Thursday, September 21, 2017

21st September,2017 daily global regional local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

USA Rice Retail Partnerships Result in Strong Consumer Outreach
By Cameron Jacobs
ARLINGTON, VA -- In support of National Rice Month (NRM), USA Rice is working with retail dietitians to remind shoppers to Think Ricebefore, during, and after their shopping experience.  By providing quality U.S. rice focused content to retail dietitians that can be incorporated into supermarket activities and communications, the partnerships have already yielded more than 10.3 million consumer impressions just halfway through the month.
"With ninety-five percent of stores employing dietitians at the corporate, regional, and store levels, it was imperative that USA Rice partner with, and supply content for, these dietitians as they developed nutrition programs to help consumers make healthy food choices, while supporting retail grocery sales," said Paul Galvani, chairman of the USA Rice Retail Subcommittee.
Retail dietitians from six grocery store chains have participated in the National Rice Month campaign, including Big Y, Coborn's, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Pyramid Foods, Redner's, and Weis.
"The results of these partnerships speak for themselves," said Galvani.  "With more than 10 million impressions by the midpoint of National Rice Month, we know our message is being received by consumers."
In addition to printed and digital efforts by the dieticians, other unique U.S. rice focused planned promotions include Coborn's Wednesday Lunch and Learn featuring National Rice Month, in combination with National Family Meals Month, and Price Cutter's, a division of Pyramid Foods, "Getting Fancy with USA Rice" Food Demonstration.
In addition to the impressions stemming from supermarket outreach, coverage from local news and other organizations have also garnered 754,351 impressions as of mid-month.
Galvani concluded, "With almost half a month left of planned partner promotions, we are excited to see the final outreach and retail sales figures.  USA Rice's NRM retail dietician program continues to be a success in promoting U.S. rice awareness and consumption, while helping shoppers make healthy food choices."

Sharon Schweitzer, ContributorInternational Protocol Expert, Best Selling Author, Cross-Cultural Consultant

One Grain At A Time: Celebrating National Rice Month

09/19/2017 01:55 pm ET
September is National Rice Month celebrating the harvest of rice, a staple consumed by nearly half of the world’s population. Rice consumption is especially strong in Asian and African countries, however is also common in the Americas.
Rice has important social, religious, and cultural significance around the world. If you’re traveling abroad during National Rice Month, learning about these facts can help you start intelligent conversations with your colleagues and family members.
India and Thailand are the world’s leading exporters of rice, with the U.S. ranking third, according to the 2016 rice exports. So it’s no surprise that rice is an essential part of Asian cuisine. It is delicious steamed, stir-fried, boiled, or mixed – the possibilities are endless. It can be served sweet, savory, spicy, or salty. Numerous types of rice are available to accompany the appropriate meal.
Rice has significant social meaning. In Korea, rice is translated to ssal, but once cooked it is referred to as bap. When Koreans greet each other, they will often ask “Did you eat?” which may sound strange to Westerners but bap, or cooked rice connotes a meal and it is often used as a tool for socializing. In Korean culture, people usually share food, or bap with each other, which signifies friendship and fondness.
Rice also symbolizes fertility, luck, and wealth in Chinese culture. During Chinese New Year, there is a sticky rice cake called nian gao. It is considered good luck to eat nian gao because it symbolizes prosperity for the following year. The New Year greeting, Nian Gao Sheng translates to wish people advancement toward higher positions of prosperity.
Rice is considered highly sacred throughout Asia. In India, rice has a spiritual and ritual significance. It’s used in various Hindu rituals and also in some of the Hindu samskaras, or ceremonies that mark a major event in one’s life. Rice is also used in harvest festivals. In Southeast AsiaDewi Sri is a rice goddess referred to as “Rice Mother” or “Rice Maiden.” There are numerous rituals that celebrate good harvest.
In sub-Saharan Africa, rice is the fastest growing staple food. Rapid urbanization in West Africa has increased the demand for rice instead of traditional staples. There are holidays such as “World Jollof Day” that celebrates Jollof – a dish composed of rice, tomatoes and onions – that you eat at parties, ceremonies, weddings and even funerals.
North America
North American exports supplied 9.6 percent of global rice exports followed by Europe and Latin America. The United States is a major exporter of rice, mainly produced in the South and in California. Its main markets are focused in Canada, Haiti, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Rice is more than a simple carbohydrate with a meal. In many parts of the world, rice embodies various social, cultural, and religious traditions. Wherever you may be across the globe, celebrate National Rice Month by understanding what goes behind the small grain.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Pakistan awaiting US companies to invest in diverse fields: Abbasi

NEW YORK: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says Pakistan is looking forward for more American companies to invest in diverse fields in Pakistan.
Vice President of General Electric (GE) John Rice called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in New York on Tuesday. Rice said that Pakistan was a very important market for General Electric. “We are committed to expanding our business in Pakistan,” the vice president said. Rice expressed his desire for investment in locomotives fabrication and health sector system delivery.
Appreciating the long association of General Electric with Pakistan, the prime minister said that Pakistan had been benefiting immensely from the expertise of the company. Abbasi said that Pakistan was open to investment by foreign companies.
Premier Abbasi has arrived in New York to attend the 72nd annual session of the United Nations.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that Pakistan-Turkey relations are based on common faith, values, culture, history, mutual trust and support. He said that the linkages between the people of the two countries had transformed into a strategic partnership that is strengthening with each passing day.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the UNGA Session in New York. The two leaders had an in-depth exchange of views about the strengthening of reviewed regional peace and security situation.
The two leaders emphasised that the two countries should continue to attach special focus on enhancing economic cooperation and work together for early finalization of the Free Trade Agreement for boosting the bilateral trade.
Prime Minister Abbasi said that Pakistan and Turkey extended support to each other on the issues of their vital national interests. He thanked the Turkish president for Turkey’s unflinching support to the struggle of the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
President Erdogan appreciated the strengthening of the bilateral relations through concrete cooperation in various fields and the commonality of views between the two countries on key international and regional issues. He reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment for continued endeavours for strengthening of the mutually beneficial strategic partnership.
The two leaders also exchanged views on the regional situation. On the efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan they agreed that there was no military solution of the Afghan conflict and the efforts should continue for a regional approach for an internal political settlement in Afghanistan through an Afghan-owned Afghan-led peace process.
Both the leaders agreed on the revival of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey trilateral process for promoting lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Discussing the plight of Rohingya Muslims President Erdogan and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urged the international community and the OIC to take urgent measures to alleviate the suffering of these people.

China offers help in boosting rice production


Published: 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.
Pakistan taking major steps for ease of doing business: Canadian HC

Minister says JWG on Trade and Investment working on exploring ways to promote trade

ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile, Mohammad Pervaiz Malik has said that trade between Pakistan and Canada stood at $0.91 billion during the FY2016-17, saying that there is tremendous potential between the two countries to increase the bilateral trade. He stated this while talking to Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Perry John Calderwood who called him here on Tuesday.
The minister welcomed the Canadian High Commissioner and also thanked him for the letter of facilitation and invitation to visit Canada, extended by Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Commerce Minister.
He also shared his intention to visit Canada soon to discuss ways and means to bolster the already cordial trade relations between the two countries.
Mohammad Pervaiz Malik said that Pakistan’s major exports to the Canada include rice, made up articles of textiles material, articles of apparel and major imports from Canada are grain oil seeds and pulses, vegetable preparations machinery and its parts, pharmaceutical products, oil-seed & chemicals.
The minister further said that Canada-Pakistan Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment is working on exploring ways to promote bilateral trade. He also asked Canadian side to come up with their recommendations on proposal to conduct a Joint Study for promotion of bilateral trade.
He informed the Canadian High Commissioner that the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) agreed to adopt mutually agreed scientific solution to the problem of fumigation of Canadian exports to Pakistan to ensure food safety standards and said that with the support of CFIA the DPP has completed technical and legal evaluation of the information provided by CFIA and now await invitation from CFIA to DPP experts for on-the-spot inspection of integrated measures employed in Canada to ascertain export of quarantine free cargo to Pakistan.
Mohammad Pervaiz Malik further said that the security situation in Pakistan has significantly improved & economic and social indicators are on the rise in Pakistan and Pakistan offers a lucrative market for investment.
Canadian High Commissioner, Perry John Calderwood congratulated Mohammad Pervaiz Malik on becoming the Commerce Minister and said that there has been a substantial improvement in the security situation in Pakistan and Pakistan is also taking major steps for ease of doing business which makes the Pakistani market very lucrative for Canadian businesses and investors.
He informed the Commerce Minister that Canada has already made significant investment in solar energy projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Canadian High Commissioner said that there has been a solid foundation of Pakistan and Canada trade relations and now a sustained effort is needed to build on that foundation and increase the bilateral trade. He also expressed need to bring the Pakistani and Canadian businesses together so that they get understanding of businesses in both countries and explore new investment opportunities.
Later on, Erik Beishembiev, Kyrgyz Ambassador to Pakistan called on the Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Mohammad Pervaiz Malik.
He asked the Commerce Minister for the support of Pakistan in activation of Trade and Economic Council between the chambers of the two countries and providing training to Kyrgyz officers on GSP Plus. The Commerce minister welcomed the Kyrgyz ambassador to the ministry and assured him of full support and facilitation. The minister also promised to speed up the work on activation of Trade and Economic Council

Rice traders pledge to curb prices as govt allows plastic sacks for import

·         Published at 07:37 PM September 19, 2017
·         Last updated at 09:37 PM September 19, 2017

The commerce minister has suspended for three months the government decision that made use of jute sacks for importing rice mandatoryDhaka Tribune

The prices of almost all types of rice at most of the kitchen markets in Dhaka increased by Tk10 per kg in the past week

Rice millers and importers have assured that the hiked prices will go down by at least Tk2-3 per kg very soon as the government has allowed using plastic sacks for packaging instead of jute sacks.They made the pledge instantly after Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed suspended for three months the 2014 government order that made use of jute sacks mandatory for importing, transportation, preservation, stocking and marketing of rice.Tofail’s decision came at a meeting, chaired by Food Minister Qamrul Islam, with the traders at the Secretariat on Tuesday in a bid to bring down the climbing prices of the food grain.

“The government has also promised to take steps to remove the barriers in importing rice from other countries. This will help us,” said KM Layek Ali, general secretary of Bangladesh Auto, Major and Husking Mill Owners’ Association.Encouraging the private traders, the commerce minister said: “From now on, import and market rice in whatever packaging you can. I’ll notify the NBR and Customs. No one will stop you. This will remain effective for next three months.”“There is no food shortage in the country. Even if there is any shortage, we’ll meet the demand through government to government agreements and private sector will import the rest,” he added.

Tofail said he also would talk to the concerned authorities in getting rid of the hurdles in rice import.To meet any shortage, Food Minister Qamrul said: “The government will soon launch open market sell (OMS) of rice at upazila level while suspending programmes like Food For Work immediately.”Meanwhile, the Food Directorate’s recent OMSs witnessed lacklustre response as people are not habituated with unboiled (Atap) rice, OMS representative Syed Bin Kawsar told the Dhaka Tribune.

After the latest price hike, the OMSs were launched at Dhaka’s different points for the lower income people, selling per kg unboiled rice at Tk30 and flour at Tk17 a kg.Kawsar said they were suffering losses as most people were only buying flour.Millers and importers on Tuesday also complained that using jute sacks when importing rice raises their cost by Tk1 per kg. But plastic sacks cost just 15-16 paisa.

They claimed using plastic sacks will curb the import cost by at least Tk2 per kg, and gradually bring the rice prices in the local markets down.Prices of all types of rice at the kitchen markets in Dhaka have increased by Tk10 per kg in the past week, due to several reasons including floods and illegal storage by millers and traders.According to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the markets have seen Tk18-20 hike in per kg rice from last month’s prices and Tk29-50 from last year’s prices.

On Tuesday, Najirshail rice was sold at Tk70-72 per kg and different coarse rice (Swarna and Paijam) at Tk55. Last week, coarse rice prices were between Tk42 and Tk44.Fine grain Miniket’s price is also up to Tk65 from Tk55 per kg, and BR-28 is at Tk58-60 from Tk48-50

Govt wasn't alert to depleting stock

12:00 AM, September 20, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:40 AM, September 20, 2017

Allege rice traders over price spiral; ministers accuse them of hiking price on fake news

Rice traders, shop staff and workers gather at Chalpotti in Chittagong's Khatunganj area yesterday afternoon after a mobile court of the district administration jailed and fined the manager of a wholesale rice trader for hoarding and charging a high price. Photo: Prabir Das
Staff Correspondent
Following a blame game over volatility in the rice market, the government and rice traders reached some decisions yesterday to help rein in the price of the staple that has hit an all-time high.
The decisions include allowing traders and millers to pack rice in plastic bags instead of relatively pricey jute sacks, and expanding the Open Market Sale programme from district to upazila level. Under the OMS, rice is being sold at a subsidised rate of Tk 30.
Rice traders have assured the government of helping reduce the prices by Tk 2 to 3 per kg at the earliest. But they accused the government of pursuing wrong policies all along this season, which contributed to the price spiral.
At a meeting with three ministers at the Secretariat, rice millers and traders said the government was not mindful of its low food stock. It retained a high import duty on rice even after huge crop loss in the haor areas and failed to procure rice from farmers and millers for offering poor price.  
On the other hand, the ministers accused rice traders of hiking prices arbitrarily following fake news that India slapped a ban on rice export.Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Food Minister Qamrul Islam and food officials sat with the traders represented by Bangladesh Rice Millers Association President Abdur Rashid, its General Secretary Layek Ali and several others. Former food minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque was also present.At the meeting, Qamrul said his ministry postponed the Tk 10 a kg rice programme for 50 lakh ultra-poor for the time being and would rather go for a wider OMS programme in all upazilas from today.
This time, the government increased the subsidised price of rice to Tk 30 a kg from Tk 15 last year. Yet, the new price is at least Tk 20 a kg lower than the current market price of coarse rice.
Responding to a demand from the traders, Tofail told the meeting that traders would be allowed to pack rice in plastic bags instead of jute sacks.Traders said the decision would help them reduce rice price by at least Tk 1.5 a kg.   Matia spoke of higher Aus yield this season.Razzaque said the crop loss this year would be much more than 20 lakh tonnes.He pointed out that Boro crop was damaged not only by flash floods, but also by fungal attack.The former food minister also said the government needs to give top priority to the Public Food Distribution System.Millers' leader Layek Ali said prices of the staple would come down by Tk 2 to 3 a kg very soon, as the government has agreed to allow plastic bag packaging and facilitate transport of imported rice on a priority basis.
Rice traders alleged that the food ministry didn't pay any attention to a fast depleting government food stock and responded late to the urgency of replenishing the rice reserve after the Haor deluge.
They blamed the government for the failure to raise its stock and the delay in reducing the high import duty on rice.A rice miller from Dinajpur said the government's domestic rice procurement programme in the Boro season failed mainly due to its offer of low price."I incurred a loss of Tk 2 crore for providing the government with 7,500 tonnes of rice." Yet, the government didn't increase the purchase price, he claimed.
Traders and millers told the meeting that the government refused to give better price for homegrown rice but it later procured the staple from abroad at much higher prices.Chitta Majumder, a leading private rice importer, said that if the government had cut duty on rice right after the flash flood-induced crop loss, a situation like this would not have arisen in the first place.  
A rice trader from Joypurhat was also critical of the government's foot-dragging in reducing import duty.“Instead of slashing the import duty at one go, the government did it in phases. And every time the government reduced duty, Indian exporters hiked rice prices."

Nduom to launch rice revolution in Ghana


play videoDr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, President of Groupe Nduom
Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, President of Groupe Nduom is set to launch a rice revolution in Ghana by October or early November this year that will help reduce the importation of rice into the country.

He believes in the next four years Ghana wouldn’t have to import rice again as the country will now produce its own rice which will cut down imports from countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam, and India estimated at $1.5 billion every year.

According to him, his vision of achieving that led him to Worawora in the Volta Region where he acquired a defunct rice mill factory which he refurbished and invested in to be operational again.Construction of a rice mill factory is also underway at Bereku in the Central Region and Karaga in the Northern Region. He intends to build two more of the rice factory in different regions.

Groupe Nduom last year in October officially opened the Worawora rice mill factory which will produce “Edwumawura” perfumed rice in an effort to promote made in Ghana products.

Strict monitoring of rice market demanded

Staff Correspondent
12:00 AM, September 20, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:55 PM, September 19, 2017
The government must launch a strict market monitoring system across the country to control the hike of rice price, socio-political organisations demanded at a press conference yesterday.
The organisations also recommended introducing a rationing system for all citizens as many people with middle-income hesitate to buy essential goods offered on open market sale (OMS).
Bangladesh Sadharon Nagarik Samaj, a civil society platform, organised the conference at Jatiya Press Club.
Mohiuddin Ahmed, convenor of the platform, alleged that a syndicate of rice mill owners created an “artificial” crisis in the rice market on the pretext of the recent flood, bad weather, and Rohingya exodus into the country.
“The government claims that the country has a surplus of rice production.  Then, where is the extra rice?” he asked.
Razekuzzaman Ratan, a central leader of Socialist Party of Bangladesh; Prof Humayun Kabir Hiru, former lawmaker, and Delwar Hossain, chairman of Bangladesh Karmasangsthan Andolon, also spoke at the conference.

Foodgrain output may drop 2.5% in Kharif season this year

India’s foodgrain production may decline by 3.5 million tonnes to around 135 million ton (MT) in the current kharif season due to floods and dry spell in some parts of the country, official sources said.The country had produced a record 138.52 mt in the kharif season of 2016–17 crop year (July–June) on good monsoon rains.
According to the sources, the overall production of Kharif foodgrains (comprising rice, pulses and coarse cereals) is likely to be around 135 mt in the current season. Sowing for Kharif crops begins around July and harvesting takes place from October.
“The fall is mainly due to less acreage under paddy and pulses in the wake of poor rains and depressed prices of lentils,” they added.
“Rice output is estimated to drop to around 95 mt from 96.39 mt in last kharif season,” sources said, adding that marginal fall is also expected in pulses. However, the output of coarse cereals will be normal during the kharif season.This is the initial assessment of the kharif crops and output may be revised upwards as farmers may go for late sowing in flood-hit areas. Also, rains have revived in some states like Karnataka which witnessed dry spell in June–July.Till September 8, area sown to rice remained down at 371.46 lakh hectare (LH) as against 376.89 lh in the year-ago period, as per the official data.
Similarly, pulses acreage is also down at 139.17 lh from 144.84 lh, while that of coarse cereals area at 183.43 lh from 186.06 lh in the said period.
For instance in Karnataka, the state official said that kharif foodgrain output could decline by about 25 per cent to 7.5 million tonnes this year.“Due to lack of rains in crucial months of June and July, sowing could not take place. Therefore, not much area was covered under kharif crops. We expect 25 per cent drop in kharif output,” G S Srinivasa Reddy, Director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre told PTI.
Last year, the kharif output was 98.27 lakh tonnes. The production target for the current year is 100.80 lakh tonnes, as per the state data.Assam, Bihar, Gujarat and Rajasthan witnessed floods, while parts of Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu faced dry spell.Earlier this week,S K Pattanayak, Agriculture Secretary, had said that southwest monsoon, which is key to kharif crops, has been “more or less normal, except in a few pockets.”
“The situation in parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Peninsular India, which witnessed less rain, has improved in the last two weeks,” he added.

Government to ensure adequate protection for farmers in law abolishing rice QR

Lawmakers and government officials are keen on retaining the National Food Authority’s (NFA) power to issue import permits (IPs) as a measure to regulate the entry of imported rice into the country.
This was evident during the House Committee on Food and Agriculture Technical Working Group’s (TWG) deliberations on the initial draft of the substitute bill amending Republic Act (RA) 8178, or the Agricultural Tariffication Act, on September 19.
The amendment will abolish the quantitive-restriction (QR) scheme on rice imports, as committed by the Philippines to the World Trade Organization.
The chairman of the TWG, Party-list Rep. Jose T. Panganiban Jr. of Anac-IP, said he is amenable to retaining the power of the NFA to issue IPs, but not as the sole authority to import rice.
“The permit shall come from the NFA, but to give them the sole authority to import all rice requirement, in fact, that is where I disagree,” said Panganiban, who also chairs the House Committee on Food and Agriculture.
During the TWG, Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Second District of Pampanga proposed that the government adopt an import-licensing regime that would ensure regulation of rice imports in the country. Arroyo noted that this kind of measure would shield local farmers from adverse effects caused by sudden influx of cheaper rice from abroad.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Segfredo R. Serrano supported the proposal of maintaining the government’s authority to issue IPs, adding that a set of guidelines should be developed in issuing such.
“There could be a multisectoral [committee] tasked by law to develop guidelines in the issuance of import licences. Whether the import licensing remains within the NFA or other agencies, we do not have any problem with that,” he said.
“As for the proposal to confine the NFA’s authority to buffer stocking and emergency importation, we can conform with that as long as the import-licensing provision of the NFA is retained with adequate guidelines,” he added. The agriculture official pointed out that aside from higher tariffs, having an import-licensing regime would also serve as mechanism to protect local farmers from cheaper rice imports.
Serrano pointed out that without an import license or permit, a rice trader cannot bring in any imports.
“We propose in this bill that we preserved the import licensing for rice. There’s no much higher protection than import licensing…you can have a 1,000-percent tariff rate but if you do not have an import licensing then you are just as open as everybody else. I think the combination of applied tariffs that are not too high but pleasurable enough and the administration of import licensing by the NFA, or whatever agency that will administer it, will provide our farmers the protection,” he added.
The TWG later on included three provisions relating to the NFA  in the draft of the substitute bill after no objection was made during the deliberations.
“So, we agree to confine the power of the NFA to import only for buffer stocking and emergency. We also maintain its current import-licensing power,” Panganiban said.
However, the TWG deferred other discussions relating to other powers of the NFA, such as market interventions, to a later meeting.
In its position paper submitted to Panganiban, NFA Administrator Jason Aquino said the state-run food agency should maintain its import-licensing authority even after the removal of the QR on rice.
“The NFA will still monitor and regulate all rice imports. During the transition period, the NFA should still retain its present regulatory powers, i.e., issuance of import permits,” Aqunio said in the position paper dated August 31, a copy of which was obtained by the BusinessMirror.
“After the transition period, the NFA should still be allowed to continue to license all those engaged in the rice business, to properly monitor the volume and arrival of all rice imports, and compliance to Food Safety Act,” Aquino added.
At present, the NFA regulates the country’s rice importation by dividing the current import quota to licensed and accredited traders and importers.
Any interested rice trader shall comply with the requirements outlined by NFA’s minimum access volume (MAV) guidelines.
For example, interested importers should file their letter of intent, after which the NFA MAV prequalification team will conduct the validation and authentication of all the requirements submitted by the applicants.
The team will also verify if the applicant is a party to any case or investigation for rice smuggling, hoarding, unauthorized rebagging or resacking of government stocks to commercial sacks, diversion and cornering activities. After this, a Certificate of Eligibility shall be issued to qualified applicants.
Under the guidelines, all rice importers are also required to register with the Bureau Plant Industry-National Plant Quarantine Services Division prior to the conduct of negotiation and actual importation.
Also, a private trader could only secure an IP from the NFA upon payment of a P5,000 processing fee per bill of lading, according to the agency’s MAV 2017 Guidelines.
The issuance of IP shall also be on a per bill of lading basis, according to the MAV 2017 guidelines, which was approved by the NFA Council. The NFA Council is the highest policy-making body of the NFA, which is chaired by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio B. Evasco Jr.

Rice production seen hitting 3.36 MMT in Q3

Despite the projected reduction in palay harvest area and yield, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said paddy-rice output in the July-to-September period would still reach 3.36 million metric tons (MMT).
In its report published on September 20, titled “Updates on July-September 2017 Palay and Corn”, the PSA revised downward its forecast for unmilled rice production to 3.36 MMT, from 3.39 MMT.
“The probable decrement in palay production may be attributed to reduction in harvest area and yield caused by flash floods in South and North Cotabato; lower yield in Sultan Kudarat, Lanao Sur and Maguindanao,”the report read.
“[Also] late plantings due to late release of irrigation water in Bulacan, rice blast infestation in Negros Oriental, and occurrence of tungro in Aurora during vegetative stage of the crop [would cut output],”it added.
The PSA also noted that harvest area may contract by 0.10 percent to 851,757 hectares, from 852,610 hectares. Yield per hectare could also fall to 3.95 MT, from 3.98 MT.
The projected harvest area in the third quarter, however, is bigger than last year’s record of 745,140 hectares.
PSA data also showed that its latest palay production forecast is still higher by 13.3 percent than the 2.969 MMT produced in the same period last year.
The report noted that about 123,930 hectares, or 15 percent, of the updated standing crop for the July-to-September period have been harvested.
The PSA added that around 1.3 million hectares, or 70.7 percent, of the farmers’s planting intentions for the fourth quarter have materialized.
“Of the [2.028 million] hectares standing palay crop, 73 percent were at vegetative stage, 18.2 percent at reproductive stage and 8.8 percent at maturing stage,” the report read.
The expected increase in the country’s paddy-rice output this year prompted the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to revise downward its projection for Philippine rice imports this year to 1.1 MMT, from 1.6 MMT.
In its Global Agriculture Information Network  report, FAS said Philippine rice harvest area in marketing year 2016-2017 could expand to 4.705 million hectares, 2.28 percent bigger than the FAS’s previous forecast of 4.6 million hectares.

Mexican red rice

Serves 6

Mexican red rice
First published:Wed, Sep 20, 2017, 06:00
·         Serves: 6

·         Cooking Time: 30 mins

·         Course: Main Course

·         Cuisine: Mexican


·         2tbs olive oil
·         300g carrots, peeled and diced
·         125g spring onions, sliced including the green tops
·         1 clove garlic, crushed
·         2tsp smoked sweet paprika
·         1tsp ground cumin
·         400g tinned chopped tomatoes
·         300g brown basmati rice
·         450ml water
·         230g cooked kidney beans, drained
·         20g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
·         TO SERVE
·         Extra fresh spring onion and coriander to garnish
·         Wedges of lime
·         Jalapeno peppers
·         Tomato salsa


Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Add the spring onions and carrot. Sauté for five minutes, stirring, before adding the garlic and spices. Stir for another minute to toast the spices, then pour in the tomatoes and water. Season well with salt. Bring to the boil, then add the rice. Leave to simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the kidney beans and stir thoroughly with a fork. Place the lid back on and leave to steam for a further 10 minutes. Gently stir through the fresh coriander. Scatter with additional coriander and freshly sliced spring onions before serving. Serve with wedges of lime, tomato salsa and sliced jalapeño peppers.

Government wants high tariff to replace rice QR

The Philippines could impose  a maximum tariff rate of 400 percent on rice imports to give the government enough elbow room to balance the interest of farmers and consumers.
The bound tariff rate of 400 percent was adopted by a technical working group (TWG) of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food and included in the draft of the substitute bill that would amend Republic Act (RA) 8178. RA 8178 allowed the government to regulate the entry of imported rice via the quantitative-restriction (QR) scheme.
During the TWG’s deliberations on Tuesday at the House of Representatives, Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga said a high bound rate would afford the government flexibilities in imposing tariffs on rice. “We should just specify in the law that it will be a bound rate and just leave it to the President to determine the applied rate,” Arroyo said.
The Pampanga lawmaker earlier said the Philippines must interpret its agreements and commitments to its favor and had made a pitch for a 700-percent bound tariff rate.
Some members of the TWG, however, expressed apprehension that imposing a high tariff rate could encourage smuggling, which could harm rice farmers.
Officials from the National Economic and Development Authority, (Neda) Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Tariff Commission and representatives from the private sector attended the meeting of the TWG.
The TWG, chaired by Party-list Rep. Jose T. Panganiban Jr. of ANAC-IP, said the maximum tariff rate should only be slapped on rice imports outside of Manila’s minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons (MT).
Agriculture Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Segfredo R. Serrano said the government should slap a tariff of 35 percent on rice imports from Asean, regardless of volume. Serrano added that a 40-percent tariff rate should serve as the country’s most favored nation (MFN) rate for rice imports within the MAV.
“The MAV will revert back to its 2012 level at 350,000 MT, because under the terms of the waiver of the World Trade Organization [WTO], we can revert back to the original volume as indiciated in the Philippines’s commitment to the WTO,” Serrano said.
“So, we proposed a 35-percent tariff for rice imports from Asean member-states pursuant to the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement and 40-percent MFN rate for imports within the 350,000 MT MAV for WTO member-countries,” he added.
Serrano disclosed the DA’s proposed bound rate for rice imports outside of the MAV was 150 percent, which was calculated based on the formula stipulated under the special-treatment provision of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).
The 150-percent bound rate shall only apply to rice imports from other countries that are not members of Asean, according to Serrano.
“We used the formula to calculate for this 150 percent, so it is something that we can support with data. You can go higher than that but we are supporting 150 percent with evidence,” he said.
Annex 5 of the AoA states that the tariff equivalent of converting any nontariff measures shall be based on the difference between the domestic price and international price (cost, insurance and freight unit value, or CIF) of the commodity for 1986 to 1988.
Paragraph 10 of the Annex 5 states that the tariff equivalent coming from the formula “shall be bound in the schedule of the member concerned”. Bound tariffs are maximum tariff rates that a WTO member-country could impose on a certain commodity.
The authority to set bound tariffs is vested in Congress. But under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, the President, upon the recommendation of the Neda, has the power to modify the tariffs applied on Philippine imports. The Philippines is now under pressure to convert its QR on rice into ordinary customs duties after its waiver on the special treatment on rice expired on June 30.
The WTO General Council approved the waiver, which allowed Manila to keep its rice QR until June 30, on the condition that the Philippines will subject its rice imports to ordinary custom duties by July 1.
“At the expiration of this waiver, and no later than June 30, the importation of rice shall be subject to ordinary customs duties in accordance with paragraph 10 of Annex 5, Section B, of the Agreement on Agriculture,” the WTO General Council decision read.
In March the Philippines informed WTO members that it is facing delays in converting the QR due to the nonamendment of RA 8178, which imposed the import caps on rice indefinitely. As a sign of “goodwill” to its trading partners, Duterte signed  Executive Order 23 in July, extending the concessions made by the Philippines in securing the waiver in 2014.
The temporary modification of most-favored nation-tariff rates is effective until June 30, 2020, or until such time a law amending certain provisions relating to rice in RA 8178 is enacted, whichever comes first. Panganiban said the TWG is eyeing to conduct its last hearing on October 3 to approve the draft of the substitute bill, which will later be submitted to the House Committee on Food and Agriculture for deliberations.
“I only want one hearing in the committee so that the bill will be ready for plenary debates after the [Halloween break which will start on October 14 and end on November 12],”  Panganiban told the BusinessMirror after the TWG meeting.
He said the House of Representatives is planning to approve the bill on third and final reading before the year ends.
With Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices Open- Septmember 20, 2017

Nagpur Foodgrain Prices – APMC/Open Market-September 20

Nagpur, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Gram and tuar price reported storng in Nagpur Agriculture Produce
and Marketing Committee (APMC) here on increased demand from local millers amid weak arrival
from producing belts because of rains in parts of Vidarbha. Notable rise in Madhya Pradesh gram
prices and reported demand from South-based millers also jacked up prices.
About 500 of gram and 150 bags of tuar were available for auctions, according to sources.

   * Gram varieties ruled steady in open market here but demand was poor.
   * Tuar gavarani firmed up in open market on renewed demand from local traders amid
     tight supply from producing regions.  

   * Wheat mill quality and Sharbati varieties reported down in open market on poor
     demand from local traders amid good supply from producing belts.
   * In Akola, Tuar New – 4,200-4,400, Tuar dal (clean) – 6,200-6,400, Udid Mogar (clean)
    – 7,700-8,700, Moong Mogar (clean) 7,000-7,400, Gram – 5,700-5,900, Gram Super best
    – 8,300-8,700

   * Other varieties of wheat, rice and other foodgrain items moved in a narrow range in
     scattered deals and settled at last levels in weak trading activity.
 Nagpur foodgrains APMC auction/open-market prices in rupees for 100 kg
     FOODGRAINS                 Available prices     Previous close  
     Gram Auction                  4,800-5,710         4,800-5,700
     Gram Pink Auction            n.a.           2,100-2,600
     Tuar Auction                3,800-4,070         3,600-4,070
     Moong Auction                n.a.                3,900-4,200
     Udid Auction                n.a.           4,300-4,500
     Masoor Auction                n.a.              2,600-2,800
     Wheat Mill quality Auction        1,600-1,682        1,572-1,614
     Gram Super Best Bold            8,500-9,000        8,500-9,000
     Gram Super Best            n.a.            n.a.
     Gram Medium Best            7,600-8,000        7,600-8,000
     Gram Dal Medium            n.a.            n.a
     Gram Mill Quality            5,800-6,000        5,800-6,000
     Desi gram Raw                6,000-6,200         6,000-6,200
     Gram Kabuli                12,000-13,000        12,000-13,000
     Tuar Fataka Best-New             6,500-6,800        6,500-6,800
     Tuar Fataka Medium-New        6,200-6,400        6,200-6,400
     Tuar Dal Best Phod-New        6,000-6,200        6,000-6,200
     Tuar Dal Medium phod-New        5,500-5,800        5,500-5,800
     Tuar Gavarani New             4,500-4,600        4,500-4,600
     Tuar Karnataka             4,800-5,000        4,800-5,000
     Masoor dal best            5,200-5,500        5,200-5,500
     Masoor dal medium            4,800-5,000        4,800-5,000
     Masoor                    n.a.            n.a.
     Moong Mogar bold (New)        7,200-7,800         7,200-7,800
     Moong Mogar Medium            6,500-7,000        6,500-7,000
     Moong dal Chilka            5,500-6,400        5,500-6,400
     Moong Mill quality            n.a.            n.a.
     Moong Chamki best            7,000-7,500        7,000-7,500
     Udid Mogar best (100 INR/KG) (New) 8,000-9,000       8,000-9,000
     Udid Mogar Medium (100 INR/KG)    6,000-7,000        6,000-7,000   
     Udid Dal Black (100 INR/KG)        5,500-6,500        5,500-6,500    
     Batri dal (100 INR/KG)        5,200-5,800        5,200-5,800
     Lakhodi dal (100 INR/kg)          3,000-3,200         3,000-3,200
     Watana Dal (100 INR/KG)            2,900-3,100        2,900-3,100
     Watana Green Best (100 INR/KG)    3,800-4,400        3,800-4,400  
     Wheat 308 (100 INR/KG)        1,900-2,000        1,900-2,000
     Wheat Mill quality (100 INR/KG)    1,700-1,850        1,800-1,900  
     Wheat Filter (100 INR/KG)         2,100-2,300           2,100-2,300        
     Wheat Lokwan best (100 INR/KG)    2,200-2,400        2,200-2,400   
     Wheat Lokwan medium (100 INR/KG)   1,900-2,100        1,900-2,100
     Lokwan Hath Binar (100 INR/KG)    n.a.            n.a.
     MP Sharbati Best (100 INR/KG)    3,100-3,600        3,300-3,800   
     MP Sharbati Medium (100 INR/KG)    2,200-2,700        2,200-2,800          
     Rice BPT best (100 INR/KG)        3,300-3,400        3,300-3,400   
     Rice BPT medium (100 INR/KG)        2,800-3,200        2,800-3,200   
     Rice Luchai (100 INR/KG)         2,400-2,600        2,400-2,600     
     Rice Swarna best (100 INR/KG)      2,500-2,600        2,500-2,600  
     Rice Swarna medium (100 INR/KG)      2,300-2,400        2,300-2,400  
     Rice HMT best (100 INR/KG)        3,800-4,000        3,800-4,000    
     Rice HMT medium (100 INR/KG)        3,500-3,800        3,500-3,800   
     Rice Shriram best(100 INR/KG)      4,800-5,200        4,800-5,200
     Rice Shriram med (100 INR/KG)    4,500-4,700        4,500-4,700  
     Rice Basmati best (100 INR/KG)    9,500-13,500        9,500-13,500    
     Rice Basmati Medium (100 INR/KG)    5,000-7,500        5,000-7,500   
     Rice Chinnor best 100 INR/KG)    4,800-5,000        4,800-5,000   
     Rice Chinnor medium (100 INR/KG)    4,300-4,500        4,300-4,500  
     Jowar Gavarani (100 INR/KG)        2,000-2,100        2,000-2,100   
     Jowar CH-5 (100 INR/KG)         1,700-2,000        1,700-2,000

Maximum temp. 34.0 degree Celsius, minimum temp. 24.3 degree Celsius
Rainfall : 7.5 mm
FORECAST: Generally cloudy sky with one or few spells of rains or thunder-showers. Maximum and
minimum temperature would be around and 31 and 23 degree Celsius respectively.

Note: n.a.--not available
(For oils, transport costs are excluded from plant delivery prices, butincluded in market prices)

Govt to procure 50,000 tons of rice from Thailand

·         Asif Showkat Kallol
·         Published at 02:17 AM September 20, 2017
·         Last updated at 02:22 AM September 20, 2017

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
Saving paddy crop amid deficient rain hits groundwater table in Punjab

According to the Met department around 55 per cent of the total area of the state faced a ‘rain drought’ with scanty and deficient rainfall
Deficient rainfall in almost a dozen out of Punjab’s 22 districts has led to over-exploitation of ground water to irrigate paddy fields in the state. Groundwater had to be used extensively to save paddy crop on nearly 25 lakh hectares out of total 29 lakh hectares of area under the ‘rice crop varieties’ in state this year. This area is divided into total 141 agricultural blocks in the state, out of which 102 agricultural blocks fall under the ‘Dark Zone’.
A ‘Dark Zone’ is an area where groundwater table has sharply declined and the recharging process is slow. According to the Met department around 55 per cent of the total area of the state faced a ‘rain drought’ with scanty and deficient rainfall. Agriculture Department experts said that due to less rain, farmers only got sufficient water for crop by running their tubewells. Paddy is highly water intensive crop and to grow one kg of rice one needs 4000 to 4500 litre of water.
“Punjab is gearing up for the a bumper ‘paddy crop’ this season with expected yield of 165 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) paddy production, so one can imagine that even if little less 50 per cent crop was irrigated with groundwater then how much burden it put on the groundwater table,” said a senior Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) scientist. JS Bains, Director Punjab Agricultural Department, said: “There may be rain drought in half of Punjab, but it hardly comes to ‘agricultural drought’ here as our farmers save their crop by spending money and arranging ground water.”

Govt to stock up on 900,000 tons of rice by Nov

Government has decided to store 900,000 tons of rice by November 12 to rein the rising price of the staple food in local markets File Photo
Coarse rice is now selling at Tk64 in local markets - a record high for the country. This same rice was sold at Tk38 at the beginning of the year
The government will stockpile 900,000 tons of rice by November 12 to stem the rising price of the staple food in local markets.

 According to the sources in the Ministry of Food, the per kg rice price has risen by 39% over the last nine months in Bangladesh’s markets, but by only 6% on the  international market. Coarse rice is now selling at Tk64 in local markets – a record high for the country. This same rice was sold at Tk38 at the beginning of the year. “We have already taken steps to import 900,000 tons of rice to ease the upward price pressure,” Food Secretary Md Kaikobad Hossain told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. “A total of 200,000 tons of rice is now in government storage while 150,000 tons is at the Chittagong port now,” he said. “The remaining 550,000 tons will arrive at Chittagong by November 12.” Finance Minister AMA Muhith chaired Wednesday’s cabinet committee meeting, which also approved the Food Ministry’s proposal to import 50,000 tons of non-bashmoti and parboiled rice from Thailand through an international tender. In local currency, the per kg price of this rice has been fixed at Tk36. Food Secretary Kaikobad added that the total import of more than 900,000 tons of rice will be made entirely through Government-to-Government agreements. “The private sector has no role to play in this regard,” he said. “It is true that the import cost through international tender is lower than that of the Government-to-Government purchase scheme, but the G-to-G initiative ensures product quality.” The food secretary said sometimes it so happens that awarded firms do not intend to import rice and do not provide guarantee money to the government, which creates uncertainty in the local market. This is not seen in G-to-G scheme. The food ministry aimed to procure 1,000,000 tons of rice from international markets to meet the rice shortage. Stocks had fallen to a five-year low of 345,000 tons as at September 14. According to a report of the ministry, the government failed to import 300,000 metric tons of rice from Thailand and India due to price differences between the two countries and the international market. The per unit cost of importing from Thailand was $464 under the Government-to-Government purchase while that from India was $454. Last month the government signed two deals with Vietnam and Cambodia respectively to import two and a half million tons of rice from each of the two countries. According to the ministry source, food Minister Md Qamrul Islam set the target of 8,00,000 tons of rice collection internally in the current Boro season. By September 10, only 250,000 tons had been collected. The minister earlier announced that the government would procure 1,600,000 tons of paddy, rice and wheat, 78% of which was not achieved. After the inter-ministerial meeting of Food and Expenditure Committee on August 16, Qamrul told reporters that the target of harvesting 19,100,000 tons of Boro paddy was not achieved due to flood 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, when asked about procurement.
Bangladesh buys 50,000 tonnes rice in tender

DHAKA/HAMBURG: Bangladesh's state grains buyer has purchased 50,000 tonnes of rice at $438.00 a tonne CIF liner out which was offered in a tender on Sept. 12, officials said on Wednesday.  The proposal received approval from Bangladesh's cabinet purchase committee on Wednesday, officials at the state grains buyer said.  European traders said the non-basmati, parboiled rice was likely to be sourced from Thailand.  The rice should be shipped 40 days after the contract signing.
The seller was Thai-based company Siam Rice Trading.  Bangladesh, the world's fourth-biggest rice producer, has emerged as a major importer this year due to depleted stocks and record local prices following floods which damaged crops. 
The government is making major efforts to build state reserves.  Bangladesh is to buy 100,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar, putting aside worsening relations over the Rohingya refugee crisis as the government seeks to overcome the shortage of Bangladesh's staple food.  Bangladesh's government has already secured deals to buy rice from Vietnam and Cambodia as domestic stocks diminished.

Abanga farms cultivates 1,200 acre rice farm


Mr Boakye Acheampong & Mr Abanga

A 1,200 acre rice farm has been cultivated at Guo in the North Gonja District of the Northern Region as part of efforts to increase domestic rice production as well as ensure food security in the country.
AGRA Rice, which is being promoted by AfricaRice under the Rice Seed Scaling project, is the variety planted on the field, and it is already at booting stage (about to flower).

Abanga Farms, a subsidiary of A&G Agro Mechanical Industries, employs modern mechanized techniques as well as good agronomic practices to ensure high yields.

Mr Thomas Abanga, Director of Abanga Farms, who led a team of agricultural experts to tour the farm, said he invested in commercial rice production to reduce rice importation into the country as well as ensure that agriculture contributed more to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
It is estimated that about 400,000 metric tonnes of milled rice are imported into the country annually.
Mr Abanga said he ventured into commercial rice production to change the dynamics of agriculture in the country to prove “it can be done in Ghana” whiles bringing dignity to agriculture as well as the farming community.
Abanga Farms has earmarked a 4000-acre land for cultivation next year taking advantage of the White Volta at Daboya for irrigation as well as expand its livestock production to use their droppings as organic manure for vegetable production for export.

Mr William Boakye-Acheampong, Northern Regional Director of the Department of Agriculture, commended Abanga Farms for the initiative saying it would contribute to high rice harvest in the country this year.

Dr Wilson Dogbe, Senior Research Scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savannah Agricultural Research Institute, described the farm as one of the most impressive large scale rice farms in the country saying it was being managed according to good agronomic practices to guarantee high yields.

Mr Boubakary Cissé, Seed Expert and Country Coordinator of the USAID-Rice Seed Scaling Project, advised rice farmers to emulate the example of Abanga Farms because it used good farming methods to clear the land as well as planted quality seeds, which are key for good harvest

First Chancellor's Fund Research Grants Awarded for 10 U of A Faculty Proposals

Sep. 21, 2017
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – More than 30 University of Arkansas faculty have been awarded the first 10 research grants from the Chancellor’s Discovery, Creativity, Innovation and Collaboration Fund.
The Chancellor’s Fund was established last year to promote faculty research that addresses several of the U of A’s guiding priorities: to enhance the university’s research and discovery mission; build a collaborative and innovative campus; promote innovation in teaching and learning; and strengthen graduate education. The university is investing up to $1 million a year in the research grants, the bulk of that money coming from SEC Network and television revenues allocated by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
There were 75 proposals submitted to the competition, which were reviewed by a panel of 20 faculty and administrators, chaired by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Jim Coleman.
The Chancellor’s Fund projects that were selected cover a broad range of research: from finding a way to improve Arkansas’ rice crop to determining if broccoli can strengthen an infant’s immune system; from developing a new way to study the brain to bringing greater public attention to the work of Arkansas architect Fay Jones; from bringing food to those who need it to establishing the link between smartphone use and neck pain. Several of the projects use “big data” analysis or the latest in technological and research developments, but all have practical applications and benefits for people in Arkansas.
“The panelists and I were impressed with the quality of the proposals we received,” said Coleman. “Some of these proposals were the crucial first steps for potentially ground-breaking work, others were collaborations that would not happen without this particular funding, and all of them showed the talent and resources of the University of Arkansas and our faculty. It seemed the only real limitation we faced was the amount of money we had available.”
The winning grant proposals came from faculty representing 24 academic departments in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Education and Health Professions, the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute are also collaborating on two of the projects.
These are the research teams that are receiving Chancellor’s Fund grants, listed in alphabetical order by the lead investigator’s name, with a brief summary of their proposals. The full abstracts for each of the proposals are available online.


Bob Beitle Jr., professor of chemical engineering. The research team includes: Hanna K. Jensen, research assistant professor of biomedical engineering; Brinck Kerr III, professor of political science; Jeff Amerine, adjunct instructor of management and founder of Start Up Junkie Consulting.
Project summary: The researchers will develop and assess a new way of treating a rare disease and determine if a non-profit or start up business can bring the treatment to market.
Walter G. Bottje, physiologist in poultry science. The research team includes: Byung-Whi Kong, functional genomics and molecular virologist in poultry science; Sami Dridi, avian endocrinology and molecular genetics in poultry science; Doug Rhoades, University Professor of biological sciences; Nicholas P. Greene, assistant professor of exercise science; Reza Hakkak, professor of dietetics and nutrition, UAMS and researcher at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute.
Project summary: The researchers will pursue a joint project with UAMS and ACRI, using big data analysis to understand fundamental mechanisms of obesity, while offering training opportunities for students and faculty at all three institutions to analyze big data.
Jia Di, professor, 21st Century Research Leadership Chair in computer science and computer engineering. The research team includes: Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor and the Twenty-First Century Research Leadership Chair in Engineering in electrical engineering; Simon S. Ang, professor of electrical engineering; Jie Xiao, associate professor and Arkansas Research Alliance Scholar in Inorganic Chemistry, in chemistry and biochemistry; Trenton L. Roberts, research assistant professor of soil fertility/soil testing in crop, soil and environmental sciences.
Project summary: The researchers will develop sensors that can be placed inside of plants’ stems to determine when they need more, or less, water and fertilizer, to reduce waste and increase crop yield.
Kevin M. Fitzpatrick, University Professor and Jones Chair in Community, in sociology. The research team includes: Xuan Shi, assistant professor of geosciences; Matthew L. Spialek, assistant professor of communication.
Proposal summary: The researchers will develop a comprehensive database to connect local food recovery efforts with the food insecure in an effort to increase access, reduce hunger, and develop a mobile food network in Northwest Arkansas.
Kaitlin Gallagher, assistant professor of health, human performance and recreation and John Jefferson, associate professor of physical therapy, UAMS.
Proposal summary: The researchers will study how smartphone use causes neck pain and develop strategies to reduce this pain.
Greg Herman, associate professor of architecture, and David Frederick, associate professor of classical studies and director of the Tessaract Center.
Proposal summary: The researchers will develop a prototype website and public-access kiosks to make the homes designed by Arkansas architect Fay Jones accessible to a wide public audience.
Jae Kyeom Kim, assistant professor of human environmental science. The research team includes Sabrina P. Trudo, associate professor of human environmental sciences; Mechelle Bailey, clinical instructor of human environmental sciences; Jiangchao Ziao, assistant professor of animal sciences; Allison L. Scott, assistant professor of nursing; Marilou D. Shreve, instructor of nursing.
Proposal summary: The researchers want to find how diets rich in broccoli-family vegetables can transform microbes living in infants’ intestines and strengthen the infants’ immune systems.
Clemencia Rojas, assistant professor of plant pathology and Andy Pereira, professor of crop, soil and environmental sciences.
Proposal summary: The researchers will analyze large genomic data to discover genes responsible for resistance to high temperatures and a bacterial disease in rice, information that they could later use for crop improvement.
Woodrow L. Shew, associate professor of physics, and Nathan Parks, assistant professor of psychology.
Proposal summary: The researchers will develop a new way to measure changes inside the brain from outside the skull, which may be key for diagnosing and treating disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke and autism.
Xintao Wu, professor and the Charles D. Morgan/Acxiom Graduate Research Chair in computer science and computer engineering, and Anna Zajicek, professor of sociology.
Proposal summary: The researchers will determine ways that big data, as well as predictive models built with the data, may discriminate or lead to discrimination against certain groups of people, and develop ways of preventing this discrimination.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
Stev Voorhies, manager of media relations 
University Relations 

Leaders Gather to Develop Sustainable Solutions in Asia-Pacific

The inaugural EAT Asia-Pacific Food Forum will be held on October 30 and 31, 2017, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Organized by the EAT Foundation in partnership with the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the event aims to address the challenges facing the Asia-Pacific food system, such as how to sustainably feed the most populous region in the world.
Woman selling fresh vegetables at market in Kota Baru, Malaysia.
Speakers at the EAT Asia-Pacific Food Forum include Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia; Dr. Bruce Tolentino, Deputy Director General of the International Rice Research Institute; Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; and Dr. Gunhild Stordalen, Founder and President of the EAT Foundation.
Professor Nila Moeloek, Minister of Health in Indonesia, says, “It is my sincere hope that the first EAT Asia-Pacific Food Forum will be a catalyst that triggers the transformation of the region and the achievement of the [United Nations] Sustainable Development Goals.”
EAT seeks to find and promote sustainable food production solutions that increase health and adequately provide for the world’s growing population. It brings together stakeholders in science, policy, civil society, and business to share knowledge about the interconnections between food and agriculture, health and nutrition, environmental sustainability, and socio-economic factors. The organization believes that productive food systems, global health, and a sustainable environment are prerequisites for human development.
Click here to register for the eventFood Tank members receive a $150 early bird discount.

Did GMO connection prompt Gates Foundation to halt support for corn-aflatoxin breakthrough?

September 20, 2017 | 
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is famous worldwide for using its $37 billion in assets to deliver vaccines, treat HIV, improve health for the world’s very poor, encourage sustainable farming and fund medical research.
But is the world’s largest private foundation backing away from certain advances involving genetic modification of food? Monica Schmidt, a plant scientist at the University of Arizona, has been studying the ability of “interference RNA” (RNAi) to switch off the production of aflatoxin, a persistent and hazardous toxin, in corn. Her work has shown a great deal of success—an earlier study showed RNAi shut down all corn aflatoxin—but the Gates Foundation turned down her proposal for a grant.
Because, Gates reviewers told Schmidt, it involved genetic modification, or GMOs. Her proposal to Gates, which had already given her work a $100,000 Grand Challenge grant, was rejected because it was disapproved by two reviewers, one saying, “It’s going to have public acceptance issues because it’s GMO,” Schmidt told the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.
In a response to the Daily Star, the Foundation stated that only 10 to 12 percent of phase-one grants like Schmidt’s are awarded a second phase.
“While the University of Arizona work was not selected for phase two, the Foundation is funding other approaches to aflatoxin control,” the statement said in part. This statement did not address the opinions of the Gates reviewers who cited popular resistance to genetic engineering in food.
Schmidt’s work was not just another approach. Her study, published in Science Advances in March, showed that inserting a “cassette” of RNAi, which consisted of sections of the aflatoxin-expressing gene aflC, into the genome of kernels of (already) transgenic corn. The RNAi was specific enough so it only interfered with expression of aflC, and effectively shut down that expression so that aflatoxin was undetectable in all the corn samples Schmidt and her team tested. Just as important, transcripts (the RNA products of genes) in the RNAi-inserted corn were identical to non-inserted corn, indicating that no other genetic changes occurred:
Small interfering RNA molecules can be used to silence aflatoxin biosynthesis in maize, providing an attractive and precise engineering strategy that could also be extended to other crops to improve food security.

Monica Schmidt tending to her corn plants in the greenhouse at the University of Arizona.
Bob Demers / UA News
Aflatoxin is an enormous threat to food security. They are known carcinogens, produced by several Aspergillusspecies, a type of mold. Ingestion of aflatoxin, can cause liver diseases (including cancer), kwashiorkor, Reye’s syndrome and impaired growth. About 16 billion tons of corn are lost worldwide annually, thanks to aflatoxin contamination. No current strategies to prevent aflatoxin infestation are successful. These include breeding disease-resistant plants, using trapping agents to block uptake, post-harvest storage changes, using atoxigenic Aspergillus and agricultural control to keep the fungus from growing.

The issue shows the swelling effect of anti-GMO activism, from NGOs, local governments and other organizations and individuals who have put up enough opposition to make even funders like Gates take second looks at projects—even promising ones like Schmidt’s—that involve GMOs. Gates has funded other organizations, like Cornell University’s Alliance for Science, that have themselves supported efforts using GMOs in agriculture and medicine. The Foundation also has funded research on the transgenic Golden Banana, engineered to express genes for enhanced iron and vitamin A production. The Foundation took a few hits from anti-engineering sites like The Ecologist for its stance, too. And in 2011, the Foundation announced grants to support work on cassava, and notably, the controversial transgenic Golden Rice.
Schmidt and her husband, in fact, took the long road to breed a soybean that originally (and more quickly) had been breed using transgenic techniques to avert soy allergies. That soybean is now being used to feed farmed salmon.
Other organizations also have had to respond to the “chill effect” against GMOs. In an interview with the Genetic Literacy Project, Arvind Kumar, head of the rainfed lowland South Asia plant breeding group at the International Rice Research Project in The Philippines, said that the IRRI looked at both genetic modifications and other, apparently less controversial breeding methods, when looking at improved rice strains. But the IRRI also has had to contend with governments influenced by anti-GMO pressure from groups like Greenpeace (GLP profile here) and individuals like activist Vandana Shiva, (GLP profile here) who have both worked (sometimes successfully) to prevent adoption of GM food in South and Southeast Asia:
We’ve never said no to transgenic projects. We don’t think there is just one method. We will support any method if we see the opportunity.
We have to follow rules and regulations of those countries, and work with those legal frameworks. We need more convincing arguments that in those cases that a transgenic is only viable solution.
Andrew Porterfield is a writer and editor, and has worked with numerous academic institutions, companies and non-profits in the life sciences. BIO. Follow him on Twitter @AMPorterfield.

Costa Rica's rare Glass Frog captured by a photographer in a rice field in Indonesia

The most incredible shots taken so far of a newly-discovered transparent frog species, have been captured by a graphic designer while he was paying a visit to his family in Pemalang in Java.  Known to the locals as “Yellow frog”, only in April this year did researchers classify the amazing Glass Frog in Costa Rica

However, this could be the first time this amphibian species has been snapped thousands of miles away from Central America in the jungles of Indonesia. The one-inch-long see-through Kermit can be seen hanging from tree branches while performing the splits, sliding downwards like it was on a fireman’s pole and racing a friend to the top of the stem – all while it’s innards are on display. 
Photos of the newly-discovered species of frog on the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica went viral due to its likeness to Jim Henson’s popular Muppet Kermit the Frog. The new species of glass frog was named Hyalinobatrachium dianae for the mother of Brian Kubicki, the study’s senior author and founder of the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center. Just like his doppelganger, the 14th glass frog known to inhabit the Central American nation, has a translucent lime green body and bulbous white irises. 

Newly discovered transparent frog species.
Known to the locals as “Yellow frog”.
In April this year did researchers classify the amazing Glass frog, in Costa Rica.
This could be the first time this amphibian species has been snapped thousands of miles away from home in the jungles of Indonesia.
The one-inch long see-through Kermit can be see hanging from tree branches.
The frog is native to the Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica.
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Korean co-op big exhibitor at Agrilink 2017

By Zac B. SarianThe Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative (KAMICO) has booked a big pavilion at the Agrilink 2017 to showcase a wide variety of its agricultural machinery that could boost farm mechanization in the Philippines.This was announced by Philip Kim of Fitcorea Trading Philippines who represents the cooperative in the Philippines. For the past several years, KAMICO has exhibited its products and services at the Agrilink trade expo.KAMICO which counts on hundreds of agricultural machinery manufacturers takes pride in its big and small tractors like big Branson tractors and the power tillers from Asia Tech. 
Philip Kim is very proud that the Korean farm machinery are of the highest quality.KOREAN TRACTORS – The Korean Pavilion at Agrilink 2017 will showcase big as well as small tractors made in Korea. These are now increasingly becoming popular with local farmers because of their quality. Photo shows a big Branson tractor that is being demonstrated during a field day in the province. These machinery are distributed in the Philippines by Fitcorea Trading Philippines. In Cagayan Valley, Agri Component based in Cauayan City, Isabela, is also distributing the tractor and other Korean machinery and equipment.The tractors come complete with attachments like plows, rotavators, field levelers, bed formers, harrows, loaders, buckhoe and many others.
The various companies also manufacture rice harvesters, mechanical transplanters, dryers, compact rice mills, and many more.KAMICO does not only sell its agricultural machines and equipment. It also shares its expertise in design and fabrication of machines suitable for tropical countries like the Philippines. For instance, KAMICO has forged a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Center for Postharvest and Mechanization (PhilMech), first to develop a compact corn mill for white corn in the Philippines. Seok Jin Lee of LeeWha is the lead man in developing the compact corn mill together with Filipino counterparts. Through the initiative  of Philip Kim of Fitcorea, the MOA will facilitate the transfer of technology developed in Korea through the years.
He explained that in the beginning, Korean manufacturers were assisted by German experts who shared their know-how with the Korean entrepreneurs.Farm mechanization is the big need today in the Philippines because of the ageing of Filipino farmers and the tendency of many young Filipinos to prefer white collar employment rather than engaging in agri-entrepreneurship.In rice production, mechanization will go a long way in ensuring higher productivity, higher quality of produce and higher profitability.
As Dr. Dionisio Alvindia of PhilMech will tell you, mechanizing rice planting and harvesting can result in significant savings. He should know because he is also a hands-on rice farmer cultivating 30 hectares in Nueva Ecija.He recently acquired a Branson tractor for fast and efficient land preparation. He already has his own rice transplanter and a combine harvester.In other sectors of agriculture, mechanization is also badly needed. In corn production, mechanical transplanters and harvesters are also the order of the day.The same is true with the production of silage that will ensure the availability of feeds for goats, sheep and other ruminants during the dry months.

Corn planting, harvesting of the crop for silage making, shredding and automatic bagging are processes that need mechanization.Agrilink 2017 will be held on October 5-7 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. The event is open free to the public.  Attendees will be able to see a wide variety of exhibits that include latest varieties of hybrid seeds, livestock and poultry, fisheries, processed foods, organic agricultural products and many others.
Expanded tissue culture lab inaugurated
Minister for Agriculture V.S. Sunil Kumar said efforts should be made to create a deeper relationship between the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) and the Department of Agriculture. He was speaking at the inauguration of the expanded tissue culture laboratory at KAU’s Rice Research Station at Vyttila on Tuesday.He congratulated the scientists who have been working on salt-resistant rice varieties to withstand the effects of climate change. The Minister said the scientists would be honoured.