Thursday, April 20, 2017

20th April,2017 daily global,regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Inadequate paddy, poor electricity crippling Katsina rice millers

By Idris Mahmud, Katsina | Publish Date: Apr 20 2017 12:00AM

A Rice mill at Funtua, Katsina State
Poor electricity supply as well as inadequate supply of paddy rice has been identified as the major challenges facing the newly established rice mills in Funtua area of Katsina State, Daily Trust can report.Some entrepreneurs have established the rice mills in Funtua to cue into the local rice value chain in the state.In December 2015, Daily Trust reported how local rice millers in Katsina State cried for modern machines that would make their product well refined and polished to compete favourably with foreign brands in the market.
The manager, SB Rice Mill, Unguwar Dahiru in Funtua, Malam Abubakar Yusuf, said apart from electricity, there was low supply of the paddy rice, especially from the month of February.

“Because there are no established rice irrigation sites in this part of the state, our supply declines from February, when we exhaust the one planted in the rainy season. We then have to travel to Niger, Kebbi and Sokoto states to source for the paddy rice,” said Malam Abubakar.He added that though they sold the milled rice at N15,000 per 50kg, they were also virtually rendering milling services to outsiders who came bring paddy rice to be killed for the market or for home consumption.

A 100kg bag of paddy rice, according to Malam Abubakar, was milled at the rate of N1,600 but if the client preferred to parboil the rice himself, the company would only charge him N1,000 for milling and packaging.
He emphasized that parboiling of the paddy rice was the cornerstone of quality milling hence, they would soon purchase the mechanised boiler in the firm.A local rice miller from Mahuta, Funtua LGA, Nasiru Muktar, said the proliferation of the modern milling machines was a welcome development, adding that now there are not less than four milling plants in Funtua and its environs.

“The modern millers are adding quality and value to our locally produced rice at a low cost. Poor electricity supply is our constraint as sometimes we hardly get our rice milled on time to meet the demand of our markets,” said Nasiru.According to him, a quality bag of paddy rice when milled and sieved gave 18 measures (tiya), “but sometimes our unreasonable appetite for foreign products is making our customers to shy away from the local rice especially at the price of N800 to N900 per measure.”

Another local rice miller in Kafur Local Government Area, Abdulsamad Isiyaku Layin Baja, told this reporter that in the absence of irrigation site for rice cultivation, they relied on Makarfi, in Kaduna State, and Niger, Kebbi and Sokoto states for their supply of paddy rice.“In order to meet our optimum capacity in rice production, there is need to speed up the establishment of the Jare dam in Bakori LGA so that we have enough water to cultivate rice all year round like Kebbi State,” Isyaku said.

He commended the Katsina State government for its pledge to provide them with modern milling machines for rice and wheat, adding that it would upgrade their business and boost revenue generation of the state.

This is the staple cereal millions eat every day as their source of carbohydrates. Rice has also been a controversial commodity since I can remember and has again become a item of concern in our national life with the issue of maintaining the status quo of only the National Food Authority having monopoly of rice importation or allowing the private sector to import rice. We do need to educate ourselves on the current situation toward making our own conclusions.
The economists are inclined to allow the private sector to invest in importing the rice that we need. Mr. Cielito F. Habito in his column No Free Lunch wrote “We should have long ago permitted the private sector to import the commodity subject to an import tariff that sets domestic prices to wherever we want it, balancing the interests of farmers and consumers. Not only would we stop government coffers from bleeding due to the NFA's perennial losses from its commercial operations (P167 billion at last count); it will actually gain substantial revenues from the tariff on rice imports, that can then be used to help our rice farmers raise productivity, and lower costs. But first we have to put aside the obsession with producing all our rice ourselves, until such time that we can produce it at the same costs our neighbors do.”
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Peria told reporters during the Duterenomics Forum “The stand of the economic team is timely rice importation because it's not possible, at least in the near- to medium-term, to be [rice] sufficient,” Asked if economic managers preferred private or government-to-government importation, Pernia, who heads state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, said it should be the private sector. “With private sector importation, the government does not spend. If it is government-to-government, it adds to the debt of the NFA, which is already P211 billion,” added Pernia, referring to state-run National Food Authority, the agency mandated to stabilize both the supply and prices of rice. So we know one side of the coin. Prudence dictates that we need to listen to the other side.
Let us end with a reminder that we need to do our share of what needs to be done with the following anecdote. A guy named Joe finds himself in dire trouble. His business has gone bust and he's in serious financial trouble. He's so desperate that he decides to ask God for help. He begins to pray... "God, please help me. I've lost my business and if I don't get some money, I'm going to lose my house as well. Please let me win the lotto." Lotto night comes and somebody else wins it. Joe again prays... "God, please let me win the lotto! I've lost my business, my house and I'm going to lose my car as well".  Lotto night comes and Joe still has no luck. Once again, he prays... "My God, why have you forsaken me?? I've lost my business, my house, and my car. My wife and children are starving. I don't often ask you for help and I have always been a good servant to you. PLEASE just let me win the lotto this one time so I can get my life back in order." Suddenly there is a blinding flash of light as the heavens open and Joe is confronted by the voice of God Himself: "Joe, meet Me halfway on this. Buy a ticket."

Much ado about imports

Posted on April 20, 2017

When we need more food than our country can efficiently produce, our option is to import or buy food from abroad. And, given our current population of more than a hundred million, the Philippines obviously need to import a lot of food. While we produce much of our own food, we do not produce enough to cover all our immediate and future needs.


World Bank data put Philippine food imports, as a percentage of total value of merchandise imports, at over 12% in 2015. Just a decade ago, in 2007, food was just around 7% of imports. But, from 2008 onwards, this has been at the 11%-12% range. I am uncertain as to what prompted this increase, but I guess trade policies have something to do with it as well.

Food imports cover food and live animals; beverages and tobacco; animal and vegetable oils and fats; oil seeds, oil nuts, and oil kernels, among others. These include food items for direct consumption as well as food ingredients used in food processing or manufacturing. Demand spikes coupled with tariff cuts and deregulation, among others, can lead to more importation.

Recently, we have seen a number of “changes” in food import policies. These revisions impact on our supply of goods like rice, fruits, meats, and sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. It remains unclear to me why the government chooses to fiddle with these policies now, although justifications have been stated.

One is inclined to believe that limiting imports temporarily “protect” local producers, which is not necessarily a bad thing in terms of promoting self-sufficiency. However, such protection, other than perhaps being in breach of international trade commitments, may also be encouraging inefficient and thus expensive local production -- to the detriment of consumers.

What confuses me is the seeming inconsistency in policies. An example is the importation of sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup or HFCS, which is used as an alternative to sugar in food and beverage production. Sugar farmers as well as the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) want HFCS imports strictly and heavily regulated and taxed because they dampen sugar prices.

But, this move raises concern over at the Department of Agriculture (DA), which wants a win-win approach that also protects the interest of soft drinks makers that use HFCS as a cheaper sweetener. Instead of supporting limits and tariffs on HFCS imports, DA instead negotiates for an increase in the sugar purchases of soft drinks makers, to appease sugar producers.

To date, the matter is in court, with beverage makers questioning the legality of SRA’s order in February that regulate HFCS imports. The Senate has also started its hearings on the issue, but with no clear solutions or resolutions in sight.

What is confusing to me is that DA Secretary Manny Piñol does not seem to see any harm in allowing the unregulated importation of sugar substitutes like HFCS, despite its adverse impact on the sugar industry, but takes a different stand when it comes to the importation of fruits, meats, and rice, and other farm products.

Last November, Piñol revoked all the licenses to import farm products like fruits and meats, to fight smuggling and the “recycling” of licenses. He also centralized at DA the issuance of new licenses. “All the legitimate importers will come to the office and I will personally make sure that I will check all import permits that will be issued again,” he was quoted as saying.

Piñol has also taken a stand against rice imports, which President Duterte himself had recently said should be shunned in favor of supporting Filipino rice farmers. DA’s Piñol has also been opposed to the National Food Authority (NFA) plan to negotiate government-to-government purchase of rice from countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

The presidential decision to stop all rice imports, however, does not sit well with economists and trade experts from the Foundation for Economic Freedom or FEF, who said that “stopping all rice importation as... Piñol wants is a dangerous policy that could lead to significant shortages and increased rice prices.”“The country has never been and is not self-sufficient in rice production. Stopping rice imports... will put upward pressure on rice prices and will lead to significant hikes in rice prices and worsening of hunger and poverty,” FEF said in a press statement.

“Allowing only the [NFA] to import rice is also the wrong policy. The government is a poor judge of the timing of rice imports. Typhoons can hit the country at any time and destroy rice crops. Neither is the government equipped to respond quickly to a rice shortage given the bureaucratic procedures in government. A delay in importing rice will lead to significant spikes in rice prices and make rice more unaffordable to the poor,” it added.

It also raised concern that if NFA would negotiate the government-to-government purchase of rice, then there would be no “competitive bidding.” Thus, “the NFA decisions to buy rice and to contract the logistics to deliver the rice are opaque and can be a source of rampant graft and overprice. Moreover, the NFA will incur more debt to finance the importation.”

The government, FEF added, should “remove the NFA monopoly on rice importation and liberalize the rice trade.” Rather than stopping imports, as Piñol wants, it said the government could instead impose tariffs or import duties, and using the tariff revenues to help rice farmers either to shift production to higher-value crops or to increase productivity.

I support the FEF call, for now, and suggest broadening the recommendation to cover even the importation of sugar substitutes like HFCS and other farm products like fruits and meats. In the case of HFCS and other sweeteners, SRA should be allowed to regulate their importation and to impose tariffs on them, and use the tariff revenues to assist the sugar industry to become more efficient and productive.As for imported fruits and meats, unless we have sufficient local production, we will need to import additional supplies to keep prices low, and if only to meet the needs of our people. But, all imports can be imposed on tariffs as well, and these tariff revenues can also fund projects relating to enhancing agricultural productivity and efficiency.

Our improved ability and capacity now to import cheaper food from abroad does not mean we should completely abandon local production. Even if self-sufficiency seems far-fetched, we should still target higher efficiency and productivity to achieve some degree of substantial sufficiency, and then match this with importation to meet all our food requirements.

Ultimately, if temporary tariffs now can help the government fund projects that address food production and supply bottlenecks, and local food production eventually becomes more than sufficient to meet the needs of our growing population, then imports will naturally diminish over time. Self-sufficiency may not be the goal, but it can be the future consequence of what we do now.

Marvin A. Tort is a former managing editor of
 BusinessWorld, and a former chairman of the Philippines Press Council.



Higher yields driving rice output in Bangladesh

April 19, 2017 - by Eric Schroeder
"Post contacts indicate that planted area for rice will rise to meet staple food demand and to avoid switching crops during the monsoon season.”

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Rice production in Bangladesh is expected to increase 0.4% to 34.7 million tonnes in the 2017-18 marketing year, driven by higher yields in the region, according to an April 13 report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Meanwhile, planted area for the country is forecast down 0.3%, to 11.7 million hectares, on lower Boro and Aus rice planted area, the agency said.

“Farmers are reportedly switching to more profitable crops like maize, potato, jute, pulses and oilseeds,” the USDA said. “Nevertheless, Post contacts indicate that planted area for Aman rice (planted in July/August and harvested in November/December) will rise to meet staple food demand and to avoid switching crops during the monsoon season.”

Rice imports for 2017-18 are forecast at 125,000 tonnes, up from 100,000 tonnes in 2016-17, on expectations of better pricing from regional suppliers, the USDA said.

“Bangladesh importers and rice millers have requested the government of Bangladesh (GOB) reduce import tariffs to ensure adequate domestic supplies, but the GOB believes domestic supplies of paddy rice in the wholesale market still are sufficient,” the USDA noted in the report. “Sources indicate that the spread between high domestic prices and lower international prices is great enough that importers are still netting profits despite the high import tariffs. Bangladesh primarily imports rice from China, Thailand, and India, with India being the largest supplier in recent years.”

Wheat is the second most important food staple in Bangladesh after rice, and wheat planted area and production for the 2016-17 marketing year were revised to 415,000 hectares and 1.27 million tonnes, respectively, according to the USDA. Assuming favorable wheat conditions, the agency said the 2017-18 wheat crop is forecast to reach 1.3 million tonnes from 420,000 hectares. The wheat blast outbreak that dissuaded some farmers from planting wheat in the 2016-17 is not a factor in the upcoming crop season, the USDA said.

Bangladesh fulfills approximately 75% of its wheat consumption needs through imports, sourcing lower quality wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and higher quality wheat from Canada, Australia and the United States. In the 2016-17 marketing year, Bangladesh’s wheat imports were about 5.7 million tonnes, up 21% from the prior year behind record low prices in the international market and comparatively high prices in the local market. The USDA noted that wheat imports in the 2017-18 marketing year are forecast to increase to 5.9 million tonnes, driven in part by changing food consumption habits, fast urbanization and expected lower prices in international markets

Duterte risks political capital with drug war: The Economist editor

Posted at Mar 09 2017 08:12 PM
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte risks ‘wasting’ his political capital by focusing solely on his war on drugs, Jon Fasman, Southeast Asia bureau chief for The Economist magazine said Wednesday.The President should also actively push for his plans to reform the tax system and rebuild the country’s infrastructure, Fasman said.


NFA chief seeking costly rice imports

After ditching a proposal to buy more locally grown palay from Filipino farmers, state-run National Food Authority (NFA) now wants to import higher-priced commercial grade rice varieties from Vietnam and Thailand.
A document obtained by The Manila Times showed that NFA Administrator Jason Laureano Aquino had asked President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval for the importation of some 1.3 million metric tons (MT) of rice for this year.
The proposal includes the immediate utilization of a 250,000 MT standby authority before the onset of the lean season, and another 1 million MT for the remainder of the year.
The rice to be imported are 5 percent and 15 percent broken varieties, which are more expensive compared with the 25 percent broken rice varieties previously imported by the NFA.
“In line with our concerted effort to improve the NFA’s fiscal position, we have come up with a comparative cost estimates on importing higher grade rice varieties to include the 5 percent brokens,” Aquino told President Rodrigo Duterte in a letter.
Aquino also told the President that the importation of the 5 percent broken rice variety would have a positive impact on the NFA’s financial condition, considering that it could be sold at a higher price.
A source privy to the matter said that 5 percent and 15 percent brokens would directly compete with commercial rice, making NFA buffer stocks too expensive for poor Filipinos.
“This proposal went straight to the President. It bypassed the NFA Council, which gives recommendation for the timing and volume of rice to be imported,” the source said.
With less than three months before the start of the lean season, Aquino in an earlier statement said the government needed to secure an additional 490,800 MT or 9.8 million bags of rice as part of its food security program in preparation for calamities.
Aquino had stressed that the only way the NFA could fill the deficit in its rice buffer stock requirement was through importation, preferably a government-to-government (G2G) deal. The NFA administrator’s order was directly against President Duterte’s order to prioritize local palay procurement.
“Much as we would want this additional stock to come from local produce, we cannot compete with the private traders who are offering prices much higher than the government’s P17/kilogram support price,” Aquino said in a statement.
NFA’s field monitoring shows that traders are buying palay from the dry season harvest at an average of P18-P20/kg across the country.
The proposed purchase of 5 percent and 15 percent brokens, however, will cost the government P26.27/kg and P25.47/kg, respectively.
Double mandate
The NFA was formed in 1972 with the goal of protecting the interests of both rice producers and consumers. Its two primary mandates are to stabilize the price of rice and to ensure food security.
The price stabilization mandate means that the NFA tries to influence prices on two fronts. At one front, it must support palay farmers. At the same time, it must also ensure that the price of rice is low enough for consumers.
Over the past two years, the NFA has relied massively on cheaper imported rice to replenish its buffer stocks since it could not compete with private millers and traders in buying locally grown palay.
Buying rice from abroad cuts the agency’s spending on buying and milling locally grown palay, and it can earn more and slash losses by selling to consumers at higher prices.
Under the new proposal, however, buying higher-priced rice from abroad for buffer stocking while limiting local palay procurement will effectively contradict the grains agency’s mandate.
‘Acts unauthorized’
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio B. Evasco Jr. earlier accused Aquino and the NFA Deputy Administrator Ludovico Jarina of making a cash cow out of government-led rice importations.
Documents sent to reporters showed that Aquino may have conducted backdoor negotiations for rice purchase agreements with both Vietnam and Thailand.
“Aquino with his deputy were given travel authorities mid-March this year by the Office of the President to go to Thailand to attend the Asean Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve conference. Backdoor negotiation is believed to have taken place during this period,” a document said.
The “negotiation” is believed to be beyond the scope of authority of the NFA and superseded the function of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which should have negotiated on behalf of the NFA Council.
“Such acts of the administrator are unauthorized. It is the NFA Council, the governing board of the NFA, that has sole authority to determine if there is a need to import or not. It appears that Aquino has already made up his mind that the NFA will definitely import via G2G,” the document stated

‘Unli-rice’ and our state of mind: Beyond the rice importation controversy


MUCH has been said about the rice importation controversy at the National Food Authority (NFA) which led to the firing of Cabinet Undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Valdez.The controversy has become a divisive issue among some members of President Duterte’s official family. Charges of meddling, corruption and rent-seeking filled the air.
Contrary to what is being painted, the controversy is not about whether to import rice or not, for that is a given, considering that rice production, even in a bumper crop year, cannot fully meet the domestic demand for rice. What is at the center of the controversy is what modality is to be adopted, as well as the timing.

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco and Valdez, supported by majority of the NFA Council, argue for the extension of the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme granted to private importers, which has been until recently the modality for importing rice. It is a scheme that is in compliance with our World Trade Organization commitments, and where private importers are allowed quotas to import rice which will then be sold in the open market.On the other hand, NFA Administrator Jason Aquino and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinolare pushing for a government-to-government (G2G) rice importation scheme, where NFA will directly procure rice from other countries, and then hold this in NFA warehouses for distribution during times of calamities, or when prices need to be stabilized. They are wary of the existence of rice cartels which are in control of both rice importation and distribution in the country. Their intent is to defend the local farmers by ensuring that they get a fair price that can compete with imported rice.
G2G, however, according to its critics, invites the risk of inflation, as it can drive up the prices of rice that could hurt consumers, even as it requires government spending, whereas MAV can shift the burden to the private sector, and could even earn revenues for the government from taxes paid by the importers.

The controversy dramatizes the fact that rice has become so politically explosive. Since it is the staple food of Filipinos, an increase in prices, while not affecting demand considering that it is relatively price-inelastic, will nevertheless hurt ordinary people. But on the other side of the equation is the welfare of the farmers who are forced to compete with cheaper imports from countries that provide subsidies to their farmers like Thailand and Vietnam. To make things worse, they are at the mercy of traders who buy their rice cheap but sell them at higher prices. And as if this were not enough exploitation, these rice traders are also the rice importers who take advantage of cheaper imports that compete with local rice grown by our farmers.This is the reason why the President, who is known for his pro-farmer stance, sided with Aquino and Pinol, and fired Valdez.

The move of the President to temporarily halt the importation of rice by refusing to extend the MAV is a means to assure our rice farmers who had a bumper crop the income that they deserve. This is also firing a warning shot at rice cartels and their enablers in government.But in order to address the issue in a manner that is both beneficial to farmers and consumers, as well as sustainable in the long run, we need to have a reality check.Even with a modernized agriculture, and robust state support, rice farming may still be seriously challenged by geographic and demographic realities. We need to examine if we really can achieve rice self-sufficiency. We have over 100 million mouths to feed, yet we are an archipelagic country with smaller flood plains. We do not have river systems such as the Chao Phraya River in Thailand, and the Red and Mekong Rivers in Vietnam that can provide stable sources of irrigation water. Our growing population also forces conversion of agricultural lands. Our being an archipelago also adds cost to transporting rice from production areas to other islands. Added to this is our vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change.

This brings us to the more fundamental aspect of the problem. Rice has become so central in our imaginations. It has become a state of mind that is created by a dominant lowland Filipino cultural template. Yet, there are areas in the country where people eat other staples, such as corn and root crops.We also have an “unlimited” rice culture, even as food outlets usually refuse to serve half or quarter servings of rice. These practices lead to a lot of wastage. In fact, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) estimated that 36 percent of the rice imports in 2011, or the equivalent of 308,000 tons, was wasted. This translates to daily losses of P23 million, and an annual loss of P8.4 billion, enough to feed 4.3 million people.It’s about time we contemplated a massive cultural campaign to consider other staples to reduce demand for rice, and to do away with “unli-rice” to minimize wastage

Farmers’ Q1 income rises to P73B

By Jed Macapagal
April 20, 2017
Farmers’ aggregate income increased by as much as P24 billion in  the first quarter of the year owing to the positive impact on farm gate rice prices of the President’s decision to defer a proposed rice importation, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).Emmanuel Piñol, DA secretary, estimated the aggregate income of rice farmers for the first quarter at P73.08 billion, citing the current buying price of paddy rice by traders has gone up to a high of P21 per kilo, an increase of P7 to P9 per kilo from the previous seasons.

Piñol said the income estimate is based on a net harvest of 3,480,086 metric tons (MT) during the first quarter. The DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute’s Philippine Rice Information System monitored a total rice harvest of 4,142,960 MT during the first quarter, but factored in a post-harvest loss estimate of 16 percent. “That is a P24.38 billion increase in the income of the rice farmers for the first quarter alone because of President Duterte’s directive to defer rice importation until after the harvest season,” Piñol said in a statement.

He added  the rise in farmers’ income would eventually impact positively the gross domestic product. “All the goods that the financially empowered rice farmers buy are produced by other Filipinos or even imported thus creating a ripple effect on these sectors as well,” noted Piñol.“At the end of it all, a better income for the agriculture and fisheries sector means lower poverty in the countryside which in the long run will lessen the migration of people to the big cities, which in the longer run will help decongest traffic and avoid the construction of more skyways and other infrastructure to address the overpopulation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Piñol reacted to reports based on analysis by some economists that the President’s rice importation policy could result to higher prices. He said this is an effort by unscrupulous businessmen and companies to pressure the government to agree to import rice during the harvest season and depress buying prices for rice. 

He added that rice traders who manipulate prices to lower the buying price from farmers are the same entities that import rice. In the past years, he said, importers and traders would import rice during the harvest season to create an oversupply scenario in the domestic market. “In the past, when rice importation was made at peak harvest season, traders would use this as an excuse to drop the buying price of paddy rice from a high of P20 per kilo to only P14 or even P12,”Piñol said.

PhilRice machines cut farmers’ labors costs 

APRIL 19, 2017
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) on Wednesday said it will commercially roll out next year two farm machines that would reduce farmers’ labor costs by at least 20 percent.
PhilRice said a machine it developed called a hand tractor mounted multipurpose seeder (MP Seeder) could reduce farmers’ labor cost by around 20 percent to 30 percent.
“It hastens the planting process. Normally, laborers finish the job by at least one whole day, but with the MP Seeder, farmers can finish planting for half a day,or even as fast as three hours,” Engr. Eden Gagelonia, lead engineer of the MP Seeder, said  in a news statement.
“Aside from rice, it can also plant mungbeans and corn seeds in dry pulverized soil, and later, cover the seeds with another layer to protect them from birds and rodents,” Gagelonia added.
The MP Seeder is attachable to local hand tractors with a ride-on operator for mechanical, dry, direct seeding for rainfed areas, according to PhilRice.
The attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) also developed a Hydrous Bioethanol Fuel-Feeding Device (HBFFD), which could power small agricultural machines using alternative fuel.
“It can power microtillers, power tiller haulers, micromills, water pumps, pump boats and other machines operated by gasoline engine,” said Engr. Alexis Belonio, lead engineer of the device.
He said the HBFFD utilizes bioethanol fuel, which can be extracted from sugar-rich crops such as nipa, sugarcane molasses, acacia fruit and pineapple peels using a bioethanol fermentation and distillation facility, according to PhilRice.
“With our depleting supply of fossil fuel, the use of bioethanol technology is a cost-efficient system because our farmers can now produce and use clean alternative fuel from their farm resources at the least cost,” Belonio added.The two new farm machines were developed by PhilRice in partnership with the Bureau of Agricultural Research, another attached agency of the DA.

Louisiana Congressman Meets with Local Rice Millers

USA Rice Daily, Wednesday, April 19, 2017

By Carrie Castille

From left: Ann Stone, Congressman Higgins, Robert Trahan, and Bobby Hanks

RAYNE, LOUISIANA -- On Monday, Congressman Clay Higgins and his in-state staff met with the CEO's of three southwest Louisiana rice mills and USA Rice staff while he was in the district.  Congressman Higgins said the goal of the meeting was "to listen and learn more about the Louisiana rice industry."

Ann Stone of Farmers Rice Mill, Bobby Hanks of Supreme Rice Mill, and Robert Trahan of Falcon Rice Mill attended the meeting and emphasized the critical importance of the rice milling and manufacturing industry to the economic viability of Louisiana.  They discussed the opportunities that rice exports provide in supporting the economic health of Louisiana's farmers and millers and explained how the industry benefits from strong trade agreements such as NAFTA, that represents an 800,000 MT market for U.S. rice. Bobby Hanks covered some of the challenges the Louisiana rice industry is facing, including the lackluster enforcement of trade agreements. "The biggest issue is the subsidization of rice in excess of WTO commitments by some of our competitors," Hanks said.  Higgins acknowledged that WTO rules are being violated and said he will do everything he can to "eliminate the cheating."

Hanks also referenced the need to keep pressure on the Iraqi government to buy U.S. rice as is outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding on rice purchases between the U.S. and Iraq.  Higgins said he would request an opportunity to testify with the subcommittees that have oversight with Iraq to inform them that Iraq has not honored their commitment.

Higgins also discussed the need for normal commercial relations between the United States and Cuba and lifting the trade embargo.  Stone thanked him for his support of the Crawford bill allowing U.S. companies the opportunity to sell products on credit to Cuba.  Higgins replied, saying, "There must be a competitive base and access to private endeavors that want to buy rice," and that he considers his office as "the point of the spear in pushing agricultural trade with Cuba."

The millers also stressed the need to use U.S.-grown rice for food aid rather than just sending difficult-to-track cash to a troubled region.

"There is no reason we should send cash to these countries when we have high quality, enriched commodities like rice to offer," Trahan explained.


Higgins remarked that while there is clearly a great deal of work to do, he expects that working together with USA Rice would yield results.


"Louisiana has superior products, and the rice industry is among the best-represented in Washington by USA Rice," Higgins said.

 USA Rice Newsletter in Mexico Gets a Tech Update

By Gaby Carbajal

 MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- Last month, the USA Rice NotiArroz newsletter was revamped to be completely interactive and up-to-date with current electronic trends.  The new format allows the newsletter to be shared with a link that opens into the online "flipbook" format. 

The newsletter continues to provide specialized rice articles and content that readers love, and now most elements of the newsletter are clickable, allowing easy access to USA Rice websites and social media.  The popular fast rice recipe videos also can be played directly within the newsletter, making the new NotiArroz a highly engaging multimedia experience.

The latest newsletter is dedicated to spring and the upcoming "Children's Day," very popular in Mexico, with articles of special interest to parents on the nutritional benefits of rice for children and special rice recipes families can prepare at home, including kid-approved favorites. 

"USA Rice uses the newsletter as a tool to encourage the foodservice sector to participate in USA Rice promotional activities and to help bolster U.S. rice consumption in Mexico," said USA Rice Vice President International Hugh Maginnis.  "The electronic version is sent to more than 800 contacts and is uploaded to the website and social media accounts.  Consumers can also find all Notiarroz editions on our website.

The price of rice, domestic production and imports






CROSSROADS (Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) By Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 19, 2017 - 12:00am

Rice policy has once again come to the public consciousness. The President has unfortunately spoken against the importation of rice as an element of economic policy.Need for a liberal rice import policy. It would be a mistake to close the door against imports and to focus only on self-sufficiency in production.Self-sufficiency is not a feasible economic objective anymore given our land resources (limited for rice agriculture, but not for other high-valued commercial crops) and our very large population (100 million plus Filipinos which is still growing).
In the face of these realities, we need a rational policy toward rice imports. Even then, the domestic production of rice remains as an important national objective.

The importation of rice needs to be integrated as an element of a sound policy of promoting food security. We are in a propitious position to rely on ASEAN neighbors that are better endowed in rice production even as we focus our agricultural potentials on other export crops.As a strategy, this will further help in our economic integration within the ASEAN. In this sense, the rice-exporting ASEAN countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia become part of our extended hinterland.

Even as this would happen, the main supply of rice would still come from our traditional rice producing regions. The government could and should continue to encourage domestic rice production.Local farmers still have some edge in competition: though higher in farm cost, their output is nearer to our ultimate consumer market.The government must recognize there is an upper limit to our efforts for domestic production of the crop. National policy requires that the supply of rice for domestic consumption is sustained by domestic production and a realistic assessment of import needs.

Food security compels a proper balancing of domestic production and import needs. Import needs must be planned for every crop year as an assessment exercise for fulfilling the country’s food security requirements.
Even as such recognition of imports is part of the planning, the support of policies to rice agriculture cannot be taken for granted. Infrastructure and institutions related to rice agriculture need to be strengthened.
Government support of infrastructure development for agriculture is critical for rice production, as well as for other crops. The expansion and maintenance of irrigation networks and of flood control projects are part of this support.
The strengthening of economic institutions includes improvements in rural credit, in support of farm cooperatives, the continuation of farm technical assistance and support of research and development.On the matter of rice importation, a desirable development would be the removal of the import monopoly of NFA (National Food Authority). In its place should be a vigorous participation of the private sector. Broad-based participation of private importers would guarantee against monopoly power being exerted by dominant importers.

An old controversy.  I have written on rice policy issues in my Philippine Star column on several occasions. For example, on Aug. 6, 2014, I addressed the relationship between domestic price of rice, food security policy, and world rice prices.
Studies of many economists suggest that the countries that have made a successful balancing of the interests of farmers and urban populations have also done well in enhancing their food security.A piece on Aug. 13, 2014 argued that the price of rice could be reduced substantially, if the government were to clip NFA’s vast powers and make its role focus more on introducing competitive regulation in the trading of rice.Rice policy has always been very political. Its success requires a proper balancing of the interests of both producers and consumers.

When the interests of both rice farmers and consumers are taken into account reasonably well and market forces are allowed to function, we arrive at the golden solution. Stable price for the staple is achieved, making most farmers happy and the general population of consumers (most of us) satisfied.A brief review of rice policies. A brief review of how rice policy has messed us up sometimes is worth looking into, if only to understand how we have fared in this context. In general, we have learned from bad mistakes.During the 1950s-1960s, public policy on rice favored consumers more than producers. Prices were controlled to protect the consumer from high prices. To implement the policy, a government marketing agency often imported the rice supplies and sold this at low prices.

Such solutions, however, were not sustainable financially, for they depended on spending large and costly subsidies to support retail prices. In the end, consumers suffered when the policy failed.In the late 1960s, this policy was revised which led to a new rice marketing agency – a National Grains Authority (now the NFA). It intervened in the market by buying high at wholesale from farmers and selling low at retail. This helped to improve rice prices for farmers while maintaining still a reasonably low price for consumers.

During the 1970s, rice policy moved more toward helping the producer. The marketing agency was sensitized toward both producers while trying to stabilize the price of grain for consumers.Farmers received better incomes during harvest when the marketing agency bought part of their output for storage and milling. The same agency contributed to price stability when it sold at retail at reasonable prices.Nevertheless, huge losses for the grain agency eventually resulted from such operations over time, leading to the impairment of its capital and the loss of its effectiveness. Corruption and bad management also weakened the agency. Moreover, the operational losses worsened the government’s fiscal capacity.

The country reached production self-sufficiency during a short period. But this was not due to those policies directly related to the marketing operations.What contributed heavily to success when the nation achieved self-sufficiency in rice production momentarily in the early 1980s was government support of agricultural development.The government of the time invested heavily in the building of agricultural infrastructure (irrigation investments coupled with improvement of farm to market roads) and in supporting economic institutions favorable to farmer productivity (rural credit, farmer’s cooperatives, farm extension work of government, and rice research on varieties).

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DA task force sets inventory of rice stocks

 (The Philippine Star) |
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he would write a memorandum to President Duterte suggesting the creation of an inter-agency task force that will inspect various rice warehouses. File
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) will lead the creation of a task force to look into the nationwide inventory of rice stocks to counter allegations of a current shortage and speculation of possible importation despite a bumper harvest.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he would write a memorandum to President Duterte suggesting the creation of an inter-agency task force that will inspect various rice warehouses.
The decision came after the emergence of the rice shortage issue in the country, which Piñol said is artificial and meant to justify the need for importation when local farmers are enjoying a peak harvest season.
“This is not a knee-jerk reaction; I’ve been thinking about this for so long, since we do not really have organized data. We have to understand that there are smuggled rice entering the country, but are we able to factor those in?” Piñol told reporters in a chance interview.
“If we really would like to establish a credible rice stock position, we have to factor in smuggled rice. That’s why we need to inspect all warehouses,” he added.
Apart from the DA, the task force will include the National Food Authority (NFA), Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Customs and Philippine National Police. The agriculture chief said he would ask the President to instruct the group to open and inspect all grain warehouses nationwide, including those suspected to contain smuggled rice.
The task force aims to prove that there is enough rice supply in the country and establish actual stock situation to allow the government to come up with correct statistics, which could be the basis of sound agricultural planning, particularly in terms of rice production.
The task force is expected to be created within the quarter and will conduct continuous inventory among the agencies involved.
Furthermore, Piñol said the NFA should follow the directive of the President not to import, but the grain agency continues to push for importation as it can no longer buy more and hit its procurement target following higher prices offered by private traders.
NFA is insisting on an immediate government-to-government importation of 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice to boost the agency’s inventory.
“The President did not say that we will not import. What he said was do not import while local farmers are harvesting,” Piñol said.
Latest data from the PSA showed that the country’s rice inventory in March declined by 19 percent to 2.18 million MT, from 2.67 million MT recorded a year ago.
The agency reported that total rice inventory as of March was also five percent lower than the 2.3 million MT posted in February.
Despite the decline in stocks, the PSA said that the stock inventory of the Filipinos’ main staple remains sufficient for 64 days.
Importation by private sector
Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is pushing for “timely” importation of rice, preferably by the private sector, instead of pursuing more government-to-government importations and aiming for self-sufficiency in the short to medium term.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said economic managers maintained this position during the meeting of the NFA Council yesterday.
“The economic team, we are for timely rice importation because it’s not possible – at least in the near and medium term – for us to be able to be self-sufficient (in rice),” Pernia told reporters during the Dutertenomics Forum in Pasay City yesterday.
As to the mode of importation, Pernia said economic managers favor importation by the private sector to cap the rising debt of the NFA, which is currently placed at P211 billion.
“Private sector (importation) is better because the government does not spend. Government-to-government importation adds to the debt of NFA,” he added. – With Czeriza Valencia

U.S. rice makes impression in Japan


Posted Apr 18, 2017 at 2:36 PM

“Going into FABEX, USA Rice had three strategic objectives,” Jim Guinn, USA Rice staff who attended the trade show said. “First was to showcase new uses of Calrose, second was to provide taste-testing opportunities for targeted traders, and third was to share information about U.S.-grown rice across the supply chain.”
By Hugh Maginnis / USA Rice Federation
Last week, USA Rice participated in FABEX, the World Food and Beverage Great Expo, introducing new menu ideas using U.S. medium grain rice. FABEX is a trade exhibition targeting foodservice and deli operators, and more than 77,000 traders visited during this year’s three-day show.

“Going into FABEX, USA Rice had three strategic objectives,” Jim Guinn, USA Rice staff who attended the trade show said. “First was to showcase new uses of Calrose, second was to provide taste-testing opportunities for targeted traders, and third was to share information about U.S.-grown rice across the supply chain.”
Guinn said Calrose was highlighted in twelve menu samples packed in plastic containers for deli take-out, a growing sector. Additionally, more than 1,500 samples of two menus — rice salad sushi style and gumbo with turmeric rice — were shared with visitors.
 “We also conducted one-on-one taste-testing sessions for 19 foodservice-related companies who invited their rice suppliers — leading wholesalers,” Guinn added. “Half the companies were already using U.S. medium grain but all said the new style menus had inspired them to get creative when coming up with their own original dishes using U.S. medium grain.”
Private import of U.S. rice under the Simultaneous-Buy-Sell (SBS) has risen dramatically in the past year due in part to the dearth of reasonably priced local varieties of rice suitable for foodservice and Guinn said at least 150 traders requested additional materials and samples to learn more about U.S.-grown rice.

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- April 20, 2017

Nagpur, April 20 (Reuters) – Gram prices reported down in Nagpur Agriculture Produce andMarketing Committee (APMC) auction on lack of demand from local millers amid good supply fromproducing regions. Easy condition in Madhya Pradesh gram prices and release of stock fromstockists also pulled down prices. Tuar was available at Rs 5,050 for 100 kg.
About 1,200 bags of gram were available for auctions, according to sources. 
   * Gram varieties ruled steady in open market here but demand was poor in this trading 
   * Tuar gavarani and tuar Karnataka reported higher in open market on renewed demand 
     from local traders.  
   * Batri dal firmed up in open market on increased demand from local traders amid tight 
     supply from producing regions.                  
   * In Akola, Tuar New – 4,350-4,450, Tuar dal (clean) – 6,800-6,900, Udid Mogar (clean)
    – 9,500-11,200, Moong Mogar (clean) 7,100-7,400, Gram – 6,100-6,300, Gram Super best 
     bold – 8,200-8,600 for 100 kg.
   * Wheat, rice and other commodities moved in a narrow range in 
     scattered deals and settled at last levels in thin trading activity. 
 Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-market prices in rupees for 100 kg
     FOODGRAINS                 Available prices     Previous close   
     Gram Auction                  5,461-5,760         5,650-6,000
     Gram Pink Auction            n.a.           2,100-2,600
     Tuar Auction                n.a.                3,500-4,000
     Moong Auction                n.a.                4,000-4,400
     Udid Auction                n.a.           4,300-4,500
     Masoor Auction                n.a.              2,600-2,800
     Wheat Mill quality Auction        1,500-1,600        1,500-1,620
     Gram Super Best Bold            8,700-9,000        8,700-9,000
     Gram Super Best            n.a.            n.a.
     Gram Medium Best            7,800-8,000        7,800-8,000
     Gram Dal Medium            n.a.            n.a
     Gram Mill Quality            5,800-6,000        5,800-6,000
     Desi gram Raw                6,250-6,450         6,250-6,450
     Gram Yellow                 8,200-8,400        8,200-8,400
     Gram Kabuli                12,400-13,500        12,400-13,500
     Tuar Fataka Best-New             7,000-7,200        7,000-7,200
     Tuar Fataka Medium-New        6,600-6,800        6,600-6,800
     Tuar Dal Best Phod-New        6,000-6,300        6,000-6,300
     Tuar Dal Medium phod-New        5,600-5,900        5,600-5,900
     Tuar Gavarani New             3,900-4,200        3,850-4,150
     Tuar Karnataka             4,250-4,450        4,200-4,400
     Masoor dal best            5,800-6,000        5,800-6,000
     Masoor dal medium            5,600-5,700        5,600-5,700
     Masoor                    n.a.            n.a.
     Moong Mogar bold (New)        7,200-7,500         7,200-7,500
     Moong Mogar Medium            6,800-7,000        6,800-7,000
     Moong dal Chilka            6,000-7,000        6,000-7,000
     Moong Mill quality            n.a.            n.a.
     Moong Chamki best            6,900-7,500        6,900-7,500
     Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 9,900-11,500       9,900-11,500 
     Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG)    8,000-9,000        8,000-9,000    
     Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG)        6,100-6,600        6,100-6,600     
     Batri dal (100 INR/KG)        5,700-6,200        5,600-6,200
     Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg)          3,600-3,800         3,600-3,800
     Watana Dal (100 INR/KG)            3,100-3,350        3,100-3,350
     Watana White (100 INR/KG)           3,300-3,500           3,300-3,500
     Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG)    3,900-4,400        3,900-4,400   
     Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG)        2,000-2,100        2,000-2,100
     Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG)    1,800-1,900        1,800-1,900   
     Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG)         2,100-2,300           2,100-2,300         
     Wheat Lokwan new (100 INR/KG)    1,900-2,100        1,900-2,100
     Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG)    2,100-2,200        2,100-2,200    
     Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG)   2,000-2,100        2,000-2,100
     Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG)    n.a.            n.a.
     MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG)    3,400-4,000        3,400-4,000    
     MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG)    2,600-2,800        2,600-2,800           
     Rice BPT new (100 INR/KG)        3,000-3,400        3,000-3,400
     Rice BPT best (100 INR/KG)        3,500-4,000        3,500-4,000    
     Rice BPT medium (100 INR/KG)        3,000-3,200        3,000-3,200    
     Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG)         2,500-2,800        2,500-2,800
     Rice Swarna new (100 INR/KG)       2,300-2,500        2,300-2,500   
     Rice Swarna best (100 INR/KG)      2,600-2,800        2,600-2,800   
     Rice Swarna medium (100 INR/KG)      2,400-2,500        2,400-2,500   
     Rice HMT New (100 INR/KG)        3,600-4,000        3,600-4,000
     Rice HMT best (100 INR/KG)           4,000-4,500        4,000-4,500    
     Rice HMT medium (100 INR/KG)        3,800-3,900        3,800-3,900    
     Rice Shriram New(100 INR/KG)           4,600-4,800        4,600-4,800
     Rice Shriram best 100 INR/KG)    6,500-7,000        6,500-6,800 
     Rice Shriram med (100 INR/KG)    6,000-6,400        6,000-6,400   
     Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG)    10,000-14,000        10,000-14,000     
     Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG)    5,500-7,000        5,500-7,000    
     Rice Chinnor New(100 INR/KG)        4,600-4,800        4,600-4,800
     Rice Chinnor best 100 INR/KG)    5,800-6,200        5,800-6,200    
     Rice Chinnor medium (100 INR/KG)    5,500-5,700        5,500-5,700   
     Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG)        1,900-2,200        1,900-2,200    
     Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG)         1,800-1,900        1,800-1,900
Maximum temp. 45.5 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 25.0 degree Celsius 
Rainfall : Nil
FORECAST: Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperature would be around and 44 and 26 degree
Celsius respectively.
Note: n.a.--not available
(For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, but
included in market prices)

Rice exports show slow growth

Wed, 19 April 2017
A woman harvests rice in a paddy field in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district late last year.Heng Chivoan
Cambodian rice exports declined dramatically in March, causing the average export growth of the Kingdom’s dominant cash crop to increase by only 3 percent during the first quarter of this year, nearly wiping out the double-digit growth seen in January and February.
According to rice export data released by the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday, Cambodia exported a total of 166,678 tonnes in the first quarter this year, up from 162,220 tonnes during the same period last year. While growth in January and February accelerated greatly by 11 percent and 17 percent respectively, the weighted average was bogged down by a 16 percent year-on-year decline for March exports.
Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said yesterday that the March declines can be attributed to stricter sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards being imposed on shipments to China, Cambodia’s second largest market after the European Union.
He added that only 26 Cambodian millers have been granted official approval to export to China with another 55 waiting to be vetted by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
“A large amount of the millers that used to export to China in the past are no longer able to export there now,” he said. “If the issue over SPS standards cannot be resolved soon, our export figures will continue to decline and this year will not be good.”
According to Lak, despite CRF lobbying Cambodian authorities to fast-track negotiations with China to allow increased market access, the body has yet to produce tangible results for its members.
CRF has previously warned that the Cambodian rice industry could soon collapse millers diversify and tap into increasingly narrow and strict global markets.
In addition to the hurdles of entering the Chinese market, Cambodian millers are also concerned about the EU’s call to eradicate the use of the fungicide Tricyclazole in rice production. The EU has given farmers until June to meet the revised threshold levels on white rice – 0.01 milligrams of Tricyclazole residue per kilo of rice and December for fragrant rice.
In the first quarter of this year, Cambodia exported 84,059 tonnes of rice to the EU while exports to China accounted for nearly 40 percent of total exports at 67,482 tonnes.
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, one of the country’s biggest exporters, raised similar concerns about Chinese market access but noted that the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) preemptively submitted a list of only 18 millers, instead of the allotted 26, to China for the current harvest season.
He added that while Amru used to export 7,000 to 8,000 tonnes of rice to China annually in the past, it has yet to be included by the MoC for Chinese clearance.
“Now, we are trying to get into the Chinese market to accelerate our rice exports,” he said, adding that reliance on the EU market had reached a saturation point at about 300,000 tonnes exported annually.
“First, we need to send the full list of all 26 companies that have satisfied China’s SPS standards to them so that they will accept our exports,” Saran said.
“Second, we need to negotiate with China to allow more companies to export like they were before.”
Yang Saing Komar, founder of agricultural organisation CEDAC, said that new market access was the main challenge for the sector after it had been devastated last year by a prolonged drought.
“The weather is better than last year as there is a lot more rain which will provide higher yields of rice paddy to be milled,” he said.
“Paddy production is not the problem to boost exports. The high cost of processing, increased regional competition and greater market access continue to be the industry’s main challenges.”

Govt will suspend debt payments for more rice farmers

BANGKOK, 19 April 2017 (NNT) -The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a 1.5-billion-baht debt suspension program for rice farmers who were affected by produce price drop. 

Adviser to the Minister of Commerce Natthaphon Jatusripitak said the program will suspend debt payments for the farmers who have cultivated rice from 2016-2017 and the government will subsidize the interest rate for them by 3% a year. The program is the government’s extension of assistance to rice farmers who are members of agricultural cooperatives. The farmers’ indebtedness resulted in decreasing income but they still had to pay for necessary expenses, said the adviser.

The Department of Cooperative Promotion will gather information and details of the participating farmers in order to avoid duplication with those who are debtors of the Bank for Agricult

Rice planting in lowlands to begin in early May

19 Apr 2017 at 10:06 3,135

The water level in the Chao Phraya Dam in Chai Nat province was also above the critical level as of Wednesday. (Photo by Chudate Seehawong)
CHAI NAT -- There is sufficient water stored in four main dams and the Royal Irrigation Department will begin supplying water for rice farmers to plant crops in low-lying areas of the Central provinces early next month, 12th Irrigation Office director Suchart Charoensri said.
Mr Suchart said Bhumibol Dam currently holds 5,857 million cubic metres of water, of which 2,057m c/m is usable; Sirikit Dam 5,073m c/m, with 2,223m c/m usable; Kwae Noi Bamrung Daen Dam 344m c/m, with 300m c/m usable; and, Pasak Jolasid Dam  299m c/m, with 296m c/m usable.The total amount of water in the four dams is 4,876 million cubic metres. According to the office's water management plan, 3,000 million cubic metres of water is needed for agriculture. The Royal Irrigation Department will begin to supply water for rice farming in low-lying areas in early May. The supply of water to higher areas will begin about two weeks later, he said.

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