Saturday, April 15, 2017

15th April,2017 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Vietnam's rice exports continue to face challenges

Karachi-Basra twin city agreement to ease visa issues

Amanullah Khan
Ambassador of Iraq in Pakistan, Dr. Ali Yasin Mohammed Karim has underscored the need of having twin cities agreement between Pakistan and Iraq by either declaring Karachi and Basra or Karachi and Najaf or any other city as ‘twin cities’ which would not only help in dealing with visa issues but will also pave way for bringing people more close to each other and enhance trade. Exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Iraqi Ambassador added that declaring any city in Iraq and Karachi as twin cities will be an important step as there will be no visa issue and the people will be able to move freely between the twin cities without visas.
President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Younus Soomro and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present on the occasion. The Iraqi Ambassador further said that some factories including 18 cement manufacturing factories were available in Iraq but they were not working properly as compared to Pakistan’s advanced industrial units and infrastructure.
“As factories in Iraq need improvements, therefore the private and public sectors of Iraq and Pakistan can undertake joint ventures in all the sectors of the economy. We prefer private sector’s joint ventures which are quicker as compared to joint ventures at public sector level”, he added. The Iraqi Envoy said that currently Iraq was mostly buying goods from China, India and some other countries whereas Pakistan can also enhance its share and efficiently compete with Chinese and Indian products through quality control.
“Four months ago, Iraq imported hundreds of tons of rice from India and the first shipment of Indian rice was good but the second shipment was 100 percent rotten, which discouraged Iraqi importers. Subsequently, the Iraqi Embassy in Pakistan was asked to find anyone who could export rice to Iraq.
This trade inquiry was forwarded from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to all Chambers of Commerce in Pakistan but nobody has answered us yet”, he added. To a query regarding trade opportunities in Iraq, Dr. Ali Yasin stressed the need for frequent meetings between Karachi Chamber and Chambers of Commerce in Basra, Baghdad or Najaf in order to explore trade opportunities not just in the fabric market but also in other sectors as Iraq requires almost everything so the business community of Karachi should not confine itself to fabric market only.
Commenting on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Iraqi Ambassador said that Iraq was considering to establish gas terminals at Port Qasim and Gwadar worth billions of dollars. “With CPEC many ports in the region will be paralyzed and Pakistani will be a rich country whereas most of the Pakistanis residing abroad especially in the Gulf region will return to their homes”, he added Earlier, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, while welcoming the Iraqi Ambassador, said that with improved law and order situation and upon completion of CPEC and Gwadar Port, this region is likely to attract substantial amount of foreign investment from different parts of the world whereas Iraq can also benefit from the situation by investing or undertaking joint ventures in Pakistan, particularly in Karachi

GAO Report Confirms USAID Using Cash More Than Commodities; More Flexibility Likely Unnecessary  

WASHINGTON, DC -- Earlier this week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan agency known as the "supreme auditor" for the federal government, released a report evaluating food aid oversight and implementation. The report honed in on the additional budget flexibility granted to the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Food for Peace program that was provided in the 2014 Farm Bill.  This allowed USAID to spend as much as 20 percent of their budget in an unrestricted manner - up from 13 percent.  This has resulted in more money going into cash and vouchers as opposed to being spent to directly purchase U.S. commodities.  This was the first review since the bill was implemented into how USAID is applying the additional budget flexibility.

After reviewing the report's findings, House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) offered a statement indicating that it confirmed his suspicions:  "USAID has used the vast majority of its new authority on cash, vouchers, and [Local and Regional Purchases] - modalities not previously authorized under [the Food for Peace program]."

Conaway added, "Not only does this report solidify my concerns about USAID's ability to monitor the use of cash and vouchers overseas, but also that demands for even more [budget] flexibility are premature."

USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward shared similar concerns, saying, "I think this report bolsters our argument for maintaining or reducing the amount of cash and vouchers that USAID can use through food aid programs, clearing the way for in-kind donations of American-grown commodities, like rice."

Ward added, "Chairman Conaway is right, it's premature for USAID and the implementing organizations to ask for additional flexibility to use cash and vouchers, purchasing food from our competitors overseas, when they aren't even using all of the flexibility of funds they've been given."

But preserving the in-kind commodity shipments are not the only challenge ahead.  

Ward said, "In recent months, our critical food aid programs have been put on the chopping block by the administration and appropriators in proposals to curb federal spending.  So it's important that we continue to share the valuable success stories generated through these programs over the years."

USA Rice continues to call for additional food aid shipments of nutritious, U.S.-grown rice and now for the industry-developed fortified rice.  In January USA Rice led the effort to send a letter to President Trump asking for the prioritization of American-grown in-kind commodity contributions through international food aid programs. 

California Rice Growers are Model of Environmental Stewardship

April 13, 2017

Understanding Water Usage For California Rice Growers

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster
The amount of rain California received in March has put a hold on rice planting.  In a normal year, California rice growers would be finishing up their fertilizer regimen, getting ready for their April planting.  Luis Espino, a UC Cooperative Extension Farm advisor in Colusa County, explained that the wet weather has caused many farmers to push back their planting schedule.  “We had a lot of rainfall, so the ground is pretty soaked. There are some areas that are still flooded; they still have water in the field. It’ll be a while before tractors can get in there, but I’m guessing that as things dry out, things should start moving soon,” Espino said.
Photos Courtesy of Matthew Sligar of Rice Farming TV
After five years of drought conditions, California finally had a considerable amount of rainfall over the winter months.  Available water supplies are at a much better level than they were in recent years, but there is another aspect that could hurt rice planting this season.  “There’s been a good winter, so they’re going to have enough water to plant acreage as they would on a normal year. What’s not helping is the price of rice. It’s a little too low, and so that might hinder some of the plantings,” Espino said.
The California rice industry is a model of environmental stewardship, working closely with regulatory agencies and conservation groups to ensure that rice production improves wildlife habitats while promoting sound management of water resources.  The rice industry has faced quite a bit of scrutiny over the past few years because of misconceptions regarding flooded rice fields.  It is important to understand that the water used to flood rice fields has more than one use and eventually goes back into the water cycle.  “There is a constant flow of water coming into the field and then leaving so that water is going back to the canal, going back eventually to the river and so it does get recycled,” Espino said.
Rice production in the state has changed remarkably over the past 50 years, with improved varieties, increased yields and improved marketability.  With water on the minds of many Californians, Espino explained some of the reasons why rice fields are flooded for planting.  “It can produce biomass and grain when the field is flooded. Maybe more important than that is the fact that water functions as a herbicide. By having water on the field, you have a way to suppress weeds from growing,” Espino said.
Aside from a small percentage of water being lost to evaporation, most of the standing water in rice fields stays in the overall water cycle.  “The water used in rice fields – before it gets back to the river – is used four times, so in four different fields,” Espino said.

EU’s stringent norms to hit basmati rice exports

The European Union’s stringent norms bringing down tolerance level for tricyclazole in basmati rice imports are likely to severely hit exports of grains from India. Tricyclazole is a fungicide used to protect the crop from a disease called ‘blast’.

New Delhi | Published: April 14, 2017 2:47 AM
India is the leading exporter of the basmati rice in the global market. (PTI)
The European Union’s stringent norms bringing down tolerance level for tricyclazole in basmati rice imports are likely to severely hit exports of grains from India. Tricyclazole is a fungicide used to protect the crop from a disease called ‘blast’. The EU may bring down the Maximum Residue Limit for tricyclazole to the default level of 0.01 parts per million. Currently, the level approved by the EU is 1 parts per million and level in Indian consignments are much lower. “We are trying to convince EU… even the current level of tricyclazole do not pose threat for consumer’s health and the level is much lower than 1 parts per million,” a senior government official said.
India is the leading exporter of the basmati rice in the global market. The country exported 4.05 million tonne of basmati rice worth `22,727 crore during 2015-16. Of the total exports, around 0.38 million tonne worth `1,930 crore were to EU, according to the data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.
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India exported 2.92 million tonne of basmati rice during April-December in the current financial year, out of which 0.26 million tonne were shipped to EU, the data showed. “95% of the exports would be affected… but we are trying our best so that we can get extension,” a leading exporter said.
The EU is likely to make an announcement regarding this in July. Usually, the norm becomes applicable after six months of the announcement. “For basmati rice, we have got a margin up to a year. So, by the end of calendar year 2018, we can export… we are talking to the members of the EU bloc” the exporter said.
Some officials, however, believe that basmati rice exports to EU would not be affected. “Basmati rice exports to EU would not be down… its just that the cost of testing would increase…The level of tricyclozone varies, its not the same,” an official with APEDA said.
India accounts for over 70% of the world’s basmati rice production. Basmati rice constitutes a small portion of the total rice produced in India

Dining Out: Basmati of Annapolis provides elegant, leisurely dining

Basmati serves Indian dishes from their restaurant on Soloman's Island Road in Annapolis.
Richard WadeCorrespondent
Whether you like your Indian cuisine hot - or not so hot, Basmati customizes it for you. See the video and pho
I've decided that most of us do not spend enough time eating. Too often, we grab something for breakfast on the run, have a quick lunch and gobble dinner by the warming glow of a television screen. Ever notice what's on at dinnertime? News and game shows.
That's why I like a good Indian restaurant – it slows you down.
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And, Basmati is a good Indian restaurant. Tucked in the center of a small strip of stores on Solomons Island Road near the Annapolis Harbor Center, the bright, warm décor and comfortable booths and tables invite lingering.
Nothing on the menu will surprise you. If you love Indian cuisine, all your favorites are there. If you are new to its pleasures, there is much explore: 15 appetizers; a dozen selections from their tandoor, the cylindrical oven used in Asian cooking; and chicken, lamb, seafood, rice and vegetarian entrée choices that number more than 50.

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Basmati serves Indian dishes from their restaurant on Soloman's Island Road in Annapolis.
 (Joshua McKerrow)
Many regions and styles of cooking will leave you with a fine sense of the diversity of the Indian palate. The flavors are complex, deep and often spicy. It takes a bit of time to appreciate them.
With so many curries and assertive herbs and spices at work that give the food its distinctive character, many diners are wary. But, the restaurant's chefs and servers are quick to ask about and adjust the level of heat.
Your meal is served as it might be at a family table. Rice in one bowl, meat or vegetables in an aromatic sauce in another encourages sharing. There is a rhythm to a leisurely meal and Basmati's serving team catches it beautifully.
Our hungry quartet found a platter of four meat samosas ($13.90) a comforting starter. The crispy pastries, filled with ground lamb and peas subtly seasoned, emerged from the kitchen hot and with nary a trace of cooking oil. Other appetizers feature many vegetables, kabobs and fritters, all light and sharable.
Chicken Biryani ($16.95), Chicken Curry ($16.95) Chicken Patia ($17.95) and Shrimp Tikka Masala ($20.95) were the evening's entrees.
With its mild flavor, chicken is a perfect stage for the savory sauces of Indian cooking. Chicken Biryani adds marinated chicken to Basmati rice flavored with a sauce of saffron and herbs. With a little salad on the side, it was a winning meal on a chilly night.
Curries can be powerful eating and the diner who ordered it requested "hot."
"Are you sure?" our waiter calmly asked.
And hot he got.
My sample of his meal yielded very tender chicken bathed in a very hot sauce that happily did not overwhelm or hide its bracing mix of herbs and spices. Chicken Patia showed off the menu's lighthearted side with a sauce dominated by mango and ginger. With just a hint of sweetness and the bite of fresh ginger, it was a surprisingly smooth combination.
Salmon, shrimp, and lobster prevail among the seafood options, but Chef Paramjig Sharma also offers a salute to the Chesapeake Bay with crabmeat simmered in a creamy sauce featuring tomatoes and herb. The large, very fresh shrimp in my Shrimp Tikka Masala stood their ground in the "medium hot" sauce of butter and spices to produce a rich combination of flavors that actually were heightened by the heat.
With sauces so central to Indian food, bread becomes something more than a basket of carbs on the table. Naan, poori, bhatura and paratha are baked at Basmati and, as at every Indian restaurant, are points of pride. They come in many varieties, flavored with garlic, cheese and more and are the perfect ways to ensure that every drop of a sauce is consumed.
Fortunately, desserts at Basmati stick with the Indian way of light elegance. Kulfi, the traditional ice cream of pistachios, almonds and rosewater, is a refreshing lift, as is Kheer, a comforting rice pudding. New to the menu is a Punjabi Gajar (carrots) Halwa … a treat that will remind you of just how sweet carrots can be.
Our dinner for four at Basmati lasted nearly two hours. There are many restaurants where a two-hour meal would indicate slow service. For us it was a couple of hours of relief from the fast pace of the day and the news of the world – real and fake.
Basmati slows you down – and that's a good thing.


WHERE: 2444 Solomons Island Road, Annapolis
PHONE: 510-266-6355
HOURS: Lunch Buffet: Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday Noon to 3 p.m.
Dinner: Sunday through Thursday 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday through Saturday 5 to 10:30 p.m.
CHEF: Paramjig Sharma
1st COURSES: $4.95 to $14.95
ENTREES: $13.95 to $32.95
CREDIT CARDS: All Major Cards

“This discovery removes the scientific basis for Colombia’s current import restrictions,” USA Rice COO Bob Cummings said. “Colombian officials should now take this evidence from their own study and move forward to remove the restrictions.”
End in Sight for Colombia's Restrictions on U.S. Paddy
By Deborah Willenborg / USA Rice Federation
It’s been a long journey with too many delays, but the government of Colombia looks close to removing longstanding import restrictions on U.S. paddy. Colombian plant health officials have acknowledged to their U.S. counterparts that the fungal disease Tilletia Horrida is present in Colombia. The presence of this disease in U.S. rice country has been used as an excuse by Colombia to restrict imports of U.S. rough rice to only the port of Barranquilla and processing in surrounding mills, and to require fumigation of the cargo before shipment.
“This discovery removes the scientific basis for Colombia’s current import restrictions,” USA Rice COO Bob Cummings said. “Colombian officials should now take this evidence from their own study and move forward to remove the restrictions.”
U.S. officials have told USA Rice that Colombia will review and revise the import regulations on U.S. paddy, with estimated completion this summer.
 “The U.S. rice industry will continue to support and assist U.S. officials in Washington and Bogota in what we see as the final push to open fully the market in Colombia as soon as possible,” concluded Cummings.
Since the enactment of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, Colombia has emerged as a consistent and strong market for, primarily, U.S. long grain milled and paddy rice. Sales in 2016 were 139,985 MT valued at $58.2 million. The trade agreement provides for an increasing amount of U.S. rice to enter Colombia under annual duty-free tariff rate quotas (TRQ) until Colombia’s import duties phase out completely in 2030. In 2017, 98,448 MT of U.S. rice can enter duty free; rice imports over that amount pay an 80-percent duty.
As an added benefit, state rice research boards receive one-half of the revenue received from auctioning off import licenses under each year’s TRQ. In 2016, more than $13 million was distributed to the six rice states to support research.

Vietnam's rice exports continue to face challenges

Source: Xinhua   2017-04-14 12:53:03
HANOI, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Vietnamese rice exports continued to face numerous challenges in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017 when the country has seen its rice exports sharply plunging since 2013, local media reported on Friday.Official statistics showed that in the 2009-2013 period, Vietnam was among the world's three biggest rice exporters. In 2012 in particular, Vietnam surpassed Thailand to become the world's top rice exporter with over 7.7 million tons.
However, since 2013, the country's rice export volume has been on the downward trend, posting the seven-year low in 2016 with nearly 4.9 million tons of rice sold abroad.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), in Q1, Vietnam shipped around 1.28 million tons of rice to the world market, earning 566 million U.S. dollars, down 18.1 percent in volume and 17.3 percent in value year-on-year.
The Q1 average rice export price hit 426 U.S. dollars per ton, down 1.6 percent year-on-year.
The decline in Vietnam's rice exports was blamed on the decrease in its key traditional markets, including China and the Philippines, reported local Vietnam Economic Times (VET) on Friday.
Although China is seen as the "salvage" for Vietnam's rice exports, and it continued to top Vietnam's rice importers, Vietnam saw negative signals in rice exports to China in Q1 as China lifted its rice standards imported from ASEAN countries, including Vietnam.
Accordingly, since Jan. 1, 2017, only 22 Vietnamese companies have been qualified to export rice to China.
In addition, Thailand is discharging its rice inventory, which has lowered global rice prices, while the Philippines, one of the key markets of Vietnamese rice, recently announced that it would stop rice imports to protect the domestic production, said the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) on local CaFeF online newspaper on Friday.
Addressing the possible inventory of Vietnamese rice amid the sluggish market situation and the current peak harvest time for Winter-Spring crops in the country's southern Mekong Delta, VFA has urged local firms to develop the domestic market by building high-quality rice brands to meet with demands of domestic consumers as well as reduce the export pressure.
To facilitate the rice branding, VFA proposed the Vietnamese government to reduce the value added tax imposed on local firms from five percent to zero percent in the next 5-7 years, reported VET

Vietnam’s rice export prices stable despite concerns over quality

Overseas demand for Vietnamese rice remains thin even after the country exported less in the first quarter. Rice export prices extended its upward trend in India on a stronger rupee, while Vietnam rates were stable amid a subtle market on low demand, traders said on Thursday. In Vietnam, the world’s third-largest rice exporter, market was quiet also because of unattractive prices amid worries over rainfall affecting grain quality. “Abnormal rain in some harvesting areas has affected rice quality, but not too seriously,” said a Ho Chi Minh-based trader.

Prices of the 5 percent broken rice stayed nearly unchanged at $350-$355 a ton, free-on-board (FOB) Saigon, which were less competitive than Thai prices, traders said. Vietnam’s rice exports are expected to plunge 23.9 percent annually to 1.19 million tons 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. In India, the 5 percent broken parboiled rice prices rose by $7 per ton to between $382 and $387 a ton this week, as gains in the rupee forced exporters to raise prices despite sluggish demand. “Export demand is very weak, but we have to raise prices to offset the impact of a strong rupee,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The rupee has risen 5.6 percent so far this year, and is trading near its highest level in 20 months. A strong rupee trims returns of exporters. “In local market.