Saturday, January 27, 2018

27th January,2018 daily global regional local rice e-newsletter by riceplus magazine

Boosting exports to China

: January 26, 2018
That Pakistan can appreciably raise the level of exports to China is hardly much of a surprise. Trade watchers have been expecting this for some time now but not without trepidation. The latest projections by the Pakistan Business Council show that exports could be boosted by an additional $3.3 billion worth of goods provided of course the country is able to bring down tariffs to zero at least on some items. The council has so far singled out a total of 25 products for zero tariff ratings that could be negotiated with the Chinese government. Such input is useful especially since the second phase of the free trade agreement negotiations is already under way. In the near future, Pakistanis know they could perhaps increase rice, textiles, seafood, footwear and leather exports and in doing so secure greater market access to China. These steps could help Pakistan but not significantly narrow its overall trade imbalance with China.
In the dozen or so years that the friendly neighbours signed a free trade agreement, Pakistan’s trade deficit of $12 billion has been growing not merely because of the crucial imports needed for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects but also other lesser known factors. The private sector has led the national chorus of calls for removing the existing trade imbalance with China. There are fears that the imbalance itself will fuel a shift from higher to lower productivity. To offset this, Pakistan is hoping to gain the same tariff concessions that China grants Asean states. Only then would Pakistani manufacturers be able to move away from lower productivity to higher productivity and export value-added goods to China.
The idea is to ensure that Chinese industrial initiatives yield the maximum economic benefits for Pakistani stakeholders. One obvious way is to devise industrial activities that have well-defined local stakeholders who help maximise benefits for firms. This is where joint ventures between Pakistani and Chinese companies come in handy. The government needs to take into account which sectors can most benefit from higher productivity and which have the most potential to boost exports.

Pakistan-Indonesia Business Forum today

Muhammad Arshad
With an objective to make Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) mutually more beneficial and progress towards the conclusion of Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Pakistan and Indonesia are going to hold bilateral talks here at Pakistan-Indonesia Business Forum today (Friday). Minister for Commerce Pervaiz Malik and Indonesian Trade Minister will lead their respective side in the forum.
Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Indonesia is worth around US$1 billion. Pakistani exports to Indonesia include kinnow, seafood, textiles, cotton yarn, medical equipment, rice, wheat and carpets while Indonesia exports palm oil to Pakistan. In 2017, the trade volume between Pakistan and Indonesia reached $ 2.5 billion dollars. A well placed source at Commerce Ministry told Pakistan Observer here on Thursday that Pakistan considered Indonesia as an important bilateral trade partner and was keen on improving economic ties between both the countries. Trade growth has been one sided in the bilateral trade between both the countries.
However, the source said that Pakistan appreciated Indonesian unilateral act of including 20 items of Pakistan’s prime interest for duty free access in the PTA to make it mutually beneficial. Therefore, Pakistan is committed to further expand and deepen the bilateral trade and economic cooperation with Indonesia.
“The first meeting of the trade negotiations committees in this regard is being coordinated mutually convenient dates in March 2018” the source added saying that Pakistan would urge Indonesian side to extend the date of delivery for 6500NT rice.
In September 2013, the source said that the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between Indonesia and Pakistan, which was signed in February 2012, came into effect from September 1 following the signing of an additional Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) in which Indonesia recognized Pakistan as a pest-free area for kinnow.
Similarly, the source said that in November 2005, Pakistan and Indonesia completed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, one of the provisions of which was that the countries, in 2006, commenced negotiations to conclude a PTA. The latter agreement was after the two countries had successfully concluded the final eighth round of negotiations held 1n September 2011. “Pakistan’s PTA offer list to Indonesia includes a total of 287 tariff lines at preferential tariffs, and it also agreed to give the same treatment to Indonesian palm oil products as provided to Malaysia under the Pakistan-Malaysia free trade agreement (FTA)” the source maintained.
While Indonesia cancelled tariffs on imports from Pakistan of the regionally-important citrus fruit, kinnow (a type of mandarin), creating a level-playing field in the Indonesian market for this product, which is produced in Pakistan. However, the source said that in August 2016, Pakistan refused to start negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Indonesia until Pakistan’s concerns on existing Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) were addressed within six months.

PCCI, PFVA demand removal of trade barriers on eve of Indonesian president's visit

  Last Updated On 25 January,2018 08:16 pm
The balance of trade between Pak-Indonesia is in favour of both countries.
ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) - The Vice President of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) and Patron-in-Chief of All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters , Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA) has appealed the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain & the Primer Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that during the visit of President of Indonesia to Pakistan and on eve of his address to the Parliament , elimination of barriers being encountered by Pakistani products in Indonesia shall be emphasized so that both countries can be befitted from the Preferential Trade agreement by enhancement of mutual trade.
In a statement Waheed Ahmed said that the balance of trade between Pak-Indonesia is in favour of Indonesia and Pakistan having opportunity is not taking full advantage of the same. Availing unique opportunity on visit of the Indonesia President, we shall insist to have similar trade concessions like Indonesia is extending to China and Thailand.
Exports of Pakistani Agriculture produces like Rice , Fruits and Vegetables can be enhanced up to US$ one billion within three years , however introduction of quota system by Indonesia is proving to be a trade barrier in enhancement of export of Pakistani fruits particularly Kinnow, Waheed deplored .
Indonesia has imposed quota system during the current season till 31st December limiting export volume of Kinnow and after a gap of one month the quota has been allocated on 13th Jan.
Waheed strssed that under the quota system a long span of 24-25 days transit time poses problem since the export consignments coming from Pakistan after this period to Indonesia are rejected. 1400 containers of Kinnow were exported in previous season while 2500 kinnow containers are expected to be exported during the current season and thus Indonesia can emerge as a big market for Pakistani Kinnow , however to attain that , the barriers such as quota system need to be abolished.
According to Waheed Ahmed , Pakistani exporters managed to procure export contract of 65000 tons of rice by successful bid against stiff competition from Thailand and Vietnam , however Indonesia has given dead line for execution of this order by 28th Feb.
The terms and conditions issued by a Indonesian organization Bulog creates difficulty for Pakistan in completion of order by 28 Feb because of lengthy transit time about 20 to 30 days of shipment arrival to Indonesian port, However such terms and conditions are favorable for traditional business partner Vietnam and Thailand because the transit time from Vietnam /Thailand are of only 2 to 4 days.
Similarly other terms & conditions of tender including letter of credit, penalty term and laboratory test requirements are difficult and consist on lengthy procedures.

Also due to commencement of new Chinese’s year there would be holidays in the Far Eastern countries which would make it very difficult to execute the order within the given dead line because due to festival holidays in far east countries cause in-ordinate delays and congestion on seaports so delivery of rice export consignment may delay from scheduled arrival. So it is mandatory that deadline of tender to complete the order should be extend till mid of April 2018. So the Pakistan exporters may successfully complete export order to increase trade between Pak-Indonesia and play role to balance trade system between both countries.
Waheed emphasized Ministry of commerce that to follow the mutual Preferential Trade agreement in it’s true spirit, it’s imperative that Pakistan shall insist for removal of trade barriers during forthcoming visit of the Indonesian President.
With high frequency of flights by the national carriers of both the countries, the air link shall be improved and banking channels as well as people to people contact between the countries be promoted simultaneously so that economic relationship between the two brother countries can be further be strengthened and made sustainable, Waheed desired.
Businessmen views to be incorporated in trade policy: TDAP

Secy says medium term trade policy framework to up exports

January 26, 2018
LAHORE - The government is endeavoring to formulate a medium-term trade policy framework for enhancing exports on a sustainable basis by incorporating suggestions of the business community in strategic trade policy framework (STPF) 2018-23.
This was stated by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan TDAP secretary Inam Ullah Dharejo while addressing the business community during the consultative session held in perspective of STPF here at a local hotel.  "The concept of holding exercise on the initiative of Younas Dagha, Secretary Commerce on consultative sessions across the country was to ascertain the opinion of trade bodies for bringing radical changes in the new trade policy', he said and hoped that the substantial measures would help in consolidating the growth of the export sector of the country.
Dilating on the number of measures taken by the government to enhance and diversify exports, he apprised the business community about introduction of Prime Minister Export Enhancement Package of Rs 180 billion to arrest declining exports with provision of an additional 2% duty drawback for the non-traditional markets, successful organization of 10th edition of Expo Pakistan where more than 800 foreign buyers/importers from 70 countries visited and Secretary Commerce Younas Dagha initiative "Emerging Pakistan" to showcase Pakistan's futuristic image and organizing "Look Africa" conference to encourage exports to non-traditional markets. He further informed the audience that on the sidelines, FTA negotiations with Turkey and Thailand, review of Pakistan-China FTA, Pakistan-Indonesia FTA and GSP Plus scheme will enhance market access for our products.
Earlier, Director General Trade Policy, Ministry of Commerce Nauman Aslam made the introductory presentation. Mian Riaz Ahmed, Director General TDAP, Lahore along with other senior officers coordinated the activity.
On the occasion, the president Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and vice president FPCCI also addressed the house. Representatives of LCCI, Women Chamber of Lahore and Multan Division, Pakistan China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, FPCCI Lahore, PAAPAM, Pakistan Tanners Association, APTMA, Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Rice Exporter Association, Pakistan Ethanol Manufacturers Association and Pakistan Poultry Association respectively attended the session.
Meanwhile, Ch. Arfan Yousaf, Regional Chairman FPCCI, during a Consultative Session, said that the cost of doing business and Reimbursement of tax refunds and payment of funds under PM package should be top priority of the Government for the promotion of Exports.
Ch. Arfan Yousaf highlighted his concern about GSP Plus status and said Pakistan has succeeded in getting 'GSP Plus' status but its imported to cultivate its benefits. He further added efforts should be made for identifying potential markets and buyers.
While appreciating prime minister's initiative to seek stakeholders' suggestions on broad-based consultative process to formulate Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2018-23, Ch Arfan Yousaf informed in order to enhance the exports and curtailing imports, the FPCCI has documented proposals for Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2018-2023 and submitted to the ministry.

Rice prices soar in top exporters as Indonesia shops, fresh deals beckon

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Rice prices in top exporter India jumped to their highest in about 6-1/2 years on strong demand from Asia and Africa, exporters said, while rates for the staple hit multi-month highs in Thailand and Vietnam following recent purchases by Indonesia.
A farmer winnows rice in a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, November 4, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files
In India, rates were also buoyed by hopes that Philippines and Indonesia will buy more rice in the coming months to build inventories.
Indonesian state food procurement agency Bulog bought about 346,000 tonnes in an international tender last week, to be sourced from Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and India.“Prices (in India) have jumped, but even at higher levels, buyers are ready to make purchases. They fear prices could rally further,” said M. Adishankar, executive director at Sri Lalitha, an exporter located in southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
India’s 5 percent broken parboiled rice price jumped by $12 to $444-$448 per tonne, the highest level since September 2011, when the country lifted a four-year-old ban on non-basmati rice shipments.
“The market is expecting more buying from Indonesia and Philippines. Bangladesh and African countries are also active in the market and buying mainly from India,” said an exporter based in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.
Surplus supplies in all exporting countries have been depleting and that could push prices higher by another $10-15 in coming weeks, the exporter said.
Workers unload bags of rice from a truck before loading them onto a boat at Sunda Kelapa port in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Iqro Rinaldi/Files
Bangladesh, which has emerged as a major importer of the grain since 2017 after floods damaged its crops, has approved the purchase of 100,000 tonnes of parboiled rice in a domestic tender, a food ministry official said on Thursday.
The winning bidder will supply the rice from India, the official added.Meanwhile, Vietnam’s benchmark 5-percent broken rice rose to $450 a tonne, FOB Saigon, the highest in more than three years. Last week, prices ranged $420-$430.Traders said despite higher prices, sellers are reluctant to commit to new deals as stock is low at the end of the crop season while harvesting is scheduled in late February or early .  The market is also eyeing deals from the Philippines, which plans to import 250,000 tonnes to boost thinning stockpiles.
Thailand’s benchmark 5 percent broken rice rose to a peak since June 2017, at $440-$448, free-on-board (FOB) Bangkok, versus $415-$420 last week.
“Indonesia purchased about 120,000 tonnes from Thailand and there are talks of the country importing an additional 150,000 tonnes from us,” said a Bangkok-based trader.
“It has been the single biggest factor for the hike in rice prices. There are no other impending deals at the moment and supply is constant.”
Reporting by Suphanida Thakral in Bangkok, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Mai Nguyen in Hanoi, and Ruma Paul in Dhaka, editing by David Evans

NFA pushes rice imports to stabilize prices

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:28 AM January 27, 2018
The National Food Authority (NFA) is urging economic managers to approve its request to import rice this year to stabilize prices of the staple.
A report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that prices of regular and well-milled rice have risen by as much as P3 a kilo in six regional centers, including Kidapawan City, Naga City and the National Capital Region.
Although the grains agency has not been able to control the prices of commercial rice, it sells the staple at more affordable prices as part of its mandate to ensure food security.
“Removing NFA rice from the market is like taking away the lower-prices brand of rice whose quality is comparable to high-priced commercial rice,” NFA Administrator Jason Aquino said.
“It is the function of the NFA to ensure that rice is always available, affordable and accessible to all, especially to the poor and low-income sector that rely on government to fulfill this social responsibility,” he added.
NFA’s presence in the local market is estimated to be only at 6 to 10 percent, but Aquino said that “with more than 100 million Filipinos at present, that means about 6 to 10 million of our population are consuming NFA rice on a regular basis.”
The policy-making body of the NFA rejected the proposal of the agency to import 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice this year as the agriculture sector continues to see a positive outlook in rice production.
The PSA reported earlier this week that the country’s palay production for the first quarter might reach 4.67 million MT as the crop’s harvest area and yield per hectare continued to improve.
With the importation, the NFA is hoping to “immediately replenish its fast-depleting buffer stock.” To date, its could meet the country’s national consumption requirement for only three days with 1.8 million bags, way below the stock requirement by its council of 15 days.
But NFA spokesperson Rebecca Olarte said consumers need not worry since the country’s total rice inventory, including those of households and commercial stocks, was placed at 2.8 million MT.


BY Haley Apel, IANR Media | January 26, 2018
Lincoln, Nebraska, A University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team is exploring the potential of sweet sorghum ethanol as an income source for agricultural producers in western Nebraska.
Sweet sorghum is a cultivar of sorghum primarily grown for its juice. Due to its high sugar content and stability during drought, researchers have identified it as a potential ethanol feedstock crop for non-irrigated farmland. The sugar syrup from the stalks would be fermented to make ethanol.
For sweet sorghum to compete with corn – the leading feedstock for ethanol production in the United States – it must be more lucrative and more economical. Considering factors such as yield and the cost of processing, researchers estimate that the current sweet sorghum-ethanol pathway is a barely break-even prospect in western Nebraska.
“Under the typical conditions considered, there are insufficient benefits to farmers and ethanol plants to make the sweet sorghum-ethanol pathway an attractive economic opportunity,” said Richard Perrin, Jim Roberts Professor of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska. However, the researchers found that there are a few circumstances that would improve the crop’s viability.
Currently, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard mandates consumption of specific levels of renewable fuels made from various feedstock categories. Under the markets created by the program, ethanol plants would be almost certain to obtain a premium for sweet sorghum ethanol compared to corn ethanol, making the former more economical. However, according to the researchers, the volatility of the premium and political opposition to the program make this benefit risky.
Another consideration that could enhance the crop’s viability is an increase in yields. A $13.5 million, multi-institutional research project led by the university may provide the necessary yield increases. That effort aims to improve sorghum as a sustainable source for biofuel production.
“If the research efforts raise biomass yields by 20 to 30 percent, or show that yields are actually 20 to 30 percent higher than our estimate, the benefits to both the producer and the ethanol plant would be sufficient to make adoption of sweet sorghum for ethanol a sustainable possibility,” Perrin said.
Joining Perrin in the research effort were Lilyan Fulginiti, professor of agricultural economics at Nebraska; Ismail Dweikat, professor of agronomy and horticulture at Nebraska; and Subir Bairagi, post-doctoral fellow at the International Rice Research Institute.

Wild Australian rice could feed the world


The world's population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050 and wild Australian rice that grows in crocodile-infested waters could be the key to feeding them.Wild rice growing in northern Australia's crocodile-infested waters could hold the key to breeding a more nutritious grain that is drought and pest resistant, according to scientists who have just mapped its genetic family tree.International researchers, including Robert Henry from the University of Queensland, examined 13 domesticated and wild rice species globally, raising hopes about breeding commercial rice from Australian variety Oryza meridionalis.

Rice is a staple food for over half of the world's population and consumption levels are rising, according to the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).Henry said this Australian rice was found to have valuable traits that could be bred into commercial rice.
"(This could have) a really positive impact on the human health on a large scale," Henry told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Henry, whose work was part of a paper published this week in Nature Genetics, said researchers found the Australian rice shared the same ancestor as an Asian rice species consumed by millions of people today but evolved three million years ago.

He said it had probably been overlooked until now due to its location.
"Some of the best rice sites are where there are a lot of dangerous crocodiles," he said.
Rod A Wing, co-author and director of the Arizona Genomics Institute at the University of Arizona, said wild rice species globally provide "a virtually untapped reservoir of genes" that can be used to improve current rice species.

Since 2003, Wing has been leading global research into 25 wild rice species that are genetically similar to two rice species consumed globally today with the next research to focus on a wild rice that grows in saltwater.
"The world population could be 10 billion by 2050 and the question is how do we feed our world without destroying it," Wing said.Genetic information could allow the world "to make crops that are higher yielding, more nutritious" but do less harm to the environment by using less water or pesticides.

A third of coral reefs 'entangled with plastic'

26 January 2018
Image copyrightKATHRYN BERRYImage captionPlastic bottle wedged in the coral reef
Plastic is one of the biggest threats to the future of coral reefs after ocean warming, say scientists.
More than 11 billion items of plastic were found on a third of coral reefs surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region.
This figure is predicted to increase to more than 15 billion by 2025.
Plastic raises by 20-fold the risk of disease outbreaks on coral reefs, according to research. Plastic bags, bottles and rice sacks were among the items found.
"Plastic is one of the biggest threats in the ocean at the moment, I would say, apart from climate change," said Dr Joleah Lamb of Cornell University in Ithaca, US.
"It's sad how many pieces of plastic there are in the coral reefs ...if we can start targeting those big polluters of plastic, hopefully we can start reducing the amount that is going on to these reefs."

Precious resource

More than 275 million people rely on coral reefs for food, coastal protection, tourism income, and cultural importance.
Image copyrightJOLEAH LAMBImage captionInfected coral snagged in plastic
It's thought that plastic allows diseases that prey on the marine invertebrates that make-up coral reefs to flourish. Branching or finger-like forms of corals are most likely to get entangled in plastic debris.
These are important habitats for fish and fisheries, the scientists say.
"A lot of times we come across big rice sacks or draping plastic bags," said Dr Lamb, who led the study.
"What we do find is these corals with a lot of complexity like branches and finger-like corals will become eight times more likely to be entangled in these types of plastics."
In the study, published in the journal Science, international researchers surveyed more than 150 reefs from four countries in the Asia-Pacific region between 2011 and 2014.
Image copyrightJOLEAH LAMBImage captionPlastic debris on the beach in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Plastic was found on one-third of the coral reefs surveyed. Reefs near Indonesia were loaded with most plastic, while Australian reefs showed the lowest concentration. Thailand and Myanmar were in the middle.
"The country's estimated amount of mismanaged plastics - so the way they deal with their plastic waste - was a strong predictor of how much we would see on the reef," said Dr Lamb.
Coral reefs face many threats. Coral bleaching is caused by unusually warm water. Coral polyps loose algae from their tissues, which drains them of their colour. They may recover if temperature changes are reversed in a reasonably short time, but this process can take many years.
In the case of diseases, organisms attack coral, leading to likely death. Previous research has found that plastic debris can stress coral through blocking out light and oxygen, thereby giving pathogens a chance to take hold.
Image copyrightKATHYRN BERRYImage captionPlastic floating over corals
Based on projections of plastic waste going into the ocean, the researchers suggest that the number of plastic items snagged on Asia-Pacific corals may increase from 11.1 billion to 15.7 billion plastic items by 2025.
An estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean in a single year.
More than three-quarters of this plastic is thought to originate on land.

Rice price hike probe sought

 January 26, 2018, 10:00 PM
By Mario B. Casayuran
The Senate agriculture and food committee yesterday asked concerned government agencies to check on reports of an increase in the price of rice, althoug
Sen. Cynthia Villar
h no agricultural product was taxed under the recently-signed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, committee chairwoman, said the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture should activate their monitoring teams to guard against unreasonable increases in the price of commodities and services.
“Unfortunately, there are businessmen who would take advantage of the situation and use the enactment of the TRAIN (law) to justify price increases. We don’t want these unreasonable increases to undermine the intended benefits of the law and we ask concerned government agencies to protect the consumers,” Villar said.
The lady senator noted that there are reports of spikes in the price of rice in some areas.

China's rice exports to Africa surge


China's rice exports to Africa surged last year, customs data showed on Thursday, with the world's second-largest producer of the staple grain pushing to clear bulging state and commercial warehouses as it overhauls government support for its farming sector.That rapid growth in sales to African nations is expected to continue in 2018, as buyers there increasingly turn to China as stockpiles are almost depleted in rival supplier Thailand.West Africa'sIvory Coast overtook South Korea to become the top destination for China's rice in 2017, with total purchases of 309,200 tonnes.
"China has very high stocks of rice. The state is taking various measures to destock," said Chen Xiaoshan, an analyst with Zhuochuang, a commodities consultancy in China's eastern province of Shandong."The Belt and Road Initiative policy also boosted the chances to export rice to these African countries," Chen said, referring to a Chinese project to promote trade links with Asia, Africa and Europe through billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.

The pace of exports may stoke concerns in the international market about China selling excess grain abroad after years of stockpiling. In 2016, the United States complained to the World Trade Organization about Beijing's support for the country's wheat, corn and rice farmers.China has around 94 million tonnes of rice stockpiles, two-thirds of the world's excess inventory and enough to feed India for a year. A lot of that was accumulated through years of the government buying the grain from farmers at a minimum price when the market price dropped below that level.

But last year Beijing cut minimum prices for rice and wheat for the first time, marking the start of an overhaul of the subsidy programme. Analysts expect another cut to rice prices in 2018.The U.S. Department of Agriculture said earlier this month that it expected Chinese sales of old-crop rice, especially to West Africa, to continue to expand as Thailand's old-crop government stocks are nearly depleted.Thailand has sold most of the about 18 million tonnes of rice built up during a rice-buying scheme introduced by a previous government.

"This year, we no longer have any old rice in the state stockpile, so it is likely that China will take this African market from us," Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters on Thursday."This will also depend on how much old rice China has in its stockpile."
South Korea bought 167,270 tonnes of rice from China in 2017, Thursday's data showed, making it the second-largest buyer of the grain. That was down 4.7 percent from 2016.

For Blake Girard, the rice is right

Meet the only man growing commercial rice in Illinois

Karen Binder AgriNews Publications 
Jan 25, 2018 Updated Jan 25, 2018
MCCLURE, Ill. — Cahokia high protein rice with strawberries and cream is one of Blake Gerard’s favorite breakfasts these days.“What’s amazing to me is that there’s 6 grams of protein in each serving. That’s twice as much as other rice,” said Gerard, an Alexander County farmer and now a food entrepreneur.
This makes Cahokia Rice as nutritious as almonds, spinach, oatmeal or mixed nuts. But what gets Girard cooking is his rice’s high quality flavor and appearance on a plate — its bite is crisp and non-chalky while the long grain is opaque, long and consistent in shape.
Gerard added this specially-bred rice into his crop rotation last year. While he already grows soybeans (85 percent) and wheat (5 percent), his seed rice and Cahokia rice account for 15 percent of his crops.
Yet another differentiation of Cahokia Rice from all the others is that it is grown only in Illinois and even takes its brand name from the Cahokia American Indians who once lived on his farmland. In fact, the Blake Gerard Farms in McClure is the northern-most location east of the Rockies to grow rice.
Tired of floodwater destroying his corn crop, Gerard planted his first rice in 2000. Unlike most other rice growers who benefited from generational knowledge, he often turned to other rice farmers in Missouri for information and learned from his mistakes.
Because his acreage is well isolated from other rice fields, Gerard first started with seed rice and conditioned it for bagging and distribution at another business he helped start in 2005 — River Bend Rice in Cairo.
Here’s what else makes Cahokia Rice unique:
A special rice variety — During Gerard’s tenure with U.S. Rice Farmers as a former chairman and board member, he came in contact with rice researchers at Louisiana State University and secured an agreement for exclusive growing and production rights on a particular variety. It is a non-genetically modified variety developed with old fashioned breeding practices, Gerard said.
Botanically different — Lending to Cahokia’s doubled protein content is this rice variety’s preference for a cooler growing season. The Illinois location in the north, where there are much cooler nights, allows the rice grain to turn fully opaque — not chalky white, like most other rice. The opaqueness is an indicator of the impact of those cooler nights as the starches pack tighter into the kernels.
Local product — Cahokia Rice is marketed, distributed and sold by two staff working in southern and central Illinois, as well as southeast Missouri. The rice is milled and packaged at southeast Missouri facility.
In Illinois, it can be found at retailers in Carbondale, Effingham and Champaign. Plans also call for reaching out to chefs serving locally-raised food this year

MSU Extension Service cooks with rice

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Natalie Ray, Mississippi State University Extension Service agent for Clay County, has a free cooking demonstration once a month for those interested in learning more about healthy food preparation.
Staff Writer
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Natalie Ray, Clay County Agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, offers a free healthy cooking and baking class once a month for those interested in learning more about food preparation."Rice is so versatile, I thought it would be a good presentation," Ray said. "With white and brown rice, long grain, medium and short grain, parboiled, specialty and aromatics, rice can be used in many different dishes."Ray said rice wasn't grown in Mississippi until 1948. Rice fields have sprung up in the Delta due to the richness of the soil and the proper amount of rainfall. Mississippi is now the fourth largest producer of rice in the nation.
"Brown rice is less processed than white rice and has a nutty taste," Ray said. "Brown rice is high in dietary fiber and folic acid, that is essential to unborn babies for development of brain function. I had never heard of folic acid until I was pregnant and took a supplement to assure I had plenty for the growth of neurotransmitters in the baby's brain."
She said rice provides folate, fiber, magnesium and iron to the consumer, all things that the human body needs.
Rice is gluten free, sodium free and cholesterol free, Ray said. But often salt, butter or oil is used to prepare rice so these things are added during the cooking process. She said one-half cup of rice is equal to a whole serving of grain.
"There are a lot of studies that link rice consumption to weight loss," Ray said. "Even though rice is high in carbohydrates, eating it as a side dish to a meal creates a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Not all carbs are alike. Rice is a good part of a healthy diet."
Ray said when using rice as part of an Asian dish, such as fried rice, cold rice works very well.
"Rice can be frozen," Ray said. "If you make more rice than your family can eat, freeze the leftover cooked rice. When you want to make fried rice at home, take the leftover rice out of the freezer and thaw it. But keep it cold. The rice will stand up well to being stir fried."
During the demontion Ray prepared two rice recipes, one for a basil tomato salad, made with brown rice, and Ray's own take on a light lemon and tomato side salad, also with brown rice. Both were taste tested by those participating and were judged to be very flavorful.
"We offer this class once a month at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning," Ray said. "It's not the same Tuesday because I never know what my schedule will look like a month in advance. But I try to pick something that is easy to make, tastes good and is healthy and good for you."
For more information visit the MSUES website at or to reserve a spot for the Cooking and Baking Class, call 494-5371.

Congressman in Liberty after addressing Rice Symposium

Congressman in Liberty after addressing Rice Symposium

U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R), August 2017.
Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2018 6:11 pm
By Casey Stinnett, managing editor 
After a stop at the local radio station, Congressman Brian Babin was kind enough to drop by The Vindicator office this afternoon for a short visit.
He had just come from the Southeast Texas Rice Symposium being held in Winnie and talked a bit about the problems area farmers have faced following Hurricane Harvey.
Many farmers along the Gulf Coast have been unable to take their crops to market because of the possibility that flood waters contaminated their fields. This is true in some cases whether or not any actual contamination has taken place. The congressman mentioned one farmer he learned of at the symposium who said he was not allowed to take his crop to market and had to bury 1.2 million pounds of rice because it might have been contaminated.
“There needs to be a little safety net for farmers,” Babin said.
He added that America has the most efficient farmers in the world and stressed the importance of our taking care of the industry that feeds us.
Waters of the United States
One particular issue of concern he mentioned is over how the federal government defines “Waters of the United States” that fall under federal jurisdiction.
Obama-era regulatory changes expanded the definition of Waters of the United States. So much so, Babin said, that any ditch with water in it or a mud puddle might be considered as falling under federal jurisdiction.
He sees this as a hindrance to farming and ranching operations and said, “We’re in the process of trying to roll that back.”
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Babin also touted the newly passed tax reforms.
“The ramifications of the new jobs and tax act has been huge,” he said.
Hundreds of companies are giving their employees raises and bonuses because of the act, and billions of dollars held overseas are being repatriated, Babin said. The congressman mentioned Apple Computers as one example of a company responding to the tax reform by bringing many billions of dollars back to invest in the U.S. economy.
Unemployment is at an all-time low for minorities, Babin said, “People are going back to work, and people want to work.”
Electronic Logging Devices
The congressman spoke at some length about his opposition to the federal regulations that went into effect Dec. 18 requiring Electronic Logging Devices be installed all American freight trucks.
He believes the ELDs are an invasion of privacy, place an unnecessary financial burden on small trucking operations, and will actually create safety issues.
Babin was once himself a trucker for a couple of years in the early 1970s.
“My heart goes out to the truckers,” he said.
The ELDs monitor how long each truck is in operation, and as the congressman explained, with federal rules forbidding truckers to stay on the road for more than 14 hours at a time, the ELDs make it possible for the government to impose a fine should a trucker continue to drive after that 14-hour period has elapsed.
The safety issue Babin predicts is that truckers might often race to reach their destinations before being forced to stop wherever they are when their 14 hours are up. A driver, he said, might be only 20 minutes from his destination when his 14 hours are complete and would have to either stop beside the road for 10 hours before driving that last 20 minutes or else continue to his destination without stopping and be fined for driving more than 14 hours.
“I think it’s going to make the roads less safe,” Babin said.
The congressman said he is disappointed that President Trump has not addressed this issue. He had hoped the president would issue an executive order delaying the implementation of ELD regulation, but so far the president has not acted upon it.
He thinks the president will likely come to regret this. Babin said the compliance costs of ELDs is some $2 billion, much of which will be borne by individual owner-operators and small companies — that very part of the population whose interests the president promised to protect in his inaugural address.
Babin introduced H.R. 3282, titled the ELD Extension Act of 2017, last summer, but it has not yet come to the floor of the House.
“It’s not sexy,” the congressman said explaining his frustration in trying to get the national media’s attention on the issue of ELDs, but it matters a great deal to the small business truckers. 

NFA bats for rice importation to replenish depleting stocks

Published January 26, 2018, 3:57 PM
By Madelaine Miraflor 
While economic managers already decided that the country could survive sans a new batch of imported rice, the state-run grains agency National Food Authority (NFA) is still pushing for the immediate replenishment of its “fast-depleting buffer stock” via importation.
This is for the agency to be able to effectively fulfill its mandate of food security and price stabilization in the wake of increasing prices of other basic commodities, NFA said.
RICE SURPLUS OR SHORTAGE? – While there appears to be sufficient stock of National Food Authority (NFA) rice at the grains agency’s warehouse on Visayas Avenue in Quezon City, the government has already authorized the importation of rice via government to private (G2P) scheme. (Mark Balmores | Manila Bulletin file photo)
Just this week, NFA Council, the inter-agency policy-making body of NFA, disapproved the agency’s request to import 250,000 metric tons of rice in view of the “stable” commercial rice prices and “bright” local production forecasts.
“Even if commercial rice prices are stable, regular NFA rice patrons are still looking for it [cheaper NFA rice] because of the average P9 per kilogram difference in price. Removing NFA rice from the market is like taking away the lowest-priced brand of rice whose quality is comparable to higher-priced commercial rice,” NFA administrator Jason Aquino pointed out.
Right now, NFA sells rice at P27/kg and P32/kg, while commercial rice varieties of comparable quality are sold at P36/kg to P41/kg.

Kalla responds to farmers` opposition to rice import plan

Vice President Jusuf Kalla. (ANTARA /Puspa Perwitasari)
Makassaar, S Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - Vice President Jusuf Kalla has responded to the farmers, especially those from Java island, after they voiced opposition to the government`s plan to import rice.

Kalla on Thursday stated that the government's plan to import rice had been assessed carefully and thoughtfully.

"The government will not take any risks. If it falls short of stocks (domestic rice stock), it will add stock," he explained, after receiving the Honorary Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) from the State Islamic University (UIN) Alauddin Makassar, on Thursday.

The farmers in some areas in Java Island as well as in Klaten (Central Java), Bojonegoro (East Java), to Demak, Central Java, have opposed the rice import plan.

The farmers had cited the approaching harvest season as the reason for opposition. In addition, the costs incurred by farmers are also huge.

"The government does not want to take risks, if it falls short of stocks it will be added," he stated briefly.

The VP has previously asserted the government?s decision to import 500 thousand of rice because of the shortage in the supply of rice in the country.

The lack of domestic rice production is due to weather conditions, which affect the quality of rice.

In the meantime, the chairman of the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR), Zulkifli Hasan, has reminded the government not to import rice before the harvest time, as it may cause the price of rice to drop during the harvest season.

"The decision to import rice before the harvest time creates injustice, because it will harm local farmers," Hasan stated at the Parliament Building in Jakarta on Thursday.

He called on President Joko Widodo to prevent rice imports ahead of the harvest period, as it would be detrimental to local farmers, whose incomes are already limited.

According to him, if rice imports are done before the harvest, then the rice stock will increase sharply. This will result in drastic drop in rice price, resulting in loss for local farmers.

"I appeal to the president to avoid any incidental policies that could disrupt the main policy of the government," he noted.

On the occasion, he also reminded the government to be careful while making decisions about the provision of rice stock.

According to him, although the government is trying to reduce increase in rice price, it still can create new problems by importing rice.

Hasan pointed out that even if the government is forced to import, the rice should not be stored directly in Indonesia but in the country of origin, until the very precise time to bring it to Indonesia.

"This is in order to prevent farmers, who are in the harvest time, from being affected by the drop in rice prices," he pointed out.

Editor: Heru Purwanto

Rice trade plummets at Yangon's commodity exchange due to fraud fears

Eleven on Fri, 01/26/2018 - 13:10
Writer: Zayyar Nyein
Bayinnaung Rice Commodity Exchange.Ever since numerous cases of fraud and malpractices involving Bayinnnaung Rice Commodity Exchange got revealed, rice makers have been directly dealing their products to the markets.
Rice exporters used to always go through agents associated with the wholesale market so sell rice both internationally and domestically but ever since money related issues occurred, both customers and rice coming into the wholesale center had been cut by half.
Traders from the wholesale center claim that since the middle-men from Bayinnaung has been cut, the going price for rice will be lesser but paddy businessmen feel that the security against fraud is worth the loss.
The most recent fraud case within the rice market involves a hefty sum of Ks 5 billion and more in January.
Chairman Aung Than Oo from Myanmar Rice Trader’s Association had warned at a press conference in regards to the abovementioned case that Myanmar’s rice market faces collapse if major fraud cases involving billions of Kyats continue to occur.

KARI, JICA partner to train Mwea rice farmers

WRITTEN BY:Benson Rioba
The Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency has initiated a training programme for rice farmers at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme.
The training involves cultivation of rice via water saving techniques which increase yields from 15 bags of rice per acre to 30 bags.Kenya’s annual rice demand stands at 540,000 metric tons, against a production of only 140,000 metric tons.
This means the country has to import the deficit to bridge the gap. The Mwea Irrigation Scheme is Kenya’s biggest rice producing schemes, whose production was adversely affected last year by prolonged drought that led to shortage of water at the scheme.
The Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization in conjunction with the Japan International Cooperation Agency have been training farmers on water saving techniques which entails flooding the paddy fields only twice as opposed to frequently, to minimize water usage.
Through this technique, farmers have been able to produce an average of 30 bags of rice per acre as opposed to the usual average of 15 bags.To further increase rice production, KALRO is developing rice seeds that are drought resistant, disease free and can withstand different climatic and soil conditions.
The construction of the 15 million cubic liters Thiba dam is expected to facilitate putting more acres under irrigation, thus extending the scheme by an additional 2,200 acres.
The expansion programme  is expected to double Mwea’s rice production to about 120,000 metric tons annually.