Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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

USA Rice Explores E-Commerce Potential in Chinese Market 

WASHINGTON, DC -- While the U.S. rice industry anxiously awaits entry into the Chinese market, USA Rice is reaching out to various importers and sellers of rice in the e-commerce business there.  E-commerce is a huge platform in China; last year, there were USD$744 billion in ecommerce sales, a 40 percent increase from the prior year.   Alibaba controls about 60 percent of that market - the next largest company is with a 25 percent share. 
Yesterday, USA Rice met with representatives from both Alibaba and at the Alibaba office here to discuss U.S. rice production and our interest in supplying rice to China in the very near future.  
Asked about the prospect of new U.S. products being permitted to enter the Chinese market, Mr. Jinghua Bao, the Logistics Planning and Development Director of, outlined the logistics of selling rice.  "Since rice has a heavy weight but lower price point, it must be subsidized by other products," said Mr. Bao.  "If the logistics work out and the price is right, this could work out."  
"U.S. rice must differentiate itself from other must be unique," said Mr. Ming Chen, the Logistics Director for Alibaba's HeMa Fresh Gourmet Supermarket Chain.  "If it is, then price is not an issue." 
While China is U.S. agriculture's largest export market, U.S. rice has not yet been permitted to enter the ports.  Two months ago, a phytosanitary protocol was signed between the two countries signaling the potential entrance of U.S. rice to the market.  The next step is an inspection of U.S. rice export facilities by Chinese phytosanitary authorities that is expected to happen by the end of this year.  
USA Rice is exhibiting at FHC China in Shanghai in November; several attendees at yesterday's meeting said they look forward to seeing USA Rice and our members there.


Bangladesh to import rice from Myanmar

September 19, 2017
DHAKA: Bangladesh will import 100,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar at $442 a tonne in a state-to-state deal, the food minister said on Monday, as it grapples with depleted stocks and record domestic prices.
The decision comes after Bangladesh finalised a deal to import 250,000 tonnes of white rice at $453 a tonne from Cambodia, following a comparatively cheaper deal with Vietnam.
“It will take some time to complete formalities. Then shipment will start,” the minister, Qamrul Islam, told reporters.
However, the latest deal comes amid worsening ties between the two countries over the Rohingya refugee crisis.
Bangladesh, the world’s fourth biggest rice producer, has emerged as a major importer of rice after floods hit crops.
High demand from Bangladesh could lift Asian prices that have already hit multi-year highs in recent months.The state grains buyer is issuing a series of tenders as it seeks to import 1.5 million tonnes of rice in the year to next June.
It has imported 200,000 tonnes of white rice at $430 a tonne and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice at $470 a tonne from Vietnam in a state-to-state deal.
The government started selling rice at a subsidised rate from this week while last month it cut a duty on imports of the grain for the second time in two months.
But prices of rice, a staple food for Bangladeshs 160 million people, did not budge, posing a problem for the government which faces a national election due next year.
The country produces around 34 million tonnes of rice annually but uses almost all its production to feed its population, and often requires imports to cope with shortages caused by floods or droughts.

Traders announce cuts in rice prices

Traders have announced a reduction in the prices of rice after receiving assurances from the government of ‘solutions to several problems’.
 “Rice prices will fall by Tk 2-3 per kg starting tomorrow,” said Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association General Secretary KM Layek Ali after a meeting with three ministers at the Secretariat on Tuesday.Minister of Commerce Tofail Ahmed, Minister of Agriculture Matia Chowdhury, Minister of Food Kamrul Islam and former Food Minister Abdur Razzak met with representatives from rice mill owners, importers, wholesalers and retailers to address the recent spike in rice prices.
“The relevant ministries will take action to remove these problems,” Tofail said after a discussion that lasted over two hours.
The commerce minister also approved the use of plastic instead of jute sacks for the import, production and distribution of rice for three months.
“Get the rice however you can. We will relax the use of plastic sacks for two to three months.”
Rice imports from India through Rohonpur will also be allowed, said Tofail.
Two rounds of floods that damaged crops and depletion of rice reserves have prompted the government to begin several rice import initiatives. It has also cut rice import duties by 24 percentage points to encourage private sector imports.  
Though a record amount of rice has been imported by public and private entities in the past two months, the price of rice has continued to rise. The government has blamed the deception of traders for the market instability.
“It was a good meeting,” Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association President Abdur Rashid told reporters. “Rice prices will begin to fall in a few days.”

Dhaka to import 1 lakh tonnes rice from Myanmar

Bangladesh has decided to import rice from Myanmar in face of instability in the market of the prime staple and in the backdrop of Rohingya crisis.

A decision to import 1 lakh metric tonnes of white rice has been taken up, food ministry officials told The Daily Star today on condition of anonymity.

The purchase will be made at USD 442 per tonne. The decision came following a meeting between a delegation of Myanmar and the food ministry last night.

Last month, Bangladesh faced a bout of instability in the rice market. The government was compelled to encourage exports from neighbouring countries.

Import duty on rice was brought down to two percent from the preceding 20 percent. But less than a month into such move, the price of rice has soared up again.

The government again stepped in and started the sale of subsidised rice under its open market sale programme from this week – selling Tk 30 per kg, Tk 20 less from that in the market.

Also, the decision to import rice from Myanmar comes in the backdrop of Rohingya crisis – the latest refugee toll pouring into Bangladesh rising to over 412,000.

Myanmar currently faces international condemnation for carrying out atrocities against the Rohingyas. Bangladesh is pressuring Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas.

Police chief warns hoarders

Bangaldesh’s police chief AKM Shahidul Hoque has warned strongly against rice hoarding.

He said police will take action against those found hoarding rice in a bid to create artificial crisis in the country. “On-field policemen have already been directed in this regarded.”

The inspector general of police (IGP) repeated the warning at a press conference in police headquarters today following repeated warning of the government against hoarders.

Govt doubles OMS rice price to Tk 30 per kg 

The government has doubled the price of rice at trucks of its Open Market Sale or OMS programme to Tk 30 per kilogram to adjust the market price.The government decision came after the price of the staple food grain skyrocketed of late.

Flour will also be sold at the OMS trucks at Tk 17 per kg along with rice only in Dhaka city. In the other district headquarters, only rice will be sold.Directorate General of Food Director General Md Badrul Hasan told, “Many days have passed since the price of rice at OMS programme had been cut to Tk 15 from Tk 24 a kg. It won’t be (reasonable) if we keep the price unchanged while market prices have shot up.”

“We can’t keep a huge difference between the prices. It will raise the possibilities of leakage and other problems,” he added.

This year’s OMS programme was scheduled to open across the country on Sunday, but the trucks could not be seen at all district headquarters.Hasan hoped the sale at OMS trucks would start at all the designated places within a day or two.

According to him, 120 OMS trucks will sell two tonnes of flour and one tonne of rice in Dhaka. Outside the capital, 507 trucks will sell rice.

The government has fixed warehouse price of the OMS rice at Tk 28.5 per kg.

At a news conference on Sept 14, Food Minister Qamrul Islam said the price of OMS rice would be unchanged at Tk 15 per kg, but now the government has raised the price while opening the sale.

Rice harvest races start of autumn rains


Issue Date: September 20, 2017
By Ching Lee
Rice harvest at this Sutter County farm started with a field of short-grain rice last week. The earlier-maturing variety is typically one of the first to be harvested in the Sacramento Valley.
Photo/Ching Lee
After being held up by late spring rains that led to a hectic planting schedule, California rice farmers have begun harvesting what is expected to be a smaller crop.
With an estimated 458,000 acres in production this year, California rice acreage declined by 78,000 acres from 2016, according to a forecast this month from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers have attributed that drop to the difficult spring weather that did not allow them to finish on time.
"Everybody in the industry thought we were going to have a big crop this year," said Sutter County rice farmer Greg Van Dyke. "But with the type of weather we had, we just physically couldn't get in and plant it."
He ended up leaving 40 percent of his normal acreage fallow because it got too late in the season to plant the rest.
The late planting was also expected to push back the start of harvest, which could put farmers at risk of early fall rains that could wreak havoc on their crop. Farmers agree the number of sweltering days this summer helped speed growth of the plants, but there are also concerns that the high heat could lower yields.
"I don't think yields are going to be bad by any means; I just think they're going to be slightly reduced from last year, which had very good yields," Van Dyke said.
A smaller incoming crop could help firm up prices, he added, noting the depressed rice market in recent years. Also boosting grower optimism is the prospect of China, the world's largest consumer, opening its doors to U.S. rice. A phytosanitary agreement reached by the U.S. and China in July is expected to be particularly beneficial to California growers and millers, by raising long-term export sales.
Van Dyke started harvest last week on a short-grain variety, which has a shorter growing season than the state's predominant, medium-grain Calrose variety and is typically one of the first to come off in the Sacramento Valley.
Colusa County farmer Brian Barrett said he expects some medium-grain fields will begin cutting sometime next week, with harvest ramping up in October, on par with typical harvest dates.
"I think (the crop) has caught up a little bit, but I think it'll still be about a week behind where we were last year," he said.
His family managed to plant all their ground except for about 100 acres, which were covered by prevented-planting insurance. The option of the indemnity, Barrett said, allowed farmers to focus on the fields they were able to plant.
"It was like, let's do it right and get the best crop we could," he said.
With half his acreage in the Yolo Bypass, which remained flooded late in the season, Yolo County farmer Mike Hall said he left some 4,800 acres unplanted. He completed harvest on about 2,000 acres of wild rice—another short-season crop—more than two weeks ago, but he said some of his later-maturing, medium-grain varieties won't be harvested until mid-October.
"When you start to get into October, you run the risk of late October wind and rain that could knock (the plant) down," he said. "We've encountered that before, where the yield was cut more than 50 percent when those fields just got wet and knocked down."
Because many fields were planted during a two-week window, Barrett said if farmers try to harvest it all in a similar timeframe, it could "make things hard" for dryers as they face a possible logjam.
Yuba County farmer Charley Mathews Jr., who expects to start harvest sometime this week, said when there's late planting, farmers typically scramble on the back end, with multiple varieties coming off at the same time.
"It's going to be a rush, but it always is," he said. "We all harvest a lot faster than we used to."
Now that the weather has started to cool down, he said, it has slowed progress of the crop.
Consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures this summer may cause some yield losses, Barrett said.
During the heading stage of the rice plant, temperatures exceeding 104 degrees could dry out the pollen, thwarting fertilization, which leads to blanking, or empty kernels, said Luis Espino, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor.
"And this year, I've seen some of that," he said. "I don't know how widespread it is. It's going to depend on when the panicles were coming out and the temperature at that time. I've seen some fields where you can see can blanking, and I believe it's because of the high temperature."
Blanking more often happens when temperatures below 55 degrees damage the pollen when it is first formed, making it unviable, Espino said. But this year, temperatures never dropped that low during that stage of the plant's development, raising hopes that there would be less blanking and higher yields, he said.
Aside from possible heat-related issues, Espino described the overall growing season as "good," noting that he didn't see any blast in fields and received few reports of it this year. However, there were more reports of stem rot, a common fungal disease caused by a pathogen in the soil that he said may be becoming more prevalent.
The pathogen overwinters in rice straw, and farmers used to manage the disease by burning the straw after harvest. Because burning has been greatly reduced for many years, Espino said he thinks the pathogen has accumulated in some fields, leading to an increase in stem-rot problems. Fungicides, he noted, have not been very effective.
Small infestations of weedy rice, or red rice, also are showing up in more California fields, Espino said. As of the end of 2016, it had been confirmed in more than 10,000 acres, according to UCCE.
Because the weed is considered one of the most damaging for rice and can affect yield and quality significantly, Espino said farm advisors have been "trying to spread the word and get growers to be on the lookout for it."
"We want to make sure that if a grower finds something that looks suspicious, they let us know," he said.
(Ching Lee is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

Chinese scientists to help Pakistan enhance rice production

LAHORE: Chinese scientists are ready to help Pakistan in increasing rice production, said Dr Wang, head of a delegation of Chinese scientists, during their visit to Rice Research Institute at Kala Shah Kaku, on Monday.
Director of the Institute Dr Muhammad Akhtar welcomed the visitors. Both sides stressed the need for increasing liaison between the Rice Research Institute Kala Shah Kaku and Chinese Long Ping Hi-tech for preparing rice varieties with higher yield.
Dr Muhammad Anjum Ali, a senior official of the Punjab Agriculture Department, suggested promoting hybrid rice varieties to increase per acre yield of paddy.
He said that hybrid varieties will decrease the cost of production of the rice crop and ultimately increase exports.
The delegation will visit all rice producing areas and give recommendations its recommendations as well.
It will also visit Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In the next few days, the members will reach Islamabad to prepare their recommendations and present them on Oct 11.
Dr Wang pledged to take every possible step for the provision of better quality rice varieties. The delegation will also take the local farmers and seed companies into confidence

China offers help in boosting rice production

September 19, 2017

LAHORE: Chinese scientists are ready to help Pakistan in increasing rice production, head of a delegation of Chinese scientists Dr Wang said during their visit to Rice Research Institute (RRI) at Kala Shah Kaku on Monday.
RRI Director Muhammad Akhtar welcomed the visitors. Both sides stressed the need for increasing liaison between the Rice Research Institute and Chinese Long Ping Hi-tech for preparing rice varieties with higher yield.
Muhammad Anjum Ali, a senior official of the Punjab Agriculture Department, suggested promoting hybrid rice varieties to increase per acre yield of paddy. He said that hybrid varieties will decrease the cost of production of the rice crop and ultimately increase exports.
The delegation will visit all the rice producing areas and give recommendations.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017

Maldives refutes 'plastic' rice reports

Maldives Food and Drug Authority on Monday refuted reports of 'plastic' rice in the country, insisting that tests thus far have been negative. In a letter sent to Lily International which is the importer of renowned rice brand 'Kohinoor', FDA said investigation into reports had not revealed any traces of plastic in the rice and eggs imported into the Maldives.

"But since such reports are a major concern for the people, we would continue our investigation into the claims. We would also be keeping a close eye on the rice imported into the country for traces of plastic," FDA said in its letter.Fake eggs feared to be made of plastic have caused panic in India after they were recovered in large numbers from markets in some states of the neighbouring country. India remains a key exporter of eggs to the Maldives
FDA however insisted that no international authority including the World Health Organization (WHO) have officially confirmed the presence of plastic eggs or rice.

Decoded: How does bajra survives extreme heat, drought

Super crop: Pearl millet can withstand high tempratures
Scientists, including those from India, have decoded the genome of bajra and discovered how the crop survives high temperatures and drought, a finding that may help boost production of other cereals in light of the impending global climate change and food crisis.
“Rising temperatures and frequency of extreme climate events like heat waves in many parts of the world will lead to a drop in major staple crop production,” researchers said.
A global team of 65 scientists from 30 research institutions decoded and sequenced the bajra (or pearl millet) genome and revealed critical coping strategies. The analysis has led to a better understanding of the ability of this dryland cereal to survive soaring temperatures of over 42 degrees Celsius and its exceptional drought tolerance.
The discovery published in the journal Nature Biotechnology may help develop climate adaptation strategies in other important food crops.
This research co-led by the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Telangana, BGI-Shenzhen in China and the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), used the latest innovations in DNA sequencing and analysis.
The team identified new genetic tools like molecular markers related to drought and heat tolerance, as well as other important traits.
“The findings may boost efforts to improve this crucial staple food for millions of people in arid and semi-arid Africa and Asia in particular,” researchers said.
Pearl millet is a nutritious drylands cereal, rich in protein, fibre and essential micronutrients like iron, zinc and folate.
Nutrition studies have shown that this cereal has the potential to fight iron deficiency, the most widespread micronutrient deficiency and major cause of anaemia, affecting health and development of a third of global population.
Pearl millet is grown on about 27 million hectares worldwide and is a daily food for more than 90 million people, among the most vulnerable in arid and semi-arid Africa and Asia.
It is also an important source of fodder for millions of farms. However, pearl millet yields have remained low over the last six decades, as this cereal is mainly grown in poor soil conditions without irrigation, minimal and no fertiliser and other agricultural inputs.
“Investment in genetic research for this crop has been inadequate and breeders had limited genetic information to develop high yielding superior varieties and hybrids that respond to farmers’ constraints,” researchers said.
“Most cereals like rice or maize cannot support temperatures over 30 to maximum 35 degrees Celsius when they start forming their grain, whereas pearl millet will fill its grain in air temperatures of up to 42 degrees,” said Professor Rajeev Varshney from ICRISAT, who coordinated the Pearl Millet Genome Sequencing Consortium.
“We have found that compared to other cereals like wheat, rice or maize, pearl millet has a more diverse repertoire of genes for natural wax proteins, which act as thermal protection for the plant,” said Varshney.
Such heat resistance is crucial as climate experts forecast further heat waves in years to come.
With the new biotechnology methods, we can foresee the transfer of such heat and/or drought tolerance to other important food cereals in a near future.
“This research will lead to delivery of high yields of pearl millet in farmer fields in the marginal environments in Africa and Asia,” said David Bergvinson, Director General of ICRISAT.
“Identifying better genes for heat tolerance in pearl millet can also help other crops like wheat, rice and maize become more climate change ready, showing the importance of investing in so called ‘orphan’ or neglected crops,” Bergvinson said.
Govt to procure 50,000 tons of rice from Thailand
Last month, the government signed two deals with Vietnam and Cambodia to import 2.5 million tons of rice from each of the countries
The government will procure 50,000 tons of non-bashmoti and parboiled rice from Thailand through an international tender, official sources have said. The Ministry of Food proposal to purchase the rice from M/S Sima Trading Company will be placed at today’s cabinet committee meeting on public purchase, which will be presided over by Finance Minister AMA Muhith.
The proposal signed by Food Secretary Md Kaikobad Hossain fixes the cost per metric ton of the staple at $438, while the total cost of the import stands at $21.9m (Tk181 crore). According to a recent report of the Food Ministry, the government has previously failed to import 300,000 tons of rice from Thailand and India due to price differences between the two countries and the international market. The proposal put the per unit cost of import from Thailand at $464 and from India at $454 under the government-to-government purchases.
The Food Ministry had aimed to procure one million tons of rice from international markets to meet the current shortage in rice, which fell to a five-year low of 345,000 tons on September 14. Last month, the government signed two deals with Vietnam and Cambodia to import 2.5 million tons of rice from each of the countries. Earlier, Food Minister Md Qamrul Islam visited Myanmar to pave the way for 10 million tons of rice to be imported over the next three years. On Sunday and Monday, a visiting Myanmar delegate held talks over the issue and decided on supplying 100,000 tons of non-boiled rice under the current government-to-government purchase at a per ton cost of $442.
The Food Ministry’s recent report reveals that Bangladesh has become a surplus state in rice production, but this year is an exception due to natural disasters like flooding. Qamrul Islam also acknowledged on Tuesday the failure of internal collection campaign, which he also blamed on the floods. According to the ministry source, the minister set a target of 800,000 tons of rice collection internally in the current Boro season but by September 10, only 250,000 tons had been collected.
The minister earlier announced that the government will procure 1.6 million tons of paddy, rice and wheat, of which 78% was not achieved. After the inter-ministerial meeting of Food and Expenditure Committee on August 16, Qamrul told reporters that the target of harvesting 19.1 million tons of Boro paddy was not achieved due to floods in haor and other areas. “I did not buy the plan to procure 700,000 tons of rice and 800,000 tons of wheat,” he said.
Former food secretary Abdul Latif Mondal told the Dhaka Tribune that the Ministry of Food made a “big mistake” by not taking necessary steps at the beginning of the crisis. He said it was too late when the import initiative was taken, and by that time the reserves ended. “The Food Ministry depends heavily on paper information about the production,” Latif said, adding that this situation is associated with other issues that have been brought together at a time. He added that rice price might come down a little by Tk5 in November, which will still affect the lower-income groups.
Rice basmati weakens on muted demand

New Delhi, Sep 19 (PTI) Barring a slide in rice basmati prices on subdued demand from retailers, rest other grains held steady at the wholesale grains market today. Traders said sluggish demand from retailers against sufficient stocks position mainly weighed on prices. In the national capital, rice basmati Pusa-1121 variety eased to Rs 5,500-5,550 against last close of Rs 5,550-5,600 per quintal. Following are today’s quotations (in Rs per quintal): Wheat MP (desi) Rs 2,100-2,350, Wheat dara (for mills) Rs 1,765-1,770, Chakki atta (delivery) Rs 1,770-1,775, Atta Rajdhani (10 kg) Rs 260-300, Shakti Bhog (10 kg) Rs 255-290, Roller flour mill Rs 950-960 (50 kg), Maida Rs 990-1,000 (50 kg)and Sooji Rs 1,030-1,040 (50 kg). Basmati rice (Lal Quila) Rs 10,700, Shri Lal Mahal Rs 11,300, Super Basmati Rice Rs 9,800, Basmati common new Rs 6,800-6,900, Rice Pusa (1121) Rs 5,500-5,550, Permal raw Rs 2,200-2,225, Permal wand Rs 2,250-2,275, Sela Rs 2,300-2,400 and Rice IR-8 Rs 1,850-1,875, Bajra Rs 1,190-1,195, Jowar yellow Rs 1,400-1,450, white Rs 2,800-2,900, Maize Rs 1,310- 1,315, Barley Rs 1,430-1,440.

Traders promise lowering rice prices soon

Staff Correspondent | Update: 
The country’s businessmen have said the prices of rice would be lowered by Tk 2/3 per kg in the next few days after a meeting with the government on Tuesday.The announcement came after the business leaders and the government reached a consensus over the issue during the meeting at the food ministry.According to the business leaders, the government agreed to allow businesses to use plastic bags and to help quicken release of rice-carrying trucks stuck at land ports.

Rice Millers Association general secretary AKM Layek Ali said the government accepted their demands. “The rice price will go down by Tk 2/3 in the next few days,” he added.Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury, food minister Qamrul Islam and some other top government officials sat with business leaders following the recent rice price hike in the country.Earlier, food minister Qamrul Islam accused businessmen of creating the artificial rice crisis to hike prices. The minister then claimed there is no rice crisis in the country as nearly 10 million tonnes of rice are in the market.
The business leader then protested the government allegations and said the crisis was created due to the government’s policies and failure to take timely decision over the issue.

As Bangla imports surge, rice becomes costly

Updated: September 18, 2017 23:58 IST | Abhishek Law, Pratim Ranjan Bose
The prices of common rice varieties in West Bengal have increased by 10-20 per cent at the miller’s end in recent weeks. Bangladesh has imported 600,000 tonnes in the last five weeks
Panic over potential foodgrain shortfall and opportunistic trading in Bangladesh have sent the price of rice soaring on both sides of the border.Over the last three weeks, the price of common rice varieties in West Bengal increased by 10-20 per cent at the miller’s end. The price of Swarna has gone up from ₹22 a kg to ₹27 a kg, Ratna from ₹28 to ₹30 and Minikit from ₹32 to ₹35. Retail prices are ₹2 to ₹5 higher.The buzz in the market is that prices will increase further after Durga Puja next week. Reason: The sudden rise in demand from Bangladesh, which reduced import duty from 28 per cent to 2 per cent in phases between June and August.
According to customs sources, approximately 2,300-2,400 tonnes of rice is exported to Bangladesh from West Bengal every day; taking the total to over 600,000 tonnes in the last four-five weeks. This is as much as the annual imports of Bangladeshi traders in 2014-15.The intensity of trade can be understood from the fact that Bangladesh imported roughly 700,000 tonnes of rice in the whole of 2014-15. At least 230 trucks are crossing the Petrapole border, which hasn’t seen rice exports for nearly five years.
The rise in prices is yet to catch the attention of the West Bengal government. “We will assess the situation,” State Agriculture Minister Ashis Banerjee told BusinessLine.
Opportunistic trading
The most confusing part of the whole story is that despite such heavy imports, the price of rice continues to rise in Bangladesh. The price of Minikitrose by around 18 per cent from approximately Taka 55 a kg to Taka 65 a kg in the retail market, says Golam Mortoza, editor of Dhaka-based Sapthahik.
That is not all; Bangladesh’s media was abuzz last week with fictitious news of export restriction by India. The Sheikh Hasina government in Dhaka, however, was quick to describe the reports as “fabricated” and blame opportunistic trading for the crisis.
‘Vested quarters are trying to create an artificial food crisis’ Bangladesh’s Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed was quoted saying by ‘The Daily Star’ of Dhaka.
He is not entirely wrong; Bangladesh achieved self-sufficiency in rice production during the last five years with production reaching 34.5 million tonnes in 2015-16. Accordingly the government buying from overseas markets has also stopped.
However, private buying continued till 2015, when Bangladesh raised import duties to a steep 28 per cent to protect domestic farmers.
The situation tilted in favour of the traders due to a perceived 300,000-tonne production shortfall this year due to climatic conditions and flooding. To mitigate this, the government planned up to 600,000 tonnes.
However, Dhaka failed to implement the import plan till Sunday when it struck an agreement with Myanmar to import 100,000 tonnes of rice in three years.
Slashing the import duty sent panic waves and traders took full advantage of the sentiments.
The mismanagement on the part of Bangladesh came as a windfall opportunity to traders in Bengal. The rice industry in the State was affected for the last five years due to the drop in Bangladeshi imports.
West Bengal produced 15.9 million tonne (mt) of rice in in 2016-17 against an estimated domestic demand of 14.5 mt. Apparently, therefore, the state has enough stocks even after supplying 600,000 rice to Bangladesh. Yet prices are spiralling.


Cabinet approves B87 bn to help rice 

19 Sep 2017 at 16:14 4,174
Rice paddies are pictured in Ban Mae Tia in Chom Thong District of Chiang Mai. (Bangkok Post photo)
The cabinet on Tuesday approved three loan a
nd subsidy programmes for rice farmers, to help stabilise prices and reduce oversupply of the grain.The three programmes are worth a total of 87 billion baht and include 73 billion baht for loans and subsidies for rice farmers already approved by the rice management committee earlier this month.The 73 billion baht spending programme will cover 3.7 million households and span the seasonal harvest from the start of November this year to the end of February 2018.
The remaining money will be used for loans and subsidies for agricultural institutes and business to stockpile rice.The three programmes are designed to stockpile 12.5 million tonnes of rice.The measures were approved during the mobile cabinet meeting in Ayutthaya.

Quote of the Day

"Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
                                                                - Albert Schweitzer