Saturday, November 04, 2017

4th November,2017 daily global regional local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Amarinder opposes GI tagging of Basmati
CHANDIGARH: Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the Geographical Indications (GI) tagging of 13 Basmati producing districts of Madhya Pradesh as it would adversely affect other Basmati producing states in the country, including Punjab.In a letter to Modi, Amarinder has urged him to immediately direct the Ministry of Commerce to drop the idea of issuing GI tag for the 13 districts for which Madhya Pradesh has sought inclusion in the list of regions eligible for GI tagging of Basmati.
Terming it an economically and socially important international issue, Amarinder said with two lakh Punjab farmers engaged in Basmati cultivation, the move to include Madhya Pradesh in GI tagging could have a negative effect on the agriculture of the state, as well of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Western UP and two districts of Jammu and Kathua in J&K, which are already GI tagged.

Amarinder said he had written a demi-official letter to the then Union Minister of State for Commerce on April 18, 2017 highlighting Punjab's concerns, but the issue did not appear to have been resolved. Seeking the Prime Minister's intervention, he stressed the need for early resolution and status quo to be maintained on the issue.

India asks Germany to resolve early fungicide issue in rice
New Delhi, Nov 3 (PTI) India today asked Germany to address at the earliest the issue related to the tolerance level of fungicide tricyclazole in Basmati rice exports. The issue was raised by Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh in a meeting with German Food and Agriculture Minister Peter Bleser here. The European Union has decided to bring down the tolerance level of fungicide tricyclazole to zero level from next year which is likely to impact India's basmati rice shipments. In an official statement, Agriculture Ministry said that Singh "requested the German Minister to use his good office for early resolution of the issue relating to Tricyclazole in Indian rice exported to the EU." Singh also raised the issue of acceptance of digital phytosanitary certificates by the EU countries. India and Germany also discussed about ongoing bilateral projects being implemented in various areas of farm sector.
 Separately, Singh also met Danish Minister Environment and Food Minister Esben Lunde Larsen, Serbia Agriculture Minister Branislav Nedimovic and stressed on further cooperation in the field of agricutlure with India. PTI LUX MKJ .
Indian farmers behind smog in Pakistan: EPD minister LAHORE: Without having the actual data of air pollution within Pakistan, Punjab government has blamed the crop stubble burning in the Indian part of Punjab as a major reason of smog in Pakistan. Environment Protection Department (EPD) Minister Zakya Shahnwaz expressed these views during a media briefing along with EPD and Meteorological department officials. During the press briefing, no official could explain the actual statistics of air pollutants present in the atmosphere and no actual figures were given regarding the air quality monitoring conducted earlier by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Smog has continued to wreak havoc throughout Punjab for the last 10 days, causing low visibility and diseases among the citizens. Prior to the occurrence of smog in the country, EPD had formulated a smog policy to cope with the issue preemptively. However many questions were raised by the authorities concerned when on November 3, 2016, the phenomenon of smog was experienced for the first time in Lahore.

Maintaining that the major reason behind smog was the burning of crop stubbles in Indian Punjab, Zakya Shahnwaz stated that around 35 million tons of rice paddies were burnt by farmers on the other side of the border. Presenting a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) image depicting the situation of crop stubble burning in Indian Punjab, the minister alleged that the activity was the major contributor of smog in Pakistan.

“The situation of smog is worse in India than in Pakistan. We have taken sufficient measure to deal with the issue and now we are monitoring the situation on daily basis,” she added. Secretary EPD, Capt (r) Saif Anjum speaking on the occasion stated that hundreds of factories have been sealed in wake of smog while strict measures also have been taken against the vehicles causing pollution.
 “EPA has sealed at least 175 industrial units during the campaign against violators of the environmental law while it also has lodged First Information Report (FIR) against 22 factories,” he said and added that around 16,000 vehicles have been fined on charges of causing pollution. However, he did not explain whether the fine was posed by EPA or traffic police. Chief Meteorologist Muhammad Riaz stated the phenomenon was caused due to lack of timely rain. Like the EPD minister, he also reiterated that the smog has been caused due to the burning of crop stubbles which resulted in smog and entered with air which blew towards Pakistan. During yesterday’s press briefing, EPA officials tried to express that the department’s performance was up to the mark in an attempt to befool the public but the reality was altogether different and the inefficiency of the concerned departments was evident. The air pollution is a major contributor to smog but EPA has kept silent about it for years.

Though it was the primary responsibility of EPA to monitor air quality in the province, especially after the 18th amendment in the constitution but the department refrained from performing the duties despite continuous warnings of international organizations like World Bank, WHO and many experts. Smog is a byproduct of different pollutants like nitrogen oxides, Particulate Matters (PM2.5 and PM10), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), tropospheric ozone and Peroxyacetyl Nitrate (PAN). All of these substances are very chemically reactive and are harmful to human and other living things. Though the EPA has started taking actions against violators however this move is being carried out without any scientific evidence as no fact-based data of pollution level in the city and other parts of the Punjab has been recorded.
After last year’s occurrence of smog in Lahore, EPA procured the air pointers to monitor the air quality after investing a huge amount but to date, no data has been released. According to information available with Pakistan Today, said air pointers had to be installed in five different districts of the Punjab, which EPA has failed to install to date. However, some of these air pointers were installed in Lahore ten days earlier to monitor the air quality however the authorities continue to ignore the bad air quality in rest of the province.

Even though it has been labelled that Indian farmers are to be blamed for the smog in Pakistan, no official could inform the actual composition and structure of pollutants entering the country. Sources state that if the air was blowing toward eastern direction then it was the responsibility of the Met office to inform other concerned departments. Many experts believe the newly established coal-fired power plant in Sahiwal may be the reason behind smog in the southern part of Punjab but EPD secretary denied the accusation while stating that modern technology has been adopted in the said plant.  

SMOG | Burning rice residue, is this the reasons?

PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESSLAHORE:  The government may have sprung into action to control the smog which is dominating the city’s atmosphere, but experts fear these efforts have come too late in the day. Come late October, the city is engulfed with smog and this has been the case for the last few years during the late fall and early winter season. According to recent research, the gradual built up of smog is a result of rampant and unchecked carbon emissions from multiple sources such as vehicular and industry emissions, coupled with rice residue burning in the Indian and Pakistani Punjab region.
In the wake of the recent smog built up, the Punjab Environment Protection Department sprung in action and held a press conference. As she spoke to the media,   Provincial Environment Minister Begum Zakia Shahnawaz said the issue was not only limited to Punjab, but had engulfed a significant part of South Asia.
The minister claimed the situation in neighbouring Indian Punjab was far worse and has been increasing due to the burning of rice residue.  She said that the situation was exasperated by the wind direction from east to west, which puts further pressure on the environment in western Punjab. According to Environment Protection Department Secretary Saif Anjum, smog buildup can also reach the Khyber-Pakhtukhwa region given the weather conditions.  Anjum added that during the coming days, the situation was likely to remain the same or might even get worse in terms of reduced visibility. Commenting on relevant measures to control the situation, the secretary added 197 FIRs have been registered against farmers who were found burning their rice residue, while 65 growers were arrested. He said that apart from legal action, the department has also launched an awareness campaign to curtail residue burning. According to Saif, during the last one week, 15,178 smoke-emitting vehicles were also fined. Moreover,, as many as 175 factories and smoke emitting units have been closed, while 35 factories were charged with FIRs for not complying with emission standards. Sectary EPA admitted that environmental pollution has increased over the past few years and there is a pressing need to adopt sustainable practices. Commenting on these measures, Lahore Baachao Therik Convener and Lahore Conservation Society member Imrana Tiwana rubbished the ministry’s claims. She said it is high time that the government takes the wellbeing of people seriously. Calling it a national emergency that has reached catastrophic levels, Tiwana added the negligence on the part of departments concerned could constitute a criminal offence. The social activist said there were no signs of the government seriously implementing environmental safety policies. “Now when the lives of people are at risk, the ministry is resorting to excuses. “Focusing on the industries, vehicular emission laws, uncontrolled and mismanaged urbanisation doesn’t seem to be a priority of government departments. It is simply a matter of taking very simple steps to avoid this situation,” Tiwana said. “As far as the issue of carbon emissions from India is concerned, it is one of the many contributing factors. I am sure it is as much of a problem for them as it is for us since the matter of carbon emissions is a global issue and not limited to just one region,” Tiwana added. Burning rice residue In a research paper titled “Why Do Farmers Burn Rice Residue? Examining Farmers’ Choices in Punjab, Pakistan”, it was found that the total cost of handling rice residue and preparing wheat fields after rice, when farmers fully burn rice residue, is Rs3,424 (US$ 41) per acre. The research found out that the practice of burning costs substantially less than others such as using the residue as compost. The paper was written by Forman Christian College Department of Economics Associate Professor Tanvir Ahmed and Innovative Agriculture Faisalabad President/Chief Executive Officer Bashir Ahmad. The research found out that incorporation of rice residue, which is the next best alternative in terms of the cost of handling residue and preparing wheat fields, costs 20% more than the cost of a full burn. The researchers also noticed that the most important alternate practice of full residue removal, on average, is 34% more costly than simply burning the residue. According to the research, with a total area of about 1.1 million hectares, rice/wheat cropping is the dominant cropping system in many districts in Punjab, Pakistan and approximately 80% of the wheat crop in the province is grown after harvesting rice. Often, there is widespread late planting of wheat, especially when basmati rice is the preceding rice variety. Farmers burn rice residue as many believe it has a beneficial effect on yields. The research suggests that growers who are burning their residue will need some form of incentive to move them towards rice residue incorporation, which is the next best alternative. Adopting full incorporation or removing pural and incorporating the lower parts of rice stem, however, requires investment in new planting equipment which needs to be subsidised. The average subsidy required to incentivise farmers to move towards residue incorporation would be in the range of Rs674-908 (US$ 8-11) per acre. That is the difference between the average cost of fully burning and the average cost of full or partial incorporation of residue into the soils. – Issued by European Commission RASFF Portal on Basmati Rice

Japanese Gov’t Boosts Local Rice Production
November 3, 2017 Farmers pose with the Japanese government donated BCS rotary tillers.
Donates US$500K farm equipment
The Japanese government has donated to Liberian farmers some energy saving farming equipment that will enable them to produce more rice to feed the country’s growing population.The equipment, which comes with a US$500,000 price tag, include 31 pieces of BCS rotary tillers and 424 pieces of garden weasels.
The donation is part of the Japanese Rice Grant Project implemented by the Community of Hope Agriculture Project (CHAP) in five of the 15 counties that suffered the worst of the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015. The counties are Lofa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Bomi and Montserrado.
CHAP executive director Robert Bimba donated the farm equipment simultaneously to heads of farming cooperatives from those counties at the formal program held in Monrovia over the weekend.
CHAP is a locally-based non governmental organization working with local farmers to build their capacity.
Director Bimba described agriculture as key to Liberia’s food security recovery, urging the farmers to help grow more rice to fed the population. He underscored the importance of the project to the farmers from the Ebola affected counties.
He said the organization formally launched the Japanese Rice Project in Bomi, Cape Mount, Grand Bassa and Montserrado counties with the objectives to build the capacity of farmers, link them with markets, and making available to them seed rice, fertilizers and rain boots.
“The project is working with over 1,800 farmers, so we want to thank the Japanese government and the Ministry of Agriculture for the grant,” he said.
A representative of the farmers thanked CHAP, the Japanese government and the authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture for the donations, which they promised to use for their intended purpose.
The Japanese government is also constructing the Somalia Drive thoroughfare, while in the health sector, it has contributed US$2.256 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund to protect Liberian children from infectious diseases.UNICEF said it will use the Japanese grant to strengthen the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) services which focus on seven of Liberia’s 15 counties with more than 450,000 children and will fund training and supplies to strengthen the capacity of healthcare workers at the community level to treat and prevent childhood diseases.
Published: November 3, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan dumps water worth $22 billion into the sea every year mainly because of lack of storage capacity and poor conservation practices, Indus River System Authority (Irsa) Chairman Sher Zaman Khan said on Thursday.
Briefing the participants of the Senate Forum for Policy Research, Khan warned if the current water crisis continued, it would aggravate food security situation as the country would not be able to produce major crops.
“If dams are not constructed on a war footing, in the near future Pakistan will not be able to produce major crops like wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton and maize due to the acute water shortage,” Khan told the forum meeting.
The Irsa chief informed the forum – chaired by Senator Nayyar Husain Bokhari – that the water regulator had already informed the provinces they might face 36% irrigation water shortage during the Rabbi season (October-March).
According to Khan, about 500,000 tonnes of silt deposits in the Terbela dam and the Mangla dam every day. “Because of this, [our] two major water reservoirs have already lost 12% of their storage capacity,” he added.
The forum unanimously agreed to the need for construction of more dams, especially the Kalabagh dam, on an urgent basis to help improve the water conservation system.
The meeting was informed that monsoon rains are a major source of water in Pakistan.
Khan said 80% of water comes from monsoon rains and the rest from other sources. However, he added, due to shortage of storages, huge quantity of water is dumped into the sea which otherwise could be stored.
At the forum, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) Chairman Dr Muhammad Ashraf underscored the importance of dams. He expressed serious reservation to the absence of a national water policy.
“Kalabagh dam can easily be completed in five years,” he said, adding that the Akhoori dam could also be constructed as an alternative to Kalabagh dam within a few years. He warned that out of the 43 lakes in Pakistan, levels of 26 have dropped drastically in the past few years.
He also spoke about the depleting quality of drinking as well as ground water. “The analyses of the water quality in major cities of Pakistan in 2015-16 are eye-opener and call for measures on a war footing to save as many lives as possible,” he said.
Irsa committee meets
An emergency meeting of the Irsa Advisory committee reviewed the water availability situation. The meeting was chaired by Irsa Chairman Sher Zaman and attended by Irsa members and officials of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the provincial irrigation department.
Irsa spokesperson Khalid Rana told reporters the committee anticipated that the country would receive 23.96 million acre feet (MAF) water instead of 29.48 MAF estimated earlier. Irsa had anticipated 20% water shortage for during Rabi season but now it expected 36% shortage.
“Sindh, Punjab and Wapda submitted their working paper regarding the water availability in the reservoirs and rivers. The advisory committee reviewed the data and forecast that the water shortage for the Rabi season will be 36%,” Rana said.
Earlier the total water availability was estimated of 29.48 MAF – 24 MAF from river flows and about 7.8 MAF currently stored in two reservoirs. In October, however, the rivers received 4.1 MAF water – 17% less than anticipated 4.9 MAF.
Since Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) are exempted from any cut in their water share, they will get their full share of 1.9 MAF. The shortage would be distributed between Sindh and Punjab.
(With additional input from Zafar Bhutta)

Paddy bonus casts shadow over rice export in Chhattisgarh

A major portion of the state is reeling under severe drought

R Krishna Das  |  Raipur 
Representational image

The bonus on paddy announced by the Chhattisgarh government had cast a shadow over the export prospects of rice in the state.
The state government had announced a bonus of Rs 300 per quintal on paddy which would be procuring at minimum support price (MSP) from the farmers. While the move had cheered the farmers who would be getting a higher return, the rice traders in the state had been in distress.
 The Centre has approved Rs 80 per quintal hike in paddy MSP at Rs 1,550 for common grade variety and Rs 1,590 for ‘A’ grade variety. The farmers in Chhattisgarh would hence get Rs 1,850 per quintal for common grade and Rs 1,890 for “A” grade variety of paddy that they would sell to the government through the societies.
A major portion of the state is reeling under severe drought. Subsequently, the production was likely to be affected. The government estimates that it would bear a 30 per cent loss in paddy production. For the kharif marketing season 2017-18, Chhattisgarh had set a target to procure 6.9 million tonnes of paddy at MSP.

“Following less production, a major portion of the produce would be consumed by the government at MSP while the farmers would be reluctant to sell the leftover stock to traders at a lower price,” Yogesh Agrawal, president of Chhattisgarh rice millers’ association, said. The traders would either have to purchase paddy at the higher price or would be deprived of stock, he added.
According to Agrawal, the traders in Chhattisgarh quoted the high price to their counterparts abroad as they were left with no other option. Following a competition, traders abroad would prefer to purchase from Odisha, Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh.
Besides, the state government had announced that it would not release water for Rabi crops due to drought, which would affect around a million tonnes of paddy. The entire stock of summer rice (Rabi rice) produced in the state is exported.Chhattisgarh had been exporting about 1.5 million tonnes of parboiled rice. The produce is shipped mainly to African countries besides neighbouring Bangladesh.
Floods cut rice yield in NE by 400,000-500,000 tonnes
By Thai PBS

Over one million rai of rice farm land in the Northeast have been damaged by flooding and this will bring down rice yield for the 2017-18 main crops by 5-6 percent or between 400,000-500,000 tonnes, according to the Thai Rice Exporters.

Speaking after a meeting with agricultural and commerce officials as well as rice millers from 20 northeastern provincess on Thursday (Nov 2) to assess rice production situation and rice prices in the aftermath of massive flooding, Charoen Laothammatat, president of Thai Rice Exporters Association said over one million rai of rice field in the region has been damaged.

Northeastern provinces, including Roi Et, Ubon Ratchathani and Yasothon which are major rice-growing areas, were severely affected by flooding in July-August caused by heavy rainfalls from tropical storm “Sonca.”