Friday, April 07, 2017

7th April,2017 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Pakistan’s alarming cost of food exports

A ground-breaking study published recently in the Nature journal has some alarming revelations for Pakistan’s already precarious state of water resources. The paper titled “Groundwater depletion embedded in international food trade” aims to highlight the impact of global food consumption on ground water depletion (GWD). It is pertinent to mention that more than 40 percent of crop irrigation is done through underground aquifers which are being utilized faster than they can replenish because of unsustainable extraction rates to fuel production of crops. 

According to the researchers almost eleven percent of the non-renewable groundwater use for irrigation is part of the international food trade with two-thirds being exported by Pakistan, America and India alone.
 Furthermore, India and Pakistan are the biggest users of GWD at 30 and 11 percent respectively whereas Pakistan is the largest exporter with an alarming 29 percent of global GWD trade volume followed by USA at 27 percent and India at 12 percent. 

Even though Pakistan is one of the leading exporters of rice, the country does not account for the huge environmental cost it is bearing for these exports. According to various estimates including UN-Water it takes around 3500-5000 liters of water to produce just one kilogram of rice.   The paper points out that Pakistan exports rice to Iran that have been irrigated using “Upper Ganges and Lower Indus aquifers” which are overexploited by a factor of 54.2 and 18.4 respectively”.

It should be a major concern for policymakers that in the long term the tremendous pressure being exerted on these aquifers will outweigh the short term benefits of export of crops. The paper also correctly points out that importers could share responsibility for environmental damage and reduced water availability in their trade partners.

So for Pakistan it is imperative to realise the true cost of exporting crops such as rice which currently bring in much needed foreign exchange but in the long run threatens to ruin the water eco-system as well as production of these crops.

Interestingly, the research also shows even though the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia and China rank amongst the top ten consumers of unsustainable water in agriculture they also feature as the top importers of crops produced with these rapidly diminishing water resources.  Therefore, placing responsibility in this complex web although difficult has major implications for global as well as domestic food security.

In a way this study confirms the notion that the true cost of foodstuff export is drastically higher than nations realise. Pakistan could well be indirectly exporting precious and massive amounts of water through its rice exports. Alarm bells should resonate in the ears of policymakers because the long-term implications of this research could undermine not only exports but domestic food security for Pakistan.


Duterte halts rice importation due to high local yield- Piñol

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
Posted at Apr 06 2017 02:58 PM | Updated as of Apr 06 2017 03:19 PM

Photo by Mayette Tudlas
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a temporary halt in rice importation from Vietnam as local farmers posted a high yield of the staple this harvest season, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Thursday.
"President Duterte said that while there is a need to import rice to fill up the requirements of the country for buffer stock, the importation must not be done during the peak harvest season as this would compete with the production of the Filipino rice farmers," Piñol said in a statement, citing the President's announcement Wednesday.
The agriculture chief said an additional 1 million metric tons of paddy rice are expected to be harvested this season due to a "dramatic increase" in crop yield.
"The paddy rice harvest for the First Quarter of 2017 from an area of only 997,000 hectares also showed a dramatic increase of over 210,000-metric tons compared to the same period in 2016 from a bigger area of about 1.1-million hectares," Piñol said.
Data from the Department of Agriculture show that the estimated annual rice shortage of the Philippines is about 1.8-million metric tons.
Funds intended for the rice purchase from Vietnam will be reallocated to buy rice from local farmers, Piñol earlier said.
At a harvest festival in Nueva Ecija on Wednesday, the President fired Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Reina Valdez for defying National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino's decision to suspend rice importation given the local harvest season.[LINK:]
READ: Philippines may reconsider 250,000-MT rice import plan

Rice program to end imports

By Jed Macapagal
April 07, 2017
The Department of Agriculture (DA) launched the Masaganang Ani 200 program that aims  to raise farmers’ rice yield to 200 cavans per hectare to stabilize food supply and  end importation.

The program espouses the use of hybrid seeds.

At the  hybrid rice harvest festival of SL Agritech Corp. in Nueva Ecija, DA secretary said the Philippines “will be self-sufficient in rice before year 2020 if we will plant more hybrid rice seeds.”

“Masaganang Ani 200 is our best option.  Next year, we’ll have one million hectares for hybrid rice to achieve sufficiency.  We only have hybrid on less than 10 percent of our four million hectare rice land. We’ll present this program to the Cabinet on April 19,” Pinol said.

The DA chief  cited  data from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)  which said  as of 2014, traded rice stood at 42 million MT.

“We can’t just depend on other countries.  We don’t know when the next typhoon will come or when the next El Niño will hit us.   The reality is we’re subject to climate change.  The volume of rice traded in the market is just at 36 million tons and 34 million of that is committed ,” Piñol said.

He said  in 2008, the price of rice  in the global market spiked up to $1,200 per ton.

“What if El Niño hits Vietnam, India, China? We won’t be able to compete with China.  So we must improve farmers’ productivity.  We don’t need to expand our area.  We just need to improve technology.  If we raise productivity by two tons per hectare, that will be two million tons from one million hectare, and we won’t need to import,” Pinol added.

He said the use of hybrid seeds  can double farmers’ harvest from the present 4.15 MT per hectare national average yield per hectare.

Farmers are being encouraged to switch from using inbred seeds, also known to be self-pollinating  rice varieties, to hybrid seeds.Self-pollination enables most inbreds with a yield of 80 cavans per hectare to a high of 150 cavans per hectare. 

Hybrid seeds have been bred using two superior parents intentionally selected for their desired traits,  allowing it with bigger yields.

The DA  farmers under the program will be provided with their own biometric identification card and passbook.  Farmers will also be provided with machines including tractors, transplanters and combine harvesters aside from credit by lending P50,000 each in a collateral-free credit that may be obtained in three days.

The plan, however, is being compared to the Masagana 99 program introduced by former president  Ferdinand Marcos which was  proposed for revival in 2016.

Masagana 99 also promoted the use of high-yielding rice varieties created by IRRI and allowed the country to export rice for the first time to Asian countries.In the same event,  SL-8H hybrid rice grower Edgardo Marcelo reported he reaped for the just completed dry season 266 cavans at 59.3 kilos per cavan from his 1.3 hectare land.

This translates to 242 cavans on a per hectare 50-kilo basis. Such harvest generates P216,000 in net income for a four-month cropping period with production cost of around P50,000 at a rice husk (palay) selling price of P20 per kilo.

In 2016, Marcelo’s harvest was even higher at 308 cavans from the 1.3 hectare land.Another farmer, Ricardo  Buenaventura claimed  to have started harvesting at least 200 cavans since he started growing hybrid rice SL-8H.  - with Jojo de Guzman

PM urges increasing added-value of rice

Update: April, 06/2017 - 14:33
In a newly-issued instruction, the Prime Minister requested the agriculture sector to reform science and technology application and devise incentives for research and development of high-yield and market-relevant rice varieties. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has urged ministries, sectors and localities to work hard to enhance the added-value of Vietnamese rice.
In the instruction No 180/TB-VPCP, the PM said authorities need to continue reforming legal frameworks and operational structures in line with the trend worldwide to ensure Vietnamese rice better meets the demand of regional and global consumers.
Ministries, sectors, associations and enterprises should accelerate the expansion of cultivable land and develop models for large-scale fields and concentrated goods production, the document noted.
Support should be provided to strengthen links between cooperatives and enterprises; new-styled cooperatives should be established; value-chains for rice production, processing and consumption should be developed; and agricultural labour should be reduced and shifted to other sectors.
Rice production planning needs to be reviewed while certain areas need to be zoned off for growing rice in line with food security targets, market demand and climate change. Low-efficiency rice growing areas and salt-infected land should be used to raise shrimp and grow other crops to increase efficiency.
Domestic and global demand should be calculated while anticipating the development of rice production in Việt Nam and other nations, the document stated.
The PM also requested the agriculture sector to reform science and technology application and devise incentives for research and development of high-yield and market-relevant rice varieties.
The rice sector needs to aim for multiple tasks, not only ensuring food security, but also promoting exports, food safety, environmental protection and climate change adaptation, the prime minister noted in the document.
The sector should mechanise production to enhance efficiency while applying advanced technology in production, processing and preservation to reduce post-harvest losses. Supervision need to be strengthened to control the use of fertilisers and pesticides in production.
Focus should be placed on building and upgrading the irrigation system and climate change adapting works.
The document also stated that the sector needs to maintain traditional markets, while stepping up trade promotion in potential markets to expand.
The PM urged the sector to develop brand names for Vietnamese rice and rice enterprises to improve competitiveness at home and abroad. — VNS

Asia Rice-Prices rise in India on firm rupee, Vietnam on supply woes

Rice export prices firmed in India on a stronger rupee, while the rates rose in Vietnam on concerns that rainfall could affect crops during peak harvest season.India's 5 percent broken parboiled rice prices RI-INBKN5-P1 rose by $2 per tonne to $375 to $380 a tonne this week, as gains in the rupee led exporters to raise prices. The rupee was near its highest level in about 18 months."Higher paddy prices and rising rupee is forcing exporters to raise export prices. The demand is moderate," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
India, the world's biggest rice exporter, mainly exports non-basmati rice to African countries and premier basmati rice to the Middle East. Its rice output could rise by 4.3 percent to a record high of 108.86 million tonnes in 2016/17.Traders in Vietnam, the world's third-largest rice exporter, were worried about the quality of rice as rain in key-producing areas has already affected the grain.Rainfall could hit the quality of harvest, said a Ho Chi Minh-based trader, adding that Vietnamese prices are still less competitive than Thai prices.Prices of the 5 percent broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 rose to $352-$355 a tonne free-on-board (FOB) Saigon, from $348-$350 a tonne last week, traders said.
Vietnam's rice exports are expected to plunge 23.9 percent annually to 1.19 million tonnes in the first quarter, after the grain shipments dropped 26.5 percent in 2016 due to lower output caused by climate changes, the government said.

Oil, Rice, Chabahar: India-Iran Trade Issues Demystified

Economically tied with high volume trade in crude oil and politically tied with similar interests for stability in the Middle East, Afghanistan, India and Iran have traversed a long and tumultuous journey to maintain a healthy trade relationship.
This received further impetus after Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with six world powers, which led to the removal of economic sanctions imposed on Iran.
In an interview with Hassan Nourian, consul general of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hyderabad, The Dollar Business explores current issues in the India-Iran bilateral relationship.
Speaking about diverse areas from the ambiguity in payment settlement mechanisms to problems in basmati rice exports, the diplomat lucidly explains the dynamics in India-Iran relations. Below is the full text of the interview:
TDB: How are the unresolved issues in payments settlement between India and Iran being dealt with?
NOURIAN:  The JCPOA opened banking routes for Iran and caused the old payment mechanism to become defunct. Opening up of SWIFT to Iranian banks has supplemented current payment methods. Minor issues still exist between Iran and India, which are in the process of being resolved.
Some of the Iranian banks have submitted proposals to the RBI [Reserve Bank of India] asking for permits to open branches in India, particularly Parsian and Pasargad. Opening up of branches in India will go a long way in introducing ease in business between the two countries.
 Iran seems apprehensive in the use of dollar for foreign trade. Which currency is being used currently?
There are different categories of sanctions, some imposed internationally and others specifically by the US government. The newly imposed international sanctions have been lifted recently by the United Nations Security Council, but the old American sanctions are not among these international sanctions.
The government of Iran is interested in diversifying its use of various currencies for foreign trade. With many countries, transactions are made in their respective currency, for instance, yuan with China and euro with the EU.
What is the strategic significance of Chabahar Port for India and Iran?
India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a tripartite agreement last year during the visit of [Indian] PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Tehran, to develop the Chabahar Port into a transit hub. India has committed to a $500 million investment for the same.
Until 1947, Iran and India were neighboring countries. Since the separation of Pakistan, India has not had a direct trade route connecting it with Central Asia and Afghanistan. Easy trade access to Central Asia is the prime strategic reason behind India’s investment in Chabahar Port.
Chabahar is not only an economically beneficial area but also an important strategic area. Through investments from countries like India, Iran hopes to bring about the development of many undeveloped villages and cities in the Chabahar region.
What is India’s role in bringing stability to Central Asia, weighed down by terrorism and extremism?
Our region is suffering from problems of extremism. Afghanistan, due to an unstable and weak government, is a breeding ground for terrorist groups to emerge and grow. Poverty and a weak economy are the root causes for the emergence of extremism.
Empowering business environment and economy in these regions can help secure the region from growing terrorism, and that is why investment in the eastern part of Iran, which will provide a direct link to Afghanistan and Pakistan, may help empower small groups of people with productive tools of education and business, cutting off their ties to extremist ideologies.
Japan and China have also expressed interest in investing in the Chabahar region.
What are the supply-demand statistics of basmati rice in Iran?
Per capita consumption of basmati rice in Iran currently stands at 37–40 kg annually, or 104 grams per day. While Iran’s annual production of basmati rice averages 1.8 million-2 million tons, consumption is around 3 million tons. To fill in for this deficit between demand and supply, Iran imports rice to the tune of 1 million tons every year, mostly from India.
What is India’s share in Iran’s total import of basmati rice?
The quality of Indian basmati rice is ideal and suitable for Iranian consumption. As much as 700,000 tons of the Iranian annual basmati rice imports are sourced from India. Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and other European and Latin American countries account for the remaining 30% imports.
Many other countries are competing for India’s massive share of the pie. India must keep its prices competitive to secure its edge.
Why has the Rice Importers’ Association in Iran capped import prices at $850/ton?
 A price hike of 50% in October 2016 caused Indian exporters to demand high prices for their produce. This compromised affordability for the Iranian citizen.
Iran has off-late cut down import tariffs on rice from 40% to 26%, to boost affordability. With the same objective, the Iranian government recommends a price cap of $850/ton for rice imports.
Why does Iran temporarily ban rice imports for a few months every year?
Iran imposes import restrictions not only on rice but on all agricultural products during their respective domestic harvest season. Averaging 3-4 months, the temporary barring of imports is a policy common for all of Iran’s agricultural produce.
What are some other concerns regarding basmati rice trade between India and Iran apart from prices and temporary import restrictions?
India’s negligence in meeting quality standards raised a few red flags at Iran’s Health Ministry. Instances of some Indian samples being laced with arsenic had aroused some quality concerns.
To override the triple hurdles of quality, price hike and seasonal import restrictions, a trade delegation from India had visited Iran in January 2017. During the high-profile visit, India invited Iran for laboratory visits to perform quality checks.
What impact will the oil price rise due to the OPEC deal have on India-Iran trade?
India, being a fast-developing nation, has a very high demand for energy. Complementing this need, Iran is the most stable and resourceful country in the region for India to import oil reliably from.
Due to a drop in global prices of oil, India-Iran trade volume dropped from $13 billion in 2015 to $9 billion in 2016, despite an increase in the volume of oil imports by India from Iran.
We do not wish for our economy to rely excessively on oil exports. With this objective, Iran has adopted the policy of Resistance Economy.
India-Iran trade is mostly confined to crude oil. What are some other areas of focus for increasing bilateral trade?
More than 70% of the India-Iran trade are currently in crude oil. Rice, dal [pulses] and other edibles make up for most of the remaining trade volume.
Iran would like to go beyond this traditional trade relationship and engage with India in advanced sectors like IT, aerospace, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
Hyderabad has immense potential for both industries, pharma and IT. About 70% of India’s manufacturing capacity in pharmaceuticals are housed in Hyderabad.
In fact, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore are three of the southern IT hubs, which fall under our jurisdiction.

New Recipe Brochures Inspire Home Chefs to Think Rice
Popular, versatile, and so easy to prepare
By Deborah Willenborg
 April 6, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC -- This month, USA Rice added two new recipe brochures to the popular collection of consumer recipe brochures regularly requested by members, extension agents, educators, nutrition professionals, and others for promotional purposes at events such as tradeshows, educational programs, county fairs, and other activities.

"Even in a time when there is growing usage of mobile devices to access recipes, USA Rice still receives countless requests from people wanting hard copies of recipes and preparation information to share with various audiences," said Katie Maher, USA Rice director of domestic promotion programs.  "While USA Rice regularly promotes recipes on social media and other digital outlets, there is still something important and impactful about being face-to-face with people and placing information directly in their hands."

The new brochures incorporate Think Rice branding and feature fresh U.S. rice messaging.  The "Rediscover Rice" brochure echoes the theme from USA Rice's foodservice advertising campaign, inspiring people to see the many uses of rice beyond the side dish (see "Foodservice Audience Gets the Read on Rice, USA Rice Daily, February 21, 2017).  The second brochure, "Rice: the Grain to Go With" emphasizes that rice is the go-to grain for delicious meals any time of day.  Each brochure highlights the versatility of rice across meal parts with a breakfast, appetizer, side dish, main dish, and dessert recipe. 

"To make the most of the recipes we already have while also creating interesting and on-trend brochures, we pulled from a variety of program areas," said Maher.  "We included a breakfast recipe from last year's nutrition blogger contest, two recipes from our Canada promotion program, and adapted a few of the foodservice recipes USA Rice created."

The brochures include a variety of short, medium, and long grain recipes and also encourage people to try different types of U.S.-grown rice in their favorite recipes.  As Maher reports, "we get many requests saying, 'I need recipes for brown rice,' but what a lot of people don't realize is that more often than not, you can simply substitute brown rice in your favorite recipes."

Maher adds, "we're hoping these new brochures, with their fresh design and unique recipes, will leave a lasting impression on home chefs and inspire them to try new recipes and see all that rice has to offer." USA Rice

Requests for physical copies can be made by emailing USA Rice.

Daily, Thursday, April 6, 2017

Brazilian rice enters Mexican market after years of negotiation

Mexico consumes 900,000 tons of rice per year
Brazil Business
By plus55 on Apr 05, 2017

After two years of negotiations, Mexico finally opened its doors to Brazilian rice. The Mexican rice market is the largest in Latin America, consuming 900,000 tons annually. Furthermore, Mexico imports around 75 percent of its rice. As a result of the new measure, Brazil’s rice could supply between 20-30 percent of Mexico’s imports.
While Mexico was previously hesitant to open its rice market to Brazilian products, strained relations with the U.S. have pushed the market open.

Trade details

Rio Grande do Sul, responsible for 85% of the Brazilian rice production, should dominate exports. Producers expect that a higher international demand might push prices up in Brazil. The measure would concentrate on exporting paddy rice (with the husk).
Although the two countries already have a food health agreement established between them, diplomats still have certain trade details to sort out. A Brazilian committee on rice exports will travel to Mexico this month to finalize the agreement

Drought resistant, higher-yielding GM rice developed by Japanese researchers

April 6, 2017 | RIKEN

Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science have developed strains of rice that are resistant to drought in real-world situations. Published in Plant Biotechnology Journal, the study reports that transgenic rice modified with a gene from the Arabidopsis plant yield more rice than unmodified rice when subjected to stress brought by natural drought.
In previous work, RIKEN scientists showed that Arabidopsis plants express the AtGolS2 gene in response to drought and salinity stress.
For this study, they created several lines of transgenic Brazilian and African rice that over-express this gene, and with their … collaborators, tested how well the rice grew in different conditions in different years.
When might we see this useful rice on the market? According to [RIKEN scientist Fuminori] Takahashi, the greatest barrier to commercial availability is that they used genetically modified (GM) technology to generate the GolS2 transgenic rice. “Now, we have begun our next collaborative project, in which we will generate useful rice without GM technology. It might take 5-10 years to reach our goal, but we must keep pressing forward because droughts and climate change might get worse in the future.”
[Read the full study here.]
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: New rice fights off drought
For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

Smugglers erode local rice production gains

By Hussein Yahaya, Vincent A. Yusuf, Simon Echewofun Sunday (Abuja), Yusha’u A. Ibrahim, Ibrahim Musa | Publish Date: Apr 6 2017 7:20PM

Smuggling of rice through land borders has resumed at an alarming rate, threatening to reverse the gains recorded through local production, millers and farmers told Daily Trust.
The smuggling, if not contained, will spell doom for local rice production and make a mockery of government’s efforts to resuscitate the agricultural sector especially the rice value chain.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), headed by its Comptroller General, retired Colonel Hameed Ali, banned the importation of rice through the land borders in April 2016 after many consultations with stakeholders including the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RFAN).
It was earlier banned in 2015 but later lifted same year after agitations from importers and other stakeholders.
The directive banning rice importation through land borders, in addition to support from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and some state governments, immediately boosted local production and consumption of rice, thereby creating value for local rice, and creating job opportunities for many. It also led to the setting up of rice mills in parts of Nigeria.
However, barely one year after, cases of reported smuggling of imported rice are on the rise as producers and farmers have raised the alarm.
The chairman of Association of Rice Processors, Alhaji Muhammed Abubakar Maifata, told Daily Trust in Kano that all the gains being recorded are being rubbished by smuggling.
Maifata, who is also the chairman of Umza Farms Rice Mill, said Nigeria has not recorded such a huge incidence of rice smuggling into the country since 2012.
He said from February 2017 to date, over one million metric tonne of rice has been smuggled into Nigeria, which local rice millers couldn’t compete with.
“We have to give credit to the Customs Comptroller General as he has been doing everything within his powers to put things into order. But the irony is that other officers of the Customs service have been conniving with the smugglers thereby crippling the sector completely,” Maifata said.
He called for the intensification of border patrol and raiding of warehouses harbouring smuggled rice. He also advocated for a change in policy and engaging the government of Benin Republic which, he said, supports these smuggles at its seaports.
“Without tackling rice smuggling Nigeria should forget about food sufficiency completely,” he said.
Also speaking, Olam Farms, the producers of Mama’s Pride and Chef’s Choice rice, said the activities of rice smugglers around the nation’s borders are affecting the performance of local rice producers.
Mr. Ade Adefeko, Olam’s Vice President Corporate and Government Relations, told Daily Trust that unless government took drastic action against smugglers, the efforts of companies in the rice value chain would not be appreciated.
“Smugglers are back, they are everywhere along our borders and their activities are affecting some of us in the rice value chain because they are sabotaging our efforts,” he said.
He observed that with the government’s purported ban on rice importations, foreign rice still floods the markets, wondering how such actions were being allowed at the borders.
Adefeko appealed to relevant government agencies to step up actions against the smugglers to guarantee the growth of rice locally.
He observed that government efforts aimed at rice sufficiency might not yield positive response if activities of smugglers were left unchecked.
Olam Farms is currently producing about 9 metric tonnes per hectare per annum in two crop circles.
Daily Trust reports that Nigeria’s rice consumption requirement is put at about 7 million metric tonnes, while the local production of rice now stands at about 2.7million metric tonnes, leaving the gap of about 4.3 million tonnes.
Daily Trust also learnt that a bag of smuggled rice sells lower than its local counterpart.
Rice smuggled on motorcycles
In Katsina State, our correspondent said the Katsina/Kaduna Customs Command had to summon an emergency meeting with sectional teams and patrol officers following the increased cases of rice smuggling on motorcycles and cars along Katsina border lines.
Residents say it is not uncommon to see several motorcycles carrying an average of five bags of rice through villages along the border lines to get to the metropolis, alleging that the practice was being aided and abetted by Customs officials.
However, the Katsina/Kaduna Customs Command Comptroller Mohammad Jaafar Tanko told our reporter on phone that from intelligence report, some personnel seemed relaxed and “I’m not happy with that which made me summoned all patrol teams and handed them a stern warning.”
He said: “The ban on rice importation is still on and there is no going back; we shouldn’t be caught napping, if anyone allows rice to pass through his or her beat, he should be prepared to carry his cross.” 
On the allegation of involvement of some officers and men in the racket, Tanko said “Like you rightly said, they are allegations but despite that I have planted my men strategically, improved intelligence gathering. So those conniving with smugglers or diverting attention of officers, let them continue, we shall soon close on them, we are working to get them.”
Tanko said aside the evolvement of new operational strategy at the command, a new sensitization drive had been embarked upon to enlighten the people, especially those at the borders, on the new policy and the need to support it for nation building.
He warned smugglers to desist from such unwholesome activities by having a rethink for greeter development.
Customs, agric ministry react
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Joseph Attah said the service is aware that smugglers often circumvent the law.
He said: “We know that smugglers will always want to circumvent the law even when it is said that rice should not come through the land borders. We have continued to beef up our security around the land border areas.
“Once we get intelligence that such thing is happening specifically, we deploy more operatives to such places to tackle such cases,” Attah said.
When contacted on the activities of the smugglers, the Director of Information in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Tony Ohaeri, told Daily Trust that the issue of smuggling was not in the purview of the ministry, adding that the Nigerian Customs Services had the statutory responsibility to curtail smuggling activities along the borders.
He, however, said that the ministry was working tirelessly with other agencies to ensure that smuggling of agricultural produce were curtailed at both the nation’s sea and land borders.
“I know that the ministry and the minister (Chief Audu Ogbeh) are always in touch with the customs people,” he said, but added that the ministry does not have officers, staff or personnel at the borders.
“When it comes to smuggling, illegally bringing anything into Nigeria, it is not in our own domain. We don’t have any constitutional right to go to the boarders. The minister has said smuggling has always been a problem,” Mr. Ohaeri said

DA must encourage rice farmers to plant other crops–experts

APRIL 6, 2017
In Photo: Farmers perform the traditional backbreaking manual labor of transferring pregerminated rice seedlings to a wet field in Tabuk, Kalinga.Revenues collected from rice imported by the Philippines after the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice is scrapped should also be allocated to programs that encourage farmers to plant other crops, according to experts.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University senior research fellow Caesar Cororaton said the Department of Agriculture (DA) should provide assistance to rice farmers who will shift to other crops as this would help boost the farm sector’s productivity.
“That’s actually good, if they [rice farmers] move out of rice production and then use the money, amounting to some P24 billion, to train those who are willing to shift to other crops, which are more profitable,” Cororaton told the BusinessMirror on the sidelines of a forum on Philippine rice policy held recently at the De La Salle University in Manila.
In their paper, titled Poverty and Distributional Impact of Alternative Policies in the Philippines, Cororaton and De La Salle University School of Economics associate professor Krista Danielle Yu said the removal of the QR on rice would cut land use for palay production by at least 10.02 percent.They suggested that the government put in place a post-QR regime scheme wherein rice tariffs will be gradually reduced to 25 percent in 10 years. The revenues from rice imports should be given as cash transfer to poor families.
“The amount of money to be plowed back [to farmers] is more than enough to support their displacement and would result in improvements,” he said.
Under their suggested post-QR regime scheme, land use for palay production would decline by only 1.5 percent. Cororaton said the 1.5-percent decrease in palay land use, however, would result in higher land utilization for other high-value crops.

For instance, land use for corn production would increase by 1.83 percent, while land use for coconut and sugar production would expand by 1.41 percent and 1.43 percent, respectively. They also noted that there would be a 2.02-percent hike in the production of other crops.
Cororaton said the DA’s rice-self sufficiency program is no longer viable as it would cause the local rice to become more expensive.“It’s better if you just import rice and, at the same time, use the money [tariff revenue] to assist farmers. I think that’s the best solution that I can think of,” he said.
Under their suggested post-QR scheme, Cororaton said the income of households, particularly the poorest 10 percent of the country, would increase due to rice prices. Also, the income of the 10 percent poorest households in the country would increase by at least 23.8 percent.
Corotaton said this would result in a 9.12-percent decline in the country’s poverty incidence and a 26.77-percent cut in poverty severity, or the degree of inequality among the poor.
“The results indicate that the control on rice imports is highly regressive because it increases the domestic price of rice and puts significant burden on poor households,” their paper read.
“Retaining the protection on domestic palay production through tariffication and earmarking the revenue generated as cash transfer to poor households will reduce poverty considerably by 4 million in 10 years,” they added.
The Philippine waiver on the special treatment on rice, which was approved by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Council for Trade in Goods, has allowed Manila to implement the QR until this year.
Upon the expiration of the waiver, and no later than June 30, Manila’s importation of rice shall be subject to ordinary customs duties in accordance with the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture.
Last year Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol warned that the lifting of the QR on rice would discourage farmers from planting the staple.
Dr. Rene E. Ofreneo, former labor undersecretary and dean of the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations, echoed Piñol’s sentiments, saying the entry of imported cheap rice in the country would force rice farmers to shift to other crops.
“The effect would not be immediate, but, the way I see it, there will be continuing labor erosion. You can imagine the displacement in the farming population. There would be a need for adjustment,” Ofreneo told the BusinessMirror

Dismissed Usec Valdez to Duterte: Probe 'NFA syndicate'

The dismissed Palace undersecretary asks the President to take a second look at importation schemes proposed by NFA Administrator Jason Aquino, an ex-coup plotter

Pia Ranada
Published 5:10 PM, April 07, 2017
Updated 5:33 PM, April 07, 2017

CONFLICT IN NFA. Dismissed Undersecretary Halmen Valdez insists she and her boss, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, are working in the interest of Filipino farmers. File photo by Noel Celis / Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines – Former Palace undersecretary Halmen Valdez respects President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to fire her, but appeals to him to look more closely into which policies truly benefit the farmers and which do not.
"The question in this issue is what government policy should be undertaken by the NFA (National Food Authority) which will better support our farmers," she told Rappler on Friday, April 7.
On Wednesday, April 5, Duterte accused her of wanting to pursue a rice importation scheme that is detrimental to Filipino farmers.
Valdez said she had been merely implementing a decision already reached by the National Food Authority Council (NFAC) – to extend the deadline for the arrival of rice imports under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme from February 28 to March 31.
The extension of permits for these MAV rice imports had been denied by NFA Administrator Jason Aquino, a retired Army officer who was once jailed for joining the botched February 2006 mutiny against then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was eventually cleared by a military court.
"In my humble opinion, discussions on policies that protect farmers can be discussed within the NFA Council, which is comprised of very able government agencies, and not through decisions monopolized by one administrator," she added.
Duterte, in a speech in front of Nueva Ecija farmers, claimed the permits should not be extended because the rice imports will flood the market with cheaper rice, which Filipino farmers can't compete with.
But Valdez said the issue is much more complex.
"The MAV is part of our compliance with the WTO (World Trade Organization). It was already approved by the NFAC (National Food Authority Council) which is composed of many other officials aside from Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr," said Valdez on Friday, April 7.
MAV is a scheme where private importers are given permits to import rice within a pre-determined quota.
NFA Administrator Aquino, whom Duterte seems to be siding with, refused to extend the permits of private importers under the MAV scheme.
Valdez, when she pressed Aquino to approve the extensions, said Aquino dismissed the plea, saying, "Ah, hindi natin 'yan i-extend kasi mga cartel lang 'yan." (We won't extend that because those are just cartels.)
The importers deemed qualified to be given an import permit are determined by the NFA management, not the NFAC.
Valdez defended the MAV scheme, citing improvements made by NFAC to ensure the system is less prone to abuse.
For instance, the NFAC under Evasco, cut the quota into smaller quotas to accommodate small farmer cooperatives. The move was intended to lessen the monopoly of long-time rice importers who abuse the system through cartels.
Valdez said that there are 30% more rice importers given permits under the MAV scheme compared to during the Aquino administration.
The cooperatives have a representative in the NFAC.
Valdez also said the MAV scheme has also become less prone to abuse because of Republic Act No 10845, a law that declares agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage.
The law, authored by Senator Cynthia Villar, has made it "almost impossible" for smuggling to happen under the MAV scheme.
NFA Administrator Aquino, while against extending the deadline for imports under the MAV scheme, prefers government-to-government (G2G) rice importation.
He has argued that the process is simpler and will provide cheaper rice for Filipinos.
But G2G rice importation is also vulnerable to abuse. A risk unique to this mode of importation is the debt incurred by government in using it.
Each time the government imports rice from another government, it must get a loan from the Landbank.
Aquino wants to import one million metric tons of rice through government-to-government transaction, which, according to Valdez, amounts to a P24-billion debt from the Landbank.
This adds to the "legacy debt" of the government already at P211 billion, whereas, under the MAV scheme, private rice importers pay for the imported rice.
Valdez also argued that government-to-government transaction is less transparent and more prone to abuse than the private-sector-led MAV scheme.
"Government-to-government scheme is exempted from the Procurement Law. Thus, the NFA management has full control on how to import the rice, on who gets contracts to facilitate the importation," she said.
One loophole is the choice of "logistics provider" or the boat company that will transport the rice. In government-to-government transactions, scheming Filipino officials and foreign officials can make deals to ensure a specific supplier is chosen.
For this reason, said Valdez, the costs of logistics tend to be very high.
Because they get to choose the boat supplier, there's also nothing stopping the supplier from agreeing to take on more rice imports than the amount stated in the quota, leading to "overloading" of the boats.
This is how smuggled rice arrives in the Philippines through the government-to-government scheme.
Valdez, however, clarified that she and the NFAC "are not against government-to-government transaction."
"We're just saying, it's not the right time. G2G is done to prepare for a calamity, if there is a shortage in rice, or for the NFA's rice program," she said.
NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia, whose agency is part of the NFAC, agrees that there is no need right now for the 1 million MT G2G Aquino is pushing for.
Support for local farmers
G2G transaction also means the government will be paying foreign governments and their farmers for rice, instead of supporting the produce of Filipino farmers.
Another reason why the NFAC does not want to go with G2G now is the good harvest reported by farmers, which means it makes more sense to just buy locally.
"There is no shortage, and the harvest of local farmers is good, so why not just buy rice from them?" said Valdez.
For buffer stock, the Philippine government can just buy rice from its own farmers.
For opposing G2G, Valdez said she, the NFAC, and Secretary Evasco are working in the best interest of local farmers, not the other way around.
She pointed out that before Aquino was appointed on December 29, 2016, the NFAC, under Evasco, was able to maintain the price of rice.
Evasco, who chairs the NFAC as Cabinet Secretary, is seeking to remove Aquino from his post for "actively refusing" to implement decisions reached by NFAC.
Valdez also said Aquino has refused to attend NFAC meetings, and has even cancelled some of them unilaterally, making it difficult for the council to discuss contentious issues.
Despite her unceremonious dismissal, Valdez still calls Duterte "my President" and only hopes he can look into the NFA issues more closely.
"I hope he will continue his fight against corruption. He should really talk to the NFA Council and the Cabinet Secretary and look closely at the syndicate inside NFA," she said. –
Recipe And How To Prepare Seafood Fried Rice
Olayinka  April 5, 2017

Ever heard of this incredible recipe- seafood fried rice or shrimp fried rice as some call it?

It’s totally delicious and different. So, you really don’t have to keep eating the same type of meal every now and then. It could be boring, I know that for sure.

Just like fried rice, seafood fried rice is so colourful and filled with veggies. But then, the extra taste of sea foods in it gives it that yummy taste and aroma you can’t just resist.

With some veggies, shrimps or any other seafood and rice, you can make this recipe. Easy and cheap, right? Let’s make some.

1. Rice (Basmati preferably)

2. Shrimp

3. Calamari fish

4. Crayfish

5. Vegetable oil

6. carrot

7. Sweet corn

8. Green bell pepper

9. Red bell pepper

10. onion

11. Ginger

12. Salt

13. Seasoning cubes

14. Thyme

1. Wash rice properly and put in a cooking pot. Add salt, seasoning cubes, thyme and some grounded crayfish, all to taste. Add 2-3 cups of water depending on the quantity of the rice. Boil till rice is soft.

2. In frying pan, pour in some vegetable oil, add the calamari fish and shrimp. Fry for about 3 minutes. Set it aside

3. In the same pan, add some more vegetable oil, add onion (chopped), garlic, bell peppers, carrot and sweet corn. stir-fry for about 2 minutes.

4. Add the already fried shrimp and calamari. fry for just a minute.

5. Add the boiled rice into the veggies. stir and simmer for 2 minutes.

Seafood fried rice is ready!

When to Avoid Rice + 8 Alternatives to Try Instead

·         By: Becky Striepe
·         April 5, 2017
·         About Becky
Rice has its place in a healthy eating plan, but because it often contains arsenic, we should enjoy rice in moderation. Next time you’re making a soup, stir fry or other dish calling for rice, try these alternatives to rice!


Rice is very good at absorbing arsenic from contaminated soil – better than most other food crops. EcoWatch says that, “it is the single biggest food source of inorganic arsenic” When we talk about arsenic in food, there are two kinds to consider:
·         organic arsenic
·         inorganic arsenic
Inorganic arsenic is the one to worry about, because it’s the type of arsenic associated with long-term health problems, like skin, bladder, and lung cancers and heart disease. Unfortunately, this is the type of arsenic found in rice.
The good news about arsenic in rice is that there are ways to make rice part of a healthy diet. Inorganic arsenic levels vary by type and by growing region. Here are some tips on avoiding arsenic when you do eat rice:
·         Brown rice absorbs more arsenic than white. If you don’t know what variety of rice you’re getting or where it’s from, white rice is the better option.
·         Jasmine or basmati rice are lowest in arsenic, and they’re available at many grocery stores.
·         Eat rice from North India, North Pakistan and Nepal. These regions have soil that’s less likely to be contaminated with inorganic arsenic.
·         There’s one exception to the brown rice ruleBrown basmati rice from California, India or Pakistan is the lowest-arsenic rice option available.
You can also cook your rice to remove most of the arsenic. Soaking, rinsing, and cooking with five parts water to every one part rice reduces the arsenic levels significantly.


Of course, the best way to protect yourself from arsenic in rice is to eat a variety of other grains, so you’re only eating rice occasionally. Here are some great alternatives to rice for your next meal!

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1. Quinoa

Quinoa isn’t technically a grain – it’s a seed! But when we cook and eat it, we treat it like a grain. It’s a nutritional powerhouse. Like brown rice, you cook two parts quinoa with one part water, and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed. Just be sure that you’re choosing quinoa that’s grown and harvested ethically. Learn more about quinoa and get some delicious quinoa recipes here.

2. Noodles or Orzo

Pasta may seem like a strange alternative to rice, but it actually works well in a lot of places where rice would be a fit. Let these Easy Peanut Noodles convince you to replace rice with pasta next time you make a stir fry or other Asian-inspired dish. There is a sushi place here in Atlanta that makes a roll using whole wheat soba noodles instead of rice, and it’s really delicious! If you are missing the texture of rice, orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, is a great way to feed that craving.

3. Amaranth

Amaranth is a whole grain that’s similar in taste and texture to quinoa, but it’s actually even healthier. You cook amaranth using the same 2:1 ratio that you use for brown rice, so like the grains above, you can generally substitute it one-to-one in recipes. If you’re new to cooking with amaranth, try these Red Lentil and Amaranth Protein Patties or check out this guide to cooking amaranth.

4. Barley

You’ve probably had barley in a hearty mushroom soup, but it’s a much more versatile and healthy grain than it gets credit for! It’s lower in calories and much higher in fiber than brown rice, and it’s higher in many vitamins and minerals, too. Barley needs a bit more water to cook than brown rice does – 2 1/2 cups per cup of grain. If you’re substituting barley in a soup or stew, up the liquid accordingly. Try barley as your grain next time you make a batch of roasted vegetables, or try one of these delicious barley recipes!

5. Wheat Berries or Kamut

These hearty whole grains are more chewy than brown rice and work great in soups, stews, and grain salads. Both are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These hearty grains use a lot more water than brown rice – around three cups of liquid per cup of grain – so you can either reduce the grain or up the liquid in your recipes to accommodate.  Learn how to cook kamut here, and try out this Kale & Wheat Berry Salad or this Kamut Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing.

6. Bulgur

Bulgur is another whole grain that works great in place of rice in soups and stews. Like brown rice, you cook it in two parts water to one part grains. It’s also a great addition to your veggie burgers. Bulgur is a great binder, meaning that it helps create veggie burgers that don’t fall apart so easily. You’ve probably already had bulgur in tabbouleh, but you can also branch out and add it to your next grain salad or anywhere else that you’d use brown rice.

7. Couscous

Couscous is a very tiny pasta that’s great in salads or as a base for a Buddha bowl, and it cooks up in minutes. There are whole-grain couscous options out there, but you may have to do some searching to hunt them down. Try this crunchy couscous salad to add a little couscous to your day! If you prefer a larger-grain, you’ll love Israeli couscous. It’s a plump, round pasta that’s lovely in salads or tossed warm with your favorite cooked veggies. This fresh Couscous with Mango and Cucumber salad is a great jumping-off point!

8. Cauliflower

Cauliflower instead of rice might sound weird, but don’t knock it until you try it! Cauliflower rice is just cauliflower shredded up into small pieces, giving you a rice-like texture. You can buy riced cauliflower at many grocery stores, or you can do it yourself at home. The easiest way to make riced cauliflower is to use a stand-up cheese grater.  A small head of cauliflower will give you about two cups of cauliflower rice. The exact amount you get will depend on the size of the cauliflower and how big your rice grains are. Try this Power Bowl recipe, starring spicy cauliflower rice, or use it just like you would leftover rice next time you’re making fried rice at home.
Image Credits: Quinoa and Tabbouleh photos via Thinkstock, Noodles and Barley images by Becky Striepe, Amaranth and Kamut photos by Andrea Bertoli, Couscous photo via Relish, Cauliflower Rice image via A Virtual Vegan. All used with permission.

Research aims to improve rice processing and reduce waste

By Rick Pendrous+Rick Pendrous
Last updated on 07-Apr-2017 at 09:44 GMT2017-04-07T09:44:51Z
The research into rice processing could help to tackle food waste and nutritional problems
Food waste during rice processing and poor nutrition in parts of the Indian population could be tackled, after Sheffield Hallam University was awarded £400,000 to undertake research to help support economic growth in rural communities.
The university’s National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE) is one of 13 industrial and academic partners in India and the UK involved in the £1M project funded by Innovate UK ­– the government’s scientific research funding body ­– aimed at improving rice processing and rice waste minimisation in India.
Success in this project would place the UK at the forefront of rice processing capability, as well as significantly improving the economic situation of those involved in rice growing and rice milling at a local level in India, the researchers claimed.
Optimise rice milling
The project aimed to optimise the rice milling process with innovative technology in order to reduce rice breakage – and therefore waste. It wanted to develop new uses for rice bran and rice husk, which were currently two major waste products from the milling process.
By addressing these challenges, it was anticipated that the project would develop a lower energy milling process that would reduce rice broken during the milling process from 28% to 8%. It also aimed to increase total rice output by up to 12%, resulting in an additional 10.6Mt of rice production every year in India, using significantly less energy.
The project would also investigate the processing of rice bran into nutritious food ingredients, providing potentially 7.72Mt of additional food, and the processing of rice husks into 5Mt of rice husk ash for building materials.
An overall aim of the project is to improve health outcomes of the Indian population by increasing the nutritional quality of rice output in India, where 65% of the population derive 40% of their daily nutritional intake from rice consumption.
Problems of malnutrition
It was hoped that the nutritional properties of rice bran could help tackle the problems of malnutrition, since phytonutrients  – chemicals that provide health protection– in rice bran help with blood sugar control, enhanced immune system function and cholesterol reduction. Researchers will produce a higher specification of bran by-product for use in high protein and fibre-rich food products for the local and national population.
In addition, the project will investigate the opportunities to recycle rice husk into ash with high silica content for the manufacture of sustainable materials for the construction industry.
“This research has the long-term ambition of helping to solve two serious issues in India ­– food waste and nutrition,” said Martin Howarth, director of the NCEFE.
“At present, there is a lot of wastage in rice harvesting and milling in India and other rice growing regions in the world. This project aims to review and improve this process in order to create value and function from rice husk and bran.”
Project aims
• Develop a lower energy milling process
• Increase total rice output by up to 12%
• Process rice bran into nutritious food ingredients
• Process rice husks into ash for building materials