Monday, July 17, 2017

17th July,2017 daily global regional and local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Sri Lanka to purchase 55000 MT of rice from Pakistan and Myanmar

Sat, Jul 15, 2017, 09:17 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
July 15, Colombo: The four-member team officials visited Pakistan and Myanmar to hold discussions to purchase rice has returned to Colombo on Friday with agreements to immediately purchase 55,000 metric tons of rice from the two countries at government to government level.
"After this successful tour, it is clear that there will be no more rice shortages in the domestic markets-or even any likelihood of it. Some elements in the market are trying to create an artificial shortage," Minister Industry and Commerce Bathiudeen said.
The team of officials that flew out on July 7 was led by Secretary of Ministry of Chinthaka Lokuhetti, and two officials from the Finance Ministry and a food technologist from ITI.
According to an official who returned, Pakistan has agreed to supply 25,000 MT immediately. No final price has been quoted yet but once the final price is agreed, the stocks will be shipped from Pakistan in early August. Pakistan is also ready to supply some more rice quantity by September.
Myanmar is ready to supply another 30,000 MT immediately and its final price too, to be agreed.
According to the officials who returned, the Sri Lankan team was given a very warm welcome at both destinations, was promptly attended and samples were then given. The rice samples tested in Pakistan were already milled and in good quality. Myanmar rice is also of good quality - only that it requires to be re-milled and Myanmar is ever ready to mill them before shipping to Colombo.
Lankan officials and food technologist also performed their own cooking tests on the samples given to them at both destinations and say that the quality and taste to be 'very good'.
Sri Lankan officials also bargained for lower prices than the prices first quoted by both Pakistan and Myanmar officials. Officials of both countries agreed that such bargaining is acceptable and said shall submit Sri Lanka's bargained price quotes to their respective Cabinets (of Ministers) for approval, to complete the government to government sales.
Minister Bathiudeen last month held discussions with the envoys of Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan on finding a supplier of rice to Sri Lanka.
The Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) under the minister will be the focal point for the effort.

Downside of trade

Exports are falling and reasons are not as complex as perceived to be, claim exporters

The recently released State of Economy (SoE) report by the State Bank at Pakistan has put a major emphasis on the need to increase exports from Pakistan. It talks about the falling export figures and terms the situation alarming for the country’s economy. The report has also advised different players to find new products and markets to export these from here and pointed out that despite the incentives offered by the government, the exporters could not tap the potential to the maximum.
On the other hand, the exporters of both the industrial and agricultural products have their own narrative to share. Their major concern is that their increasing cost of doing business, lack of raw materials in certain cases, structural faults, unbridled imports causing closure of local industries, non-fulfillment of the commitments made by the government etc have a lot to do with the situation in which they are today.
As per figures of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (SBP), trade deficit of the country has increased to $32.6 billion with imports standing at $53 billion and exports hovering around $20.04 billion in 2016-17.
Anis ul Haq, Secretary All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), represents the textile sector that has 60 per cent share in Pakistan’s exports, 38 per cent share in manufacturing sector employment and 8.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He says they have some demands, the most pressing of which is the availability of electricity and gas at regionally competitive prices. “At the moment these prices are high as compared to their regional competitors.” Haq says electricity is available to the industry at a rate of Rs11.5 per unit. “Though the government claims it to be lower, after considering the peak hour rates this figure is quoted at.”
High electricity tariff, frequent power outages, absence of linkages with fashion industry and non-provision of rebate to leather exporters despite promises by the government are other reasons for this downslide.
The APTMA secretary is of the opinion that though oil prices have come down from $105 per barrel in 2013 to around $50 per barrel today, the benefit has not been passed to the industry. He explains, “A country’s exports are based on the comparative advantage it has in a particular sector. This was the case with textile sector which flourished due to the high-quality cotton produced in huge quantities. But over the years, Pakistan seems to be losing this comparative advantage as its cotton production has fallen drastically. Besides, the government has imposed 4 per cent customs duty on the import of raw cotton which is a direct burden on this export-oriented industry. So, on one hand local cotton is short in supply and on the other hand the imported cotton is taxed.”
The exporters were quite upbeat when the government announced Rs180 billion support package to them around the start of the year. Meant for five sectors including textiles, clothing, sports, surgical, leather and carpemaking, it was promised that exporters will be offered rebates and drawback of local taxes and levies on realisation of export orders. This was in fact a realisation that the cost of doing business was high here and the exporters could be compensated in case they exported their products at low rates.
Though this amount was supposed to be disbursed over a period of 18 months, the discouraging fact is that only Rs3 billion have been disbursed during the past six months and only Rs4 billion have been earmarked for this purpose in the budget for the current fiscal year.
Qasim Dar, who has been in lubricants’ import business, says smuggling and dumping of goods by countries like China have led to increase in cheap imports and closure of local industries. “Many of the factories that would deliver export orders as well could not sustain when their viability in the local market was challenged. Secondly, as running a manufacturing concern against all odds is too big a deal people are opting for imports and flooding the local markets with cheaper goods,” he adds.
Similarly, the leather sector — once a top exporting sector — is facing challenges due to different reasons. For example, it is still into finished leather thing and not much into value-added products. The finished leather goes to the developed countries like Italy where it is treated and converted into high priced finished products. Till this is done here, exports in terms of value are not likely to increase considerably.
A spokesman for leather goods exporters in the country shares the livestock population in the country is going down though the government departments wrongly claim it is increasing. “A lot of damage was caused due to export of live animals instead of their processed meat.” He says their labour cost is also high as compared to the neighbouring countries despite the fact that the labour is not that efficient. High electricity tariff, frequent power outages, absence of linkages with fashion industry and non-provision of rebate to leather exporters despite promises by the government are other reasons for this downslide.
Anis ul Haq from APTMA complains about what he calls the over-ambitious revenue drive of the government. He says exports are suffering badly as only the organised and compliant sectors of the economy are facing the brunt. They, he says, are slapped with surcharges and cesses like the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) to cover the cost of develop work it carries out from time to time. On the other hand, he says, those out of the tax net have a good time and do not have to bother about imposition of taxes and levies.
Citing an example, he says the Rs100 billion gas pipeline project has been capitalised (offered shares in the stock market) by the government but it has still imposed GIDC on the local industry.
Last but not the least, the lack of agricultural and scientific research has also taken its toll on the exports of food items and agri-based industry’s products. The lack of bt cotton seed according to the local environment and low per acre yield of crops like rice have deprived Pakistan of cost benefit. Without increasing the volumes with little more investment, Pakistani rice cannot be sold in global markets in huge quantities. The volumes are necessary as unit prices of rice are low in the international market.

Pakistan is Under Severe Threat from Climate Change: ADB

By Web Desk on July 15, 2017
Pakistan may experience a decline in rainfall by 20-50 percent and could experience significantly hotter climate with temperature increases, leading to drastic changes in weather system, agriculture, regional security, trade and health.
This has been stated in a report titled “A Region at Risk: The human dimensions of climate change in Asia and the Pacific” jointly produced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

Agriculture Under Threat

The report maintained that people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture will be immediately affected by changes in the natural environment.
The vulnerability of farmers in Punjab province to climate-related risks was aggravated by already existing constraints on available freshwater, access to income, and a fragile infrastructure. Their capacity for adaption is impaired by a lack of knowledge as well as by resource scarcity.
While precipitation in Pakistan has always experienced large-scale variability, the past few decades have shown a significant increase in both dry and wet spells, with northern Pakistan experiencing a significant decline in rainfall notably during the winter season, whereas the southern Indus Delta has seen a moderate increase in rainfall, which mainly results from frequent local, heavy precipitation spells.

Climate Change to Affect Monsoon Season

Furthermore, climate change could impact the variability of the monsoon and lead to changes in the intensity and timing of precipitation. This would further aggravate the water stress already present in the region today, as farmers have to be able to plan for the monsoon onset and withdrawal in order to effectively farm their land (e.g. during plowing day).
Unabated climate change would bring devastating consequences to countries in Asia and the Pacific, which could severely affect their future growth, reverse current development gains, and degrade quality of life.
The report states that under a business-as-usual scenario, a 6 degree Celsius temperature increase is projected over the Asian landmass by the end of the century. Some countries in the region could experience significantly hotter climates, with temperature increases in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the northwest part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) projected to reach 8 degree Celsius.
These increases in temperature would lead to drastic changes in the region’s weather system, agriculture and fisheries sectors, land and marine biodiversity, domestic and regional security, trade, urban development, migration, and health. Such a scenario may even pose an existential threat to some countries in the region and crush any hope of achieving sustainable and inclusive development.

 Loss of Lives and Resources

The report further states that 3.3 million people die every year due to the harmful effects of outdoor air pollution, with Congo, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh being the top four countries experiencing such deaths.
It is estimated that in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan approximately 130 million people reside in low-elevation coastal zones and are at risk of being displaced by the end of the 21st century under worst-case scenarios.
Climate change will also make food production in the region more difficult and production costs higher. In some countries of Southeast Asia, rice yields could decline by up to 50% by 2100 if no adaptation efforts are made.
Moreover, a warmer climate for the region could endanger energy supply. Climate change can exacerbate energy insecurity through continued reliance on unsustainable fossil fuels, reduced capacities of thermal power plants due to a scarcity of cooling water, and intermittent performance of hydropower plants as a result of uncertain water discharges, among other factors. Energy insecurity could lead to conflicts as countries compete for limited energy supply

Vietnam, Pakistan, Burma expected to drive 2018 global rice exports

July 14, 2017 - by Holly Demaree
These seven countries account for more than 85% of global rice exports. Milled basis preferred to rice after husk and bran layers are removed.
Note: F = forecast.
Chart courtesy of the USDA.

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – Global rice trade is projected to increase 1% to 42.3 million tonnes in 2018, the third highest on record and the second consecutive year of expanded trade.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) noted that a major factor behind the expanded trade in 2018 is increased exports from three of the top six exporters—Vietnam, Pakistan, and Burma. Vietnam’s 2018 exports are expected to increase 400,000 tonnes, to 6 million tonnes, due to increased demand from Southeast Asia, especially from the Philippines.

China is again forecasted to be the largest export market for Vietnam’s rice. Pakistan is projected to export 4.1 million tonnes of rice in 2018, up 100,000 tonnes from a year earlier, a result of a slightly larger crop, the USDA said.

Burma is expected to export 1.7 million tonnes of rice in 2018, up 100,000 tonnes from 2017, primarily due to stronger demand from regional buyers and the E.U.

In contrast, India’s exports are projected to drop 500,000 tonnes in 2018 due to a smaller crop and stronger domestic use. According to the USDA, Thailand’s exports are expected to be flat in 2018, while U.S. rice exports are projected to decline 50,000 tonnes as a result of higher prices and tighter supplies. 

Sri Lanka secures rice stocks from Pakistan and Myanmar

2017-07-15 00:02:24
Industry and Commerce Minister meets Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan Dr. Sarfraz Ahmad Khan Sipra (centre) on June 22 for ‘rice talks’ at the ministry 

The four-man Lankan team of officials that flew to Pakistan and Myanmar to select rice tranche, returned to Colombo yesterday.

It was reported that no less than 55000 MT rice has been made available to Sri Lanka immediately by both Pakistan and Myanmar.

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, whose team of officials took off on July 7 to Pakistan and Myanmar, praised the team’s success. “After this successful tour, it is clear that there will be no more rice shortages in the domestic markets-or even any likelihood of it. Some elements in the market are trying to create an artificial shortage,” Minister
Bathiudeen said.

According to an official who returned, Pakistan has agreed to supply 25000 MT immediately. No final price has been quoted yet but once the final price is agreed, will be shipped from Pakistan in early August. Pakistan is also ready to supply some more rice quantity by September. 

Myanmar is ready to supply another 30000 MT immediately and its final price too, is yet to be agreed.
Previously on June 22, Minister Bathiudeen met Ambassador Designate of Thailand to Sri Lanka Chulamanee Chartsuwan, Ambassador of Indonesia to Sri Lanka   Gusti Ngurah Ardiyasa and Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan Dr. Sarfraz Ahmad Khan Sipra at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to call for government-to-government rice supplies to Sri Lanka. All the ambassadors present pledged immediate support to Sri Lanka’s efforts to procure the needed rice tranche

PFC greeted for holding successful Interiors Pakistan Expo

Staff Reporter
The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), United Business Group (UBG) and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have felicitated Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq for conducting successfully a series of eight glittering 3-day mega ‘Interiors Pakistan’ exhibitions across the country.
In his message to PFC Chief Executive, FPCCI President Zubair Tufail said PFC’s Interiors Pakistan exhibitions were playing a vital role to boost furniture industry locally and internationally. He said the PFC events were boosting the visitor economy through domestic and international visitation, facilitating small business growth by connecting buyers and sellers, knowledge sharing leading to innovation and business collaboration and providing a platform for international trade and investment.
In his message, LCCI President Abdul Basit said the PFC had been playing its due role in economic wellbeing of the country and LCCI would provide furniture exhibitors level playing field enabling them to conduct their business with peace of mind and add up to the important revenue to the national exchequer. He said the local furniture products were excellent and present their culture.
SM Muneer Patron-in-Chief United Business Group and Chief Executive Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) said the objective of Interiors Pakistan was to give exposure to local entrepreneurs to the major markets in Pakistan. “This activity aims at uplifting socio-economic condition of the community and connect the entrepreneurs with direct buyers”, he added.
Vice President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Iftikhar Ali Malik, appreciating the positive role of PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif, said with a little innovation, investment and government support, furniture industry can generate even more employment and income from sustainable economy. He said textiles and rice were currently the largest exports of Pakistan bringing in $14 billion and $2 billion of foreign exchange, respectively. Furniture exports on the other hand stand at a meager $51 million.
FPCCI Regional Chairman Punjab Manzoor ul Haq Malik said the holding of three-day Interiors Pakistan exhibitions would not only promote economic activities in the country, but would also encourage furniture exports. “Fairs and exhibitions not only attract foreign buyers and bring in much needed foreign exchange, but also highlight the soft image of Pakistan”, he added.
Expressing his gratitude for chambers’ support to promote furniture’s fairs inside the country, Chief Executive PFC Mian Kashif Ashfaq said the ‘Interiors Pakistan’ is an opportunity for the largest furniture companies and interior designers across the country to display their products.
The  Observer

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Call to adopt new technologies in agriculture


HYDERABAD,JULY 15, 2017 00:54 IST

Stakeholders meeting on climate change NAARM

“Climate is the most important determinant of agriculture. If the monsoon is well distributed then production is good. If it is not then it leads to distress in agriculture although, technologies are available,” said Himanshu Pathak, Chairman, Global Technology Watch Group (GTWG) under the Climate Change Programme of the Technology Information, Processing and Assessment Council (TIFAC), Department of Science and Technology (DST).

He was addressing a gathering at the two-day Second Stakeholders consultation meeting at the ICAR-National Academy of Agricultural Research Management here on Friday. Dr Pathak, also the Director of the ICAR-National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, said: “Rainfall intensity has changed. We have more rain in less period of time without distribution. Although, we have technologies available, we have to minimize the effects of climate changes by adapting these technologies.”

ICAR-NAARM Director Ch. Srinivasa Rao said meeting of stakeholders is being held across India so that policy and action plans can be formulated. for implementation across India for an early adoption of climate friendly technologies in agriculture and allied sectors.

Participants were from ICAR Institutes, State agricultural universities, MANAGE, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), NIPHM, NABARD, seed industry, Jain Irrigation, Agri-entrepreneurs and progressive farmers, a press release said.

Mahindra to target Chinese farm machinery market alone

Nandini Sen Gupta| TNN | Jul 15, 2017, 07:10 AM IST
CHENNAI: Tractor and farm equipment make Mahindra& Mahindra is charting out a fresh strategy for China, by going alone.
The plan is to set up a new Mahindra China subsidiary because unlike automobiles there is no mandatory local JV requirement in tractors and farm equipment.

This is part of M&M's plans of targeting big global markets like the US, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, China, Turkey and parts of Europe through its new global acquisitions. The farm machine foray will be through machinery its recently acquired global brands Turkish company Hisarlar, Finnish harvestor company Sampo Rosenlew and Japanese agri implements business Mitsubishi Agri Machinery.
Sources say currently the company top brass are in planning and discussions over its farm machinery strategy. The idea is to work with a China cost structure without which it is almost impossible to succeed there. When contacted, the Mahindra & Mahindra spokesman refused to comment.

Although Hisarlar, Sampo Rosenlew and Mitsubishi Agri Machinery don't have any presence in China they are well-known brands in different global markets including parts of Europe and Africa. "Going it alone in China means Mahindra will need to invest in creating a network as well as building its brand and investments will be made based on feasibility and evolution of a plan," said a source.

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The company expects to stitch up its China farm machinery strategy over the next 12 months which will tie in with its aggressive global farm machinery plans as well. M&M's farm machinery revenue target is 20% of total revenue by 2019, up from 5% in 2015.

The overall plan is to build a 
global harvestorbusiness through Sampo in Finland (except rice harvestors which will be handled by Mitsubishi) and use Mitsubishi for rice value chain products like rice transplantors, light weight tractors and harvestors. Globally the farm machinery business is a $100 billion market

20-year-old woman exchanges infant son for bag of rice in Imo

Posted on July 14 2017 , at 10:15 pm
The mother and her accomplice were paraded by police in Imo.
A 20-year-old-woman, Chioma Fidelis, has been arrested for exchanging her two-month-old son for half a bag of rice.
Chioma was paraded the Imo State Police Command on Friday.
She also confessed to receiving cement, chairs and N200,000 in exchange for the infant.
She claimed her baby was suffering from kwashiorkor and she was left with no choice but to accept the offer as she had no man to take care of him.
The baby was reportedly sold to a couple who were also arrested.
The couple claimed that they paid a sum of N700,000 to Chioma’s accomplice, one Chidinma Unakalamba.
Chidinma claimed to spend a sum of N137,000 on the child’s medical bills, gave the mother N200,000 and pocketed the remaining.




If you could drain the Pacific Ocean, you’d be staring at the lost continent of Zealandia, which is 18 times larger than New Zealand. Although 94 percent submerged, Zealandia, a large region in the southwest Pacific Ocean underlain by continental crust, is gaining momentum to be dubbed a continent, thanks to new research published in GSA Today.
Zealandia offers a wealth of insight due to its age: it began separating from the combined Australia-Antarctica portion of Gondwana in the late Cretaceous period around 80 million years ago, according to Jerry Dickens, a professor of Earth sciences at Rice University and co-chief scientist of an upcoming drilling expedition to learn more about Zealandia.


“We want to learn how the continental crust got so thin there,” says Dickens. “Continents like Europe and North America broke apart easily, but Zealandia didn’t. Zealandia doesn’t sit easily with current models.”
Dickens goes on to say, “How can a continent become so thin during rifting that it remains mostly submerged? That’s a real challenge for the community that studies plate tectonics.”
Zealandia is being dubbed the thinnest, most submerged and smallest continent, but there should be an asterisk above the word “continent.” The study authors say they want to give the region a full designation of continent, but there isn’t an organizing body to do so.
“If we add Zealandia as a continent, it forces us to think about what makes a continent, the type of Earth crust it has,” says Dickens. “These days we don’t really think about what makes a continent a continent.”
Unlike an organization responsible for naming new planets and stars, no group exists to dub a region a continent. But if other scientists use Zealandia in their work and cite the GSA paper, then that will be a validation of the work by Dickens et al. But it will take time.
“Being more than one million square kilometers in area, and bounded by well-defined geologic and geographic limits, Zealandia is, by our definition, large enough to be termed a continent,” says lead author Dr. Nick Mortimer.
Dr. Mortimer goes on to say that scientists in biology and marine science who didn’t “consider this part of the world would say, ‘Hang on a sec. This leads me down a certain path and gives new context to various strands of scientific work.’”


Dickens says Zealandia may offer insight into climate research. He notes in a reddit AMA that one of the great challenges in current Earth science literature is the Early Eocene period, particularly 50 to 53 million years ago. Earth surface temperatures were nominally 10-12°C greater than they are today and exceptionally warm at high latitudes.
All explanations to date relate to elevated atmospheric pCO2 (partial pressure of carbon dioxide), but the extreme high latitude temperatures remain an issue, even after considering differences in albedo (little or no “white”-reflective ice at the poles during the early Eocene), Dickens notes. The scientific community has not been able to replicate such temperatures using climate models.
There is also the issue of why pCOwas so high, Dickens says. The most difficult early Eocene temperature records to account for are those generated from within and around New Zealand. “Not only does the submerged portion of Zealandia have many early Eocene sediment sequences, but the past location and water depth of Zealandia may explain much of the data-model issues,” he adds.
Dr. Mortimer notes, “It all comes down to getting better context and appreciation for what’s out there.”


And what’s out there will be explored in a drilling expedition scheduled to run from late July to late September 2017. On a 473-foot-long ship, the 100-plus crew will seek to uncover the history of Zealandia and when and how it became such a submerged region.
According to the expedition’s prospectus, “Zealandia is an ideal location for generating detailed paleoceanographic records from the Miocene through the Pleistocene that can be linked to previous ocean drilling expeditions in the region (Deep Sea Drilling Project Legs 21, 29, and 90; Ocean Drilling Program Leg 189) and elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean.”
The supercontinent Gondwana’s vestiges have long interested researchers, and recent finds show encouraging signs that interest won’t wane. Earlier this year, South African scientists say they discovered evidence of a “lost continent,” left from the breakup of Gondwana which began around 200 million years ago. It’s located under the popular island destination of Mauritius, and its remains may be dispersed widely across the Indian Ocean basin.
For those neck-deep in marine science, Zealandia is not a new concept, especially to many New Zealanders. Earth scientists have been discussing Zealandia for more than 20 years, since California scientist Bruce Luyendyk first named the landmass Zealandia in 1995.In an interview, Luyendyk, now retired, says the biggest takeaway he’d like to see from Zealandia’s newfound publicity is that “we think of continents as places where people live above sea level. Sure, that’s how everyday life sees it, but geologists don’t see it that way, since sea level is relative. It goes up and down across centuries and millennia.” 

David Silverberg is a Toronto-based writer for BBC News, Washington Post, Vice, Buzzfeed, NOW Magazine, Broken Pencil Magazine, Quill & Quire and many more.

Grains Of Hope
Rice farmers are struggling to meet Asia’s demand for the staple crop; a genetically modified strain developed in Singapore could provide a solution.

AsianScientist (July 14, 2017) - By Tan Yong Yi - With empty bellies and sticks in hand, thousands of farmers took to the streets of Mindanao, Philippines, to demand rice from the government to feed their impoverished families. Yet, instead of seeing officials driving vans carrying sacks of the life-saving grain, what they saw were vehicles of policemen armed to the teeth with guns and anti-riot equipment. The farmers were then duly fed by the police forces, not rice, but something equally small and rotund.
Bullet rounds.
After the protests turned violent, the men in blue opened fire, killing one and wounding a dozen in April 2016. The gruesome skirmish was a result of El NiƱo, a weather phenomenon that plagued the Filipino farmers with drought, causing them to collectively lose over US$150 million in rice and corn.
Many farmers around the world face similar problems in agriculture due to unforeseen climate conditions wrought by global warming, ranging from intense droughts to extended monsoon seasons. The supply of rice is especially threatened, given that many farmers who work in the paddy fields struggle to make ends meet. Furthermore, the rice plant itself is susceptible to minute changes in heat and a wide variety of pests that have flourished due to an increasingly warm and humid climate.
It’s no secret that Asians love their rice, with more than 90 percent of the humble grain being produced and eaten in Asia. In fact, in Southeast Asia alone, close to 100 million tons of rice were consumed in 2011, which equates to roughly more than three heaped bowls of rice per person each day!
Thus, rice is one of the main drivers of society in Asia, with governments even rising and falling along with the supply of this beloved staple. Yet, farmers in the paddy fields, such as those in Mindanao, are feeling the heat, literally, as both demand for rice and global temperatures rise steadily each year.
There is a growing concern that in the near future, shrinking supplies will leave Asia unable to curb its insatiable appetite for rice. However, researchers in Singapore have come up with a new breed of rice that might just put these fears to rest.

Hardier, tastier, more productive
This wonder grain was developed at Temasek Life Science Laboratory (TLL) in Singapore by Dr. Yin Zhongchao with a multinational team of scientists. Aptly named Temasek Rice, this new breed of rice is known to be able to stand up against extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods, and ‘hibernates’ for two weeks when submerged in water.
The rice plant itself is a dwarf amongst its brethren, which is an advantage since the shorter stalk prevents it from bending too much when strong winds blow. It can also fend off bacterial and fungal diseases as well as produce higher yields.
In fact, Temasek Rice produces up to six tons of rice grains per hectare of paddy field, which is nearly four times the yield normal breeds of rice give. This makes Temasek Rice a sturdy powerhouse that can withstand extreme weather fluctuations caused by global warming, and also allows farmers in Southeast Asia to grow rice more sustainably.
Not only does Temasek Rice stack up well practically, it also passes the taste test with flying colors. Yin has described the grain as more aromatic, softer and tastier than most other brown rice varieties, in addition to being nutritious since it possesses a high amount of dietary fiber. After eight years of research and field trials, the rice has landed on supermarket shelves in Singapore and is sold at around S$7 per kilogram.

Genetically-enhanced growth
So, was it just a matter of green thumbs that Yin and his team managed to produce such a hardy grain? Partly, as the research process had involved the traditional technique of cross-pollination, a tedious method many horticulturists swear by, where pollen from a donor plant is transferred to a recipient plant in an attempt to produce offspring that possess traits from both plants.
Yet, if the team had only utilized this method, Temasek Rice surely would not be on our bowls after just eight years of research, since long periods of time are spent cultivating the various breeds of rice in the laboratory. This is where marker-assisted breeding (MAB) comes into play.
Essentially, this technique stems from genomics, and is an indirect selection process in cultivar development. The organism’s DNA is first isolated and analyzed using techniques such as gel electrophoresis or Southern blotting, and its traits of interest are selectively bred based on markers on the organism’s DNA, which, from the analysis, have been found to be linked to the trait itself. These markers are variations in the DNA that include changes in the base pairs or patterns of repeated base pair sequences.
The MAB technique relies on the assumption that such markers are tightly linked to the trait of interest, and that these traits are easily inherited by the offspring. In comparison, the traditional method of phenotypic selection involves selecting the plants for breeding by directly observing or testing for the traits they express.
The advantages of MAB are numerous in comparison to phenotypic selection, as they provide a rapid method for cultivar development, taking at most five years to develop a new cultivar as opposed to 15 years by conventional breeding methods. With MAB, traits that are expressed late in life, such as the nutritional value of fruits produced, can be detected by DNA testing as early as during the plant’s seedling stage.
Furthermore, traits that are difficult or expensive to analyze such as the plant’s resistance against bacterial and fungal infections can also be screened through MAB. In addition, MAB is highly accurate, since the markers which are tightly linked to their respective traits would not be affected by the environment.
Best of all, MAB executes gene pyramiding—a method that allows multiple traits to be accumulated within the same cultivar—with ease and efficiency. Temasek Rice is a prominent example of gene pyramiding, as it is not only resistant to environmental stress and disease, but also nutritious and even palatable as well.

Stabilizing supply, securing livelihoods
Yin and his team have tinkered with the natural defenses of plants on a molecular level for many years, especially with regards to crop productivity. His objective in this is to create a positive impact in the agricultural community, having witnessed a food supply crisis grip Singapore in 2008.
Hence, Yin combined his experience in the field and the wonders of MAB to generate an expansive library of new and improved rice plant varieties with enhanced traits. In fact, Temasek Rice was a ‘golden-ratio’ result of breeding the familiar jasmine rice plant, whose grains many of us wolf down during dinner, and five other rice plant varieties. Yin has since used his results to further benefit the agricultural community in the region, by introducing Temasek Rice as a driver for sustainable farming in Southeast Asia.
He initially collaborated with researchers in Aceh, Indonesia to improve rice varieties in the region after local farmers saw their livelihoods destroyed by a tsunami. Since then, Yin has expanded this project to small-scale planting of Temasek Rice by local farmers in Tasikmalaya, Indonesia.
“Farmers work very hard and their income is very low, so we want to create good rice that allows for stable production and produces grains of good quality so that they can be sold for high prices,” said Yin.
It is no small feat for a country without any paddy fields or rice farmers to go against the grain and create a sizable impact on the region’s rice-growing efforts. Yet, Yin did just that, allowing Singapore to go boldly into agriculture. In fact, Yin’s grains had the honor of being inducted into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, otherwise dubbed the ‘doomsday vault,’ which contains seeds of over 4,000 plant varieties in case food supplies need to be regenerated after a global catastrophe.
With Temasek Rice slowly making an appearance in paddy fields, it is a relief for the farmers of Mindanao to know that there is still a grain of hope for them to bring a bowl of rice to the table.

This article won first place in the Science Centre Singapore Youth Writing Prize at the Asian Scientist Writing Prize 2017.
Click here to see photos of the the prize presentation ceremony held on July 7, 2017.
Also, look out for the other winning entries to be published in a compilation coming out later this year

‘Black, red rice contain more antioxidants’

Eating unpolished red and black rice, which contain higher levels of antioxidants compared to white rice, would make Filipinos healthier, according to a study conducted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
In the study, titled “Healthier red and black rice: Not your ordinary staple food”, PhilRice food scientists Marissa Romero, Gerome Corpuz and Henry Mamucod said red and black varieties of rice have high phytochemical contents and health-promoting properties.
“Results showed that pigmented rice has higher amounts of crude protein, crude ash, crude fat and crude fiber compared with white rice,” Romero said in a statement.
“Pigmented rice is rich in antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds, vitamin E derivatives  and y-oryzanol, that are effective free radical scavengers. The unique color is determined by the amount of anthocyanin [also an antioxidant] in the bran layers resulting in various shades of red and black,” she added.
For the study, Romero and other PhilRice scientists collected 45 red rice varieties and 25 black rice varieties from various provinces in the country and were compared with white rice of Enolayan Variety. The varieties were characterized in terms of proximate composition, phytonutrients  and health-promoting components, according to PhilRice.
To maximize the health benefits of pigmented rice, Romero said Filipinos should consume it in its unpolished form as phytochemicals are “significantly” lost during polishing.
Romero added Filipinos are eating less of these rice varieties due to lack of proper information and knowledge on their health benefits. She said these rice varieties could be promoted by the government as “functional foods” to help improve the health of Filipino consumers.
“Our country has a rich  diversity of pigmented rice, but their utilization as functional food has not been fully explored owing to the limited information on their phytonutrients. We conducted this research to help the public be more aware of the health benefits of pigmented rice,” she said.
The PhilRice food scientist also said the study proved that unpolished red and black rice are good genetic resource for the development of modern varieties with good eating and nutritional qualities.
The study won third place in the poster competition during the 24th Federation of Crop Science Socities of the Philippines Scientific Conference held in Iloilo City last month.

SARI is ready to support agricultural expansion
  Sunday 16th July, 2017
By Naa Shormei Odonkor,
Nyankpala (N/R) July 16, GNA - Dr Wilson Dogbe, the Project Manager of the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) has indicated that SARI was now ready for business to support all initiatives that could help expand the institute and agricultural production.
He said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) released a Direct Initiative Fund of $5.5 million US dollars in 2015 to support a three year project in SARI but was not sufficient to bring out the ultimate and expected outcomes hence, the need to raise funds to support the project through other accepted means.
Dr Dogbe said this at the launch of the “Core of Excellence Project” organized by SARI in collaboration with USAID, Agricultural Technology Transfer (ATT) and the Iowa State University (ISU) in Nyankpala in the Tolon District at the weekend.
The main focus of the launch was to create a platform to announce the readiness of SARI to collaborate with developers and especially the private sector to do business with them in order to generate extra funds to support their expansion project.
The launch was on the theme: "Innovative seed research for income generation" and was in line with three major thrust to strengthen the management structure and income-generating mechanisms within the institute for improved quality and supply of breeder and foundation seeds.
According to Dr Dogbe, commercialization was a suggestion from the ISU assessment programme on SARI in 2016, when it was discovered that the USAID direct initiative fund was inadequate to assist in SARI’s project of expansion.
Dr Steven K. Nutsugah, the Director of SARI said the core of Excellence project was intended to make SARI a premier agricultural research system in Northern Region where solutions would be provided to all agricultural issues.
According to him, even though SARI had been able to provide 39 varieties of various crops including maize (17), millet (5), rice (5), cowpea (9) and soybean (3) over the past ten years, the institute suffered from inadequate infrastructure and technology as well as poor administration and management, triggering the need for improvement.
Dr Nutsugah acknowledged the ability of USAID to bring out best results in their collaboration with other agencies, which created a substantial platform of success as well as a unique foundation of trust upon which to launch and carry out the Core of Excellence project.
He assured that, the scientific community of Ghana was fully in accordance with the USAID’s premise that, it was imperative to greatly expand the development, dissemination and application of agricultural technologies in order to improve agricultural productivity.
The Northern Regional Minister, Mr Salifu Saeed in a speech read on his behalf said seeds were of essential importance to farmers and it was therefore good that the initiative geared towards producing certified seeds of high nutritional value targeting maize, soybean and rice varieties.
He advised scientists to help preserve some crops of medicinal value, which were gradually disappearing from the system. 
Mr Samson Konlan in a message from the USAID Economic Growth Office urged SARI to strive hard in order to develop into a world class institute that would compel government to support its activities with sufficient resources.

Are China’s scientists more interested in cash than the search for truth?

New study suggests financial rewards for published papers are tarnishing the reputation of Chinese research
PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 8:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 8:32am

A financial reward system for the publication of academic papers has been instrumental in raising China’s profile in the global scientific community. However, a new study has questioned whether it also has resulted in scientists becoming more concerned about lining their pockets than checking the accuracy of their research.
The research, carried out by a team led by Chen Bikun, an associate professor at Nanjing University of Science and Technology’s School of Economics and Management, looked at the different reward policies adopted by 100 Chinese universities over the past 17 years.
Released earlier this month, the study found that between 1999 and 2016, academics were paid between US$30 and US$165,000 for each paper they had published in an internationally recognised journal, with the mean payment rising noticeably over the past decade.
The average reward for an article published in either Nature or Science, for instance, rose from US$26,212 in 2008 to US$43,783 last year, an increase of 67 per cent. The top figure equates to about 20 times a professor’s annual salary, the study said.
China’s cash-for-papers policy came under increased scrutiny last month when a research team was awarded US$2 million for a paper on a possible cure for rice fungus published in the scientific journal Cell.
The payment was made to Professor Chen Xuewei and his colleagues at Sichuan Agricultural University for their breakthrough work that could help rice crops become resistant to a deadly fungus known as rice blast.
Despite the credibility of the team’s work, the size of their reward – which equated to about double the amount last year’s Nobel laureates received – made headlines around the world and raised questions about the ethics of paying scientists such large sums for their research.
In China, the cash-for-papers system was introduced by Nanjing University in Jiangsu province about 1990, according to Chen Bikun’s study.
Though the reward in those days was just US$25, the scheme led to a huge spike in the number of papers published by the university, which topped the national rankings for such for the whole of that decade. Other universities rapidly followed suit and launched their own reward schemes.
According to figures from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the number of papers published outside the country increased 17-fold between 1996 and 2014, from 13,134 to 232,070.
“Traditionally, financial incentives are used in business to reward employees for their excellent performance,” Chen Bikun said in the study.
“[But now] Chinese universities are rewarding their scholars for their research performance,” he said.
Despite the negative implications of the payment system, there can be no doubt that it has been instrumental in raising the profile of China’s scientists on the world stage, the study said.
“The reward policy has been successful, as China has experienced exponential growth in the number of papers it has had published in international science publications over the past 20 years.”
Chen could not be immediately reached for comment about his study – which is currently in draft form pending peer review – but it has already caught the attention of scientific journals overseas.
“This caused the odd raised eyebrow among Western scientists, for whom this kind of financial reward is an anathema,” said a commentary in MIT Technology Review last week.
“For them, science is venerated as a search for truth that is unaffected by self-interest,” it added.
In his research, Chen claimed that some Chinese scholars are “driven to publish just for the monetary reward rather than disseminating knowledge and receiving the recognition”.
He cited the example of a materials scientist at Heilongjiang University, who between 2004 and 2009 had more than 250 papers published in a single journal, for which he received “more than half of the total cash rewards” given by the university in the northeastern province. He did not name the researcher.
According to other studies, last year there were 1,234 corrections made to academic works published by Chinese scientists. In 1996, the number was just two. The figures were released amid growing concerns about the scale of academic fraud in the country, which encompasses plagiarism, dishonesty, ghost written papers and fake peer reviews.
Not that China is the only guilty party, according to the article in the MIT Technology Review.
“The search for ‘truth’ is not as pure as many would like to believe,” it said, though the events in China could “tarnish it further”.
It added: “If publication success can be improved by cash payments to scientists, how long before universities in other countries follow suit?”
In contrast, a front page editorial in the July 5 issue of China Science Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, referred to the US$2 million award in Sichuan as a “new beginning”.
In the past, China’s investment in research and development went mostly on the purchase or construction of large, sophisticated hardware and facilities, it said. Such spending was “unfair” to the scientists, the majority of whom earn relatively modest salaries, it said.
Jason Chan, Asia spokesman for global publishing group Elsevier, said that controversy aside, it is clear that China’s research might is growing, and not just in terms of the number of papers it has published.
“China still has some catching up to do in terms of quality of research output but the gap is closing fast,” he said.
“What’s interesting is that the country is starting to be a serious innovation exporter, judging from the growing number of patent applications filed,” Chan said, adding that the figure had been rising by about 19 per cent a year, to 1.1 million in 2015 alone

Ogbeh: Nigeria will Stop Rice Importation in 2017

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh,has disclosed that the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari will stop the importation of rice in 2017.Explaining the reason behind the policy, Ogbeh hinted that the countryhas enough internal production that could sustain home consumption andmeet foreign exchange earnings that could guarantee diversification ofthe economy.
In order to further boost internal production of the commodity andenhance the country’s comparative advantage in rice and yamproduction, Ogbeh stated that the federal government would sign amemoranda of understanding (MoU) with Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti
(ABUAD) and Ekiti State Government in the two critical sectors.He unveiled his ministry’s intention to supply ABUAD with 20 tonnes ofrice seedlings in the next planting season to boost rice productioninternally.The minister, who said these in Ado Ekiti at the weekend during a visit toABUAD’s farm and the Ekiti State government, added that the current economic recession being experienced under Buhari’s government had helped the federal government to think outside the box and had succeeded in bringing the deserved revolution to the agriculture sector

LEDAC lists 13 bills as ‘urgent’

July 17, 2017

THE CORE committee of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) has endorsed 13 bills -- including a tariff on rice imports to replace the quota system -- as legislative measures needing the certification by President Rodrigo R. Duterte as “urgent” such that they should be passed in the next five months.

The committee endorsed the need to immediately amend the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 after the country’s quantitative restriction (QR) on rice granted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) expired last June.
The LEDAC Executive Committee’s (LEDAC-ExCom) list was an outcome of its meeting Thursday last week, July 13, its first under the Duterte administration.

In a statement issued by his office on Sunday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the list of bills will be endorsed to the LEDAC in its next meeting for adoption as well as for approval and certification by the President as urgent.

“[By identifying the bills as urgent,] we mean that we would want them passed into law possibly within the year,” said Mr. Pernia, who chaired the LEDAC-ExCom meeting last week.

The body agreed to endorse the following measures:

• Unified National Identification System Act

• Security of Tenure Bill (End of “Endo” or Contractualization)

• Utilization of the Coconut Levy Fund

• National Transport Act to address transport traffic crisis

• Budget Reform Act

• National Land Use Act

• Rightsizing of the National Government

• Amendments to the Anti-Cybercrime Act

• Amendments to the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996

• Amendments to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Charter to allow for free irrigation

• Amendment to Public Service Act

• Ease of Doing Business Act/Fast Business Permit Act

• Government Procurement Reform Act Amendments

Aside from the 13 bills, the LEDAC-ExCom also “strongly endorsed” the passage of the tax reform bill, which was passed on final reading by the House of Representatives just before Congress adjourned the first regular session after getting a nudge from Mr. Duterte.

“The 14 bills are part of the 28 measures included in the proposed Common Legislative Agenda (CLA) reviewed and vetted by the LEDAC Secretariat, for final approval of the Council,” the statement said.

“The CLA consists of measures which were prioritized based on the President’s Legislative Agenda (PLA) and the Common Legislative Priorities of Congress (CLPC),” it added.

LEDAC is a 20-member advisory body formed under Republic Act No. 7640 during the administration of former president Fidel V. Ramos, who held its first meeting on May 19, 1993, a year into his term.

After a five-year lull, the young Duterte administration revived the LEDAC with the council meeting last Jan. 30, setting the stage for close consultation between the legislative and executive on reform priorities, as well as for inclusion of the judiciary branch.

Meanwhile, the LEDAC ExCom is only composed of the leaders of both chambers of Congress, the Executive Secretary, the Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, and the Presidential Legislative Adviser. It convenes as often as may be necessary.

In the same statement on Sunday, Mr. Pernia stressed anew the need to immediately amend the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 after the country’s quantitative restriction (QR) on rice granted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) expired last June.

“This is to prevent uncertainty as to what the demands of WTO members will be following the lapse of the QR,” Mr. Pernia said.

Last week, Mr. Pernia told reporters that the economic team will likely pitch its plan to certify as urgent the bill on lifting the QR on rice to Mr. Duterte before his second State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on July 24.

“So we don’t have to go through this complicated process of extending trade concessions to countries or members of WTO that might do something in exchange for our delay in tariffication,” Mr. Pernia, who also co-chairs the Committee on Tariff and Related Matters, had said on Monday last week.

The QR is a non-tariff measure imposed by a member of the WTO to limit the volume of imports of a particular commodity over a particular period. The regime expired last month.

The country was allowed to impose temporary QRs on rice after the government was permitted “special treatment” for the staple grain upon acceding to the WTO in 1995. The special treatment was extended up to June 30 this year through a waiver.

During the negotiations for the second extension, which was granted in 2014, the Philippines had agreed to, among others, increase the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) to 805,200 metric tons and reduce the in-quota tariff to 35% corresponding to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Trade in Goods Agreement duty and a most-favored nation (MFN) rate of 40% for volumes imported outside the MAV.

Through this arrangement, the Philippines was given more time to achieve self-sufficiency in rice, a move expected to counter the damaging impact of the expected influx of cheap rice imports after the QR is scrapped.

As the QR neared its expiration, Mr. Duterte signed Executive Order No. 23 in April extending the “effectivity” of MFN, MAV and “other Philippine commitments” relating to the waiver granted by WTO on the special treatment of rice.

Meanwhile, the amendments to Republic Act 8178 or the Tariffication Act of 1996 is still pending ratification in both chambers of Congress.

Sought for comment, the Office of the Cabinet Secretary who sits as a member of the grains regulator National Food Authority (NFA) council, said Mr. Duterte signed EO No. 23 to “show the other governments in WTO that we have an enabling policy” and to “protect” local farmers from the adverse impact of the QR’s expiration.

“We still have to work out the protection of our rice farmers because baka di sila maka-compete dito sa (they might not be able to stand competition with) more affordable rice imports,” Jonas George S. Soriano, assistant secretary at the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, said in a telephone interview.

“So kailangan muna i-extend na magkaroon ng mga tariff... So ‘yun so far ang napapag-usapan sa Cabinet (So there’s a need to extend or impose the tariff… that’s what’s being discussed at the Cabinet so far),” he added.

“We need to be fair [to other WTO members]. We want to join also the community of nations but we also have to protect our farmers until such time we can actually compete with the world market.”

The National Economic and Development Authority said that introducing competition in the domestic market through the tariffication scheme would encourage farmers to work towards self-sufficiency.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said earlier that he is considering proposing a seasonal tariff for rice, with low tariff rates during the lean months and higher rates during harvest season -- but Mr. Pernia had said this scheme has yet to be reviewed by the economic team

Farm production lesson: Less the government, better the trade

India’s farm produce is private; mills are private; traders are self-employed who arrange financing privately; market risk of profit and loss is private; buyers/importers too are largely private.

By: Tejinder Narang | New Delhi | Published: July 17, 2017 5:04 AM

This year Bangladesh needs to import 1.5 mt of Non-Basmati rice-that could go up to 2 mt.
Rice (Basmati+Non-Basmati) export of 75 million tonnes (mt) in a decade between 2007-17 with forex earnings of  Rs 2,76,000 crores—which as per current $/rupee parity equals $42.5 billion—is one of the most notable features of India’s trade thrust. This would be even more in dollar terms if lower rupee-dollar is factored for previous years. Thailand stands at number one with export of 90 mt rice in the same period while India at number two (see accompanying graph) and Vietnam with 62 mt at number three.
India would have surpassed Thai’s highest figure—but for the three year ban (from 2008 to 2011), imposed by the then government on export of Non-Basmati rice. India suffered “export loss” of atleast 16-17 mt of rice during prohibition period, while there was no scarcity of cereal in that triennium. India has never imported rice on government account for last 25 years or so, and thus has a record of self-sufficiency. All rice exports are from private stocks—thus keeping food security fully insured through FCI and its agencies.
If data for the last five years is analysed, then India shipped out @10.9 mt each year—54.5 mt versus 47.5 mt of Thailand—because no ad-hoc tweaking in export policy was done by the government. That is how it should be. Exports require unrestricted access to markets and any ban or change in policies entail handing over clients to competition. Thailand, due to its government’s irrational paddy pricing policy of 2011, outpriced itself from African/Asian markets. Its rice quality suffers due to processing from old-damaged paddy.
In 2017-18 too, India is likely to maintain annual shipments of 11-12 mt of rice in a world trade of 42 mt. This sustained success should be highlighted in all international fora to build India’s brand image as a quality and quantity exporter of rice.
The government’s programme to “Bring the Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI)” through improved technologies launched in 2010 has realised significant productivity gains in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, eastern Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Odisha.
India’s annual production is about 110 mt of milled rice; opening stocks of 19 mt; total availability is 129 mt versus local consumption of 100mt + exports of 11mt, thereby leaving surplus of 18 mt as of now.
India lacks presence in South-east Asian market of Indonesia, Philippines and China where Thailand/Vietnam dominate because of logistics and historic continuity. China, too, is turned regular importer of 4 mt annually where our presence is negligible.
Total annual production of Basmati is about 10 mt. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait remain prominent markets of 3-4 mt of Basmati rice annually. Basmati Pusa 1121and 1509 varieties released, respectively in 2003 and 2013, by IARI in parboiled form have proved to be a boon for the farmers/millers and buyers in Iran/Saudi Arabia as it is 40% cheaper than traditional Basmati with grain length of 20 mm after cooking. At present, it trades at $1150 fob versus $900 fob last year. Thai fragrant rice competition is subdued with Pusa 1121.
Sortexed capacities involving optical and electronic sorting machines have been upgraded by rice millers for uniformity in color/quality. Prominent rice exporters are also targeting the US and the EU—though they keep raising issues of Minimum Residue Levels of fungicide, which adversely affects volume and velocity of exports.
Non- Basmati
Nigeria and Francophone countries of West Africa (Benin Liberia, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and Ivory Coast) South Africa, UAE are some of the major destinations of Indian Non-Basmati rice exports of 6-7mt per annum. Trade with African nations is preferably done through intermediaries in France/Switzerland/UAE to ensure payment. In addition to 25% broken white rice, India is prime player in 5% parboiled and 100% broken white silky sortexed rice. Multiple varieties of rice like—Pant 4, IR64, IR36, IR8, 1001, Sona Masoori—offer choices for right pricing.
Nigerian/Benin market is of 2 mt per annum where Thai and Indian parboiled rice sell at par in equal ratio; entire Liberian market of 0.5 mt needs Indian parboiled variety only; Ivory Coast has annual demand of 1.3 mt with 50% market share of Indian parboiled/white rice. Senegal demands 1.2 mt annually 100% broken white silky sortexed rice where Indian share is 60%—rest goes to Thai and Uruguay.
Bangladesh—The new kid on the block
This year Bangladesh needs to import 1.5 mt of Non-Basmati rice-that could go up to 2 mt. Import duty has been  reduced by the government of Bangladesh (GOB), to 10% from 28%—thus confirming desperation of demand. GOB has issued five tenders of 50,000 mt each where 0.1mts Indian 5% parboiled rice is contracted at $430 and $445 C&F, while local wholesale price in Bangladesh is taka 45/kg or about $560/mt. GOB also bought 0.2 mt of Vietnamese parboiled rice at $470/mt C&F.
Indian private traders are daily making truck dispatches from West Bengal/Bihar to Bangladesh and have dried up market surpluses in these two states. Additional demand will be catered from Jharkhand/ Chhattisgarh by land route or from Kakinada via sea. Price of 5% parboiled rice which was $400 C&F Chittagong in May 2017 is higher by 10% now. Indian prices are under tremendous pressure due to demand pull from Bangladesh that will make rice expensive for African markets as well.
India’s farm produce is private; mills are private; traders are self-employed who arrange financing privately; market risk of profit and loss is private; buyers/importers too are largely private. Rice inflation is under control. The lesson is that the less the government the better the trade. Momentum of rice export can be maintained if the government avoids tinkering with current policy profile. Rice is the only agro-commodity that has weathered the test of time in national and international markets

Maize, rice, wheat: alarm at rising climate risk to vital crops

Simultaneous harvest failures in key regions would bring global famine, says the Met Office
 A villager lifts up fallen corn plants after a flood at a farm in Jianhe county, Guizhou province, China in July 2017. Photograph: Reuters
Governments may be seriously underestimating the risks of crop disasters occurring in major farming regions around the world, a study by British researchers has found.
The newly published research, by Met Office scientists, used advanced climate modelling to show that extreme weather events could devastate food production if they occurred in several key areas at the same time. Such an outcome could trigger widespread famine.
The scientists, led by Chris Kent, of the Met Office, focused their initial efforts on how extreme weather would affect maize, one of the world’s most widely grown crops. Heat and drought were the prime risks, although flooding was also included in the analysis.

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The group found there is a 6% chance every decade that a simultaneous failure in maize production could occur in China and the US – the world’s main growers – which would result in widespread misery, particularly in Africa and south Asia, where maize is consumed directly as food.
“The impact would be felt at a global scale,” Kent told the Observer. “This is the first time we have been able to quantify the risk. It hasn’t been observed in the last 30 years, but the indications are that it is possible in the current climate.”
An example of the kind of disaster that could occur is provided by the maize harvests that failed last year in Africa. Communities in Zambia, Congo, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Madagascar were affected and six million people were left on the brink of starvation. A joint failure of China and America’s maize harvest would have a far greater impact.

 Drought-damaged corn stalks at a farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa. Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters
Having studied the risks facing maize production, the group is now following up this work by studying climate impacts on the world’s other staple crops – in particular rice, wheat and soya beans – in order to assess how weather extremes could affect their production.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, maize, rice and wheat together make up 51% of the world’s calorie intake. Billions of people rely on these crops for survival. Any disruption to their production would have calamitous consequences.
The trouble is that crop-growing methods and locations have changed considerably over time, as has the climate and the probability of extreme events, Kent told the Observer. “This means the number of relevant observations to the present-day growing of stable crops has been reduced, and that limits our ability to have useful estimates of the risks to the growing of these crops.”
To get round this problem, the team ran 1,400 climate model simulations on the Met Office’s new supercomputer to understand how climate might vary in the next few years and found that the probability of severe drought was higher than if estimated solely from past observations. The scientists concluded that current agricultural policies could considerably underestimate the true risk of climate-related shocks to maize growing and food supply.
The particular risk outlined by the study envisaged simultaneous catastrophic disruptions in China and the US. In 2014 total world production of maize was around 1 billion tonnes, with the US producing 360 million tonnes and China growing 215 million. If production in these two countries were hit by simultaneous extreme weather events, most likely droughts, more than 60% of global maize production would be hit.
A double whammy like this has never happened in the past, but the work by the Met Office indicates that there is now a real risk. In addition, there may be risks of similar events affecting rice, wheat or soya harvests. These are now being studied by the Met Office, which is also working with researchers in China in a bid to understand climate risks that might affect agricultural production.
“We have found that we are not as resilient as we thought when it comes to crop growing,” said Kirsty Lewis, science manager for the Met Office’s climate security team. “We have to understand the risks we face or there is a real danger we could get caught out. For now we don’t have the means to quantity the risks. We have to put that right.”

RIFAN seeks collaboration with African countries on rice production

Posted By: Agency Reporter On: July 16, 2017 In: AgricNews Update
The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) says it is seeking collaboration with Competitive African Rice Initiative (CARI) and other African countries to increase rice production and export within the continent.
CARI is to significantly improve the livelihoods of rice farmers in selected countries in the sub-region by increasing the competitiveness of domestic rice supply.
CARI is implemented in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania with the aim of reaching 120,000 African rice producers.
The direct beneficiaries of this project are male and female smallholder rice farmers with a daily income below 2 US$. Secondary beneficiaries are rural service providers and rice millers improving their sourcing capacity of quality supply.
Malam Sadiq Daware, National Treasurer, RIFAN, said in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, that the association had also finalised talk with Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania.
RIFAN official said that it had become imperative to forge a crucial partnership with the countries to drive the rice value chain.
He said the CARI officials had met with RIFAN to form Nigerian Rice Advocacy platform, where all the actors in the rice value chain would collaborate to increase rice production and export.
“The platform has been established in the 36 states and FCT and the entire representative have elected their leadership.
“The platform recognises the important role rice plays as a major staple food in the region, and the potential for widespread and positive socioeconomic impact through the development of a strong regional rice value chain,’’ he said.
Daware also said the primary objectives of CARI was to promote cooperation among regional and national rice bodies, ease cross border trade and strengthen existing national rice value chain platforms.
According to him, it is also to support the creation of such platforms, where they do not yet exist.
He said under the CARI agreement, stakeholders would also promote research and analysis and exchange best practices and creating adequate awareness of its activities among farmers.
Daware disclosed that by August, several rice stakeholders across Africa would converge in Abuja to further discuss rice research, development, production and policy.
He said the meeting would consolidate on production of enough rice to cover the needs of consumers.
Daware also said it deliberate on how to add value and allow rice export to other West African countries to enable it compete favourably with rice from Thailand and India.
He said consolidation in CARI remained a major focus because rice consumption in Africa had reached over 11.8 million tonnes yearly and not less than 3.3 million tonnes imported within the same period.
The RIFAN national treasurer, however, said 21 of the 39 rice producing countries in Africa imported between 50 and 99 per cent of their rice requirements.
Daware said that various challenges confronting rice importation include inadequate development and availability of improved post-harvest processing technologies and value addition and lack of access to credit by farmers, traders and processors.
These challenges, he said had led to low yields in rice production and limiting the rice sector development in the country.
He, however, assured that at the end of the meeting, the initiative would impact over 2 million rice farmers and solve all the perennial rice production, processing and marketing problems.
Daware commended the Buhari-led administration for its various initiatives leading to significant boost in rice production.
“Annual rice production in Nigeria has increased from 5.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes in 2017.
“The consumption rate now is 7.9 million tonnes and the production rate has increased to 5.8 tonnes per annum,’’ he said.
“Spending had drastically reduced, consumption and increased because of increased local production of the commodity.
He said that the increase was as a result of the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) with a total of 12 million rice producers and 4 million hectares of FADAMA rice land.
Daware also commended the Nigeria Customs Service for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with RIFAN to fight rice smuggling of rice through, land border, into the country.

Nigeria: FG says price of rice will crash in two weeks, to sign MoU with Afe Babalola University
By Ayoola Ponmile
July 16, 2017 15:17:47pm GMT      |    
Chief Afe Babalola

WorldStage Newsonline-- The Federal Government of Nigeria has assured that the price of rice will crash within the next two weeks while the country will stop the importation before the end of the year to boost internal production of the commodity and meet foreign exchange earnings that can support diversification of the economy.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, who disclosed this at the weekend in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, during a working visit to Ekiti State said the FG will sign a Memoranda of Understanding with Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) and Ekiti State government on the production of rice.
Ogbeh also visited Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) Farm where he revealed his ministry’s intention to supply the institution with 20 tonnes of rice seedlings in the next planting season to boost rice production internally.
Ogbeh said the current economic recession had helped the Federal Government to think outside the box and had succeeded in bringing the deserved revolution to agriculture sector .
The ABUAD Founder, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), praised the Buhari administration for bringing revolution to the country’s agriculture sector that had been neglected by successive governments, describing the current economic recession as a blessing in disguise.
He said: “To support the FG initiative, this university for the past three years have been holding annual Afe Babalola Agriculture EXPO (ABAFEX), where we give N1m to the best farmer in Ekiti and N250,000 to the best in 16 local governments.
“This year, we intend to hold Rice Summit with intention to expose Ekiti potentials in the production of the commodity.

Genetic change in HYV seed: Shreyas to replace Uma

By Biju E Paul  |  Express News Service  |   Published: 17th July 2017 08:00 AM  |  
Last Updated: 17th July 2017 08:26 AM  |   A+A A-   |  
ALAPPUZHA: The state is set to witness a mass replacement of paddy seeds after a genetic change appeared in the Uma, a high-yielding seed variety being used in the state since 2000.
The Kerala Agricultural University and the Agriculture Department has started replacing Uma with Shreyas. The production of seeds started in the model farms of the Agriculture Department and Kerala State Seed Development Authority.
Reena Mathew, professor at the Rice Research Station (RRS) in Mankombu said, “The Uma variety is  vulnerable to  various pest attacks and it has been causing losses in paddy cultivation in the last few seasons. So we have started to spread the new variety of paddy developed in the station.”The Shreyas is more resistant, with a yield comparatively higher than the Uma and with the growing period decreased by five days. The seed was developed from parent varieties Pavithra and Thriguna by scientists Leena Kumari and Devika in 2015, said Reena.
The Uma was also developed in the station in 1998 and its use was started extensively in 2000. In the decade and half since then, the seed was being used in more than 80 per cent of the paddy fields in Kerala and in other states, including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
 We started to think about a new variety after the Uma paddy started to show signs of easily vulnerable to diseases,” said Reena. “A disease, false smut’ (Lakshmi ), widely appeared in the state in 2012-14 and the production of paddy reduced drastically during the period.”
The content of black-coloured rice was also high in the rice after processing. Another pest, gall fly (goleecha), also widely affected the paddy cultivation. The studies curried out in the RRS found the resistance of the Uma had decreased, causing pest attacks, said Reena.
Till 1998, the farmers of the state grew a variety named Jyothi, also developed in the station.
When this showed symptoms of pest attack, it was replaced with Uma.
Reena said, the quality of Shreyas is better than Uma. However, the rice flour from Uma is better.
At full growth, the Shreyas is taller than the Uma, so the chance of stalks of paddy bending and breaking off is higher, so the RRS is advising farmers to use manure with lesser quantities of nitrogen content.
Why Shreyas?
Shreyas has given the same yield as that of Uma; the former has been found to be less susceptible to ‘false smut disease’, which results in discolouration and up to 20 per cent damage to the crop. Uma yields 8 to 9 tonnes of paddy per hectare.

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RiceBran Technologies (NASDAQ:RIBT) Given News Sentiment Rating of 0.14

July 16th, 2017 - By Scott Moore -

Press coverage about RiceBran Technologies (NASDAQ:RIBT) has trended somewhat positive recently, Accern Sentiment reports. Accern ranks the sentiment of media coverage by monitoring more than 20 million blog and news sources. Accern ranks coverage of public companies on a scale of negative one to one, with scores closest to one being the most favorable. RiceBran Technologies earned a news sentiment score of 0.14 on Accern’s scale. Accern also gave media coverage about the company an impact score of 0 out of 100, meaning that recent media coverage is extremely unlikely to have an effect on the stock’s share price in the near term.
These are some of the news headlines that may have effected Accern Sentiment Analysis’s scoring:
Get RiceBran Technologies alerts:
•           RBT buys Healthy Natural for $18.3 mln (
•           RiceBran Technologies Sells Healthy Natural Subsidiary for $18.3 Million in Order to Focus on Building Shareholder Value Thro… (
•           RiceBran Technologies (RIBT) Sells Healthy Natural Subsidiary for $18.3M; to Focus on Building Shareholder Value Through Its Ingredient Business (
•           [$$] Rosewood Acquires RiceBran Subsidiary (
•           BRIEF-RiceBran Technologies sells its unit Healthy Natural Inc for $18.3 million (
RiceBran Technologies (NASDAQ RIBT) opened at 1.04 on Friday. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $0.88 and a 200-day moving average price of $0.90. RiceBran Technologies has a 1-year low of $0.69 and a 1-year high of $1.77. The company’s market capitalization is $11.36 million.
RIBT has been the topic of a number of recent analyst reports. Maxim Group lowered RiceBran Technologies from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, March 24th. Lake Street Capital initiated coverage on RiceBran Technologies in a research note on Wednesday, May 10th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $2.00 price objective on the stock.
About RiceBran Technologies
RiceBran Technologies is a human food ingredient, functional food ingredient, packaged functional food and animal nutrition company. The Company is focused on processing and marketing of nutrient dense products derived from raw rice, an underutilized by-product of the rice milling industry. The Company has two operating segments.

Emergency import of 500,000 tons of rice

The Government is to make an emergency import of 500,000 tons of rice to face a feared shortfall in local production due to adverse weather conditions. The state will import 300,000 tons whilst the private sector will be allowed to import the remaining 200,000 tons. Stocks will come mainly from Vietnam, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand. Officials have been tasked to visit these countries to assess prices and quality.
The Cabinet Sub Committee on Cost of Living at recent a meeting presided over by President Maithripala Sirisena, discussed the crisis arising out of the drop in production. One of the immediate measures then was to remove the five rupee tax on imported rice and revise the Maximum Retail Price to match locally produced varieties in the market. The sub committee noted that adequate paddy stocks were also not available. It was observed that in India also rice prices had risen due to shortages.
President Sirisena has since been spearheading a diplomatic push to buy stocks from abroad. He has personally spoken on the telephone to those at Sri Lanka diplomatic missions abroad and leaders of rice producing countries in South Asia. The Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) is to import stocks on behalf of the Government. However, the CWE is in a financial crisis and is unable to pay the Paddy Marketing Board (PMB) a staggering Rs 3.7 billion.
In what appears to be an irony, the PMB is repaying with interest loans obtained by the CWE from the Treasury and borrowings from the Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank. Now, the Government has said the Treasury is free to take “necessary steps to recover the amount”. Industry Commerce Ministry Secretary Chinthaka Lokuhetti said Pakistan and Myanmar had agreed to supply 25,000 tons each within two weeks.
He said Myanmar would confirm tomorrow whether to increase the amount up to 45,000 tons.
The recent drought and the flood hit both Yala and Maha seasons causing a drastic drop in the yield. Mr Lokuhetti said that by November about 300,000 tons of rice would be imported from Pakistan to be distributed through Lak Sathosa outlets and cooperatives. He added that rice varieties specially Nadu and White Raw rice would be imported while the Food Technologists and the local officials had checked and confirmed the quality and the taste of the rice to be imported.
Meanwhile, Lak Sathosa Chairman T.M.K.B. Tennekoon said 50,000 tons of paddy were available with Lak Sathosa and the stock would be enough for the next 4-5 months. He said that with the import of rice, a controlled price would be maintained.

Price of Rice Still High at N18,500 per bag

Saturday, July 15, 2017 7:52PM / FDC 
Nigeria is expected to be self-sufficient in rice production by November 2017. This is because investors including Dangote are adjusting to policy initiatives and favourable market conditions by increasing private investment in locally produced commodities.

In spite of this, the price of rice is still high at N18,500 per bag.

In the global market, oil price jumped 3.28% to $48.42pb on lower-than-expected decline in US crude oil inventories. The sustainability of this trajectory is subject to a continuous drawdown of global oil inventory. This remains positive for the naira.

The attached report summarizes the impact of domestic and global developments on the commodities market.

Domestic Commodities Remained Relatively Flat During The Break

Importers say 40% of rice in the market is imported

The Rice Importers Association says that over 40 percent of rice available in the market at present is imported.Convenor of the Association, Hemaka Fernando, said that steps would be taken, before the end of October, to import another 220,000 tonnes of rice to the country.
When News 1st made inquiries in this regard, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said that 500,000 more tonnes of rice would be imported to fill the rice shortage that exists in the country at present

Corporation seeks action against four officials  

By Express News Service  |   Published: 16th July 2017 10:08 AM  |  
Last Updated: 16th July 2017 10:08 AM  |   
BHUBANESWAR: As custom milled rice (CMR) worth over `1.45 crore has not been recovered from a private rice miller of Khurda for more than four years, the Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC) has requested the Sate Government to take suitable action against four officials of the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare (FS&CW) Department.

The State Government had conducted a special audit into the alleged misappropriation of CMR by Bajrangi Food Industries, a private miller in Khurda district, for kharif marketing season 2012-13.
The audit report submitted in August 2014 said the custom miller had misappropriated rice worth `1,45,15,952. While the private miller has failed to deliver the rice to the corporation, the cost of the CMR has not been recovered till date.

The Civil Supplies Corporation has identified three officers, who were posted as Civil Supplies Officer-cum-District Manager for Khurda during the period, responsible for recovery of the cost.
As per the findings of the audit report, Assistant Civil Supply Officer Abhimanyu Mohanty was the authorised officer of the mill. While he failed to discharge his duties, the CSO-cum-DM of the district is equally responsible for short delivery of the custom milled rice by the miller, the report stated.

The other three officers found negligent were Amar Mohapatra, Sudhakar Pradhan and Sarat Chandra Das. While Mohapatra was in-charge of CSO-cum-DM of the district from May 19, 2010 to July 16, 2013, Pradhan was in-charge for nearly two months. However, Das was the district manager till the date of audit. 

“Since these officials are under the administrative control of the Principal Secretary of the FS&CW Department, it is requested to take suitable action against the officials responsible for misappropriation of CMR by the miller,” said an official note of the OSCSC Managing Director.

Earlier, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has rapped the department for showing undue favour to private rice millers for custom milling of paddy despite huge arrears pending against them.
The CAG in its report for General and Social Sector for year ending March 2015 said despite default in delivery of 2,594 tonne of custom milled rice valued at `5.44 crore, personal property of the millers could not be attached as per terms and conditions of the agreement due to non-availability of property details.

July 15 2017
SAMBALPUR: A one-off loan waiver may not be a panacea for farmers in the state as the benefits won’t percolate down to real and marginal farmers. “At most, loan waiver would benefit large farmers or those with sizeable land-holdings. Instead, the government should come up with an action-plan to ensure long-term growth and development of farmers as that will enable them to pay back the loans.”
The action-plan may include setting up farm infrastructure like warehouses to store produce safely and mandies for sale, along with establishing market linkages for various agricultural produce, it is recommended. 
“A farmer has self-respect and wants to live with dignity. If he has taken a loan, there is no reason why he would hesitate to pay it back. Suicide by a farmer is a manifestation of his anguish that he is unable to pay back his dues and the resultant indignity that he has to suffer. He prefers death to public humiliation by private money lenders,” noted Ashok Pradhan, convener of the Western Orissa Krushak Sangathan Samanwaya Samiti.
In an exclusive interview with this newspaper, Pradhan said the government should rather try to ensure that the money earmarked as loan waiver reached all small and marginal farmers and those with small land holdings. “State-owned banks always give priority to people with large land holdings. If farm loans are waived, this will benefit only the middlemen and the big fish among farmers,” he said.
In many cases in western Orissa and elsewhere, loans are given away in the names of small farmers even though they cannot make use of the money. They leave their cheque books with middlemen, traders and rice millers. As the loans are used by these people, the waiver can only benefit the intermediaries, Pradhan noted.
In recent months, many state governments such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra have announced loan waivers for farmers and there is hope other state governments will follow suit. Similar hopes are also building up in Orissa.
Under farm loans, the rate of interest is the lowest if they money is paid back within the stipulated timeframe. “Farmers always want to pay the money in time to avail low interest benefits and fresh loans. However, it is often seen that loans against most of these accounts are paid before time and fresh loans released. The middlemen close these loans before time and take fresh loans, thereby reaping the low interest benefits meant for small farmers. Here, we call this paper transactions (PTs),” Pradhan said.
In November last, the Centre demonetised large denomination notes. However, immediately after the announcement, it was noticed that crores of rupees poured into lakhs of Jan Dhan accounts. Such massive inflows of cash to these accounts also showed that farmers do not operate these accounts and it is also that their cheque-books are not with them. As all government subsidies come to these accounts, courtesy the digital push by the Centre, and the small and marginal farmers do not operate their bank accounts, chances are that the rich get away with the money meant for others.

Rice self-sufficiency

Many of the estimated 1,700 varieties of rice that have evolved to suit the country's micro-climates and soils are now in danger of becoming extinct
Sean Shoemaker
HIGH BREED: Women planting paddy at the 15th annual Paddy Festival on 29 June in Pokhara.
Nepal is one of the most diverse countries for rice in the world, with paddy growing from the heights of the 3,000m Sinja Valley to the plains of Ilam, at 100m. However, many of the estimated 1,700 varieties of rice that have evolved to suit the country's micro-climates and soils are now in danger of becoming extinct.
Scientists say this would worsen Nepal’s already precarious food security situation, and the country would be much more dependent on imported hybrids. Nepal’s rice varieties are also threatened by climate change and rapid urbanisation of fertile valleys, as well as the out-migration of young men.
“The educated stay abroad, only us elderly farmers remain in the village. A lot of terraces are now fallow, they have turned into jungle,” says Surya Prasad Adhikari from Sundari Danda near Pokhara, who has been at the forefront of a farmer-driven effort to preserve the genetic diversity of rice seeds by cross-breeding rice varieties to make them more resilient.
“Local strains of rice are being abandoned not only because farmers have left, but also because some are attracted to higher yields of hybrid varieties. Local strains can better resist climate change, and if they are preserved maybe some farmers would even return to their land,” says Adhikari, who has worked closely for the Pokhara-based group, Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD) that helps cooperatives practice sustainable agriculture.
“The farmers protect quality seeds so they can breed improved varieties, and planting them in turn protects the soil,” explains LI-BIRD’s plant breeder, Rajeev Dhakal.
Nepal has an annual rice deficit of about 1 million tons even during years with good monsoons. Rice production is averaging about 5 million tons because only 18% of the land is irrigated, and productivity is low. This year, only 40% of rice fields have been planted because of late monsoons and elections.
However, hope may be at hand. Three irrigation projects that will divert water to huge tracts of the Tarai are about to launch in the central and western plains. This means farmers will be able to plant spring rice as well. New techniques like System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and cross-breeding by farmers like Adhikari have improved yields, and these techniques need to be scaled up.
SRI is now being practised in 12 districts and has doubled the yield in many places, while using half the amount of seedlings and much less water. SRI combined with mechanisation has boosted productivity in Tarai farms from an average of 3 tons/hectare to 9 tons/hectare at a lower cost. Power tillers, automatic paddy planters and harvesters are replacing manual farming even in the hills.  
Says Rajendra Uprety at the Regional Directorate of Agriculture in Biratnagar and a strong proponent of SRI: “We need to grow more rice to achieve food security, and need a new methodology for local seeds for higher yields. SRI is suitable to achieve that objective.”,3834

Branded basmati may take a hit

Organised players in the Indian basmati market may have to take a dent in their profits as they have to pay 5 per cent tax under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), rating agency ICRA said on Friday.
Even though there was a value-added tax of 5 per cent on basmati rice earlier, it was tax-exempt in many States. However, under GST, branded basmati firms registered in the Register of Trade Marks face a levy of 5 per cent.
Interestingly, the Noida-based KRBL, which has a 30 per cent share in export and 25 per cent in the domestic market, has managed to stay out of the ambit of GST as its popular India Gate basmati rice brand is not registered under the Trade marks Act. According to Deepak Jotwani, ICRA Assistant VP, the imposition of GST is likely to put branded players in a somewhat disadvantageous position compared to the unbranded segment as it would widen the pricing gap.
Advantage unbranded
This may result in some transition of demand from branded to unbranded basmati, benefiting unorganised players, he said. “More likely, the branded players will witness some erosion of profitability as they would look to absorb the GST impact and maintain pricing parity with the unbranded segment,” Jotwani said in a release.
The Indian basmati rice industry has primarily been export-oriented; however, over the last few years, the domestic market has expanded significantly. There have been concerted efforts by large industry participants to establish their brands in the domestic market.
Coupled with the increased penetration of modern retail stores, and increasing purchasing power of consumers, this has aided the growth of basmati rice consumption in the domestic market, the ICRA official said.
As a result, the market has now become as strong as the export market for most organised basmati rice companies.
(This article was published on July 15, 2017)
Second shipment of imported Vietnam rice arrives in Chittagong

The second shipment of rice from Vietnam has arrived at the Chittagong port.The ship, MV Pax, arrived at the harbour carrying 27,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam on Monday morning, Food Directorate’s Controller of the Movement, Storage and Silo Division Md Jahirul Islam told “The distribution of the first shipment of 20,000 tonnes has begun. The second shipment will also be distributed quickly once the necessary formalities are complete.
” So far 47,000 of the 250,000 tonnes of rice the Bangladesh government bought from Vietnam arrived. Food Directorate officials expect the third shipment on Jul 22. Bangladesh decided to import rice from the Southeast Asian country after floods destroyed crops in haor areas and depleted the government’s rice reserves. On Jun 14 this year, the government cleared the 9.08 billion procurement under a government-to-government deal. Bangladesh will buy 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice for around Tk 1.95 billion, or $470 a tonne and 200,000 tonnes of white rice for about Tk 7.14 billion at $430 a tonne, according to the agreement. Vietnam’s state-run Vinafood 2 will supply 60 percent of shipments through Chittagong port and the rest through the Mongla port.
Govt issues new tender to buy 50,000t rice
Bangladesh’s state grains buyer has issued a new international tender to purchase 50,000 tonnes of rice, European traders said on Friday. The bidding deadline is July 27. Non-basmati parboiled rice is sought, they said. Rice from any origin will be accepted and shipment must take place within 40 days of contract signing. Bangladesh, the world’s fourth-biggest rice producer, could import as much as 1.2 million tonnes of rice this year in an effort to replenish reserves to combat high domestic prices. Bangladesh has been in talks about purchasing 200,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from Thailand in a government-to-government deal, an official said on Thursday. Bangladesh on Friday issued a separate international tender to import 50,000 tonnes of wheat.
Sri Lanka signs rice deal
Submitted by ttwin on Sun, 07/16/2017 - 17:46
Writer: Nilar
Workers loading rice on a ship at Pakokku jetty. (Photo-Thet Htein Win)
Myanmar plans to export 0.2 million tonnes of parboiled rice and 0.3 million tonnes of white rice to Sri Lanka under a memorandum of understanding this year, according to Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF). The National Food Authority of the Philippines has invited a bid for the contract to buy about 50,000 tonnes of rice, according to the Commerce Ministry. Khin Maung Lwin, the assistant permanent secretary at the Commerce Ministry, said: “The Philippines has proposed the lowest price.
 We will win the tender if the price is fair. The Myanmar Rice Federation has already discussed with rice exporters on tender conditions and the loading of rice.” The MRF has sent tender prices to Manila. Myanmar can send 50,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines in October and November if it wins the tender. Currently, Myanmar is exporting rice to Africa, the EU and within Asean. Thanks to the expansion of new rice markets, it exported nearly 700,000 tonnes of rice and broken rice until the end of June this fiscal year. Until July this financial year, the sector earned US$160 million from the export of 522,440 million tonnes of rice. The same period last year, the sector generated more than US$71 million from the export of more than 200,000 tonnes of rice, according to the Commerce Ministry.

A legacy for posterity


Haripada Kapali

Nilratan Halder

Haridhan-famed Haripada Kapali has completed his life's journey at the ripe age of 95. He carried an enviable legacy of discovering and developing a rice variety outside of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). No one, however, knows when another like him will come to make the miracle possible. One hopes some farmer of his ilk in one corner of this lush green country will carry the baton. That the paddy sheaf he once found and nurtured, convinced that it could be a special breed, is the hallmark of a scientist. He may not have read Natural Science but the legacy he inherited from farming tradition of this land told him he had struck something novel.

His conviction was unwavering even when others around him dismissed his claim. Undeterred, the simple uneducated farmer used the paddy as seeds on a small seed bed. The next year he exclusively cultivated those seeds on a small plot of land. This time the yield was much higher than the similar type of rice developed by the BRRI. Those who were unconvinced of his experiment now asked for seeds from him and thus began the promotion of a special type of paddy called Haridhan (paddy named after Haripada).

Here is a story of a farmer who did not go for commercialisation of his achievement; rather he distributed seeds with the hope and words that the beneficiaries would do the same. He did not look for patent or cared for it. What Haripada accomplished simply by adopting the Darwinian selection process is a milestone in the history of rice research in this country. The unassuming man did not care much about his fame. What he really cared for was keeping the inquisitive mind alive not only in him but also in others, particularly the young ones. In effect, he meant to tell that Nature is a great teacher and one can learn so many things from it. His bend of mind was so and who could rival him in preaching such a life's lesson?

 Haripada has made farmers in this country proud. It is these people who have demonstrated their readiness to adopt to new methods of agriculture at every step. Agriculture scientists have developed so many high breed paddies, vegetables and fruits but without the farmers' active involvement at the field level, the country could not achieve food sufficiency in the country. The country's population has witnessed a burgeoning growth but the agricultural land has continued to decline. Still the staple, vegetable and fruit outputs have trebled and in some particular cases quadrupled.


Not all farmers are likely to rise to the stature of Haripada. But when news comes that so and so farmers have become millionaire by virtue of their fruit orchards, flower cultivation, vegetable farming etc; there the tradition of entrepreneurship in agriculture is noticed. Maybe, they are different from Haripada in the sense that they have used their talent for making money. There is no harm in doing so. There is no point remaining poor, particularly when they are contributing to the country's food output and doing so honestly.

Farmers are so ingenious that some are proving their mettle by farming exotic fruits and vegetables. Strawberry, dragon fruits are being cultivated with success. Broccoli and capsicum and cucumber of the exotic variety are commodities in demand in the upmarket and once those had to be imported. Now no more. Local farmers are good enough to meet the demand.

It is a pity that farmers are neglected because they are not shrewd in marketing their produces. Middlemen and wholesale traders eat the cream and they are deprived of fair prices for their perishable commodity. Here the government intervention could make a difference.

During the army-backed caretaker government an experiment with transportation of produces directly from field in Narsingdi to Dhaka market proved highly successful. Indeed, if the government provides trucks or railway wagons for carrying farmers' produces under a cooperative management, both consumers and farmers can benefit from the arrangement.


Due recognition of farmers can make this country better in more senses than one. Haripada received some recognition for his wonderful achievement but he surely deserved more. After all, his is an accomplishment that is likely to last for ever.