Thursday, March 02, 2017

2nd March,2017 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Basmati exports to EU face fungicide blockade

New Delhi fights proposed norms
India’s basmati exports to the European Union (EU) could be significantly hit if the bloc implements a proposal to bring down the tolerance level for tricyclazole, a chemical used in India to treat rice.
New Delhi is trying to convince the EU not to go ahead with the “unnecessary” safety precaution, as it argues that it has been scientifically proved that present levels do not pose a threat to consumers, a government official said.
“The EU plans to bring down the MRL (Maximum Residue Limit) for tricyclazole to the default level of 0.01 ppm (parts per million), which could prove to be disastrous for Indian exports of basmati.
But it is supposed to happen only in 2018, so we have time to convince them not to implement the change,” the official told BusinessLine.
EU initiative
India is in talks separately with European countries, such as Italy and Portugal, which do not support the EU initiative of raising the tolerance limit to put pressure on the bloc not to go ahead with its plan, the official added.
The MRL for tricyclazole, a fungicide used by rice-growing countries to protect the crop from a disease called ‘blast’, is at present fixed at 1 ppm by the EU.
This level does not prove to be a problem for Indian exports at the moment, as levels detected in Indian basmati consignments are much lower.
Export of basmati
However, if the MRL is brought down to 0.01 ppm, as indicated by the EU, a large part of India’s $3 billion export of basmati to Europe could be affected.
Rice exporters from India are preparing for the worst by arranging for pre-testing of shipments, but are hopeful that the EU will change its mind, said Rajen Sundaresan from the All India Rice Exporters Association.
“I believe that the matter will be sorted out favourably, as it is not just Indian exports that are at stake.
Even rice growers in EU countries such as Italy and Spain use the fungicide,” said Sundaresan.
Dow Agro Sciences, the owner of the molecule used in the fungicide, has already submitted scientific and technical evidence to the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 supporting a tricyclazole tolerance level of 3.0 ppm in rice.
MRL limit
Following this, the MRL limit for the fungicide in the US was raised.
Japan, too, has an MRL level of 3.0 ppm for tricylozole.
Sundaresan said that once Dow carried out tests and submitted proof that the existing levels were not carcinogenic, the EU might relent.
The Commerce Ministry has taken up the issue with the India-EU joint working group on Sanitary & Phytosanitary and Technical Barriers to Trade and hopes to reach a settlement soon

Iran may soon permit import of rice from India: Commerce Ministry  
MENAFN - KNN India - 28/02/2017 

(MENAFN - KNN India)
 New Delhi, Feb 4 (KNN) Government of Iran may soon issue the notification about resumption of issuance of permits for import of rice from India, Commerce Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry said this after a 20 member trade delegation led by Chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) visited Iran from January 28-30, 2017.
The delegation met various departments in the government of Iran including Food and Drug Organisation, Governmental Trading Corporation and Trade Promotion Organisation.
Meetings were also held with Iran Chamber of Commerce and Rice Importers Association.
The deliberations helped to dispel the negative publicity which appeared in some part of Iran media causing doubts about the health and safety of rice from India.
The main purpose of the visit related to promotion of export of rice since Iran is one of the largest importers of Basmati rice from India. 

About 250 people participated in the sales promotion event held at Hotel Espinas Palace, Tehran. On the spot preparation of Iranian dishes prepared by Iranian Chefs with use of Indian rice was demonstrated and served as part of the lunch.

Participants included about 30 media personnel, importers, inspection agencies and government officials from Food and Drug Organisation (FDO) etc.
To supplement domestic production of about 2 million MT, Iran imports about 1 million MT of rice every year out of which about 7 lakh MT is exported from India. (With PIB Inputs)

Huge global crop swamps SunRice profit outlook

Thursday March 2, 2017


Description: Andrew Marshall

1 Mar 2017, 11:38 a.m.

Global rice prices are now at their lowest point in a decade and rice stockpiles have shot up to their highest levels since 2001-02.
Description: Global rice prices are now at their lowest point in a decade and rice stockpiles have shot up to their highest levels since 2001-02.The world’s increasing grain stockpiles have started hurting the Australian export rice industry just as it prepares for its biggest harvest season in three years.
National exporter SunRice has warned its net profit after tax for the current financial year is likely to be pruned as much as $10 million to between $30m and $35m.
The farmer-owned company said it expected pool payments to growers for the coming harvest will be down on last year, but still above $300 a tonne (as previously forecast), despite global paddy production heading for record levels of about 480m tonnes.
Payments still owed to farmers for the 2016 medium grain, guaranteed to total $415/t (for reiziq variety), were also assured.
However, global prices are now at their lowest point in a decade and rice stockpiles have shot up to their highest levels since 2001-02, according to SunRice chief executive officer, Rob Gordon.
Ironically a wet winter last year provided a big boost to irrigation water supplies for NSW ricegrowers who responded to SunRice’s earlier calls for more production and are now on track to harvest 800,000 tonnes in autumn.
The 2017 crop will be well up on last season’s 245,000t crop and the 690,000t stripped in 2015.
Adding to export market unease is continuing uncertainty about prospects in the big Papua New Guinea market as the nearby nation’s economy struggles.
PNG’s weak exchange rate and political uncertainty surrounding plans to bring in import quotas and effectively nationalise rice production and marketing represent a big danger for SunRice.
The company generates about 30pc of its revenue from its Trukai joint venture in New Guinea.
Back in Australia SunRice group’s earnings have also being weighed down by difficult trading conditions for its CopRice stockfeed business which suffered reduced dairy sector demand, and stiff competition for food service and imported grocery products division, Riviana Foods.
Last year’s lean rice harvest and poor throughput volumes at its mills have also restricted revenue potential.
Mr Gordon described the global rice market as now experiencing a “once in a decade commodity cycle trough” due to record production levels and fierce selling competition.
Weak macro economic conditions in key Middle East markets and the Pacific were also hurting.
Although January’s overall trading performance exceeded expectations, December had been disappointing, Mr Gordon said.  
Despite the company’s improved business resilience achieved by enhanced value adding activities and growth in the branded products market overseas, he said global forces would hit SunRice’s 2016-17 financial result.
“Nevertheless, it should be highlighted that, although global prices continue to decline, Australian growers will receive a strong paddy price for the 2016 crop and the dividend for 2016-17 is anticipated to be maintained at a similar level, subject to the year-end audit and formal declaration by the board.

Researchers seek new rice varieties

The Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has agreed to help Cambodia plant new high-yielding rice varieties that are also able to survive extreme climatic events.Cambodia asked for cooperation with IRRI on rice planting and new climate-resilient varieties that are suitable to withstand conditions in Cambodia, said Hean Vanhan, director-general of the Agriculture Ministry’s general directorate of agriculture.

 “We asked IRRI to conduct research on rice-seed varieties that suit climate patterns here in Cambodia and to meet current market demand,” Mr. Vanhan said.“We asked them for more assistance by sending experts to conduct studies on conditions in Cambodia.”

Mr. Vanhan said the new rice-seed varieties would not be first planted in the fields, but would be bred with local varieties so that the genetic material from the IRRI line-breeds could be transferred, making the new varieties more resilient to climate change.

 “Our local varieties are poor to adapt to climate change,” he said.In 1985, the Ministry of Agriculture requested IRRI to assist in developing Cambodia’s rice research system.An IRRI mission to Cambodia in January 1986 identified potential areas of cooperation and aid. A memorandum of understanding for collaboration was signed between the two partners in July of the same year. Progress in research and institutional development was soon established to improve the potential for a rice-based farming system in Cambodia.
In 2016, Cambodia and IRRI marked their 30th year of partnership.During a visit to the Philippines last year, Cambodian agriculture officials met local agriculture officials and exchanged ideas about the development of new seed varieties and knowledge of rice farming.Mr. Vanhan said Cambodia wanted to learn about rice-seed varieties after the two countries reached a memorandum of understanding on the sector.
Despite the MoU, Cambodia did not join a bid last August to supply milled rice to the Philippines as it planned to import an additional 750,000 tons of rice to secure the country’s supplies through 2017.The Philippines is one of the world’s top rice buyers and stockpiles rice – taking advantage of low global prices – to prepare for shortfalls caused by natural disasters like floods and typhoons. 
Hun Lak, vice-president of CRF, said Cambodia did not join the bid to supply the Philippines with the staple grain because the country’s current rice production was riddled with problems ranging from falling exports, high transportation and production costs, to the lack of warehouses to store paddy rice to be milled.

 “We are happy to see IRRI help Cambodia with more rice-seed varieties which provide high yield and are resilient to climate change,” Mr. Lak said.But he said Cambodia should focus on making new rice-seed varieties which are unique, of high quality, climate resilient and easy to plant, rather than distributing cheap seeds to farmers.Philippines Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Manny Pinol intends to visit Cambodia in September to explore agriculture joint ventures and to learn more about Cambodian rice farming technologies, Mr. Vanhan said.The Philippines is one of the major destinations of rice import countries but Cambodia has to ship milled rice to the archipelago country.

Rollback for rice auctions
1 Mar 2017 at 10:48
WRITER: PHUSADEE ARUNMAS The government is likely to approve the sale of just 1 million tonnes of rice in the first general auction of state rice stocks in 2017 after the bidding prices offered on another 1-million-tonne lot were deemed too low.
The Foreign Trade Department announced on Feb 16 that the first general auction of state rice stocks in 2017 had drawn active interest, with 48 qualified bidders offering the highest combined-price of 18.6 billion baht for 2.03 million tonnes of rice.
Hom mali fragrant rice attracted the most interest, accounting for 26.1% of the total or 745,236 tonnes, followed by white rice 5% at 479,761 tonnes or 16.8%.The panel handling state rice stocks chaired by Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa, permanent secretary for commerce, looked at the results of the auction yesterday and found that the bidding prices for some hom mali rice stocks were below those for white rice 5% and broken rice.
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the panel yesterday had thus agreed to sell only 1 million tonnes out of the 2.03-million-tonne total and will later submit that proposal to the national rice policy committee for final approval.
She said the department would call the auction for an unapproved amount as soon as possible.Mrs Duangporn said the authorities are also scheduled to soon call an auction for around one million tonnes of poor-quality grain unfit for human consumption.Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in January that the government wanted to dispose of its existing rice stocks this year.Most of the existing 8 million tonnes are white rice, 5 million tonnes of which is poor-quality.The remaining 2.87 million tonnes was mixed grade in quality and suitable for human consumption.

Sustainability the key focus of 2017 International Temperate Rice Conference in Griffith, March 6-9

Description: John Chanter

2 Mar 2017, 1:03 p.m.

Description: will be the key focus of the 2017 International Temperate Rice Conference in Griffith next week.
Russell Ford, Rice Research Australia manager and head of the conference organising committee, said the theme was inspired by the growth and development of the industry.
“In the past 20 years, Australian growers have become world leaders in water use efficiency, production efficiency and environmental management,” Mr Ford said.
The March 6-9 conference returns to Australia for the first time in more than 20 years.
It brings local and international delegates together to hear about the latest research, technology and innovation in temperate rice production.
This year’s program will also focus in this year’s program on sustainability, water efficiency and productivity.

GMO golden rice trials fail: stunted plants, reduced grain yield

1st March 2017

The troubled project to develop GMO 'golden rice' cultivars has just hit a serious obstacle. An attempt to breed the 'event' responsible for carotenoid production into a commercial rice variety has produced widespread genomic instability, causing weak plants and poor grain production. Has the golden rice hype bubble finally burst?

Most worrying for the developers, the chlorophyll deficit appears to result from a deep, systemic problem with the primary GE 'event' on which the entire golden rice project depends.
A new study reports unintended effects in GM golden rice, which is engineered to produce precursors of vitamin A called carotenoids.
Crossing the GM rice with the Indian variety Swarna, a step necessary for commercialization, led to a nasty surprise.
The resulting plants were stunted, showed extensive abnormalities in their growth, and had reduced grain yield, as compared with the non-GM Swarna variety. 

The researchers identified several reasons for the unexpected effects, all indicative of genomic instability in offspring plants resulting from 'breeding out' the parent golden rice with non-GMO in-field cultivars.
First, the new gene constructs interfered with the plant's own gene for producing growth hormones. Second, the additional gene constructs were not, as intended, active solely in the kernels, but also in the leaves. This led to a substantial reduction in the content of the chlorophyll that provides the plants with energy from sunlight.
The reduction in chlorophyll may be to blame for the plants' stunted growth and poor grain yields. And most worrying for the developers, the chlorophyll deficit appears to result from a deep, systemic problem with the primary GE 'event' on which the entire golden rice project depends.

These unintended effects were not detected in previous investigations, and it was assumed that the genetically engineered plants used in these trials would show genetic stability. In fact, these detrimental genomic effects remained undetected until the transgenic plants were crossed with the variety called Swarna, which is grown widely in India.
'Years of research work and millions of dollars wasted'
London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou commented on the new findings: "I have always asserted that the GM transformation process as used in the development of GMO crops selects for the insertion of the GM gene into active regions of the genome - areas where plant host genes are switched on and functioning.
"This bias in the GM gene insertion into active regions therefore maximises the possibility of disrupting the function of one or more host genes, with potentially adverse effects such as poor crop performance or even toxicity. 

"This latest finding of the GM gene insertion into a vital host gene in the golden rice is a graphic illustration of this principle. If the developers of golden rice had conducted a proper molecular characterisation of this GM event at the time it was generated, they would have identified the host gene disruption that led to the stunted and deformed growth of the rice plants.
"Then they could potentially have avoided this negative outcome at such a late stage in the development and release of golden rice. Now it's back to square one, with years of research work and millions of dollars wasted."
The authors of the study conclude: " ... we discovered that the insertion of transgene for pro-vitamin A trait in the donor GR2-R1 event in Kaybonnet, had disrupted a native OsAux1 gene, which resulted in phenotypic abnormality and poor agronomic performance of the backcross derived Golden Swarna lines, making them unfit for commercial cultivation inspite of having high provitamin A content.
"The study conclusively demonstrates the importance of event characterization and event selection before adopting the transgenic germplasm into introgression breeding."
Failed golden rice could endanger whole rice harvest
The new findings are highly relevant for the risk assessment of the plants. Once released, the transgenic plants could spread their gene constructs into populations of weedy rice as well as other cultivated varieties.
In addition, genomic effects not found in the original plants can occur in plant offspring. At the stage when the hazards are identified, it can be impossible to remove the transgenes from the environment.

"Instead of helping people to combat malnutrition, these plants, if grown on the fields, might endanger their whole rice harvest", said Christoph Then of the German research platform Testbiotech. "It is worrying that effects that can arise from crossing genetically manipulated plants with other varieties are, as yet, not included in risk assessment."

It is not the first time that such problems have been reported: Some other golden rice lines are already known to show irregular patterns of inheritance, according to Testbiotech. Furthermore, there are uncertainties regarding the biological quality and safety of the plants. For example, additional changes in the metabolism of the rice kernels were described in 2016.

So far, there are no varieties available for commercial cultivation. According to the International Rice Research Institute IRRI, the safety and usefulness of the plants for nutrition needs further investigation.
'Years of misplaced hype'
GM golden rice is much hyped by GMO proponents as a triumph of GM that will save people in the third world from nutritional deficiencies and vitamin A deficiency-related blindness. The new study casts doubt on the viability of the golden rice project, which has produced nothing of value despite years of misplaced hype.
In contrast, common-sense approaches to combating vitamin A deficiency are working in the Philippines, the country targeted for GMO golden rice release - they just need to be rolled out more widely

Poland keen to take part in CPEC projects: Piotr

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02/28/2017 | 08:16pm EST
Ambassador of Poland to Pakistan, Piotr A. Opalinski on Monday said Polish companies were keen to take part in the gigantic China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Delivering a lecture on Pakistan-Poland relations here at Preston University he said there were vast possibilities of progress for Pakistan in the CPEC framework.
The ambassador traced long history of friendship and cooperation between Pakistan and his country. He recalled that the two countries started cooperation in vital areas of defence soon after Pakistan came into being in 1947.
Polish Air Force pilots and technicians helped Pakistan air force in becoming an efficient and reliable force for the country. The services of Polish personnel have been recognized and appreciated by the founders of Pakistan Air Force, he added.
The ambassador said that Polish companies were actively engaged in oil and gas exploration in Pakistan and some more were interested to work in the country.
Polish companies were also working in Pakistan to promote the energy sector, he added. He said Pakistan was a country of talented people and its products were excellent in quality. Pakistan had won repute in exporting high quality surgical and sports goods as well as textiles, leather garments and high quality Basmati rice, he added.
There was extensive scope for expansion of trade between Pakistan and Poland, he added. The ambassador highlighted strategic importance of his country in the current global scenario, saying that Pakistan was also very important strategically.
The two countries were working together in such sensitive areas as fighting extremism and terrorism, he added. Ambassador Piotr A. Opalinski agreed with the mission of the Society of Global Civilizations (SGC), Islamabad which was working to promote understanding and goodwill among various cultures and civilizations of the world. He was appreciative of the initiative of Dr Abdul Basit, Chancellor Preston University, who patronized the society. Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen, Executive Member of the society presented vote of thanks at the function. The Senior Vice President and other office bearers of the society were also present on the occasion. Patron SGC, Dr Abdul Basit presented souvenir to the Polish ambassador.

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open-March 02,2017

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-March 2
Nagpur, Mar 2 (Reuters) – Gram and tuar prices reported higher in Nagpur Agriculture Producing
and Marketing Committee (APMC) on good demand from local millers amid thin arrival from
producing belts. Notable hike in Madhya Pradesh pulses and repeated enquiries from South-based
millers also boosted prices, according to sources.
   * Desi gram recovered in open market on renewed demand from local traders amid weak 
     supply from producing regions.  
   * Tuar varieties ruled steady in open market here on subdued demand from local traders 
     amid ample stock in ready position. 
   * Udid varieties firmed up in open market on good seasonal demand from local traders 
     amid weak from producing regions.            
   * In Akola, Tuar New – 4,300-4,400, Tuar dal (clean) – 6,500-6,700, Udid Mogar (clean)
    – 8,500-9,000, Moong Mogar (clean) 6,600-6,900, Gram – 4,900-5,000, Gram Super best 
     bold – 7,300-7,500 for 100 kg.
   * Wheat, rice and other commodities moved in a narrow range in scattered, deals,
     settled at last levels. 
 Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-market prices in rupees for 100 kg
     FOODGRAINS                 Available prices     Previous close   
     Gram Auction                     4,300-4,590         4,200-4,485
     Gram Pink Auction            n.a.           2,100-2,600
     Tuar Auction                3,800-4,210         3,800-4,180
     Moong Auction                n.a.                6,400-6,600
     Udid Auction                n.a.           4,300-4,500
     Masoor Auction                n.a.              2,600-2,800
     Gram Super Best Bold            7,500-7,800        7,500-7,800
     Gram Super Best            n.a.            n.a.
     Gram Medium Best            6,500-6,800        6,500-6,800
     Gram Dal Medium            n.a.            n.a
     Gram Mill Quality            4,400-5,000        4,400-5,000
     Desi gram Raw                4,750-5,050         4,750-5,050
     Gram Yellow                 7,600-8,000        7,600-8,000
     Gram Kabuli                11,600-12,800        11,600-12,800
     Tuar Fataka Best-New             6,600-6,800        6,600-6,800
     Tuar Fataka Medium-New        6,200-6,400        6,200-6,400
     Tuar Dal Best Phod-New        5,800-6,000        5,800-6,000
     Tuar Dal Medium phod-New        5,300-5,600        5,300-5,600
     Tuar Gavarani New             3,950-4,150        3,950-4,150
     Tuar Karnataka             4,350-4,550        4,350-4,550
     Masoor dal best            5,600-5,800        5,600-5,800
     Masoor dal medium            5,300-5,500        5,300-5,500
     Masoor                    n.a.            n.a.
     Moong Mogar bold (New)        6,800-7,200         6,800-7,200
     Moong Mogar Medium            6,200-6,500        6,200-6,500
     Moong dal Chilka            5,800-6,500        5,800-6,500
     Moong Mill quality            n.a.            n.a.
     Moong Chamki best            6,000-6,500        6,000-6,500
     Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 8,900-9,600       8,800-9,500 
     Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG)    7,600-8,100        7,500-8,000    
     Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG)        5,300-5,600        5,200-5,500     
     Batri dal (100 INR/KG)        5,000-5,500        5,000-5,500
     Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg)          3,650-3,850         3,650-3,850
     Watana Dal (100 INR/KG)            3,000-3,100        3,000-3,100
     Watana White (100 INR/KG)           3,200-3,400           3,200-3,400
     Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG)    3,800-4,300        3,800-4,300   
     Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG)        2,000-2,100        2,000-2,100
     Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG)    2,000-2,100        2,000-2,100   
     Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG)         2,100-2,300           2,100-2,300         
     Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG)    2,500-2,700        2,500-2,700    
     Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG)   2,200-2,500        2,200-2,500
     Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG)    n.a.            n.a.
     MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG)    3,600-4,200        3,600-4,200    
     MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG)    2,700-3,200        2,700-3,200           
     Rice BPT best New(100 INR/KG)    3,200-3,800        3,200-3,800    
     Rice BPT medium (100 INR/KG)        2,700-3,000        2,700-3,000    
     Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG)         2,200-2,500        2,200-2,500
     Rice Swarna best (100 INR/KG)      2,400-2,600        2,400-2,600   
     Rice Swarna medium (100 INR/KG)      2,300-2,400        2,300-2,400   
     Rice HMT best New (100 INR/KG)    4,000-4,500        4,000-4,500    
     Rice HMT medium (100 INR/KG)        3,400-3,600        3,400-3,600    
     Rice Shriram best New(100 INR/KG)    5,200-5,500        5,200-5,500 
     Rice Shriram med New(100 INR/KG)    4,700-5,000        4,700-5,000   
     Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG)    9,200-13,300        9,200-13,300     
     Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG)    5,000-6,200        5,000-6,200    
     Rice Chinnor best New(100 INR/KG)    5,600-5,800        5,600-5,800    
     Rice Chinnor med. New (100 INR/KG)    5,000-5,300        5,000-5,300   
     Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG)        2,000-2,300        2,000-2,300    
     Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG)         1,900-2,000        1,900-2,000
Maximum temp. 36.5 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 15.6 degree Celsius 
Rainfall : Nil
FORECAST: Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperature would be around and 36 and 16 degree
Celsius respectively.
Note: n.a.--not available
(For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but
included in market prices)
WOTUS Down the Drain in New Trump Executive Order 
 WASHINGTON, DC -- On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the Obama administration's "Waters of the United States" rule (WOTUS), "paving the way for elimination" of the rule.
The rule, issued by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the Obama administration and formally known as the Clean Water Rule, is currently on hold due to legal challenges.  Included in Trump's order are instructions for the attorney general to freeze those courtroom proceedings while the review is underway. 
It is unclear how long the review will take and exactly how the process will unfold, but Trump administration officials say an opinion on the case, written by late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, argued that federal jurisdiction extends only to bodies of water with a permanent flow or non-navigable waterways that connect via surface water with areas with permanent flow - definitions with a more limited approach than the Obama EPA established in its WOTUS rule-making.
New EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke at an American Farm Bureau Foundation conference Tuesday after Trump issued the order, and said he already signed the paperwork to begin the review.  

The executive order is a huge win for agriculture and USA Rice looks forward to working with the new administration on a revision

Colombia to Remove Import Restrictions on U.S. Rough Rice 

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Colombian government informed the United States in early February that it has begun the process of removing existing restrictions on the import of U.S. paddy rice.  USA Rice was informed of this positive news by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently.  

"This is tremendous news, and a success that we have worked hard to achieve," said USA Rice Chairman Brian King, with rice merchant Erwin-Keith, Inc. in Wynne, Arkansas.  "This development will allow U.S. exporters to maximize marketing opportunities under the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement."

In a letter to APHIS, the General Manager of Colombia's counterpart organization, known as ICA, stated that the disease Tilletia horrida (rice smut) is prevalent in several rice growing areas of Colombia.  As a consequence, Colombia will begin the process of deregulation of the disease and updating of the current phytosanitary import requirements for rice seed and paddy coming from the United States.  Since 2012, Colombia has restricted the import of U.S. paddy to the port of Barranquilla and requires burning of rice hulls to control the spread of T. horrida.  

"We waited several years for Colombia to complete its study on the prevalence of this disease, and the results confirm what many suspected.  Our task now is to encourage U.S. and Colombian officials to work quickly toward removing import restrictions on the import of U.S. rice.  We understand that U.S. and Colombian plant health officials will meet later this month, and we look forward to continued progress from this session," concluded King.

Colombia has emerged as a significant market for U.S. rice, primarily long grain milled, since the trade agreement came into effect in 2012.  U.S. exports were 140,000 MT of rice in 2016, valued at $58.2 million.  Import duties on U.S. rice phase out gradually, and end in 2030.  In exchange for this phase out, increasing amounts of U.S. rice enter the country duty free each year under what is called a tariff rate quota (TRQ) - 98,448 MT in 2017 - and, significantly, research activities in the six rice-producing states share the profits from auctioning access under the TRQ.  In 2016, revenue to the six states exceeded $13 million

Rice sector awaits government help

THE government announced last week it has decided to extend an executive order (EO) that reduces the tariffs on raw materials used for making processed-meat products, such as offal and mechanically deboned meat (MDM).
This announcement came barely a few months after meat processors have sounded the alarm bells over the adverse impact of reverting the tariff of MDM to 40 percent once the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice expires on June 30. The government made the decision to extend EO 190 just a week after the Tariff Commission held its first consultation on the matter.
Meat processors had warned that if the tariff on MDM is raised again to 40 percent, the poor would be most affected. For one, canned goods remain as one of the cheapest sources of protein for the poor who cannot afford to shell out P200 for a kilogram of pork or P140 for a kilo of chicken. This warning may have prompted the government to immediately act on the petition of meat processors to extend EO 190 so the 5-percent tariff on MDM would be retained even after the rice QR lapses on June 30.
However, the same cannot be said for the rice sector, which continues to await the government’s pronouncement for measures to mitigate the impact of the removal of the rice QR. The reduction of the MDM tariff was one of the concessions given by the government so the World Trade Organization will allow the Philippines to retain rice-import caps until this year. The Duterte administration, however, had already decided not to extend the rice QR. Under EO 190, the tariff on MDM would revert to 40 percent once the QR on rice expires, prompting meat processors and other affected sectors to intensify their lobby to extend the EO.Unfortunately, the rice sector does not have the same recourse. That is why during the Tariff Commission hearing on EO 190 held on February 16, the Rice Watch Action Network appealed to the government to immediately put in place measures to help Filipino rice farmers become competitive after the import caps are removed. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol himself had admitted the government failed to prepare rice farmers for this, despite the existence of the rice QR for more than two decades. The QR on rice had effectively served as the Philippines’s protection from the deluge of cheap imports from neighboring Southeast Asian countries, which are efficient rice producers.
The Philippines is practically racing against time to find ways to cushion the impact of the removal of the rice QR on local farmers. State-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) urged the government to set aside P18 billion a year from tariffs, that will be collected from rice imports once the government replaces the QR with a specific duty. At a tariff rate of 35 percent, PIDS said the government could collect as much as P28 billion in duties from 2.26 million metric tons of rice imports.
Before this happens, the Duterte administration should first craft a solid plan that would ensure the smooth transition of the Philippines from having a protected rice industry to one that will become virtually open to cheap rice imports


NEWEST’ Rice Will Lead To Food Sufficiency In Africa – Kyetere

  The Executive Director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Dr Denis Kyetere has said the nitrogen-use efficient, water-use efficient and salt tolerant rice (NEWEST) will lead to food sufficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking at the annual review and planning meeting held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, he said the NEWEST rice soon to be developed and disseminated by the foundation and its partners would reduce the risk of drastic food shortage in Africa.
Kyetere said the goal of the project was to develop, disseminate farmer preferred, locally adapted rice varieties with enhanced nitrogen, water use efficiency and salt tolerance. He contended it would lead to food sufficiency which would redirect limited foreign exchange used to import rice.
“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 1.3 million tons of rice will be produced in Africa each year, reducing the current deficit by 10 percent,” Kyetere said.
In his remarks, the director, information and documentation department, National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI), Dr Mohammed Ishiaq, emphasized that rice demand exceeded production in most Sub-Saharan Africa. Ishiaq who represented the NCRI executive director, Dr Samuel Agboire, said insufficient rice production affected well-being of over 20 million smallholder farmers who depend on rice as a staple.
“SSA countries are spending more than US$5 billion 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 percent 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 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 utilization 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.
Sanni noted that the project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
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 form the team that is working on the development of this variety.

Government extends arrival date for rice imported under MAV

The interagency National Food Authority (NFA) Council has extended the deadline for the arrival of rice imported under the minimum access (MAV) scheme of the World Trade Organization to March 31.
Office of the Cabinet Secretary Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Reina A. Valdez said the NFA Council agreed in a meeting on February 27 to move the deadline for the 2016 MAV arrivals by a month.
“The deadline for private sector-led importation [MAV arrivals] has now been extended to March 31 as approved by the NFA Council,” Valdez said in a text message to reporters.
Valdez said the NFA Council has authorized Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, who sits as the NFA Council chairman, to approve rice-import permits.“Previously, the administrator has given the sole authority to sign import permits. This time, the chairman of the NFA Council has also been authorized by the council,” she added.
The NFA Council is comprised of the Cabinet secretary as the chairman, while the NFA administrator sits as vice chairman. The other members of the NFA Council are the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor, Development Bank of the Philippines chairman, the president of the Land Bank of the Philippines, finance secretary, trade secretary, the National Economic and Development Authority, and a representative from a farmers’ group.
Earlier, NFA Spokesman Marietta J. Ablaza told the BusinessMirror farmers’ cooperatives and private companies asked the NFA for a one-month extension of the deadline.“The import permits were distributed only last December and with the holidays, farmers’ cooperatives and firms had very limited time to prepare the necessary paperwork,” Ablaza said.
Under the NFA guidelines, rice imports under the 2016 MAV must arrive in the Philippines not later than February 28.
Last December the NFA allowed 210 farmers’ organizations and private firms to import 692,340 metric tons (MT) of rice, 110,160 MT less than the country’s annual MAV of  802,500 MT.
The NFA list available on its web site also showed that 194 qualified rice traders, including AgriNurture Inc. and Pilmico Foods Corp., will import 642,340 MT of rice under the country specific quota (CSQ). Of the total rice to be imported under the CSQ, 293,100 MT of rice will be bought from Thailand and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, 16 qualified applicants will import a total of 50,000 MT of rice under the “omnibus origin” category, according to the NFA list.
A separate list posted on the NFA web site showed 345,435.90 MT of imported rice have already arrived in the country, nearly half of the 692,340 MT approved under the 2016  MAV

House wants to extend QR on rice–Piñol

By Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas & Elijah F. Rosales
The House of Representatives is not keen on amending a law that would pave the way for the scrapping of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice, despite its scheduled expiration on June 30, based on what Manila committed to the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol.
In a meeting on February 20, Piñol said House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez expressed support for the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) bid to extend the QR on rice for two years, or until 2019.
Aside from Alvarez, Piñol  said Agrarian  Reform Secretary Rafael  V. Mariano  and former National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Peter Tiu Laviña also joined the meeting.“The last time I spoke with Speaker Alvarez about the lifting of the QR, the position of Congress is that they don’t want to lift it. Thus, I think, Congress will not move to amend Republic Act [RA] 8178,” he told reporters in a recent interview.
“The DA has to fast-track our solar-powered irrigation projects, because the Speaker has committed to support our goal of making the country rice sufficient in two years,” Piñol added.
Earlier, the DA chief made an assurance the Philippines will not be flooded with cheap rice imports after the QR on rice expires on June 30. The QR is a nontariff barrier that the WTO has allowed the Philippines to enjoy for more than two decades.Piñol said RA 8178, or the Agricultural Tarrification Act of 1996, would serve as the “saving grace” and “refuge” of Filipino farmers. Under RA 8178, rice is the only farm commodity that is protected by the QR.
Sans an amendment, Piñol said earlier the Philippines should not be forced to allow the entry of more rice imports. “There cannot be an unregulated entry of imported rice to the country until such time that the law is amended.”
However, the Cabinet Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) has already decided to abandon plans to ask for an extension of the rice QR, according to the DA chief.  The CTRM is cochaired by the secretaries of trade and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
‘No consultation’
An alliance of agricultural workers in the country lambasted the Neda for not pursuing the extension of the QR on rice in a forum held at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Romeo C. Royandoyan of Alyansa Agrikultura said the alliance is “strongly opposed” to the scrapping of rice-import caps, saying this would expose farmers to “unfair competition”.
“Before the government even considers terminating the QR, they should prepare programs to make our rice farmers competitive,” Royandoyan said.
He said he is “angered” by the Neda’s proposal to just lift the QR on rice and replace import caps with a specific  tariff.
Royandoyan said his group sought to hold a consultative meeting with the Neda in 2011, 2013 and 2016, but they were “ignored” by the agency. “If only the discussion materialized, the government and stakeholders could have prepared measures on how to address the impending expiration of the QR.”
“Before they decide on what to do with the QR, they should have consulted the rice farmers first,” Royandoyan added.
In a presentation, the Neda said it had recommended the provision of financial support for rice farmers who will be affected by the scrapping of the import caps.
However, Royandoyan said this would not materialize, as the government cannot even afford credit support and seed funding for rice farmers. “I don’t know what’s complicated for the Neda to understand. We cannot open our country to rice importation as long as our local industry is uncompetitive.”
Last year Neda Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the extension of the QR on rice would entail the grant of concessions to member-countries of the WTO that would agree to Manila’s request.
“The Philippines could be forced to bring down tariffs on other commodities, such as pork and milk, as a trade off. Negotiators need to bargain. Also, rice will become more expensive and farmers will continue to be complacent due to the absence of competition,” Pernia said.

Soaring rice price forces Kerala to eye Rs 100 cr worth buy from West Bengal

Kerala government, for instance, is set to shop for rice in West Bengal in order to supply the food grain to southern kitchens where rice is a staple diet.

By: M Sarita Varma | Updated: March 1, 2017 3:24 AMSHARES

Description: rice industry, West Bengal grocers, rice producers in West Bengal, Primary Agricultural Co-operative Societies, K Surendran, Kerala supermarketsKerala government, for instance, is set to shop for rice in West Bengal in order to supply the food grain to southern kitchens where rice is a staple diet. (Source: Reuters)
As price of rice in south India climbs northward, West Bengal grocers see a beeline of buyers. Kerala government, for instance, is set to shop for rice in West Bengal in order to supply the food grain to southern kitchens where rice is a staple diet. “We have formed a consortium of representatives from Primary Agricultural Co-operative Societies to undertake procurement from West Bengal. The procurement will be completed by March 10,” Kerala minister for Cooperation K Surendran told the state Assembly here. The consortium has been entrusted with R100 crore for the rice shopping assignment.
The price of all premium brands in Kerala supermarkets have beeen shooting through the roof. Jaya rice costs R48 per kilo, matta rice costs R43 per kilo and surekha rice costs R37 per kilo. “Only in West Bengal, the rice is currently selling at a fair price. In southern states, there is huge shortage of the premium rice brands. ‘Suvarna’, the rice brand that’s popular in Karnataka is not relished in Kerala market,” Surendran said. Rice varieties from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab cost only around R32 per kg and R33 per kg in the retail markets. However, the consumer preferences in the south are yet to match to these varieties.
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In northern Kerala, there is a slow switchover in taste preferences to ‘swarna’ rice from Bengal and ‘cherumani’ and ‘kurava’ rice varieties that are sold at price below R24 per kilo. Kerala has a history of buying rice and potatoes from West Bengal, whenever there is price letdown from the Andhra market. Traders say there has been over 26% increase in the price of the premium brand jaya. Kerala consumes about 40 lakh tonnes of rice per annum. Of this, jaya and surekha rice from Andhra account for consumption upto 22 lakh tonne.
“Since jaya rice is a brand with much demand, traders in Andhra might also be creating an artificial demand,” says Kerala food minister P Thilothaman.