectively acts as import restrictions prohibiting the fulfillment of these TRQs. 

"While the United States cannot yet ship under China's large rice TRQ, this case will be precedent-setting," Ward said.  "We support efforts to have China administer these TRQs in a transparent manner that allows trade to occur, looking ahead to the day when the U.S.-China rice phytosanitary protocol is finally signed and we are shipping rice to this important market."

USA Rice is also pressing the administration to broaden enforcement action against other WTO members, like India and Thailand, whose domestic support levels for rice are inconsistent with WTO rules and have resulted in large increases in production, stocks, and exports that harm U.S. rice producers and exporters. 

India Celebrates 50th Anniversary for Rice That Prevented Famines

December 15, 2016

Back in 1966, a farmer named Nekkanti Subha Rao planted a new variety of rice in the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.The rice plant is called IR8. It was the creation of scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.Scientists created the IR8 variety by combining a tall rice plant from Indonesia and a shorter version from China.
IR8 was the world’s first highly productive rice. It is credited with having prevented famines and providing food for millions of people.
Agricultural experts say IR8 rice is partly responsible for the Green Revolution, which began in the 1940s and continued through the 1960s. During this period, farmers increased their use of man-made fertilizers and pesticides, and irrigation systems to water crops. Food production sharply increased and helped prevent widespread hunger.India and the International Rice Research Institute have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of IR8 rice, which became known as “miracle rice.”Farmer Rao, now 80 years old, remembers his surprise when he harvested a shocking 7.5 tons of rice on every hectare.
“Never before,” he said. “Every farmer feeling very, very, very happy, happy. 100 percent success.”
Many Asian countries struggled with food shortages in the 1960s and 1970s. IR8 and other varieties that followed helped increase rice production in Asia by 200 percent. The increase helped prevent widespread hunger.
“It transformed agriculture,” said Dr. Nafees Meah, the institute’s representative for South Asia. He said the Green Revolution prevented the food crises that happened in those years. “It saved millions of lives.”
After India, IR8 rice was planted in other Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, where rice is the main food for most people.Agriculture experts say that the plant’s shorter length made IR8 rice stronger and less likely to fail before harvest time. And, it took less time to grow compared to local rice. So, farmers could plant more than one crop on the same land.​
Recalling the Green Revolution
Even with the rise in food production, the Green Revolution also led to some long-term troubles.As The New York Times reported, crops such as IR8 rice required heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.This method of agriculture left behind chemical pollution, noted U.S. News & World Report magazine. It also used up a lot of soil nutrients, and eventually led to soil depletion. So, farmers needed more and more fertilizer, according to National Public Radio (NPR).
Mature rice fields of Peta, IR8 and DGWG varieties.
Crops like IR8 also needed more water than natural rainfall offered, so farmers had to irrigate the soil and build wells, NPR noted. In India, this caused the groundwater to sink as much as one meter each year.This “package of practices” was costly, especially for poor farmers. Many of the farmers used credit to buy the products and services, but could not pay back their loans. So, they went into debt, lost their land, and were forced to move to crowded cities to find work. After they left, richer farmers bought their land.There was very little work on the larger farms because farmers began turning to tractors and other modern equipment. So, human labor decreased, creating high rural unemployment in some areas.Widespread planting of only one or two varieties of rice also reduced biodiversity. In the long-term, this can lead to the spread of disease among plants.

Feeding a growing world
The methods used during the Green Revolution saved nearly one billion people from starvation, according to the New York Times. However, experts are divided on whether the lasting results are more good than bad.
Today food security is still an issue, and not just for Asia. At the same time, malnourishment continues to affect millions of poor people on the continent. And everywhere, farmers are dealing with issues resulting from climate change.Rod Wing is an American scientist at the International Rice Research Institute. He says developing new kinds of rice with more nutrients but less of a harmful effect on the environment can reduce our dependence on gases linked to climate change. The problem, he says, is that the rice must require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.In recent years, new kinds of rice that are more resistant to dry weather and floods are showing promising results in eastern India and Bangladesh, a country where floods used to cover or wash away crops.

A genetically engineered variety of rice has been developed to improve Vitamin A levels. Lack of Vitamin A kills many children under the age of five. In addition, researchers are developing crops that keep blood sugar lower and release energy slowly.But the challenge of productivity that IR8 rice fueled remains, noted Wing. “The big question is…how are we going to feed three more billion people on the planet by 2050?”And while some farmers are experiencing larger harvests, they continue to battle other problems. The cost of growing the rice is “very, very high now. Labor cost is high,” said farmer Rao.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
And I’m Alice Bryant.
Anjana Pasricha reported this story for Alice Bryant adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

Vietnamese experts call for reducing rice exports

Asia News Network (ANN)

Speaking at a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday, Huynh The Nang, its chairman, said Vietnam has exported4.5 million tonnes of the grain so far this year, a year-on-year decrease of 25 per cent.Exporters are facing challenges in the form of increasing supply and competition from traditional and emerging rice export countries, such as Thailand, India, Pakistan and Myanmar, he said.Besides, major importing countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and China are increasing production to reduce imports and enhancing quality control of imports, he said.
For instance, China, the biggest importer and not a fastidious market, recently tightened its quarantine policy for Vietnamese rice, he said.Drought and saltwater intrusion have seriously affected rice production in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, the country's granary, with output in the 2015-16 winter-spring rice crop falling by over a million tonnes, he said.
With the increasing construction of hydropower dams in the upstream of the Mekong River, the delta faces a possible threat of lack of water for rice cultivation, he said."All these force us to seek measures to resolve the problem as well as make our rice production more sustainable."The sector must be restructured to grow high-quality varieties and pay more attention on improving quality to meet the market's demand, he said.
Areas seriously affected by climate change should switch to crops that can cope with climate change and are in demand, he said.He suggested cutting exports to 3-4 million tonnes of high-quality rice a year until 2020, and 2-3 million tonnes a year after that instead of growing in large quantities and struggling to find buyers.Pham Thai Binh, director of Can Tho-based Trung An Co Ltd, a large rice exporter, said to expand the export market Vietnamese rice must be tasty, safe and cheap.
Consumers both at home and abroad are becoming more and more aware of what they eat and are willing to pay more for safe products, he said.To ensure the three competitive factors, farmers and businesses must join hands to create large-scale rice fields, apply modern farming techniques and mechanise production, he said.Delegates at the seminar agreed that Vietnam must focus on building rice brands.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said: "We export rice for more than 30 years but many shortcomings still remain in our production and export, Vietnam's rice brand has not got a foothold in the world market."We need to build Việt Nam's rice image by developing a national rice brand."The country needs to make global consumers feel it grows rice following high standards and completely trust the quality of Vietnamese rice, he said.To do that, the sector must review zoning plans and what varieties are being grown, he said, adding that cultivation must be based on market demand rather than farmers growing first and then thinking about exports

No evidence of plastic rice in Jamaica

15 December 2016

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda. (JIS)
KINGSTON – Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda says there is no evidence of plastic in the samples of rice tested by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ). “The BSJ was provided with samples… and, so far, I can assure the people of Jamaica that there is absolutely no evidence of any contamination of plastic within the samples tested,” he said.Samuda was speaking at a press briefing held Tuesday at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices.

The Minister sought to clear the air on the issue, in light of reports of plastic or fake rice entering the local market.He said more samples will be taken from across the country, with those samples being tested to ensure that the Jamaican people are protected.Samuda also informed that rice originating from Guyana and Suriname will be cleared into the marketplace.“The reason for this is very simple. Guyana and Suriname are considered to be a part of our domestic market. They are members of CARICOM and we have never had incidents of any kind of contamination or otherwise. So, there is no justifiable reason for us to hold those shipments of rice,” he explained.

He added that the BSJ has been asked to conduct islandwide investigations into the source of all rice now in supermarkets.Meanwhile, Samuda said importers have been importing rice from sections of the Far East and this has caused great concern based on information reaching Customs and the Ministry.“In three instances, we have been advised of fake labelling and we are in the process now of confirming the allegations. We have to be very certain of the source of food that enters this country,” he said.Bulk rice imported into the country is monitored for compliance to the mandatory standard for rice – JS CRS 44: 2013 Jamaican Standard Specification for Rice.
Under this standard, tests are done for broken grains and moisture and, to date, all samples tested have been compliant with the standard. (JIS)

Rice sales counters soon at Christmas fairs


Civil Supplies Minister P. Thilothaman said on Thursday that the government will set up rice sales counters soon at the ongoing Christmas fairs in a bid to bring down the rising prices.The government has set apart Rs.1,171 crore for rice distribution, he said while inaugurating the district-level Supplyco Christmas fair here.Steps were being taken to sell rice, available from the Centre, at a price lesser than the market rates in various districts. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) would provide rice, with Central support price, at Rs.21.50 a kg. The State would incur additional expenses and could sell it at Rs.23 a kg. The government was trying to procure the locally milled Kuttanad rice from the Oil Palm India’s rice mill for distribution at affordable rates.

The Minister expressed the view that the Andhra Pradesh-based rice mill lobby was trying to create artificial scarcity of rice to increase the price. Certain merchants in Kerala were colluding with the lobby. Such tactics were tried during the Onam season, but the government’s timely market intervention was able to thwart their designs.Supplyco was providing 13 commodities, including rice, at 21 to 68 per cent subsidy. Once the rice distribution system got regularised at the public distribution system, the prices would come down. The Centre’s cut in rice allocation had put the supply at public distribution system outlets in disarray. The State’s request to restore the quota was not considered favourably by the Centre.

The Minister said the rice provided by the Centre was being collected from the FCI. It was the duty of the FCI to hand over the commodity. The State was not ready to pay undue handling charges. Loading and unloading workers were demanding Rs.1,500 to Rs.2,000 for stacking each load, which was unjustifiable

Rice Prices

as on : 16-12-2016 12:41:47 PM
Arrivals in tonnes;prices in Rs/quintal in domestic market.
Diamond Harbour(South 24-pgs)(WB)
North Lakhimpur(ASM)
NC Customs / Japan rice exports soar to record year

Japan rice exports soar to record year

TOKYO: Japan’s rice exports through October have already surpassed its previous annual record, helped by producers’ marketing efforts and an Asian investment by a major distributor. Export volume excluding rice for humanitarian aid grew 33% on the year to 7,673 tons in January-October. Even without the two last months of the year, that already exceeds 2015’s record 7,640 tons.
In November, Yumepirika brand rice from Hokkaido debuted in high-end supermarkets in Shanghai, a result of a sales campaign led by the Japanese locality’s governor, Harumi Takahashi. The rice distributor involved in the deal, Kitoku Shinryo, aims to boost exports from the current 1,000 or so tons per year to 3,000 tons around 2020. Also promoting rice production in Southeast Asia, Kitoku Shinryo recently invested in a Vietnamese food-related company. It hopes to expand its planting acreage in hopes of setting up a foothold in the country for rice milling and sales.

Consumers found Japanese rice tasty after milling was moved closer to local markets, said Dennis Wu of Aji-No-Chinmi, a Hong Kong trading house specializing in Japanese food. The popularity of Japanese rice apparently started to grow around 2012, when agricultural machinery maker Kubota began building logistical networks to mill rice in Hong Kong and Singapore. Still, Japan’s domestic demand, which amounted to 7.66 million tons from July 2015 to June 2016, is falling by 80,000 tons a year — and the record exports aren’t close to offsetting the drop. High prices are the main obstacle to more overseas sales. At stores in Hong Kong, Japanese rice costs from 130 Hong Kong dollars to HK$140 ($16.7 to $18) for 2kg– triple or quadruple the price for Chinese rice, according to Wu.

But some are taking advantage of the high prices. Rice milling machinery maker and retailer Toyo Rice began selling the world’s most expensive rice, certified by the Guinness World Records. The product, an original blend of several varieties, is priced at 11,304 yen ($97.96) per kilo, about 30 times the cost of the commonly eaten Koshihikari variety. The Guinness certification eliminates the need to explain the high prices in selling the rice to wealthy consumers overseas. Only 120kg of the luxurious variety were made available in Hong Kong, and the rice apparently flew off the shelves. There are plans to increase export volume of the elite product, depending on next year’s harvest.

Quality not quantity: Vietnam should lower rice export target

By VnExpress   December 15, 2016 | 02:51 pm GMT+7
A farmer harvests rice at a paddy field outside Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham

Overseas markets seem to be losing their appetite for the world’s third largest rice exporter.

Vietnam should adjust its rice export target in terms of volume to focus on product quality amid a shortage of buyers and falling output, said Huynh The Nang, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association.Nang said that adjusting the target down to 2-3 million tons from 7-8 million tons annually is necessary due to falling demand from major partners.Data from the association showed that 70 percent of Vietnamese rice is exported to Asian countries, with China the biggest buyer, followed by the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.However, rice exports to these markets have witnessed slow growth.Last year, Vietnam exported two million tons of rice to the three key Southeast Asian markets, but that figure has collapsed by 90 percent to a mere 200,000 tons this year.These countries are trying to boost their own rice production and have started getting good results, which have reduced their independence on Vietnamese supplies, Nang said.

China, which accounts for a third of Vietnam’s total export volume, continues to tightly control the quality of rice imports that reach its market. From January to October, Vietnamese rice exports to China fell by 22.5 percent on-year to 1.5 million tons.Luong Hoang Thai from the trade ministry said that Vietnamese rice faces numerous trade barriers.
Most countries have adopted measures to limit rice imports and protect their domestic markets. South Korea has set an import tariff of up to 500 percent while Japan imposes a rate of 800 percent, not to mention non-tariff barriers involving import quotas and food safety.“Instead of struggling to find buyers for a huge volume of rice, we should set a target of exporting 2-3 million tons each year rather than year 7-8 million tons as we have done in the past,” the chairman of the VFA said.
Over the 2015/2016 winter-spring crop, the Mekong Delta, which accounts for 90 percent of the country’s rice exports, was hit by the most severe drought in almost a century, causing its rice output to decrease by one million tons.Rising sea levels together with the construction of Chinese dams on the Mekong River are posing serious threats to rice farming in the delta.Rice experts agree that it’s time Vietnam shifted its focus from quantity to quality to meet food safety standards and ensure rice supplies.

Pham Thai Binh, a rice trader, echoed the same idea: “To expand its rice market, Vietnam must produce products that are tasty, clean and cheap."“Domestic consumers are opting for the more expensive Cambodian rice at the moment because they believe it’s cleaner that locally-produced rice.”Data from the agriculture ministry showed that Vietnam exported 4.5 million tons of rice over the first 11 months, down 25 percent against one year ago.The country is expected to export 5 million tons of rice this year, lower than the target of 5.65 million tons set in the summer.

Vietnam's rice exports drop to record low
Vietnam's rice exports have sharply fallen to a seven-year record low because of weak abilities, according to a new report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Vietnam's rice exports have sharply fallen

As of November, Vietnam exported 4.5 million tonnes of rice with a turnover of USD2bn, a decrease by 26% and 22% respectively compared to the same period last year.According to the General Department of Customs, rice exports are losing out to other agriculture products such as coffee, vegetables and aqua products.The evaluation report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that the 4.5 million tonnes of rice exported so far this year is the lowest figure since 2009. Most export firms couldn't meet their goals. Vietnam will also be unlikely to meet the goal to export 5.7 million tonnes of rice this year, which is already lower than the 6.5 million tonnes exported last year.

Average monthly export output has reached 409,000 tonnes and Vietnam is exporting less near the end of the year. The output for September, October and November was 300,000-320,000 tonnes.In addition, Vietnam is losing its key markets. Rice export to China in 11 months reached 1.6 million tonnes with turnover of USD700m, a decrease by 400,000 tonnes and USD120m respectively than last year.
Exports to the Philippines totalled 350,000 tonnes with turnover of USD150m, a fall of 600,000 tonnes and USD300m.
The Vietnam Food Association said many countries had tightened management on import-export activities. China had tightened grip on unofficial imports. Meanwhile, Vietnam is losing its price advantages in Philippines, Indonesia and Ghana to Thailand, India and Cambodia.Pro. Vo Tong Xuan from Can Tho University, said, "We need to completely reform the rice sector as it is fluctuating because of climate change. Vietnam needs to improve productivity, rice quality and distribution networks to compete in the global market."

According to Pham Chi Lan, member of the Advisory Group of the Vietnam National Assembly’s Economic Commission, Vietnam has advantages with electronic, aqua and agriculture products exports. But the competitive abilities of the aqua and agriculture sectors are weak. There are huge amounts of Vietnamese rice exported under foreign brands, or unnamed or unlabelled. Most of the rice was exported to aid poor people or was stockpiled. Few local brands are able to compete in the retail market.Local firms are also facing tough competition at home from imported rice, especially from Thailand.


Rice scrips gain as China opens market

The share price of Kohinoor jumped 14.6% to Rs 72.85 while that of Chamanlal Setia rose by 6.1% to Rs 74.2

Dilip Kumar Jha  |  Mumbai December 15, 2016 Last Updated at 03:49 IST

Shares of rice companies, led by Kohinoor Foods, surged on Wednesday, after estimates of a sharp increase in basmati export this year from the opening of Chinese markets.  The share price of Kohinoor jumped 14.6 per cent to Rs 72.85; that of Chamanlal Setia rose by 6.1 per cent to Rs 74.2. Leading branded basmati producer LT Foods rose 2.6 per cent to Rs 282.3. Non-basmati producer Usher Agro saw a 4.7 per cent jump to Rs 13.3. “We would send our team soon to discuss the possibility of rice importers in China. If possible, we would appoint local distributors ...


Govt to release 150,000 metric tonnes of rice

The government has decided to release 150,000 metric tonnes of rice held at government storage Facilities as a solution to market issues surrounding rice.The government will release 75% of the 200,000 metric tonnes being held at storage facilities to producers.National Organiser of the All Ceylon Peasants Federation Namal Karunaratne, speaking to media, said that paddy which was purchased for a price between Rs.28  and Rs.34 is being converted to rice – and rice which can be sold at Rs.60  is being sold for prices above Rs.90.He added that in such a back drop, the three major mill owners are having around one million metric tonnes of rice stocks with them.
Meanwhile,  Chairman of the Paddy Marketing Board M.B. Dissanayake, commenting on this move said that priority will be given to the small and medium mill owners when these stocks are being issued, and mill owners in the districts will also be given priority.Chairman of the United Rice Mill Owners’ Association Mudith Perera expressed the following views:
“… If these stocks are released to the market as paddy, the prices of rice will only increase. Releasing these stocks will not attribute to a price reduction …”

National organiser of the All Ceylon Peasants Federation Namal Karunaratne also commenting on this issue said that the government must reach an agreement with the small mill owners and pay a specified price for a kilogramme of rice and then the government can take the rice stocks.He went onto note that the rice can be sold for a lesser price through Sathosa and the Co-operatives.Although the government has reached a decision to release paddy stock to rice mills , there is no change to the decision made to import rice.Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake said that they need rice by January and February and the Yala harvesting seasons begins in late February and March and that therefore its necessary to have stocks of rice as standby.
National Organiser of the All Ceylon Peasants Federation Namal Karunaratne expressed the following views:
“… Do not create any discomfort for the farmer. Commissions are given through the importation of rice stocks. Do not create an environment where the farmers’ rice is being given to intermediaries for a lesser price. On one hand the farmers are being extorted and on the other the consumer is being extorted. The government is doing nothing …

Thailand: Government Assisting Farmers Amid Record Low Rice Prices

Nontarat Phaicharoen

Lamduan Maliwan, standing, fills a seed dispenser as she prepares to plant a rice crop in Ayudhya province,
Dec. 15, 2016In Thai schoolbooks, farmers are called the “backbone” of the agriculture-oriented country. But that backbone is under stress.In the rice sector alone, farmers have long encountered uncertainties caused by competition in the world market, impacts from drought or floods, and, for many, long-term debt.“I sold rice at 5,900 baht ($168.60) per ton in last season’s crop. Some others got only 5,200 to 5,300 baht per ton,” said Lamduan Maliwan, a farmer in Ayudhya province north of Bangkok.That price, from September, was the lowest in decades, she said.
“I invested 120,000 baht ($3,429) on 40 rai (15.8 acres) of rice fields. My yield was 20 tons. I did not make a profit at all,” she said, adding that fertilizer alone cost 20,000 baht ($559).Taking care of rice farmers – 23 million of the nation’s 51 million eligible voters – is a key concern of any government and political party in Thailand.
A failed rice scheme helped topple the previous government of Yingluck Shinawatra. Now, with rice prices foundering, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha is injecting billions of baht into new loans and subsidies.
Prone to corruption
Thailand is one of the world’s major rice suppliers, exporting 9.79 million tons valued at $4.613 billion in 2015, according to the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA). The two top importers of Thai rice were China and the Philippines.But in three of the last four years, India surpassed Thailand as the world’s top rice exporter, the TREA statistics showed.During Yingluck’s tenure as prime-minister, from August 2011 to May 2014, Thai rice farmers were encouraged to store their crop in government silos in anticipation of better world prices and given advances of 15,000 baht ($419) per ton that they were to repay later.
But rice rotted in silos because world prices never reached that height. Some farmers who stored their rice received nothing because the government ran out of money to fund the scheme.Meanwhile, the high price of Thai rice in 2012 and a major flood in 2011 allowed India and Vietnam to become the two top rice exporters in 2012, with India exporting 10.65 million tons and Vietnam million 7.73 tons, versus Thailand’s 6.97 million tons.
Dr. Warong Dejwikrom, a former member of parliament from the Democrat Party, told BenarNews that Yingluck’s programs were gravely flawed and prone to corruption.“The middle rice price was 9,000 baht per ton then, but she accepted the mortgage at 15,000 baht per ton,” Warong told BenarNews.“In my opinion, the mortgage price should have been below the middle price. She simply bought overpriced rice. The government then had to act as trader and it was opened to corruption and caused the country heavy losses,” he said.
Before Yingluck was toppled by Prayuth in May 2014, her government failed to pay outstanding mortgages to farmers because it was broke.In January 2016, the Supreme Court started the trial of Yingluck for failure to stop a “corrupt” subsidy project. Her trial is expected to continue to mid-2017.In September, the Comptroller General Department ordered Yingluck to repay 35.7 billion baht out of net subsidy losses of 178 billion baht in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons.However, a former MP for Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party argued that Yingluck’s trial is not “appropriate.”“This rice mortgage is for the best benefits of the public. Every government did it and there were no such thing as loss or gain because the projects were aimed at helping the farmers,” Somkid Cheaukong told BenarNews by phone.
‘The price was right’
Prices of several varieties of rice, including famous fragrant jasmine rice, have plunged to record lows in 2016.According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, the Prayuth administration is injecting 219 billion baht ($6.1 billion) into agricultural subsidies and development projects, and 209 billion baht ($5.8 billion) into various types of loans for rice farmers this year.As part of this effort, the government has set aside 20 billion baht ($559 million) for two million jasmine rice farmers in a mortgage scheme set to end in February 2017.
Commerce Minister Apiradee Tantraphand announced in early November that the government had launched a jasmine rice mortgage scheme in which farmers receive 13,000 baht per ton ($363) but keep the rice at home silos, unlike Yingluck’s projects which relied on government silos or storage facilities run by private rice mills.“I prefer Yingluck’s projects because the price was right. Lately the price is too low at 8,000 baht per ton,” said La-ead Ekchote, a jasmine rice farmer in northeastern province of Maha Sarakham, told BenarNews.Warong, the former MP, said the new scheme was better.“The government does not have to buy rice and store it because doing so will lead to a lot of corruption, if the government stores and mills rice themselves,” he said.“When farmers keep their own rice, the rice will not be in the market, and that will increase the demand for rice in the market.  The price of rice will be higher,” he added.

Ebro Foods to merge rice and pasta companies

Dec. 15, 2016 - by Eric Schroeder
The combined rice and pasta products portfolio will include such brands as Minute, Success and Ronzoni.

HOUSTON — Ebro Foods, S.A. has unveiled plans to merge its U.S. rice and pasta companies on Jan. 1, 2017, a move that will create the largest manufacturer and marketer of rice products and the second largest producer and distributor of pasta products in the United States.The merger will bring together Riviana Foods Inc., American Rice, Inc. and New World Pasta Co. The companies will be headquartered in Houston with a satellite office in Harrisburg, Pa., and will operate under the Riviana Foods name.The companies have manufacturing facilities in seven U.S. states and in Canada through Catelli Foods Corp., a subsidiary of Riviana Foods. Catelli is the largest pasta manufacturer and distributor in Canada.
The merger will combine Ebro Foods' U.S. rice and pasta companies on Jan. 1, 2017.
The combined rice and pasta products portfolio will include such brands as Minute, Mahatma, Carolina, Success, Gourmet House, Adolphus, Blue Ribbon, Ronzoni, Skinner, Prince, American Beauty, San Giorgio, Creamette and No Yolks. Total sales of the merged companies are about $1.5 billion.Madrid, Spain-based Ebro Foods entered the U.S. market in 2004 through its acquisition of Riviana Foods, which purchased American Rice in 2011. Since 2006, when Ebro Foods acquired New World Pasta, the companies have been integrating their businesses and taking advantage of synergies to benefit their customers and consumers.
Bastiaan de Zeeuw, president and c.e.o. of Riviana Foods
“We have successfully brought together the core strengths of the companies, including an extensive portfolio of brands and products,” said Bastiaan de Zeeuw, president and chief executive officer of the merged companies. “In addition, by combining our operations and distribution networks, we will even better fulfill our commitment to customer service, product quality, better efficiencies, innovation and growth.


Iloilo rice farmers harvest more than 10 MT/ha

A semi-organic fertilization technique called “crop stand management” has raised the wet season yield of hybrid rice crops in Iloilo, with a dozen farmers reaping harvests of more than 10 metric tons per hectare, according to provincial agriculture officials.Using the fertilization technique with SL-8H hybrid seeds, twelve farmers had wet season harvests that averaged 10.71 metric tons (MT) per hectare.

The harvest was extraordinarily high for the wet season, when farmers do not usually expect to reap much from hybrid rice because of the highly infesting bacterial leaf blight (BLB) on rainy days, provincial officials said.
The average rice yield for the Philippines overall is slightly less than four MT per hectare.Crop stand management is a system of applying fertilizers, particularly nitrogen-based urea, only when the crop needs it—when it has yellowish leaves, for example.“It’s the first time for many farmers in Iloilo to plant hybrid in the wet season,” said Iloilo agricultural officer Geron E. Magbanua. “And impressively, there are farmers who harvested 10 tons (per hectare) as shown by the contest (Palayabangan introduced by the Philippine Rice Research Institute).”

Aside from reducing farmers’ costs and raising their net income to the P100,000 level per hectare, crop stand management is also good for the environment. The soil’s nutrients are regenerated, and the water table and water surfaces do not get exposed to excessive chemical fertilizer, Magbanua said.
Despite the severe El Niño drought phenomenon in the first half of 2016, Iloilo has managed to produce a rice surplus as more farmers opted to plant the SL-8H hybrid rice, boosting the province’s average yield to 4.09 MT per hectare.
This is an overall increase of 0.86 MT per hectare compared with the 2015 average of 3.23 per hectare (based on Philippine Statistics Authority data) for the entire province, according to Iloilo Assistant Provincial Agriculturist Elias V. Sandig Jr.

Two seasons’ worth in one harvest
Sandig said farmers were encouraged to try the hybrid after two farmers last year recorded incredible yields of more than 14 MT per hectare.“In 2015, Marilyn Duco of Patlad, Dumangas obtained an average yield equivalent to 14.51 MT per hectare (from SL-8H hybrid seeds) at 14 percent moisture content (at the ideal drier state),” said Sandig.
“Iloilo farmer Teresita S. Setiar of Leganes reaped the highest yield equivalent 17.921 MT per hectare. She used organic fertilizers with reduced artificial fertilizer,” Sandig added.

The advantage of hybrid rice for Iloilo farmers is that it can effectively double their harvest, providing nearly two seasons’ worth of yield in a single planting.“Some areas are just rainfed, so farmers don’t plant during the dry season. But with their high yield—double from hybrid rice, it’s as good as they would have planted two times a year,” said SL-8H producer SL Agritech Corp. Chairman Henry Lim Bon Liong.One Ilonggo farmer, Ramon Dagohoy Jr., got 13.95 MT per hectare from his irrigated, transplanted SL-8H.

“From his 2.2 hectare area, he got a total of 615 cavans at 47 kilos per bag summing up to 279 bags (13.95 MT) per hectare,” said Magbanua.From his rainfed 6,000 square meter farm, Andres Corras Jr. had a wet season harvest equivalent to an average of 9.68 MT per hectare.

Allan Tabefranca got a yield of 8.5 MT per hectare from 8,000 square meters. He is in an irrigated area and even used direct seeding, which means he had lesser cost compared with transplanted seeds.
“Our campaign is that using the same technology of rice planting, you just change the seed, but your expense is the same. The seed is subsidized, so they get a higher income. Because of this, they have been convinced to go into hybrid,” said Iloilo Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso T. Toledo.
And while most farmers planted SL-8H, they are now also trying other varieties that had been developed to be more resistant to diseases such as BLB—SL-12H and SL-18H.Despite these increases in yield, Iloilo’s rice production is expected to reach only 700,000 MT for 2016 due to the impact of El Niño during the first semester of the year.
According to PSA data, Iloilo produced 877,076 MT of rice in 2015 with an average yield of 3.23 MT per hectare.
Iloilo ranks fifth in rice production in the Philippines, after Nueva Ecija (1,580,620 MT), Isabela (1,256,390 MT), Pangasinan (1,081,157 MT) and Cagayan (884,334 MT).

Based on population and milled rice production, Iloilo’s rice sufficiency is a surplus at 141 percent of its food requirements, the provincial agriculture office said.The province has 110,000 rice farmers and a total of 135,964 hectares of ricelands consisting of 48,860 hectares of irrigated ricelands, 85,779 hectares of rainfed ricelands, and 1,325 uplands devoted to rice. About 10,000 hectares are planted with hybrid rice, the provincial agriculture office said.

Acadiana rice farmer named best in nation

Greg Hilburn , USA TODAY Network2:32 p.m. CST December 15, 2016
Acadiana farmer Richard Fontenot has been named the 2016 Rice Farmer of the Year by the USA Rice Federation and Rice Farming Magazine, the second Louisiana producer this month to earn national honors.Fontenot, who farms 1,500 acres of rice, soybeans and crawfish near Ville Platte, was presented the award during the USA Rice Outlook Conference in Memphis. Earlier this month, Caddo Parish rancher Marty Wooldridge was named one of the top five Best Young Farmers and Ranchers in the United States by The Progressive Farmer.Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain called Fontenot "one of the stars of Louisiana agriculture."

"I've worked many years with Richard and he is a good friend," Strain told USA Today Network of Louisiana. "He's a top-notch farmer who is also active in promoting and advocating for the agriculture industry."“I’ve had a lot of leaders in front of me that have provided opportunities for me to be here today, so this is a team award for all of the various affiliations that I’ve had the blessing to be with,” said Fontenot, a fourth-generation farmer who operates R&N Farms in Evangeline Parish with his brother Neal.

Fontenot is the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation's third vice president and secretary-treasurer for the Louisiana Rice Research Board.He said his wife Rhonda and their son Lance, 10, as well as his parents Bryan and Cenevieve, who paved the way for Fontenot, were all able to attend the awards ceremony."I think that was the thing I appreciated the most, for my family to share it with me," he said.Fontenot has previously been recognized as the 2000 Farm Bureau Young Farmer of the Year and the 2008 Louisiana Farmer of the Year.Fonentot and his fellow producers have endured two floods and a drought during the past three years."We've gone from drowning to drought to drowning again," he said.

"It's been a tough cycle."Still, Fontenot said he wouldn't trade places."Agriculture is a lifestyle and culture second to none," he said.Fontenot believes Louisiana rice, in particular, can find new markets abroad that would benefit the state's farmers."I'm hopeful the new administration helps us capture export markets, and Cuba is a fine example," he said.“Rice is a staple in most third-world countries and in all countries for that matter,” Fontenot said. “We compete against a world market and we export 70 percent of what we grow right here in Louisiana. We feed the world.”
Neil Melancon of the Farm Bureau Federation contributed to this report.
Louisiana rice farmer Richard Fontenot with his wife Rhonda and son Lance on their farm near Ville Platte. (Photo: COURTESY PHOTO)