Tuesday, January 31, 2017

31st January,2017 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by Riceplus Magazine

Rice is ‘in-thing’ to grow as demand rises

A farmer in a rice field. A significant increase in production is from the smallholder farmers. PHOTO BY FRED MUZAALE 
By Robert Museveni
Rice is an important cash and food crop in Uganda for both producing and non-producing areas for the last couple of years.The highest production levels are evident in the districts of Iganga and Bugiri in the east, Hoima and Kabarole in the west, and Amuru, Nwoya, Apac and Lira in the north.
The consumption is mainly concentrated in both urban and peri-urban centres in areas where it is not mainly grown. This is while it is a staple food in most households in areas where it is grown.
Surge in production
A case in point is, between 2002 and 2012 when rice production grew by 77 per cent (from 120,000 to 212,000 tonnes) mainly due to a number of factors. These include favourable policies, the development of improved seeds and the high level of prices in the domestic market, which constitute a strong incentive for farmers.
Although Uganda’s production has increased significantly, it is unable to satisfy the increasing demand from urban consumers which is closely linked with rapid urbanisation and economic growth.
Since 2010, the value of Kayiso rice has increased gradually making a difference of Shs850 (30.1 per cent) per kilogramme on retail and Shs770 (30.1 per cent increase) per kilogramme on wholesale.
All these is attributed to the growing populations within the urban centres as more people enter the city centres to look for jobs hence influencing indirectly the increase in the number of small restaurants which normally buy Kayiso rice for cooking instead of Super rice or Pakistan.
Kayiso rice has fluctuated so much in the market simply because of the other alternative foods that can act as immediate substitute, for example, Pakistan, Super Tanzania, upland rice.
It is relatively stable for wholesale price and retail price with a difference of Shs1,050 and Shs550 for wholesale and retail respectively.
Super rice as the name suggests is the premium rice recognised nationally and across East Africa.
All the varieties of rice have the same trend pattern across the years indicating a possible correlation between their prices.
Like any other crop, the price of Super rice (Uganda) is affected by other rice types on the market such as Super Tanzania, which is a close competitor as well as rice from different origin that include Pakistan, IRRI-6 sweet variety type (15, 20 and 25 per cent broken), Tilda rice, Basmati.
But super rice (Uganda) beats the other types of rice on aroma and taste whereas the other types (Pakistan, for instance) are preferred for their cleanliness hence easy to cook without sorting.
The growing of upland rice have maintained a relatively stable trend in the last two years. 
And the prices for upland rice are relatively similar across the other markets, apart from northern and eastern regions where prices were slightly higher.
The wholesale price ranges and on average Arua, Kitgum, Isingiro and Mbarara register the highest retail price of Shs3,000 as the lowest retail price was registered in Jinja Market at Shs2,200.
The price difference between highest and lowest price was Shs750 and Shs800 for wholesale and retail price respectively in the period of one year


Wheat, rice basmati strengthen on increased offtake

Sat, 28 Jan 2017-02:18pm , PTI

Prices of Wheat and rice basmati rose by up to Rs 100 per quintal at the wholesale grains market today due to increased offtake.
Bajra and maize also ended higher on pick up in demand from consuming industries.
Traders said increased offtake by flour mills mainly kept wheat prices higher.
Uptick in demand from retailers helped rice basmati prices to trade higher, they said.
In the national capital, wheat dara (for mills)and wheat (deshi) moved up by Rs 50 each to Rs 2,060-2,070 and Rs 2,800-3,100 per quintal respectively. Atta chakki delivery followed suit and traded higher by a similar margin to Rs 2,080-2,110 per 90 kg.
In the rice section, rice basmati common and Pusa-1121 variety also went up by Rs 100 each to Rs 7,000-7,100 and Rs 5,700-6,900 per quintal respectively.
Other bold grains like, bajra and maize too ended higher by Rs 20 and Rs 10 to Rs 1,460-1,500 and Rs 1,610-1,620 per quintal respectively.
Following are today's quotations (in Rs per quintal): Wheat MP (desi) Rs 2,800-3,100, Wheat dara (for mills) Rs 2,060-2,070, Chakki atta (delivery) Rs 2,080-2,110, Atta Rajdhani (10 kg) Rs 285, Shakti Bhog (10 kg) Rs 285, Roller flour mill Rs 1,140-1,150 (50 kg), Maida Rs 1,200-1,210 (50 kg)and Sooji Rs 1,270-1,275 (50 kg).
Basmati rice (Lal Quila) Rs 10,700, Shri Lal Mahal Rs 11,300, Super Basmati Rice Rs 9,700, Basmati common new Rs 7,000-7,100, Rice Pusa (1121) Rs 5,700-6,900, Permal raw Rs 2,050-2,075, Permal wand Rs 2,150-2,200, Sela Rs 2,800-2,900 and Rice IR-8 Rs 1,850-1,860, Bajra Rs 1,460-1,500, Jowar yellow Rs 1,750-1,800, white Rs 3,500-3,700, Maize Rs 1,610-1,620, Barley Rs 1,800-1,820.
(This article has not been edited by DNA's editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)


fall of rice export

By Webmaster -January 29, 2017
Engr Mansoor Ahmed
Rice production in Pakistan holds an extremely key position in agriculture and the national economy. Pakistan is the world’s 4th largest producer of rice. It is the second largest export commodity after textile and placing Pakistan in the top five rice exporting countries of the world. Rice is the third largest crop after wheat and cotton which is grown over 10 percent of the total cropped area. Rice is highly valued cash crop and it accounts for 6.7 percent in value added in agriculture and 1.6 percent in GDP. Pakistan grows enough high quality rice to meet both domestic demand and allow for exports of around one million ton per annum.
Regrettably, rice export industry has been facing severe suffering since last couple of years and unable to compete in the world market due to which its exports were on drop. The present PML (N) government has taken many good measures regarding strengthen the economy of country including successfully completion of IMF program, relief package for textile sector and Kisan package for agriculture. There is a dire need in the current scenario for making arrangements to enhance the rice export. By increasing the export of rice not only more foreign exchange would come but also domestic rice industry would overcome the crisis.

NFA strengthens technical team to ensure accessibility of rice during disasters

 January 30, 2017
MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon, January 28—The National Food Authority (NFA) in Bukidnon has strengthened its provincial technical team to ensure readiness and accessibility of rice for distribution in relief operations during disasters.
Provincial Manager Gil G. Tabor said the technical team’s role is vital in assessing the volume of rice needed in calamity-stricken areas.
“This is part of NFA’s crisis and disaster plan because we need to ensure the readiness and accessibility of the agency’s rice stocks in order to immediately respond to the local governments’ 'distress call' for food during disasters,” he said.
At present, NFA is processing the documents for signing of additional Local Government Unit (LGU) applicants and renewal of the memorandum of agreement by 10 LGUs, including the provincial government, for rice loan under the Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP). This allows them to acquire rice on credit for relief operations in case of disasters.
Chaired by NFA provincial manager, the technical team includes the enforcement and investigation services officer, the designated information officer, and warehouse supervisors involved in the release of rice for distribution to disaster-stricken areas.
Tabor said the technical team has been tasked to review, identify, and consolidate reports in order to increase number of LGUs that could avail of the program.
“As a government entity, NFA continues to be at the forefront in food distribution during disaster relief operations, which is in full support to the government’s food security programming and disaster risk management,” Tabor said. (Maria Socorro S. Mellomida-PIO, NFA/RLRB-PIA10, Bukidnon)

Stakeholders alarmed over rice export slump

By Rice HQ News | January 29, 2017
A sharp fall in the rice exports, during the first half of the current financial year, has steeped the stakeholders yet deeper in uncertainty over the future of their business, which has been stuck in the desperate straits for over last two years, an industry handout said on Saturday. “It is a matter of serious concern as the rice exports have slumped by no less than 18 percent in July-December 2016-17,” Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Mahmood Moulvi said in the statement. “A tough competition in the international market has weighed on the local rice exports big time.”
Deploring the nonchalance of the government, he held that despite being the country’s second largest earner of foreign exchange, rice export sector was not getting the attention it deserved. “In order to cover their losses and make them more competitive in the international market, the rice exporters must be granted rebates without delay,” said he.
Moulvi stressed the sector has been facing hardship and challenges for the last 2-3 years and needed to be bailed out urgently. “We are appealing to the government to announce a relief package for the survival of this important sector,” he said, suggesting a 2-5 percent rebate scheme on higher exports would be a good booster for the sector.
Continuing his statement, the REAP chief added the 2016 was a very challenging year for the rice trade due to tame prices and looming competition in the world market.
“Even a low domestic commodity market failed to help Pakistani exporters compete with their counterparts from the neighbouring country, where prices offered were much lower,” he said.
Talking on trade with Iran, a good buyer of Pakistani Basmati rice, he said despite lifting of international sanctions, Pakistani exporters were still unable to initiate official exports with Iran in the absence of a banking channel. “The government of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan are requested resolve the issue on priority basis,” Moulvi said

USA Rice, How Tweet It Is! 

TORONTO, CANADA -- Would you be able to convey the ways you love to use rice in 140 characters or less?  Canadian social media influencers did just that in an exchange of more than 2,600 rice-related tweets in just one hour!  @USARiceCan recently hosted a Twitter chat that encouraged Canadian online users to #ThinkRice by sharing tips, tricks, recipes and food memories about rice.

Twitter lit up as rice was a trending topic in Canada during the meaningful exchange of tweets. Tip sharing was popular and the top tweet of the hour was a tip suggesting broth be used when cooking rice.

During the Twitter chat, key rice nutrition, origin, and versatility messages were shared, and the newly re-designed Canadian website was promoted.  Recipe and nutrition links shared during the chat took users to the site at www.riceinfo.com, where they could enjoy an improved user experience.  Since the re-launch, visitors are spending more than double the amount of time on the site, and new 'How To" rice videos featured on the site were also promoted.

"Twitter chats, along with other social media activities, are essential to reaching an engaged audience," says USA Rice Vice President of Marketing & Communications Michael Klein.  "More than 160,000 Twitter accounts were involved in the chat and more than 3 million impressions were generated.  Every connection we make provides us with another 'U.S. rice ambassador' - someone armed with perhaps new information about rice, an interesting fact or cooking tip - and each one is a new opportunity for U.S. rice.

Sri Lanka cuts import tax on rice amid crop shortfall


Sri Lanka has cut an import tax that has kept domestic rice prices high pushing up food costs of the poor, and restricted supply allowing large millers to control the market and earn excess profits.
A so-called special commodity levy on imported rice has been brought down to 05 rupees a kilo for raw, nadu and samba from January 27, from 15 rupees a kilo, the finance ministry said.

The 15 rupees tax had been effective from January 17.Sri Lanka taxed all types of imported rice at 30 percent or 50 rupees a kilo up to 2016, keeping rice prices above other countries in Asia.Internationally traded rice is around 50 rupees (330 US dollars) to 57 rupees (380 dollars) a tonne, not counting freight and other port charges by December 2016. Pakistan super kernel white Basmati is about 130 (874 dollars) according to FAO data.

In Sri Lanka a powerful farming a milling lobby keeps rice prices high with the help of government import taxes, restricting the economic freedoms of the poor and hungry.To force people to eat expensive rice, and give large profits to wheat mills taxes on wheat flour is also kept high, while raw wheat is allowed in barely taxed.

Sri Lanka Maha paddy crop this year is expected to be down by around two million tonnes following a drought in 2016.
The government bans rice and sugar imports during harvest seasons.

Iranian Government Amends Rice Import Tariffs

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The government has drastically cut import tariffs on a list of agrofood products to keep prices in check in the runup to the new Iranian year (starting March 21, 2017)
The government has amended tariffs for importing rice by reducing it from the previous 40% to 26%, Trade Promotion Organization of Iran announced.
It was announced on January 21 that the rate would stand at 5% following a series of tariff cuts on a list of agro-food products.
Based on the new regulation, tariffs on butter, meat and bananas will be trimmed to 5% from 20%, 26% and 26% respectively. Tariffs for pulses have also been cut drastically. Split peas will be subject to a 10% tariff, down from the current 15%. Rates on various other types of beans have been reduced to 5%.
The legislation describes these commodities as “basic, essential and urgent", adding that the new tariffs are currently in effect.
The move is aimed at keeping food prices in check in the runup to the new Iranian year (starting March 21, 2017). Meat and agricultural products have witnessed a hike in the past few weeks.
However, Shamsali Hajizadeh, the head of Agricultural Commission at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, believes the reduction in tariffs is unlikely to lead to lower prices.
“Manipulating tariff rates benefits neither the producer nor the consumer. Only the intermediaries stand to gain from it,” he told the Persian daily Shahrvand.
Hajizadeh criticized the government for its “flawed” agricultural policies over the past few years.
Instead of manipulating tariff rates, Hajizadeh believes that the government should focus on enhancing productivity to minimize costs and reduce prices.
The Iranian government has a history of placing periodic bans on the import of rice and sugar, among other commodities, in support of domestic producers. 
There is an all-out ban on rice imports during harvest seasons, for example. This year the measure was in place from July 21 to November 21.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Iranians consume more than 3 million tons of rice every year, of which almost 2.2 million tons are supplied by domestic farmers.
“This [domestic supply] does not suffice demand. We need imports, but imports that are limited and controlled,” Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati said in November.
Nonetheless, figures show rice imports have been on the rise, despite all the restrictive measures.
Importers shipped more than 630,000 tons of rice valued at $527 million into the country during the nine months to December 20, 2016, which registered a 22% and 4% growth in volume and value respectively compared with the corresponding period of a year ago, according to the latest data released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
Sugar, chocolate and candy industries have been complaining in the past few months that the commodity was scarce due to restrictive regulations regarding imports. The government has dismissed the claim though.
Temporary bans on sugar imports are imposed mostly to prevent oversupply and support local manufacturers. 
According to Iran Sugar Association, Iran is currently 70% self-sufficient in sugar production and a complete self-sufficiency is possible within the next four years.  
Sugar production is estimated to exceed 1.52 million tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 20, 2017). Domestic demand for sugar stands at 2.2 million tons annually. Therefore, the import of close to 700,000 tons is needed, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The government also imports a few hundred thousand tons for its strategic reserves every year.

Africa’s rice farmers lose $200 million annually to parasitic weeds

Published on 27 Jan 2017 
Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
27 Jan 2017
An international team of researchers representing the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Wageningen University, has raised the alarm over the enormous economic impact of parasitic weeds on rice production in Africa, threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of resource-poor rice farmers and consumers in the region.
Smallholder farmers in the continent are losing every year half a million tons of rice worth about US $200 million because of parasitic weeds. This is roughly equivalent to the annual rice consumption of Liberia, a low-income country, which is highly dependent on rice imports. If the rice lost due to the parasitic weeds had been saved, it would have been enough to feed the total population of Liberia (4.5 million people) for a whole year.
Parasitic weeds are among the most destructive and problematic weeds to control. “When these plants invade food crops, they turn into ferocious weeds,” said Dr Jonne Rodenburg, Agronomist at AfricaRice. The most important parasitic weed species in rice are Striga asiatica, S. aspera, S. hermonthica and Rhamphicarpa fistulosa. They are all endemic to Africa and can also parasitize other cereal crops like maize, sorghum and millet.
The team of researchers reveal that these parasitic weeds, which survive by siphoning off water and nutrients from host crops, have invaded 1.34 million hectares of rainfed rice in Africa, affecting an estimated 950,000 rural households. They are increasingly becoming severe due to an intensification of agricultural production and climate changes.
The areas affected by parasitic weeds are home to some of the world’s poorest farmers. Studies by AfricaRice and partners have shown that parasitic weeds seem to predominantly affect women farmers in Africa as they are often forced to grow rice on the most marginal and parasitic weed-infested plots.
Parasitic weeds threaten rice production in at least 28 countries in Africa that have rainfed rice systems. The most affected countries are Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone Tanzania and Uganda.
The researchers warn that these parasites are spreading fast in the rainfed rice area and if nothing is done to stop them in their tracks, the damage will increase by about US $30 million a year. These findings were revealed in a recent article by Rodenburg, Demont, Zwart and Bastiaans, entitled “Parasitic weed incidence and related economic losses in rice in Africa,” published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 235 (306-317). It is published as open access (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016788091630528X).
Rice is the second most important source of calories in Africa. It is also critical for smallholder incomes. Demand for rice is growing at a rate of more than 6% per year – faster than for any other food staple in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), because of changes in consumer preferences and urbanization. Rice production is increasing across SSA, but the continent still imports some 40% of its rice.
Until now, there has been little information on the regional spread and economic importance of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa. “We have presented in this article best-bet estimates on the distribution as well as the agronomic and economic impact of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa,” explained Dr Rodenburg. “In fact, this is the first multi-species, multi-country impact assessment of parasitic weeds in Africa.”
The article focuses on the four most important parasitic weeds in rice. Striga species – known under the common name “witchweed” – occur in at least 31 countries with rain-fed upland rice systems. Rhamphicarpa fistulosa – known under the common name “rice vampireweed” – threatens rice production in at least 28 countries with rainfed lowland rice systems.
Dr Sander Zwart, AfricaRice Remote sensing and Geographic information systems specialist, explained that for this study, a map of rainfed rice production areas, compiled from different databases, was overlapped with parasitic weed observation data retrieved from public herbaria to visualize regional distribution of these four important parasitic weeds.
From this overlap, probabilities of actual infestation were estimated. These estimates together with secondary data on parasite-inflicted crop losses and efficacy of weed control were combined into a stochastic impact assessment model.
The knowledge acquired on the distribution as well as the agronomic and economic impact of parasitic weeds in rice in Africa underlines the importance of finding effective measures to control these pests through research.
AfricaRice and its partners have been investigating and developing efficient parasitic weed management strategies that are affordable and feasible for resource-poor rice farmers. “A range of high-yielding, short-cycle, farmer-preferred rice varieties have been identified with resistance or tolerance to different species and ecotypes of Striga, as well as varieties with good defense against R. fistulosa,” said Dr Rodenburg.
He explained that such varieties can be combined with different agronomic measures, such as late sowing (against R. fistulosa) or early sowing (against Striga), and the use of organic soil fertility amendments. Growing a leguminous cover crop such as Stylosanthes guianensis and following a zero-tillage approach also contribute to effective control of Striga, as demonstrated by agronomic experiments conducted by AfricaRice and its partners.
To study institutional and socio-economic constraints underlying the challenge posed by the parasitic weeds, and to raise awareness and improve communication on efficient management strategies, AfricaRice and its partners have brought together stakeholders, including national research institutes, extension services, crop protection services and private sector representatives in workshops in East and West Africa.
At a time where there is a decline in public sector investments in agricultural research, efficient targeting of resources is becoming increasingly important. “The results of our studies emphasize the importance of targeted investments in further research, the development and dissemination of control technologies and capacity building of farmers, extension agents and other stakeholders, to reverse the observed trend of increasing parasitic weeds in rice,” stated Dr Rodenburg.

IRRI inaugurates friendship center food security country

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has partnered with the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in launching the BRRI-IRRI Friendly-Center . The term was coined by IRRI Deputy Director Jackie Hughes and BRRI Director General Bhagya Rani Banik. It aims to expand partnered research between the two agencies and bolster global market environment in the face of climate change.
Banik said that the project is an offspring of the 50-year-old productive partnership between IRRI and BRRI. Banik also added that they have seen food security increase in their native country with a rice self-sufficiency rate of 2.06 metric ton surplus. BRRI attributed this milestone to research advances in rice science to which the two institutions adhere.
According to IRRI, the reopening of the Gazipur centre shall allow the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute to “nurture science and leadership capacity among Bangladeshi researchers.” This will be made possible by preparing IRRI scientists to collaborate with IRRI. Moreover, this partnership will also provide technical assistance that will fulfill the Bangladesh government’s vision to establish its own rice industry in 2050.
Bangladesh can be found in northeastern South Asia. It has a land mass of 144,000 km2. Moreover, the country is bounded by India on the west, north, and northeast. On the other hand, Myanmar lies on its southeast while Bay of Bengal can be found on its south, Ricepedia reports.
This nation consists of low, flat, fertile land. More than 230 rivers and their tributaries flow across the country down to alluvial soil. Flood water enriches its soils with heavy silt. Rice is a staple food for most Asian countries. Aside from developing its quality, studies are also being conducted on how to make rice plants endure and survive diseases. A study even suggests that bacteria might be able to improve rice infected by fungus.

New ‘green’ fertilizer trialled on Lankan rice farms could contribute to food revolution: scientists

2017-01-30 08:54:57


Thomson Reuters Foundation: A new synthetic fertiliser could help farmers to save money, boost food production and reduce planet-warming emissions, scientists have found after trialling it on rice farms in Sri Lanka. 
By slowing down the release of nutrients the fertiliser will help farmers to increase crop yields using less chemicals, the scientists from Britain and Sri Lanka said.
Chemical fertilisers such as the nitrogen-rich urea were key to the agricultural boom of the 1960s and 70s known as the “Green Revolution” but their cost remains relatively high for farmers in the developing world.
Agricultural production must rise by about 60 percent to feed a growing global population, expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO).
Urea, commonly used to grow rice, wheat and maize, dissolves quickly when in contact with water and part of its nutrients are washed away before crop roots can absorb them.As a consequence, more applications are needed, which can prove too expensive for farmers in poor regions, the scientists wrote in the scientific journal ACS Nano 
this week.
Moreover, unabsorbed urea particles go on to form ammonia that pollutes waterways and eventually causes the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The new fertiliser delays the dissolution of urea by binding it with a mineral to slow down the release of nutrients 12 times, the scientists said.
“The plant takes up more of the fertiliser and less is wasted,” said Gehan Amaratunga of the University of Cambridge in Britain, co-author of the report.
“This goes a long way to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone on 
late Thursday.
Initial trials using the new fertiliser on rice farms in Sri Lanka showed production grew up to 20 percent using almost half the amount of fertiliser, Amaratunga said.
Amaratunga said he hoped the innovation could help usher in a new, more eco-friendly Green Revolution.
“It is a Green Revolution...as it’s more food and less environmental damage,” he said

A told: Focus on agriculture production to alleviate poverty

In Photo: A Farmer plants rice in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he is keen on putting in place a legislated program to increase the production of major crops, such as rice and corn.
A vice chairman of the House Committee on Economic Affairs on Monday said the Duterte administration should focus on the agriculture sector if it wants to alleviate poverty in the country.
Liberal Party Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato of Oriental Mindoro made a statement after she expressed dismay over the poor performance of the agriculture sector during the last quarter of 2016.
“How can the government achieve its target of alleviating poverty if the agriculture sector is not growing?” Sato said. The Duterte administration is targeting to lift out of poverty 6 million Filipinos by 2022, or an average of 1 million a year starting in 2017.
Earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the Philippine economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2016, the fastest in Asia, beating China (6.7 percent) and Vietnam (6.2 percent).
During the last quarter, however, the country’s total economic production and performance, as measured by GDP, slowed down, recording only a 6.6-percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2016.But Sato said the PSA data also showed that agriculture sector declined further by 1.1 percent from October to December 2016.  The PSA said the decline was mainly due to two typhoons that hit the country during the period.
She said bad or unfavorable weather condition should not be an excuse for the sector’s poor performance. Moreover, Sato said the Philippine economic growth could have hit the 7-percent growth target had it not been to the agriculture sector’s dismal performance during the last quarter of the previous year.
“The Philippines can do better by investing more in agriculture, by putting in place appropriate programs that will address the multi-faceted problems besetting the sector,” Sato said.
She added that the Department of Agriculture (DA) should intensify programs that make farming profitable to encourage farmers to do business in agriculture, hence boosting production and contributing to the country’s growth and development “the way it should.”
“Climate change is a reality we need to face. We know what typhoons can do to our agricultural areas, that is why the DA should come up with ways to help farmers increase production, provide much-needed government subsidy and help enhance the capacity of farmers to become climate-resilient,” she added.
Sato said the Philippines should be able to enhance its food-production capacity to avoid overdependence on imported food and other food by-products.
Concrete plan
Meanwhile, Sato, Nacionalista Party Rep.  Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr. of Camarines Sur and Akbayan Rep. Tom S. Villarin asked Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel  F. Piñol to come up with concrete plans that will protect farmers from the looming rice crisis when cheap, imported rice start flooding the market after June 2017, even if it plans to raise tariff on rice imports.
“With the lifting of the quantitative restriction on rice by June this year, expect importers to start bringing in cheap, imported rice that will kill the rice subsector, unless the government does something about it,” Sato said.
She added that farmers with small landholdings would not be able to compete against cheap, imported rice flooding the market without adequate government support in the form of seed, fertilizer and pesticide subsidy.
Sato said the agency should intensify capacity-building programs to help farmers survive and overcome the many challenges of food production.
“Support to farmers should no longer be ‘business as usual’.  To help fight poverty, the government must allocate resources, develop and implement plans that will not only help farmers survive, but improve their lives and economic conditions,” she said.
According to Villafuerte, a government plan to finally cut QRs, or quotas on rice imports, and let private traders buy the staple from the world market should prompt the Duterte administration to first help farmers to boost their yields and cut their production and postharvest costs.
The QRs will expire on June 30.  But Congress has to either repeal or amend provisions of Republic Act 8178, or the Agricultural Tariffication Act, to open the domestic rice market.
He said that if such a plan pushes through, “palay farmers will be at the losing end” because their produce cannot compete with cheaper rice imports.
“Is there any guarantee that the entry of cheap rice imports would lower the price of rice in the market? The government should provide safety nets to our farmers by, among others, helping them cut production, as well as distribution costs and other postharvest expenses,” Villafuerte added.
For his part, Villarin said it will be a great challenge for local farmers to compete in the market after the QR expiration.
“Piñol should provide us a concrete plan how he is planning to help our farmers,”  Villarin said