Monday, April 10, 2017

10th April,2017 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Pakistan donates rice to assist drought affected people


COLOMBO: The Government of Pakistan has donated 10,000 metric tons (MT) rice to assist people who were affected by the drought.
The inauguration event was held under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat on Friday.
Pakistan High Commissioner of Sri Lanka Maj Gen (r) Syed Shakeel Hussain offered rice donation symbolically to the President Maithripala Sirisena during the event.
Sri Lanka received 7,800 metric tons of rice in the initial stage of receiving 10,000 metric tons rice from Pakistan. Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan also presented at the event.


Rice traders need govt support to arrest declining exports

KARACHI: Basmati rice exporters are in dire of government’s support in form of incentives or rebate as the country’s premier commodity is fast loosing its global market share to neighbouring India, said an industry official. 
“Annual Basmati rice exports, which stood at one billion dollars four years back, have now shrunk to $550 million (a year) as the commodity is becoming uncompetitive against Indian and Bangladesh products,” Tariq Ghori, director of Matco Foods, marketing rice under brand name Falak, told The News. 
Matco Foods is a leading agribusiness and its basmati rice exports amounted to $80 million so far during the fiscal year.
Rice exports fell 15 percent to $1.033 billion during the first eight months of the current fiscal year. Particularly, Basmati exports decreased 17 percent to $249 million in the July-February period of 2016/17.  
Ghori, during the 14th My Karachi Exhibition at Expo Centre, said the government announced incentive package to boost basmati rice exports, but it is not yet implemented. 
He said government also announced credit risk insurance four years ago and it is also on paper. “Governments of India and Bangladesh greatly support their exporters and producers,” Ghori said. “Indian government provides credit risk insurance to their basmati exporters.”
Matco Foods is showcasing its wide range of products at the exhibition along with its flagship brand Falak. The brand launched in 1999 with a vision to make it the premier rice brand in Pakistan. Falak basmati rice is also available in 45 countries.  
Ghori said Pakistani rupee has not depreciated since long, while currencies of neighbouring countries lost value against the dollar. 
Rupee devaluation is in benefit of exporters as they earn good value for their exports. 
Appreciative rupee, he added, rendered Pakistani commodity uncompetitive against the competitors.
The industry official is, however, not in favour of rupee depreciation to arrest exports decline.  
“Pakistan’s imports are more than double than the exports and devaluation of rupee is not recommended,” he said. “However, if government provides four to five rupees a dollar rebate on basmati rice exports, it would have a quick positive impact.

BRRI develops three new rice varieties

City Desk

Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) has developed three new high yielding rice varieties, two inbred and one hybrid, which are suitable for Aman season.National Seed Board (NSB) on Wednesday approved release of the three rice varieties -- BRRI dhan79, BRRI dhan80 and BRRI hybrid dhan6, a BRRI press release said yesterday.
BRRI dhan79, a flash flood-tolerant variety, has yield potential of 7 tonne per hectare,  BRRI dhan80 -- a premium quality rice variety -- can provide 4.5-5.0 tonne per hectare yield if it gets proper care while the yield of BRRI hybrid dhan6 is 6-6.5 tonne per hectare.

New varieties of rice named after Bouterse

PARAMARIBO--Two new rice varieties that have been developed at Suriname’s Anne van Dijk Rice Research Center ADRON have been named after President Desi Bouterse.The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries LVV reported that the presentation of ADRON DDB 1 and ADRON DDB 2 took place at the ADRON headquarters in District Nickerie, on Friday, April 7. In attendance at the ceremony were LVV Minister Soeresh Algoe, Zoning Minister Roline Samsoedin and Defence Minister Ronni Benschop.
LVV stated in a press release that ADRON DDB 1 and ADRON DDB 2 have extra-long grains – respectively about 10.6mm and 11.5mm. The rice plants reach a height of approximately 108cm and 115cm and they have strong stems, which prevent them from toppling. The plants also have high resistance against sicknesses and pests, particularly a fungus sickness that plagues rice plants. “These varieties can produce up to eight tons per hectare, which is more than the varieties we currently harvest at five tons per hectare,” LVV stated.
The release said that both ADRON and Minister Algoe have high expectations of ADRON DDB 1 and ADRON DDB 2; “a variety that produces more means an increase in export and thus more income for Suriname.”
The release did not explain why the new rice varieties were named after President Bouterse and if the researchers considered the characteristics of the new, taller plants with their tougher stems and longer grains, to be the President’s characteristics.
Ironically the presentation took place at the same date and time that in Paramaribo thousands of protestors had taken to the streets to voice their disagreement with Government’s mismanagement; many want President Bouterse to step down. The 70-year-old former army sergeant who was Suriname’s military leader in the 1980s, was re-elected as President in 2015, but his second term in office has been marred by an obstinate crisis that has held the economy in a headlock since the beginning of 2016

Furrow-irrigated rice may save more than dollars and cents

Father-son team finding row rice can save on wear and tear on equipment, rice producers.
Forrest Laws | Apr 07, 2017
Mike Sullivan with one of the fields of furrow-irrigated rice he and his son, Ryan, grew on Florenden Farms near Burdette, Ark. in 2016.
For some rice farmers, the decision to try furrow-irrigated rice may come down to a question of water availability or expense. For Arkansas producers Mike and Ryan Sullivan, the issue was trips across the field.
That figures into expenses, as well, but it can also result in a lot of wear and tear on producers and their employees – the challenge of having to do something over and over again with no reasonable expectation of it getting easier.
That was one of the primary factors in Ryan Sullivan’s decision to try furrow-irrigated or row rice after hearing Louisiana rice producer Wendell Minson discuss the concept during a presentation at the National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference in Baton Rouge, La., in 2015.
“Levee gates, levees and all that manual labor is one of the struggles we have on our farm,” says Ryan, who operates Florenden Farms with his father, Mike Sullivan, near Burdette in northeast Arkansas. Ryan Sullivan 
joined the operation after graduating from Arkansas State University in 2015.
The Sullivans rotate rice with soybeans on the 13,000 acres they farm in the northeast Arkansas Delta near Burdette. That creates a cycle of building up the 38-inch beds for twin-row soybeans, tearing them down, constructing levees for rice, smoothing out the ruts after rice harvest and building the beds again.
Build levee – repeat
“There’s not very much rice behind rice so every year we were having to do all this field work,” he said. “It was just a tradition that when you cut the rice you had to knock the levees down; you had to work the ruts out and do all the things you had to do to get the land ready for next year.
“When I heard Wendell speak about furrow-irrigated rice, it just clicked that maybe we could grow rice without all that field work,” said Ryan, who was a speaker at the 2017 National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference.
The younger Sullivan included a video shot from an unmanned aerial vehicle or drone showing one of the 80-acre fields where the Sullivans grew row rice in 2016. (To watch the video, click on
The ease of transitioning from one year to the next may be the biggest advantage for row rice on Florenden Farms.
“The way that it fits into our system is the last trip before that drill (to plant the row rice) there was the combine cutting the beans,” he said, referring to a photo of a tractor pulling a grain drill to plant rice across a field of 38-inch beds.
Two trips saved and more
“In the field beside it, our comparison field, after we cut the beans, we ran a scratcher, a field cultivator, and a Kelly Diamond to smooth it out behind that to get it ready to plant rice. So that’s already two trips we saved on this row rice field.”
Then there’s building the levees after the rice is drilled. “In our kind of dirt, you can’t put up a good strong levee with less than five trips (with a levee plow). It’s just gumbo clods, and it takes that many times to get a good levee built. That’s a big deal for us in that you’re not having to do all those trips across the field when you’re putting up levees. There’s also no more harvesting in the mud.”
Eliminating the levee gates in conventionally planted and flooded rice also reduces the amount of manual labor.
Sullivan settled on drilling the rice at an angle to the rows to help with the down pressure on the drill, which, in turn, helps provide better coverage of the seed. “It probably depends on the soil, but this worked better for us.”
The father and son use the Delta Plastic Pipe Planner software program on all their fields, including the row rice. They punched a hole for each 38-inch row middle in the furrow-irrigated rice to make sure they put out enough water. (They water ever other middle in the soybeans planted on the 38-inch beds.)
Pushing water to the end
“We were able to put a deep enough flood on the young rice on that .10-of-an-inch slope with the furrow system,” he said. “The water covered all but the top 25 percent.”
As they do on most of their rice, the Sullivans applied a standard rate of Roundup and 16 ounces of Command behind the grain drill on their row rice fields. Because of cold temperatures and the slow emergence of the rice, a week later they applied two ounces of Sharpen.
“That was to try to hold the pigweeds back,” he noted. “That’s what we put out before the rice came up. Then we came back with half a pound of Facet and another 8 ounces of Command before we applied the flood.” (To learn more about herbicides in row rice, click on
Rice growers usually don’t worry about Palmer amaranth in their rice bays because the pigweed won’t come up in the flood water.  “In a traditional environment, you just flood them out – that’s what I’ve always been taught.”
The situation is different in row rice, and Sullivan is hopeful researchers like Bob Scott, University of Arkansas Extension weed scientist who appeared on the program with him at the National Conservation Systems Conference, can provide some answers about controlling Palmer amaranth in a low-flood environment.
Heaven for pigweeds
“The top end of the field in row rice is just staying muddy,” he said, showing a photo of an 18-inch pigweed that put out new roots after it was pulled up in the field. “So you can’t flood them out. This environment is heaven for them.”
The Sullivans received a five-inch rain after they applied the 2 ounces of Sharpen pre-emergence “so I’m not sure how much activity we actually received from that application.”
Sullivan said he applied slightly more water (40 acre inches compared to 36 acre inches) and made one more herbicide application (the 2 ounces of Sharpen) in the furrow-irrigated rice vs. the comparison field (in which he used alternate wetting and drying).
Nevertheless, the furrow-irrigated rice had lower costs ($336.14 an acre compared to $369.70 an acre for the more conventional rice) and produced more revenue ($635.00 an acre vs. $609.30 an acre) than the alternate wetting and drying field they compared with the row rice.
“We did not get much assistance from rainfall in this first year of row rice,” he said. “That figure for irrigation water (40 acre inches) might seem alarming, but more normal rainfall conditions probably would help offset the water usage.
“And I think might have used too much water. We applied the water each time it started looking dry,” he said. “We had soil moister meters in the research projects on our farm, but we didn’t use them this first year. I think we can use less water with closer management of the furrow-irrigated vs. flood-irrigated rice.”
For more on the costs of furrow-irrigated rice, click on

Rice imports stir cabinet conflict

posted April 09, 2017 at 12:01 am by John Paolo Bencito
ANOTHER conflict in President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet emerged on Saturday after a dismissed Malacañang executive claimed top agricultural officials are pretending there is a rice shortage to pave the way for a government-to-government importation that would be detrimental to Filipino farmers.
Dismissed undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Valdez of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary accused Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and NFA Administrator Jason Aquino of simulating a rice shortage so they could push through with a government-to-government (G2G) importation deal.
“In their desperate attempt to convince the President to resort to G2G, the Agriculture Secretary, who has been meddling on the functions and affairs of the OCS, and the NFA administrator have made it appear as if there is a shortage of rice in the country, causing alarm and possible upward movement in the prices of commercial rice,” Valdez said in a statement. 
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol
Valdez, who was sacked by Duterte last Wednesday for overturning Aquino’s denial of rice importation through private channels, accused Piñol of meddling in the affairs of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, who chairs the National Food Authority Council. 
“The DA’s function is to ensure that there be sufficient agricultural produce from our local farmers, but he probably does not know the meaning of his position, and has been excessively busy tinkering in other offices,” she said, referring to Piñol. 
“It is not for them to evaluate the rice stock of the country. It is a function given by law to the NFAC and the National Food Security Committee,” added Valdez, who was first appointed by former President Benigno Aquino III. 
Valdez claimed she was just implementing a decision of the NFA Council when she overturned
Aquino’s decision not to allow the private importation of rice under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme.
“Private-led importation, such as MAV, does not only spare the government from spending and incurring additional liabilities, but would even benefit therefrom since taxes and duties have already been deposited to the government coffers,” she said. 
The Manila Standard tried but failed to reach Piñol and verify whether there are ongoing talks on immediate G2G rice importation he earlier said in a Facebook post that private importations have been rejected in favor of G2G transactions for future rice importations. 
Piñol also suggested that there could be “monetary considerations” in connection with MAV importations. 
“This led to the circulation in the rice industry of rumors of monetary considerations as the reason behind the conflicting positions taken by Aquino and Valdez,” Piñol wrote. “The controversy did not sit well with the President who also told me that the rumors of the ‘P50 per bag’ consideration also reached him.” 
But Valdez insisted that Aquino was pushing for the G2G importation of one million metric tons of rice. 
“He who claims to be the ‘protector’ of our local farmers, has been insisting on a G2G undertaking to boost the NFA’s buffer-stock, instead of procuring palay from our local farmers, despite the fact that harvest season has already begun,” she said. 
“Why don’t you buy that palay from our farmers since the NFA has P4 billion for that?” she asked Aquino.
“The NFAC thinks that it is not yet the right time for a G2G. The issue on importation is all about timing,” she added.
In the same statement, Valdez also accused Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go of blocking their communications and appointments with Duterte. 
“All the decisions, resolutions, actions and memoranda of the NFAC and that of the OCS have been duly forwarded to the President. Yet, as a matter of protocol, all these documents and communications have to be coursed through the Office of the Special Assistant to the President [OSAP].”
“The NFAC members have also long been requesting for a dialogue with the President, again, through OSAP. This leads us wondering, how come Jason Aquino and Emmanuel Piñol, were able to get direct access to the President, when the CabSec [Evasco] has been trying to get through the President from the gatekeeper [OSAP], but to no avail?” she said.
She said that this request, “along with the documents submitted by the OCS, which were personally handed down by CabSec to the head of OSAP, have either failed to reach the President or have been tampered.”
During the Cabinet meeting last Monday, a source said Duterte questioned Evasco why agencies under his supervision—the NFA, NIA, PCA and the HUDCC—were all “problematic.” 
But Evasco denied the claim, saying: “There was no question made by the President regarding these agencies,” he told the Manila Standard

Rice in the time of EJKs: Why PH crop should make headlines

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:00 AM April 09, 2017
Philippine heirloom rice at Madrid Fusion Manila. —Nina Daza Puyat
How do you tell the world about how beautiful the Philippines is? Here’s a unique way: Tell them about the produce of our land.
If Colombia is known for coffee and Venezuela is known for cacao, what is the Philippines known for? It certainly shouldn’t be corruption or extrajudicial killings.
I was told that once upon a time, we were known for our rice. In fact, agriculturists the world over came to the Philippines to learn how to achieve better production of rice from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Today, however, we are only the eighth largest rice producer in the world. Worse, in 2010, we became the largest importer of rice in the world.
But in spite of these statistics, the Philippines can still be known for its rice. How? By virtue of the unique rice varieties that our lands offer.
Heirloom rice
According to Agriculture Undersecretary Berna Romulo Puyat, there are over 300 varieties of heirloom rice in the Cordillera region alone. Puyat, since becoming part of the Department of Agriculture, has been going to the Cordilleras, where she has gotten well acquainted with indigenous varieties such as Chong Ak, a plump, rust-red and seed-coated variety.
Have you even heard of this variety? Don’t worry, not even some of our best chefs have.
So Puyat, who is in charge of the “regional lunches” for Madrid Fusion Manila (MFM), made the largest gastronomy festival in Asia a platform to promote Philippine rice. (The first day’s lunch with the theme “Rice” was curated by Inquirer/F&B Report’s Angelo Comsti, the second day was curated by Nina Daza Puyat, and the third day was curated by Town & Country’s Alicia Colby Sy.)
The result has been a journey of discovery for both chefs and non-chefs.
Chef Miko Aspiras, speaker at Madrid Fusion Manila 2016, was elated with what he discovered when he created rice dishes for the MFM first day lunch. One of the items he created was sourdough made with fermented black rice.
“Imagine, we did not use yeast,” he said excitedly. “Fermentation of the black rice was our leavener.”
Aspiras, working with chefs Peachy Juban and Kristine Lotilla, wowed audiences at the regional lunch by creating an “edible wall” with three desserts using rice: A mochi lollipop using Kalinga Apayao heirloom rice and puffed Mountain Province violet rice; a cookie feuille using heirloom brown rice; and an empanada with kiping (a leaf-shaped wafer made of rice paste that is a signature of Lucban, Quezon) made using four varieties of heirloom rice including South Cotabato black rice.
The three pastry chefs also created an interactive art installation featuring 22 desserts using Philippine rice, of course, including varieties of kakanin, and a horchata ice cream using roasted black rice.
These are things that excite chefs who, in turn, excite tourists who want to try their creations.
Rene Redzepi even went so far as to move Noma, four times named World’s Best Restaurant, to Mexico to discover exciting new produce to play with. Bibo in Madrid by Dani Garcia presents Peruvian ceviche to its customers, talking about the use of tiger milk as if they had known it all their lives.
Then the chefs and restaurants around the world become ambassadors of the countries whose products and cooking techniques they use.
That is the importance of Madrid Fusion Manila (brought to Manila by Madrid Fusion/Lourdes Plana, Arum Estrategias’ Inigo Cañedo and Mielle Esteban, and the Philippines’ Department of Tourism).
And Berna Romulo Puyat gets it.
If the international chefs who come here pick up on our products, they should go home talking about “this great Philippine rice from Ifugao called Tinawon” or “this rice that is purple in color from the Philippines’ Mountain Province.”
Madrid Fusion Manila was held from April 6 to 8 at SMX. Congratulations to Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Department of Tourism (DOT) Director Verna Buensuceso and the rest of the DOT team and private partners Marisa Nallana, Joel Pascual and Jing Lagandaon for a successful Madrid Fusion Manila for the third year in a row.

Punjabi thumkas spiced right

By Swathi Nair  |  Express News Service  |   Published: 01st April 2017 04:15 AM  | 
Last Updated: 01st April 2017 04:15 AM 

BENGALURU: With a truck full of absolute ‘chataakedaar’ surprises, Dhaba by Claridges at Indiranagar will titillate the spice craver in you and leave you with a warm feeling of ‘ghar ka khaana’. Also, if you are lucky like me, you might even witness a flash mob by the staff on Bollywood chartbusters.
Despite the menu sporting dhaaba food, the lip smacking dishes and cocktails are anything but street side and is definitely up in style and Punjabi flavours. Chef Shivam Bose introduced us to the menu that included Paneer Tikka, Veg Galouti and Tandoori Bhune Aloo as starters for vegetarians. For mains, you can pick from Dal Dhaba, Paneer Makhani and Amritsari Chole along with choice of two breads from the menu between Roti, Butter Naan, Lachha Paratha and Naan.
For non vegetarian starters, choose from Highway Chicken Tikka, Tawa Mutton and Tawa Chicken. For the mains, pick from Butter Chicken, Rarra Ghost, Kadhai Chicken and Dal Dhaba along with choice of two breads from the menu between Roti, Butter Naan, Lachha Paratha and Naan. For sweet endings, go for some rabri, gulab jamun and phirni.
For the Chaat Flavour
If you love chaat flavours, I would recommend you to order  Tandoori Bhune Aloo and Paneer Tikka. The paneer cuts through smoothly and is tempered very well with spices. The Bhune Aloo are roasted baby potatoes, tossed in spices and served beautifully with onions and tomatoes. Two of my favourite things – potatoes and tomatoes – put together with roasted flavours and tempered with chaat. Was I a happy woman? Damn, right.
While I have heard of Galouti Kebab, I had always perceived as a non vegetarian dish. But here, thanks to chef Shivam, I got a taste of its vegetarian version, where just like the meat one, the vegetable is minced to smoothness through slow cooking, flavoured with cinnamon and black cardamom and placed over a maida crispy base. The galouti is buttery smooth and the base adds the crunch to this dish.

The non-vegetarian version of the galouti had lamb minced and cooked to buttery smoothness. The chef definitely earned respect on the dinner table having cooked the meat so well. The effort of the kitchen and its use of technique shows beautiful with this starter.
Be it the medium rare Mutton Seekh, the Amritsari Machli or vegetarian starters, the kitchen at Dhaba by Claridges has got its flavours and cooking technique right on the money.
The Chitta Butter Chicken is served with white sauce. Flavoured in kasoori methi, this dish is cooked in tandoor with the marination of hung curd and spices. The meat is well cooked and bursts of zesty flavours.
The Balti Meat is the house’s signature dish, which steals inspiration from the famous mutton curry of dhaba. The curry has all the flavours of a Punjabi house kitchen. Although the gravy looks spicy, at no point do any of the favours overpower the centre-piece sticking out of the bucket serving bowl – the mutton.
The Tawa Mutton Pulao has flaky Basmati rice that is tossed in spices and tempered with spices that you will find in any Punjabi kitchen. The dish is light on the stomach and has a fresh mint garnish with well cooked meat pieces. If you are a rice fanatic, do give this one a try.
Gujju Dreams Come True
Being a Gujarati, I had to ask for the Kadi Pakora, and boy, was I impressed. The thick curd-flour consistency, flavoured well with turmeric and spices, served with pakoras drenched in the gravy won my heart. I definitely missed home a little less with this preparation that is famous across North India.
While there’s so much to talk about the food, one place where Dhaba by Claridges proves its versatility is the cocktails. They are all flavoured with chaat spices and my God, are the one of the most impressive mixes I have had so far

Atul Bora appeals scientists to improve local rice varieties

 JORHAT, April 9 - Participating in the 52nd annual rice group meeting at the Jorhat-based Assam Agricultural University (AAU), State Agriculture Minister Atul Bora on Sunday appealed to the agricultural scientists of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Indian Institute of Rice Research and the university to conduct extensive research for the value addition of the local varieties of rice including aromatic Joha rice and black rice.
Several scientists and researchers of different rice research institutes of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and agricultural universities and many other officials of the Central government’s Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) participated in the annual rice group meeting, which was held for the first time in the State since the All India Rice Improvement Project was launched in 1965.
Pointing out the significance of such a symposium in the State, minister Bora said that extensive research, analysis and series of discussions by the ever-curious minds on the local varieties of rice will definitely help in the improvement of quality of the varieties of rice from which the farmers of the State will reap more economic benefit in future.
“I am happy to inform you that our State is one of the top 10 rice producing States of the nation. Last year, we produced 52 lakh metric tonnes of rice and this year our expectation is to have a paddy harvest of around 75 lakh metric tonnes,” said Bora.
He also said that despite the massive attacks by swarming caterpillars in the paddy fields of the State, the farmers could harvest a considerable quantity because of the prompt action by the government in the nook and corners of the State.
As one farmer of the State namely Upendra Rabha of Goalpara district has already set example of earning better profit from black rice cultivation, the Agriculture Minister specifically mentioned his success story which could encourage many other farmers of his locality.
It is to be mentioned that the ICAR felicitated five farmers of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur and one woman farmer of the State Nabanita Das for their exemplary farming patterns and innovative skills for promoting low-cost cultivation.
Nabanita Das of Jorhat has already encouraged many women and unskilled youths of rural pockets like Potiagaon of the district to start organic farming for economic benefits.
As the scientists of the Regional Research Station (Titabor) of the Assam Agricultural University has made commendable progress in the improvement of many submergence tolerant rice varieties, the vice-chancellor of the university, Dr Kamal Malla Bujarbaruah, applauded their scientific efforts for the common benefit of farming community.

Duterte launches ‘Masaganang Ani 200’; aims zero import on rice

Staff Report Published: April 7, 2017
Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Emmanuel Pinol said under the launch of “Masaganang Ani 200″, the Philippines will able to stop rice importation, which, he said is economically pulling down the country’s food strategy.
“Masaganang Ani 200 is our best option,” said Pinol. “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.”
“The truth is we can’t just depend on other countries,” he said, adding that, “We don’t know when the next typhoon will come or when the next El Nino will hit us.”
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) noted that as of 2014, traded rice stood at 42 million MT.
Without such strategy, he said the country risks food shortage when “the name of the game will be the highest bidder (when rice volume slims) like in 2008 when price shot up to,200 per ton.”
Pinol said DA will organize service providers that will allow farmers’ use of equipment like tractors, transplanters and combine harvesters.
With the limited fund, DA cannot just give these away to farmers but a service provider will make adequate supply of these needs


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No shortage of essential items during festive season – Ministers 

As the Sinhala and Hindu New Year season loomed closer, top Ministers in charge of economy and trade jointly stepped out to the marketplace yesterday (7th April), quelled consumer market fears and debunked speculations of any looming shortages. They also promptly re-assured the Lankan consumers of uninterrupted food, commodity and essential supplies during the forthcoming New Year season.
“We find that there are more than enough supplies of all essential items. Rice stocks have increased and sufficient stocks are now available in the market for the next two months” announced Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen yesterday in Pettah market, Colombo. Minister Bathiudeen was speaking to the press after his inspection tour of retail and wholesale distributors of Colombo wholesale market epicentre at 5th Cross Street, Pettah, joined by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake. The unannounced inspections were facilitated by the powerful Essential Food Commodity Importers and Traders Association (EFCITA) on the directions of President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Cost of Living.

“In fact rice is sold less than government’s MRPs in this open market. Here we found a kilo of Nadu at Rs 68 and white rice at Rs 60 at wholesale prices. We can assure that there will be no shortages. There are attempts by some errant traders and market manipulators to cash in on season’s demand. They are spreading false rumours of shortages, to hike prices during the season. They are errant and legal action will be taken against such violators, if detected.”  

“We are here on the instructions of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. As you can see with your own eyes, there are no shortages. The stories of shortages are rumours and are spread by unscrupulous elements” voiced Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

Spokesman of EFCITA Hemaka Fernando said that unscrupulous elements are trying to cash in on the season by creating artificial shortages, which is illegal. “What Minister Bathiudeen just said is correct-in that there are stocks of all essential items lasting more than two months in the country. Also wholesale prices are much lower. For example, we expect sugar price to increase as the season gets closer, but this year, sugar prices are falling. A kilo of sugar which was at Rs 103 last week today only sells at Rs 98.”

Speaking on the health and quality of imported rice, Fernando asked how it could be so and alleged certain elements and some local millers behind this. “Unscrupulous elements including some rice millers have created fear about imported rice saying its harmful which is false-every grain of rice commercially imported to Sri Lanka is inspected closely by Customs, along with phytosanitary and fumigation certifications. Only imported rice entering our market has such strong certifications. How can such rice be harmful to health?”
The items identified by the government as “essential” are chicken meat, red dhal, designated rice types, sprats, chick-peas, green grams, canned fish, white flour, white sugar,  full cream milk powder,  B onions, potatoes, dried chillies, dried fishes, Maldive fish and Sustagen.

We’re importing rice but our dream remains

Published April 8, 2017, 12:05 AM
The lean months for rice in the Philippines traditionally start in July and end in September. Last March, there were signs that the summer rice harvests may not be able to reach the targets set by the National Food Authority (NFA). Palay farm-gate prices had already reached P18 to P20 per kilo, higher than the government’s support price of P17.
Thus the NFA officials – the top central office executives and the regional directors – held an emergency meeting and called for the immediate importation of half of the 500,000 metric tons of rice for the year. This first half of 250,000 tons should be here this month from our traditional suppliers in Thailand and Vietnam. These must be immediately transported to provinces with critical inventory levels.
At the start of the new Duterte administration, Secretary of Agriculture Emmanuel Pinol reiterated the national goal of self-sufficiency in rice. The country was able to achieve this for a brief period during the Marcos administration with a program called “Masagana 99” but it was short-lived in the face of a fast-increasing national population and typhoons that damaged rice crops year after year.
The previous administration of President Aquino was able to develop several new high-yielding rice varieties to replace the old ones traditionally used in Philippine farms. There were flood-resistant rice varieties for planting in areas prone to floods and typhoons. There were drought-resistant varieties for other areas with little water supply.
The Duterte administration has launched a new initiative – giving farmers more irrigation facilities and providing them free water. For this purpose, a P2-billion fund was included in this year’s National Budget to cover the funds usually collected by the National Irrigation Administration from farmers.
But the key to modernizing Philippine agriculture is believed to be farm mechanization and Japan has agreed to help the Philippines in this area with a P1-billion aid program which will initially cover 10,000 hectares.
With these initiatives – new high-yielding rice varieties, free irrigation, and farm mechanization – we should be able to make a good start this year on realizing our age-old dream of rice self-sufficiency for our country.
But not quite yet. We will still have a rice shortage this year, for which the NFA has already called for the immediate importation of 250,000 tons of rice. We are likely to follow up with a second importation of 250,000 tons later this year. But our dream of self-sufficiency is brighter then ever with the initiatives that are now being taken by the Department of Agriculture and Secretary Pinol

Price rise of rice and Bangladesh Bank
OVER the last two months prices of different varieties of rice have unusually increased by 20 per cent in retail markets when harvesting of winter paddy has concluded. Usually, during this period of the year price level of rice is the lowest in the year. 

 The fact is that large rice millers have received huge amount of short-term loans from agriculture banks and commercial banks. They used the money to hoard rice and reduce supply in the market. On the other hand, it was just the reverse during the last decade when Bangladesh Bank (BB) instructed all banks to recover such loans within a month. Magically the price of rice started coming down within a week. The central bank should be asked to repeat the same measure to protect the interest of the common consumers.

Md. Ashraf Hossain

8/A, Ramna, Dhaka-1000.