Monday, January 09, 2017

9th January 2017 daily global,regional and local rice news

Uganda: Finance Minister Scraps Tax Incentives On Rice Imports

I mported rice ready for processing at the FOL logistics warehouse in Namanve, Mukono District where Kingdom Rice is processed. Importers say the move to scrap tax incentives will drive investors out of the rice business.
By Jonathan Adengo and Dorothy Nakaweesi
Kampala — Finance minister Matia Kasaija has instructed the minister of East African Community Affairs, Kirunda Kivejinja, to terminate tax incentives given to rice importers.The directive, which took effect on January 1, caught the importers unaware with some saying they were not given prior notice to make necessary adjustments."All of a sudden, the ministry has decided to increase taxes on husked rice to equal that of already processed rice which is not fair, this is going to drive up prices of rice in the market," Mr Geoffrey Adito, the director of operations at Kingdom Rice, said.

Kingdom Rice is one of the largest importers of husked rice which is processed and packaged at their 500-tonne milling plant in Namanve.SWT, which imports half processed rice from Pakistan, says the hike in the tax rate will drive up prices in the local market.The importers want government to make distinction between finished and unfinished rice because those who import unfinished rice cannot compete with those who trade in the finished product. They say their shipments are in Mombasa, at sea and as such will suffer huge losses due to the unplanned for directive.
Not enough local capacity
"When we were setting up the factory, Uganda Investment Authority told us that there was more than enough supply of rice in the local market. So we mobilised investors, got money and set up a rice mill in three months," Mr Adito said.However, he says when they went out to buy the rice, they bought off 50,000 tonnes of rice in two weeks and there was nothing more to buy in the local market. The 50,000 tonnes could not sustain the plant beyond a month.

Mr Adito said they then approached government with a proposal to import husked rice which would then be processed at the factory. "Government gave us that duty price of $250 per metric tonne (MT) and they gave us one year to set up a farm and build local capacity. However, after six months without any notice to us we get directive from ministry of finance that on January 1, the duty rates were changing," he said.
Mr Adito said with the directive, investors will pull away causing job losses. Kingdom Rice employs 250 people at their factory directly and many more in their distribution chain.

The letter

The letter which was sent to the EAC on December 14, is copied to the Permanent Secretary ministry of Finance, Auditor General's office, the Accountant General, the Commissioner General Uganda Revenue Authority and the Uganda Development Bank."This is to request you to notify the East African Community Gazzette Legal Notice No. EAC/33/2016 where Uganda was granted a duty to remission to apply the rate of 75 per cent or $250/MT on imported rice which has been enjoyed by some rice importers,"
The letter is also notifying URA to start to effect the directive which seek to reinstate the EAC tax rate charged on every tonne of rice imported from the subsidised rate of $250 (Shs900,000) per MT to $345 (Shs1.2 million) per MT.

"Accordingly all importers will pay the same common external tariff (CET) of 75 per cent or $345 (Shs1.2m) per metric tonne of imported rice in accordance with the EAC common external tariff (CET)," the instructions read in part.Mr Kasaija, in a phone interview with Daily Monitor confirmed to us that he wrote the letter to Mr Kirunda Kivejinja the minister of East African Community Affairs. He refused to give any further comments on the subject matter instead directed us to read the letter that he wrote to the EAC.

"You read the letter you will find all the answers and details in it," he said.The letter, which Daily Monitor has seen, is notifying EAC secretariat that government will from the effect of January 1, 2017 terminate the stay of application on rice.The minister, however, said that the ministry was going to create a fund for rice commodity development under Uganda Development Bank Limited to benefit all rice millers.

Trade minister speaks

When contacted, Ms Amelia Kyambadde, the minister of Trade, said she will have to study the termination letter further and also ascertain how many people were importing the rice and would be affected by the directive so as to avoid distorting production and prices of rice in the market."I will study the issue further however, the termination of importing rice is good for promotion of local production and encourage local production as opposed to importing what can be grown here," she said.

According to statistics from Ministry of trade, Uganda consumes about 300,000 tonnes of rice a year and this demand has largely been supplemented by imported rice.According to Mr Adito, Kingdom Rice enjoys 60 per cent of the local market and this has been sustained by the plant in Namanve. They now want government to stay the directive for the remaining six months which time would enable them finish setting up their $45m (Shs162b) 10,000 acres firm in Kween to build local capacity.

 State to procure 1.2L MT of superfine rice from farmers directly

By Express News Service  |   Published: 09th January 2017 04:57 AM  |  
Last Updated: 09th January 2017 04:57 AM  

HYDERABAD: In order to supply superfine rice to students of all welfare hostels, residential schools and for the midday meals scheme in other schools being run by the state government across the state, finance minister Etela Rajender on Sunday announced that the government had decided to procure 1.2 lakh metric tonnes rice from farmers, directly.“As part of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s decision to supply good quality Sanna Biyyam (superfine quality of rice) to residential schools and welfare hostels, it has been decided to procure the required rice directly from farmers. This is mutually beneficial to both farmers and government as this will eliminate middlemen,” Rajender said during a review meeting with the officials of civil supplies department that held here on Sunday.

He asked the representatives of Telangana Rice Millers’ Association, to help the government in procuring the 1.2 lakh MT of super fine variety of rice for the welfare hostels and schools. “The state government is firm on supplying Sanna Biyyam to the students. All these students should be provided with nutritious and good quality food. Supply of superfine rice should continue without interruption,” he said.In fact, the government had recently given instructions to the education department on making the distribution and consumption of this superfine quality rice to schools and hostels more transparent. Commissioner of civil supplies department ordered the DEO and MEOs concerned in each district to take steps against those supplying Doddu Biyyam by polishing it in place of Sanna Biyyam.

January 08, 2017

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has expressed concern over slight increase in price of sugar in the domestic market after allowing exports of 225,000 metric tons of the commodity and directed the Ministry of Commerce to take all corrective measures.
The National Price Monitoring Committee meeting held at Finance Division under the chairmanship of Senator Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatisation.
The minister directed Ministry of Commerce to vigilantly monitor the prices and if there was any erratic movement, take appropriate remedial action. With regard to prices of beef and mutton, he directed the Ministry of National Food and Security to take all the stakeholders on board and take corrective measures to curb smuggling. He advised provincial governments to be more vigilant to control prices.
The meeting was attended by the representatives from Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Islamabad Capital Territory, ministries of Industries, Law and Justice, Commerce, National Food Security and Research, Cabinet, Planning, Development and Reforms, Inter-Provincial Coordination, Statistics Division, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Utility Stores Corporation and Federal Board of Revenue.
The meeting was informed that the headline inflation measured by CPI increased by 3.7 percent in December 2016 compared to 3.8 percent of previous month and 3.2 percent of December last year. On average during July-Dec FY 2017 it is recorded at 3.88 percent as compared to 2.08 percent in corresponding period last year. On monthly basis the CPI and food inflation remained lowest by -0.7 percent and -1.9 percent since February 2015. The CPI is tamed down and in control. The other inflationary indicators have also been contained. 
The meeting noted continuous decline of SPI since last week of November 2016. It recorded continuous six weekly decline which has brought food inflation to 3.0 percent in December 2016 compared to 3.3 percent of previous month while non-food inflation remained at same level of previous month at 4.2 percent, whereas core inflation increased by 5.2 percent compared to 5.3 percent of previous months and SPI and WPI in December 2016 recorded at 0.5 percent and 3.1 percent respectively, compared to 0.6 percent and 2.6 percent of previous month.
The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the week ended on 5th January 2017 decreased by 0.12 percent. Out of 53 items, nine (09) items which recorded decrease in their prices are tomatoes 10.20 percent, potatoes 5.02 percent, chicken 4.63 percent, mash pulse 1.29 percent, onions 0.91 percent, garlic 0.87 percent, moong pulse 0.57 percent, masoor pulse 0.06 percent and red chilly powdered 0.05 percent. The decrease in prices of 09 items brought an impact of 0.26 percent in SPI decline. Sixteen (16) items recorded increase in prices including sugar 1.64 percent, eggs 1.55 percent, bananas 1.51 percent, LPG 1.22 percent, rice Irri-6 0.61 percent, rice basmati 0.47 percent, mutton 0.38 percent, wheat 0.17 percent, vegetable ghee tin 0.13 percent, gram pulse 0.10 percent and wheat flour 0.08 percent. The prices of twenty eight (28) items remained stable which shows that there is overall price stability in the country.
The meeting noted the price movement of essential items on month-on-month and year-on-year basis. It was observed that prices of wheat, wheat flour, chicken, onion, tomatoes, cooking oil, vegetable ghee, masoor pulse, moong pulse, mash pulse decreased in December 2016 compared to corresponding month of last year. Prices of cooking oil, vegetable ghee loose, vegetable ghee (tin), chicken, banana, tomatoes, rice basmati, rice irri, and mustard oil are much lower than 2013 prices.
The meeting also noted the increasing trend in prices of eggs, garlic, milk powder (NIDO), beef, mutton, gram pulse. The minister expressed concerns over increasing trend of these food commodities and directed the Ministry of National Food and Security and Competition Commission of Pakistan to closely monitor the situation, control the undeclared monopoly, take corrective measures and arrest any cartelisation, particularly in milk and meat products as well as mitigate any expected rise in prices of pulses. For gram pulse he directed Ministry of National Food and Security and USC to carry out inter-ministerial consultations with all the stakeholders in order to address any abnormal spike in prices. 
The meeting also reviewed the essential items’ prices in sasta bazaars and open markets and noted that the prices were significantly lower in sasta bazaars as compared to open markets. The minister urged that the people should benefit from these bazaars.
The meeting also noted the change in prices of selected essential kitchen items in low and combined income group during current week ending on 5th January 2017 compared to previous week and corresponding week of the previous year. The meeting noted that in low and combined income group, the price index declined by 0.29 and 0.24 basis points respectively.
The meeting also reviewed the regional price comparison of essential commodities among Islamabad, New Delhi and Dhaka and observed that the prices of 9 items including wheat, wheat flour, chicken farm, petrol, diesel, rice basmati, sugar, mash pulse and beef are lowest in Pakistan as compared to New Delhi and Dhaka and second lowest in nine items which include onions, masoor pulse, moong pulse, eggs, gram pulse, vegetable ghee, milk fresh, red chili and tomatoes. The meeting noted that the prices among the provinces are stable

Madhya Pradesh aims to raise pulse output to help India reach self-sufficiency goal

Last Updated: January 8, 2017  | 15:13 IST
Madhya Pradesh aims to raise production of pulses by 60 percent in the next three years to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi achieve his goal of making the country self-sufficient in the staple, the state's chief minister said. India, the world's biggest consumer of pulses, faces an acute shortage of the protein-rich food, forcing the country to fork out about $2.65 billion a year to import the scarce commodity from Canada, Austria, and Ethiopia among others.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked me to help achieve his objective of making India self-reliant in pulses by raising production in Madhya Pradesh," Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told Reuters in an interview.
Madhya Pradesh, a top producer of pulses, could raise its output of crops such as chickpeas, pigeon peas and black gram to 8 or 8.5 million tonnes in the next three years from about 5 million tonnes now, Chouhan said.
Stung by spiralling prices for pulses, New Delhi last year signed a long-term deal with Mozambique to import the commodities and has also been looking to import pulses from Myanmar.Pulses, mostly consumed in curries, are the primary source for protein, especially for the poor. Any spike in pulses prices stokes anger against the government.
"We have started encouraging farmers to grow more pulses by giving them a lot of help and support and expect the trend to continue until we obviate our import requirements," Chouhan, who flew to New Delhi from the state capital Bhopal, said.In the 2015/16 fiscal year, India imported a record 5.8 million tonnes of pulses after domestic prices more than doubled. Pulses production totalled 16.47 million tonnes, lower than annual demand of 22 million tonnes, which is steadily rising due to robust economic growth. Modi aims to make India self-reliant in pulses by 2020.
"The target of the state government is definitely plausible. But it depends a lot on the amount of rainfall the state is going to receive over the next few years," said Pukaraj Chopra, a leading trader of pulses.
Under Chouhan's watch, wheat output in Madhya Pradesh raced ahead of Punjab and Haryana, India's traditional grain basket.

"Wheat production has reached the optimum level, so we're not that keen to raise it further. Other than pulses, we also aim to raise basmati rice production by doubling the area under the crop," he said.Currently Madhya Pradesh produces about 500,000 tonnes of basmati rice. India and Pakistan exclusively grow the premium long-grain, aromatic basmati, largely in the foothills of the Himalayas.New wells and a focus on micro-irrigation have helped raise farm output in Madhya Pradesh, Chouhan said. Madhya Pradesh has clocked an annual 18 percent farm growth against a rather modest 4 percent at the national level.

PhilRice, Irri to craft PHL rice-farming plan

In Photo: The Philippine Rice Research Institute is encouraging farmers to plant “climate-smart” rice varieties to help them cope with the ill effects of changing weather patterns.The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it would bank on the inputs of the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in crafting a national rice farming program.“The government has plenty of work to do pertaining to rice. We would be very dependent on Irri and PhilRice in terms of formulating our program,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Operations Federico E. Laciste Jr. said in a statement issued by Irri over the weekend.
Laciste, who is also the deputy director of the Philippines’s  National Rice  Program, said collaboration in developing a national strategy for rice farming is important to uplift the lives of Filipino farmers.Irri said Laciste was briefed on the various collaborative research projects implemented jointly by the research institute and the PhilRice in support of the National Rice Program.The projects include Rice Crop Manager, a web-based decision support tool for precision farming; Philippine Rice Information System, a satellite-based rice forecasting and monitoring system; and Green Super Rice (GSR), climate-smart varieties developed under the Next Generation (NextGen) project.
For the country’s rice sector to be competitive, farmers must produce at least 7 metric tons (MT) of rice per hectare at P7 per kilogram, according to Irri, citing a benchmarking study of an ongoing project it is conducting with the DA.
“This is already possible,” said Dr. Jimmy Quilang, deputy executive director of PhilRice, adding that in one of their agency’s project, called Palayabangan (rice and pride) challenge, one farmer produced 10 MT of rice in a hectare at only P5 per kg.“With the technologies that we have developed with Irri, we already have ways to really make Filipino farmers more competitive,” Quilang added.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the DA will plant hybrid-rice seeds in 1 million hectares of irrigated lands starting this year, in its bid to achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2019.
Under the program, dubbed as Masaganang Ani (MA) 6000 program, the government will identify 10 initial areas with 1,000 hectares of irrigated land.
“The DA is positive that it can be done. We are now in the process of finalizing the MA 6000 program, which will initially target 1 million hectares of irrigated areas,” Piñol told reporters.
“These areas will be supported with hybrid-rice seeds, sufficient fertilizer, and efficient irrigation system and mechanization,” he added.
The DA is eyeing to hike the national average rice production to 6 MT per hectare from the current 3.9 MT per hectare. Citing farmers’ testimonies, Piñol said they are able to produce more than the national average yield by planting hybrid-rice seeds in areas with proper irrigation system and efficient farm machines.

8 January 2017, New Delhi, Ashis Biswas

Researchers in West Bengal have succeeded in developing a new strain of rice capable of resisting arsenic contamination in vast areas where the groundwater has been affected by chemical poisoning.Researchers in West Bengal have succeeded in developing a new strain of rice capable of resisting arsenic contamination in vast areas where the groundwater has been affected by chemical poisoning.

According to Agriculture department sources, scientists working on the project for over a decade have reported their findings to the central Government, which asked for certain clarifications. Responses have been sent. It is hoped that the centre will give its permission towards the promotion of the arsenic–resistance strain of rice, to be called ‘Muktosree’, shortly.

Bangladesh authorities are already in touch with officials in West Bengal to explore possibilities of introducing this variety in their country. The person being credited with making this breakthrough is Dr Bijan Adhikari, who has been carrying out his research in the Chisurah Rice Research Centre in West Bengal and at Lucknow’s Botanical Research Institute, for some years. Experts are hopeful that the use of the new variety will bring major relief to agriculturists as well as common people in most countries which have reported the presence of arsenic in their groundwater resources. These include Australia, Chile, the US, China, Mexico, Peru, Hungary, Thailand and Viet Nam.

In India, the problem first came to light in 1976, at a time when manually operated pumps and spring water were being used in cultivation, along with tubewells. Later the problem of groundwater contamination was also reported from parts of Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh as well. In West Bengal, arsenic contamination was first reported in 1983. The first survey showed that 22 villages in 5 districts were affected. However, this turned out to be an underestimation. It was found that 3417 villages in 111 blocks were affected, shortly afterwards.
Latest studies put the figure of people suffering from medical problems related to prolonged exposure to arsenic poisoning to be around 50.4 million, or just over 50% of the state’s population. No fewer than nine districts were affected. In neighbouring Bangladesh, the same problem was noticed in a more virulent form, if anything. Here, many provinces in the country had reported the problem and no fewer than 80 million people were found acutely vulnerable. The scale of the contamination and the magnitude of the medical emergency made it clear that in the Bangladesh/West Bengal belt, the problem of mass poisoning by arsenic contamination of groundwater as well as in water used for irrigation, had emerged as the world’s most critical medical challenge.

As experts point out, even the more celebrated and better researched medical disasters like the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 or the Chernobyl( in Ukraine) nuclear reactor explosion of 1996 , pale into insignificance in terms of negative long term damage and impact. For a long time it was suspected that uncontrolled use of groundwater resources, causing a continual fall in the water table, was the prime cause of sub soil arsenic coming in touch with the groundwater and mixing with it.

While symptoms of arsenic poisoning among persons affected began with skin sores that seemed incurable, the problems mounted exponentially in the absence of an agreed systematic, sustained treatment. As large scale areas were affected in both countries, the problem became critical as the main rice crop grown in both countries was found to be full of arsenic! The permissible limit of arsenic in the human body is around 50 ppb( parts per billion). But in the West Bengal/Bangladesh areas, levels as high as 150 to 200 were common in most places.

The results for consumers of local rice was a rapid growth of cancerous tumours or infections on the skin eventually affecting their lungs, liver , bladder and pancreas, bringing an early death for most victims. Economic factors also played a role. It was seen that better off people enjoying a more substantial and balanced diet in contrast to the normal fare for the poor, tended to escape with only minor physical damage.

Medical research continued throughout the 1990s to the present times. The United Nations and other agencies earmarked a $52 million special medical programme and assistance to Bangladesh. A interesting way to reduce the extent of arsenic affliction was found by local and international experts. Experiments in Bangladesh demonstrated that iron plaque deposited at the roots of rice plants at irrigated fields through a chemical process could significantly bring down the levels of arsenic traces or presence. This phenomenon was most noticeable during the last month of the 4–month rice production cycle. Also, widespread floods caused by heavy monsoon showers ,by washing away quantities of arsenic, could help the situation improve.

On the other hand, the practice of resorting to boring tubewells or even the random digging of ponds to store water, could cause problems. In ponds. carbon settled at the bottom , steadily seeping underground, where microbes metabolised it , resulting in a mobilisation of sub soil arsenic into the soil. In rice, traces of both organic and inorganic arsenic can be found. In India the contamination of the inorganic variety is more common.

Mr Purnendu Bose, Minister for Agriculture, appreciating the breakthrough, said the state Government would arrange to provide farmers with the seeds of the special Muktosree strain of rice as soon as the centre sent its approval. Eventually it could be sold in the open market, he said.

Sebree, Wells to be in Hall of Fame


Posted Jan 6, 2017 at 10:59 AM
Sebree began farming 53 years ago with his father and says that farming has really never been a job to him. That is not to say it doesn't take hard work, but it is work he enjoys.
By Dawn Teer / Stuttgart Daily Leader
Gary Sebree, a third generation Arkansas County farmer, and Bobby R. Wells, a former Stuttgart-area scientist, are set to be inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in March.Sebree began farming 53 years ago with his father and says that farming has really never been a job to him. That is not to say it doesn't take hard work, but it is work he enjoys.
Over the years, Sebree has served the rice industry by being the chairman of several committees and boards including the Arkansas Rice Farmers, Producers Rice Mill Board of Directors, Arkansas Rice Federation and the USA Rice Federation. He was also a member of the USA Rice Producers Group (USRPG) Conservation committee. Sebree spent 43 years as a farmer representative on the Producers Rice Mill board of directors, 24 of those as chairman (1990-2014), a time of growth for Producers and the Arkansas rice industry.
Producers Rice Mill, a farmer-owned cooperative, grew from 956 members in 1971 when Sebree first joined the board, to a high of 2,637 members in 2013. During that span, member receipts increased more than tenfold from 6.2 million bushels in 1971 to 65.5 million bushels in 2011, while sales grew from $17.5 million in 1971 to a high of $568.5 million. He was on the first Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board (1979-86), chairman of the USA Rice Producers Group (2000-2002) and chairman of the USA Rice Federation (2002-2004). He also was named Arkansas Rice Farmer of the Year in 1998.
Sebree was recently awarded the 2016 Lifetime Achievement award at the USA Rice Outlook Conference held in Memphis. Wells was a world-renowned expert on rice production, with special emphasis on rice nutrition and soil fertility. He was active in cooperative interdisciplinary research in rice production and worked closely with others in the rice cultivar improvement program in Arkansas and adjoining states.
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After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 1964, he worked for two years as an assistant professor at Murray State University in Kentucky. Wells then came to the University of Arkansas Rice Research Station in Stuttgart, where he spent 16 years before moving to the Fayetteville campus in 1982.
Wells received the outstanding faculty award for the University of Arkansas Department of Agronomy in 1981, the Distinguished Rice Research and Education Award from the Rice Technical Working Group in 1988 and the Outstanding Research Award from the Arkansas Association of Cooperative Extension Specialists in 1992. Wells passed away on Dec. 22, 1996.
In addition to Sebree and Wells, Allen Beedle, of Hot Springs; former state senator Neely Cassidy, of Nashville; and poultry company executive Mark Simmons, of Siloam Springs will be inducted at the 29th annual luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m. on March 3 in Little Rock at the Embassy Suites Hotel.
"What a great cross-section of Arkansas agriculture to be selected for the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame," Butch Calhoun, of Des Arc, chairman of the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame committee and former Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture, said. "The collective impact of these five are felt in every part of our state."
Other locals who have been inducted recently include Arkansas County Rep. David Hillman and former United States Rep. Marion Berry