Thursday, January 19, 2017

19th January 2017 daily global regional and local rice enewsletter

Palace declares ‘war’ vs rice smugglers


MALACAÑANG has declared a total war against smugglers of rice and other commodities as unscrupulous importers and brokers continue to defy the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) appeal to shape up during the first six months of the Duterte administration.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, head of the inter-agency task force against smuggling, announced on Wednesday that from hereon the BOC and other concerned government agencies would go hard and run without let-up after companies and personalities who continue to defy the law to avoid payment of correct duties and taxes.

“It is public knowledge that the President has no tolerance for rice smugglers. The President, needless to say, is also very protective of the marginalized and our rice farmers. In order to protect the marginalized and the rice farmers, we must harmonize and synchronize efforts to ensure strict implementation of the law, particularly the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016 or Republic Act 10845,” Evasco said in a news briefing at the bureau.
“To those who will smuggle rice, please stop,” he added. “We call on all the traders to heed the President’s call for zero graft and corruption in and out of government. We will be watching you and we will run after you,” he added.
Evasco pointed out that rice smuggling is economic sabotage because it distorts the local price of rice and bloats domestic supply, thus putting consumers and farmers in an extremely disadvantageous situation.
He disclosed that the inter-agency task force has collectively agreed, among others, to strictly implement that no import permit, no importation policy as provided by law, allow only up to 2 percent from the previous 10 percent overlanding or rice load as allowance for potential breakage and damages and disallow the use of free port zones as point of entry of imported rice and other commodities.
“We have agreed that there will no exception. Violation will merit seizure of goods. We have also further agreed to study the possibility of donating all of these rice to the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] for the agency’s Pantawid ng Pamilyang Pilipino Program to meet the needs of disaster victims,” Evasco said.
“Perhaps, the government is better off with this scheme instead of auctioning it. Auctioning the seize rice when in reality it is still the traders who will place their bids,” he noted.
No import permit, no entry
Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon explained that under the new guidelines, rice importers are free to bring the staple food anywhere, provided that they have import permits and that taxes have been paid.
According to Faeldon, ships loaded with imported rice without import permits would not be allowed to enter within the 12 nautical miles territorial waters of the Philippines or risk automatic seizure.
He said the 2 percent allowable excess on the landed volume of rice is deductible from the maximum access volume (MAV) of the specific importers and still subject to duties and taxes.
Faeldon clarified that imported rice may only be allowed entry in the free port zones after payment of duties.
Along with it, the Customs bureau has also made conscious efforts to provide opportunity to new but qualified players to ensure fair competition.
But importers and brokers who repeatedly violate the law, Faeldon said, would be delisted and charges would be filed against them
According to the BOC commissioner, they have already delisted 70 firms from its accreditation list, saying they would be publishing thousands more in the coming weeks out of the 11,000 accredited importers and brokers.
“These are smugglers. So everytime you attempt to do illicit trade, you will be removed. That is on a day-to-day basis. That includes brokers and consignees, we will not accredit them,” Faeldon added.
“In fact brokers who are repeatedly involved [in smuggling], we will submit your case to the PRC [Professional Regulation Commission] and let [the]PRC determine if they will remove your license,” he said.
Under RA 10845, large-scale agricultural smuggling covers all importations of sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish and cruciferous vegetables in their raw state, or which have undergone the simple processes of preparation or preservation for the market.
Illegal importations with a fair market value of P1 million or P10 million in the case of rice will fall under this classification.
It states that large-scale agricultural smuggling is committed by importing or bringing goods into the Philippines without the required import permit, unauthorized use of import permits, using fake import permits or shipping documents, selling, lending, leasing, assigning, consenting or allowing the use of import permits, organizing or using dummy corporations or companies for the purpose of acquiring import permits, misclassification, undervaluation or misdeclaration to evade payment of lawful duties and taxes, transporting or storing the agricultural product subject to economic sabotage and acting as broker of the importer.
Violators face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural products and the aggregate amount of the taxes, duties and other charges.
Local offenders shall be penalized with perpetual disqualification to engage in importation, while alien offenders shall be deported after serving the sentence.
Government officials involved in smuggling shall be punished with criminal liability and perpetual disqualification from public office.
Illegal entry of agricultural products causes heavy damage to the country’s agriculture sector and the government, with revenue losses amounting from P60 billion to P80 billion.

With drought looming, Sri Lanka tries something new: preparing

by Amantha Perera | @AmanthaP | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 18 January 2017 08:33 GMT

Officials are removing taxes on imported rice, restricting reservoir use and looking for alternatives to hydropower as drought looms
By Amantha Perera
COLOMBO, Jan 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With rainfall in many areas just a third of that last year and many water reservoirs far below normal levels, Sri Lankans have begun holding traditional ceremonies to invoke rain - some with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena.
But this time, national officials are also doing something new to prepare for what many fear could be the worst drought in decades: Developing plans, in advance, to deal with it.
Those include everything from allowing communities to take only drinking water from drying reservoirs to removing taxes on imported rice and looking for alternatives to hydropower to maintain the national electric grid.
"The change came about because we were able to predict the onset of the drought well in advance and with detailed information," said Lalith Chandrapala, the head of Sri Lanka's Meteorological Department.
The country has had clear signs since last October that drought was coming, officials say. During 2016, Sri Lanka had only one period of exceptionally high rainfall, with some areas receiving over 300 mm (11 inches) of rain in three days, leading to flooding and landslides.
Apart from that, rain was less than normal almost all year. "We have a rainfall deficit and it is likely to stay that way until the next monsoon" in June and July, Chandrapala said.
According to the Meteorological Department, in some districts rainfall has been 30 to 40 percent of normal levels. Some of these districts are also among the country's largest agriculture producers.
A view of the water marker on the dried out bottom of a lagoon in Katharagama, Sri Lanka, August 21, 2014. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
The lack of rainfall severely affected paddy rice production in the last growing season. According to the Disaster Management Center (DMC) only around 300,000 hectares out of a possible 800,000 were cultivated, largely because of a lack of irrigation water.
Reservoirs that will provide water for the next growing season, which starts in March, need to be at least half filled by that time to support a normal harvest. But DMC officials and Chandrapala said the country's main reservoirs were currently less than a third full.
"It nothing like I have ever seen before," said Ranjith Punyawardena, an agro-climatologist at the Department of Agriculture.
The lack of water is likely both to hurt agriculture and cut into supplies of vital hydropower. Already, as a result of drought, the country is getting 80 percent of its electricity from coal and oil and only 11 percent from hydropower.
Normally, at this time of year, the country would get at least 40 percent of its electricity from hydropower, according to the electricity board.
To deal with the coming problems, Sri Lanka has set up a cross-ministry committee to come up with an action plan, said Minister of Disaster Management Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.The committee includes high ranking officials representing agriculture, power, disaster management, finance and meteorology and has been meeting every two weeks, with meetings expected to become weekly from the middle of January on.
In an effort to stabilise rice prices in the market the government removed all taxes on rice imports on Jan. 7. Rice imports are expected rise in the next two months as available local stocks dwindle.
According to Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, minister of power and energy, the government is also prepared to enter into short term power-supply agreements with private companies to meet any further drop in hydropower production capacity.
The inter-ministerial committee is expected to launch a national power and water conservation programme as well.
The committee has recommended that water use from national reservoirs be strictly monitored, something that has not be done in the past. Water from some of the reservoirs already has been limited for drinking purposes only."This time we are taking some precautions. Hopefully they will help us ease the worst impact" of the drought, Chandrapala said.(Reporting by Amantha Perera; editing by Laurie Goering :; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit

Rice imports to Ukraine down 35%


Rice imports to Ukraine continued shrinking this season, reportsUkrAgroConsult. So, Ukraine imported 14 KMT of rice from July till November 2016/17 that is 35% less than at the same time last year.India continues to be Ukraine’s traditional rice supplier, though with noticeably reduced shipments. 5.5 KMT of Indian rice was imported to Ukraine in the period under review against 7.9 KMT in July-November 2015/16. Rice imports from Pakistan plummeted to 2.4 KMT that is down two-thirds from last year.However, UkrAgroConsult notes some increase in rice purchases from Kazakhstan. So, Kazakhstan had exported to Ukraine 78% more rice than for the entire last season.Logistic advantages along with a rice crop increase in Kazakhstan suggest that Kazakh rice deliveries to Ukraine will further expand

Government gives up bid to extend rice QR

The government has abandoned plans to ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to extend the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice due to lack of time, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Wednesday.In a news briefing in Malacañang, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the government will no longer file for an extension of the rice-import quota, which is set to expire on June 30.
Piñol said this was the result of the discussions in the recent Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) meeting. The CTRM is cochaired by the secretaries of Trade and Industry and Socioeconomic Planning.
“In the last meeting of the CTRM, the consensus was against [DA’s position]. The QR will expire and the government cannot do anything about it,” he said.The DA chief noted that the country’s application for the QR extension was processed over a period of two years. To date, the Philippines is the only country in the world that continues to implement rice import caps.
Piñol said the “saving grace” for the Philippines would be the Republic Act (RA) 8178, or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, which has not yet been amended by Congress. RA 8178 needs to be amended to allow the Philippines to replace the QR—a nontariff barrier—with a specific duty.
He said the law can effectively prevent the influx of cheap imported rice into the Philippines. No bill has yet been filed in Congress to amend RA 8178. “We are hoping that our friends in Congress will be sympathetic with the Filipino farmers,” Piñol said. Trade experts and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) expressed concern that the failure to amend RA 8178 under a post-QR scenario could open the country to WTO sanctions.
Former Tariff Commissioner George Manzano told the BusinessMirror that sanctions can be imposed against the Philippines if other WTO member-countries complain about paying a higher duty due to the nonamendment of RA 8178.
Currently, the government allows rice imports within the minimum access of volume (MAV) of 805,200 metric tons (MT) to enter the country at a lower tariff of 35 percent. Imports in excess of the MAV are slapped a higher tariff of 50 percent.
“My guess is we will be open to sanctions if an exporter complains and brings the matter up in the WTO,” Manzano said.
Sanctions from the WTO could mean trade partners asking for concessions such as lower tariff on specific goods or nondelivery on the trade pacts.
However, Manzano said before these are imposed, the WTO needs to subject complaints to due process. He said this is the importance of the WTO—placing order on global trade.
Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon told the  BusinessMirror that concessions may not be considered as sanctions since the Philippines has made trade concessions in the past, particularly in the maintenance of its QR.
These concessions include allowing the entry of more dairy and livestock imports. These concessions, she said, was used by the economic managers to extend the QR.
“Concessions are not sanctions. Sanctions include not importing from the Philippines,” Edillon said.
To prepare for the scrapping of the QR, she said the government needs to discuss concessions at the CTRM as early as now. Once the CTRM has decided, the government can now make the necessary commitments.
‘Government failure’
Despite extending the rice-import quota twice, Piñol said millions of farmers remain poor due to the inaction of the government.
“I am not blaming anybody. I am not blaming a specific administration, I am not blaming a specific individual. But the plain and simple truth is that the government has failed to deliver,” he said.
Piñol cited the failure of the government to expand irrigated rice lands in previous years. Of the 3.9 million hectares of Philippine rice farms, he said only 1.3-million hectares are irrigated.
This means that around two-thirds of rice farmers in the country could only produce rice—a water-loving crop—once a year.
Piñol said the government also failed to convince farmers to adopt hybrid-rice seeds, which could increase yield, and bring down the cost of production.
“As of the moment, of the 3.9 million hectare of rice farms, only 300,000 plus is planted to hybrid seeds,” Piñol said

Nay Pyi Taw dam helps boost summer paddy plans

By Htoo Thant   |   Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Nay Pyi Taw authorities are planning a 50 percent increase in the area of land set aside for summer paddy growing this year, according to an official from the region’s agricultural department.
A farmer works at a paddy field in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: EPA
U Tin Oo Kyaing said the department is aiming to plant over 15,000 acres of summer paddy, up from just over 10,000 acres last year. The Sin Tay dam in Tatkon township – will be able to provide more water for cultivation this year, which U Tin Oo Kaying said was responsible for the rise in acreage.More than 160,000 acres are used for paddy in the rainy season, but in the hot summer farming depends on irrigation, which allows less than a tenth of that area to be used.  Proximity to the dam partly determines yield, he added. Those fields furthest away provide only 70 or 80 tins per acre (one tin holds nine gallons), and those closest up to 140. The average is between 90 and 100 tins, said U Tin Oo Kaying.
Under the previous government local farmers experimented with Pearl Twal hybrid paddy, which often yielded more than 150 tins an acre. But despite high yields, there is less demand for Pearl Twal in the local market and therefore less profit.
“People don’t like it much, so brokers aren’t willing to buy it and farmers get less revenue,” said Ko Myo Lin Aung. “As a result farmers stopped cultivation,”
He added that the yield from last year’s summer paddy had decreased because of higher than normal temperatures.
U Tin Oo Kyaing said there was no way to predict this summer’s climate, and that most modern paddy strains could endure a variety of weather.
U Tun Win, who was dismissed as deputy minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation in 2016, said earlier that year that other economical crops – including different types of beans – will be grown as priority crops in addition to summer paddy.
The system of growing paddy and other crops during the same planting seasons is long established, said U Tin Oo Kyaing. “Farmers need to grow paddy in irrigated farmland, but after that they can plant other crops that they wish to grow,” he said.
The main problem facing the ministry’s Department of Agriculture, however, is distributing water to different kinds of crops grown by the same farmer.
U Tin Oo Kyaing used the example of mung beans and summer paddy.
“They are grown together in some places but the nature of these two crops is different,” he said. “Water distribution can’t work [properly] if cultivators grow mung beans in one plot and summer paddy in another within the same field.”
The Department of Agriculture has left farmers to decide what to grow on their own, but it does station cultivation agents in village tracts in order to liaise with the department, he said.
“Problems have occurred with cultivation [due to water issues for different crops] and so we need organisation,” he said, adding that the cultivation agents are chosen by the villages and contact the department with their water and machinery needs

PH eyes 40-50% tariff on rice after QR expires

THE Philippines will operate under a tariff-based restriction to protect local palay farmers once the country’s quantitative restriction (QR) expires in July this year, a Cabinet official said on Wednesday, noting that the tariff range could be at 40-50 percent.Lawyer Maia Chiara Halmen Reina Valdez, Undersecretary for the Office of the Cabinet Assistance System, said that Manila may impose 40-50 percent tariff on all imported rice post QR as per discussions with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

“We are looking at 40-50 percent [tariff on rice]across the board,” Valdez told The Manila Times on the sidelines of a press briefing on anti-agriculture smuggling at the Bureau of Customs.
She said the government is now fast-tracking the crafting of policy guidelines for the amendment of Republic Act (RA) No. 8178, or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, which had kept the QR on rice importation in place.
“There will be a vacuum if we operate post QR without amending the law. That’s why we need to fast-track the amendment of the tariff law,” she said.
The proposed amendments would require the fine-tuning of trade agreements with other countries or trade blocs. The Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), for example, gives rice exporting countries like Vietnam and Thailand a much lower duty of 35 percent.
“Right now, we are working under a concession with these countries, including the 35 percent tariff. If we are to ‘tariffy’ rice, we need to balance protectionism with global integration,” Valdez said.
“Under the domestic law, we are still tied up to 35 percent duty. So we have to amend it to conform with the WTO [World Trade Organization] requirement since we are no longer going to work under the conditions set under the QR,” she added.
The Philippines had earlier granted greater market access—not limited to rice—to countries affected by the extension of the special treatment on rice. In exchange for the QR extension, Manila offered other rice-producing countries certain trade concessions, such as greater access to the Philippine market for other products, including increasing the minimum access volume (MAV) from 350,000 metric tons to 805,000 MT of rice.
However, starting July 2017, tariff concessions made under the QR will end along with the program’s expiration, and tariff rates will revert back to their previous higher levels. This also means that the MAV for rice will revert back to the original 350,000 MT while tariff rates will have to be decided by the economic managers.
Valdez said amendments in the tariff law would also include the possible removal of the 350,000 MT MAV as committed by the Philippines to the WTO. “Technically, it will be free trade. So we need to remove caps of volume imported and shift to tariff protection,” she said.
For its part, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said that the Philippines should continue to implement the in-quota and out-quota rate under the MAV scheme—with a reduced tariff rate of 35 percent while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates.
Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano said that Manila, as a signatory to the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement, should honor its commitment to implement a 35 percent tariff rate for rice originating from Asean member countries.
“Bakit ka pa nagkaroon ng agreement kung hindi mo masusundan [Why have an agreement if you cannot honor it]? If you want to change those conditions you have to renegotiate, but you have to be willing to pay the demand,” Serrano said.

Competitive advantage

Mercedita Somibilla, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-Agriculture, Natural Resources and
Environment director, earlier said Filipino rice farmers will be equally protected, and could even enjoy competitive advantage, if the QR on rice is no longer be extended beyond 2017.Sombilla said prices of locally grown rice will actually be lower compared to the landed cost of imported rice. “At 35 percent tariff, local farmers would have price advantage as compared to the landed cost (of imported rice) of about P4 per kilo and above,” she said.

In fact, about 35 of the country’s rice producing provinces will be able to compete directly with their Vietnamese and Thai counterparts, she said. Even without tariffs, she said about 13 rice-producing provinces would remain competitive, with a price advantage of P0.10 to as high as P3 per kilo.
“These figures are computed using existing data from the Department of Agriculture and Philippine Statistics Authority,” Sombilla said. “My stand is that at 35 percent, we are already competitive. What more if it is higher than that? Farmers will even have more protection.”
“That’s why it is important for President Rodrigo Duterte to finally come up with the policy guidance,” said Valdez. “But as of now, the rate that NEDA is looking at is 40-50 percent on all rice imports,” she said.

Nigeria becoming self-sufficient in rice production – CBN

The Branch Controller, Central Bank of Nigeria, Awka, Chuks Sokari, on Wednesday said the country was gradually becoming self-sufficient in rice production going by its availability during the Yuletide.Sokari said this during a town hall meeting in Awka with stakeholders involved in the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme for rice production in Anambra.He said the key role played by stakeholders in the country, especially in the state, contributed largely to the increase in rice yield in 2016.He said, “I am confident that through this CBN programme, rice production will double in this country.“By extension, this is sure to reduce poverty among small-holder farmers.’’

The branch controller said the state had accessed N2bn as at December 2016 from the programme’s funds.
He said that farmers could access the funds as a group of between five and 20; but they must open an account with any of the participating banks in the state.He said, “From what is in the programnme, each state is expected to bring up a crop that has some production advantages.

“On the basis of that, they can approach the CBN through the participating institutions for funding.
“However, the loans must be repaid within five months through the produce.”Earlier, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanisation, Processing and Export, Afam Mbanefo, said the CBN funds would scale up activities in the state’s agricultural sector.
Mbanefo, who was represented by Jude Nwankwo, said the ministry had concluded plans to double yields this year for export which would also conserve foreign exchange.The Branch Head, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Cooperative, Andrew Oseloka, urged farmers to indemnify their farms against damages like fire, flood, drought, pests and rice diseases for quick recovery.

In his remarks, the State Coordinator, IFAD-assisted Value Chain Development Programme, Emmanuel Agwuncha, said 10, 000 rice farmers would be registered for the CBN initiative in 10 local government areas.
Agwuncha said the farmers would be trained on good agronomic practices, business management and cooperative principles and dynamics in rice farming.According to him, the town hall meeting is aimed at sensitising stakeholders on the modalities and approaches required of them to access funds from the CBN anchor borrowers programme

Kano to boost rice production with N200m budget allocation

The Kano State Government has allocated over N200 million in the recently approved 2017 budget to boost rice farming in the state.Mohammed Garba, the Commissioner of Information, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Kano.He said this was part of the state government’s efforts to boost the agricultural sector in the state to complement President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to reduce over dependence on crude oil.

“Rice and wheat farmers were given N150 million loan in 2016 to boost production in the Sector, while in 2017 we are planning to increase the loan.“All necessary measures will be taken to ensure that the ordinary farmers in the state benefit more from the gesture,” the commissioner said.Garba said that in 2016, the state government contributed to the production of 1.3 million tonnes of rice, saying that it hopes to increase it to over 2 million tonnes in 2017.

He said, “the state government has concluded plans to employ more Agricultural extension workers to assist farmers across the state.‘These extension workers would be going round the farming areas to assist the farmers on how to ensure proper production of rice and wheat,” Garba said.According to Garba, the extension workers would be provided with motorcycles to ease their movement especially at the rural areas. NAN

Western Rice Belt Production Conference and Texas Rice Council Welcome USA Rice  

EL CAMPO, TX -- More than 200 Texas rice producers packed the Civic Center here today for the annual Western Rice Belt Production Conference and Texas Rice Council Meetings to hear research and association updates.USA Rice Vice President of Marketing, Communications, & Domestic Promotion Michael Klein provided an overview of USA Rice issue areas and then walked the crowd through several highlights, including what the Trump Administration may mean for rice and what USA Rice is doing to promote U.S. rice in key international markets and at home.Klein also shared the recent successes of USA Rice's unique conservation and sustainability partnership with Ducks Unlimited that has resulted in $25 million in federal funding for rice conservation.

"These programs have put more than one million dollars directly in the pockets of Texas rice farmers through the EQIP and CSP programs of the Natural Resources Conservation Service," Klein said.  "And just last month our partnership was awarded $15 million, more than half of which is going to the Lower Colorado River Authority to help them build a new reservoir in Eagle Lake, Texas, that will supply water to more than 50,000 rice acres in Colorado, Matagorda, and Wharton Counties."

Texas Rice farmer and chairman of US Rice Producers Tommy Turner also spoke, thanking the crowd for their support.  He shared his thoughts that much work remains to be done on quality issues, and went on to praise the efforts of his organization to promote rough rice exports, particularly through the South Louisiana Rail Facility.

Other speakers included Dr. Muthu Bagvathiannan and Dr. Shane Zhou of Texas A&M, Texas Department of Agriculture Pesticide Inspector Melissa Barton, and Dr. Mo Way and Dr. Joe Outlaw from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, among others

Drought affects 120,000 acres of paddy
  Wednesday, 18 January 2017 - 13:00

Director General of Irrigations Saman Weerasinghe stated that 120,000 acres of paddy cultivation have been hit by the prevailing drought in the island.He was speaking at a media conference held this morning in Colombo.Addressing the media, Chairman of Water Supply and Drainage Board K.A Ansar said that drinking water could only be supplied till the end of March if the drought persists.The water level at hydro power reservoirs have dropped substantially in the catchments.CEB Chairman Anura Wijepala said that the supply of power to the country will not be interrupted however.

Centre ploughs funds into R&D
- Union cabinet clears over Rs 200cr for IARI off-campus in Hazaribagh
A.S.R.P. Mukesh with PTI inputs

Jaitley at a news meet after the cabinet meeting in Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

Ranchi, Jan. 18: In a big push to agriculture in Jharkhand, the Union cabinet today approved funds of Rs 200.78 crore for setting up the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) off-campus in Hazaribagh, whose foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.As an off-campus of the flagship IARI in Pusa, New Delhi, the facility at Goriakarma village in Barhi block of Hazaribagh will undertake research, education and extension programmes to generate farmer-friendly technologies to enhance productivity, quality and profitability of agriculture, agro-forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries, poultry, piggery, silk and lac rearing and honey production.

The expenditure of Rs 200.78 crore will be incurred from 2016-17 fiscal to 2019-20, finance minister Arun Jaitley said after the cabinet meeting in Delhi."The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the 12th Plan proposal of the DARE/ICAR Plan Scheme of the establishment of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)-Jharkhand," an official statement said."It will have an estimated outlay of Rs 200.78 crore (100 per cent ICAR share) on 1,000 acre land provided by the government of Jharkhand," it added.
The 1,000-acre Hazaribagh off-campus of IARI will undertake integrated multi-disciplinary research in the school mode (schools of crop sciences, natural resource management and animal sciences). It will also promote agro-based industries and generate employment opportunities in the farm sector in eastern India.Welcoming today's Union cabinet decision, Dipankar Maity, head of a rice research station in Hazaribagh, a sub-centre of Odisha's Central Rainfed Upland Rice Research Station, also the officer on special duty (OSD) appointed by Centre for this project, said work on IARI-Hazaribagh would finally pick up pace now.
"It was announced in 2014, its foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister in 2015 and its funds were approved somewhere late last year. Cabinet approval came today. I am very relieved now as things will pick up pace," he said.

Formal land transfer by state government has been done and a rough architectural sitemap is ready, Maity said. "The total running site of this area is around 14km and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has set up over 400 poles at a distance of 30 metres each, to map the area. All poles are GPS-mapped to alert us to any possible encroachment."Initially, the IARI off-campus will have one administrative and faculty building each and the three research schools till MSc and PhD levels. Then, provision for schools for staffers and staff quarters have also been made in the plan. For the future, the IARI off-campus will go the solar way to meet a part of its energy needs.

"Not too many people know that the first batch of nine students had been inducted in 2015. They are being taught at the IARI mother centre in Delhi. They did their mandatory six-month field research in Jharkhand and their course is almost over," said Maity, who will go to Delhi on January 25 for a meeting at the IARI to discuss the modalities of the upcoming off-campu

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Research highlights red yeast rice reactions over 14 years

By Will Chu , 18-Jan-2017

Red yeast rice is backed for cholesterol management in the EU, but it has been linked to some adverse reactions. ©iStock
food supplement with a similar composition to cholesterol-lowering statins may increase the risk of muscle and liver injuries, a study has found. 
Red yeast rice (RYR) is often used by patients with high cholesterol, and is hailed as an alternative to statin drugs. It has an EU-approved health claim for cholesterol management at 10 milligrams (mg) per day of its prime constituent, monacolin K.However researchers have collated some adverse effects over more than a decade, including myopathies and liver issues.
Adverse reaction tally
Scientists from Sapienza University and the National Institute of Health in Rome in Italy analysed 1261 suspected adverse reactions (ARs) recorded in World Health Organisation (WHO) databases.From April 2002 to September 2015 there were 52 RYR ARs. 

'Monacolin K contained in RYR is identical to lovastatin, and early monitoring of liver function and signs of muscle injury should be considered,' the study's authors recommended. ©iStock
These reactions ranged from muscle pain and/or increase in creatine phosphokinase (19), muscle injury (1), liver injury (10), gastrointestinal reactions (12), skin reactions (9) and other reactions (4).
Women were involved in 70% of cases and 13 cases resulted in hospitalisation. 28 of these patients were taking other medications including ACE inhibitors,  thyroid  hormones,  selective  serotonin  re-uptake  inhibitors,  oral  contraceptives, antibiotics,  benzodiazepines,  calcium  antagonists, beta-blocking  agents  and diuretics. Some were taking food supplements such as vitamin  D, fish  oil and olive extracts.
“Monacolin K contained in RYR is identical to lovastatin,  and  early  monitoring  of  liver  function  and  signs  of  muscle  injury should be considered,” the study’s authors recommended.  
“When used as self-prescription, without medical advice and monitoring and possibly for long term, patients should be aware adverse reactions, such as hepatitis or rhabdomyolysis, can remain asymptomatic for long periods.”
RYR is derived by fermenting steamed rice with a fungus belonging to the Monascus genus, mainly M. purpureus (Aspergillaceae  family).
During this process monacolins are produced as well as pigments, which are responsible for the rice’s red colour.
Between 2009 and 2013, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) recorded 30 ARs linked with food supplements containing RYR, mainly consisting of myopathies and liver injury. It is not known if these were also logged with the WHO.
The researchers recommended future studies using questionnaires to gain information on specific uses of RYRs in order to make cross-national comparisons.
Source: British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Published online ahead of print: DOI: 10.1111/bcp.13171
“Adverse reactions to dietary supplements containing red yeast rice: assessment of cases from the Italian surveillance system.”
Authors: G. Mazzanti et al.