Tuesday, February 28, 2017

27th February,2017 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter

Rice husks can be recycled into valuable input materials
VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam produces more than 40 million tons of unhusked rice a year, and In 2015 alone, the rice output was 44.7 million tons. 

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Rice husks account for 20 percent of rice grains. This means that 9 million tons of rice husks are discharged into the environment, a huge volume of waste which, if not treated, will cause pollution.

Rice husks are difficult to recycle, and a kind of refractory material, difficult to decay in the environment. In Vietnam, and mostly used as fuel to burn. In the last few years, it has been processed into firewood or plywood sheets for interior decoration.

However, the volume of rice husks used for these purposes remains modest compared with the huge volume of rice husks discharged into the environment every year.

Scientists once thought of burning rice husks to generate electricity. However, the plan was not feasible because of low economic efficiency. They tried to use rice husk for biomass furnaces but the demand is low in Mekong Delta, where there is not much industry.
Vietnam produces more than 40 million tons of unhusked rice a year, and In 2015 alone, the rice output was 44.7 million tons. 
Meanwhile, the ash generated during the process cannot be consumed. It is impossible to refine silica from the ash because of the low SiO2.

Scientists found that rice husks contain 15-17 percent SiO2. If burnt in normal conditions, the SiO2 content will be not high. They have discovered the pyrolysis method under which rice husks are burned in special furnaces at special temperatures so as to collect rice husk ash with high SiO2 content, at over 90 percent.

Silica can be used for many purposes - refining silicon for making solar cells and semiconductors; making liquid glass, utilized in material fabrication; making an additive for high-quality automobile tires. It can be used to make heat-resistant paints, bricks, detergent and toothpaste, and used as additive in food industry, in making cement and concrete.

In agriculture, it is used to make fertilizer that helps improve rice yield by 15-30 percent, thus minimizing the use of pesticide.

As it can be used widely in many fields, the demand for SiO2 has been increasing rapidly in the world market. It is estimated that 1.5 million tons are consumed every year.

The husk pyrolysis technology creates two types of products – SiO2 and calories. The technology, invented by Russian scientists, also allows it to turn to straw and other kinds of waste from rice fields into SiO2.

Do Dinh Khang, a scientist from the Vietnam Academy of Science & Technology, said he wants to see technology to be applied in Vietnam’s Red River and Mekong River Deltas, because this will help increase the added value of Vietnam’s rice.


PHL to help Cambodia plant new rice varieties



The Philippines has agreed to assist Cambodia, a major rice exporter, in cultivating and planting new rice-seed varieties, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said over the weekend.
The DA said Cambodia is tapping the expertise of the Philippines, particularly Laguna-based International Rice Research Institute (Irri), in growing new rice-seed varieties.
“Cambodian Agriculture Secretary Ty Sokhun informed Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol that his country seeks Philippine cooperation in learning new rice-growing technologies,” the DA said in a statement.
The DA added that Cambodia is particularly interested in the development of new seed varieties and knowledge exchange on rice farming.
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According to Piñol, 70 percent of Cambodia’s rice lands are rain-fed, while only 30 percent of their farmers use hybrid rice.
While most Cambodian rice farmers could only plant once a year, Cambodia remains as one of the major rice exporters in Asia, with the Philippines a major destination for its rice exports, the DA said.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Frederico Laciste Jr. said the Philippines aims to increase the annual yield per hectare of local rice farms by investing in hybrid rice propagation.
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“The program envisions a competitive and climate-resilient rice industry that can provide the requirement of the country at any given time,” said Laciste, who is also director of the DA’s rice and corn program.
Piñol said he informed the Cambodian agriculture officials that he intends to visit their country in September to explore agricultural joint ventures and to learn more about Cambodian rice-farming technologies.
The officials of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries met with DA officials on February 20.
Sokhun was accompanied by a representative from the Irri during his visit to Piñol. Also joining him were Cambodian General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) Director General Hean Vanhan, GDA Director of Department of Rice Crops Ngiren Chhay, and Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute Director Ouk Makara.
The DA said the Cambodian delegates will visit the facilities of Bureau of Plant Industry-National Seed Quality Control Services and the Philippine Rice Research Institute. They will also visit the Irri headquarters in Laguna to know more about pest management and crop management.

Flour, gold prices up in Kabul markets

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Business & Economics

Feb 25, 2017 - 14:09
KABUL (Pajhwok): The prices of flour and Russian gold have slightly increased while the rates of other items remain steady this week in the capital Kabul, market sources said Saturday.
Food Traders Union head, Fazal Rahman told Pajhwok Afghan News that the price of 49 kilograms of Kazakhstani flour increased from 1,130 Afghanis to 1,160 Afghanis this week.
He linked the hike in flour price to closure of the country’s borders with Pakistan. Besides Kazkhistan and some other countries, Afghanistan imports a portion of flour from Pakistan too, he said.
Pakistan shut its borders with Afghanistan on February 15. However, Fazal Rahman said the closure of borders did not impact the prices of other essential items.
He said 49kg of Pakistani sugar cost 2,230afs, 24.5 kilograms of Pakistani rice 1,600afs and a tin of 16 liters of Khurshid ghee 1,100afs, the same prices of last week’s.
Haji Rahmatullah, a tea seller in Kabul Mandavi, said a kilogram of Madina green tea cost 240afs and the same amount of African black tea 260afs, the same rates as of last week’s.
Ahmad Sharif, who owns a grocery store in Taimani neighborhood, said a 49kg bag of Kazakhstani flour was sold for 1,280afs, 49kg sack of Pakistani sugar for 2,290afs.
He sold 16-litre tin of Khurshid ghee for 1,180afs, 24.5kg sack of Pakistani rice for 1,800afs, a kilo of Madina green tea for 280afs and the same quantity of African black tea for 300afs -- higher than wholesale prices.
The price of Russian gold also increased. Mohammad Fawad, a jeweller in Timor Shahi area, said the price of one gram of Russian gold increased from 1,800afs to 1,850afs while the price of the same quantity of Arabian variety remained steady at 2,300afs.
However, the prices of liquefied gas and fuel remain unchanged. Ahmad Siyar, a gas seller in Kolola Poshta, sold a kilogram of gas at 55afs, the same rate as of last week’s.
Abdul Hadi, a worker at Wazirabad Fuel Station, said a liter of petrol cost 45afs and the same quantity of diesel 41afs, registering no change.
Sayed Islam, a firewood seller in Charahi-i-Shahid area of Kabul, said 560 kilograms of peeled oak cost 6,900 afghanis and the same quantity of cedar 6,700afs, the same rates of the last week.
According to moneychangers’ union in Sara-i-Shahzada, one US dollar was accounted for 67.65afs and 1,000 Pakistani rupees for 624afs against last week's 66.45afs and 625afs.

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February, 27 2017
Description: A worker loads bags of rice at a CP Intertrade Company warehouse in Thailand’s Ayutthaya Province. 
A worker loads bags of rice at a CP Intertrade Company warehouse in Thailand’s Ayutthaya Province. 
1.      Economy
2.      Business And Markets

Thailand Seals 1st Iran Rice Deal in 10 Yrs.

Thailand has secured a deal to sell rice to Iran for the first time in 10 years, with delivery of 50,000-100,000 tons of white rice due over the next 1-2 months.
Sombat Chalermwutinan, president of Asia Golden Rice Company, said the company has already reached an agreement to sell rice to the Iranian government after Iran’s Health and Medical Education Ministry inspected Asia Golden Rice’s factory late last year, Bangkok Post reported. 
The company is in the process of asking for cooperation from the Export-Import Bank of Thailand to help handle the payment and settlement system, which is expected to take about one month. Delivery is likely over the next 1-2 months or before June this year. 
“The purchase order is considered good news for Thailand after a close partnership between the government and private sector to resume Thai rice shipments to Iran after 10 years as a result of United Nations sanctions,” he said. 
In the past, Iran used to import 700,000 to 1 million tons from foreign countries, about 300,000-500,000 tons of which came from Thailand. 
With the easing situation in Iran, Thailand and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding in early 2016 to resume sales of 300,000 tons of rice worth 4.3 billion baht ($120 million). 
Thailand and Iran agreed in October last year to a preferential trade agreement, a move intended to rev up bilateral commerce to 104.7 billion baht ($3 billion) by 2021. 
Both sides have agreed to cut import tariffs on 100 goods. 
The PTA differs from a free trade agreement, as the pact will be much easier to conclude and does not require the need to completely eliminate tariffs. Generally, tariffs will be cut to 10% or less, depending on the outcome of negotiations. 
An FTA generally requires that talks cover not only access to goods, but also for investment and services. 
Iran is Thailand’s ninth largest trading partner in the Middle East. In 2016, two-way trade totaled $421 million, up 36.1% from a year before. Exports from Thailand reached $267 million, up 23.1% from 2015. 
Thailand’s Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said good signs have appeared since early this year for Thai rice export prospects, both through government-to-government and private-to-private deals. 
The Commerce Ministry expects Thailand to ship 10 million tons of milled rice this year, but the Thai Rice Exporters Association said shipments would amount to 9.5 million tons. 
Meanwhile, India, Thailand’s major rival in the Iranian rice import market, seems to be missing out.
Basmati export market of India was expecting a good time this year, as Iran had decided to resume rice imports from the country. But the higher price of Basmati rice made the situation hard, as Iran has fixed its import price at $850 per ton, Indian news portal Commodity Online reported earlier this month.
Indian exporters have to fix the price at least $900 per ton for the trade to be economical, which has made the hopes of Indian exporters fade, the report added.
Iran annually imports about 1 million tons of rice to supplement its domestic production of about 2 million tons.
The Iranian government has recently amended tariffs for importing rice by reducing it from the previous 40% to 26%. It was announced on January 21 that the rate would stand at 5%, following a series of tariff cuts on a list of agrofood products.
There is an all-out ban on rice imports during harvest season in Iran. This year, the measure was in place from July 21 to November 21

Sustainable rice production

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Bangladesh has more than tripled the production of rice in the space of 45 odd years. PHOTO: Anurup Kanti Das

Last time the world witnessed a phenomenal growth in agricultural productivity was back in the 60s. What American biologist Norman Borlaug initiated in Mexican wheat fields during the mid-20th century, the first breeder of then newly established International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Dr Peter Jennings, did the same for rice. Together, these two men brought a phenomenal change in rice and wheat production thereby ushering in a Green Revolution, long being credited for averting a billion deaths.  
Dwarfing of wheat and rice plants, thereby turning the world's two of the most consumed staples highly yielding, was a game changer. It saw Mexico becoming a net wheat exporter by 1963, India and Pakistan literally doubling their wheat baskets between 1965 and 1970, Borlaug winning a deserving Nobel in peace in 1970 and nations across Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere benefiting from semi-dwarf 'Miracle Rice' IR8.     
IRRI's hand in helping the rice-eating world through breeding better varieties of rice began shortly after the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations established the Institute with the help of the Philippine government in 1960. IRRI scientists sought to replicate in rice what had been done in wheat in Mexico, and successfully bred IR8—a semi-dwarf variety that journalists dubbed 'Miracle Rice' because it could produce twice the amount of rice grains that tall varieties produced. IR8 has been credited with averting a humanitarian crisis that would have otherwise plunged the world's poor into abject hunger. Since then, more than 900 IRRI varieties have been released in 78 countries, across five continents. Some of these were bred to be resistant to insects or diseases, and they can withstand poor soils. 
In November 2016, IRRI celebrated the 50th anniversary of the official release of the semi-dwarf rice variety IR8 to Asia and the world. It became popular with farmers because it had short growth duration and a high-yield capacity related to its response to nitrogen fertiliser.
Since that time (the mid-20th century) the world has seen its population grow from 2.5 billion (1950) to 7.4 billion (2016) and its per capita arable land nearly halve from 0.37 hectares (1961) to 0.197 (2013).   
Half of today's world population depends on rice for survival, and, owing to predicted population increases and a general trend towards urbanisation, per hectare of land that currently provides enough rice to feed 27 people will need to support 43 by 2050.
In December 2021, Bangladesh will celebrate 50 years of independence. Keeping that timeframe in consideration, Bangladesh's Vision 2021 rightly set goals: a) to become a participatory democracy; b) to have an efficient, accountable, transparent and decentralised system of governance; c) to become a poverty-free middle-income country; d) to have a nation of healthy citizens; to develop a skilled and creative human resource; e) to become a globally integrated regional economic and commercial hub; and f) to be environmentally sustainable; and to be a more inclusive and equitable society. 
In 1971, we had a population of 75 million and our food production was a little over 10 million metric tonnes. Thanks to adoption of modern farm technologies, policy support, better breeds and inputs and above all a hard working farming community, today we grow over 35 million metric tonnes of cereal crops. 
So it's true that since the Borlaug and Jennings days, the world's food production grew dramatically keeping pace with an alarmingly faster rate of population growth. To cite a country-specific example, we can easily refer to the Bangladesh scenario. Over the past four decades, Bangladesh succeeded outpacing the population growth rate with its growth in rice output. The country has more than tripled the production of its staple in the space of 45 odd years.
But questions arise whether we have reached a plateau - where any further growth in farm outputs would be too hard to achieve. We have a large population base and despite a falling population growth rate, it'll take a few more years before we get stabilised by the time farmlands continue to get scarcer thanks to rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and infrastructure developments. 
Achieving self-sufficiency in rice at this point of time is no way perpetual. History shows we have reached such points in a few occasions in the past when output matched the demands but again we did slip back - not because of any production decrease rather, because of population increase. 
More importantly, attaining autarky in rice, the staple, is not enough to proclaim ourselves food self-sufficient. We need a reality check here. After rice, maize emerges as the second most important cereal crop relegating wheat into third position in Bangladesh. We're still not able to meet the total domestic requirements of maize thanks to a huge feed demand triggered by a burgeoning fish and poultry industry. And over 75 percent of our annual wheat demands are met by imports.  
Currently, more than 790 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and over 280 million, in other words, nearly a third of food-starved people, live in our part of the world (South Asia). Producing enough food does not necessarily guarantee people's right to food. To make sure people have rightful access to food all the time, ensuring its availability, stability, accessibility, sustainability and adequacy is equally important.    
Standing at this crossroads, we need to revisit the whole range of farming issues - how sustainable the heavily input-driven production system is, how prudent it is to overexploit our fast depleting groundwater table and what would be our coping mechanisms to face impacts of climate change in the farm sector.
Prior to Green Revolution we had rain-fed rice like Aman and Aus but thanks to introduction or irrigated dry season rice Boro during the winter there has been phenomenal growth in the staple output. But for that to happen we started sinking millions of shallow and deep-set pumps to draw water from underground and irrigate the Boro rice. At the same time we started using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We had also advanced in farm mechanisation thereby dwindling the numbers of our draft animals, which were also a big source of dung, the natural manure.    
Climate-induced stresses are becoming all the more challenging. Extreme weather conditions like prolonged flood, shorter winter, drought and salinity pose huge challenges. Too much mining of groundwater in the north (greater Rajshahi, Rangpur-Dinajpur region) for irrigating rice lands creates vacuums underneath, giving more inroads for the southern saline water to seep in. To some count a tenth of our cultivable lands are saline-prone to varied levels.    
To address these challenges scientists have taken up an uphill task of developing various crop varieties that can withheld stress conditions and are genetically better bred giving extra vigour and higher productivity.  
Growing rice with less water

It takes 14 million litres of irrigation water to produce six tonnes of Boro rice on one hectare of typical farmland in Bangladesh. A farmer has to burn 250 litres of diesel to run a shallow pump, owned or hired, to irrigate this single hectare of paddy field. If translated into minuscule unit, each kilogram of rice reaches our plates from the farm at the expense of 3,500 litres of immensely valuable fresh water.
One Bangladeshi agronomist took it upon himself to see what difference he could make in terms of water conservation and save the country from an ecological disaster. Irrigated-rice Boro contributes 55 percent of Bangladesh's nearly 35 million tonnes of yearly rice output and heavily sucks on a rapidly depleting groundwater.
Professor Moshiur Rahman, who teaches agronomy at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) in Mymensingh, negated the notion that rice in dry season has to grow in puddle condition, soaked field and in standing water. Rahman wanted to challenge the notion and began with an on-campus experiment back in 2006-07. In the last 10 years, Rahman reached out to plots of many farmers in six rice-rich districts, and reached a conclusion—rice can be grown using less than half the irrigation water in Boro season.
Rahman and his team conserved water by not growing seedlings in the nursery. They, rather, directly sowed in the dry field by plowing furrows and did not puddle or soak the field with water, thereby saving some water as well. They didn't keep standing water in the paddy field during the period between panicle initiation and grain-filling. In the direct-seeded Boro rice technology, Professor Rahman said, what farmers are required to do is keep the seeds soaked in water for 24 hours and then incubate the soaked seeds for another 30 to 40 hours prior to sowing in the paddy field. From the results of his experiments with the direct-seeded rice technology in Rajshahi, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Tangail, Netrokona and Mymensingh over the last 10 years, Rahman showed statistical evidence that in the most conservative estimate, 50 percent less water was required for growing rice with equally productive yield.
If further tweaking makes the water-conserving rice production system work fine, then it will definitely be a great relief for rice-rich northern region of Bangladesh that has long over-exploited groundwater in irrigation. Around 88 percent of total fresh water is used for agriculture in the country and rice production accounts for 73 percent of that water. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated in a report, “In some parts of the country, particularly the Barind Tracts in the northwest region, there are already symptoms of deterioration in the natural hydrological regime. Declining groundwater levels have affected water quality causing it to affect soils, the growth of agricultural crops, flora and fauna and to increase health hazards.” 
Rice going southbound

It couldn't have been better timed for rice breeders in Bangladesh to come up with more solutions for southern farmers when the government is all out in its efforts to make rice southbound giving relief to the north that has long been over mined for groundwater to irrigate winter rice Boro. Scientists have come up with a solution for southern farmers who have long been deprived of the benefits of high-yield modern rice varieties (MVs) that cannot grow on tidal wetlands. After 12 years of arduous breeding process, they succeeded in developing two modern varieties suitable for cultivation in the tidal floodplain ecosystem of the southern delta region, with the promise of an additional yield of one million tonnes a year.
Against 2.5 to 3 tonnes of rice per hectare, which farmers reap from traditional varieties, the new modern varieties - BRRI dhan77 and BRRI dhan78 - will bring about 4 tonnes of crops a hectare during the Aman season in July-December, according to Helal Uddin Ahmed, a chief scientific officer at Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). While farmers elsewhere have already switched to MVs from low-yield traditional varieties, rice growers in over a million hectares of tidal wetlands have had to remain satisfied with homegrown varieties. 
For so long indigenous varieties have performed better than modern varieties on tidal floodplains because seedlings of the former are taller than the latter. As the region is at the proximity of the sea and inland estuaries, shorter seedlings often fail to survive the water flowing in and out with high tide and low tide twice a day.
BRRI dhan77 and BRRI dhan78 are bred in a way in which their seedlings would be tall in size and survive the tidal wetland condition. The newly developed breeding lines will meet southern farmers' aspiration for higher yields in the Aman season. 
Nationwide modern varieties coverage in rice cultivation has increased from 25 percent in 1972 to over 80 percent now, but their penetration in the tidal regions of Barisal, Patuakhali, Jhalakathi, Pirojpur, Bhola, Bagerhat and Gopalganj has remained at 15 percent for all these years. The new MVs come as a breakthrough offering the southern farmers a good choice to shift from low-yield homegrown varieties like Sadamota, Lalmota, Moulata, and Dudhkalom. 
Meanwhile, as saline water continues to creep in, scientists are also continuing their efforts to develop rice varieties that can withstand a certain degree of salinity. In recent years, Bangladeshi scientists developed four transgenic rice varieties capable of production in high soil salinity, far better than the ones derived through conventional breeding. 
A particular pea gene – helicase – was infused into four high yielding rice varieties (HYVs) that helped rice plants have higher salt tolerance and higher yield potential. A team led by Dhaka University's Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Professor Zeba Islam Seraj made it possible after a decade of research. In lab and net house, the transgenic varieties had shown potential to yield up to 50 percent more than the available salt-tolerant HYVs in saline-stressed soil.
In Bangladesh, one million hectares out of a total nine million hectares of cultivable land are salinity affected, and the vulnerability is more profound during the dry season. That's why the scientists chose the dry season Boro rice varieties first for the gene transfusion.
Climate change is a reality and so is the farming sector's resilience to it in Bangladesh. With limited resources at hand and a rapidly increasing population to feed, some 18 million farming households in Bangladesh have shown fortitude against all odds. Farmers never called it quits in their constant fight against natural calamities, shrinkage of farmland, market irregularities, and all sorts of resource limitations.
From Green Revolution to Gene Revolution

Given the fact that world population would continue to increase for many more years to come and farm resources - land, water, etc. - would continue to get scarcer, the global food regime would definitely require a big push to the scale of mid-20th century.
Green Revolution was to some extent chemical-driven - the increased productivity was gained largely by use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. While it was widely recognised that Green Revolution came as a blessing for mankind when fear of famine was haunting a large part of developing economies, there is no denial that injudicious applications of chemicals had long-term bearings on environment and ecology.
Currently, a lot of the efforts of scientists are centred on biological maneuvering so that better breeds can be derived which are more productive and less susceptive to stresses like cold, drought, submergence, salinity, etc.   
What scientists and journalists sometimes tout as Gene Revolution has to come through scientific advancement, better understanding of genetic structures and functioning of different plant species and sub-species. In recent months, genomes of 186 Bangladeshi rice varieties have been sequenced in Beijing Genomics Institute, China as part of a global collaborative project, opening up new opportunities for varietal developments. These include rice germplasms, high yielding varieties (HYVs) and advanced lines. Germplasm is the living genetic resources such as seeds or tissue that is maintained for the purpose of animal and plant breeding, preservation and other research uses. 
C4 - The next big thing  

An IRRI literature reads, “Only 29 percent of the earth's surface is land and only a little over a third of that is suitable for agriculture; the rest is ice, desert, forest or mountain and is unsuitable for farming. More simply stated, only 10 percent of the surface of the earth has topographical and climatic conditions suitable for producing the food requirements of human beings.” It further reads, “Sixty percent of the world's population lives in Asia, where each hectare of land used for rice production currently provides food for 27 people, but by 2050 that land will have to support at least 43 people. Nonetheless, the area for rice cultivation is continually being reduced by expansion of cities and industries, to say nothing of soil degradation.”   
For the past few year scientists have embarked upon an uphill task of changing the biophysical structure of the rice plant, making it a much more efficient user of solar energy. Solar energy captured in photosynthesis over the duration of a crop gives it the capacity to grow. Rice has what is known as a C3 photosynthetic pathway, less efficient than that of maize, which has a C4 pathway. 
A galaxy of scientists drawn from IRRI to Oxford University, from Chinese Academy of Sciences to Cambridge University, is now working on an ambitious project so that rice can be converted into a C4 plant from a C3 plant. An Oxford University release said, “If rice could be 'switched' to use C4 photosynthesis, it would theoretically increase productivity by 50 percent.” As well as an increase in photosynthetic efficiency, introduction of C4 traits into rice is predicted to improve nitrogen use efficiency, double water use efficiency, and increase tolerance to high temperatures, according to Oxford University, as the C4 rice project entered, what the scientists say into third phase in December 2015.  
The writer is Assignment Editor, The Daily Star

Newton Agham partners award over P620 million in science, innovation grants



The British government, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute are jointly providing over £10 million (about P620 million) for grants and collaborative projects in the third year of the Newton Agham Programme.
The science grants aim to help solve core challenges in long-term social and economic development in the Philippines, including energy security, disaster response, health care, environmental resilience and food security.
British Ambassador Asif Ahmad said, “While capitalizing on the Philippines and the strength of the United Kingdom in research and innovation, jointly supporting these projects shall create significant impact on improving living standards and promoting economic growth.”
He added, “Solutions to development challenges are created alongside the advancement of the UK and Philippine science and innovation expertise, which are key drivers to economic development.”
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Awardees were recognized in a reception held at the British Ambassador’s residence on February 7. The UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and PhilRice are cofunding research projects on the sustainable production of rice; two projects are working on improving the nutritional quality of rice, while the other two focus on creating greater resilience of the rice plant to diseases and environmental stresses due to climate change.
The awards also include eight PhD scholarships and 10 Institutional Links grants, both co-funded by the British Council and CHED.
CHED Chairman Patricia Licuanan said, “We are pleased to jointly award, in partnership with the British Council-Newton Fund, grants to our top scholars who are paving the way for the deepening of expertise in science and technology, as well as to our best institutions who are now working side by side with the foremost universities in the UK, to innovate on solutions in the areas of health care, digital literacy and green energy, among others.”
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Institutional Links grants develop research and innovation collaborations and support the exchange of expertise between academic groups, departments and institutions in the Philippines and the UK.
Meanwhile, Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña highlighted the key principles of the Newton Agham Programme that are part of the Philippine government’s new 10-point economic agenda.
He was particularly referring to investing in human-capital development, including health and education systems, to meet the demands of business and private sector; improving social protection programs, for the protection of the citizenry, especially the disadvantaged from instability and economic shocks; and the promotion of science, technology, as well as the creative arts to enhance innovation and creativity toward self-sustaining and inclusive development.
De la Peña said, “These key items of our economic agenda, centered on creating genuine, positive change in our nation through science and technology, underlies our renewed and reinvigorated determination to continue support for the Newton-Agham Programme.”
The DOST is cofinancing two research partnership projects with the UK’s Research Councils, the 15 Leaders in Innovation Fellows with the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the DOST Pagasa-UK Met Office partnership on Weather and Climate Science for Service. PNA

AATF, partners set to increase rice production, export ON FEBRUARY 25, 201712:48 PMIN NEWSCOMMENTS By Gabriel Ewepu ABUJA- THE African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, and partners have expressed readiness to increase rice production and export in Sub-Saharan Africa, SSA, with a target of 1.3 million tonnes annually. This was disclosed by the Executive Director, AATF, Dr Denis Kyetere, during the meeting held on Nitrogen-Use Efficient, Water-Use Efficient and Salt Tolerant Rice, NEWEST, Rice Project Annual Review and Planning at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Ibadan, Oyo State. Scientists from AATF, National Cereal Research Institute, NCRI, Badegi, Nigeria, Crop Research Institute, CRI, Kumasi, Ghana, National Research Organisation, NARO, Uganda, Arcadia Biosciences, USA and International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT, Colombia, formed the team that has been working on the development of this variety, NEWEST . The project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID. According to Kyetere the goal of the project was to develop, disseminate farmer preferred, locally adapted rice varieties with enhanced nitrogen, water use efficiency and salt tolerance, which would lead to food sufficiency, adding that food self-sufficiency in rice will drastically reduce rice importation and capital flight of limited foreign exchange. He said: “There will be improved rice yields resulting in enhanced household food security and production of marketable crop surplus.” “Also abandoned croplands will be reclaimed reducing land shortages; an additional 1.3million tons of rice will be produced in Africa each year, reducing the current deficit by 10 per cent.” In his remark, Director, Information and Documentation Department, National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI), Dr Mohammed Ishiaq, noted and emphasised that rice demand exceeded production in most Sub-Saharan Africa. Ishiaq who represented the NCRI Executive Director, Dr Samuel Agboire, lamented insufficient rice production, which has affected well-being of over 20 million smallholder farmers who depend on rice as a staple food. “SSA countries are spending more than US$5billion annually on rice imports, rice production deficit along with large outflow of foreign exchange presents great development challenge to governments in SSA. Low yields experienced by farmers are responsible for rice imports in SSA where over 40 per cent of the rice consumed is imported. Also nitrogen deficiency has been cited as a major constraint to rice production; nitrogen is difficult to maintain when applied in lowland areas due to floods”, he said. According to the project manager, Dr Kayode Sanni, the project started in 2008 and that the essence was to have excess rice production and reduce its importation by or before 2020. “Improving the nitrogen use efficiency of rice is one means of achieving this goal. With the utilisation and application of water use efficient component, the rice will require less water and this will offer an appreciable coping mechanism against drought”, he said.

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/02/aatf-partners-set-increase-rice-production-export/