Wednesday, January 18, 2017

18th january 2017 daily global regional and local rice e-newsletter


Tuesday, 17 January 2017 | Staff Reporter | Raipur | in Raipur

The Chhattisgarh government has allocated 16.87 lakh quintals of rice for ration card holders under the PDS system for the current month, officials informed.Notably, as many as 1.83 crore ration card holder members among families are now linked to Aadhaar under the Public Distribution System (PDS), they informed.  A total of 12,021 ration shops have also been computerized in Chhattisgarh and connected using Andorid based Tablets.
 The move had been taken to further strengthen the Public Distribution System (PDS) and make its functioning more transparent, officials informed.
Considerable progress has also been achieved in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan with 17,000 (99%), 11,965 (97%) and 24,649 (96%) automated Fair Price Shops (FPSs) respectively, the Central government has informed.
As a result, these States have been able to reduce ghost lifting, achieve better targeting of food subsidies by authentication of eligible beneficiaries, improvement in service delivery, weeding out bad FPSs, etc.
Notably, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has requested States to expedite the reforms so as to bring transparency in the functioning of Public Distribution System (PDS), which is a key feature of National Food Security Act (NFSA).
Highlighting the significant role played by Central and State Governments in ensuring food security to more than 80 crore eligible beneficiaries under the NFSA, which is presently being implemented in 34 States/UTs, Paswan requested Kerala and Tamil Nadu also to implement the Act as early as possible.The Minister was addressing the inaugural session of the National Conference on Reforms in PDS and Computerization in New Delhi recently.
He appreciated the significant efforts made by the various State/UT Governments in achieving 100% digitization of ration cards and automating 1.5 Lakh Fair Price Shops across the country.
Officers from the State Governments of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra shared the Best Practices in Aadhaar Seeding, FPS automation and Supply Chain Management for the benefit of others States/UTs.
The Minister also requested the concerned States/UTs, lagging behind in PDS Computerization in general, and in Aadhaar seeding and FPS automation in particular.
Paswan said due to Aadhaar seeding a total of 2.33 crore ghost/fraudulent/duplicate ration cards have been deleted across 27 States and UTs which has led to estimated ‘Rightful Targeting of Food Subsidies’ of Rs. 14,000 crore.
Addressing the conference Union Minister of State of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution C.R. Chaudhary emphasized  the need to further improve the efficiency and transparency of all operations related to food security i.e. production, procurement, storage, logistics, distribution and nutrition among others.
In order to ensure the timely delivery of quality food-grains and protect consumer rights, he requested the concerned stakeholders to modernize procurement operations, construct scientific storage facilities, implement NFSA and complete the end to end computerization of TPDS operations within the desired time frames.With a view to ensuring that only eligible beneficiaries get ration supply under Public Distribution System (PDS) and for their error-free identification, ration cards have been linked with Aadhaar numbers, officials informed.


Global Rice Starch Market 2017: BENEO, Ingredion, Bangkok starch, Thai Flour & AGRANA

Press release from: Market Research Store QY

Rice Starch
The survey report by Market Research Store is an overview of the global Rice Starch market. It covers all the recent trends including key developments in the global market in present and in future. Analyses of the global Rice Starch market trends along with the projections of CAGRs (compound annual growth rates) are provided in the research report.

Further, an evaluation of the history of the global market and the basic information of the global market is included in the report. A developmental perspective of the industry is also documented in the report. Competitive profiles of the key players in the industry are also discussed.

The research report provides both an assessment of recent developments in the industry along with forecasts examining the industry from the perspective of major competitors, present players and prospective end users in the Rice Starch market.

Forecasts are generated on the basis of region, type, product, supply, demand, and other vital factors of the global market. The research report analyzed the major factors driving the global Rice Starch market in various countries with a satisfactory and manufacturing and structure of the global market. Forecasts are also provided region-wise in the research report.

The research report comprises several chapters, tables, figures, graphs, and various other presentations formats so as to provide a precise overview of the market. The sequence of the report is maintained in such a way that highlights the overall flow of the global market. Recent developments in the global market are further described in the research report. The report also summarizes latest trends along with abstracts of the Rice Starch market. Major competitors of the global market including commercial and non-commercial participants in the global market are also covered in the report.

Thus, the research report provides in-depth analysis covering all the major regions, competitors, and vital aspects of the Rice Starch industry.

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SNP Genotyping and Analysis Market: Increasing Demand from Breeding and Animal Livestock Continue to Support the Rise of Genotyping Market

Press release from: TMR


SNP genotyping and analysis is used mainly as a research tool to identify genomic variations that lead to different morphological traits and can determine the health and ancestry of plants and animals. The growth of the market is attributed mainly to the increasing demand from diagnostic research, pharmacogenomics and animal breeding along with technological drivers such as reducing cost of sequencing and introduction of innovative technologies.

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There is an increasing opportunity in developing and developed countries for genotyping services which will be within the reach of a common man and that will represent several billion dollars worth of business since people want to understand their genetic make-up in terms of aesthetic awareness (height, weight, obesity) or for serious diseases (diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and others).


The market products are internally affected by power of substitution since there are around 8 to 10 different efficient techniques to carry out SNP genotyping such as TaqMan, SNPlex, Microarray, MALDI-TOF etc. With the completion of the Human Genome Project, over 2 million SNP’s have been added to global databases which in turn have initiated a series of research and development projects to understand potential of developing diagnostic tests through rapid genotyping techniques.

A considerable amount of revenue is spent on research to developing diagnostic products similar to companion diagnostics which would enable to give us a preview of how a genome would unfold as an individual grows older. There is a high intensity of research in food crops such as rice, wheat, oats, corn, maize and other grasses. SNP genotyping in agriculture gained acceptance long before other applications.

The GeneChip Rice 44K array offered by Affymetrix is one of the most popular platforms for rice genotyping which identifies variants that impact yield. Fluidigm’s SNPtype assays have been utilized by International Rice Research Institute which holds the world’s largest ex-situ collection of rice germplasm and plays a very large role in maintaining this repository.

The global market for SNP genotyping and analysis is expected to reach USD 9,485.2 million by 2019, up from USD 2,385.2 million in 2012, growing at a CAGR of 21.8% throughout the forecast period. Geographically, North America represents the largest market because of origin of several SNP technologies, awareness and increasing demand from pharmacogenomics and animal breeding sectors.

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The Asia-Pacific region is expected to record the highest CAGR of 23.1% during the forecast period as improving healthcare infrastructure, increasing investments by players in emerging economies such as China and India, and a large untapped research facilities segment will also boost growth of this market segment. Life Technologies Corporation, Illumina Inc., Affymetrix Inc, Fluidigm, Sequenom and Roche are some of the key vendors operating in this market.


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Transparency Market Research (TMR) is a global market intelligence company providing business information reports and services. The company’s exclusive blend of quantitative forecasting and trend analysis provides forward-looking insight for thousands of decision makers. TMR’s experienced team of analysts, researchers, and consultants use proprietary data sources and various tools and techniques to gather and analyze information.


This release was published on openPR.

PHL retraces journey toward food security


In Photo: A farmer in San Mateo, Isabela, struggles as he spins his hand tractor while plowing his rice field. After failing to meet self-sufficiency targets, President Aquino vowed to boost Philippine agriculture in the face of stiff international competition and the demand for food security.
Part Three
THE Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines food security as “the access for all people at all times to enough food for a healthy, active life.” Meanwhile, food self-sufficiency is defined by the International Food Policy Research Institute as being able to meet consumption needs (particularly for staple-food crops) from own production rather than by
buying or importing.
Piñol has hinted of programs that may focus on the development of other crops as a substitute to rice and means to achieve food security in the country.
“Also, we are looking at other commodities that would fill in whatever shortage or gap in the staple-food production,” Piñol said. “I have directed the DA [Department of Agriculture]-Bureau of Agricultural Research Director  Nick P. Eliazar to intensify studies on adlai, which is a native indigenous plant found in mountainous areas. [People thre] have been consuming and eating it as their staple food.”The Philippines, as of 2015, is self-sufficient in the following agricultural crops: sugarcane, calamansi, papaya, pomelo, tomato, cabbage, eggplant, cassava and sweet potato, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
‘Warming up’
ROGER V. Navarro, president of Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PhilMaize), said it’s about time that the agriculture chief sits down with his policy and planning team, and craft a comprehensive program for the development and direction of the agriculture sector under the current administration.“Piñol has to buckle up, seat down and make formal plans and directives for his operatives to be implemented down the ground,” Navarro told the BusinessMirror. “He should make things formal in papers and documentation, and not in social media.”
Navarro added the government has procedures and processes run through the bureaucracy and not by social-media posts of grandstanding pronouncement, which Piñol would later retract.
Navarro suggests that the overall framework of the DA’s program should be for food security, under which are specific targets per agricultural commodity, such as self-sufficiency. “If you ask me, I would suggest to bring back the banner program—they may call it whatever—because this will give more focus on government interventions,” Navarro said, referring to the previous DA’s administration banner program priorities on rice, corn and high-value crops.
“It [the program] should be based on per-capita consumption, growth rate of population, land production area and imports plus government intervention. Target should be quantified each year for measurement, proper evaluation and adjustment,” Navarro added.
Tough time
IN a press briefing last mid-December, Piñol admitted that he and his current DA team experienced a tough time in their first six months in office due to the programs
created by the previous administration.
“The journey has been tough and hard for us, simply because some of our activities actually were constrained by the fact that the budget for the half of the year has been allocated already designed by the previous administration,” Piñol said.
“We’re not saying that these programs are not relevant to the vision of the current leadership. This situation actually somehow tied our hands in really implementing drastic reforms in the agriculture department,” he added.
Recently, the 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.
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 the “Rice Crop Manager,” a Web-based decision support tool for precision farming, and the Philippine Rice Information System, a satellite-based rice forecasting and monitoring system. Also included is the “Green Super Rice,” (GSR) which is composed of climate-smart varieties developed under the Next Generation (NextGen) project.
PDP 2017-2022
IN the draft of its six-year Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the Duterte administration has set a more modest production target for the agriculture and fisheries sector.
The national government is keen on growing farm production by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent annually starting this year until 2022, when the President steps down from office. The previous administration had initially targeted to increase annual agriculture and fisheries output by 3 percent to 5 percent.
“The sector has yet to overcome recurring challenges related to productivity, competitiveness, climate and disaster risks, and resource degradation and depletion,” the draft chapter read.
“Greater trade liberalization, e.g., implementation of the Asean Economic Community [AEC] and free-trade agreements, and lifting of quantitative restrictions [QR] on rice in 2017 provides opportunities to the sector, as well as poses risks to small farmers and fishermen who remain uncompetitive,” it added.
The PDP draft pointed out that crops subsector, which accounts for nearly half of agriculture and fisheries output, pulled down the overall growth of the sector in the past years.
“The subsector’s poor performance was due to: a] impacts of typhoons and El Niño that greatly affected rice and corn productions, especially in Mindanao; b] coconut scale infestation in Calabarzon; and c] limited adoption of high-yielding varieties of selected commodities,” the draft read.
 To be continued

A eyes solar energy for small-scale irrigation

POSTED ON JAN - 17 - 2017
DA Assistant Secretary for Field Operations and National Rice and Corn Programs Deputy Director Federico E. Laciste Jr. was given a tour at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, January 17.
Laciste visited various facilities and laboratories including the Palayamanan Plus site, FutureRice Farm, Seed Processing Center, Rice Engineering and Mechnization Division, and the Rice Science Museum. He was also briefed on PhilRice’s R&D programs and strategic plan for 2017-2022.
In a short interview during the tour, Laciste revealed DA’s plan in providing free irrigation for farmers. According to Laciste, while the plan will have to undergo due process, DA is in the meantime exploring solar-generated energy for small-scale irrigation

Rice farming: Drew Braithwaite of Benerembah aims high
LINDSAY HAYES, The Weekly Times
PROGRESSIVE young rice farmer Drew Braithwaite is a classic case of “if you want something done ask a busy person”.
The father-of-three has a full diary this year, which will see him juggle family, farming and business commitments with international travel as the winner of a prestigious Nuffield scholarship.
Drew, 35, and wife Abby run a mixed cropping enterprise with his parents, Ian and Colleen, on their 1100ha irrigation farm, Red Hill, at Benerembah in southern NSW.
With the use of cutting-edge technology the family produces high-yielding rice, canola, cereal and seed crops in rotation, engaging a fulltime employee along with harvest staff.
“We use cameras on manned planes for our imagery and I write all the variable rate technology prescriptions myself,” Drew said.
The cropping plant includes a John Deere header, a seeder, chaser bins and tractors fitted with GPS. Drew joined the farming partnership in 2002, adding his agricultural science qualifications and agronomy skills to Ian’s decades of primary production experience with good results.
He later worked as a commercial agronomist. Today, with other calls on his time, Drew engages an agronomist abreast with the latest agronomy practices for advice on soil health and nutrient management.
ENDOWED with a get-up-and go ­attitude, and ready to embrace new ideas, he introduced best-practice irrigation and cropping techniques which, in the family’s ongoing quest for improvements, are being finetuned today.
Drew also runs a windrowing business, independent Ag, and is active on industry bodies. He is a member of Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, Benerembah Warrawidgee Water Users and the Rice Research and Extension Committee Panel, among others.
The most recent drought was a turning point for the business, marking the end of livestock trading and a switch to full-scale cropping.
This involved laser-levelling, installing one-sided channels for easier water management and enlarging and setting up the bays for row cropping.
“Water efficiency is the driver of our business so we need to produce more for less moving forward,” Drew said.
“Our aim is to grow the right crop in each field, meaning rice on low water-use fields and high-value crops such as seed crops on our paddocks that have high water use.
“We are trialling an automated stop that measures the depth of the water (in the bays) and can be adjusted remotely with the use of a phone.
“This is early days but very exciting.”
DREW’S farming practices and rice variety trials will be showcased at the International Temperate Rice Conference in Griffith in March when overseas and Australian delegates visit the Braithwaite property to see the results first hand.
A total of 300ha is planted to reiziq medium grain rice annually.
The family has set the bar high, aiming for a yield of 12.5-plus tonnes/ha.
“We are trying to get a tonne of rice per megalitre of water,” Drew said.
“We are getting close. We are trying to focus on water productivity and growing more seed crops.”
The wheat harvest finished on December 29.
Normal year yields are 6 tonnes/ha and 7 tonnes/ha for hard and soft wheat respectively. Drew expects yields from last harvest, though, still to be totted up, to be less due to the wet winter.
“We did not irrigate any winter crops last year which is very rare,” he said.
The grain, sold to the best price, is currently warehoused on and off farm waiting for a good market.
The faba beans returned 4 tonnes/ha and 44ha of seed canola, grown under contract to Pacific seeds along with some seed wheat, yielded 1.2 tonnes/ha.
The Braithwaites bring in contractors to deliver some of the grain and cart some themselves using semi-trailers.
DREW’S successful farming practices and the potential benefits to the rice industry from his study topic led to his Nuffield scholarship.
Drew completed the scholarship’s global focus program last year, travelling to Ireland, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands and the US where scholars visited the Board of Trade in Chicago.
He said it was a great agricultural and cultural experience that enabled him to understand how the countries farmed and the values which shaped their views on agricultural and food policies.
This year Drew will pack his bags again and head to New Zealand, the US and Vietnam to undertake his six-week individual study tour where he will weigh up options to optimise returns to rice farmers.
His topic is “branding versus hedging” in the rice industry, which he said had been successful in growing, storing, milling and marketing rice under the current pool system.
“This has been very successful and has provided great ­returns to growers even during extreme droughts with Sun­Rice’s strong consumer brands,” Drew said.
“Under the pool system indicative rice prices are given at planting, but the final price is not determined until all the rice in the pool is sold.”
He said this model was under some pressure with new crops entering the area with well-developed futures markets, enabling growers to fix the prices for some of their production. Family affair: Rice farmers Drew and Abby Braithwaite with their children Macey, Harriet and Georgia on their farm at Benerembah in southern NSW.

His quick move derails the gravy train

2017-01-18 09:18:17

The government decision to drastically reduce the import duty on rice imports had come as a surprise to the business circles.
 The business community had another surprise when they learnt that Number One in yahapalanaya himself had taken this decision.Meanwhile, a story doing the rounds in business circles says that Number One had intervened to lift all restrictions on rice imports and reduce the import duty in order to preempt a subtle bid by a powerful purohita to give an undue advantage to a rice importing company he had a stake in, they say

Việt Nam extends rice trade deal with Philippines

Update: January, 17/2017 - 15:50

Rice loaded for exports. — Photo
HÀ NỘI – Việt Nam will continue to supply up to 1.5 million tonnes of rice per year to the Philippines following the extension of the rice trade agreement between the two countries.
The agreement has been extended to December 31, 2018, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It is a solid legal foundation that will allow Việt Nam to maintain its share in the Philippines rice market as the product is mostly imported to the country via governmental auctions. 
The extension of the deal will help stabilise Việt Nam’s rice export market. The country has been competing with both traditional rice exporters, such as Thailand and India, and emerging ones, such as Pakistan, Cambodia and Myanmar. 
The Philippines is a key rice importer of Việt Nam, buying 500,000-1,500,000 tonnes of rice from Viet Nam every year and accounting for 17-20 percent of the country’s total overseas rice shipments during 2011-2015. — VNS

UNL receives grant to research hybrid wheat

Recently, a team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund research in a new hybrid of wheat. Stephen Baenziger, a UNL professor of agronomy and horticulture, said the project is a part of the U.S. government’s contribution to the international wheat yield partnership. “There were a total of $15 million given–there was one large $10 million grant and five smaller $1 million grant areas,” Baenziger said. “One of those was hybrid wheat, and that was ours.”
Baenziger’s team applied for the grant in competition with other universities in the U.S., and eventually won the subvention. The Department of Agriculture announced in November that UNL won the grant, and since then, Baenziger’s team has finalized four goals for the project.
The first and second goals are to create hybrid crops that can cross-pollinate, because wheat is self-pollinating. Cross-pollinating wheat hybrids will create higher wheat yields. The third objective of the grant is to develop heterotic pools, which combine to make heterosis (to make wheat that has better genes than that of its parents). The last method addresses how to sell the wheat commercially.
Nicholas Garst, a graduate student working on the project, said his part of the project has to do with making wheat more conducive to cross-pollination.
“The price of the seed was too high for the farmer to get the value (of the plant),” Garst said.
Because wheat self-pollinates, it doesn’t produce much seed, making the seed more expensive. Therefore, many farmers choose not to farm wheat, making the overall wheat gain less than something such as corn, which produces significantly more seed than wheat.
“The yield benefit was there, but the cost was too high for the company to make the seed,” Garst said.
Baenziger said the project is a unique undertaking, because projects on such a great scale are usually achieved privately, with information, data and research confined to a certain team. However, work on hybrid wheat is being done at other American colleges such as Texas A&M University and Kansas State University, as well as internationally in Hohenheim, Germany.
“Everybody got out of hybrids in the 1990s because they couldn’t move forward fast enough, and it’s always been at the back burner of my mind, ‘Where would we be if we’d had someone stay with trying to breed hybrids?’” Baenziger said.
He said rice was an excellent example of innovative hybrids, with people in China working on rice since the 1970s. Those working on hybrid rice never stopped their research, and because of that work there are almost 40 million acres of hybrid rice.
The amount of land provides a massive food source for a growing population, according to Baenziger. As the world’s population is predicted by the United Nations to hit 9 billion by 2050, people in the agricultural business must think of new ways to create and harvest more plentiful crops.
While the three years of funding provided by the grant won’t be nearly enough time to accomplish such a feat as creating hybrid wheat, Baenziger and his team are still encouraged.
“A journey starts with a single step,” Baenziger said. “So you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Rice Featured at North Louisiana Ag Expo for 35th Consecutive Year 

WEST MONROE, LA -- Nearly 11,000 people attended the 35th annual North Louisiana AgExpo here on January 13-14.  Visitors to the Louisiana Rice Council (LARC) booth received sample bags of Louisiana-grown rice, provided by the Louisiana Rice Growers Association, for correctly answering questions about rice.  Attendees also enjoyed a cup of red beans and rice, courtesy of the Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association, and USA Rice staff distributed recipe brochures, nutrition information, and rice-facts sheets.  

LARC members President Eric Unkel, Vice President Charles Precht, Jr., Paul Johnson, and Jimmy Hoppe manned the booth along with USA Rice field staff Mary and Randy Jemison.

Jimmy Hoppe noted that the Louisiana Rice Council has promoted U.S.-grown rice every year since the beginning of the exposition.  "I was in my third year as president of the Louisiana Rice Council when the show began," said Hoppe.  "Throughout the years we have reached hundreds of thousands of people with the U.S. rice message."

The Expo was established by the North Louisiana Agribusiness Council to educate citizens about the regional and state impact of agriculture.

They've got all the rice answers (from left): Charles Precht, Jr.; 
Paul Johnson; Eric Unkel; Mary Jemison; and Jimmy Hoppe


Government to procure Kharif paddy till April 30

By Express News Service  |   Published: 17th January 2017 11:23 PM  |  
Last Updated: 17th January 2017 11:23 PM  |   A+A-   |  

Labourers work in a paddy field | Reuters

BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has approved the State Government proposal for extension of Kharif paddy procurement deadline to April 30. Paddy procurement is in full swing in most of the districts except Kandhamal where the the process will start from next week, Joint Director (Procurement) in the Food Supply and Consumer Welfare department B K Prusty said.
Setting a target to procure 30 lakh tonnes of rice for the 2016-17 kharif marketing season (KMS), the state government started the procurement operation from Bargarh district on November 29 last year. Since post harvest operation of paddy is still on in many parts of the state, the state government requested the Ministry of Agriculture to extend the paddy procurement deadline from March 30 to end of April, 2017, he said.
Besides, demonetisation of high currentcy notes impacted paddy procurement as the agencies involved in procurement could not pay the minimum support price to the farmers due to cash crunch. About 17.45 lakh tonnes of paddy (equivalent to 11.87 lakh tonnes of rice) worth Rs 2,562 crore has been procured till date and Rs 2,012 crore has been credited to bank accounts of farmers, Prusty added.
This year procurement of paddy has been five percent more as compared to the corresponding period last year. About 16.63 lakh tonnes of paddy were procured by this time last year. Registered rice millers have already delivered 2,46,490 tonnes of rice to the state government.
The Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC) is the principal procurement agency of the State Government. The corporation is procuring paddy in all the 30 districts through Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS), pani panchayats, Large Scale Agriculture Multipurpose Societies (LAMPS) and women self help groups. The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department has introduced paddy procurement automation system (P-PAS) in 294 of the 314 blocks of the state. The remaining 20 blocks do not have surplus paddy for procurement.
The custom milled rice collected under the decentralised procurement system are supplied under the public distribution system in the state. The surplus rice was delivered to the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The deadline for Kharif paddy procurement is March while for Rabi crop it is June. FCI will not accept rice from the paddy procured beyond the stipulated time frame

US Trade Policy: In Trump's America, Louisiana Rice Farmers Hope For New Market


Set against a calm blue sky and acres of flat, open land, a whirling hydraulic drive wheel grumbled through the silence as it churned into the ground, pushing a boat along the shallow waters of Fred Zaunbrecher’s rice farm in Rayne, Louisiana. It was the middle of January and they were harvesting crawfish, fishing in sacks of the critters that thrive in the stubble of the rice fields picked clean from the summer’s harvest.
The crustaceans, a Louisiana delicacy, help feed steady revenue to Zaunbrecher and his three brothers who oversee the farm. The crawfish are a stable business, but the rice – the principal crop for Zaunbrecher – is not. A barrel goes for just $16 these days, down from about $25 four years ago, he said.
"Our livelihood right now is growing rice and selling it. And we plan on being in this business for a long time," Zaunbrecher, 59, told International Business Times. "We're optimistic that things are going to improve. If they don't, we're going to be out of business."
Recently, there has been fresh cause for hope: Cuba. It's a nearby, rice-loving country with whom trade had long been forbidden because of an embargo. But under President Barack Obama, the United States has worked to ease those restrictions. No state was more excited by that prospect than Louisiana, which has precedent for doing business with the country and recently dispatched trade delegations there amid the president's new policies.
Relations with Cuba, however, have been thrown into a limbo-state with the election of President-elect Donald Trump, who has threatened to walk back normalization efforts. In the deeply red state of Louisiana, the prospect of a Trump presidency largely breeds excitement – and Zaunbrecher is no exception – but the president-elect's hostility toward Cuba could create another roadblock for the Louisiana rice industry hoping to rush into a brand new, potentially lucrative market.
"I think if you could snap your fingers and get the Cuba market going, rice would probably go up three or four dollars a barrel right away here," Zaunbrecher said. "It would just be that good."
Under Trump, that might never happen.
Fred Zaunbrecher's combines are pictured in his fields during harvest. Photo: Fred Zaunbrecher / IBT
About one month before Election Day, a Louisiana trade delegation that included Gov. John Bel Edwards went to Cuba. During that trip leaders from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) signed, as did Cuban officials, a memorandum of understanding to conduct trade once rules were lifted.
"We have some of the best agricultural products and logistically, it makes more sense for the Cubans to trade with us," LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain said at the time. "We want to ensure we are on the same playing field as everyone else once trade restrictions are relaxed."
The idea was to be first in line should the embargo be lifted. In conversations with people involved in Louisiana trade, nearly all said it was natural for rice to be the first product to export. It could also prove to be a valuable endeavor. Cuba imports about 80 percent of its food and has the highest per-capita rice consumption in the Western Hemisphere. It currently gets most of its rice from Vietnam but used to pay high prices for U.S. rice varieties.
And while other U.S. states do grow rice, there's a history of trade between Cuba and Louisiana, which has exported more than $1.4 billion in allowed essential goods to the island nation over the past decade. Virginia has exported the second-most over that time at just $424 million. With Obama making tangible normalization progress and Louisiana officials making inroads with visits to the country, trade with Cuba was beginning to seem like a very real boost on the immediate horizon for rice growers.Elton Kennedy, a rice producer in Louisiana, has been to Cuba twice as a part of trade delegations. "We're all hungry to do business with them," he said to IBT. "They're certainly anxious to do business with us."

But because of the oppressive socialist Castro regime in Cuba – and an important bloc of Republican Cubans in the swing state of Florida who escaped the country – normalizing relations with the country can prove politically tricky. Louisiana rice producers have realized this and Trump has already adopted some hard-line stances, such as when he threatened to reverse what Obama has already done, like allowing U.S. flights into Cuba.After the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Trump tweeted: "If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal."Trump has also appointed Mauricio Claver-Carone, a staunch pro-embargo lobbyist, to his transition team, which doesn't bode well for anyone hoping for further loosening of restrictions.

Specialty rice program nears release of 2 aromatic lines

MondayPosted Jan 16, 2017 at 11:23 AMUpdated Jan 16, 2017 at 1:14 PM

STUTTGART - The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's specialty rice program, seated in the Rice Research and Extension Center at Stuttgart, is planning to release two varieties of aromatic rice in the coming years, researchers recently.
Debra Ahrent Wisdom, a program and research associate for the Division of Agriculture at Stuttgart, said two jasmine-type aromatic rices, currently known simply as AR-1105 and AR-1102, are scheduled to be released in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

"These are really the first lines we've released through the specialty rice program," Ahrent Wisdom said. "We determined there was a demand for these aromatics through conversations with growers, millers and marketers, and also by simply looking at rice imports across the country."
Ahrent Wisdom said that while the United States (and Arkansas in particular) doesn't typically import much long- or medium-grain rice, imports of aromatics such as jasmine and basmati are strong.
"There's an interest among consumers for aromatic rice," she said, noting that immigrants and foreign nationals, particularly from Asian counties such as India and Thailand, overwhelmingly prefer the rice grown in their countries of origin.
"We can't grow the varieties they grow in Thailand and India, because of the photo period sensitivities," Ahrent Wisdom said. "We can't just say, 'send us some seed and we'll grow it here.' It doesn't work that way. There's something about the environment in Thailand and India that makes those aromatic lines just pop. And it's not everywhere in those countries - it's just certain pockets where the soil and the environment just works.
"We don't happen to have that particular environment here - so we work around the environment we have," she said.
Ahrent Wisdom said both of the new varieties claim Jazzman, a jasmine aromatic line originally developed by Louisiana State University, as a parent. In three years of test trials, AR-1105 and AR-1102 have averaged yields of 170 and 150 bushels per acre, respectively. While the yields aren't comparable to most long-grain rice varieties, the numbers represent a strong showing among aromatics, she said.
Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for the Division of Agriculture, said specialty rices like Ahrent Wisdom's aromatic lines make up less than one percent of overall rice production in Arkansas, the leading rice state in the country. Nevertheless, producers are always looking for an edge in marketing opportunities, he said.
"Our growers do want some investment," Hardke said. "Any kind of value-added product, anything we can find a fit for, at a premium, and can grow and sell, that's great. But to date, specialty rice markets are still pretty small."
Karen Moldenhauer, a professor of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science for the Division of Agriculture in Stuttgart, said the RREC has been working with aromatic varieties for more than a decade, although the specialty didn't become a focus of the program's research until Ahrent Wisdom transferred from Fayetteville to Stuttgart in 2009.
"There was a lot of interest in aromatic rice," Moldenhauer said. "The Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board and a number of producers in Arkansas thought it would be good if we could have an aromatic that we could potentially sell to some of these same people; people that were more interested in different types of rices, so they could have something from the United States to choose from."
Moldenhauer said that since the Division of Agriculture's rice breeding program was established in 1931, it has released about 45 lines of rice, only one of which has been an aromatic.
Glen Bathke, assistant director of the RREC, said that the specialty rice program's pursuit of unusual lines provides an avenue for growers to find new markets in which to pursue revenues.
"Just having a new rice variety released periodically lets growers and business owners know that we can grow specialty rice here, not just medium- and long-grain," Bathke said. "We have aromatic markets right here in Arkansas. If growers would like to participate in that market, we have products that will allow them to do so, and diversify a little bit. But developing those markets is key."
Ryan McGeeney is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture

Việt Nam extends rice trade deal with Philippines

Update: January, 17/2017 - 15:50

HÀ NỘI – Việt Nam will continue to supply up to 1.5 million tonnes of rice per year to the Philippines following the extension of the rice trade agreement between the two countries.The agreement has been extended to December 31, 2018, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It is a solid legal foundation that will allow Việt Nam to maintain its share in the Philippines rice market as the product is mostly imported to the country via governmental auctions. 
The extension of the deal will help stabilise Việt Nam’s rice export market. The country has been competing with both traditional rice exporters, such as Thailand and India, and emerging ones, such as Pakistan, Cambodia and Myanmar. 
The Philippines is a key rice importer of Việt Nam, buying 500,000-1,500,000 tonnes of rice from Viet Nam every year and accounting for 17-20 percent of the country’s total overseas rice shipments during 2011-2015. — VNS